Brandon Ross gave the Maryland football team four great seasons.
When the 2016 season opens, it’ll be time to pass the torch to Ty Johnson.
Ross capped off his career on Nov. 28 with a 173-yard day against Rutgers to end the 2015 season. The four-year starter finished off his Terrapin career with 2,543 rushing yards, which was the fourth-most in program history.
As impressive a day as Ross had, another Maryland running back may have caught the eye of the fanbase.
Johnson may have only carried the ball two times, but the Fort Hill (Md.) product took both of those runs for touchdowns. He also racked up 73 yards in the return game.
Johnson took the place of cornerback William Likely as the primary kick and punt returner. Likely didn’t dress against the Scarlet Knights.
Johnson came to Maryland as an under-the-radar three-star recruit from Cumberland, Md. Much like Ross, he didn’t hold a ton of other scholarship offers.
As soon as Johnson took the field, it was clear that he could contribute at the collegiate level.
In relief of Ross in Maryland’ season opener against Richmond, Johnson rushed for 83 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. He displayed his versatility as he was able to bounce it outside while also run between the tackles out of the shotgun formation.
Johnson also scored a goal line touchdown against the Spiders, which helps to show that he can be a three-down back if necessary. The Fort Hill product also has seen success in read-option formations, including the 43-yard touchdown run against Rutgers off a pitch from quarterback Caleb Rowe.
Now flip the script to the 2016 season.
Obviously, there’s still a lot of uncertainty in terms of what recruits will stay committed to the Terps and who could join coach D.J. Durkin‘s new regime. The new offensive coordinator will have a lot to do with that once he is named in the near future.
It also should be noted that there’s still two months until National Signing Day.
Now we know that Ross will graduate, but there’s quite a few unknowns after that. Wes Brown will be a senior, but as many remember, the former four-star recruit was suspended for reportedly the next calendar year. Next on the depth chart was Johnson then rarely-used Joe Riddle, who will be a senior.
DeMatha Catholic (Md.) running back Lorenzo Harrison will likely be in the fold this summer. According to all accounts, Harrison along with other recruits, are on board with Durkin leading the program.
If you’ve watched any of the Stags games this year, you know just how talented Harrison is and that he could see playing time right away. In fact, Harrison ripped off a highlight reel 92-yard touchdown run against Gonzaga (D.C.) this past fall.
Much like Johnson in 2015, Harrison may see quite a bit of work.
However, it’s very clear that Johnson should be the lead back in 2016. While it wasn’t a huge sample size, Johnson made plays when he saw the field.
From the season opener to the season finale, the Fort Hill product looked like a grizzled veteran that showed tremendous field vision when looking for running lanes. While he only totaled 250 rushing yards, he did manage to average 7.1 yards-per-carry in limited action.
It’s time for Maryland to pass the torch to the next great tailback in College Park.