ACC: Rick Costa

Maryland's Wujciak tackles new role as leader

June, 25, 2009
6/25/09
9:00
AM ET

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."

Maryland recruiting needs

January, 14, 2009
1/14/09
12:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

The Terps rebounded from their disappointing finish in the regular season with an impressive win over Nevada in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, and a bowl win never hurts recruiting.

The Terps' main focus was to stock up on linebackers, especially with the departure of Rick Costa, Moise Fokou and Dave Philistin. Maryland will have to replace three seniors on its offensive line, and that was the staff's second priority. The Terps are still shopping in that department, but have a good start with three commitments in Pete DeSouza (Hyattsville, Md.), Bennett Fulper (Gretna, Va.) and Ryan Schlieper (Wexford, Pa.).

With backup quarterback Josh Portis transferring and Jordan Steffy graduating, the Terps also had to fill a void there. Chris Turner is a veteran with a winning record, but his backup, Jamarr Robinson, is a redshirt freshman who hasn't thrown a pass yet. Maryland is expecting two commitments at the position in C.J. Brown (Cranberry, Pa.), and Danny O'Brien (Kernersville, N.C.).

The Terps are always looking for defensive linemen and defensive backs. Kevin Barnes is the biggest name in the defensive backfield who will have to be replaced. The defensive line will also lose a lot of depth in Jeremy Navarre, Mack Frost, Dean Muhtadi, and Olugbemi Otulaja. De'Onte Arnett, a highly regarded defensive end from Forestville, Md., is an early entry who might contribute immediately.

Maryland will need a kicker to replace Obi Egekeze, and they've got a commitment from Nick Ferrara of St. Anthony's in New York.

The most glaring departure on offense was star receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who decided to leave early for the NFL draft, but the Terps have several talented, young receivers who emerged this season. That position will be more of a focus for the class of 2010.

ACC's lunchtime links

November, 12, 2008
11/12/08
12:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

  • Terence Moore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution says give Georgia Tech a break. The Jackets might not be playing in Tampa, but they'll be in a bowl, and that's more than many outside the program expected.
  • What once seemed like a dilemma for Miami coach Randy Shannon has turned into a luxury, writes Israel Gutierrez of the Miami Herald.
  • Oh, to be a sought-after college football coach. If UNC coach Butch Davis asks for money, will Dick Baddour up the ante for Roy Williams, too? Clemson is reportedly interested in Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
  • Virginia Tech's offensive linemen finally calmed "The Curt" with their impressive performance against Maryland. It's been a piece of the offensive puzzle that has been missing all season.
  • Maryland won't have all of its pieces together when it hosts North Carolina this weekend, as linebacker Rick Costa has been suspended indefinitely. The Terps' defense does need to be a little more aggressive, but this is crossing the line.

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