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Maryland football will build its offense around running backs in 2017

This is the Maryland Minute, a short story followed by a roundup of Terps-related news.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland sports are finished in the 2016-17 season, and we’re counting down the days until football season kicks off Sept. 2 at Texas. Until then, we’re taking an in-depth look at every position on the Terps’ roster.

It’s time for Running Backs week, where we look at one of Maryland’s strongest units.

Maryland’s running backs

Player Year 2016
Player Year 2016
Ty Johnson JR 110 car, 1004 yds (9.1 ypc), 6 TD
Lorenzo Harrison SO 88 car, 633 yds (7.2 ypc), 5 TD
Jake Funk SO 29 car, 136 yds (4.7 ypc), 1 TD
LaDerrien Wilson R-FR Redshirt
Anthony McFarland FR High School (4-star recruit)
Javon Leake FR High School (3-star recruit)
Tayon Fleet-Davis FR High School (3-star recruit)

Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison should be the stars, just as they were last season. Maryland entered 2016 with a rotation of six running backs, and for much of the season all six were listed as co-starters on the depth chart. However, these two quickly established themselves as the best options.

Johnson’s 9.1 yards per carry would have led the nation had he recorded at least 10 attempts per game; he actually averaged fewer than eight, but made the most of them. Harrison, meanwhile, scored touchdowns in Maryland’s first four games to quickly make a name for himself.

The only other returning member of last year’s rotation is Jake Funk, who saw scattered action in his rookie season.

A haul of freshmen makes this arguably Maryland’s deepest position.

LaDerrien Wilson was part of the 2016 class alongside Harrison and Funk, but this will be his first year seeing the field. It’s possible that Wilson fills the role previously occupied by Kenneth Goins—a power runner in an offense that doesn’t feature a fullback.

The Terps added Javon Leake and Tayon Fleet-Davis in July 2016, but the most high-profile addition of the whole class was Anthony McFarland, who pledged in January. McFarland missed his senior season of high school with an injury, but he’s healthy now and is expected to factor into the offense right away. He has potential as a slot receiver, so he’ll probably line up all over the place.

Much like last year, it’s possible one of the freshmen redshirts and the Terps go to a six-back rotation. This time, however, it’s at least clear who the featured backs will be.

In other news

John Szefc is leaving Maryland baseball for Virginia Tech.

The basketball program is losing Cliff Warren, who was previously moved to a personnel role, to an assistant coaching position at UMass.

Here’s our conversation with Danny O’Brien, who’s been making the most of his opportunities in the CFL.

Want a review of everything we did during Quarterbacks Week? You’re in luck.