A few days ago, Land-Grant Holy Land did a neat little feature where they asked which former Buckeye they would want to draft to this year's squad. We decided to extrapolate that and ask all of our writers which former Terp they would select to improve this year's team.
Arguments can be made for which is the position on Maryland's roster that most needs improvement, but I would think offensive line would be near the top of the list. The Terps are inexperienced in the trenches, and offensive tackle is a particular need - Mike Madaras did not have a great year last year and Nick Klemm has never looked like a serious contender for the starting job in seasons past.
J.D. Maarleveld only played for the Maryland Terrapins for two seasons (1984 and 1985), but his is a special story that needs recognition. Maarleveld, an offensive tackle from Jersey City, first attended Notre Dame in the early 1980s, but was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma after his sophomore year in 1982. The Irish's head coach at the time, Gerry Faust, promised Maarleveld he would have a place on the team when he recovered (there's a feature in People about him from 1986 if any of you want to read).. After Maarleveld made his recovery, through hard work and a special diet, Faust said there was no longer any room for him on the team and suggested he try Division II.
Instead, Maarleveld transferred to Maryland, and with the help of offensive line coach Ralph Friedgen, he was named a consensus first-team All-American in 1985. The Buccaneers selected him in the fifth round of the 1986 draft, and he played with Tampa for two years. After his playing career was over, he became an uncle - to a young man named Andrew Gonnella.
Going with E.J. Henderson in this spot, obviously for his skill but also for positional need. Maryland is equipped with some talented linebackers who should be effective this year and only get better, but that corps needs more experience -- So who better to bring on than Henderson, whose combination of speed and strength would be a boon against ACC offensive lines in 2013? I considered Shawne Merriman for this spot, but in an effort to keep College Park entirely PED-free, Henderson's my pick.
Henderson's NFL career just recently ended. He was a solid pro for the Minnesota Vikings, but his most dominant days, like so many other players', came in college. In a superlative career that spanned from 1999 to 2002, he was twice an All-ACC performer, twice a conference defensive player of the year and, of course, twice a consensus first-teamer on the All-American squad. I won't go 12 rounds in a silly "best ever" debate, but I suspect you could make a perfectly rational case for Henderson as one of the best college linebackers of this era. Could I deal with putting him in the middle of Brian Stewart's defense, leading an inexperienced front seven through its last year in the conference? Yeah, that would do.
I like what Alex is doing, and having a Henderson in a Maryland jersey is never a bad thing. However, with the losses on the defensive front heading into this season, despite the transfer in of Zeke Riser, I'd take DE Randy White. A legendary player in Maryland's history and one that would almost make up for the losses of Joe Vellano, A.J. Francis (not in terms of post-game quotes) and Justin Anderson combined. With the glaring needs on the defensive front, Randy Starks was also in consideration. I guess a guy like Phil Costa helping protect C.J. Brown would be nice too.
The "Manster" was an unstoppable force while in a Maryland uniform. He started off as a fullback, before eventually moving to defensive end as a Sophomore. His senior season was one of the most impressive in Maryland football history. He won the Outland Trophy, Lombardi Award, UPI Defensive Lineman of the Year and ACC Player of the Year. He was also named to back-to-back All-American teams in 1973 and 1974, as a junior and senior. He was even voted to ABC's "All-time All-America Team" at the turn of the century. Is he a schematic fit in Brian Stewart's defense? Who cares! With a guy this talented, there's no way he isn't having a major impact on the field.
With Wes Brown unlikely to take the field, I'll take Lamont Jordan to shore up the running game and open the field even more for Diggs and Long. Most of the readers of this site should be familiar with Jordan who played for the Terps from 1997 - 2000. But in case they're not, Jordan had it all: power, speed and durability. His junior season was off the charts rushing for over 1,600 yards and his 1840 yards from scrimmage accounted for almost 45% of Maryland's total offense. Take a look at some of his other numbers keeping in mind that he played for Ron Vanderlinden.
