Positional Preview: Maryland Terrapins Tight Ends


September 22, 2012; Morgantown, WV, USA; Maryland Terrapins tight end Matt Furstenburg (89) runs after a catch against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the second quarter at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

For the past four years, the tight end position hasn’t been a spot that Maryland had to worry about. Matt Furstenburg was a constant producer at the position and was the safety blanket for the Terps many quarterbacks over the past few seasons. Furstenburg was the best tight end to come throughout the Maryland system since golden boy Vernon Davis in the early 2000s. Flip forward to the 2013 season and Furstenburg is no longer a Terp (even if he’s going to be a Raven at some point). There are now some lesser known faces that will be donning Maryland colors this season and I’ll introduce everyone to the key contributors.

Dave Stinebaugh (SR): Stinebaugh is currently listed at the top of the depth chart and is an intriguing option for the Terps. The Perry Hall product has had an interesting career in which he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Stinebaugh came to College Park in 2009 but redshirted his freshman season. As a redshirt freshman in 2010, Stinebaugh appeared in five games at tight end and only registered four catches for 42 yards before missing the final seven games due to knee and shoulder injuries. The Baltimore native had a career-high three grabs for 23 yards against Florida International on September 25 of that season. Last season, Stinebaugh played in 11 games on special teams and made three tackles and blocked a kick against North Carolina State.

This season, Stinebaugh is at the top of the depth chart and will most likely stay there until the beginning of the season. He is the elder statesman of the group and will lead a group of young tight ends.

First of all, he has good size at 6’3, 250 pounds which proves that he should be a solid check-down target for C.J. Brown. During his high school days, Stinebaugh always found a way to get open and showed that he has good hands. One thing to note is that Stinebaugh is one of few guys that played under Ralph Friedgen. He has never had the opportunity to play under Randy Edsall. I’m not sure how much Stinebaugh will be used in the passing game but the fact that he has been around the team for the last four years can’t be a bad thing.

One thing that I really value in Stinebaugh’s game is the fact that he is a good blocker, especially in the run game. In high school, Stinebaugh was not afraid to get out in front of the ball carrier and pave the way for him. He also excels when he is put in motion and sets to block. I think this is definitely his biggest strength and will be the main reason that he receives valuable playing time. However, he is not the most athletic of the Maryland tight ends.

If healthy, I could see freshman Andrew Issacs supplanting Stinebaugh as the starter at some point.

Andrew Issacs (FR): As I mentioned above, Stinebaugh doesn’t have a death grip on the number-one tight end spot and could be replaced if Andrew Issacs is healthy. After committing to Boston College in November of 2011, the Connecticut tight end switched his commitment to Maryland in August of 2012. It was a big swing at the time, as Issacs was the number-one ranked player in Connecticut according to 247 Sports. Issacs definitely has the talent to skyrocket to the top of the depth chart and obviously there isn’t a ton of talent at the position.

If he doesn’t redshirt, Issacs brings a tremendous combination of size and athleticism to the table. The Manchester High School product stands at 6’3, weighing 240 pounds which proves that he should be able to hang with most defensive backs and linebackers in the ACC. The freshman-to-be is not afraid to go over the middle and also has pretty good speed for a guy his size. Unlike most tight ends, Issacs has the ability to make defenders miss and busts out a stutter step once in a while. On both sides of the ball, he is extremely physical and doesn’t shy away from contact. Issacs also has a great pair of hands which is always a great attribute to have for a pass catcher.

As I said earlier, it’s all going to come down to health for Issacs. If he wasn’t an incoming freshman, I wouldn’t be surprised if Issacs was right behind Stinebaugh. Once Maryland fans see Issacs on the field, they will see what a freak of an athlete he is. I would give it about midway through the season before Issacs could possibly move ahead of Stinebaugh. It’s not a knock on Stinebaugh by any means. I really do like Stinebaugh’s blocking ability and think he will hold his own this season. However, from an athletic standpoint, I just think that Issacs will be able to receive considerable playing time in the Terps offense this year.

Brian McMahon (RS FR): Brian McMahon isn’t a name that a lot of people knew before last season. The Columbia, Md. native walked on to the Maryland football team and ended up redshirting in 2012. He also served as the backup quarterback to Shawn Petty in the final four games of the season. It may come as a surprise to see a tight end want to serve as a quarterback but McMahon actually was a dual-threat quarterback at nearby Atholton High School. He was even named to the All Howard County team as he threw for 1,289 yards and 14 touchdowns in his senior season. He also rushed for 772 yards and eight touchdowns which is absolutely remarkable. McMahon did have interest from many ACC schools including Duke, North Carolina, and Maryland but didn’t receive offers.

With the Terps not having a ton of depth, Randy Edsall and company ended up converting McMahon to a tight end. McMahon has tremendous size at 6’3, 250 pounds, so the position switch doesn’t a big shock. He definitely had a better chance at earning a roster spot at tight end than he would at quarterback. Maybe in hindsight, that wasn’t true since Maryland lost three quarterbacks to torn ACL injuries. I would tend to think that McMahon will end up being the third tight end on the depth chart. Once Andrew Issacs is healthy and gets the flow of the offense, he should pass McMahon and P.J. Gallo in the pecking order.

P.J. Gallo (RS FR): Much of the same mold of McMahon, P.J. Gallo redshirted during the 2012 season and was a member of the scout team. Despite not playing last season, Gallo was a highly sought after recruit while he attended Council Rock South High School in the Philadelphia area. The Holland, Pa. native held offers from Cincinnati, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Temple among others. In his senior season of high school, Gallo caught 12 passes for 246 yards and recorded 90 tackles while playing both ways. According to Scout.com, Gallo was the 23rd best tight end in the country and showed a lot of promise.

Gallo is a big dude similar to McMahon. After watching film on the redshirt freshman, I was surprised to see that Gallo has a little bit of speed and was not a bad blocker. Obviously, Gallo probably won’t see much playing time and if he does, it will mainly be to be a blocker. He does have the pedigree to be a solid option at tight end but I just don’t see him receiving a large amount of playing time. I’d imagine that Gallo will play some on special teams this season but that remains to be seen. Gallo or McMahon will likely be at the bottom of the depth chart when the regular season rolls around.