October 6, 2012; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins running back Wes Brown (4) gains yardage against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Byrd Stadium. Maryland beat Wake Forest 19-14. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
The start of the 2014 college football seasons is light years away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what the roster will look like come August. While some of the highly touted freshmen haven’t stepped on campus yet, there’s a few interesting things to look forward to in Friday’s Spring Game.
Old Faces Return: While the Maryland was pretty explosive in 2013, they were without a few of their key weapons. Running back Wes Brown and wide receiver Marcus Leak return after a semester away from Maryland. Both re-enter a crowded depth chart at their respective positions.
Even without star wideouts Stefon Diggs and Deon Long for a good portion of the season, there were a few capable replacements that shined. Nigel King and Levern Jacobs were extremely productive and could start on many Division I squads. The return of Leak increases the competition for the number-three wideout in the Terrapins offense. As a freshman, Leak caught 23 passes for 393 yards (17.1 yards-per-catch) and a pair of touchdowns. He was also Maryland’s second leading receiver and proved that he could handle the workload. To put things in perspective, King only caught nine passes and Jacobs only grabbed seven that season. However, with King and Jacobs getting more experience last year, the competition is wide open and it’ll be interesting to see how all three perform on Friday evening.
The running back position is just as crowded with Brown entering the fold once again. Brown has put his legal troubles behind him and looks ready to contribute to the Terps as they join in the Big Ten in 2014. In his freshman campaign in 2012, the former Good Counsel star rushed for 382 yards on 90 carries (4.2 yards-per-carry) and two touchdowns. Brown was more of a bruising back than his counterpart Brandon Ross. Brown was the top back on the depth chart, but missed the final three games due to injury. It’ll be worth the price of admission (figure of speech as the Spring Game is free) to see where Brown is in terms of on-the-field production.
Cornerback Situation: With cornerbacks Dexter McDougle and Issac Goins graduating, the Terps are a little thin at the position. Sophomore Will Likely and senior Jeremiah Johnson are cemented as your starters, but it’s a little hairy after that. Junior Alvin Hill looks like the third-best cornerback on the depth chart. Hill recorded 20 tackles and had a tackle in every game except the Virginia game last season. He had a season-high four tackles against Marshall in the Military Bowl and looks to have some promise. Hill has solid speed and awareness and can recover to make a break on the football. Considering Maryland has arguably the best receiving core in the Big Ten, Hill will be tested all spring and summer. Is he ready to make that next step? We’ll find out at Byrd Stadium on Friday evening.
Who Will Be C.J. Brown’s Backup: Barring injury, quarterback C.J. Brown will be under center when Maryland takes on James Madison to open the 2014 season. Caleb Rowe appeared in five games and played very well under the circumstances. Rowe went 64-of-131 for 989 yards (48.9 percent completion percentage) and five touchdown passes and three interceptions. He led the Terps to a win against Virginia and almost knocked off Clemson at Byrd Stadium. This looks to be Rowe’s spot to lose, but coach Randy Edsall has said that fellow backup signal callers Perry Hills and Shane Cockerille will get looks. Hills had a solid 2012 season before tearing his ACL against N.C. State. Cockerille is a talented quarterback that is a former four-star recruit and an Elite 11 participant. The lefty signal caller has loads of potential after redshirting his first season in College Park.