Maryland football just wrapped up spring practice, and the Terps will reconvene this summer. The first game of the 2018 season is still four and a half months away. But we’ve got a better idea of the depth chart now than we did a few weeks ago.
Here’s a somewhat educated assessment of where the Terps stand on the offensive side of the ball (we’ll have the defensive list within the next day or two). Rankings are based on observations and evaluations from spring ball, 2017 results and general gut feeling, in that order. We’re not including freshmen who haven’t enrolled yet, but injured players who missed some or all of spring camp are listed.
T1. Kasim Hill
T1. Tyrrell Pigrome
3. Max Bortenschlager
4. Tyler DeSue
5. Legend Brumbaugh
6-15. No idea, and let’s not find out
Spring practice is usually where we get answers here. Not at Maryland. Last year, it was close all spring and then the apparent leader got hurt and was never the same and the summer-arriving freshman almost won the job and then everyone got hurt at once and life as we knew it fell apart. Hill and Pigrome are progressing well in their ACL recoveries, but were never going to be up to speed by now. Still, it’s clear that they’re the Terps’ two best options when healthy.
Coaches said good things about Bortenschlager and DeSue all spring, but their performances in Saturday’s game fell somewhere between underwhelming and discouraging. Both are still developing, but it’s harder to see Maryland being competitive with either of them under center than with a healthy Hill or Pigrome.
1. Ty Johnson
2. Lorenzo Harrison
3. Anthony McFarland
4. Jake Funk
5. Javon Leake
6. Tayon Fleet-Davis
This group is so loaded, and the rankings are so close. The gap between Johnson and Leake is about as thin as you’ll see between the first-stringer and fifth-stringer. All of the first five names on this list saw first-team reps during spring ball, and it’s not like Fleet-Davis is just filling a roster spot; he’s expected to be a contributor as well.
Ranking these backs is a futile exercise; this is simply a guess at how the carries might shake out based on evaluations so far. New offensive coordinator Matt Canada has the summer to figure out the best way to split playing time among everyone; it’s the best problem he’s currently dealing with.
1. Taivon Jacobs
2. Jahrvis Davenport
Slot. DJ Turner
1. Jeshaun Jones
2. Carlos Carriere
Slot. Rayshad Lewis*
1. Sean Nelson
2. Jayden Comma
Slot. MJ Jarrell
Coming soon: Darryl Jones, Dontay Demus, Brian Cobbs
Out for season: Tahj Capehart (ACL)
*Maybe in the mix here, maybe switching to defense
Jacobs caught 47 passes in 2017. The players listed below him have a combined 33 receptions at Maryland; Davenport has 25 of those.
Lewis is the wild card, as he had 43 in his freshman season at Utah State, but he spent the second half of this spring on defense and wore his defensive number (No. 34) instead of his offensive number (No. 81) in the spring game. It’s unclear whether he ultimately switches sides; with Capehart tearing his ACL this spring, Maryland is rather thin at slot receiver. But the Terps might also take advantage of a versatile running back (most likely McFarland) in that spot if they flip Lewis.
Elsewhere, Turner did his thing again in the spring game, and he should have every chance to be a contributor in his junior season. Jeshaun Jones turned heads all spring; it seems like the 2018 early enrollee has leapfrogged the Terps’ crop of 2017 wide receivers, although several of those guys are still in the mix. Three more freshmen will join this party soon, and it’s possible at least one pushes for an immediate role.
The other wideouts we saw this spring are Chris Jones—who hasn’t caught a pass for the Terps due to transfer rules and a torn ACL last year—and walk-on Michael Cornwell. Both are looking mostly like veteran depth at this point, but there’s time for that to change.
1. Chigoziem Okonkwo
2. Avery Edwards
T3. Noah Barnes
T3. Andrew Park
This position group recorded more catches in the spring game (two) than it did in 2017 (zero), and it almost certainly won’t be shut out this fall. Okonkwo is a legitimate receiving threat who some scouts viewed as a wideout during the recruiting process. Edwards has some receptions from earlier in his career, while Barnes and Park haven’t seen meaningful college snaps yet. It’s possible we see two-tight end sets with Okonkwo as the pass-catcher and someone else as more of a blocker. In Canada’s offense, things are trending north for this unit.
LT. Derwin Gray
LG. Sean Christie
C. Brendan Moore
RG. Terrance Davis
RT. Damian Prince
LT. Marcus Minor
LG. Ellis McKennie
C. Johnny Jordan
RG. Jordan McNair
RT. Tyran Hunt
Other options: TJ Bradley, Brian Plummer
Coming soon: Jaelyn Duncan, Evan Gregory, Spencer Anderson
Maryland returns all five starters from last season’s line, but it’s tough to draw any up-to-date conclusions. Gray and Davis were held out all spring with injuries and Prince was out for the end of camp, including the spring game. All are locks to start if healthy, and all are expected to be ready to go by the summer, so the line we’ve been seeing lately will reshuffle significantly before the opener.
Plus, half these guys can go both ways. Prince, Minor and McNair can all play tackle or guard; Moore can play guard or center; McKennie is a viable backup at every interior position. So it’s a matter of finding the five or six best linemen, which probably includes last year’s five starters and Minor for now.
Everything above can change between now and September. A lot of it will. But it’s where things appear to be right now.