After internship with U.S. Marshals, Maryland center Sal Conaboy ready to work on the field

August 15, 2013

Walking through the halls of the U.S. Marshals Service district office in Greenbelt this summer, carrying paperwork or files or whatever intern duties he had that day, Sal Conaboy felt much like he did in the Maryland football team’s locker room.

“Those guys in the office, it’s pretty similar to my teammates,” the junior center said. “Everyone joked around. A little trash talk, busting each other and everything. I fit right in. … Definitely different than your run-of-the-mill internship.”

Conaboy doesn’t exactly come across as the trash-talking type, but he loved his unpaid internship with the marshals. The Pennsylvania native’s grandfather was a federal judge in Scranton, and the Conaboy family often gathered at the courthouse on holidays to watch the annual parades marching past. It was there, peering out the window of his grandfather’s chambers, that Conaboy head stories about the U.S. Marshals and began aspiring to intern with them.

The job, a 24-hour-a-week gig of filing documents and filling out paperwork, had its perks, too. Sometimes, the Marshals allowed Conaboy to tag along at court, or into the cellblock to watch processing. Once, they brought him for “Range Day.” He ran around the shooting range, picking up shells, and even received lessons from the Marshals themselves.

“Most days it wasn’t too hard to go there for the day, because it was fun,” Conaboy said. “But it was different. Instead of just hanging out in the summer then working out, actually going to work and coming back.”

By the afternoons, Conaboy found himself exhausted, even before driving back to College Park for daily workouts with the football team. He will start at center this season, one year after Evan Mulrooney usurped his job for five games, a stretch that began with Conaboy leaving the Virginia game with an ankle injury.

“I think we always push each other,” Conaboy said. “I think that’s a good thing to have. If you didn’t have a backup to push you, you might be complacent, which isn’t a good thing. It’s always in the back of my head. It helps push me.

Mulrooney, who before Conaboy’s injury had played one career snap, started against Clemson and Florida State, but Conaboy returned to start the season finale against North Carolina. That propelled him into this spring, when a hip injury sidelined Mulrooney and opened the door for Conaboy to regain his job.

“It gave me the confidence that I needed going into the offseason,” Conaboy said. “Just to know that the coaches still had confidence in me. It was definitely good to have.”

Now he’s the center on an oft-scrutinized line that allowed an ACC-high 39 sacks last season, one bent on supporting a host of offensive playmakers. They know that a quiet offensive line, one removed from the headlines, means a stable, successful group.

“We’re better,” Conaboy said. “I think we really worked hard in the offseason. I think it’s confidence. We’re gaining a lot of confidence throughout camp, and we have gained a lot of confidence throughout the offseason. That’s the main thing.”

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