Maryland football is back in action on Saturday in its annual spring game. The game, which will air on Big Ten Network at noon, is the first look at game action for fans and media to see of the Terps since their win over NC State in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl in December.
While a spring game is usually little more than a glorified scrimmage, Maryland has a few question marks on its roster that should begin to get answered Saturday. Here’s what to look for when the Terps take the field.
The offensive and defensive lines
There’s no sugarcoating it: Maryland has a ton to figure out at the line of scrimmage.
On the offensive side of the ball, it lost usual starters Jaelyn Duncan, Spencer Anderson and Johari Branch to graduation or the NFL draft. The Terps offensive line was hit with even more blows when veteran Mason Lunsford transferred to LSU and rising sophomore Coltin Deery announced his intention to play elsewhere. Sophomore Keon Kindred is also in the transfer portal.
After a tumultuous offseason, redshirt junior Delmar Glaze and senior Aric Harris look like virtual shoo-ins to start on the offensive line, but it gets a bit less clear after that. Incoming senior transfers Corey Bullock (NC Central) and Gottlieb Ayedze (Frostburg State) will push for significant playing time alongside returners looking to take another step in their developments. Saturday’s game should provide a first look at what they all bring to the table and where they stand on the depth chart.
The defensive line was by no means a position of strength for Maryand last year, and after some key losses left it scrambling for replacements, it may be in a similar situation this upcoming season. Ami Finau and Greg China-Rose both graduated and both Mosiah Nasili-Kite and Anthony Booker Jr. transferred, meaning that unproven linemen Riyad Wilmot and Tommy Akingbesote will have to make up for some lost production. Some of that responsibility will also fall on Tennessee transfer Jordan Phillips.
Who will play alongside Dyches at tight end?
Last season, Maryland’s tight end tandem of Corey Dyches and C.J. Dippre formed one of the most formidable duos at that position in the nation. But, Dippre announced that he would transfer after the 2022 regular season came to an end and has since landed with the Alabama Crimson Tide. He was targeted twice and made one reception for six yards in Alabama’s spring game.
Dyches, now a redshirt junior, will have much more on his plate. While considered a more athletic pass-catcher than Dippre, he is a less capable blocker due to his size. With Dippre gone, someone will need to step up to both take weight off Dyches’ shoulders and add another dimension to Maryland’s offense. The offense thrived last year when it was able to mix and match Dippre and Dyches, while also running some two-tight end sets.
Two of the more interesting candidates to make a difference in the tight end room are true freshman Rico Walker and redshirt freshman Preston Howard. Walker was recruited as an edge rusher out of high school and was Maryland’s highest-rated recruit in the 2023 class, but with a 6-foot-3, 233-pound frame and unique athleticism for his size, he could make his mark on the offensive end. Howard redshirted last year and was a quarterback in high school — the top offensive player in the state of Maryland in his class — but also possesses the traits that could translate to tight end with his size.
With Kevin Sumlin on board as the program’s new tight ends coach, it will be interesting to see how the Terps manage their current collection of players at the position.
While Dippre and the other aforementioned outgoing transfers and professional-bound departees left voids on Maryland’s roster, head coach Mike Locksley also brought in a handful of reinforcements.
Among the most notable incoming transfers are two wide receivers: junior Kaden Prather and graduate Tyrese Chambers, from West Virginia and Florida International, respectively. In two years with the Mountaineers, Prather totaled 676 yards and three touchdowns. With the Panthers, Chambers had 96 receptions for 1,618 yards and 18 touchdowns in two seasons. Both are Maryland natives and seem like the top candidates to replace Dontay Demus Jr. and Rakim Jarrett, who left for the NFL draft.
Senior cornerback Ja’Quan Sheppard, a Cincinnati transfer, has also received rave reviews in spring practice. He looks primed to step into one of the roles that defensive backs Deonte Banks and Jakorian Bennett held last season. In 2022, he earned first-team all-conference honors after leading the Bearcats with 10 pass breakups.
As previously mentioned, Bullock, Ayedze and LSU transfer Marcus Dumervil will help fill in the offensive line and Phillips will do so on the defensive line.
Perhaps the most difficult position for Maryland to recoup last year’s production from is at kicker. With Chad Ryland — considered by most to be Maryland’s best kicker since Nick Novak — off to the professional ranks, a hole has opened up at his position with no obvious replacement.
Of the three potential kickers on the Terps’ spring roster, redshirt junior Harrison Beattie is the only to have made a field goal in his college career, but redshirt sophomore Jack Howes has also been on the field for game action as a kickoff specialist. He made an extra point in the 2021 Pinstripe Bowl. Additionally, redshirt sophomore Brendan Segovia is listed as a punter, but has kicking experience from high school.
IMG Academy kicker Roman Levant will also join the program before the season begins, but did not enroll early and will not participate in the spring game.
While not the most glamorous position, Maryland will need a solid kicker to avoid leaving points on the field in 2023, and one of the three previously mentioned names — barring a late-cycle transfer — will likely be tasked with that responsibility when the fall arrives. How they perform on Saturday should offer a sneak peek of what’s to come.