After much speculation over the past few days, it was revealed on Tuesday evening that freshman offensive lineman Derwin Gray won’t be enrolling at Maryland due to academic issues. The hope is that Gray will straighten out his academic situation with a year of junior college or prep school.
Gray was the crown jewel of the 2013 recruiting class and was one of two players from Friendship Academy (the other being linebacker Yannick Ngakoue). Gray was one of four offensive linemen in this recruiting class but was clearly was most heralded. The Friendship Academy star was expected to see significant time on the offensive line this season. Offensive line hasn’t been a position of stability for the Terps in recent years and Gray would’ve been a nice safety blanket for Randy Edsall to have. Gray is a big, physical offensive tackle that can ward off even the strongest of defensive linemen.
As much of a luxury as Gray would’ve been for Maryland this season, I believe that the Terps have the depth and leadership up front to get the job done. Maryland quarterbacks were only sacked 28 times in 2012 and seemed to be able to hold the fort despite the inconsistent quarterback play. Sophomore offensive tackle Mike Madaras wasn’t expected to be a full-time starter in 2012 but ended up appearing in all 12 games and started eight of them. In only his third collegiate start, the Good Counsel product helped paved the way for a Terps ground attack that gained a season-high 206 yards on Oct. 20 against North Carolina State. Madaras certainly has the pedigree to lead this offensive line as he received offers from teams like Michigan, Michigan State, and Georgia Tech.
De’Onte Arnett and Nick Klemm also bring strong leadership and a veteran presence to the group. Klemm appeared in all 12 games for Maryland in 2012, including starting the first four games at left tackle. Klemm was part of a group that didn’t allow a single sack in the season opener against William & Mary. His strongest game came against Connecticut on Sept. 15 as he helped clear the way for Wes Brown’s 74 yard effort and one of the strongest games of the young back’s freshman campaign. The Georgia native (attended the same high school as Charles Mitchell) will be a senior this season and will likely have something to prove. On the other hand, Arnett also appeared in double-digit games. The Capitol Heights, Md. native appeared in 10 games and started nine of those contests. He started the first four games of the season at left guard and even saw action on the special teams unit at times. Arnett was a constant in the trenches for the Terps and excelled in run blocking.
Obviously Gray would’ve been another body that Maryland could have used if there were injury concerns or unstable play. However, there are several upperclassmen that can step up and produce for the Terps. We may see Gray back in College Park down the road but it is currently unclear what the future holds for him. All that is known at this moment is that the Terps still have the talent to compete in the ACC in the trenches.