D.J. Moore was one of just four Big Ten wideouts to be named to the Paul Hornung Award watch list on Monday.
With those kind of expectations, it could mean that Moore is in line for a huge season in 2017.
Moore came to College Park as a three-star recruit under Randy Edsall and has proved to be one of the most underrated recruits in recent years. In two seasons, the former Imhotep (Pa.) standout has hauled in 66 passes for 994 yards and nine touchdowns.
His sophomore season saw a steady increase in production. Moore recorded 41 receptions for 637 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 15.5 yards-per-catch.
Moore’s biggest attribute is his speed and ability to make plays after the catch. If anyone needed any further evidence of this fact, look no further than Maryland’s game against Nebraska last season.
Moore caught a screen pass from quarterback Max Bortenschlager, made a array of Cornhusker tacklers miss, and found paydirt 92 yards later. It was by far the longest touchdown of Moore’s collegiate career.
According to Pro Football Focus, Moore leads all Big Ten returning wide receivers in total forced missed tackles (13). Rutgers’ Janarion Grant had eight and Nebraska’s Stanley Morgan Jr. had seven during the 2016 season.
The junior wideout still managed to lead the Terrapins in receiving as a sophomore despite inconsistent quarterback play. Moore had six games in which he caught at least four passes and topped the century mark in receiving yards in both of those contests.
His best effort was by far against Florida International when he had six receptions for 147 yards. Moore also found the end zone twice, which was the only game where he scored multiple touchdowns.
Moore’s speed also makes him a deep threat, which could remind many Maryland fans of Torrey Smith. In both of Moore’s two college seasons, he’s caught passes of 50-plus yards.
The former three-star recruit didn’t rank in the top 10 in terms of Big Ten wideouts in 2016. However, he was well within range as Malik Turner (Illinois) accumulated 712 receiving yards to Moore’s 637.
It’s really all going to come down to what type of production the Terps get from the quarterback position. It’s likely going to be North Carolina transfer Caleb Henderson under center unless Tyrrell Pigrome or Max Bortenschlager really impress in training camp later this summer.
Bortenschlager and Henderson are both pure pocket passers, so they certainly have the ability to get Moore the football. Getting open in the past has never really been an issue for Moore given his speed and solid route-running skills.
Moore is one of Maryland’s most important players on the entire roster since Levern Jacobs and Teldrick Morgan are gone. If Moore can shoulder that burden and get strong play from under center, he could be among the best wideouts in the Big Ten.