Oct 13, 2012; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Maryland Terrapins wide receiver Stefon Diggs (1) gestures towards a teammate during pregame warm-ups before the game against the Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sports
After a season in which the torn ACL was contagious among Maryland’s quarterbacks, the Terrapins will look to turn the page in the annual spring game on Friday evening. Maryland went through five different quarterbacks in 2012 including C.J. Brown, Perry Hills, Caleb Rowe, Devin Burns, and linebacker Shawn Petty. The good news is that Brown progressing strongly from his torn ACL last summer and has been named as the starter, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Pennsylvania native also received a sixth year of eligibility for his troubles which should have him in a Terrapins uniform for the next two years. The quarterback, along with several other positions, will be worthy of keeping an eye on during the spring game. Here’s a few of the position battles that Terps fans should be analyzing.
Quarterback: C.J. Brown vs. Ricardo Young – Even though Brown has already been named the starting quarterback, this is still a competition to look into. As we know from last season, injuries happen and can be a crippling factor in deterring a team’s chances of playing in a bowl game. After all, Brown is only eight months out of tearing his ACL in training camp last August. It’ll be interesting to see how Brown’s mobility is coming into the season. During his sophomore season in 2011, Brown replaced former Terp Danny O’Brien on October 8 in a game against Georgia Tech and took the bulk of the snaps from that point forward. Brown’s biggest asset is his speed which he put on display several times throughout his sophomore campaign. The Terps signal caller rushed for over 100 yards on three different occasions. His performance against Clemson is what made me into a believer. Brown rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown while tossing three touchdown passes through the air in a tough loss. If he can be accurate and still have some speed, Brown could have a big year and lead Maryland to a bowl game. The weapons will clearly be there in having Stefon Diggs, Deon Long, Marcus Leak, and Nigel King to throw to.
On the other hand, Ricardo Young is quite a different story. After sitting due to injuries/transfer rules at Virginia Tech and New Mexico, Young made the move back home to join Mike Locksley. Young is a similar mold to Brown in terms of his physical abilities. The Washington D.C. native stands at 6-1, similar to Brown, and is extremely quick. His speed should be his biggest asset and will rival Brown for sure. Young ran for 780 yards in his junior season at Woodson High School and was the Gatorade Player of the Year in D.C. in 2010. Accuracy is going to be the key to how effective Young can be. In practice on Tuesday, the former New Mexico signal caller only completed five of 13 passes during 7-on-7s. Two of the passes were dropped by receivers so that would put Young completing nearly 50 percent of his passes. That isn’t so bad and proves that he is making improvements. However, Young is going to have to be as accurate as possible if he wants to give C.J. Brown a run for his money.
Defensive line: Who will help to replace the production of Joe Vellano & A.J. Francis – With senior defensive anchors Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis graduating, Maryland has some massive holes to fill on the defensive line. The duo of Vellano and Francis combined for 104 tackles (23 for loss), 10 sacks, and four fumble recoveries. It’s not going to be easy. However, the Terps have plenty of talent left on their defensive line. Defensive tackle Darius Kilgo is Maryland’s lone returning starter on the defensive line and should provide a strong presence and sense of leadership for the Terrapins defense. Kilgo is an absolute monster at 6-3, 300 pounds and is a dominating presence. The Charlotte native had 40 tackles last season. Combine Kilgo with fellow starters Quinton Jefferson, Justin Anderson, and Keith Bowers and you have a very talented defensive line. The fact that all have experience should do wonders for the younger players around them.
Safety: A.J. Hendy vs. Sean Davis – This is probably the most contested position battle with two young Terps battling for playing time. Both players saw extended playing time a season ago and each could easily win the starting job opposite Anthony Nixon. Both have good size at 6-1 and are around 200 pounds. Davis is a little bit more lean at 185 but didn’t do a terrible when he received playing time last season. This is one of the battles that I will be looking forward to the most because there has been such a vast majority of starting safeties over the past season or two. In 2012, the likes of Hendy, Davis, Matt Robinson, and Eric Franklin saw significant time. If Maryland could find a sure fire starter opposite Nixon, this defense could actually be better than it was a season ago.
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