It’s time to close Linebackers Week at Testudo Times. Our summer preview series has already tackled Maryland’s quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, offensive line, defensive ends and defensive tackles. Let’s finish with another trio of freshmen (including a redshirt) hoping to prove their time is now.
Ayinde Eley, No. 16
Weight: 227 lbs.
Year: Redshirt freshman
Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland
High school: Good Counsel
Eley was a member of the Terps’ 2017 class, in which two other linebacker recruits saw the field last season. JuCo transfer Nick Underwood was used sparingly as a redshirt sophomore, while Bryce Brand was a consistent presence at BUCK (which in this defense functions more like a defensive end).
The redshirt freshman projects as an outside linebacker and could see rotational time this season. Tre Watson is the expected starter there, with Brett Shepherd a strong candidate to back him up. In a base 4-2-5 defense, the weak-side linebacker is used somewhat sparingly, but Eley should get the chance to show what he’s capable of.
Ahmad McCullough, No. 19
Weight: 215 lbs.
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
High school: Mount Saint Joseph (previous school: Hutchinson C.C.)
McCullough is actually the newest scholarship addition to the team, committing in June as a JuCo transfer, although he’s got freshman eligibility. He redshirted the 2017 season at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas after suffering an MCL sprain in fall practice.
Like early-enrolling freshman Jordan Mosley, McCullough profiles as a linebacker/safety hybrid; his tape suggests that speed is the strength of his game. That’s a role that Denzel Conyers filled in the last two seasons, but he’s out of eligibility, so there’s room for one of the underclassmen to step right in. And at the very least, McCullough’s speed will play on special teams this season.
Chance Campbell, No. 44
Weight: 223 lbs.
Hometown: Towson, Maryland
High school: Calvert Hall
Campbell was a two-sport athlete in high school, competing in both football and lacrosse for Calvert Hall. He committed to the Terps in May 2017 as a low three-star recruit, and while his rating didn’t rise much during the cycle, he’s garnered some buzz of late. Campbell has been a popular pick to push for immediate playing time as a freshman, even though he didn’t enroll until June.
He figures to line up at middle linebacker, where Isaiah Davis is the favorite to start this season. But Campbell has shown a nose for the ball, which should translate to the college level. He also enters with enough size to hang with Big Ten bruisers if the Terps need him to.
We’ve already covered another trio of freshman linebackers — Nihym Anderson, Jordan Mosley and Fa’Najae Gotay — and the general outlook remains the same here. What this group lacks in experience, it makes up for in potential. It’s just a matter of who steps up and forces themselves into the rotation.