Maryland Football: Impact of Wes Brown’s suspension

Sep 12, 2015; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins running back Wes Brown (5) gains yards against the Bowling Green Falcons at Byrd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 12, 2015; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins running back Wes Brown (5) gains yards against the Bowling Green Falcons at Byrd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports /

The Maryland backfield suffered a tough blow on Wednesday.

Running back Wes Brown was suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season.

Prior to D.J. Durkin and his staff arriving in College Park, previous interim coach Mike Locksley had suspended Brown for violating the student athlete code of conduct. In Wednesday’s media session, Durkin announced that Brown still had three games left from that suspension and they were going to honor that discipline going forward.

Before Wednesday’s announcement, Brown was set to battle with Trey Edmunds and Ty Johnson for the bulk of the carries this coming season.

Despite coming to College Park as a four-star recruit, Brown has carried the football 264 times for 1,055 yards and 11 touchdowns in his three seasons with the Terrapins. The former Good Counsel (Md.) star missed the 2013 season due to a suspension for an off-the-field incident.

Brown’s best season came in 2012 during Maryland’s final season in the ACC. As a freshman during that season, he rushed for 382 yards on 90 carries (4.2 yards-per-carry) and a pair of touchdowns.

Brown is a very physical tailback that can bounce off of contact with the best of them. He’s a guy that’s more than capable of carrying a heavy workload.

Now, Brown will miss Maryland’s games against Howard, Florida International, and Central Florida to start off the season.

Luckily for the Terps, there’s a good amount of experience to help pick up the slack.

Edmunds and Johnson comes from two very different ends of the spectrum. Edmunds is a graduate transfer with three years at Virginia Tech under his belt while Johnson saw limited playing time at Maryland as a freshman in 2015.

Edmunds has had a very interesting collegiate career up to this point.

In 2013, Edmunds, who is the son of former Maryland tight end Ferrell Edmunds, broke onto the scene as a true freshman and was very productive. He carried the ball 166 times for 675 yards (4.1 yards-per-carry) and 10 touchdowns (tied for 10th in the ACC).

Edmunds’ most memorable moment came against top-ranked Alabama when he rattled off a 77-yard touchdown run.

Edmunds ended up rushing for 132 yards on 20 carries against the Crimson Tide in one of the best performances of his career. It was his best showing of the season as he only topped the century mark one other time (110 yards against Marshall).

Over the next two seasons, Edmunds seemed to fall out of favor. He only registered 68 carries for 282 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

Following three years in Blacksburg, Edmunds decided to use his graduate year at Maryland.

He’s definitely more than capable of carrying the load for the Terps if he wins the starting job.

Much like Brown, Edmunds is a north-south runner that can run through contact without much of a problem. However, he also has the necessary speed to make game-changing plays when he has to.

Without Brown, Maryland could be looking at a thunder and lightning combination like when USC had Reggie Bush and LenDale White in the mid-2000s.

Obviously, the talent that the Terps possess isn’t quite at that level, but the contrasting skillsets could produce solid results.

Despite limited playing time in 2015, Johnson displayed his home run potential on multiple occasions. In the season finale against Rutgers, Johnson ripped off a pair of 40-plus yard touchdowns to help Maryland to a 46-41 comeback victory.

Johnson showed it off against in the Red-White Spring Game when he ripped off a 64-yard touchdown run. He was by far the most impressive running back on the field for Maryland back in April.

No matter what the formation is, Johnson has the necessary speed to run it right up the middle or bounce it to the outside. For example, when Maryland beat Rutgers last season, one of Johnson’s touchdowns came between the hash marks and the other came on the outside on a read-option pitch from quarterback Caleb Rowe.

It’s rare that programs use just one back, so it’s very likely that both Edmunds and Johnson see the field.

Next: Quarvez Boulware battling for starting job

A betting man would probably give a slight edge to Edmunds based on veteran experience. If Edmunds has a strong fall camp, it’s a strong possibility that the former Hokie will be starting for the Terps when they open the season on Sept. 3.