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Maryland football has one star and lots of question marks at WR

The Terps have talent at receiver, but not much FBS experience.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Maryland Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

Hey guys, spring practice is underway, so we’re going unit-by-unit and projecting what we think the depth chart will look like at each position in 2017. We’ll include notes from spring practice where we can. First we looked at the quarterbacks, then we did the running backs and now we’re onto the wide receivers.

Maryland football graduated three wide receivers from its 2016 team, so DJ Durkin and offensive coordinator Walt Bell have some work to do in replacing that production.

Luckily for Bell, he still has D.J. Moore, who was the team’s best receiver in 2016. Moore is one of the most talented players currently on Maryland’s roster, meaning he’ll get the chance to make highlight-reel plays, but also will receive the lion’s share of attention from opposing secondaries. The Terps will need some other receivers to step up.

The players

Departures: Teldrick Morgan, Levern Jacobs, Malcolm Culmer, DeAndre Lane

Returning players: D.J. Moore, Taivon Jacobs, Jacquille Veii, DJ Turner, Jahrvis Davenport

Transfers: Chris Jones (sat out last season, will be eligible for 2017)

Incoming freshmen: Tahj Capehart, Carlos Carriere, Jalen Browder, MJ Jarrell, Sean Nelson, Jayden Comma

Former wide receiver recruits who played cornerback last season but maybe could end up still playing some wide receiver this year: Tino Ellis

Here’s my projection:

Wide receiver depth chart

Depth chart WR WR WR
Depth chart WR WR WR
Starters D.J. Moore Taivon Jacobs Jacquille Veii
2nd team Tahj Capehart D.J. Turner Chris Jones
3rd team Jayden Comma Jahrvis Davenport MJ Jarrell
4th team Carlos Carriere Sean Nelson Jalen Browder

Here’s why

Moore is Maryland’s only known quantity at wide receiver. He led Maryland in yards per catch (among receivers) by a wide margin at 15.5. Behind Moore, the Terps have a bunch of unproven talent. Taivon Jacobs didn’t play for all of last season due to an unspecified injury, and will enter his senior year having only played one full season. Jacquille Veii flashed some speed and agility as a sophomore, but we haven’t seen him play FBS football since then. Those two were practicing with the first team in Thursday’s open practice, so I’ll have them on top for now.

Beyond them, Maryland’s brought in six freshmen, but it’s unclear yet how they’ll factor in. Tahj Capehart seems to be the most likely candidate to contribute right away, but this far out, it’s hard to tell.

Key battle: DJ Turner vs. Thursday’s spring practice 1st team

Turner was a high three-star recruit, and was one of a couple young players buried on a veteran-laden depth chart as a true freshman in 2016. But he could have a big impact as a sophomore. He’s back with the team after he and Lorenzo Harrison were suspended for that airsoft gun incident, and made an impressive diving touchdown catch at last Thursday’s open practice.

The thing about having a bunch of unproven players is that there’s room for young guys to swoop in and capture some playing time. Turner’s going to have plenty of opportunities during spring practice, though we’re probably not going to find out much concrete information about his place on the depth chart until August.

Big question: will Taivon Jacobs finally capitalize on his potential?

Jacobs has had an injury-filled Maryland career. He redshirted his freshman season, then tore his meniscus in the very first game of his sophomore year. Jacobs then played 12 games in 2015, but sat out all of 2016 with an injury that went unspecified all season.

He flashed his potential on this 70-yard touchdown from Caleb Rowe in 2015:

Jacobs has the talent — he was committed to Ohio State before flipping to Maryland — so he could stay home and be closer to his infant daughter. 2017 is his final shot to make the most of what little time he has left.