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Maryland’s Pete DeSouza cleared for contact in long road back from two broken legs

- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2011

Maryland offensive lineman Pete DeSouza has arrived at a significant milestone — clearance for full contact — with the Terrapins' preseason camp commencing next week.

It's far from the last step, though, before DeSouza is completely back.

Coach Randy Edsall said Thursday that DeSouza, who suffered two broken legs in a scooter accident in October, will participate in individual work when Maryland opens practice Tuesday.

"We're going to ... see how he does and see if he's to the point where he's going to be able to progress to get into the team work," Edsall said. "We're going to have to be able to see if he's going to get involved with that team work based on how he moves while he's out there."

On many levels, DeSouza's progress less than 10 months after a serious crash is impressive.

The Silver Spring native was thrust into the lineup because of injury early last season and started three games at right tackle as a redshirt freshman. But he was involved in an on-campus motor scooter wreck Oct. 21, an accident that led to an extended hospitalization and created great concern among his teammates.

The next day, DeSouza underwent 12 hours of surgery to repair broken tibias and fibulas in both legs. The day after that, Maryland players and coaches dedicated a victory at Boston College to DeSouza.

DeSouza didn't practice in the spring as he continued to rehabilitate from the injuries. Edsall said his plan is to ease DeSouza into things gradually while remaining vigilant about his condition throughout camp.

"I think he's come a long way, but he's still got a long way to go," Edsall said. "I think it's great he's going to have the opportunity and he's cleared to be able to be out there to be able to practice and I know that's something he's looking very much forward to doing, but then it's going to be how much explosiveness does he have."

That's a significant unknown. Maryland enters camp in search of a third tackle. Max Garcia and R.J. Dill are the likely opening week starters, and junior Justin Gilbert (ACL tear) will participate in individual drills during camp but is not expected to play until October.

DeSouza is the only other player on the roster with any significant on-field experience. But for far greater reasons, he is a player to keep an eye on this month as he continues his comeback.

"It's great that he's cleared, but being cleared and functionally playing the game at the level that you have to play it and with the quickness and explosion you're going to have to have as an offensive lineman, that is what's going to be evaluated as we go out there starting on the ninth," Edsall said. "Can he function to the level so he can be successful and not put himself in any kind of danger or anybody else?"

NOTES: Edsall said freshman guard Stephen Grommer (fractured foot) won't be ready for the start of camp. ... Four former walk-ons earned scholarships for this season: Long snapper Tim Downs, wide receiver Webb Dulin, safety Anthony Green and tight end Ryan Schlothauer. Downs, Dulin and Green are seniors, and Schlothauer is a junior. ... Former Bowie State quarterback James Joseph transferred to Maryland, giving the Terps four quarterbacks to practice with this season.

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