After Maryland went 3-9 in 2015, it was pretty clear that the culture needed to change around College Park.
With the 2016 season opener just a few weeks away, the Terrapins are definitely buying in with the new regime.
A large amount of the players on Maryland’s roster came in during Randy Edsall‘s tenure. Many were recruited to College Park by the former Connecticut coach.
After successful stints at Florida, Michigan, and Stanford, D.J. Durkin accepted the Maryland job with the hopes of making the Terps into a winner. For that to happen, a lot would have to change and players are not always so accepting of changing the culture.
“It really ultimately boils down to buy-in or leadership of your upperclassmen,” Durkin said at Maryland Media Day on Tuesday. “You have a bunch of guys who have been doing things a certain way for a long time and that’s where you are going to get the most push back, usually. There hasn’t been any of that. The guys came together and said they are willing to change and they want to win and be successful.”
Several of Maryland’s key players are seniors, including Wes Brown, Michael Dunn, Levern Jacobs, and Will Likely. Sometimes it’s tough to get upperclassmen to buy in when the previous coaching staff did things a certain way for so long.
However, it appears that nothing of the sort is happening at Maryland.
“Usually people are more willing to change when something they were doing, they feel, was not working,” Durkin added. “All the young guys know is to follow the guys ahead of them. When you get that type of buy-in from your seniors and upperclassmen, it usually speeds things up a little bit before you go through a year of butting heads.”
“Malcolm Culmer is having a great camp,” Durkin said. “Talk about a guy who is coachable. He will do whatever you ask. Levern Jacobs is a guy I am proud of right now. Levern is a guy that we have really had to sell and build up in terms of playing physical. He is one of our best guys on special teams right now. That whole group has great competition.”
Jacobs is coming off a season in which he caught 35 passes for 425 yards and three touchdowns. However, if his past is any indication, the senior wideout is capable of so much more.
Jacobs being more physical helps the Maryland offense in a big way. For example, he can block downfield for the Terp ball carriers.
If a play is slow to develop, Jacobs also could use his speed to get away from a defender and get open.
The amount of optimism surrounding the program is something that hasn’t been seen in a long time. There were periods of it under Ralph Friedgen, but Edsall never delivered.
After all, the best Edsall season resulted in seven wins and a Military Bowl appearance. For a Big Ten program, the ultimate goal has to be much higher than that.
Obviously, this new regime has yet to put a product out on the field. However, if the players are already buying in to this new way of thinking, the sky is the limit for what the Terps can potentially accomplish.