2015 Maryland Football: tight ends preview


The tight end position has not exactly been one of note for the Terrapins over the last few seasons.

Previous quarterback C.J. Brown was a dual-threat player, but more often than not, Maryland’s offensive plays involved Brown taking a quick three-step drop and slinging it to a receiver on a bubble screen or a quick slant across the middle. If the call allowed for Brown to go through his progressions and analyze the field, he would likely make a quick read or two before tucking the ball and taking off.

When we did make passes downfield, it was surely to one of Maryland’s several talented wide receivers. This did not leave too many opportunities for tight ends to get involved in the passing game. This could potentially change in 2015, however, as there will be a new quarterback under center for the Terps. While it remains to be seen who that quarterback will be (coach Randy Edsall still has not named a starting QB, even with only two weeks remaining until the September 5th season opener), for better or worse, it will not be Brown.

While there may be more opportunities for Maryland’s tight ends with a new quarterback leading the offense, there is not much experience that comes with this particular position for the Terps. Not one of the three returning tight ends competing for the starting position in 2015 caught more than two passes last season.

Edsall recently announced that junior tight end P.J. Gallo will forgo his final year of eligibility with the team next season to pursue other career opportunities. Gallo remains with the Terps for the 2015 season, however, and is one of the three tight ends competing for playing time. Gallo started just two games last season but appeared in all 13, catching just two passes on the year.

One of those grabs was a two-yard touchdown score early in the second quarter against Penn State, which proved crucial down the stretch as the Terps managed to pull out the one-point victory over the Nittany Lions. Perhaps Gallo’s more recognizable “claim to fame,” if you will, is that he was one of the three game captains, along with Stefon Diggs and Sean Davis, who were involved in the infamous Penn State pregame handshake snub.

Competing with Gallo for time at tight end is junior Andrew Isaacs. In the most recent depth chart released he is slated as the starter, but with the Terps’ general lack of experience at the position this is certainly not a concrete decision. Isaacs appeared in the first four games of last season (starting in three), and caught a total of two passes for three yards.

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Isaacs dislocated his kneecap against Syracuse when he was blocking downfield for Brown and Brown was tackled into Isaacs’ legs. Coming out of high school, Isaacs was a four-star athlete, the No. 1 ranked recruit in the state of Connecticut, and the No. 9 tight end in the country, according to Rivals.

A third player vying for time next season is sophomore Derrick Hayward. Perhaps more of a dark horse to get time over either Gallo or Isaacs, Hayward does have something both of those players do not: another two to three inches in height. The 6-5 local product (Salisbury, Md.) appeared in all but one game last season and started two, including the Terps’ bowl game against Stanford.

He, like Gallo and Isaacs, only managed to haul in all of two passes last season, however. The fact that Edsall trusted the then-redshirt freshman enough to start him in Maryland’s bowl game, as well as the fact that he provides a bigger target than his fellow tight end teammates, makes Hayward a candidate to at least see an increased amount of playing time in 2015, if not start a few games.

Other tight ends listed on Maryland’s roster who could potentially see time this season, especially if any of the aforementioned players were to suffer an injury, include freshman Avery Edwards, sophomore Eric Roca, and redshirt freshman Andrew Gray.

All three quarterbacks competing for the starting job, Caleb Rowe, Daxx Garman, and Perry Hills, are more of the traditional-style quarterbacks, meaning whoever is slated to be the Terrapins’ starter will be looking to complete passes downfield more often than Brown did (theoretically).

Significant questions remain including which tight end, if any, will step up for Maryland this season, and if the position will be more involved in the passing game generally speaking than in recent years.

Based on the most recent depth chart it seems Andrew Isaacs has the upper hand in claiming the starting tight end spot. Although all are significantly inexperienced in terms of actual playing time and production, having a veteran presence at the tight end position can only be beneficial for a talented but unproven receiving corps as a whole.

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