Along the Terps’ defensive line, the word of summer is ‘dominate’

August 11, 2013

Here’s Darius Kilgo (97) from 2011, in the only picture we have of him. (Toni L. Sandys/Washington Post)

The summer buzzword among the defensive line of the Maryland football team is so prevalent that Darius Kilgo defined it with the word itself.

“To me,” the defensive lineman said after Friday’s practice, “it’s basically dominate the man in front of you. Not physically, but scheme-wise, knowing the plays, knowing your opponent. You study the game, you study the plays, you can dominate the game overall.”

To dominate, you must dominate. Got it? Good.

Kilgo has become the group’s ringleader, representing it on the team’s leadership council. But the names most often associated with this group are ones no longer with the program: A.J. Francis, now playing for the Dolphins, and Joe Vellano, with the Patriots. Together, they compiled career totals of 72 starts, 21 sacks, 52 tackles for losses and seven fumble recoveries. They were senior leaders at the same position, rocks if there ever were in College Park.

Today, they represent the ghosts of defensive linemen past.

“Being they are two great players, there are big shoes to fill,” Kilgo said. “But I feel like being that I played with them all last year, it’s all on me now.”

Quinton Jefferson, Andre Monroe, Keith Bowers, Zeke Riser and Roman Braglio will undoubtedly contribute this season, and some are primed for what Coach Randy Edsall hopes will be breakout a pass-rushing and run-stopping year. But Kilgo is the anchor as the nose tackle, the stabilizer of a unit that suddenly lost so much production last November when the final whistle blew at North Carolina.

“I definitely feel like I have to be more dominant, given that I played last year with Joe and A.J.,” Kilgo said. “I feel like I need to take the experience I gained from them and come back more dominant.”

In a three-minute interview, Kilgo used the words “dominant” and “dominate” 11 times.

Here’s Kilgo, on moving forward without Francis and Vellano: “Work hard over the summer, we do what we have to do, and we dominate in practice out there, and transfer it to the games.”

Here’s Kilgo, on leading by example: “If I can dominate the game, I can dominate certain players and certain plays, then show we can all dominate together.”

Here’s Kilgo, on the word itself: “It’s the word everyone’s adopted. We’re taking it, trying to bring it all together, trying to learn what dominant means, trying to bring it to the defense as a whole, so we can dominate the game.”

Okay, so the defensive line aims to dominate, with Kilgo as the linchpin. A fourth-year junior after redshirting in 2010, Kilgo started 11 games last season, recording 40 tackles and five for losses.

Sweat dripped off Kilgo’s beard as he stood outside the Maryland locker room on Friday, beneath a baking August sun. He’s growing the grizzly fur during camp for no particular reason other than two-a-days afford little time to shave. The Terps are no strangers to beard-growing in the name of camaraderie, but Kilgo said this competition is between him and Bowers.

“I don’t’ know yet,” he said, when asked whose beard is better. “I’m trying to get mine there. I’ve been trying to grow mine out for a while. Being in camp, I won’t get a chance to shave it, so just let it grow.”

Who knows, maybe he’ll dominate that, too.

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