Dexter McDougle didn’t think it was a big deal. Not at first, anyway.
The Maryland cornerback was riding on a motor scooter late last year. Teammate Isaiah Ross was driving, zipping past the chapel and toward the middle of campus.
“I got up and tried to put my hat on and my arm couldn’t go [up],” McDougle said. “I reached over, and my collarbone was sticking out. You could see it through the skin. It was bad.”
The ensuing surgery ended McDougle’s freshman season. He’d played in all but one regular-season game, made 22 tackles and broke up three passes. And while the injury cost him the chance to play in a bowl game, it didn’t prevent him from seizing control of a starting job during the spring.
“He was taking it lightly, but I was freaking out a little bit,” Ross said. “It was before the bowl game, and I wanted him to be out there with us. For him not to be out there with us kind of hurt.”
That will change soon enough.
The Falmouth, Va., product played at the same high school as former Maryland star Torrey Smith and offered a glimpse of his talent when granted the opportunity a year ago. McDougle worked as a reserve cornerback and also returned five kickoffs while Smith was dealing was a persistent ankle injury.
“He’s big, he’s physical,” Bradford said during the team’s media day on Tuesday. “He’s a good-sized kid to be playing corner. He has skills to be very good. He obviously just needs rep after rep after rep in order for him to get better, but I have pretty high expectations of what kind of player he’ll become and what kind of talent he is.”
McDougle’s potential didn’t diminish with his scooter accident, though it did lead to one of many changes instituted since coach Randy Edsall was hired. Amid the flurry of Edsall’s initial edicts was a ban on motor scooters to prevent injuries like those suffered last season by McDougle and offensive lineman Pete DeSouza (broken legs).
“He was really hard on himself,” McDougle said. “I told him ‘Man, it’s OK. Mistakes are going to happen. I’m going to come back and play.’ I ended up coming back in the spring and had a really great spring and now I’m here in the summer and I’m ready to play.”
“I think he’ll be a big puzzle piece,” Ross said.
NOTES: Edsall said sophomore Avery Graham was moved from cornerback to Star, the hybrid linebacker-defensive back position where Kenny Tate will start. Graham had 12 tackles in seven games last season. … Edsall declined to comment on wide receiver Adrian Coxson’s leg injury. Coxson was carted out of practice Saturday.
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Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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