It’s Linebackers Week here at Testudo Times. It’s time to dig into Maryland’s past, just like we’ve done with quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends, the offensive line and defensive line this summer.
Here’s a look at the nominees:
Henderson is one of the first names that comes to mind when thinking of great Maryland linebackers. He was the program’s first two-time consensus All-American, earning the honor in 2001 and 2002. Those same years, Henderson also took home the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year award, being named First Team All-ACC both seasons. He wrapped up his college career with a Bednarik and a Butkus award, given to the top defensive player and linebacker in college football, respectively.
Henderson has the stats to back up his lofty accolades, too. He stands atop Maryland’s tackles for loss leaderboard, is second in career tackles and sits tied for eighth in all-time sacks. Henderson ended his Maryland days with a 2002 Peach Bowl Defensive MVP nod, after the Terps 30-3 victory over Tennessee. He would go on to have a nine-year career with the Vikings, including a Pro Bowl appearance.
In terms of this list, Merriman presents a interesting case. Merriman lined up at Maryland as a defensive end, though both in high school and the pros he played linebacker. In college, Merriman made his name by being elite at tackling defenders in the opposing backfield; he sits third on Maryland’s all-time sacks list and seventh in tackles for loss. He carried that rep with him to the pros.
Merriman represents one of only three Terrapins taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since the turn of the century. His seven-year professional career came complete with three Pro-Bowl and three All-Pro selections, Defensive Rookie of the Year awards, and a run atop the NFL’s season sack leaderboard in the 2006 season.
Faucette left College Park with two All-ACC honors, three All-American honorable mentions and three ACC championships, after helping guide the Terps to conference titles from 1983-85. He still ranks third on the program’s career tackles list, and though a broken neck cut his playing days short, Faucette has enjoyed a relatively solid coaching career ever since.
After starting for his final three seasons at Maryland, Jackson earned three All-ACC recognitions—named twice to the first team and once to the second team— and two first team All-American awards. He ended his Terp run with a 2005 ACC Defensive Player of the Year trophy, and sits at No. 4 on Maryland’s tackle leaderboard.
Jackson’s the only active player on this list, though he’s a free agent at the moment. He’s in the midst of an 11-year professional career, since being drafted in the second round by the Browns in 2006.
Wilson is Maryland’s program record holder for tackles, with 481 total, and no one has sniffed the lead since Jackson left College Park. Wilson played with Faucette for the 1983 and ‘84 conference titles, leading the team in tackles and picking up All-ACC nods both seasons. He was also named a First Team All-American in 1984 and went on to have a three-year run in the NFL.
Honorable Mentions: Eric Barton, Erin Henderson, Moise Fokou, Kevin Walker
Who do you think is the best linebacker in Maryland history?
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