The first several days of Mike Madaras’s suspension came on a scheduled week off, so he didn’t miss much. It was the next week, as the Maryland football team returned to College Park to begin training camp, when the sophomore left tackle began to reflect.
“It helped me sit back and think about where I was at, what I was doing with myself, and it gave me a good perspective of what I want to do,” he said Thursday.
Madaras declined to disclose the details of his two-week, university-imposed suspension, instead deferring to Coach Randy Edsall. According to Maryland’s student-athlete conduct code, only one violation justifies a two-week suspension: a second failed drug test.
Standing just inside the practice field gates after Thursday’s workout, Madaras’s third practice in full pads after serving the suspension, the former Good Counsel standout appeared far more comfortable in a public setting, speaking firmly and enthusiastically about the upcoming season. Understand, Madaras was still 17 years old when he began protecting the blind side full-time last year, overtaking Nick Klemm as Maryland’s starting left tackle in the fifth game. He seemed quiet and almost nervous during interviews. Learning the offense was hard enough.
“I feel more confident in what I’m doing,” Madaras said. “When I came in here, no matter what I just didn’t; want to do something that would compromise me or my teammates. But I know how things work now, and I feel better about talking to media, talking to other people, and I feel more confident about me playing.”
The Terrapins need a confident Madaras, too. An Under Armour all-American in high school, he could anchor Maryland’s offensive line for the next three years. Breakdowns rarely came on his side last season. Over the winter, he focused on gaining weight and increasing strength. He was quick enough as a freshman, but encountered issues against bigger defensive linemen.
The larger concern might not be sack-hungry behemoths, but Madaras himself. After returning from the suspension, he sat down with Maryland’s coaches and outlined a plan for the future. Owning up to his mistakes was a start. And somewhere down the line, he may even reflect on those two weeks as the moment of rejuvenation, the rebirth of a new Mike Madaras.
“Most definitely,” Madaras said, pausing to sigh. “That two-week suspension, wasn’t happy when it was happening, but looking back on it, I really do think that was a good thing. It put a perspective on things. … I really think this put me back on track.”
Once Madaras returned, teammates said it was like he never left.
“There was almost no phase period,” center Sal Conaboy said. “He was really on his stuff while he was out, so when he came back, it was like he was right in there. He never missed a beat. So that was good to see, that he could come out and start making calls right away, having that confidence to actually make the calls and run with it.”