- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Alex Wujciak glared across Maryland’s practice facility during a workout last week, a few stray locks of brown hair and a mouthguard hanging from his lip the only apparent distractions.

Then he raced onto the field — a place the linebacker would love to remain heading into the fall.

It’s not a question of talent for the redshirt sophomore but rather coming back from ACL surgery that cost him all of last season.

I’m very eager, said Wujciak, who is among the new starters who will receive a look in Saturday’s spring game at Byrd Stadium. It is what it is. Playing football, you can get hurt. That’s what happens when you sign up. Those things can happen. You can only do what’s in your power.

Wujciak has tried to do that and a bit more since suffering the injury in the second week of camp in August.

Two years ago, he was a frequent recipient of praise from coach Ralph Friedgen — so much so that Friedgen often mused about burning Wujciak’s redshirt. He withstood the temptation to do so while knowing Wujciak instantly would help the defense in 2007.

The ACL tear derailed those plans. Instead of playing after an irritating one-year hiatus, Wujciak’s wait was doubled. And along with the excruciating wait was an arduous rehabilitation process with director of strength and conditioning Dwight Galt.

It meant diving into rehab, training the rest of his body around the one injured joint. The work left Wujciak in better overall shape, even as he was stuck watching Maryland struggle to a 6-7 season.

It’s been a very emotional experience for him, Galt said. … The biggest scars with a serious ACL or PCL injury like my son [Deege] has are emotional. It hurts so much, and it’s so emotionally devastating that you’re scared to death of doing it again. It’s like breaking up with a girl that you love, and you don’t want to do it again.

Whatever emotional concerns Wujciak faced, he seems to be over them this spring. He is often on the delivering end of a solid hit and has played middle linebacker, his natural position, for the last month with starter Dave Philistin still recovering from shoulder surgery.

More than anything, he appears to be back to the same aggressive style that endeared him to Maryland’s staff in the first place.

You can go out and shoot around, but football’s not a natural game where you run into people, defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said. That’s kind of natural to him, believe it or not. … He kind of gives you a mood. He likes the game. He comes out here. He’s kind of an extension of me. He’s half-crazy. He gets out there and likes the game and has some fun.

Notes — Friedgen said Chris Turner maintains a slight edge on Jordan Steffy in the team’s quarterback race. Meanwhile, Morgan Green has kind of moved ahead of Da’Rel Scott at tailback. Scott has a slightly pulled hamstring. …

Sophomore linebacker Chris Clinton, who played in two games last year, was dismissed from the team.

He wasn’t following what I ask guys to do, Friedgen said. You either do what I ask you to do, or you’re off the team. He kind of refused to do it, so I really didn’t have any alternative.

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