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A Recurring Theme on the Defensive Line

In case the last two blog posts didn't give it away, this Maryland squad is young. Very, very young. Young at offensive line. Young at wide receiver. And young at defensive line.

First-year defensive coordinator Don Brown acknowledged the team's lack of experience in along the defensive line but remained confident the group could come along quickly.

"When you lose your top four defensive linemen from last season and now you're going to a four-down linemen structure, that means you're making some drastic changes," Brown said. "Now we won't be uniquely a four-down front, but at the same time, that's our starting point. We thought we took some steps in the spring to kind of solidify who those guys are and with that being said, now we're trying to get them in the right places."

Just who are those guys Brown referred to? Well, if you're looking for names, Coach Ralph Friedgen has plenty. He began with redshirt freshman A.J. Francis, whom Friedgen described as "a solid kid who you know what you're going to get every single day." Francis will compete for playing time at nose tackle. Friedgen said Francis has the ability to play on the offensive side of the ball, as well, "but I can't afford to do that with him right now. "

Friedgen also listed sophomore Ian Davidson, redshirt freshman Joe Vellano and redshirt freshman Zach Kerr as examples of the young talent Maryland can plug in on its defensive line.

"I think we've got the people; they're just young," Friedgen said. "We've just got to keep working with them and hope that they continue to get better. But I think guys like [Jared] Harrell and [Travis] Ivey and [Derek] Drummond and [Deege] Galt, they got to step up because it's their turn now. They've got to rise to the occassion."

Harrell, Ivey and Galt are seniors who have contributed to the line in previous seasons. Harrell played in every game last season, including two starts, and recorded five tackles for a loss. His 4.69 40-yard dash time (third best in program history among defensive linemen) reveals the speed dimension he brings to the unit.

Ivey started the final four games last season and played in nine total. He was slowed early on by a nagging foot injury that forced him to sit out the first four games of the 2008 season.

Galt played five games in reserve last season at defensive end.

Drummond, a redshirt sophomore, played four games in reserve last year at the LEO position, a spot that has been eliminated in Brown's 4-3 system. He is expected to compete for one of the starting defensive end spots.

By Steve Yanda  |  August 10, 2009; 5:22 PM ET
Categories:  Football  
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