Moten Turns Up Everywhere for Maryland

Maryland linebacker Adrian Moten waits for an incoming play call during the Terrapins' loss to Virginia. Moten has emerged as a defensive playmaker for what his teammates and coaches call
Maryland linebacker Adrian Moten waits for an incoming play call during the Terrapins' loss to Virginia. Moten has emerged as a defensive playmaker for what his teammates and coaches call "FBI" football instincts. (Toni L. Sandys - TWP)
By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 30, 2007

During his first week of fall camp with the Gwynn Park High School football team, Adrian Moten was standing at attention like all the other freshmen when his coach sent him onto the field, where he was expected to show what he could do against bigger, stronger varsity players.

So, at his coach's behest, Moten jogged to his position at outside linebacker and, to this day, he can't explain what happened next. When the quarterback dropped back, Moten knew a screen pass was coming. He jumped in front of the receiver, snagged the ball and made a first impression.

"You've got football instincts," Gwynn Park Coach Danny Hayes told Moten that day.

Six years later, these instincts are again serving Moten well. Entering his redshirt freshman year at Maryland, Moten didn't expect to see much time on the field. Instead, with injuries forcing the Terrapins' coaching staff to shuffle and reshuffle the depth chart, Moten has grown into a regular contributor.

He's done so by displaying an ability to play several defensive positions, which coaches and teammates trace back to "FBI," football instincts.

"That's what I have and that's what I use a lot on the field," Moten said. "When you know where the ball's going you know where you need to be. Some people are born to be artists. Some people are born to be English teachers. I'm not saying that I was born to be a football player. But that's always how it comes out to be. I know football."

Maryland's season-long battle with injuries has impacted the entire team. But outside of the players who have suffered injuries themselves, perhaps nobody on the roster has felt the fallout as much as Moten.

After starting the season as a backup strong-side inside linebacker, Moten has been moved to outside linebacker and the other inside linebacker spot. At one point earlier this year, the second line on the linebacker two-deep chart read A. Moten, A. Moten and A. Moten.

"He's done above and beyond," Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen said. "There are other guys who are going to have to do similar roles to that. . . . He's the role model for it."

Moten took up his latest challenge last week against Clemson. With coaches looking for a speed rusher off the edge, Moten played several snaps at defensive end.

"He's Mr. Versatile for us," said linebacker David Philistin, who also has done his share of shuffling this season. "He's doing a great job. He seems to be doing well with this switching stuff. It's his football savvy. He's football smart."

Moten has not started this season though he's played in all eight games, amassing 27 tackles (two for a loss) and an interception. While his numbers have been modest, coaches marvel at Moten's ability to function in different positions despite his relative inexperience.

"For a redshirt freshman, it's remarkable he's doing as well as he's doing," Friedgen said. "The ball just finds him, he's one of those types of guys. He just ends up where the ball is. He might do a hundred things wrong, but he ends up where the ball is."

Friedgen said he spotted Moten's instinctual approach while watching a tape of another Gwynn Park player whom the Terrapins were interested in recruiting. The closer Friedgen looked at the film, the more he grew distracted by the undersized linebacker creating havoc on the screen.

"I kept watching this guy making play after play," Friedgen said.

Hayes called Moten "the smartest player I've ever coached." With that, the Terrapins offered a scholarship to a player who coaches now believe can emerge into a special player.

"He can color in the edges. He understands where to fit, the flow of the game, know where the gaps are," said Chris Cosh, Maryland's defensive coordinator. "He was thrown into the fire so fast. But it's amazing how much he retains."

© 2007 The Washington Post Company