Linebacker Brett Zanotto led all Maryland freshmen in tackles a season ago.
As the 2016 campaign approaches, Zanotto could be even more vital to Maryland’s success this time around.
Zanotto was part of a revolving door at the “WILL” linebacker spot during the 2015 season.
Abner Logan, who has since transferred, was expected to be the starter, but suffered a season-ending ankle injury prior to the start of the season. Graduate transfer Jefferson Ashiru, who previously played at Connecticut, was the starter and appeared in five games before also undergoing season-ending ankle surgery.
After Ashiru went down, Jalen Brooks moved from his “SAM” spot to the “WILL.” Zanotto then stepped in and played the majority of the rest of the season at the “SAM” spot.
Zanotto wasn’t expected to garner a ton of playing time as a freshman, but injuries forced Maryland’s hand. In all honesty, it was for the best.
The former three-star recruit appeared in eight games, but did the bulk of his damage during the final five games. Zanotto recorded at least four tackles in four of those five games.
When it was all said and done, Zanotto recorded 23 tackles (13 solo) and recovered a fumble.
While it wasn’t a huge sample size, there were plenty of positives to take from Zanotto’s freshman campaign.
If watch taped of Zanotto, it becomes clear pretty quick that he isn’t afraid to stick his nose in at the line of scrimmage and help stop the run. Zanotto may only be 5’10, but he is very physical for his size.
Zanotto is a very strong tackler, which is definitely a theme amongst the Maryland linebacker. After all, Jermaine Carter tallied up a team-high 103 tackles and is one of the most ferocious linebacker in the Big Ten (finished eighth in the conference in tackles).
Zanotto uses his strength and physicality to wrap up opposing ball carriers. He’s also not phased by making a tackle in the open field.
The Franklin Regional (Pa.) standout certainly wasn’t phased when he was thrust right into action in the middle of the season. His natural instincts were evident from the very beginning and that’s why Zanotto will be counted on to produce for the Terps.
With Ashiru and Logan (transfer) both gone, Zanotto will likely be one of the three starters at linebacker once again.
While this was a relatively young group in 2015, Jalen Brooks, Carter, and Zanotto have a great deal of experience under their belt and their talent is unheralded.
Zanotto could see significant time at the “SAM” spot due to Brooks playing the “WILL” through a majority of last season.
While the 2015 season painted an extremely bleak picture, Zanotto was one of the few bright spots and is one player that could take a huge next step this coming season.