Terps Football: 2017 Season Preview – The Specialists
After spending the last few months previewing the Maryland football program’s 2017 roster position-by-position, we’ve finally reached the end. From swinging gate formations to fakes and tricks, first-year Special Teams coach Pete Lembo did an excellent job with this unit last season, and it’ll be interesting to see what he has up his sleeve in 2017.
Adam Greene (Redshirt Senior)
2017 Projection: Starter (Kicker)
2016 Statistics: 9/14 FG (37 yd long, 64.3%), 37/38 XP (97.4%), 24 KO (2 touchbacks)
Greene started in all 13 games for the Terrapins last season, but his inconsistent play left fans pining for the recently-graduated Brad Craddock a bit sooner than they’d hoped. While he was very solid on extra points, his field goal percentage and range left a lot to be desired. He missed two field goals in games against UCF and Rutgers.
I have projected Greene to serve as Maryland’s starting kicker in 2017, but don’t be surprised if he’s pushed by Mike Shinsky. If the former can improve his accuracy from short and medium range and the latter can hit the 40+ yard attempts, special teams coach Pete Lembo may have a system that works in 2017.
Wade Lees (Sophomore)
2017 Projection: Starter (Punter)
2016 Statistics: 72 punts (39.8 yd avg)
Last year, he made headlines as the 29-year old freshman punter who was banned from the Australian Rules Football League for using PEDs. This year, he’s a 30-year old sophomore who’s looking to build on what was a solid 2016 season. While his average punt distance won’t blow anyone away, he pinned a whopping 20 punts inside the opponents’ 20 yard line last season and only recorded 1 touchback. Having a weapon like Lees at your disposal all but ensures you’ll win that all-important field position battle.
The 2017 season will be Lees’ second as Maryland’s starting punter. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s able to add some distance to his already impressive accuracy. Regardless, he seems to be the answer to Maryland’s punter problem that they’ve experienced over the last few seasons.
Matt Oliveira (Junior)
2017 Projection: Starter (Long Snapper)
2016 Statistics: 1 tackle (0.0 for loss)
After Nate Adams started at long snapper in Maryland’s first game of the 2016 season, Oliveira worked his way into the starting role for the remainder of the season.
I have projected Oliveira to serve as the team’s starting long snapper in 2017, but this will likely be an on-going battle between he and Adams.
Mike Shinsky (Sophomore)
2017 Projection: Second-Team (Kicker)
2016 Statistics: 1/1 FG (41 yd long, 100.0%), 0/0 XP (0.0%), 2 KO (0 touchbacks)
Shinsky came to College Park as a freshman last season, and found his way to the field in a rather crowded position. He split kickoff duties with Danny Sutton against Purdue, and hit the longest field goal of the season for the team against Rutgers.
I have projected Shinsky to serve as Greene’s primary backup at kicker, but he could force his way into a bigger role if Greene continues to struggle. He’ll also likely serve as Sutton’s primary backup as kickoff specialist.
Danny Sutton (Senior)
2017 Projection: Second-Team (Punter)
2016 Statistics: 0/0 FG (0.0%), 0/0 XP (0.0%), 37 KO (7 touchbacks)
Sutton saw his first game action as a Terrapin last season after transferring from Towson prior to the 2015 season. With Greene struggling on kickoffs, Sutton took over as the team’s kickoff specialist during the Purdue game.
I have projected Sutton to serve as Lees’ primary backup at punter, and as the team’s starting kickoff specialist.
Nate Adams (Senior)
2017 Projection: Second-Team (Long Snapper)
2016 Statistics: None
Adams began the 2016 season as Maryland’s starting long snapper, but only held onto the role for one game before surrendering his job to Oliveira.
I have projected Adams to serve as Oliveira’s primary backup at long snapper, but he’ll likely compete for the job throughout summer practices and into the season.
Henry Darmstadter (Senior)
2017 Projection: Third-Team (Kicker)
2016 Statistics (Georgetown): 11/14 FG (49 yd long, 78.6%), 19/19 XP (100.0%), 0 KO (0 touchbacks)
Darmstadter comes to College Park as a graduate transfer from Georgetown, where he holds records as the program’s leader in field goals and field goal percentage. With head coach DJ Durkin likely looking for some insurance in case Greene struggles again in 2017, Darmstadter is an experienced option for him.
I have projected Darmstadter to serve as the team’s third-string kicker in 2017, but he will likely be given the opportunity to compete for the second-string job with Shinsky during summer practices.
Brock Sassler (Freshman)
2017 Projection: Third-Team (Long Snapper)
2016 Statistics (High School): N/A
Sassler comes to College Park as a freshman from the nearby Boys’ Latin School in Parkton, MD. In February of last year, he was ranked as the best long snapper in the Mid-Atlantic region by Kohl’s Kicking. He is a walk-on this season, but will be given a chance to earn a scholarship next year with Adams graduating.
I have projected Sassler to serve as the team’s third-string long snapper in 2017. While uncommon for long snappers, he could redshirt this season.