It was quite a year for Maryland football. It was about as up-and-down as you could get, but then again, that's Ralph Friedgen for you. The year saw a loss to Middle Tennessee State (who ended up 5-7 in the Sun Belt), then a win against a California who had just blown out a Pac-10 opponent by 63 points (who ended up 8-4); it saw an incredible second half against Clemson in Death Valley, followed by one of the most embarrassing losses I can remember – a shutout against UVA – followed by a bounce-back shutout win against Wake Forest; it saw a 3 point win over North Carolina State on homecoming, a loss against Virginia Tech in which the defense gave up over 200 rushing yards; an emotional win over North Carolina in which the defense was impeccable, then an incredibly embarrassing loss to Florida State in prime time in a must-win game, and a disappointing loss to Boston College to round out the season. But this is Ralph Friedgen. His teams do this year in and year out. I'm not saying it's good or bad – just an observation.
For as many weird games there were, the players were just as memorable. The team relied on Chris Turner every game – some days he was great, some days he was terrible. The team leaned on Da'Rel Scott, maybe too much – he ended up getting hurt mid-way through the year. The defense was just about as inconsistent as possible. Darrius Heyward-Bey, despite having a huge amount of natural talent, was seemingly ignored. James Franklin did not bring about the awesome offensive changes we were all expecting.
But I still loved every minute of it (well, maybe not every minute). After a few votes via comment and few votes via email, here's the Terperlatives:
Voter's Choice: Da'Rel Scott
My Choice: Chris Turner
This was one of the harder choices for me to make. Da'Rel Scott certainly had times where I wouldn't dream of putting anyone else in this position, but I had trouble naming him MVP: it's most valuable, not best. And though I like Da'Rel, I can't help but think that every game hinged more on Chris Turner's performance than Da'Rel Scott's. For as many games as he lost, he won back more. The offensive MVP goes to Chris Turner.
Voter's Choice: Moise Fokou
My Choice: Terrell Skinner
This one was almost harder than Offensive MVP, mainly because no player stood out on the defense. Moise Fokou made a few big plays, and might've been the most consistent player. Then there's Alex Wujciak, who had the second most tackles in the ACC. Then there's Dave Philistin, a senior leader at linebacker. I ended up choosing Terrell Skinner, though. The secondary (especially after the injury to Kevin Barnes) was pretty weak. Skinner, though, rarely missed an assignment, and kept the passing game from running over Maryland's defense every week. Most other players did their job admirably, but none as well as Skinner did.
Voter's Choice: Travis Baltz
My Choice: Travis Baltz
This one was an easy choice – there were only two candidates, really. Baltz was the first option, and Torrey Smith the second. Torrey Smith did a lot to deserve consideration, but Baltz was phenomenal all year long. He actually earned a lot of consideration for overall MVP. I shudder to think of what would've happened to the team if Baltz wasn't there to bail them out of the field position war every single possession.
Voter's Choice: Offensive Line
My Choice: Chris Turner
The voter's choice was confusing here, seeing how abysmal the offensive line was at times this year (see: Florida State). But I guess my choice is equally confusing, seeing how bad Turner could be at times, too. I suppose my line of thinking is the same as the one for Offensive MVP: no player had a bigger impact on whether Maryland won or lost a game.
Voter's Choice: Davin Meggett
My Choice: Davin Meggett
Really, this choice was pretty easy. Torrey Smith came in second, but Meggett was simply phenomenal when given the chance to be. I look forward to the next three years of Maryland football if Davin Meggett is a part of it. He reminds me a lot of Ray Rice – small, tough, doesn't go down easy. He did wonders as a freshman – I can't wait to see him as a sophomore, junior, and senior.
Voter's Choice: Lee Hull
My Choice: Lee Hull
I have no idea how much Lee Hull actually had to do with the performance of the wide receivers this year. I assume it's a decent amount, seeing as how he's the wide receiver coach, though he is a first year coach. Bo position stood out more this year than wide receiver. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Danny Oquendo, the emergence of Torrey Smith and Ronnie Tyler – there were some serious players at WR, and it's a shame they weren't utilized more.
Voter's Choice: Kevin Barnes
My Choice: Edwin Williams
Kevin Barnes' departure is huge, don't get me wrong. But I have trouble picking him as the senior most missed when the team's already missed him for half a year. No, instead, I'm picking Edwin Williams. He's a team leader, and the anchor of (and only consistent player on) an offensive line that was inconsistent at best and bad at worst. Someone's going to have to step up to fill his size 14 shoes.
Voter's Choice: James Franklin
My Choice: James Franklin
I think everyone had big expectations for the new offense that was supposed to be installed by former Marylander James Franklin. Franklin was coming in as the offensive coordinator after serving there at Kansas State and leading them to relatively good offensive statistics. No one could really grasp why KSU fans were happy at his departure, but I think we found out – he's not exactly an offensive genius. It's not like he's on a Cosh level of bad play calling, but he's certainly not what anyone expected. His playcalls were often head-scratchers, especially relative to when he took chances on big plays.
Voter's Choice: Travis Hawkins
My Choice: Caleb Porzel
A lot of people say think Travis Hawkins is the next big thing, and I agree to an extent – he should be starting for Maryland next year at CB. But Maryland's class is absolutely loaded this year, and I could've gone any one way of several. DJ Adams? DeOnte Arnett? Hawkins? Even Darrin Drakeford? All were possibilities. But I can't stop thinking about Caleb Porzel. Besides having an awesome name (doesn't it just sound cool?) he's absolutely blown away my expectations. I was expecting a 3 star, undersized running back. What Maryland's getting is something else entirely – he scored three TDs in the Crab Bowl, while Tavon Austin, a similar, more coveted back, only had one TD from scrimmage (he also had a KR TD). Running back is loaded the next few years.
Injury Which Hurt the Team Most
Voter's Choice: Kevin Barnes
My Choice: Kevin Barnes
The injury to Barnes was a big one, as he was really the only All-ACC caliber player on Maryland's defense. I think Nolan Carroll filled in valiantly, but Barnes is very talented and would've been a huge boon to stopping the passing game late in the year.
Voter's Choice: Danny Oquendo
My Choice: Torrey Smith
Regular readers know how much I like Torrey Smith. Besides being from my hometown, he plays football the way it's supposed to be played. He hustles on every play. He was one of the best kick returners in the nation, and was able to consistently give Maryland great field position. He fought to get open, and was fearless on punts – both blocking and tackling. I expect him to take over the punt return job next year, and I'm excited to see what he can do with it.
There you have it – those are the best players of the year. Let me know what you think in the comments or with a fanpost.