Jordan is the Terps all time rusher by a wide distance having amassed 4,147 yards in his career outdistancing Charlie Wysocki who is second by over 800 yards. He has Maryland's only 300 yard rushing game pummeling UVA for 306 in the last game of his junior season (and don't get me started about Vanderlinden's coaching that cost Maryland that game and a possible bowl bid). As a junior, he led the ACC in yards per carry averaging 6.1. He's second in career rushing touchdowns and still has the Maryland record for rushing touchdowns in a season with sixteen. His eighteen games of 100 yards or more is also first on Maryland's all-time list. And he knew how to find the end zone: his 37 career touchdowns still rank him behind only Rick Badanjek in that category. He was also effective catching the ball out of the backfield pulling in 76 receptions in his Terrapin career and averaging almost 10 yards per catch. Jordan has an immediate impact making the Terps offense ever more difficult to stop.
For all of that, plus his cameo appearance in my upcoming story about Brenda Frese's win number four, I vote Lamont Jordan on the team.
Though I would agree with Brendan and Alex that our defensive front is in need of some help, I'd prescribe some indirect treatment. It's a lot of pressure off of the defense when the offense is putting up points every game, which is why I'd bring in a star QB, Boomer Esiason. Boomer led the Terps to an 8-4 season in 1982 where the team scored 31 points a game. That's a far cry from this past years 20 points a game (which admittedly was impressive considering the linebacker under center). Those 31 points a game came when boomer was throwing to Russell Davis and Greg Hill, not Stefon Diggs and Deon Long.
Boomer also played before Nelly's "Here Comes the Boom" was released, a travesty in my opinion. Maryland's evidently Diggs the song (see Duke flashmob) and a nickname combination this good Will Likely never be surpassed. Plus, as we've painfully been reminded, it never hurts to have depth at QB.
After relying more on its defense the last couple of season, Maryland's offense is poised to break out in 2013, and I would bring in Torrey Smith to really make a statement. Maryland's receiving corp does have a lot of current talent already, it's true. But one thing it doesn't have is a ton of experience. Deon Long has never played in a Division I game, Stefon Diggs, Nigel King, and Levern Jacobs are all sophomores, while Tyrek Cheeseboro is a redshirt freshman. The position also took a hit after Marcus Leak temporarily withdrew from the program back in May.
Smith would bring instant veteran experience, and perhaps more importantly, leadership. Imagine what Diggs having Torrey around for a year as a mentor could do. The consummate professional, Smith is known in his time at Maryland for being one of the top all-purpose players in the country. In 2010, he was second in the ACC in receiving TD's (12) and receiving yards (1,055), and third in receptions (67). In 2009 he was first in the nation in kickoff return yards (1,309). And let's not forget his incredible four touchdown, 224-yard game against NC State.
Seriously though, imagine a receiving corp with Smith, Diggs, and Long.
With Maryland having several dynamic players on offense this season, including Stefon Diggs, Deon Long, and C.J. Brown, I'd bring in one of most dynamic Maryland players in recent memory to make their offense even better - the Duke - Vernon Davis. I think bringing in a former stud defender could be very helpful for a young defense, but Maryland is going to win this year by putting a lot of points up on the board, as opposed to shutting down their opposition. If you added Davis into this current fold of players, you have three people who could score anytime they touch the ball. When you add in C.J. Brown, who should be able to run Locksley's zone-read option as well if not better than Burns did last year, it makes Maryland offense extremely difficult to stop. If you're an opposing defensive coordinator, how do you stop Maryland's offense with Davis at tight end, not just as a receiver, but also as a blocker? He can stretch you down the field, throw a block and open up a hole for Brown or Ross, or get the ball in the flat and make defenders foolish as he fights his way to the endzone.
As a player at Maryland, Davis was impressive, but his numbers don't exactly jump off the page at you. He left Maryland after his junior season and finished his career with 83 receptions for 1,371 yards (averaging 16.5 ypr) and scored 9 touchdowns. His junior year, which propelled him to leave early to enter the NFL draft, where he was selected 6th overall by San Francisco, he had 51 receptions for 871 yards and 6 touchdowns. And that was with Joel Statham throwing him the ball. Can you imagine what he could have done in a zone-read offense, with other big time playmakers around him and a much better quarterback?
Plus, how awesome would it be to see VD in a Maryland Pride uni? You know he'd rock that and would love it.
A thanks to all of our writers for contributing on this story. Now it's time for your input. Which former Terp would you most want to have on this year's squad? Is there someone we missed out on? Let us know.