COLLEGE PARK — New Maryland offensive line coach Greg Studrawa knew nothing about any of the Terrapins' offensive linemen before watching an offseason workout earlier this year.
He did not look at old high school recruiting rankings and did not want to see college stats or hear accolades. He wanted his opinion of each player based strictly off of what he saw on the field.
And when Studrawa first saw Michael Dunn, he saw a player with size and impressive enough athleticism, movement skills and technique that he thought Dunn had to have been a former four- or five-star recruit.
It wasn't until later that another coach told Studrawa that Dunn was a former walk-on.
"I was like, 'You've got to be [expletive] me,'" Studrawa said.
Dunn joined Maryland as a walk-on in 2012 after being lightly recruited out of Walt Whitman High in Bethesda. But in two years, Dunn has gone from, as he put it, a fat and out-of-shape 260-pounder to a 6-foot-5, 300-redshirt sophomore that coaches believe has a chance to be a good starting left tackle.
Dunn started the first nine games at right guard last year and the final four at right tackle, but he played well enough during the spring that Terrapins head coach Randy Edsall moved him to left tackle.
Dunn has been beaten at times by some of Maryland's talented defensive linemen and outside linebackers during preseason practice. But to Edsall, Dunn has been consistently good throughout the summer while continuing to make coaches optimistic about his future at left tackle.
"Michael Dunn is just a great story," Edsall said. "You take a local kid here that walked on and earned the right to earn a scholarship. You see the improvement in each phase that we go through. He's a guy that's able to move around from right tackle to left tackle. He's still getting better. He's going to be really good when it's all said and done."
The crazy part is that Dunn was not even a full-time starter in high school until his senior season, and he never even played left tackle at Whitman.
Dunn was just 5-10, 170 pounds as a high school freshman. He grew to about 6-5 by his senior year, but he weighed only 240 pounds — some 60 pounds less than a standard college offensive lineman.
Combining that lack of prototypical size with the lack of film that comes along with starting just a handful of games prior to his senior season, Dunn had just one scholarship offer (Lehigh) before deciding on Maryland.
"So many teams told me that I couldn't go there," Dunn said. "I actually think about that all the time, which motivates me."
Dunn was a second-team all-county right tackle as a senior at Whitman, but it was too late by that time. Most college teams have already built their recruiting classes prior to the start of a player's senior season.
"There wasn't a lot of people that were knocking on my door because it was just a situation where he had good film, but it was just late film," Whitman coach Jim Kuhn said. "Maryland said, 'Hey, we'd love to have you if you want to come walk on,' and he took the shot, and he's just made the most of his opportunity there, obviously."
Dunn still has a lot to prove.
He has had standout moments during preseason practice. He has pancaked outside linebackers Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil and Yannick Ngakoue in pass protection and helped spring running backs Brandon Ross and Albert Reid for long gains.
But he has yet to do it at left tackle during an actual game.
It is also natural to have doubts about how effective a former walk-on can be at left tackle in a conference like the Big Ten, against potential future top NFL draft picks like Ohio State defensive ends Noah Spence and Joey Bosa or Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun.
However, Edsall has been highly complimentary of Dunn throughout the summer. And to Studrawa, Dunn is bigger, stronger, faster and more technically sound than he was when he first impressed the new line coach earlier this year.
"We knew we had something special when we got him as a walk-on," Terps offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said. "I think playing offensive line in high school as an undersized guy, he had athleticism. And now we've been able to put the weight on and the strength on him, and he's been able to maintain that athleticism. This guy can flat-out play offensive line."