Maryland heard some expected news Saturday: junior wide receiver Stefon Diggs will be headed to the NFL. Along with departing senior Deon Long (also likely to get a shot at the professional level), that means the Terps lose their top two pass catchers from 2014.
Diggs caught 62 passes for 792 yards and five touchdowns, while Long had 51 receptions for 575 yards and two scores. Together, they combined for 49.6% of the team's catches, 47.7% of the team's receiving yards and 36.8% of the team's receiving touchdowns. How will Maryland replace that level of production?
Diggs' most likely replacement in the slot is Levern Jacobs. He will likely be a junior next season after missing the 2014 season with a university suspension (he was later found not guilty and to have acted in self-defense). Jacobs, Maryland's leading receiver in 2013, was so good in camp that Maryland moved Diggs to the outside just to get him on the field more.
There are a few other candidates that could challenge Jacobs for the position, however. His brother Taivon could get a shot there, but his place is more likely on the outside (more on that later). An interesting name to watch could be Jacquille Veii, who served as Diggs's backup at the slot after the older Jacobs' suspension. A former running back, Veii served a new role for Maryland as a kind of all-purpose back, with 19 rushes, 16 receptions and 9.6 yards per touch.
Some younger players to watch out for at the position: DeAndre Lane, who has a ton of speed but hasn't seen the field much yet; Will Ulmer, the former high-profile quarterback recruit who may be the fastest player on the team; and incoming freshmen D.J. Moore and Jahrvis Davenport.
As for Long's replacement, Taivon Jacobs is the most likely candidate to start on the outside opposite Marcus Leak. A former Ohio State commit, Jacobs flipped to Maryland on Signing Day in order to stay closer to his family. He's been one of the most impressive players for the Terps in camp, but hasn't been able to stay healthy enough to play.
Another candidate could be sophomore Juwann Winfree. A former four-star recruit, Winfree burst through a loaded depth chart at receiver to make an impact as a true freshman. In eight games, he caught 11 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
There's also Amba Etta-Tawo, who has big play-making ability (10 receptions, 222 yards) but has had problems with drops. Malcolm Culmer could play a role as well on the outside.
No matter who wins the jobs, they'll be playing with a brand new quarterback. Barring a transfer, that will almost certainly be Caleb Rowe. With a better arm (but not nearly as much mobility) as C.J. Brown, Rowe should be able to take more advantage of Maryland's weapons in the receiving corps -- offensive line permitting. The good news is Maryland should have a better unit up front, but they're going to have a tough task against the defensive lines of the Big Ten once again.