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All eyes are on Terps’ Nick Klemm
Left tackle says he’s been under the microscope
Nick Klemm didn’t spend much of the past three years in the public eye. The offensive lineman was part of Maryland’s field goal unit for half of last season, and he occasionally spelled starting tackles R.J. Dill and Max Garcia.
Never, though, did he feel like he was far from scrutiny.
“Every practice, you’re always in the spotlight,” Klemm said. “We have cameras out here filming everything, so you’re always being critiqued and always being evaluated by the coaches at all times. It’s really not much different or much more pressure.”
Now, though, plenty more attention will be paid to Klemm as he attempts to hold onto the Terrapins’ left tackle job.
Dill departed for Rutgers in December, and Garcia left for Florida during the spring semester. They were arguably the harshest hits in a massive offseason exodus for Maryland, which saw offensive tackle devolve from an unquestioned position of strength to a bit of a concern.
Senior Justin Gilbert, who has three starts at both left tackle and right guard in his career, appears entrenched at right tackle. More than a week into camp, Klemm’s place at left tackle remains a bit less certain.
“Right now, he’s the starter,” coach Randy Edsall said. “There’s other people [who], if he doesn’t do the things he’s supposed to do, will go by him. I like what he’s been able to do so far. He understands the game. The big thing for him is to be more consistent.”
Possible contenders for protecting quarterback C.J. Brown’s blind side include redshirt freshman Ryan Doyle. But for the most part, Maryland’s reserve tackles do not possess an extensive college track record.
“I’m definitely prepared to step into the spot,” Klemm said. “I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve gotten the playbook down real well. Just keep working on techniques and getting better and staying lower and working on stuff on the field. Pretty much in the mental area, I feel really prepared.”
He earned his place atop the depth chart during the spring and went through a summer of workouts knowing he could win a regular job this season.
That might not have been the case in previous years, when Klemm’s playing time was often limited to special teams and near the end of blowouts.
“I think Klemm’s ready,” Gilbert said. “He’s bided his time. He played backup for Max last year. He works hard. He gets in the weight room, he comes out here for linemen drills. He’s a hard-working guy. I definitely think he’s ready to step up. He definitely knows this is his year and he’s ready for it.”
Not that Klemm wants to place too much value in the perception it feels like it’s his turn after the offseason exits.
“It does, but you always have that realization that there’s someone there trying to take your job at all times,” Klemm said.
As Klemm well knows, someone’s always watching. With a starting spot on the line, quite a few more people will be keeping an eye on his progress in the weeks to come.
NOTES: Edsall said freshman Stefon Diggs is at the top of the depth chart at kickoff returner and punt returner.
• Junior right guard Josh Cary did not practice Tuesday with a knee injury. Edsall said he expects Cary, who was competing with De’Onte Arnett for a starting job, to miss between one and two weeks.
• Perry Hills has taken the lead in the Terps’ backup quarterback competition, ahead of fellow freshman Caleb Rowe.
• Edsall said if the season were to start now, redshirt freshman Brandon Ross wouid be the team’s starting tailback. The only player in that competition with college experience is sophomore Justus Pickett, who opened camp as the starter.
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About the Author
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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