Maryland's Wujciak tackles new role as leader

June, 25, 2009
6/25/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

With former players like E.J. Henderson and D'Qwell Jackson, Maryland has quietly developed some of the ACC's elite middle linebackers during coach Ralph Friedgen's tenure, and Alex Wujciak could be the next in line now that he's finally fully recovered from a torn left ACL that sidelined him the entire 2007 season.

Wujciak, a junior, started all 13 games at middle linebacker last year and then missed the spring because he had his knee scoped to clean out some lingering scar tissue. With the loss of four linebackers and a new defensive coordinator, the Terps will look to Wujciak for more than just tackles this fall.

"I'm feeling really good," said Wujciak, who finished second in the ACC with 133 tackles last year. "It's not really a problem right now. It should be 100 percent by summer camp."

The loss of Dave Philistin, Moise Fokou, Chase Bullock and Rick Costa means the Terps have to replace experience that totaled 144 games, including 54 starts. With Wujciak and Ben Pooler out this spring, Adrian Moten was the only returning linebacker who had played in a game at that position. The two-deep featured three freshmen, junior Drew Gloster, who moved from tight end, and Hakeem Sule, who had been limited to special teams. Moten has played in 23 career games, but didn't get his first start until the Humanitarian Bowl. With the abundance of inexperience at linebacker, much will fall on Wujciak's shoulders.

"I think we need to find one or two who can help us," Wujciak said. "It's funny, because I was a young guy for a while, and now me and Moten have to take on a little more responsibility."

Wujciak brings a blue-collar work ethic from his home state of New Jersey, and said his goal this year is to make more momentum-swinging plays for his team. He's been a tackling machine -- he's the fifth-leading returning tackler in the country -- but he wants to get his hand on the ball more and disrupt the passing lanes. He had two pass breakups last year, one fumble recovery and one blocked kick. He's very strong and athletic and has the potential to make those game-changing plays.

"Last year being my first year, the first few games were fast," he said. "Hopefully heading into this year the game will start to slow down for me so can make more plays."

Wujciak said the team has welcomed first-year coordinator Don Brown's attacking defense.

"A lot of guys are eager to see how well we perform during games," he said. "Our offense has seen enough of it."

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