- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2005

The play is the thing for Maryland’s Trey Covington.

Sure, the redshirt freshman can make plays on the field, something the Terrapins have learned in recent weeks. But he also has a bent toward the theater, whether it is enjoying “Hamlet” — a personal favorite he first read when he was in eighth grade — or jotting down a play of his own.

“I’m reading a story and I’m thinking it would be great to make a movie out of it, only out of my own interpretation and have the characters be how I envision them,” Covington said.

That’s a virtual job description of a director. Though Covington is not interested in an on-stage role because “I probably couldn’t act to save my life,” he wouldn’t mind the chance to pursue directing later in life.

For now, his interest in writing provides an escape from the rigors of everyday life, one that Covington cherishes.

“I always write for myself,” Covington said. “Instead of doodling in class, I’ll just write. It’s relaxing. Maybe someday I’ll publish some type of thing but probably not.”

Instead, people will have to settle for watching him author fine football performances. Content both perusing a play or pursuing a passer, Covington’s maturation accelerated when he took over a starting spot at the hybrid LEO position (linebacker-end option) three games into the season after Jermaine Lemons sprained his knee.

Covington hasn’t disappointed, delivering three sacks in the last two games, including two of Virginia quarterback Marques Hagans in last week’s 45-33 victory against the Cavaliers. He’ll start again Saturday when the Terps (3-2) visit Temple (0-5).

“The big thing for me was becoming comfortable with all the responsibilities,” Covington said. “One play I’ll be rushing the passer, and the next I’ll be dropping back and covering a receiver. Physically, it’s great there’s a position like that because I feel I can do all those things. But from a mental perspective, you have to be on top of your game.”

He certainly had the chance to learn that from former Terp Shawne Merriman, who played the position the last three years before becoming a first-round selection in April’s NFL Draft. Covington studied Merriman’s physicality, intensity and aggression all last season and has tried to live up to his predecessor’s high standard.

Covington acknowledged that fully doing so will take time. He did win the ACC’s defensive rookie of the week for his Sept.24 performance against Wake Forest, but he isn’t yet the disruptive force that Merriman became by his junior season. Some improvement probably will come when he adds to his 6-foot-3, 241-pound frame.

“He’s done some good things in these first couple weeks and he’s going to continue to develop, but in my old coaching mind he still has a long way to be where we want him to be in the image of what the prototype is out there, Shawne Merriman,” outside linebackers coach Al Seamonson said. “But he’s on the right track.”

That success isn’t entirely certain probably appeals to Covington, who enjoys the unpredictability of a story line so long as it doesn’t involve his own team.

“You have your love stories that always end up happy in the end. You have stories that are horrors or scary movies and you have comedies, but then I really like dramas because you don’t know how it’s going to end,” Covington said. “It could end badly [or] well. You don’t know what kind of implications it is going to have. It makes it feel more realistic. Everything in life doesn’t end up with a happy ending.”

Yet with the ability he already has displayed, one probably awaits Covington.

Notes — Coach Ralph Friedgen said wide receiver Jo Jo Walker and linebacker D’Qwell Jackson have been voted permanent captains. …

Center Ryan McDonald was named ACC offensive lineman of the week. … Freshman kicker Obi Egekeze (right quadriceps), who has not played this season, kicked off in practice Monday and could make the trip to Temple. “I want to find out if he can kick off to his ability,” Friedgen said.

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