Maryland always has a good, shutdown #1 corner. Three years ago, it was Josh Wilson. Then it was Kevin Barnes. Then it was Nolan Carroll. Now it's Cameron Chism. Ignoring the injury tendencies of that group, it's a pretty great group of corners. The problem usually isn't finding that stud - it's finding someone to line up across from him.
That's the same issue again this year. Last year, Anthony Wiseman tried his hand at it, and failed miserably. Two players have a shot at this year, and both are exciting and talented. In fact, this might be the fiercest of the battles.
The "Veteran": Trenton Hughes
Calling Trenton Hughes, a redshirt junior who has seen playing time mostly on special teams, a "veteran" is an exaggeration. But just like Lansford Watson at the TE spot, he'll have to do for the wise elder, at least compared to his competitor.
There was a glut of experienced, unspectacular players ahead of Trenton last year, leading to limited to playing time. When he did see the field, though, he made the most of it, never getting burned and making a few nice defensive plays. He's a very fluid cover corner with surprising athleticism. His solid play in game situations is why he's the leader.
Odds: Hughes, previously known for having a ridiculously talented brother some consider a Maryland lean, is my bet to be starting across from Chism come September. I actually really like Hughes - I think he'll sneak up on some people. He seems a pure cover corner, and made a few nice plays last year in limited time. 3:1
The Sleeper: Dexter McDougle
Dexter McDougle will start eventually, and shine when he does. The only questions are when and where.
McDougle was signed late in the process two years ago, and was a mega-sleeper at the time - he wasn't even in any of the databases. After a few weeks, though, they started to catch on, and most scouts were very high on him. Even at Maryland, though, he tends to be overshadowed in interest by his classmate, Travis Hawkins.
But McDougle, not Hawkins, is regarded as being the player with the most potential in the defensive backfield, and may already be the best, behind Cameron Chism. He's also played safety, so he has some versatility, and I expect him to move back there if one of Maryland's starters (Antwine Perez and Kenny Tate) get hurt, but CB is his home.
You might be wondering, if you read about Hughes, why he would be in a position battle with an unproven freshman. The answer: McDougle is, by all reports, a stud in the making. He's a playmaker with a great build and surprising cover skills. The limiting factor at this point is experience.
Odds: I'm 50-50 on McDougle. I think he'll be very, very good one day, but is that day now? Hughes has the experience edge, and it's not like he's just some random guy - he's pretty talented in his own right. McDougle will see a decent amount of playing time as a nickel guy even if he doesn't win, but you can be sure that's not his goal. I just don't think it'll happen this year. The QB battle might be the most important, but this could be the most intense. 4:1