Freshmen linemen Madaras, Zeller elevated to starting lineup
The transformation from old to young under second-year Maryland football coach Randy Edsall continues this week, with the promotion of a pair of freshmen offensive linemen to the starting lineup. When Maryland (2-2) plays host to Wake Forest (3-2) on Saturday, true freshman Mike Madaras will start at tackle and redshirt freshman Andrew Zeller will start at guard.
Madaras (6-5, 290), a highly-touted recruit out of Good Counsel, takes the place of junior Nick Klemm on the left side, while Zeller (6-6, 295) takes over for junior De’Onte Arnett on the right.
“Just by taking a look at some of the things that transpired in the games and in practice this past week, I felt that this was the best move for us, as a team, to be the best that we can be,” Edsall said. “This was a move precipitated based on what I saw out of Andrew and Mike, and I thought it gave us the best opportunity to be better.”
The move also gives the forward-thinking Terps a chance to be better in the future. Since he arrived at Maryland, Edsall has shown no hesitation to play young players. Four freshmen, including three true freshmen, are now starting on offense. Three other freshmen are listed among the four co-starters at tailback. Eight sophomores also are in the starting lineup.
“I think they have started to settle in and know that they are good enough to compete at this level and win at this level,” Edsall said of the freshmen. “You see them starting to compete and believe in themselves and start to grasp everything that they need to grasp and you don’t see them having that overwhelmed look in their faces that they did about five or six weeks ago.”
Madaras had been getting spot duty since the season began. Zeller might have sealed a slot in the starting lineup 10 days ago in a 31-21 loss at West Virginia when he hustled downfield on a pass to Stefon Diggs. Zeller threw a block and in the process screened off two other potential tacklers, springing Diggs on the 56-yard touchdown play.
“He made a great play. He took those guys out who had an angle on me,” Diggs said. “I was surprised when I was running – there’s some guys missing on the field … It was a hustle play. He didn’t have to do that.”
Edsall said that hustle and desire helped elevate Zeller and Madaras, a high school teammate of Diggs.
“They are only going to get better,” Edsall said. “They are athletic. They play with a physical toughness, and they are guys who play to the whistle. They will get downfield and make blocks and do the things that I expect out of an offensive lineman.”