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Philistin Appears Likely To Step to 'Mike' for Terps
But a combination of factors has rendered the Terrapins' original plan moot, which has translated into a rapid ascent for Philistin. Bullock has been hampered by an ankle injury suffered early in camp, leaving Philistin with the bulk of the first-team repetitions. And because Wujciak suffered a season-ending knee injury, coaches no longer have the option of moving him back to "mike."
That leaves Philistin, who has taken advantage of the opportunity. Though the competition is still technically in progress, Philistin has not missed any time while Bullock may not return to practice until next week.
"I'm honored to play there, and I'm getting better every day, they tell me," Philistin said. "And that's what I want."
Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said Philistin has plenty of work to do in terms of learning the nuances of the position, but that the signs so far have been encouraging.
Friedgen said Philistin looked strong in Maryland's first two scrimmages, performances that have left coaches raving about his progress despite his relative inexperience with the position. While he has showed his athleticism during his time on the field, Friedgen said Philistin has stood out by showing strong instincts. Even when Henderson had to miss part of a scrimmage after suffering a stinger, Philistin stepped in and handled running the defense.
"He kind of assumed some of the leadership roles on the defense, and that was a bright spot," Friedgen said. "Now the thing you're looking for there is consistency. Can he do it in the long haul?"
Questions aside, Philistin believes he already has an advantage because he has played three of Maryland's four linebacker positions. Philistin appeared in 23 games the last two seasons, including all 13 last year. He started two games at strong-side outside linebacker before being moved to inside middle linebacker last spring.
With the ability of seeing the defense from different angles, Philistin said the transition has been smooth.
"I got adjusted to 'mike' linebacker in 2 1/2 weeks of being in camp," Philistin said. "Playing all those three positions, I know better what the defense is doing. It's made me a better player as far as reacting. At first, you get them confused. But now it's helped. You know everything that's going on."