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Covington helps Terps steal from the rich

October 07, 2005|By BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - As defenses go, the University of Maryland has to take a Sherwood Forest mentality.

The Terrapins have to rob from the rich and give to the poor to even out the game for Maryland. In many cases, the rich are the opponents who have the ball and the poor is the Terps' offense, which needs it to score.

It is kind of an easy concept. But it takes the right characters to play the right parts. On this year's Maryland defense, All-American linebacker D'Qwell Jackson would probably be considered Robin Hood while Trey Covington would be playing the role of the Merry Men.

Or when you are at Maryland, make that Merriman.

Covington is a redshirt freshman who has been given the honor to take the position vacated by Shawne Merriman.

"By no means am I Shawne," Covington said. "I'm just out there trying to do my best."

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The best has been pretty good so far, especially during Maryland's two-game winning streak, as he's been trying to fill the huge shoes left behind by Merriman.

Merriman revolutionized the defensive end position for the Terps' defense with his ability to rush out of the stance, be a standup pass rusher or work as a linebacker over his final three years. He was so dominant, he left Maryland early to become the No. 1 choice in the NFL draft for San Diego, where he is starting to assert himself again.

Covington is starting to show some of Merriman's same tendencies.

"Trey has been amazing for the last couple of weeks," linebacker Wesley Jefferson said. "He is a sleeping giant. He has been all over the place with sacks. I knew he was going to be good, but not that good."

Covington isn't convinced about his ability just yet. He watched Merriman in amazement last season while he was redshirting.

"He really set an example for me," Covington said. "It was his physicality and his intensity. I haven't matched all those things. It takes a lot of work."

Covington has 18 tackles and three sacks since being inserted in the starting lineup for West Virginia three games ago. He has shown the power to rush strongly upfield while possessing the speed to run along the line of scrimmage to chase down running backs and sack quarterbacks.

In a sense, he has followed the footsteps of Jackson, who found himself in a similar position at middle linebacker three years ago.

"When E.J. (Henderson) was gone, no one thought anyone could play the position as well as him again," Jefferson said. "D'Qwell has and he has been great at it. Trey is showing the same thing at his position. Like I said, I knew he was going to be good, but I didn't think it was going to be right away. You could see it all coming out in practice."

Covington isn't convinced he has arrived just yet. He is just making a successful cameo appearance.

"The big thing for me is to get comfortable with all the responsibilities of the position," Covington said. "On one play, I'll be rushing the quarterback and on the next, I'm staying back to help on the run. Physically, I think I can do it all, but mentally, I have to focus to be on the top of my game."

Maryland put Covington in to help add some presence to a young defensive line that was having trouble keeping the lanes clear for the linebackers. Jackson, for example, had to fight to shed blocks in order to make tackles.

It has worked so far, but there are better days ahead if Covington can become his own form of Merriman.

"It's all about getting better," Covington said. "This season has forced me to mature faster than I thought I had to. I got hurt and I was forced to come back and step up faster. I'm not the best against the run, but I hope to put on more muscle mass to help me out. I'm not sure what the coaches' plan for me is. This position requires a lot of things."

Especially if Covington is going to help steal from the rich.

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