Early observations from Maryland football media day


Associated Press

Media days, by and large, are exercises in cliches and chaos. Reporters rush from seat to seat, asking questions of players who really all say the same thing: They’re anxious to open preseason camp, which for the Maryland football team begins Monday night, and have high expectations as a group.

Really, it’s an amuse-bouche, a primer if you will, and little more. Anticipation is mounting already but things will change — for better or worse — over the next month, leading up to the season opener against Florida International on Aug. 31.

Check back for stories from media day over the next several days (Dan Steinberg was here and wrote about Stefon Diggs’s Tupac haircut) but for now, some quick observations:

>> Coach Randy Edsall was asked early in his news conference — which ran a cool 31:27 — about the “quarterback competition” this summer. He was quick to quell that. “Well,” he said, “C.J. [Brown] is our quarterback. He’s our starting quarterback.” Edsall also expected backups Caleb Rowe, Perry Hills and Ricardo Young to split second-team repetitions, though he expressed concern about Rowe’s and Hills’s mobility returning from their respective ACL tears.

>> It may come as a small surprise, but the SAM linebacker spot will feature an enticing battle this summer. Matt Robinson, who received the Kenneth Tate treatment and transitioned to the position from safety, is currently listed as the starter, but Alex Twine could challenge him for playing time.

Robinson has battled shoulder issues in the past, but he’s bulked up to 240 pounds and seems ready to go. Twine started five games last season and appeared in all 12, recording 44 tackles and 4.5 for a loss. He boasts nine career starts, second-most among the returning linebackers, so a competition only seems fitting, even if we’ve talked about Robinson all summer as if he’d be the starter.

“They’ve got a good competition going already,” Edsall said. “Alex has worked extremely hard, you can see that’s important to him. That’s what we’re really trying to get to, when we have Matt Robinson and Alex Twine at that position, two guys who you know can start and compete and contribute and play well. That’s what we’re trying to get at every position, to have that kind of talent and competition. Those guys are going to push each other and make each other better. When you have that, that makes you a better team. That’s going to be fun to watch.”

Edsall also didn’t rule out the possibility of having both on the field at the same time.

>> Asked about the incoming freshmen, Edsall said there was a group “of probably 10 of them” who will receive “long, hard looks” to see if they can make impacts this season. Early candidates for playing time include cornerback Will Likely, an early arrival this spring, linebacker Yannick Ngakoue, an Under Armour all-American from Friendship Collegiate, and tight end Andrew Issacs, who has drawn positive reviews for his college-ready size (6-2, 258 pounds).

“I’m anxious to see the incoming guys,” Edsall said. “When you look at them physically, there are some who have the physical abilities to contribute in some way, on special teams. Now it’ll be how quickly do they learn, how quickly do they process and execute all the things that they have thrown at them in a short period of time.”

>> Senior transfer Zeke Riser will take over A.J. Francis’s No. 96. Freshman Mike Minter, who was listed as No. 96 before Riser arrived, will wear 63.

“Knowing how young we are, really on the defensive line, bringing a guy who’s a senior and has experience was very, very beneficial,” Edsall said of Riser. “Then also knowing he has experience in [defensive coordinator] Brian [Stewart]‘s defense, knowing the terminology, knowing the techniques, he’s a guy who can help the younger guys as well. I’ll be anxious to see him as he gets on the field.”

>> Speaking of Francis, he recorded one solo tackle for the Miami Dolphins in Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game loss to the Cowboys.

>> Edsall expected “a couple guys” to open camp limited because of injuries. Freshmen wide receiver Taivon Jacobs and Isaacs are among those, both dealing with knee ailments.

>> Center Evan Mulrooney, who started five games last season, was sidelined this spring with what Edsall called a hip injury. Turns out, that was only kind of close. Mulrooney said he actually tore a muscle in his butt.

Mulrooney is totally healthy now, for what it’s worth, and says he wants to compete for a starting spot, even if it means switching to guard along the interior. Sal Conaboy is currently listed ahead of Mulrooney at the starting center position, but Mulrooney started at left tackle for his high school team.

>> Wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro left early Monday morning to handle a death in the family. Defensive line coach Greg Gattuso’s mother-in-law passed away, so he was unavailable during the assistant coach sessions.

>> This:

>> Maryland will open six practices to reporters. Here’s the full schedule:

Monday, Aug. 6: 7:30-9:10 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 9: 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 13: 3:35-5:35 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 15: 3:35-5:35 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 17: 1:30 p.m. (scrimmage open to public)

Tuesday, Aug. 20: 3:35-5:35 p.m.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · August 2, 2013

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