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Terps Football: 2017 Season Preview – The Offensive Tackles

When Randy Edsall first arrived in College Park, one of the biggest liabilities on the team was his offensive line; Josh Cary, R.J. Dill, Bennett Fulper, Max Garcia, and Andrew Gonnella made up that unit in 2011. Throughout his 5-year tenure with the Terrapins, he attempted to slowly rebuild the line through local recruiting. As is the case with recruiting linemen, it took a long time for those recruits to develop into key players. However, this year’s starting offensive line has a chance to feature four of Edsall’s recruits and one of DJ Durkin’s. It’s a line that has improved consistently over the past few years, and this unit will be looking to take that next step in 2017.

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NCAA Football: Maryland at Central Florida

Derwin Gray (Redshirt Junior)

2017 Projection: Starter (Left Tackle)
2016 Statistics: 13 games played (3 starts)

Gray’s arrival to College Park was delayed by a year due to academic issues, but he has finally worked his way into a starting role in his fourth year with the program. He started 3 games last year, and saw significant playing time as a backup due to the constant rotation on the line by offensive coordinator Walt Bell. He showed good abilities on the left side of the line in 2016, and may very well be the best pass blocker on the line (although that’s not saying much).

I have projected Gray to serve as Maryland’s starting left tackle in 2017. He has a very strong hold on this job, and it would be very surprising to see him lose it. Without Michael Dunn ahead of him on the depth chart, this is his chance to be the most important member of the offensive line.

Prince 2

Damian Prince (Redshirt Junior)

2017 Projection: Starter (Right Tackle)
2016 Statistics: 13 games played (13 starts)

Prince came to Maryland as a 5-star recruit in 2014, and the biggest offensive line recruit in recent memory for the program. After redshirting during his true freshman season, he started 6 games in 2015. He performed very well, and earned the starting right tackle job last season. His run blocking skills were on full display, as he paved the way for Maryland’s talented stable of running backs. While there were obvious holes in his pass blocking, that aspect of his game improved as the year went on.

I have projected Prince to serve as Maryland’s starting right tackle in 2017. Like Gray, he has a very strong hold on this job. The majority of NFL scouts see him as a guard due to his size (6’3”, 315 lbs.) but the best fit for him with the Terrapins is as a tackle. If his game takes a big step this season, there is a chance that he leaves early for the NFL Draft.

McClain

Will McClain (Redshirt Sophomore)

2017 Projection: Second-Team (Left Tackle)
2016 Statistics: 1 game played (0 starts)

McClain came to College Park as a 3-star recruit in 2015, and has only seen game action in one game so far. However, due to Bell’s tendency to rotate offensive linemen around during games, he may see a lot more playing time this season. He has good size for a left tackle (6’5”, 305 lbs.) and was named to the Academic All-Big Ten team last season.

I have projected McClain to serve as Gray’s backup at left tackle for the Terrapins this season. His best bet to be a regular starter will most likely come in two years when Gray has graduated.

Plummer

Brian Plummer (Redshirt Freshman)

2017 Projection: Second-Team (Right Tackle)
2016 Statistics: Redshirted

Plummer was a member of Durkin’s first recruiting class at Maryland, as a local 3-star recruit. The first thing that stands out about him is his size, as he stands 6’6” and 305 lbs. He redshirted during his true freshman season, but seems poised for a solid spot on the depth chart in his second year.

I have projected Plummer to serve as Prince’s backup at right tackle for Maryland this season. Like with McClain, he may very well have an opportunity to get playing time in an offensive line rotation. He will have a chance to win a starting job in two years as well (one if Prince leaves early).

McNair

Jordan McNair (Freshman)

2017 Projection: Redshirt
2016 Statistics (High School): N/A

McNair is one of two offensive tackles in Maryland’s 2017 recruiting class, and he’s a good one. A 4-star recruit from the McDonough School in Baltimore County, he was ranked as one of the best high school players in the state last season and chose the Terrapins over offers from Ohio State, Auburn, Penn State, and many others. He has excellent size for an 18-year old (6’5”, 330 lbs.) and will be looking to make an impact sooner rather than later.

I have projected McNair to redshirt this season, primarily due to the talent above him on the depth chart. He most likely slots in as a right tackle due to his size and run blocking abilities. He will arrive in College Park this summer.

Hunt

Tyran Hunt (Freshman)

2017 Projection: Redshirt
2016 Statistics (High School): N/A

Hunt is the other offensive tackle in Durkin’s 2017 recruiting class, and was primarily viewed by scouts as a defensive lineman. However, Maryland’s coaching staff really liked his 6’7” frame on the offensive line, and he will be given an opportunity to play left tackle for the Terrapins. He saw a lot of time at left tackle during the Red-White Spring Game, and uses his size well as a pass blocker.

I have projected Hunt to redshirt this season as well, but due to his early arrival this spring he has a better chance for early playing time than McNair.

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Zack Kiesel

Zack is working towards a career in law and politics. The Owings Mills native focuses most of his efforts on Maryland Football recruiting and individual coach and player pieces; but also covers Terps Basketball. He has established relationships with Big Ten beat reporters across the conference, which he utilizes in his game previews. Now a Sr. Terps Analyst for BSL, Zack can be reached at: [email protected]

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