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Brett Kulka will have to battle for the chance to repeat his 2017 numbers

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The fifth-year senior had a career year last season, but will face several challengers for playing time in 2018.

Maryland v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

We’re now more than halfway through It is now Defensive Ends Week at Testudo Times. We’ve made it through the quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and offensive line and touched upon four of the main rotational defensive ends. Now it’s time to look at some of the depth behind them.

Brett Kulka, No. 96

Height: 6’4
Weight: 260 lbs.
Year: Redshirt senior
Hometown: Edinboro, Pennsylvania
High school: General McLean

The background

A two-star recruit coming out of high school, Kulka committed to Randy Edsall’s staff back in 2014. After redshirting his first season in College Park, he’s produced more than one would expect a two-star recruit to produce.

During his first two seasons on the field, he recorded 15 tackles and half a sack in 24 games. But in 2017, with Jesse Aniebonam out for the year, some reshuffling was required on the defensive line. Kulka played in 11 of the Terps’ 12 games last season, totaling 30 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss.

Off the field, Kulka has been earned Academic All-Big Ten honors each of the past three seasons.

Replicating that kind of playing time will be hard.

Aniebonam is returning for another season, and Byron Cowart is slated to fill the other defensive end spot. Durell Nchami and Bryce Brand are projected to fill the two BUCK spots behind Aniebonam, and there’s a stable of newcomers gunning for the spot(s) behind Cowart (more on those guys tomorrow).

One of the most consistent messages DJ Durkin has preached since his arrival in College Park is that players will have to consistently compete for playing time. As an experienced starter, though, Kulka should at least have the upper hand on the newcomers heading into fall camp.

His experience will be useful no matter what.

On the field, on the sideline, on the practice field, in the meeting room and in the locker room, one of the most underrated attributes of any football player is leadership and experience. Whether Kulka earns the same kind of playing time as he did last season or not, he’ll be a valuable asset for the Terps.

As one of the elder statesmen of the defensive line group, Kulka should at least see rotational time this season. There’s a lot of uncertainty on the defensive line heading into the season, and Kulka’s experience will be a calling card throughout the fall.