COLLEGE PARK -- Assistant coach George Foussekis often is thinking of Mike Jarmolowich when he tells his linebackers at Maryland that "tough guys don't get hurt."
Jarmolowich is the ultimate tough guy. In three seasons here, he has never missed a game because of injury. This year, as a junior, he leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in tackles.
"When he hits somebody, he's not only taking a blow but giving one," Foussekis said. "He is tough. It's an ingredient some players have, something they're born with."
Jarmolowich by no means disputes Foussekis' description of him. This is Jarmolowich on Jarmolowich: "I fly to the ball. I'm reckless, hard-nosed. I play tough. I'm having fun."
As Maryland prepares for the conclusion of its dreary 2-8 season Saturday at North Carolina State (8-2), Jarmolowich takes a look back at what has been and could have been.
He entered the season with goals of leading the team in tackles, which he does, and being one of the top tacklers in the ACC, which he is, and being named to the All-ACC first team, which he very well may be.
His 141 tackles put him far ahead of anyone in the conference; no one else has as many as 100. He has four ACC Defensive Back of the Week salutes, more than anyone else.
"He's having a phenomenal year," said safety Ron Reagan. "You never have to worry about anybody breaking through the middle."
When Jarmolowich talks about the team's goals, his face becomes cloudy. He says the Terps wanted to have a winning season, surpass their 6-5-1 record of 1990, go to a bowl and gain respect.
In that respect, the Terps are 0-for-4.
"What ever could go wrong, did go wrong," Jarmolowich said. "Life's about learning and facing adversity. They say adversity builds character. I've built so much I could be a cartoon."
Now a 6-foot-2, 232-pound junior, Jarmolowich came here from Union, N.J., by way of Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy as a undernourished 200-pounder. Even after an additional year of maturing at Fork Union, no one gave him a tumble except Wake Forest and Maryland.
"He was a little undersized," Foussekis said. "But he had that great desire. He got better than I thought he could be."
Jarmolowich chose the Terps over Wake Forest in part because Maryland is closer to his hometown. Dave D'Addio, who played here a decade ago, and Frank Costello, Maryland's strength and conditioning coordinator, are both from Union and told him good things about this place.
"No regrets," Jarmolowich said. "I enjoy it here."
He refuses to get caught up in the controversy over whether Joe Krivak should remain as coach, however.
"Whatever happens, happens," Jarmolowich said with a shrug. "I'll be here."