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Maryland football has experience at tight end, but the position’s role in the offense remains unclear

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

NCAA Football: South Florida at Maryland Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

When Walt Bell took over as Maryland’s offensive coordinator prior to the 2016 season, there were a handful of questions surrounding how certain parts of his scheme would affect members of the roster. Tight ends are always in an interesting spot when this happens, as a change in system can shift the entire group’s identity.

The position was certainly utilized last season, but hardly as a receiving threat. Five tight ends caught a combined six passes, including one touchdown, in 2016. That’s down from 18 catches in 2015, but on par with the six receptions from 2014.

Maryland’s tight ends

Player Year 2016
Player Year 2016
Derrick Hayward R-SR 4 rec, 17 yds, 1 TD
Avery Edwards JR 1 rec, 23 yds
Noah Barnes R-FR Redshirt
Andrew Park FR High School (3-star recruit)
Garland Owens R-SR Boston College's basketball team (1.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg)

Note: Andrew Isaacs has switched from tight end to defensive line, per the team’s roster page.

Edwards hauled in 14 passes two years ago, but Hayward saw the most time of the bunch last year. Maryland used him as somewhat of a sixth offensive lineman, which surely didn’t hurt the team’s running game.

It will be interesting to see how much the others factor in here. Barnes and Park definitely have promise, but neither has seen the field yet. Garland Owens just wrapped up four years of basketball, and while his size makes tight end seem like a natural fit, it’s still possible he plays primarily on defense.

It’d be a surprise if any of these players were among the Terps’ four or five leading receivers in the fall, but that shouldn’t be a problem. If Maryland can at least get quality blocking from the position, then having complementary weapons in the passing game will be a bonus.

In other news

Mark Turgeon secured one of his top 2018 targets last night in four-star power forward Jalen Smith.

Receivers Week wrapped up with freshmen Jaylen Browder and MJ Jarrell.

Maryland football missed out on top running back target Mychale Salahuddin, who committed to USC.

The dates for the ACC-Big Ten challenge have been announced, and Maryland's matchup with Syracuse will kick things off on Nov. 27.