Maryland will quite a bit of production to replace with the loss of Yannick Ngakoue at defensive end.
Fortunately for the Terrapins, Jesse Aniebonam is ready to step right in and seize the opportunity.
Aniebonam was a four-star recruit when he was playing his high school football at Good Counsel (Md.). After several high-major offers from schools like Alabama, Florida State, and Ohio State, Aniebonam committed to Maryland and instantly became one of the top players in the Terps 2014 recruiting class.
Maryland has had a ton of success with local defensive linemen in recent years. A.J. Francis (Gonzaga), Andre Monroe (St. John’s College), and Ngakoue (Friendship Collegiate Academy) have been DMV recruits, but have went on to be absolute forces for the Terps.
During his first two years in College Park, Aniebonam has registered 36 tackles (7.5 for loss), four sacks, and two defended passes. The former Good Counsel star was been a primary backup during that time, but has seen time on passing downs.
In 2016, the Terps will be depending on Aniebonam a whole lot more than they were have. Aniebonam will likely start across from senior Roman Braglio and could form a very formidable duo.
Through his first two years at Maryland, a few things have become abundantly clear about Aniebonam.
First of all, he is very quick off the edge and can get to the quarterback in a moment’s notice. Aniebonam rushed the passer from the linebacker spot quite a bit as a freshman when the Terps employed a 3-4 defense under Brian Stewart.
Aniebonam wasn’t able to show off his quickness very much as a freshman. Monroe was the main attraction with Ngakoue also chiming in with six sacks of his own.
Aniebonam also brings tremendous size to the table at 6’3.
The former Good Counsel star is extremely physical off the edge. It also should be noted that he now has a full season in a 4-3 defense under his belt.
When Maryland faced South Florida last Sept., Aniebonam proved his worth as a third down pass rusher. Early in the third quarter, the Terps simply just had four down linemen and Aniebonam was able to push the offensive tackle to the outside then cut back to the inside for the easy sack of speedy quarterback Quinton Flowers.
He has proved time and time again that he has the physical tools to abuse opposing offensive tackles at the collegiate level.
One of the biggest issues for Aniebonam has been playing time during the first two seasons of his college career. He was buried on the depth chart as a freshman and only was able to start three games as a sophomore.
In 2016, it’ll definitely be Aniebonam’s chance to prove what he is capable of doing with a larger sample size. Braglio’s prowess as a pass rusher will certainly take some of the pressure off of him.
It’s worth noting that Ngakoue also had single-digit sacks his first two years and now he’s set to begin training camp next month with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Simply put: it’s time for Aniebonam to put all his cards on the table.