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Maryland football: News and notes heading into game against West Virginia

The Terps talked special teams, Under Armour and more during Tuesday media availabilities.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Special teams played a key role for the Terps in their victory over South Florida last weekend. The Terps got a field-flipping kick return from Stefon Diggs and, even more importantly, a blocked punt and touchdown recovery from Kenneth Goins Jr. and Avery Thompson. The latter play put Maryland from behind to ahead for good.

At his weekly press conference at Byrd Stadium on Tuesday, head coach Randy Edsall praised his special teamers and coordinator Andre Powell. He said Maryland has emphasized special teams as a point-scoring opportunity -- something never clearer than when Goins swatted Mattias Ciabatti's punt deep inside South Florida territory.

Special teams is as important as offense and defense," Edsall said. "We spend a lot of time on special teams trying to get it right because we know the value of it, but also because of the so-called specialists that are involved in that part of the game."

From a personnel standpoint, too, Edsall said he was pleased with the unit's potential.

"When you have a place kicker like Brad [Craddock], who is a weapon, when you have a young man like Will Likely as a punt returner, who is a weapon, and then you have Stefon Diggs as a kick returner and the pressure he can put on people [and] Nate Renfro, if we can just get him to be a little more consistent, he can be a weapon," Edsall said.


Maryland announced Tuesday a 10-year partnership extension with Under Armour on Tuesday. Edsall riffed about the benefits of the relationship for several minutes at the top of his presser. The coach was particularly excited about Maryland's patriotism-themed uniforms for the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore.

"The significance of the defense of Fort McHenry in the Battle of Baltimore in 1812 and to know that the Star Spangled Banner was written here in Baltimore under the defense of Fort McHenry encompasses the Maryland Pride that we talk about. When Under Armour approached us just over a year ago about this concept, I thought it was just unbelievable that they came up with this idea."

Quarterback C.J. Brown, too, was happy about the new digs:

"I think it’s a good fit," Brown said. "Kevin Plank’s done an excellent job with Under Armour and growing the brand, and having a staple institution like the University of Maryland, it’s huge for us and it’s huge for that company."

And linebacker L.A. Goree: "My cousin actually just texted me and said, 'We got Oregon beat, man,'" Goree said with a laugh.

Goree (and your intrepid correspondent) initially had a tough time making the connection between the helmet's decal and the physical shape of Fort McHenry.


Marcus Leak was a hot topic of conversation after his two-touchdown game on Saturday. The receiver himself wasn't available to the gathered press, but Edsall said Leak's year away from the team in 2013 has placed him on the right path.

"I just didn't think he was living up to his potential, his abilities, I just told him to go home [prior to 2013]. He wasn't living up to his potential in football, he wasn't living up to his potential as a person and he wasn't living up to his potential as a student. I told him I thought he needed to go home."

Leak is back in his old role as one of Brown's primary targets, and he had an impressive outing against USF. Brown, too, said he's noticed a change in his No. 3 wideout.

"His whole attitude’s changed," Brown said. "Especially when you have injuries, you’re down in the dumps and things like that. For Coach to be able to bring him back the way he did, I think Marcus understood and was very grateful and came back bigger and stronger,and  with a better attitude and mindset. It's just starting to pay off.

"He's a big-time playmaker," Brown added."

Edsall said Leak hasn't gotten back to his full potential yet. If not, that's probably good news for Maryland.

"I think he's getting better, but I don't think that he's back to the Marcus that we know he can be," Edsall said. "It'll come with continued play and continued reps. He's working hard, he's focused, he's attentive. He's doing all those things that you want to see a young man do."