Moten gives Terps triple option at linebacker

October 19, 2007|By Heather A. Dinich | Heather A. Dinich,Sun reporter

College Park -- Those within the Maryland football program tend to describe linebacker Adrian Moten as a player with an uncanny ability to find the football and as having "football savvy."

Moten, a redshirt freshman, has an acronym for it: FBI - football instinct.

"That's what I have," he said. "It's just a natural thing, something that comes quick to me."

Moten's ascension from the scout team last season to a dependable, do-it-all player this year also came quickly to him. Numerous injuries have forced Moten to learn all three linebacker positions, and he was thrust into an integral role this month against Georgia Tech. Although he came into the game at weak-side linebacker - the position he is least familiar with - Moten had his most successful performance while filling in for starter Erin Henderson and his backup, Rick Costa.

With Henderson (knee) expected to play tomorrow against visiting Virginia and Costa still out with a concussion, Moten is listed as the No. 2 linebacker for both the strong-side and weak-side positions. Although he has yet to start a game at Maryland, Moten has proven to be a viable option at any of the three positions.

"I call him the gypsy," outside linebackers coach Al Seamonson said. "He doesn't have a home. He keeps bouncing around to me, [inside linebackers] Coach [Chris] Cosh, anybody else who will take him."

And they all want him.

Moten began his career at the strong-side position in 2006 but was moved to the middle in late August after injuries to Dave Philistin and Chase Bullock - two more linebackers who have been nicked up recently but are expected to play against Virginia.

Moten has played in all six games this season but received his most significant time Oct. 6 against Georgia Tech after Costa suffered head and neck injuries.

In Costa's absence, Moten matched a career-high five tackles - including a career-high four unassisted - after roughly two weeks of practicing at his position.

"If we didn't have him, I don't know who we would have put there Saturday," defensive lineman Jeremy Navarre said. "Everybody was getting hurt. He definitely came in handy."

Moten, who was just as versatile at Gwynn Park High in Prince George's County, was recruited by Maryland to play either linebacker or safety, but he never made it into the Terps' secondary. After an impressive spring, he entered this season atop the depth chart at strong-side linebacker with Moise Fokou, who has started there every game this season.

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said what Moten has been able to learn in such a short time is "amazing."

"You don't find that very often," Friedgen said. "For a redshirt freshman, it's remarkable he's doing as well as he's doing."

In addition to playing all three linebacker positions, Moten starts on three special teams units - kickoff coverage and both punt teams.

"His table's full for a redshirt freshman," Seamonson said. "He learns fast, but you worry about a little overload for a kid that hasn't played a lot yet, and he's only a redshirt freshman. But he's handled it well. Hopefully, he'll benefit from it in the long run, but we certainly hope he can settle in and get good at playing one spot here soon if we can stabilize and stay healthy and keep developing our roles."

Though Moten has been getting a lot of practice time recently at weak side, that doesn't mean that's where he'll stay. Friedgen said Moten's future depends in part on where Alex Wujciak is next season after recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament but that both would make good middle linebackers. Ideally, Seamonson said, he'd like to keep Moten with him at strong side.

His role against Virginia is as open as where he'll play next year.

"Who knows where I'll be on Saturday?" Moten said.

The better question might be where he won't play.

Notes -- Friedgen said quarterback Jordan Steffy has not been cleared to play this weekend. ... Henderson has been selected as one of 10 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's best linebacker.

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