Many questions surround the Terrapins offense heading into the program’s second season as a member of the Big Ten.
How the quarterback situation will sort itself out is unquestionably at the top of the list. Coach Randy Edsall has stated that injured signal caller Caleb Rowe is his guy, but junior Perry Hills seems to be nipping at his heels for the starting gig. And although the crowded Maryland backfield recently became a little less crowded with the departures of backup running backs Albert Reid and Jacquille Veii, it remains to be seen if either Wes Brown or Brandon Ross will step up to claim the starter’s role.
Large question marks loom over the Maryland receiving corps as well after the departures of the starting wide receivers from last season. Senior Deon Long tallied 575 receiving yards on 51 catches with two receiving touchdowns. Despite missing three games, junior Stefon Diggs led the Terps with 792 yards on 62 grabs and five touchdowns. Diggs decided to forego his senior season at Maryland and opted to enter his name into the 2015 NFL Draft.
Whatever level of success the Maryland offense will achieve in the upcoming season, one thing is for certain: the Jacobs brothers should be a large part of it.
Levern Jacobs, the elder of the two brothers, has already shown what he can do on the field. He missed the entirety of last season due to a university-imposed suspension, but found himself playing a significant role in the offense in 2013.
After Diggs and Long both sustained sustained season-ending injuries in the seventh game of the 2013 season, several players stepped up, and Levern Jacobs arguably stepped up the most. He caught 47 passes for 640 yards and three touchdowns. Not necessarily overwhelming statistics, but his production over the second half of the 2013 season seemed to reserve a more prominent role for him in the Terps offense in 2014 even after Diggs and Long returned from their injuries. In his final six games of 2013, Jacobs caught 37 passes for 473 yards (79 yards-per-game) with three touchdowns.
While Terp fans have had a taste of Levern’s promising potential, younger brother Taivon’s ceiling could possibly be even higher. The four-star (according to ESPN) speedster and former Ohio State commit appeared to be pegged for a significant role in the Maryland offense last season as a starting wide receiver. However, on just the second drive of Maryland’s first game last season, Jacobs suffered a torn meniscus running a deep route and was lost for the season.
Despite losing their starting two wide receivers, the Terps receiving corps should actually be solid this upcoming season. Marcus Leak had some solid games last season, and the senior wideout shined in the Terps’ spring Red-White game in early April. Junior DeAndre Lane also looked great in the spring game, and could heavily figure into the offense as well. But who exactly could fill the shoes of Diggs and Long? The answer could very well be the Jacobs brothers.
Levern Jacobs has showed what he can do on the field; he has speed, good hands, and has shown his big-play ability. His three touchdowns in 2013 came on plays of 56, 71, 29 yards. He should help fill the void left by Long, and based on his stats from 2013, he has a solid chance of actually being an upgrade.
So which of the remaining Terrapin receivers can step up into Diggs’ role?
The short answer is probably no one. Diggs is a nationally touted talent and will be a mid-round draft pick this weekend. He could have had a collegiate career parallel to those of former Maryland stars Torrey Smith and Darrius Heyward-Bey had he been able to avoid injury and had a more traditional quarterback throwing him the ball. However, his deep-threat ability and elusiveness may not be entirely lost this upcoming season. Taivon Jacobs will be the Terps’ best deep-bomb option even though he is a couple inches shorter than Diggs, and he seemed to have found himself in that role in the first few minutes of the 2014 season. Taivon was suffered his injury running a deep fly route down the sideline.
If both Jacobs brothers can stay on the field in 2015 and avoid injury, their ceiling is quite high. It will be interesting to see how Edsall uses them in the offense, but both are great talents that bring a different set of skills to the table.
The receiving corps will look a little different next season without Diggs and Long, but it shouldn’t miss a beat.