Over the next few weeks, TerrapinStationMD will previewing each position on the Maryland football team. We continue with the safeties:
Anthony Nixon – Anthony Nixon headlines a group of safeties that has a good deal of experience heading into the 2015 season. Nixon was received significant playing time in all three seasons that he has been in College Park. The Pittsburgh native registered 41 tackles (26 solo), four passes defended, and an interception as a freshman in 12 games. As a sophomore in 2013, Nixon accumulated 60 tackles (38 solo) and a sack in 11 starts for the Terps. He also made one of the most impressive plays of the season when he returned a blocked extra point back for a two-point conversion against Boston College.
During the 2014 campaign, Nixon totaled a career-high 62 tackles (37 solo), four passes defended, and an interception. His 62 tackles were fifth-most on a defense that also featured linebacker Cole Farrand and safety Sean Davis. Much like Davis, Nixon is always around the football and provides a lot of stability in the defensive backfield.
A.J. Hendy – Hendy is coming off a season-long suspension, but his return allowed Davis to slide down to the cornerback spot opposite Will Likely. Hendy last saw the field in 2013 when he recorded 32 tackles (20 solo), two passes defended, and an interception. His most memorable play came against West Virginia that season when he jumped a Ford Childress pass and took it back 28 yards for a touchdown.
Coming out of high school, Hendy was a four-star recruit at Bowie High School and was rated as the No. 5 recruit in the state of Maryland, according to 247Sports. Hendy will be looking for a shot at redemption as he will be a full-time starter for the first time in his career. Maryland gave up the second-most passing yards in the Big Ten (234.3 yards-per-game) and Hendy brings a veteran presence that could drastically improve those numbers.
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Denzel Conyers – With Davis moving down to cornerback, JuCo transfer Denzel Conyers will be a primary backup in the secondary. Conyers comes into the season as a redshirt junior after spending time at Butte College (Calif.). The Florida native, who originally signed to play at Florida International, should’ve been eligible last season, but failed to maintain a 2.5 GPA while at Butte College.
Conyers has great size at 6’3 and is the tallest player in the Maryland secondary. When watching film of Conyers, it’s clear that is great at reading a quarterback’s eyes and making a break on the football while it’s in the air. The redshirt junior could provide significant depth behind Hendy and Nixon. The Terps have had success in the JuCo ranks before with wideout Deon Long and cornerback Issac Goins.
Josh Woods – Josh Woods saw the field in the final eight games, primarily on special teams. The former McDonogh School (Md.) star came to College Park with a pretty solid pedigree. Despite being just a three-star recurit, Woods burst onto the scene in the annual Big 33 Classic, where pits high school playes from Maryland and Pennsylvania against one another. Woods took home MVP honors at the contest as he recorded three interceptions, one of which went for a touchdown. As a sophomore, Woods definitely will see the field quite a bit more in 2015. Along with Conyers, he’ll be one of the first options if an injury occurs or if an additional defensive back is needed.