Maryland and Randy Edsall released their spring football depth chart about a week ago, with a few surprises. One of them is just format - there's not a single "OR" on the chart, leaving us to figure out the position battles heading into camp. Let's run down the ones we see, starting with the offense today.
For starters, there are seven players not listed on the depth chart that should contend for playing time (or even starting spots) when they come back - wide receivers Kevin Dorsey and Tyrek Cheeseboro, offensive tackle Justin Gilbert, and offensive guard Pete White. In addition, most of the incoming freshman class has not arrived on campus yet - most notably wide receiver Stefon Diggs, running backs Wes Brown and Albert Reid, offensive guard Nick Brigham, and offensive tackle Mike Madaras.
Let's start with wide receiver, because that's going to be the position with the most movement. Dorsey, Cheesboro and Diggs will most likely bump Regis Whittington, Levern Jacobs and James Bowman off the depth chart, but where will they end up?
The current starters at wide-out are Devin Burns, Kerry Boykins, and Marcus Leak, and the only one anywhere close to a lock is Boykins, a senior. Dorsey should take over the top spot easily, but there will be a battle for that third spot.
Wide Receiver (note: don't confuse this for the slot. That will almost definitely be Boykins).
Stefon Diggs, Marcus Leak, Devin Burns and Nigel King
The case for Diggs: In this case, he's the sexy candidate. One of the biggest and best recruits to ever come to Maryland, Diggs is an all-world wide receiver with endless potential. He's a potential program-changing recruit, and it's hard to imagine him not getting significant playing time from the start - fans have (jokingly) called for him to play defensive back as well as return kicks and start at wide receiver. The issue is obviously his lack of collegiate experience, but he's got to be considered the favorite.
The case for Leak: As a true freshman last year, Leak had 12 catches for 85 yards and a score, and received high praise from the coaches. He showed a lot of promise, and is listed as one of the starters on the pre-Dorsey and Diggs version of the depth chart.
The case for Burns: A converted quarterback, Burns played in seven games last year, but only caught one pass for 17 yards. He's more of a slot player, and has barely any experience playing receiver, but he's quick and has always been lauded for his football smarts. The coaches like him, and he's also listed as a starter right now, but this is an unlikely option.
The case for King: Arguably the most hyped of a 2011 receiver class that included Leak and Cheeseboro, King sat out last year due to NCAA Clearinghouse issues. He's tall, strong, has good hands, but the only question for his transition to the next level is his speed. I wouldn't be surprised to see him starting later in the year, but if they go with a player with no college experience for this spot, it's got to be Diggs.
The Pick - Diggs. Leak may be the starter for the first game, but I doubt it. No matter what, Diggs will probably start the majority of the games this year.
Let's continue with the skill positions and the incoming freshmen.
Justus Pickett, Wes Brown and Albert Reid
The case for Pickett: The only returning running back with any experience to speak of, Pickett was the second option behind Davin Meggett for most of last season. He finished the year with 274 yards on 74 carries (a 3.7 average) with two total touchdowns. He was a big-time recruit a year ago out of North Carolina, and is a very shifty runner.
The case for Brown: An absolute stud at Good Counsel, Brown is a four-star power back who comes to Maryland with a whole lot of hype. With great size backed up by good speed, it would be an absolute shock if he didn't at least get a share of the running back duties in his first year on campus.
The case for Reid: Another big-time running back coming into the program, Reid is more of a finesse-type runner to counter Brown's pure power. A former West Virginia commit, he'd fit well in a hybrid spread offense, which is similar to what Locksley is bringing in. He's essentially a combination of the previous two - he has no collegiate experience (like Brown) and has a running style similar to Pickett's.
The Pick - I think Pickett and Brown will split the carries pretty evenly this year - their styles complement each other, and while Brown may be better, Pickett has more experience. Who gets more carries? Gun to my head, I go with Pickett, but Brown scores more touchdowns.
Finally, let's move on to the O-Line.
Nick Klemm and Justin Gilbert
The case for Klemm: Well, he's listed as the starting left tackle right now. He's played in 17 games in his two years as a Terp, but has never made a start. He's been good off the bench over the past few years, and this looks like his best chance to make an impact as a starter. Really, the case for him is that his competition has one knee.
The case for Gilbert: Gilbert's got a whole lot of talent, and has started six games over the past two years. The only thing holding him back has been injuries, all to his left knee. In an ideal world, he starts the whole season at left tackle this year, but no one knows if he'll be healthy.
The Pick - Realistically? Klemm. Hopefully? Gilbert. Gilbert will be the starter if he has an injury-free season, but that's just not an expectation we should have for him at this point. Hopefully he can start for more than half the season, but we'll likely be seeing a lot of Klemm.
Pete White, De'Onte Arnett and Nick Brigham
The case for White: White is huge, listed at 6'4" and 330 pounds, and played in all 12 games last year (starting in six). He's got the size and the experience, and is the most skilled of the three options here. He has yet to show consistency in College Park and is currently hurt, but he should be the favorite.
The case for Arnett: A former stud defensive lineman in high school, Arnett recently switched over to the other side of the trenches. He's currently listed as the starter on the depth chart, and is a quicker option for the guard slot. He's played in six games as an offensive lineman in his career at Maryland, including a start against NC State last year.
The case for Brigham: He's one of the top linemen coming in to this year's class, and was one of the top guards in Georgia last year. He's not very experienced, but is strong off the line and has a lot of football smarts. The hope is he redshirts.
The Pick: White. This may be the year he finally puts it together, and with Maryland's depleted offensive line he'll certainly get the chance.
The case for Fulper: In three years with Maryland, he's started 21 games all along the interior line. He was the first true freshman Terp since Bruce Campbell to start a game on the O-Line, and adjusted very well to the center position last year.
The case for Conaboy: He's currently listed as Maryland's starter at center, and started the final two games of last season after Fulper suffered an injury.
The Pick: Fulper. Conaboy was impressive last year when spelling Fulper, but there's no way a senior who has started for nearly all of his Maryland career gets benched for his last go-round.
Mike Madaras, Ryan Doyle and Jake Wheeler
The case for Madaras: Like Diggs and Brown, he's a four-star prospect out of Good Counsel. He's one of the best players in the state, and one of the best offensive linemen to come to Maryland in the past decade. He's got undoubted skills (and chemistry with Brown), but his lack of experience is obviously a hurdle.
The case for Doyle: He's the current starter on Maryland's depth chart. That's about it for Doyle, who redshirted last year.
The case for Wheeler: He played in all 12 games last year (off the bench). Wheeler is incredibly athletic, and was a star basketball player in high school. Add in the fact that this position is wide open, and he's got a decent shot.
That covers the offense. Be sure to let me know where I'm dead wrong in the comments. We'll be covering defense (probably) tomorrow. And just for fun, here's a poll.
Which offensive position battle do you think will impact Maryland the most?
Wide Receiver (Diggs, Leak, Burns, King) (103 votes)
Running Back (Pickett, Brown, Reid) (131 votes)
Left Tackle (Klemm, Gilbert) (34 votes)
Left Guard (White, Arnett, Brigham) (9 votes)
Center (Fulper, Conaboy) (2 votes)
Right Tackle (Madaras, Doyle, Wheeler) (44 votes)
323 total votes