Throughout this summer, we’ve been going position-by-position to preview Maryland football’s 2017 season. But as a part of every week, we’ve been digging into the past, hoping to find out who was the best to play every position in a Maryland uniform.
Now, it’s time to put all the winners on a team together.
We left voting criteria open to all of you, but for purposes of this team, let’s suppose that every player is transplanted onto this field from his best season. Based on thousands of votes from the summer, here is the greatest possible collection of Maryland football players from all across history.
Quarterback: Boomer Esiason
Esiason played at Maryland well over 30 years ago, but his numbers still hold up historically. He was the first player to secure his spot on this team, running away with our quarterbacks poll. We’ll back him up with Scott McBrien, who finished a distant second, and Jack Scarbath, who was regrettably left off the list of nominees but whose name flooded our comments and mentions.
Running back: Lamont Jordan
Jordan holds more career, single-season and single-game rushing records than anyone else, and he was an overwhelming selection to anchor this team’s running game. Charlie Wysocki will be our backup here, and Ed Modzelewski will play fullback when we need one. The rotation isn’t the deepest; there’s room for one of Maryland’s current backs to force his way onto this team before long.
Wide receivers: Torrey Smith, Jermaine Lewis, Stefon Diggs
Our poll turned into a three-horse race, with this trio rising above everyone else. Smith won the popular vote, with Lewis narrowly taking second. We’ll send them out wide, with Diggs as our ace out of the slot. Expect the likes of Gary Collins and Darrius Heyward-Bey to rotate in, giving Esiason plenty of options in the passing game.
Tight end: Vernon Davis
We expected the battle between Davis and Frank Wychek to be much closer than it was, but that wasn’t the case. The 2005 First Team All-American won this spot in a blowout. Let’s just say this fake team will have a tight end on the field much more often than the current incarnation of Maryland does.
Offensive line: Stan Jones, Todd Wike, Kevin Glover, Bob Pellegrini, Jared Gaither
This was a pretty hectic poll, with eight nominees to choose from. Glover edged out Jones for the crown—35 percent to 27 percent—but we’ve still got a couple spots to give out. Wike and Pellegrini earned 16 and 10 percent, respectively; even though Pellegrini played center at Maryland and linebacker in the NFL, we’ll take some liberties and move him to guard. Gaither’s college career didn’t last long enough for him to contend in the poll, but he’ll be a key part of this fake offensive line.
Defensive line: Randy White, Dick Modzelewski, Andre Monroe, Yannick Ngakoue
White is probably the biggest star this team has, and that was reflected in the voting, where he picked up an unspeakable 92 percent of the vote. Because everything about this poll was lopsided, it didn’t take too many votes to earn a start. Modzelewski grabbed the other defensive tackle spot, while Monroe and Ngakoue will represent the current decade as the defensive ends.
Linebackers: E.J. Henderson, Shawne Merriman, D’Qwell Jackson
Henderson will anchor the middle of the field for this team, with Merriman and Jackson on the outside. All three are from Maryland’s more recent history, but they never overlapped all at once. It’s worth noting that although we listed Merriman with the linebackers, he and Ngakoue bring extremely similar skill sets to this team; if we were playing real games, we might switch them.
Cornerbacks: Domonique Foxworth, Josh Wilson
Foxworth’s three all-conference seasons haven’t been forgotten; he won our poll with 56 percent of the vote, while Wilson narrowly won the second starting spot. Wilson’s 14 percent was enough to edge out Will Likely (12 percent) and Lewis Sanders (10 percent). It works out that Likely slots in at nickel corner, where he lined up for most of his senior season last year.
Safeties: Tom Brown, Madieu Williams
Five decades after his last college game, Brown remains Maryland’s all-time interceptions leader. He narrowly edged out Williams, who posted a pair of all-conference seasons after joining the Terps halfway into his career. This poll was the closest of all, with Brown winning by just seven votes. These two will be our starters, and we’ll rotate in Kenny Tate, who for one season was perhaps as dominant a safety as Maryland has had.
Kicker: Nick Novak
He’s Maryland’s all-time leading scorer by a considerable margin, and made nearly 75 percent of his career field goal attempts. Novak won this spot over 2014 Lou Groza Award winner Brad Craddock, as well as former All-ACC kicker Jess Atkinson.
Punter: Brooks Barnard
Barnard faced steep competition from Adam Podlesh, who immediately followed Barnard as Maryland’s four-year starting punter. Ultimately, the fans went with the two-time all-conference first-teamer as our starter.
Return man: Steve Suter
Maryland’s had plenty of electric kick and punt returners over the years, but none more so than Suter, who took six punts to the house in his career. Will Likely finished second in the poll, but we also have the option to turn to Torrey Smith for kick returns. With these potential gamebreakers, this should be one of the team’s biggest strengths.