Lansford is battling for a place.
Maryland might be Punter U above all, but they also have a pretty good record with tight ends: Vernon Davis, Jeff Dugan, Joey Haynos, and Jason Goode are just a few of the recent stars. But this year, there's no real set starter at the position, meaning it's open for competition for a plethora of talented guys.
The Terps are expected to use two tight ends a lot this year, so there are really two starting spots here. But of course, there's still a "better" TE, and that's what the top two guys are vying for. Considering the next two are plenty talented in their own right, they have a great chance to steal some snaps from the other, more prominent two. On to the talk:
The Surprise: Devonte Campbell
If I told you that a young, receiving-oriented, talented TE would be starting over Tommy Galt at the end of the season, 9 out of 10 of you would've guessed Lansford Watson. You would've been wrong.
While Watson is a year older and came in with higher expectations, it was Campbell that ended up on the top of the depth chart and earned four starts at the end of the season. Campbell is an athletic, strong TE that has bounced around a little between an H-Back type of spot and traditional TE. He can make plays with the ball in his hands, and is generally solid at wrapping it up to avoid drops.
When he was starting, he received varied involvement in the offense. For every good play, he'd make a less than great one, or be ignored altogether. That up and down performance means he didn't lock up the job.
Odds: Okay, he might not've locked it up, but he's still the returning starter and was still pretty good for what could've been expected. Right now, he probably has the lead, and he's my pick to start.
The Veteran: Lansford Watson
Watson, despite only being a junior, is the elder statesman of the TE group. He entered the program a few years ago as a highly recruited WR. He quickly moved over to TE, and has had a decent but overall slightly disappointing (considering the expectations) time at Maryland. He has a ton of potential as a pass-catching TE, a position that has truly succeeded at Maryland in the past (most notably Vernon Davis and Joey Haynos, though there are more success stories). His blocking has been nondescript, literally: you rarely hear it mentioned, good or bad.
That might explain why he received comparatively little playing time last season, as Maryland needed the more blocking-oriented Tommy Galt to strengthen the line. But with almost every option focused toward receiving, it's possible he might see that increase in playing time that I (and a lot of fans) have been hoping for.
Odds: He'll start at one of the TE positions. The question is whether he can beat out Campbell. He'll see the field either way. And get his name called more often than Campbell if only because he has more big-play potential.
The Lost Terp: Matt Furstenburg
Remember Matt Furstenburg? He was the freshman that so impressed Maryland's coaches his freshman year that he ended up burning his redshirt only to get injured and earn it back. Then, in Maryland's first game the following season, he caught a touchdown that was subsequently called back on a hold (and was one of the few plays that actually worked). After that - nothing.
I've always had a strange affinity to Furst, who is a solid, tall, athletic receiving TE that has always seemed like he could make an impact. He reminds me of a slimmer Haynos, and I miss Haynos. But the field has been hard for him to get to. His goal is to stay ahead of Stinebaugh, because the third TE for Ralph Friedgen teams still sees the field a pretty good amount.
Odds: Passing Watson before the season starts will be difficult, but short of an implosion, he should stay in front of Stinebaugh. If he does, he'll have a few catches and be able to make an impact as another receiving threat. Watson has had trouble staying on the field, too, so if he struggles early on, Furstenburg's impact could be bigger than first expected.
The Freshman: Dave Stinebaugh
Or redshirt freshman, to be more accurate. Stinebaugh is from Perry Hall in Baltimore, and like the other three, is a receiving-oriented TE with some WR qualities. I actually like his potential down the road - he has a good build and very solid hands - but he'll have to reach ahead of the well-established Furstenburg to see the field at this point, hardly and easy task.
Odds: Probably not happening this year. Stinebaugh will likely have to wait his turn behind Furst, Campbell, and Watson, all of whom has at least two years of eligibility remaining. Then again, Friedgen has never had a problem playing young players before, provided they're good enough, so Stinebaugh's destiny is in his own hands. It's certainly possible that he steals a few snaps from Furstenburg or Watson.