DeMatha grad nervous no longer on Terps’ O-line

Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006

University of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen said nerves would get the best of center Edwin Williams last season. On several occasions, Williams snapped the ball on the wrong count.

‘‘Other than that, he blocks pretty good,” said Friedgen drawing laughs from the gathering of media at Terps’ Media Day last week at the Gossett Team House.

Williams, a redshirt sophomore out of DeMatha High School, was hardly a picture of anxiousness sitting in front of his locker during Media Day. As the Terps started preseason practice, the nerves that hindered Williams last fall have been replaced with a firm confidence.

‘‘Last year, I was a little timid coming off the line, not 100 percent what I’m supposed to do,” said Williams. ‘‘But I feel like as the center you’ve got to be the quarterback of the offense. You’ve got to do your job, whatever I say goes, that’s the approach I have to take every day.”

Williams, who missed all of spring practice due to a finger injury, is expected to compete with redshirt freshman Phil Costa. Williams said he’s excited about the challenge.

‘‘Costa is a great player, he’s a great competitor. He’s strong, fast and quick, he’s got all of the intangibles,” said Williams, who’s 6-foot-2 and 318 pounds. ‘‘Whoever gets the job, I wish him the best. I’m a fan of winning, so whoever’s getting the job done best.”

Williams was barely a week into spring practice when he tore a tendon in his finger and had surgery the following day. Williams said it was difficult having to watch from the sidelines.

‘‘I gave a lot of support,” said Williams. ‘‘I know it was just a finger and I know being an offensive linemen you have to use your hands, so in my opinion, it was pretty major. I came back, I’m fully recovered and I’m ready to go and that’s all that matters.”

Williams played in the Terps’ final 10 games last season after being the offensive scout team’s player of the year in his redshirt season in 2004. Terps’ offensive line coach Tom Brattan is interested in seeing how Williams responds after losing the inside track to the starting spot.

‘‘There were flashes of very good play and there were other times you’re, like, ‘what are you doing? You’re playing like a redshirt freshman,’” said Brattan. ‘‘That’s understandable to a point, but we’ve got to evolve and get out of that now. We’ve got to get to the next step. It’s not an easy position.”

Williams played offensive tackle and guard at DeMatha before switching to center. With three returning starters, Williams should be a major contributor to an offensive line that may be the best in Friedgen’s six years in College Park.

‘‘I’m hoping [Williams] is going to come on and be the player that really strengthens our offensive line, ” said Friedgen.

‘‘The move is to win the ACC championship, go to a bowl and win,” said Williams. ‘‘Everybody still has that bitter taste in their mouths. Hopefully if I get the chance to start, I can make a definitive impact. ”

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