Maryland's Farrand values chance to lead

When Maryland coach Randy Edsall announced the team's 2014 leadership council on Monday, his list included six holdovers from the previous year. Least surprising among the incumbents: linebacker Cole Farrand.

It's not just that Farrand plays a position of leadership, middle linebacker, or that he produces on the field (162 tackles the past two seasons). He embraces the responsibility that goes along with his role.

"More this year than last year, I'm looking to take a leadership position, especially because I'm a senior," Farrand told ESPN.com last week, before the leadership council was named. "It's my duty to step up."

It was Farrand's duty to speak up in 2013 when Maryland dropped four of five games following a 4-0 start. The Terrapins looked particularly listless in a 20-3 home setback against Syracuse, throwing two interceptions and fumbling five times (losing two). Injuries once again had hit Maryland especially hard.

The leadership council convened to address the team's lack of fire. Farrand told the media that week, "I feel like we're letting a lot of people down. ... I think everybody felt after the Syracuse game that the Maryland football team maybe wasn't that into it. It's a terrible thing to say but we definitely need to pick up the intensity."

Maryland responded the following week with a 27-24 overtime win at Virginia Tech, the Terrapins' first win in Blacksburg since 1949 and their first against the Hokies since 1990. The defense recorded a season-high 11 tackles-for-loss as Maryland became bowl-eligible.

"We came together and said, 'Look, we can't have the team look like this,'" Farrand said. "It was kind of embarrassing going out there and getting beat the way we were. That wasn’t the team we wanted to be. Myself and the other members of the leadership council got up there and talked to everybody. The other players got the picture that we were a better team than we were showing."

Farrand thinks Maryland can have a very good team, the best in his career, as the Terrapins make their Big Ten debut this fall. Nine starters return on defense, including three of the four top linebackers in Farrand, L.A. Goree and Matt Robinson.

Maryland must replace outside linebacker Marcus Whitfield, who produced nine sacks and 15.5 tackles-for-loss last season. But Farrand likes the depth of the group as young players like Jalen Brooks, Jermaine Carter and Yannick Ngakoue stood out to him this spring.

The Terrapins use a 3-4 alignment, which is catching on around the Big Ten, but remains a unique look.

"I'm sure other teams are watching film, but they haven't seen us yet, so they don't know exactly how Maryland football plays," Farrand said. "It's definitely going to be an advantage going into a new conference."

During his final spring at Maryland, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Farrand worked on refining his game, little things like rip moves against offensive linemen to gain a step or two on a ball-carrier. He also has been more vocal, trying to create a mood of both fun and hard work, which Farrand believes go together.

The Sparta, N.J., native stuck with Maryland even after the school made a coaching change weeks before he was set to sign. He has been through two losing seasons and last season's mini-rebound. A new league awaits Maryland, and in Farrand's view, a potential breakthrough.

"There's a lot of urgency," he said. "It's my last go-round. I'd be happy to go out with a bowl game win, and I'd love to see Maryland in the first Rose Bowl in the first year in the Big Ten.

"We're headed in a great direction."