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ACC Kickoff 2012: Edsall Stepping Back (And How PSU Sanctions Could Help Maryland)

Notice the new M Terrafont logo. I actually like that. A lot.
Notice the new M Terrafont logo. I actually like that. A lot.

Leave it to the ACC to hold their football kickoff and media days at the exact same time the Penn State penalties are released. Talk about burying news. (I know, it's not their fault. But hey, it would only happen to the ACC, would it not?)

We'll get to the PSU news and fallout in a minute, but first let's give a nod to what's happening in Greensboro. (Because everything in the ACC always happens in Greensboro. And yes, I'm bitter.) Player interviews were yesterday - the Maryland contingent consisted of Kevin Dorsey and Joe Vellano - while Randy Edsall's day in the sun comes today. You can watch Edsall's live interview at the official ACC site, starting promptly at 4:26.

As for the players yesterday, things were pretty standard-issue. Both Dorsey and Vellano went to bat for Edsall and played down criticism, updated Kenny Tate's injury status, and hyped up Stefon Diggs. Here's one somewhat unexpected note that I found encouraging, though:

"It's almost like we have three head coaches," Vellano said. Perhaps more importantly, Edsall learned a valuable lesson from his first year on the job and "stepped back a little bit," Dorsey said.

The new philosophy has Maryland's players singing a different tune than this time last year. They hope the worst is now behind them.

Edsall "let the coordinators step up and do their thing," Dorsey said. "They tell us what they expect, what they're gonna do, what their offense is, what their defense is. But they're both fun-loving guys. They're coaches you want to be around.

If Edsall is going to work out as a program CEO type, then he needs to have competent coordinators he trusts, and he needs to actually trust them and let them work. I don't think he's ever been a control freak in that sense, but it did seem as if he meddled a bit last year. (In his defense, that might've been because he was working with two deeply incompetent coordinators.) The new guys are certainly competent enough to be largely left to their own devices, and if Edsall's decided to do that and become more of a figurehead, that's a good sign.

(And I know some people think me saying Edsall is a CEO is a bad thing. It's not - it's who he is, and in fact it can be a very good thing. Edsall strengths are working hard, being seen, fundraising, visiting local schools, being political, and so on. He's not a nitty-gritty coach, so let's not make him one. Play to his strengths.)

Anyway, perhaps we'll hear his perspective on that in his interview today. Unless he says something worthy of a new post, I'll be updating this one later with his quotes.

Anyway: this perhaps deserved a post of its own, but I decided against it since, at the moment, it's merely conjecture. Now that Penn State football's been given the hammer and its current players allowed to transfer without penalty, everybody's wondering: can Maryland benefit?

Answer: yes, but not as much as some hope. This isn't the Penn State of a few years ago, which is to say they're not stocked with DC-area players anymore. They haven't been serious players here in quite some time, and that means there aren't too many locals available to poach. Meanwhile, Urban Meyer is sitting off to west and ready to pounce himself. Players who had interest in Maryland the first time around, like Adam Breneman and Christian Hackenberg, are going to find places like OSU, Michigan, and Notre Dame much more attractive propositions. Breneman, in particular, probably isn't worth getting excited over, even if he genuinely did (and perhaps still does) like Maryland.

But yes, there are players that Maryland can pursue, and yes, they'd help the roster. As far as 2013 commitments go, Brandon Bell, Curtis Cothran, Zayd Issah, and Damascus receiver Zach Bradshaw all had Maryland offers before pulling the trigger for PSU the first time around. (Bell and Issah, though, are linebackers by trade, and might find their spots squeezed.)

Far more interesting to me are the potential immediate transfers, because Maryland is in pretty significant need of immediate reinforcements and there are about a dozen potential transfers who'd likely consider Maryland. A quick sampling:

  • Stephon Morris, a senior CB from Eleanor Roosevelt in Greenbelt and has made 13 career starts. Maryland needs secondary depth and quality, and Morris would arguably walk into a starting role in College Park. Locksley's worked his magic with Roosevelt kids before, and he very well could have some pull here.
  • Adrian Amos, a sophomore CB who originally committed to Randy Edsall at UConn and is from Baltimore. He was set to be a starter this year at corner, and with Maryland's lack of secondary depth, he'd potentially be able to slot into a similar spot across from Dexter McDougle in College Park if Morris doesn't.
  • Donovan Smith, a redshirt freshman OT from Owings Mills. He had heavy interest in Maryland last time around but ended up going north instead. A former four-star, he's significantly talented and would be a big boost to a still unsettled but increasingly talent-laden offensive line.
  • Zach Zwinak, a sophomore RB from Frederick. Was one of the top players in the state in his class and Maryland wanted him badly. Not sure there's going to room for him in the backfield between Tyler Cierski, Justus Pickett, Brandon Ross, and Wes Brown, but he's talented.
  • Brian Gaia, a true freshman OL from Gilman in Baltimore. Maryland was slightly involved last time. He'd be a nice depth pick-up for the offensive line, though wouldn't be a huge immediate help. He would, however, help smooth over Gilman relations even more.
  • Brent Wilkerson, a true freshman TE/DE from DeMatha in Hyattsville. Maryland wasn't interested last time around for some reason, but then Mike Locksley wasn't around. This would be a big addition, as Wilkerson could either add youth and quality at tight end - Maryland has only one non-senior TE on the roster, remember - or along the defensive line, where he has the size to play in the 3-4 without trouble. That's somewhat rare for HS kids. Here's hoping Locksley can pull something off.

There are others, especially at positions of need - Paul Jones or Sean Stanley, anyone - that would be significant additions, and still others that are likely and we just don't know it yet. But for a team that really needs some immediate help, this is a blessing from the football gods.

We'll keep an eye on this over the next few weeks to see if anything materializes.