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Maryland football’s defensive line has experience, but will it produce in 2017?

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

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In 2016, Maryland was essentially as bad at stopping the run as any Power 5 team was at any important football thing. The Terps ranked 127th out of 128 FBS teams in Defensive Rushing S&P+. They also finished dead last in adjusted line yards, which means the defensive line is very much to blame for the team’s ghastly run prevention.

On the flip side, this group was very effective in the passing game. Maryland recorded 37 sacks last season—nearly three per game—and finished 14th in adjusted sack rate. While the line isn’t responsible for all of that production, it did play a leading role, and that’s something to build on.

The Terps return three defensive linemen who started at least six games last season, and there’s plenty of potential behind them.

Defensive ends

Player Year 2016
Player Year 2016
Jesse Aniebonam SR 46 tackles (25 solo/21 ast), 14.0 TFL, 9.0 sacks, 1 FF
Chandler Burkett SR 35 tackles (27/8), 4.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks
Melvin Keihn R-JR 24 tackles (9/15), 2.0 TFL
Brett Kulka R-JR 11 tackles (5/6), 1.0 TFL, 0.5 sacks
Andrew Isaacs R-SR Played TE/special teams
Dion Goldbourne R-FR Redshirt
Lawtez Rogers FR High School (3-star recruit)
B'Ahmad Miller FR High School (3-star recruit)
Editor’s note: Bryce Brand will compete with several of these players at BUCK, but we’re including him in Linebackers Week.

Defensive tackles

Player Year 2016
Player Year 2016
Kingsley Opara R-SR 41 tackles (21 solo/20 ast), 11.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 FF
Cavon Walker R-SR 30 tackles (19/11), 8.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks
Mbi Tanyi JR 9 tackles (7/2)
Oseh Saine R-SO 5 tackles (2/3), 0.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks
Kieron Howard R-SO 1 tackle (0/1)
Adam McLean SO Played in 1 game (Sept. 3 vs. Howard)
Cam Spence FR High School (4-star recruit)
Breyon Gaddy FR High School (4-star recruit)
Brandon Gaddy FR High School (3-star recruit)

Maryland has both talent and experience here. Aniebonam and McLean were each four-star recruits, and the former made the most of his first starting opportunity last season. Two of the Terps’ three freshman defensive tackles were similarly acclaimed as prospects; if Spence or either Gaddy twin either can make a splash in camp, that will be a boost on the inside.

The starting defensive tackles, however, figure to be redshirt seniors Opara and Walker. They’ll give Maryland a pair of veterans in the middle, with Burkett and Aniebonam flanking them. That’s four seniors, which makes this Maryland’s most experienced unit. The run defense should improve—though it’d be hard not to—and the pass rushing ability throughout the line gives reason for optimism.

In other news

Kevin Huerter’s USA team beat Joshua Tomaic’s Spain, 96-72, in Sunday’s bronze medal game at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Cairo. Huerter finished with four points, five boards and an assist, while Tomaic tallied nine points, six rebounds and three steals.

Melo Trimble didn’t play at all in the Vegas Summer League this weekend, but both Diamond Stone and Robert Carter Jr. impressed with new teams, as did high-flying Jake Layman.

Maryland added scholarship kicker Joseph Petrino to its 2018 class on Friday morning.

Here’s our rehashing of Offensive Line Week. We’ve also got a storystream with all of our weekly position roundups, so you can find all of our season preview content in one place.