We’ve been going position group by position group all the way through Maryland football’s roster so far this summer. We’ve already hit the quarterbacks and running backs. Now it’s time to look at the receivers.
The vast majority of last year’s production is gone.
The Terps’ passing attack was largely unsuccessful in 2017. Two quarterbacks went down in the season’s first nine quarters. The third-stringer was serviceable but unspectacular, and had some bumps and bruises of his own. The fourth- and fifth-stringers provided little to nothing in the way of an aerial threat.
The one constant in that equation was the dominance of DJ Moore. With 80 receptions for eight touchdowns and 1,033 yards, Moore was far and away Maryland’s leading receiver. The rest of the roster combined for 95 catches; 10 of those came from Jacquille Veii, who graduated, and 18 others came from running backs and Ryan Brand. Everybody not named DJ Moore combined for 907 receiving yards.
Moore was the No. 24 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and is off to start a career with the Carolina Panthers. His production will be missed and probably impossible to replicate, but the Terps have a deep group that’ll give it a shot.
A small veteran group will lead the way.
The leading receiver on the Terps roster heading into the season is Taivon Jacobs. He was the only other receiver to catch a touchdown pass last season; he had five. Excluding Moore, Jacobs’ 47 receptions were just one fewer than the rest of the roster combined; his 553 yards were 200 more than the rest of the roster. A redshirt senior, he’s the elder statesman of the group, and will be counted upon to perform as such. He can play both outside the numbers and in the slot and will likely be Maryland’s go-to guy early on.
It feels like nobody is more due for a breakout season than DJ Turner. He appeared to have turned the corner after last year’s spring game, but his 2017 season didn’t reflect that. After another strong performance this spring, he once again looks ready to break out. Perhaps a change in offensive scheme is what the dynamic slot receiver needs to get things going in his junior season.
Jahrvis Davenport might be the wild card of the bunch. He’s played in each of his first three seasons in College Park, but has been quiet. The senior was the early favorite to start opposite Jacobs, but in some ways he’s just as unknown as the youngsters.
There’s a deep, young, talented and diverse group looking to break out.
Five freshmen arrived in 2017, four more followed them in 2018. We already know that Tahj Capehart—the only freshman receiver who didn’t redshirt last season—is out for the season with a torn ACL. That leaves four redshirt freshmen and four true freshmen to make up the majority of Maryland’s receiving corps.
The older of the two groups features four distinctly different kinds of receivers. At 6’4, 180 pounds, Carlos Carriere is the prototypical red zone jump ball target. Jayden Comma is a bulldozing downfield blocker. MJ Jarrell was the fastest of the bunch coming out of high school, and looked the most dangerous after the catch. Sean Nelson does some of everything.
The younger group is similarly diverse. Dontay Demus is 6’4. Brian Cobbs is a crisp route runner; a traditional possession receiver. Darryl Jones is the “do everything” guy. Jeshaun Jones has been in College Park since January and is already impressing enough to be spending time with the starters in practice.
It’s a safe bet to assume that at least one of those incoming freshmen will redshirt, but it’s going to have to be all hands on deck to fill the void Moore left.
There’s also Rayshad Lewis, who was an outstanding freshman receiver at Utah State in 2016. He sat out last year and played half of the spring at receiver before spending the second half as a cornerback. It’s unclear which will ultimately be his position or if he’ll play both, but that’s where things stand at the moment.
The Terps will actually use their tight ends this season (probably).
Somehow, no Maryland tight end registered a reception last year. In a Matt Canada offense, that is almost certainly not going to be the case.
Senior Avery Edwards showed signs of being a red zone threat during his freshman season and could rekindle those flames this year. Noah Barnes and Andrew Park provide intriguing pass-catching options over the middle of the field. Freshman Chigoziem Okonkwo is the biggest matchup problem of the bunch as he’s too fast for linebackers and too big for normal-sized defensive backs.
There are a ton of moving parts here, and it’s not yet clear exactly who will emerge as the main targets. In any case, there are plenty of options from which to chose.