This post was written by new TerrapinStationMD Staff Writer Steven Ulrich. Steven is a 2012 graduate of the University of Maryland and has a clear passion for all things Maryland Terrapins Sports. Please help us welcome Steven to the team.
Following a 4-8 season that included a quarterback injury list unlike anything a team has ever experienced (from Pee-Wee to the NFL), Randy Edsall and his staff’s recruiting efforts produced a respectable #33 ranked recruiting class in 2013 (according to Rivals.com). Despite a combined record of 6-18 in his first two seasons at the helm, Randy Edsall was able to bring together 22 young men that have the ability to bring Maryland football back from the crypt of the ACC and into forgotten heights as they transition into the Big Ten.
For the fans with star-studded eyes, you’ll notice that Maryland was able to bring in its second consecutive 5-star Receiver in Deon Long. Along with Long, Maryland was able to add much needed depth to its OL, LB core and TE with Derwin Gray (OL), Yannick Ngakoue (LB), and Andrew Isaacs (TE).
But instead of stating the obvious (Deon Long will make an immediate impact and will be playing his football on Sundays), Maryland’s 2013 class is chalk full of players who can make an impact in the 2014 season and some serious sleepers who will ultimately redshirt but could possibly make an impact down the road. Here are three players that could have an immediate impact on the 2013 season (plus one potential sleeper for this season and one player to keep an eye on for the future):
Will Likely (CB – Glades Central HS – Belle Glade, FL) – If Will Likely was just 2-3 inches taller, he could very well be suiting up for Florida or Florida State this coming season. Luckily for Maryland, he only stands at 5’7″, and the top college programs overlooked him. But don’t let his small stature fool you; he is a very physical corner who has the speed and acceleration to play both zone and man-to-man coverage. He’s already on campus, and he’s getting a head start by taking part in spring workouts. Look for Likely to be part of the Dime and possibly the Nickel packages if Isaac Goins struggles on Defense.
Kingsley Opara (DL – Manderin HS – Jacksonville, FL) – With the losses of AJ Francis and Joe Vellano, the suspension of Isaiah Ross, and just one DL recruit in 2012 (Braglio), the DL is extremely thin. Maryland will likely go with return NT Darius Kilgo along with Quinton Jefferson and Keith Bowers to round out its DL. But there are some question marks concerning the 2-deep. Braglio and backup NT Nate Clarke have yet to play a single down in college, Justin Anderson has had injury concerns all four years at College Park, and Andre Monroe is coming off an ACL injury that sat him out the entire 2012 season. Enter Kingsley Opara. At 6’4″ 275 lbs, Opara already has the build of a college football defensive lineman, and the summer program will do him wonders. I expect Opara to work himself into the 2-deep and if injuries/poor play transpire, don’t be surprised if you see the big man from Florida lined up next to Kilgo on Saturdays.
Silvano Altamirano (OL – Mesa C.C. – San Diego, CA) – This OL transfer is not your typical tan, long blonde hair, blue eyes, southern California dream boat. On the contrary, Altamirano is a large beast with a mean streak that will knock you down, sit on you, and smile while he does it. He wasn’t highly sought after coming out of Mesa CC (Terps beat out Connecticut and SMU for his services), but he comes into a unit that is in desperate need of his athleticism and bully mentality. He’s already serving as De’Onte Arnett’s backup at LG, but If Arnett is ineffective, Altamirano will get his shot.
Elvis Dennah (S – Annapolis Christian HS – Annapolis, MD) – Annapolis Christian isn’t exactly a hot bed for football talent (despite Maryland being on the trails of 2014 four star Rivals250 S Demetrius Johnson), but Elvis Dennah has the makings of a typical Maryland sleeper. Sought after by only division 1 AA schools, Dennah has the size (6’4″) and a knack for finding the ball (almost like a poor man’s Kenny Tate before he made the switch to LB). Dennah will likely redshirt, but with the loss of Eric Franklin and Matt Robinson moving to LB, the opportunity is there for Dennah to make a move into the 2-deep and get some playing time.
Keep an Eye on Down the Road:
Derrick Hayward (LB – Wicomico HS – Salisbury, MD) – Hayward isn’t exactly a sleeper like Dennah (offers from Rutgers and Boston College) but he certainly wasn’t highly thought of by recruiting analysts. Yet, Hayward has the potential to be something special in a few years, if not sooner. Because of his 6’5″ frame, he has lots of room to add muscle (he’s only 200 lbs) to go along with his speed and athleticism (he also played WR/TE at Wicomico HS). If Hayward can bulk up to 245-250 by his redshirt SO year (very doable) while not losing a step with his quickness, he can become a force rushing from the Will or Sam LB position.