Three reasons to be optimistic about Maryland football


While the Maryland football program has a lot of talent to replace in 2015, there’s still plenty to be optimistic about entering the new campaign.

The Terps will have new faces at position such as quarterback, wide receiver, and linebacker just to name a few. However, coach Randy Edsall has recruited well during his tenure in College Park and has set the program up with a bevy of young talent that will see playing time in 2015.

Below, I’ll take a look at three reasons to be positive about this year’s team and why the future is incredibly bright.

1. This is the most talent the Terps have ever had on the offense line

It’s no secret that the Big Ten is a ferocious conference when it comes to battles in the trenches. During his time at Maryland, Edsall has really worked to improve the offensive line on the recruiting trail.

Now we’re finally going to see that talent take center stage this season. In Saturday’s open scrimmage, the Terps top unit consisted of Ryan Doyle at left tackle, sophomore Mike Minter at left guard, senior Evan Mulrooney at center, senior Andrew Zeller at right guard, and sophomore JaJuan Dulaney at left tackle. Obviously, there are some minor injuries that a few potential starters are dealing with at the moment. Derwin Gray isn’t going to be cleared for contact until Sept. 10 due to a torn labrum, which means that the former four-star recruit won’t be available for the season opener against Richmond. Junior Michael Dunn is currently listed as the starter at one of the tackle spots and likely will remain there when the season opens.

Redshirt freshman Damian Prince is currently listed as the starter at right tackle, but didn’t appear on the field on Saturday. According to Big Ten Network’s Tom Dienhart, Prince is “dinged,” which doesn’t sound too serious. The former Bishop McNamara standout was one of the most sought-after offensive linemen in the 2014 class and was a huge victory for Maryland on the trail. Prince has the pedigree to be an elite offensive tackle in the Big Ten and could be a bookend for the Terps for the next few years.

One of the most under-the-radar prospects in the group is center Brendan Moore. Moore came to College Park as a three-star recruit from Texas and has had rave reviews dating back to spring practice. He is competing with senior Evan Mulrooney for the starting job. Even though Mulrooney was listed at the top of the depth chart, it’s very clear how much the coaching staff loves Moore’s potential. Despite losing three-year starter Sal Conaboy, it appears that Maryland will be in good hands at the position regardless of who is appointed to start.

This certainly is great news for a unit that definitely could stand to improve. Regardless of who is under center when the season begins, all three signal callers vying for the job are pocket passers. The offensive line is definitely going to have to hold up in order to give the quarterback time to throw.

2. A talented secondary

The secondary is probably the biggest strength on the team.

The cornerback duo of Sean Davis and Will Likely is one of the best in the Big Ten and maybe even the country. Likely is being tabbed as one of the most-skilled corners around and has been selected to the Bednarik and Hornung Award watch lists. The Florida native is coming off a season in which they lead the Big Ten in interceptions (6), despite his size. Likely is an absolute ballhawk and definitely has a chance to repeat his performance in 2015. On the other hand, Davis is permeantently entrenched as the team’s other cornerback after playing the bulk of his Maryland career at safety. The senior led the team in solo tackles (80) in 2014 and was second in defended passes (8). If Davis can keep up his high level of play opposite Likely, turnovers may increase this coming season.

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The safeties bring a lot of talent as well. Anthony Nixon returns to provide stability in the defensive backfield as well as A.J. Hendy. Hendy, who was suspended for the entire 2014 season, was very productive for the Terps two years ago. Hendy has the ability to stay around the football, which was evident in his interception touchdown return against West Virginia that season. If Maryland is beaten over the top, Hendy and Nixon provide a phenomenal second line of defense.

3. The wide receivers are more talented than they’re given credit for

The Terps did lose a ton of talent at wide receiver with the likes of Stefon Diggs, Marcus Leak, Deon Long, and Juwann Winfree all leaving the program. However, there’s still plenty of depth and talent at the position heading into the 2015 season.

It all starts with Levern Jacobs leading the way. When Diggs and Long both suffered season-ending leg injuries during the 2013 season, Jacobs stepped up and led Maryland in receptions (47) and receiving yards (640). Jacobs is a very versatile threat that can make his living as a possession wideout or a big-play threat. Following the Wake Forest game in 2013, Jacobs totaled 34 catches for 395 yards in just five games. He averaged 79 receiving yards per contest during that stretch. Jacobs is an extremely talented wideout that should shatter his previous career highs and be the top options for Maryland in 2015.

After Jacobs, there’s a lot of unknown variables, but the talent is definitely there.

Taivon Jacobs was expected to be involved in the passing game in 2014, but was lost for the year in the season opener against James Madison. The younger Jacobs has the home-run ability, which is evident in the fact that he injured his knee on a deep route. Along with Jacobs, the likes of Malcolm Culmer, Amba Etta-Tawo, and freshman D.J. Moore should be impact players for the Terps. Etta-Tawo caught 31 passes for 500 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman, so he’s seen a heavier workload before. Etta-Tawo is more of a possession receiver that can move the chains for Maryland. It wouldn’t come as a huge surprise if Etta-Tawo produces big-time numbers for the Terps in 2015.

Moore is another wideout that could see the field quite a bit this season. Due to Leak and Winfree leaving the program, Moore now has a chance to impress the coaching staff and potentially be an impact player as a freshman. In Saturday’s scrimmage, the Pennsylvania native caught a 49-yard pass from Daxx Garman to put Maryland near the goal line. Moore’s big-play ability could be a huge factor in the Maryland offense this coming season.

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