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Maryland football will need its wide receivers to be game-changers for the 2021 season

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The Terps’ pass catchers need to make their efforts count if the team’s offense will succeed.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

After already examining Maryland football’s storylines at the quarterback position and the running back position, our next section in the preview series will cover the wide receiver corps for the upcoming season.

The Terps are returning a fair amount of experienced wideouts in 2021 and they should be heavily involved in the offense that will presumably be run by junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa.

Maryland is hoping to build off a decent offensive season receiving-wise in 2020 and it will look to some familiar faces next season within the wide receivers’ group, which looks to be one of the Terps’ strongest assets going into the fall.

Let’s take a look at Maryland’s receiving depth and some key takeaways entering next year.

Maryland’s 2021 wide receiver depth

Player Year 2020
Player Year 2020
Dontay Demus Jr. Senior 24 Rec, 365 Yds, 4 TDs
Rakim Jarrett Sophomore 17 Rec, 252 Yds, 2 TDs
Jeshaun Jones Junior 11 Rec, 181 Yds, 1 TD (4 games)
Brian Cobbs Senior 13 Rec, 188 Yds, 1 TD
Tai Felton Freshman N/A
Marcus Fleming Freshman N/A
Dino Tomlin Sophomore Reserve WR
Nick Degennaro Sophomore 3 Rec, 42 Yds, 0 TDs (4 games)
Darryl Jones Senior 8 Rec, 81 Yds, 0 TDs
Carlos Carriere Senior 2 Rec, 27 Yds, 0 TDs
Robert Smith Freshman N/A
Dejuan Ellis Junior 1 Rec, 7 Yds, 0 TDs (1 game)
Deajaun Mcdougle Sophomore 2 Rec, 21 Yds, 0 TDs

Maryland’s top-four wide receivers are solidified heading into 2021

While it is not quite an embarrassment of riches when you look at the Terps’ receiving corps going into next season, the returning talent is certainly there to make some noise.

Senior Dontay Demus Jr. is returning for another campaign with Maryland after becoming the clear-cut No. 1 pass catcher on the offense and he’ll likely maintain that role for the upcoming season. In five games last year, Demus led the team in receiving yards (365) and yards per game (73). Within the Big Ten, he finished 21st in receptions, 17th in total yardage and 10th in touchdowns. Demus is without a doubt still the top receiver on this roster.

However, not trailing too far behind Demus is the speedy sophomore Rakim Jarrett, a former five-star recruit and the No. 2 ranked wide receiver in the nation before committing to Maryland as a true freshman. The sky is the limit for Jarrett after a strong 2020 season under his belt. He collected 252 yards in four games, which was good enough for second-best on the team. Jarrett also finished second on the roster with two touchdowns.

Junior Jeshaun Jones and senior Brian Cobbs round out the rest of the most probable starting receivers for this Maryland roster. Jones tallied 181 yards and one touchdown in four games and had the Terps’ longest gain of the season, which was a 76-yard play. On the other hand, Cobbs is an experienced wideout who played in five games last season and had 188 yards with one touchdown as well.

All of these receivers are returning for a new season in College Park and they should be able to maintain their spots on the depth chart, barring any unforeseen changes in the near future. The familiarity with the receiving corps should only help Tagovailoa in the long run and it could spell success for this Maryland offense.

With the running game still somewhat in question, the Terps will rely heavily on the passing game

It’s no secret that Maryland’s running game doesn’t have a clear front-runner to take over the reins to start the season.

With Jake Funk off to the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams, you can point to the likes of redshirt senior Tayon Fleet-Davis to handle the majority of the groundwork early on in what will probably be a running back by committee approach to kick off the year. However, even though head coach Mike Locksley tabbed Fleet-Davis as the likely starter going into the season, the Maryland native tallied just 26 yards on 10 attempts in his one game last season.

Those totals from last year are one aspect as to why Maryland’s upcoming running game is cloudy, but another reason is due to the inexperience behind Fleet-Davis. The Terps’ running back depth consists of sophomore Isaiah Jacobs (19 carries, 3.2 yards per carry in 2020), sophomore Penny Boone (19 carries, 4.5 yards per carry in 2020) and freshman Roman Hemby. That running back core, while promising, is still unpredictable at this point.

It’s simply too early to tell how the Terps’ running game will develop, which forces Maryland to rely on its pass catchers for the most part when it runs its offense through the arm of Tagovailoa.

It would certainly not be surprising to see Maryland’s fully returning quartet of Demus, Jarrett, Jones and Cobbs to be the focal point of the offense, at least at the very beginning of the season.