Terps Football Quick Hits: 02/12
Nearly two weeks removed from Maryland’s historic National Signing Day, the Maryland Terrapins are beginning their preparations for the 2017 college football season. Spring practice is just around the corner, and the program’s highly anticipated season-opener in Austin against the Texas Longhorns is just under seven months away. While our in-depth looks at the 2017 roster will begin in a few months, here are a few post-National Signing Day items worth noting.
National Signing Day Recap
Just about two weeks ago, head coach DJ Durkin and his coaching staff secured the best recruiting class in Maryland football history. 247Sports ranked it as the 18th-best class in the entire country, and the 4th-best in the Big Ten Conference. It was also one of the bigger classes in the nation, with 28 players signing their letters of intent to play in College Park. It was a class anchored by local blue-chip recruits, with 17 of its members hailing from either Maryland, Virginia, or the District of Columbia.
The final week before National Signing Day brought excellent news for the Terrapins, as they received a commitment from 4-star RB Anthony McFarland, flipped 3-star WR Tajh Capehart from Virginia Tech, and secured the commitments of twin defensive linemen Breyon and Brandon Gaddy. While they were unable to sign 4-star CB Tariq Castro-Fields, it was nonetheless an extremely successful and historic class for Durkin and his staff.
The 2017 Roster
I have already posted and updated a projected three-deep depth chart, which gives a basic look at Maryland’s roster for the 2017 season.
Offensively, all eyes will be on the impending quarterback competition. Tyrrell Pigrome and Max Bortenschlager return after each getting playing time in their freshman seasons, and North Carolina transfer Caleb Henderson will return after sitting out last season. Many fans are very excited to see 4-star recruit Kasim Hill as well, who will arrive this summer. With Gage Shaffer set to transfer out of College Park, the competition figures to focus on Henderson and Hill. I have projected Henderson to be the team’s starter next season, but there is no doubt that Hill could push for playing time as the year goes on.
Additionally, the Terps return an extremely strong stable of running backs and a talented group of wide receivers. As is typically the case, the offense’s success this season will largely be driven by the offensive line. With Derwin Gray and Damian Prince returning at the tackle spots, Brendan Moore back at center, and a plethora of young guards to choose from, the line should continue its upward trend this season.
Defensively, there are a number of holes to fill along the defensive line and in the secondary. Both defensive tackle positions will be up for grabs, with a handful of returnees and a large number of talented freshmen. There are about 6 or 7 players who could fill those two spots, so expect a hearty competition to take place into August. The secondary will be tasked with replacing William Likely III, Alvin Hill, and Denzel Conyers. At cornerback, JC Jackson returns along with Tino Ellis and RaVon Davis. However, the player to watch here is 4-star recruit Deon Jones, who is likely set to grab a starting job after enrolling early. At safety, another 4-star recruit (Markquese Bell) is set to start immediately. While this season’s defense may be a bit lacking in the experience department, there are a ton of young players ready to make an immediate impact.
Solid strengths of the defense include the linebackers and defensive ends. Jermaine Carter, Jr., Shane Cockerille, and Jalen Brooks all return at linebacker. Jesse Aniebonam, Chandler Burkett, and Melvin Keihn all return at defensive end.
New Defensive Line Coach
Just after National Signing Day, Durkin hired his replacement for Mike London, who left to become the head coach down the road at Howard University. Jimmy Brumbaugh will be Maryland’s defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator this season after spending the last 4 years at Kentucky. He has an excellent track record for turning defensive linemen into NFL stars, most recently defensive ends Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith. While he will hold the title of co-defensive coordinator, make no mistake that this is Durkin’s defense, and not Andy Buh’s or Brumbaugh’s.