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Kingsley Opara had a breakout 2016, and Maryland football will need him again

Profiles in Terpage moves to a returning starter at defensive tackle.

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

Profiles in Terpage is back for 2017. Last week, we focused on the offensive line; this week, we’re flipping sides of the ball and looking at the defensive line.

Kingsley Opara, DL, No. 57

Height: 6’3
Weight: 300 lbs.
Year: Redshirt senior
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
High school: Mandarin

How he got to College Park

Opara was a consensus three-star recruit who chose the Terps over a host of offers, including West Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia Tech. He was the No. 60 defensive tackle in the country, per the 247Sports Composite.

His Maryland career didn’t get off to a roaring start. He redshirted his first year due to injury, didn’t see the field as a redshirt freshman and played a reserve role as a sophomore. But things got going in the right direction last year.

Career highlight

Opara broke through in 2016, recording 41 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. He lost some 15 pounds and plenty of body fat working with Rick Court before the season, and the results showed.

2017 prospectus

Although nothing’s guaranteed, Opara should be one of Maryland’s two starting defensive tackles alongside fellow senior Cavon Walker. With Azubuike Ukandu graduated, those two have significantly more experience than anyone else at the position. It’s unclear how much the Terps will rotate defensive tackles during the season, but Opara should be a fixture in any rotation.

Dream season

Opara takes another big leap forward, shattering his numbers from last year. He and the rest of the defensive line turn run prevention from Maryland’s biggest weakness to one of its strengths. After the year, he gets the NFL shot several of his former position peers—Yannick Ngakoue, Quinton Jefferson and Darius Kilgo—have already earned.

Up next

This player wears a quarterback’s number on a lineman’s body.

say_al, Terpluvian and Scaletta are all on the board this week.