Maryland defensive tackle Dre Moore sat at his locker last week amused at a question that permitted him to unleash his usual mischievousness.
He searched his mind for nicknames of his teammates, eventually coming up with one he blurted out with pride.
"Hey, who's the big freshman?" Moore asked eagerly of lineman Bearthur Johnson. "What's his name? What's his nickname? 'Stomachs.' We call him 'Stomachs.' You make sure and write that down."
There's plenty about a locker room culture outsiders never see or hear about, often under the guise of keeping things in the family. But when many Terps players were asked about teammates' nicknames, there was no shortage of eagerness to spill secrets.
Some come from physical similarities (lineman Lamar Young and singer Sean Kingston and wide receiver LaQuan Williams and rapper Andre 3000 were among the pairings). Others are just abbreviations or a play on a name, such as right tackle Dane Randolph — aka "Great Dane."
Amid the craziness of the locker room, names eventually stick and become as ingrained in the environment as football itself.
"That's basically our names for each other," senior safety Christian Varner said. "I call [Isaiah Gardner] 'Zeke.' I call [Kevin Barnes] 'Deuce.' They call me 'Bam-Bam.' We call Erin [Henderson] 'Easy.' We all refer to each other by those names. We don't call each other by our real names."
Some nicknames stick better than others. Keon Lattimore's efficient "K-Latt" is part of a tattoo on his arm. Varner, whose "Bam-Bam" moniker came up most frequently in a canvassing of the locker room, has both the name and "The Flintstones" character tattooed on his right shoulder.
It helps, too, when a player comes up with his own nickname. Linebacker Moise Fokou was identified several times as "The Fook," while fullback Steven Pfister insisted his nickname was "Xerxes." (For the record, no one else likened him to a heroic Persian king.)
Several players have more than one alternate name, with wideout Danny Oquendo and linebacker Chase Bullock among the best at acquiring multiple monikers. One teammate identified tailback Morgan Green as "CB4," but the redshirt freshman offered up "Jail Cell" as a possibility.
"Because I look like I just got out of prison," Green said slyly.
Then there's center Edwin Williams, who picked up a nickname from guard Andrew Crummey. Sure enough, the first person Crummey thought of was "Black Ice," coined in honor of the 6-foot-2, 326-pound junior center.
Williams embraced the name further when he got a black shirt he described as "very shiny, icy."
"Oh yeah, it's a very great name," Williams said proudly. " 'Black Ice.' It personifies me. It's beautiful."
Not everyone is so fortunate. Redshirt freshman lineman Evan Eastburn started offering a moniker for nearby walk-on Lee Oliver, who insisted he didn't have a nickname.
"Lee 'Groundhog Day' Oliver," Eastburn crowed.
"I do not look like a groundhog," countered the 6-foot-2, 306-pound Oliver.
Eastburn asserted Oliver looked like "the gopher from 'Groundhog Day.' "
"You mean 'Caddyshack,' " Oliver retorted, correcting the reference in his own unwanted nickname.
Left guard Jaimie Thomas was happy to dish out names for some his teammates. But when his own nickname — "Bobby" — was divulged, he was rattled.
"No, no, don't start that," Thomas said as teammates howled with glee. "Don't take that to the media. I'm going to hurt you."
He then turned to a reporter and said, "You can cross that one out."
Of course, getting to the bottom of a nickname's meaning isn't as easy. Thomas only would say his moniker was an inside joke. Walk-on lineman Kyle Sappington declined to discuss the origin of "Houseington," and teammates also begged off.
"That would take weeks and weeks to explain," defensive end Deege Galt said.
Inevitably, everyone winds up with a nickname. Sometimes they will come from an admonition from coaches. Others will just evolve from joking around or from interaction during meetings.
"One will find you, either way," freshman defensive lineman Ian Davidson said. "You can be in the back, and they'll say, 'That kid's in the back. We'll call him 'Back.' "
The Terps generally agreed August was the best time for creating new names. Players are alone on campus, and most do not have classes to attend. With two practices a day and an infusion of new faces, there's bound to be some creativity.
That can lead to some over-the-top outcomes, especially when a name doesn't quickly circulate. Johnson, a genial, 6-foot-7, 350-pounder, didn't know about Moore's nickname for him. Instead, he offered up the far more flattering "Optimus Prime," a "Transformers" character.
"I'd rather have that than 'Stomachs,' " Johnson said.
But even teasing is meant to help a team become closer, a goal more likely to come to fruition during camp than at any other time.
"The first couple full contact practices for freshmen, it is kind of our way of initiating them and welcoming them into the team — sometimes the hard way," Moore said. "It's kind of everybody getting used to each other and personalities. We just become tight in the next few weeks."