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11 Til Kickoff: Looking Ahead at Maryland's Wide Receiving Corps of the Future

You get it. I like Torrey Smith. I've already told you all the amazingly awesome things about him, so I'm not going to do it again. But there's one flaw with Smith in my eyes, even though I'm not even critical about it: he might leave early for the NFL draft.

It's a very big might. But who could blame him if he does? He'll have already graduated, broken almost every record he could break, and potentially have to adapt his senior year to the new stylings of a different coach. There are a lot of reasons for Smith to go pro, especially if his junior year is as big as we're all hoping it will be.

Okay, so "flaw" isn't a great word. But if Smith heads out the door after this year, Maryland's wide receiver situation next year will be mighty scary. In fact, I'm already looking out for it.

Maryland's already losing Adrian Cannon, who was a rock of a #2 receiver last year and probably will be again this. Plus, expected (and semi-experienced) contributor LaQuan Williams and Emani Lee-Odai, who is at least above-average depth, are both graduating this year.

That's two of Maryland's top five or so options at this point, plus a solid depth player. That's already a pretty sizable loss, but it would be infinitely compounded by an additional Torrey Smith departure. After all, Smith is quite literally Maryland's most productive player in terms of yardage perhaps ever, and was probably just as productive as, if not more than, Darrius Heyward-Bey, solely in terms of a wide receiver.

At that point, Maryland would be looking at a extraordinarily inexperienced group that, entering into this season, would have a grand total of eleven starts. It would also have a huge hole where the star wide receiver is supposed to be; Ronnie Tyler has been up-and-down as a slot receiver, and though he might have finally turned it on, his height (5-9) would be limiting in a Torrey Smith-type role.

And it could get worse, too; Tyler was recently in summer school, and I've heard no confirmation one way or the other on his standing. That in and of itself isn't foreboding and the fact that he's practicing as opposed to not is obviously comforting, but you never really know. Maryland football's law...er, Murphy's law: when something can go wrong, it will go wrong. A Tyler departure, especially if he was gone for good, would be extremely troublesome.

In fact, whoever-is-the-coach-then will have a bunch of wide receivers that seem to have a lot of talent, but ultimately have little-to-no game experience. Let's map it out, looking at 2011-12's receivers and their stats entering 2010-11:

Seniors:

Tony Logan - 0 starts, 0 receptions, 0 yards, 0 TDs
Quintin McCree - 2 starts, 5 receptions, 24 yards, 0 TDs
Torrey Smith* - 16 starts, 85 receptions, 1160 yards, 7 TDs
Ronnie Tyler** - 6 starts, 48 receptions, 571 yards, 2 TDs

Juniors:

Kerry Boykins - 1 start, 6 receptions, 79 yards, 0 TDs
Kevin Dorsey - 0 starts, 3 receptions, 17 yards, 0 TDs

Redshirt Freshmen:

Adrian Coxson - 4 star on Rivals, 4 star (81) on ESPN

True Freshmen:

Tyrek Cheeseboro - 3 star on Rivals, 3 star (75) on ESPN
Nigel King - 3 star on Rivals, 3 star (79) on ESPN
Marcus Leak - 3 star on Rivals, 3 star (79) on ESPN

*Could leave for draft.

**Not sure on grades.

With Smith and Tyler, the group is still heavy around the top and the Terps are only looking for one more wide receiver, a role which Boykins or Dorsey should fill nicely. But if the disaster-scenario were to occur, Smith leaves, and Tyler is ineligible, Maryland's searching for three starting wide receivers and picking from a pool of players that have combined for 14 receptions for 120 yards; that's a good game for Smith some days.

On another note, looks like Adrian Coxson made a very good decision.

Obviously, it'd help Maryland as a program to get guys like Boykins (who looked great last year before a disastrous outing against Virginia which promptly caused him to be benched), McCree (who's on the rise), and Dorsey (who has been a star-in-the-making ever since he committed back in, what, 2008?) more playing time. Cheeseboro, who had to prep, and Coxson, who has to sit out, can't be helped, and obviously neither can King nor Leak.

But Friedgen can get more playing time for the trio that figures to be Maryland's immediate future at wide receiver. With Smith supposedly playing fewer plays, that opportunity's there. And if Ronnie Tyler does end up ineligible, at least he won't be able to play this year, which would give Dorsey or Boykins a shot over a full season.

The hope is that Friedgen doesn't go into all-out win mode by over-playing the proven options, like Smith and Cannon, or the seniors, like Williams, at the expense of the younger players. At this point, their development needs to be seriously monitored and encouraged, lest Maryland end up in a situation they really don't want to be in.

Needless to say, even after next year, when Smith and Tyler will definitely be gone along with McCree, there's a lot of inexperience. Coxson, Leak, and King can all make relatively quick impacts, but when that quick impact is from an unproven freshman, it's more than a little disconcerting.

The progress of McCree (who will likely be stepping into starting spot next year regardless of Smith's and Tyler's situations) and, more importantly, Boykins and Dorsey, is worth seriously monitoring. If they can't impress in their time on the field, Coxson may be seeing the field much more and earlier than we had hoped.