The spring roster for Maryland football was just released earlier today. One big surprise: Kenny Tate's listed position isn't safety, but linebacker. His player bio hasn't been updated and still calls him the starting free safety, but his position definitely says "linebacker."
There have been whispers of this in the past, and I have to say that it makes some very slight measures of sense. For one, Tate is the perfect size for a linebacker. He also tended to play better when he was closer to the line of scrimmage.
But it's still a bit of a headscratcher to me. Most obviously, this gives him only one year to learn an entirely new position, which is worrisome in its own right. It also puts his draft stock in precarious position; he was going to be a first-rounder as a safety. Now, unless he's incredibly dominant at linebacker, his stock will almost certainly plummet.
We'll wait and see what happens. This is the spring roster, after all, so maybe they try it out and realize that it's a poor fit. It's still fluid, and I'm guessing they'll make the right decision with their best defensive player.
There were a few other revelations in both number and position changes, which are listed below:
The *s in the position changes indicate that it's a new change. The * in the number changes indicates that it's a freshman enrolling early.
Now, here's the weird thing: both Kearse and Rowson are moving to LB, too. Kearse looked great as a safety while blitzing, but he played DE in high school (and I projected him as a LB), so I can't say that's too big of a disruption. His position is fluid, anyway, so whatever it's listed as isn't all that important.
But Rowson is a bit of a headscratcher. Remember that Travis Hawkins, too, is gone, so Maryland has seen a huge exodus out of the defensive backfield when all these extra defections are included. Rowson had great size for a CB but below-average size for a LB, so I'm not sold on that movement. Besides, if both Tate and Kearse are leaving safety, who fills the space? Titus Till, Eric Franklin, and who else?
Also worth noting is that David Mackall is moving from MLB to DE. I'm okay with this one, too; Mackall was a beast of a rush DE coming out of HS, someone we all compared to Merriman. He was moved to MLB for some reason and looked pretty good while there, but he also was kind of stiff and always looked unnatural to me. He was good and effective, don't get me wrong, but I'd be surprised if he wasn't more at home on the line. Maryland hasn't had a decent rush end since the Merriman years and have more than few serviceable 'backers, so I'm fine with this.
Every coach shakes things up; some changes will work, some won't. I guess we won't know for awhile which ones are which. We'll know a lot more once we see a depth chart.
Oh, and Nigel King as #3 = baller.