For the most part, the Maryland football team's positional depth chart this spring is unsettled. Players are slotting in all over the field, and head coach DJ Durkin has made it a point that practically nobody should feel settled. That's been evident nowhere more than on the offensive line, where, Durkin said Tuesday, almost nobody has played just a single position over the course of the team's spring practice schedule.
But at center, Brendan Moore appears to be the frontrunner to start. He has played behind senior starters each of the past two years – Sal Conaboy in 2014, Evan Mulrooney in 2015 – and logically seems to be next in line. Moore played all around the offensive line in his first career action toward the end of last season, and he's thriving at center this spring. He's just trying not to feel too comfortable.
"When everyone's in competition, that means you're getting the A game out of everyone at every point. That's going to help everyone. It's going to help the defense because everyone's going hard, and it's going to help every aspect of the game because everyone is trying their best on every rep," Moore said. "Because they know the guy behind them is going to take over if they don't."
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Offensive linemen have a long career arc. It's highly unusual for a lineman not to redshirt, and that's what Moore did in 2014, after coming to Maryland as a three-star tackle out of Texas. Maryland made him a center, and he's been practicing and watching Conaboy and Mulrooney ahead of him ever since.
Nothing is certain, but it seems like it's about to be Moore's turn.
"Brendan really has been a guy that's stood out. Ironically, obviously he just spoke to you guys today," Durkin told media after Tuesday's practice. "But he's really been a guy that's stood out so far this spring. He competes every day. He's consistent with what he does. He's our style of guy, meaning he's a blue collar-type player, so he's done a really good job."
Under new line coach Dave Borbely, Maryland has tried a handful of options at center this spring. Just in the Terps' practices that have been open to the media, rising senior Maurice Shelton and redshirt freshman Quarvez Boulware have also taken a lot of repetitions. But with Mulrooney and Conaboy both now gone, Moore stands a good chance of starting.
"Just being behind those guys was really a great learning experience, having great coaches in Coach Borbely and Coach [Greg Studrawa], who is now at Ohio State," Moore said, "it's been a great experience."
Moore is the only scholarship player on the roster who was formally classified as a center last season, so he's gotten some versing on the ins and outs of the position. Particularly, the center faces a communicative challenge as he tries to keep the five-man line cohesive from left to right, and that's been one emphasis in Walt Bell's new Maryland offense.
"Coach Borbely's done a great job of helping us communicate, and Coach Bell, his offense, I really like it," Moore said. "He's made it very clear what we're supposed to communicate to both sides and in what situations. It's been a very good transition between last year's offense and this year's."
In 11-on-11 drills, Moore ably handled defensive tackle Adam McLean in the pass rush. Generally, he did well in preventing a backward push toward whichever Maryland quarterback happened to be taking reps on a given play. It's not easy to glean much from limited viewing during spring workouts, but Moore's reviews have been good.