The Terps brought in a new defensive coordinator this year, Don Brown. Brown was most recently the head coach at Massachusetts, and he was mostly successful there. I don’t think he can be much worse than Chris Cosh and his weird LEO position.
Brown faces his first major personnel decision right away, as it appears Dion Armstrong will be ruled academically ineligible (there’s obviously time to correct that, but that’s where it’s at right now). If he is, there’ll probably be an open battle for his spot at DT.
The Contenders: AJ Francis, Ian Davidson, Zach Kerr
AJ Francis: Francis committed to the Terps very early in the process in high school. He romped through some of the combines, but ended up not being recruited too much: he was seen as out of shape and slow. He has lost some weight since arriving in CP, though, which leads me to believe he’s a bit more in shape. He’s had a redshirt season for the coaches to mold him, and was #2 on the depth chart behind Armstrong. From all indications, the coaching staff (at least last year's) really like him.
Ian Davidson: The eldest of the bunch, (and Dre Moore’s protégé: Moore said he helped Davidson a lot his freshman year) Davidson will be a redshirt sophomore this year. He’s never actually set foot on the playing field and he was a defensive end in high school, so there’s not a huge experience advantage. Davidson is probably a bit less talented than the other two, but he has no major weaknesses in his game. His speed and acceleration are adequate, as is his lateral quickness and strength. That being the case, he's a bit more reliable than the others.
Zach Kerr: Kerr is a monster, standing at 6-2, 330. He just joined the team this spring after prepping at Hargrave Military Academy. Obviously, his biggest strength is his size – he’s big enough to just maul through people. He can run surprisingly well for his size, though. I haven’t seen his name mentioned in any practice report, so I don’t know how much time he’s seeing in spring practice. I’d have to assume he’s at the back of the line right now, simply because he’s had the least amount of time with the coaches. His upside, however, is the highest of the three.
Francis will probably win the battle, should Armstrong be named ineligible. The coaches like him and he’s had some time to work with them. Kerr is too raw to throw out there every down, and Davidson can’t have impressed the coaches if he still hasn’t played in a game yet. Of course, if Armstrong can get himself out of the dog house, this is a moot argument.