We have already covered most of Maryland football’s offense heading into the highly-anticipated 2021 season with our most recent article diving into the tight end position.
Now, our football season positional preview will review one of the team’s biggest question marks going into this year, the offensive line.
With the departures of former starters Marcus Minor and Johnny Jordan, who both left the program via the transfer portal, Maryland will need new players to fill the holes at the line of scrimmage.
Let’s take a look at the offensive line as a whole and some potential storylines with the positional group as we approach the new season.
Maryland 2021 offensive line depth
|Jaelyn Duncan||Junior||6'6"||315 lbs|
|Spencer Anderson||Junior||6'5"||330 lbs|
|Johari Branch||Senior||6'3"||330 lbs|
|Evan Gregory||Junior||6'4"||310 lbs|
|Austin Fontaine||Junior||6'3"||320 lbs|
|Khristopher Love||Sophomore||6'3"||345 lbs|
|Clayton Allen||Freshman||6'5"||310 lbs|
|Marcus Finger||Sophomore||6'5"||318 lbs|
|Aric Harris||Sophomore||6'3"||302 lbs|
|Tommy Varhall||Freshman||6'8"||320 lbs|
|Sean Wilkins||Sophomore||6'4"||290 lbs|
|Mitchell Gorgas||Sophomore||6'4"||295 lbs|
|Amelio Moran||Junior||6'6"||330 lbs|
|Conor Fagan||Sophomore||6'7"||260 lbs|
|Delmar Glaze||Sophomore||6'4"||316 lbs|
|Ja'Khi Green||Sophomore||6'6"||315 lbs|
|Kyle Long||Freshman||6'6"||315 lbs|
|Zach Perkins||Sophomore||6'5"||335 lbs|
|Mason Lunsford||Sophomore||6'6"||310 lbs|
The offensive line needs to reach new heights for the Terps’ offense to succeed
In the recent past, Maryland’s backfield was consistently filled with playmakers. Look no further than the likes of Anthony McFarland Jr. and Jake Funk, who both excelled for the Terps in the running game in their collegiate careers.
However, with no clear-cut starting running back to start the 2021 season, it makes it that much more important for Maryland’s offensive line to take control of the line of scrimmage so that the offense can produce effectively in both the running and passing game. Previous starters Jordan and Minor have transferred out of the program, leaving fairly large holes on the offensive line that can, fortunately, be filled by current roster pieces.
The most valuable returning piece for the Terps is junior Jaelyn Duncan. Duncan was named as a 2021 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Big Ten selection and made the 2020 All-Big Ten team as an honorable mention. After starting 11 games at left tackle as a redshirt freshman in 2019, he started all five games last season as a sophomore. He’ll be the most critical piece on this restructured offensive line.
Junior Spencer Anderson and senior Johari Branch are more key players returning to the roster for 2021. Both players started in all five games last season and helped Maryland achieve the Big Ten’s second-highest ranked passing offense, which averaged 264 yards per game.
Juniors Evan Gregory and Austin Fontaine should round out the remaining lineman that will get the early looks to start the year. Gregory appeared in three games last season and Fontaine might get some playing time as well after competing in one contest in 2020.
The lineman listed above will have a huge influence on how Maryland will perform offensively. They’ll need to be able to open up the running game without too many playmakers behind them and it’ll be a priority to protect junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa when he’s in the pocket.
Maryland has a new offensive line coach heading into 2021
The Terps parted ways with former offensive line coach John Reagan after he spent two years on the coaching staff in the College Park. Maryland has opted to employ Brian Braswell at the same position on the staff for next season.
Braswell will become Maryland’s offensive line coach after serving as a volunteer analyst for the team, specifically for the offensive line, during the 2020 season. Before coming to Maryland, Braswell coached in the XFL as the Offensive Line Coach for the St. Louis Battlehawks.
He also enters the position with five years of NFL coaching experience. Braswell spent 2014-18 with two different NFL teams in the AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns. He primarily worked with the teams’ offensive lines and was a Quality Control Coach as well.
Braswell clearly made a solid impression with head coach Mike Locksley during his time as a volunteer analyst last season and his promotion will have a major impact on how Maryland’s offensive line turns out in 2021.
Braswell will have an important job this season and will need to figure out how to restructure the Terps’ offensive line with a few new players needing to step into bigger roles. He’ll try and help Maryland build off a season where the offensive line helped its running average 4.8 yards per carry, which was tied for second in the Big Ten in 2020.