A recurring series where we will profile every player on Maryland's roster, counting down to kick-off against William & Mary on September 1. Thanks to OBNUG for the idea.
Today we profile Maryland's new defensive coordinator.
Brain Stewart, Defensive Backs Coach, Defensive Coordinator
Date of Birth: 12/4/1964
When he joined Maryland: 2012
Alma Mater: Northern Arizona '95
Hometown: West Covina, Ca.
How'd He Get to College Park?
Brian Stewart went from Nogales High School to Santa Monica City College and eventually Northern Arizona, playing cornerback and safety at the two schools. His first coaching job came at Cal Poly, where he was an offensive assistant in 1992 and 1993, before heading back to his alma mater for two years coaching tight ends and special teams.
After a one-year stint as a graduate assistant at Missouri in 1996, Stewart began to specialize in defensive backs. He spent two years as the defensive backs coach at San Jose State, two years at the same position at Missouri, and was the defensive backs coach at Syracuse in 2001. He found success with all three of those teams - the Spartans had 20 interceptions, good for seventh in the nation, in 1997 and had their best pass defense of the decade under Stewart, the Tigers had an all-conference safety under Stewart's tutelage in Julian Jones, and the Orange went 10-3 in 2001.
Stewart then moved on to the NFL, spending two years as a defensive backs assistant with the Texans before three years as the defensive backs coach of the Chargers. In his last year in San Diego, the Chargers had a top-ten defense in the league and went 14-2.
Stewart was then hired as the defensive coordinator of the Cowboys, a position he held for two years (2007-08). In 2007, his defense had a league-best five Pro Bowlers, and in 2008 the unit led the NFL with 59 sacks. Stewart was then a defensive special assistant with the Eagles for a year before being hired by C-USA's Houston in 2010 as their defensive coordinator.
In 2011, Stewart's Cougars defense ranked in the top fifteen in opponent red-zone scoring, interceptions, tackles for loss, turnovers, and opponent passing efficiency. There was marked improvement for a team that was previously offense-only, and they ended up with a 13-1 record and a top-15 ranking in the last USA Today poll.
Turning around the Cougars' defense so quickly.
Only spending two years as a NFL coordinator.
Maryland adjusts to Stewart's 3-4 quickly, forcing turnovers and getting pressure into the backfield regularly.
It's a transition year, and Stewart's defense struggles.
The biggest issue that Stewart faces in his first year on the job is also his area of expertise - the secondary. While Matt Robinson, Eric Franklin and Dexter McDougle are all players that Maryland fans are pretty comfortable with starting in the defensive backfield, there's not much depth beyond that. The winner of the Jeremiah Johnson/A.J. Hendy battle should be able to produce, and the loser will be a quality back-up, but beyond that at corner Maryland just has players recovering from injury or players who have never played in the ACC before. Behind Robinson and Franklin at safety, there's not much at all - a redshirt freshman in Undray Clark and a walk-on in Clarence Claiborne, with two incoming freshmen who should probably be redshirting.
In terms of linebackers, Maryland has eight solid guys for the four spots - Demetrius Hartsfield, Kenny Tate, Darin Drakeford, Alex Twine, Cole Farrand, Lorne Goree, Bradley Johnson and Marcus Whitfield. That figures to be the rotation, and there's a lot of talent there, both in rushing the pass and stopping the run (with the occasional guy who can go back in coverage as well).
The defensive line might be Maryland's strongest suit. Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis are stars, and Keith Bowers had a very strong freshman year. Behind them, Andre Monroe, Isaiah Ross and Justin Anderson all provide depth, and there's even more unproven talent further down the depth chart.
If Brian Stewart's defense struggles in his first season in College Park, it will be for one of two reasons - trouble adjusting to a new scheme or limitations due to a lack of secondary depth. One thing is nearly for certain, however - it can't possibly be worse than Todd Bradford's defense.
Our next two players are a pair of walk-ons.