Everyone knew it coming in: Maryland's offensive line was going to be bad. Very bad. Or, at the very least, inexperienced, and would experience growing pains. Oh, if only it was that bad.
For most of the season, Maryland's offensive line was nothing short of awful. Sure, they had occasional moments of promise amidst the terrible season, but they were by and large one of the worst lines in all of college football. Some of that was Maryland's own fault; some of it was plain old bad luck.
The key is to figure out how much of what contributed, and if Maryland can turn it around anytime soon. If they can, next year could be okay. If not, I hope you like winning two games.
Bruce Campbell, LT
The star of the offensive line, Campbell was expected to be the rock of the unit. In a way, he was: there was no one better on Maryland's line, and he was one of the best linemen in the ACC when healthy. Of course, those final two words were the key operatives, and it turned out he rarely was in the beginning of the season. After he spent the first 7 or so weeks battling injuries, he settled in and did well - though not outstandingly - protecting the QB's blindside.
The hope is that Campbell will remain in school for another season. At least one mock draft has him going in the top 15, and I wouldn't blame him for not wanting to remain in this train wreck. If he returns (which, to me, is likely, considering most other mocks have him 2nd or 3rd round), he'll anchor the line at be one of the best linemen in the ACC.
Paul Pinegar, LG/RT
Pinegar played utility lineman for Maryland, starting out at right tackle and ending up at left guard (with a stop or two in between). A former walk-on, I wouldn't describe his performance as good, per se, but he was certainly serviceable for stretches and did earn his scholarship. (Keep in mind that no one actually did well - this entire unit was awful. Serviceable is a good thing for these guys).
I'm not so sure he'll have his starting spot next year, though. Dill could hold onto the tackle spot and with the introduction of Pete White, Pete DeSouza, and Nate Clarke, OL spots won't be plentiful. That might be for the best - he gave good effort, but there was a reason he was a walk-on.
Phil Costa, C
Along with Pinegar, Costa was the only player on the line to start every game, and was probably the most consistent. He wasn't great - he seemed to get called for a lot of penalties and wasn't unbeatable by any stretch - but he was better than most everyone else on the line and could at least stand up to most of the players thrown against him.
Sadly, Costa's a senior, so he's gone. His likely replacement is Fulper, who we'll get to below.
Andrew Gonella, RG/LG
With a story eerily similar to Pinegar, Gonella was a walk-on who ended up earning a scholarship and a starting spot. He began at one position - left guard - but ended up on the other side of the line, this time at RG. He exceeded my expectations (which were, admittedly, low), but still got overpowered and outran by most of the DL he went up against.
He'll have a problem similar to Pinegar, though I like his chances to return to the lineup moreso than I do Pinegar's. Gonella's a coaching staff favorite, and looked a little bit better than Pinegar at times. There are just a ton of players competing for those spots, including some very talented ones.
R.J. Dill, RT
Dill has prototypical size, but it was pretty clear he still wasn't ready for this level. The most memorable part of the season for Dill, who started eight games, was the bullfighter block against North Carolina Stat in the closing seconds that doomed the Terps that day. For a three-star redshirt freshman, he was about what you'd expect: I'm not going to say he was awful, but he certainly wasn't that good.
Despite those problems, I do think he could return to the lineup next season. He has more potential than anyone competing with him (except for maybe DeSouza), and his competition isn't quite as stiff as it is for the other spots. The problem will be fending off Pinegar, which he should be able to do with another year of experience.
Bennett Fulper, G
One of the few bright spots on the line this year, Fulper started four games at guard before succumbing to a season-ending shoulder injury. He was definitely a little bit better than I expected - he wasn't a worldbeater, but for an unknown true freshman from tiny Gretna, he was a definite steal. He could anchor the line next year if Campbell leaves, though he'd do it from a different position - center. That's his natural spot, and Maryland will need one with Costa leaving. Danny Edwards spot would be unknown in that situation.
Lamar Young, G
I was pretty high on Young in spring practice: he was more experienced than some of the other options and was certainly more talented. He had some attitude issues, apparently, and had trouble locking down a starting spot. He did see three starts toward the beginning of the season, but was inconsistent and, frankly, not that great. His playing time severely dropped off at the end of the season.
Justin Lewis, RG
Lewis saw time at both RG and RT, and ended up tied on the depth chart at RG with Gonnella, even though he received few starts. He started three games and didn't do anything bad enough for me to be opposed to him possibly receiving a starting spot next year, should he play well enough in practice. That said, he did eventually lose his starting place, and there's a reason for that.
Justin Gilbert, LT
Gilbert actually a saw decent amount of PT rotating into and out of the lineup, but nothing stuck into my mind but a holding penalty. That means he blended in with the rest of the line, and that's not a good sign.
He could, though, challenge for the LT spot if Campbell leaves.
My motto for the OL this offseason: "It can't get any worse." Really, these guys hit rock bottom this year, or close enough to it that if they got worse the difference would be negligible.
The talented cavalry is on the way, thankfully. Pete White should be a day one starter at one of the guard spots, and Pete DeSouza could be able to grab one at any spot except center. Fulper is promising at center, and Nate Clarke, an incoming true freshman, could make an impact if they choose to burn his redshirt. Other true freshmen, like Sal Conaboy and whomever else they land at that spot (Garcia, Deboef), are higher ranked than many of their current Maryland counterparts were in high school.
See, not all is lost. Unfortunately, they'll still largely be inexperienced, but the talent level should sharply rise, at least. If Campbell stays, the hope is that they will be average, or at least mediocre. After dealing with them this year, that would be a blessing.
How much they evolve could also influence the QB choice next year. If they're still porous, maybe Maryland has to give it to the faster Jamarr Robinson or C.J. Brown. If they're stronger, then guys like Danny O'Brien and Clay Belton still have a chance.