With all three starters departing, defensive line was one of the primary positions of emphasis in the 2015 class for Maryland. The biggest issue came at nose tackle, a vital position in Maryland's 3-4 that is almost completely bereft of experience. The only tackle left on the depth chart was David Shaw, who recorded four tackles with one sack in seven games (with one start) as a true freshman last season.
The Terrapins ended up addressing that need in this class, adding three linemen in the haul with a clear emphasis on size. Randy Edsall and his staff offered 37 defensive linemen in the class, by far the most out of any positional unit. A note: Mbi Tanyi, who was projected as a defensive end by scouts as a recruit, was listed by Maryland as an outside linebacker. He'll be included with that group Monday.
Maryland first offered Quince Orchard (Md.) prospect Adam McLean in July 2013, identifying him early on as one of the key local players in the class. He visited College Park in September, October and November, but left the Terps out of a January top 5 (when he named Nebraska, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Ohio State and Pitt).
Kamonte Carter was one of the first dominos to fall at the position. The Gaithersburg (Md.) athlete committed to Penn State in February, five months after visiting Maryland beat West Virginia in 2013. Pennsylvania defensive end Ryan Buchholz (the younger brother of former Terrapin fullback Carl Buccholz) followed suit soon after, committing to the Nittany Lions a little more than a week later.
Around that time, Maryland became the first program to offer Canadian prospect Neville Gallimore. Other major programs took note, and Gallimore soon boasted Oklahoma, Ohio State, Penn State and Florida State on his offer list. He ended up committing to the Sooners. They also offered Virginia prospect Aaron Crawford in late February -- he considered the Terrapins for a while before pledging to North Carolina.
Gallimore wasn't the only Northeast prospect who received his first offer in February from Maryland. Trinity-Pawling (N.Y.) end Austrian Robinson popped up on the radar at this time as well, picking up an offer from the Terps and returning to visit in early June. At the time, Maryland was the clear leader for the prospect.
McLean's recruitment really started picking up around this point, picking up offers from Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and a number of other major schools. He committed to Penn State at an April camp, visiting the campus five times over the following months and shaving the school's logo into his head.
Randy Edsall and the staff identified two tackle targets in Big Ten territory in May, offering Illinois tackles Wesley Annan and Jamal Milan. Both were high on Maryland initially (Annan took an official visit in November) but ended up elsewhere (Stanford and Illinois, respectively).
Maryland finally offered star Good Counsel defensive end Darius Fullwood at a camp in June -- after Alabama, Florida State and Penn State, among others. He visited campus later that month before committing to Kentucky (he later flipped to Virginia Tech).
The Terrapins received a nice surprise in early June, securing a commitment from local 6'4, 295-pound tackle Keiron Howard. Considered a Tennessee lean at the time, Howard gave Maryland some critical size in the middle and their first defensive line pledge of the class.
In late June, the Terrapins hosted the 'Big Show' event in College Park, bringing in prospects from all around the country. One such prospect was five-star Florida defensive end Byron Cowart, whose offer sheet was as long as anyone's in the country. He loved the visit, putting Maryland in his top four (and keeping them there for a while). It was clear the Terrapins were on the outside looking in from the beginning, but they left a big impression on the top-caliber recruit.
In September, Cowart returned for an official visit to College Park -- his first of four officials taken during the process. He came away glowing once again, but it was still clear Maryland would need a lot to go there way to even have a hat on the table come February.
In early November, reports emerged that junior college lineman Ulric Jones (offered in February) had committed to Maryland. These reports originated from Jones saying so himself, but there was apparently some kind of mix-up with the staff -- the Terrapins offered fellow JuCo lineman Drew Bailey at around the same time, and it was thought the staff preferred him. After receiving an offer from South Carolina a month later, Jones committed to the Gamecocks. Bailey ended up committing to Louisville in December
Maryland received a more pleasant surprise in November, as McLean suddenly decommitted from Penn State and re-opened his commitment. At the time, recruiting analysts expressed doubt the Terps would be in the running for the prospect. Less than a month later, he committed to Maryland, shutting down his process and helping recruit other athletes (especially in the 2016 class) to College Park.
It's around this time that Robinson's recruitment started blowing up as well. The prospect received offers from Miami, Penn State and Ohio State, officially visiting College Park in early December and reaffirming the Terps were still the top school for him.
With Cowart out of the picture and Maryland's chances with Robinson now challenged, the Terps started reaching out to backup options. In early January, they offered Wisconsin tackle Robert Windsor. Later in the month, they extended offers to Alabama prospect Mose Hall and former Boston College signee Oseh Saine. One stuck -- Saine, who committed to the Terps on a January official visit and ended up being the class's only enrollee.
Robinson took an official visit to Ole Miss in late January, and that's when Maryland started to lose some ground. The Terrapins still felt confident heading into the final week before Signing Day, but the New York prospect ended up signing with the Rebels. Cowart signed with Auburn over Florida, while Windsor signed with Penn State and Hall signed with Minnesota.
Maryland 2015 defensive line in review
Who's leaving: Andre Monroe, Darius Kilgo, Keith Bowers, Spencer Myers
Who's coming in: Adam McLean, four stars, No. 14 defensive tackle, No. 2 player in Maryland
Keiron Howard, three stars, No. 60 defensive tackle, No. 23 player in Maryland
Oseh Saine, three stars, No. 71 strong-side defensive end, No. 7 player in Massachusetts
Major targets missed: Darius Fullwood (Virginia Tech), Byron Cowart (Auburn), Kamonte Carter (Penn State), Ryan Buchholz (Penn State), Austrian Robinson (Ole MIss), Neville Gallimore (Oklahoma), Aaron Crawford (North Carolina), Ulric Jones (South Carolina), Drew Bailey (Louisville), Wesley Annan (Stanford), Mose Hall (Minnesota), Jamal Milan (Illinois), Robert Windsor (Penn State)
Other players with offers: Josh Sweat (Florida State, Clelin Ferrell (Clemson), Darrell Taylor (Tennessee), Larry Jefferson (West Virginia), Camrin Knight (Florida), Mekhi Brown (Alabama), Christian Wilkins (Clemson), Darvin Taylor (Florida State), Elijah Taylor (Notre Dame), Marques Ford (Rutgers), Russell Ude (California), Quincy Vasser (Texas), Micah Dew-Treadway (Notre Dame), Jamie Gordinier (Miami), Marlon Gonzalez (South Florida), Harry Lewis (Virginia Tech), Anthony Fotu (Arizona), Deonte Reynolds (Arizona State), Cody Banks (UCF), Chance Hall (Tennessee)
Projected 2015 depth chart:
|1||Quinton Jefferson||Senior||David Shaw||Sophomore||Roman Braglio||Junior|
|2||Kingsley Opara||Sophomore||Oseh Saine||Freshman||Malik Jones||Sophomore|
|3||Adam McLean||Freshman||Keiron Howard||Freshman||Brett Kulka||Freshman|
This one's another hard unit to predict as well. The three starters seem pretty straightforward, but McLean, Opara and Saine could each end up playing a variety of different defensive line positions in College Park. They may shuffle around a bit in spring, trying to find the best combination of players for Brian Stewart's front.
2015 Signing Day Grade: B. McLean is such a huge get on and off the field that it's hard to give Maryland too bad of a grade here, but they had some pretty major misses in Robinson and the two JuCo prospects. The Terrapins needed immediate help on the line in this class due to the amount of players leaving, and they didn't do quite enough to address that. McLean and Saine should both play important roles as freshmen, but a JuCo player (or an end in the style of Robinson) would have really helped fill out the class.