Terps Ready, Excited to Suit Up Ahead of Fall Camp
It has not been a smooth offseason for Big Ten teams as the conference reversed a previously reversed decision to play this fall. The conflicting decisions with minimal transparency along the way made it tough for the team to see the light at the end of tunnel.
“For our team I feel like, we were kind of all over the place especially at the end of camp. We were really pushing to have a season then they shut the Big Ten down, now we’re all excited. We’re ready to work, ready to get after it. I know some guys, the mentality was kind of off, but I feel like everybody is ready back locked and loaded and ready to play.” Now, Maryland hopes that inconsistent practice time hopes to now be in the rear-view mirror for Maryland as the Big Ten moves forward with the fall season. The theme of “excitement” rung in College Park about the prospect of now suiting up this fall, even if it is only a nine-game schedule. The Terps kick off fall camp with four weeks and a day until they travel to Evanston, Illinois to take on the Wildcats. Head coach Mike Locksley is preaching discipline to get the team through, but the obvious excitement is tough to ignore.
"The team is excited, as I am, to get back to competing. You know, when you have these opportunities like this, for the older players on this team, another opportunity to create value for themselves, doing something that they love, playing the game, having it taken away from us like it has been for so long, I think, deepens the appreciation for what the great game of football is all about and what it can do for you,” Locksley said. “We're embracing the uniqueness of playing through COVID. As I've said from day one, the teams that have the ability to adjust and ride the wave will be the teams that have the best chance to be successful. We've prepared our team from a mental standpoint to do just that. We've shared our times of stoppage and pausing, restarting and resetting each day."
The college temptations are there—everyone remembers. But this offseason, it’s a bit different for the Terps. With restrictions and stringent protocols in place to ensure complete health and safety for student-athletes around the country, junior cornerback Tahj Capehart added it has not been difficult for the team to follow protocols if the team wants to play football.
“For us, I don’t think it is. I feel like we have a group of guys that understand what’s going on right now and understand we’re trying to play football so I feel like everyone has temptation but at this point in time, we know we’re going to play this year so we’re all locked and loaded and ready to go.” Capehart added the team is “being mindful of our bodies during recoveries, staying hydrated,” as Maryland gets back into game shape, but head coach Mike Locksley knows the Terps need to be “disciplined” if the team will get through the full Big Ten slate largely unscathed.
“We need to play tough. We need to play with great effort. We need to have great cohesion. We need to be a team that doesn't beat ourself in all three phases ... There's no quick fixes to it. We've done a tremendous job, I think, as a staff, of recruiting to try to bring in the right kind of guys. But we've also done a great job of developing the guys in our program to understand the kind of culture we want to be as a team, but also to develop them as football players as well."
Bringing the energy hasn’t been the problem in practice yet, though. Junior wide receiver Brian Cobbs and Capehart added the team has enjoyed “jawing back and forth with the defense” ahead of practice time, but the team knows the practice time now is a prequel to the emotions that will overtake them on game day. Capehart said with a big smile “I can’t even put into words” as to the expected emotion of the first gameday as Cobbs described the feeling as “good anxiety.”
“Unmarkable level of excitement because like I said, offense and defense we have playmakers on both sides. I’m going to be anxious to see what the defense is going to do; they’ll be anxious to see what we can do. And just everything coming together it’s going to be a real exciting piece and finally being able to get out there now that we have a target date for Northwestern is really exciting.”