Maryland loses a lot at linebacker this offseason. Six players leave, including three starters (and another who began the year as a starter). The Terrapins have to replace both inside linebacker starters as well as their top two SAM linebackers, and their recruiting efforts in the 2015 class reflected those needs.
Maryland offered legacy linebacker Tremaine Edmunds in November 2013, but he was a strong Virginia Tech lean (like his brothers) throughout the process. He committed to the Hokie in July. In December 2013, the Terps offered McDonogh (Md.) inside linebacker Wyatt Cook, one of a number of McDonogh prospects who have received significant Maryland interest in recent years (including rising Terps sophomore Josh Woods). Cook ended up committing to Purdue in July after visiting both schools.
The Terrapins offered Virginia prospect Chad Smith in January. A remarkable athlete, Smith would have been an ideal prospect to take over for Matt Robinson at the SAM position. The Terrapins also offered Houston prospect Mbi Tanyi in February -- the first offer for the hybrid end/linebacker recruit. Smith committed to Clemson in April -- soon after, the Terps offered Western Pennsylvania prospect Brett Zanotto (his first reported offer as well).
All four of Maryland's linebacking recruits ending up committing in June. Tanyi popped first, committing on June 12 after offers from Louisiana Tech, Houston and Air Force. Zanotto was later offered by Syracuse, Boston College and Temple, but committed to the Terps a week after Tanyi.
Maryland offered Virginia inside linebacker Gus Little at an early June camp, joining Boston College as the prospects' major offers. He later picked up NC State and Virginia offers, but committed to the Terps on the same day Zanotto did.
It was around this time that Maryland offered Isaiah Davis, the younger brother of starting safety Sean. He received offers from Maryland and Virginia Tech in early June, committing to the Terps in August over offers from Boston College and NC State. The Terrapins pretty much closed down linebacking recruiting at this point.
Maryland 2015 linebackers in review
Who's leaving: Cole Farrand, L.A. Goree, Matt Robinson, Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, Alex Twine, Clarence Murphy
Who's coming in: Gus Little, three stars, No. 36 inside linebacker, No. 30 player in Virginia
Brett Zanotto, three stars, No. 44 inside linebacker, No. 26 player in Pennsylvania
Mbi Tanyi, three stars, No. 66 strong-side defensive end, No. 166 player in Texas
Isaiah Davis, three stars, No. 122 athlete, No. 47 player in DC
Major targets missed: Chad Smith (Clemson), Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech), Wyatt Cook (Purdue)
Other players with offers: Josh Barajas (Notre Dame), Darrin Kirkland Jr. (Tennessee), Terez Hall (Missouri), Ricky DeBerry (Oklahoma), Jeffery Holland (Auburn), Manny Bowen (Penn State), Dominic Sheppard (Wisconsin), Saleem Brightwell (Pittsburgh), Joe Giles-Harris (Duke), D'Vonta Hinton (Texas Tech)
Projected 2015 depth chart:
|1||Cavon Walker||Junior||Jermaine Carter Jr.||Sophomore||Abner Logan||Junior||Yannick Ngakoue||Junior|
|2||Jalen Brooks||Sophomore||Tyler Burke||Freshman||Brock Dean||Junior||Jesse Aniebonam||Sophomore|
|3||Avery Thompson||Senior||Brett Zanotto||Freshman||Gus Little||Freshman||Chandler Burkett||Sophomore|
|4||Nnamdi Egbuaba||Freshman||Isaiah Davis||Freshman||Mbi Tanyi||Freshman|
The starters are relatively straight forward -- even though Ngakoue's the only one returning, Walker, Carter and Logan are clear answers for the other positions. The backups are a little more up in the air. Aniebonam is set as the backup WILL unless he moves down to defensive end, but there's plenty of playing time for the taking at the SAM and inside positions.
2015 Signing Day Grade: C. There wasn't much top local linebacking talent in the class, so Maryland gets credit for finding what they needed. Little has the potential to eventually replace Goree (and Logan) at the MO position inside, Tanyi gives them extra depth at WILL, while Zanotto and Davis could end up at either the inside or SAM. The Terps needed more athletic options in the linebacking corps (especially ones quick enough for pass coverage), and they managed to find that.
However, with the amount of departing talent, there was room for an instant-impact kind of freshman to make an early splash. Maryland brought in four players who have the potential to have solid careers in College Park, but none of them stand out as the kind of guy who will be competing for a job this fall. But hey, we've been surprised before.