Over the next few weeks, TerrapinStationMD will previewing each position on the Maryland football team. We continue with the linebackers:
Jalen Brooks – Another linebacker that is battling for playing time in Abner Logan’s absence is sophomore Jalen Brooks. Brooks is coming off a freshman campaign in which he registered 21 tackles (12 solo) in a backup role. Brooks did start in the four games that Matt Robinson was out for. The Georgia native had his best game of the season against Penn State when he racked up seven tackles. Coming out of high school, Brooks was a three-star recruit that didn’t have many offers. However, in just one season, Brooks has certainly showed that he deserves a considerable amount of playing time at the collegiate level.
In spring practices, Brooks was looked at as a shoe-in for either the SAM or the WILL linebacker spots. However, now that Jefferson Ashiru is healthy and senior Avery Thompson is no longer injured, the competition for the two starting spots on the outside is heating up. The trio of Ashiru, Brooks, and Thompson are battling for the two spots. In watching film on Brooks, it’s very clear that he has a knack for getting into the opposing team’s backfield and wreaking havoc. Brooks is also very quick off the edge, so defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski could definitely use the sophomore on any type of linebacker blitz package. Brooks is also very solid in pass coverage as he even lined up at cornerback quite a bit during his high school career. He certainly will be in heavy consideration for the starting job and it wouldn’t be a huge shock if he starts when the season opens against Richmond.
Jefferson Ashiru – With the loss of Logan for the season, the addition of Connecticut transfer Jefferson Ashiru becomes an even bigger move. Ashiru comes to College Park as a player who was a model of consistency during his time with the Huskies. During his three year career in Storrs, the Georgia native tallied 113 tackles (50 solo) and 1.5 sacks. Ashiru only appeared in nine games in 2014 due to alleged verbal abuse from Connecticut’s coaching staff. Back in June, Ashiru ended up transferring to Maryland for a fresh start.
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With Logan out of the fold, Ashiru is guaranteed to see quite a bit of playing time in 2015. If you watch film of Ashiru at Connecticut, it’s pretty clear that this is a very smart football player. The Georgia native is very capable of defending the run and is a very sound tackler, despite not putting up monster numbers. Additionally, while the stats may not suggest it, Ashiru can rush the passer with regularity. He is also very capable of playing one of the outside linebacker spots for the Terps, given the fact that he only played outside while with the Huskies. Ashiru is rarely caught out of position and could brings a ton of leadership to a young front seven.
Jermaine Carter – Despite two of Maryland’s starting inside linebackers having graduated, there’s definitely some stability at the position heading into the 2015 season. Jermaine Carter steps into the position after a productive freshman campaign with the Terps. As a reserve linebacker, Carter registered 27 tackles (18 solo) and a pair of forced fumbles. His best game came against West Virginia as he registered six tackles (five solo) for the Terps.
Despite only having one year of experience at the collegiate level, Carter is one of two sophomores on Maryland’s leadership council and is one of the team’s vocal leaders. Carter is a very instinctive player in the middle and has a load of potential. Coach Randy Edsall has raved about Carter and what he can bring to the Terps. Getting some work on special and playing behind star inside linebacker Cole Farrand in 2014 can only be looked at as a positive experience for a young player. Carter could one of the best players on the field in Maryland’s new 4-3 defense.