2015 Maryland Football: defensive line preview


Oct 18, 2014; College Park, MD, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback Jake Rudock (15) pressured by Maryland Terrapins linebacker Yannick Ngakoue (7) at Byrd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Maryland football had a premier defensive line with Darius Kilgo, Andre Monroe, and Keith Bowers. But now, as these three players have graduated, what happens to the defensive line in 2015?

Coach Randy Edsall will be switching to a 4-3 defense in 2015. This will give younger players on the defensive line an opportunity to shine and mature. Yannick Ngakoue, Roman Braglio, Quinton Jefferson, and David Shaw will all get opportunities to stand out this season on the defensive side of the ball. An injury to Malik Jones last week will leave him out for the season, however, reserves like Kingsley Opara may be able to shine behind starters Ngakoue and Jefferson.

Here is a preview of what the defensive line will likely look like:

Yannick Ngakoue- Ngakoue will be one of Maryland football’s star players this season on defense. This will be Ngakoue’s first year playing at defensive end and the switch in position will allow Ngakoue to stop the run more effectively and blitz opposing quarterbacks more often.  As a sophomore, he registered six sacks and had several tackles for loss throughout the season. Ngakoue’s stock on this team is rising, and he will likely assume a leadership role for this defense.

Roman Braglio- Braglio, a former McDonogh School standout, will emerge as a starter this season. Last season, he played in 13 games, starting just one. However, getting real game experience will prove beneficial for Braglio. As a sophomore coming off the bench, Braglio had eleven tackles and 2.5 sacks for the Terps last season. The tandem of Ngakoue and Braglio on the ends of the defensive line will provide great benefit to Maryland’s defense.

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Quinton Jefferson- Before suffering a season ending injury in 2014, Quinton Jefferson was one of the best players on the defense in 2013. As a defensive end, it is likely that Jefferson may move to defensive tackle in the new formation, but his versatility will be recognized. During his last full season, Jefferson had three sacks, and showed his athleticism and quickness to get to the opposing quarterback. If he can come back healthy, he will be a force to be reckoned with.

David Shaw- With all this young talent emerging on the defensive line, David Shaw has a lot to show Maryland football fans. The Spring Grove, Pa. native had one start last season against Penn State, and played in just seven games. Shaw is recovering from knee surgery, and will be ready to go as the season begins. The sophomore defensive lineman is the biggest person on the front four at 6’4, 307 pounds. This size will be in Shaw’s favor against centers and guards in the Big Ten, and is a positive for Maryland’s defensive line.

Kingsley Opara- Competing for playing time with Shaw, Kingsley Opara will get an opportunity to tackle and sack quarterbacks this season. After missing his freshman season due to injury, Opara will emerge as an up-and-coming talent for Maryland. Like Shaw, Opara is a big man, about six foot three and over 300 pounds and can use his strength to wreak havoc in the trenches.

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