It's difficult to spot the Maryland men's lacrosse team's most-heralded player on the practice field.
That's because senior defensive midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen, the Terps' lone preseason first team All-American, doesn't act like a star. He isn't one to show off in training, coach John Tillman said, but he offers tips to younger teammates and works hard on defense.
"[The accolades are] not something I think about ever," Davis-Allen said. "I'm more of just a team guy and a guy that just wants to do my job and try to bring along the younger guys who are in my same position."
Davis-Allen's humble approach will be on display when No. 2 Maryland travels to Annapolis on Saturday to face No. 11 Navy in a season-opening rivalry matchup. Tillman hopes the midfielder's calm presence will settle players at the start of the campaign.
"Sometimes you go out for that first game and you're all riled up," Tillman said. "Those are times when you start doing things that you shouldn't do … I'm hoping that our older players … can help manage that."
Navy played its first contest Tuesday at No. 9 Johns Hopkins, losing 15-8. But Tillman, a former Midshipmen assistant coach, claimed his staff's chance to study film of the match offsets any advantage Navy gained by starting competitive action before Maryland.
Plus, Tillman said, Navy is disciplined enough to not let its loss affect its approach against the Terps this weekend.
To earn an eighth straight win over the Midshipmen, Maryland must overcome the absence of defender Mac Pons, who Tillman ruled out for at least one month with a lower body injury.
Pons, a senior expected to help anchor the defense, picked up 10 ground balls and forced eight turnovers last season.
"We play a team defense, so his leadership is something we'd love to have right now, and obviously just his play," Tillman said. "He's a guy who doesn't get beat very often, and he's a guy that makes guys around him better."
Without Pons, the Terps can feed off Davis-Allen, who said he's tried to become more vocal this season. In particular, the defensive midfielder has looked to connect with teammates individually to understand their specific personalities.
He said it's important to "just listen and figure out what the younger guys need," a task he thinks he's improved at in recent months.
The Terps have noticed Davis-Allen take charge. Senior attackman Colin Heacock said teammates know they can lean on the midfielder for a boost.
"He's an awesome guy to be around," Heacock said. "On the field he's giving 100 percent all the time and he's always telling people what they can improve on, so [it's important] to just have him on the field … with the younger guys."
When a reporter asked Tillman to describe the impact Davis-Allen has had on Maryland, the coach joked he didn't have enough time on the conference call to explain his admiration for the senior.
Tillman recited Davis-Allen's on-field strengths: defense, clearing, ground balls and pushing forward in transition. He mentioned Davis-Allen's vocal leadership and the way he lifts his teammates. Then, he paused and offered a final thought.
"He's just wired the right way," Tillman said.