The final installment of our Maryland football position previews features the special teams unit. While the Terps’ special teams certainly had positive moments last season, they were inconsistent and often put the team in difficult situations. However, the Terps made vast improvements in areas that they certainly needed.
Perhaps the most valuable addition Maryland received in the transfer portal was former Eastern Michigan kicker Chad Ryland.
Ryland was statistically one of the best kickers in the nation last season and bolsters an offense that was already dominant.
“Probably one of the best pickups we’ve had out of the transfer portal,” head coach Mike Locksley said of Ryland. “Scoring the ball is really important and he came back from his offseason training and has been killing the ball and I’m really, really excited about having that consistency from that position.”
Maryland had its first scrimmage on Saturday and although there were encouraging takeaways, Locksley wants to see more improvement from the special teams.
“We still have some work to do in our special teams. Too many penalties, the execution of some of the techniques weren't where we need them to be, so we’ve got to get that stuff cleaned up, which I know we will,” he said.
Maryland’s 2022 kicker, punter and long snapper depth
|Chad Ryland||Kicker||Senior||19/22 FGs, 47/47 PATs at Eastern Michigan|
|Harrison Beattie||Kicker||Redshirt Sophomore||1/1 FGs|
|Jack Howes||Kicker/Punter||Redshirt Freshman||N/A|
|Anthony Pecorella||Punter||Senior||Averaged 44.0 yards per punt|
|Colton Spangler||Punter||Senior||Averaged 45.52 yards per punt|
|Brenden Segovia||Punter||Redshirt Freshman||N/A|
|Jake Foggia||Long Snapper||Redshirt Sophomore||N/A|
|Ethan Gough||Long Snapper||Redshirt Freshman||N/A|
Transfer kicker Chad Ryland brings consistency to the kicking game
Former kicker Joe Petrino’s departure left a hole Maryland desperately needed to fill. While Petrino made some huge plays with his leg last season, including a game-winning field goal against Illinois, he struggled quite a bit throughout the season.
Maryland went to the transfer portal to sure up the crucial position and landed one of the best kickers in the country in Chad Ryland from Eastern Michigan. Ryland converted 19-of-22 field goal attempts last season and went 47-of-47 on extra points. He has made at least 84% of his field goal attempts in both of the last two seasons and knocked in a career long 55-yarder last season.
Ryland’s numbers speak for themselves. He is a prolific kicker with more range than anyone Locksley has had on his roster since he took over.
“Having a guy like Chad who has the ability to kick field goals and be really consistent... hopefully we’re able to use him as a weapon and really help our special teams take that big step that we need to take,” Locksley said.
Locksley also reiterated the importance of scoring in the red zone 100% of the time, whether it’s touchdowns or field goals. Maryland failed to consistently score in the red zone last season, so they are hoping a consistent leg will improve that.
The selling point to convince Ryland to come to College Park was easy.
“Maryland overall is just a high-powered offense and we’re going to have a chance to get a lot of kicks this year in some big games,” Ryland said. “I’m looking forward to [proving] myself on those stages and hopefully [giving] us a chance to win.”
A look at potential punters and punt returners
Maryland’s punters showed inconsistency throughout the season, which is why neither Anthony Pecorella or Colton Spangler solidified the starting role last season. Both guys split reps throughout the season and Locksley often went with the hot leg.
While Locksley certainly hopes to punt the ball infrequently in any given game and would rather put points on the board — especially with the addition of Ryland’s longer range — he knows punting is inevitable, even with a high-powered offense such as Maryland’s.
And although every offensive coach dreads sending their punt unit on the field, a good punter that can yield poor field position for the opponent is essential to winning games, especially against quality Big Ten opponents.
Pecorella and Spangler produced similar results last year, with Pecorella averaging 44 yards per punt and Spangler averaging 45.52 yards per punt. It is likely Maryland will start the season with a similar approach to last season, splitting reps between the two punters until, or if, one shines brighter.
Pecorella and Spangler were both put on scholarship last week. Locksley made a surprise announcement to the team at a Baltimore Ravens game, which led to teammates surrounding the punting duo in excitement.
As for the other side, Maryland found a star punt returner in cornerback Tarheeb Still. Still returned 21 punts for 158 yards last season. He really shone through in the Pinstripe Bowl against Virginia Tech when he returned a 92-yard punt for a touchdown in Maryland’s decisive win.
Still dealt with some nagging injuries last season, but he will likely be the man returning punts for Maryland once again with his exceptional speed and breakout ability. Wide receiver Jeshaun Jones also received punts for Maryland last season before he went down with a season-ending knee injury. He is expected to return to the field this season but it seems unlikely he’ll go back to returning punts.