It’s Defensive Backs Week at Testudo Times. Our summer football preview has already covered Maryland’s quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, offensive linemen, defensive ends, defensive tackles and linebackers. Now it’s time to move to the Terps’ one-two punch of starting cornerbacks.
Tino Ellis, CB, No. 7
Weight: 195 lbs.
Hometown: Reisterstown, Maryland
High school: DeMatha
Ellis was one of the headliners of the Class of 2016, and announced his commitment to Maryland exactly three years and one day ago. One of four DeMatha Stags to sign with the Terps in that class, Ellis was actually a four-star receiver coming out of high school. He even played receiver in the Under Armour All-America Game.
After arriving at Maryland, he made the switch to cornerback and has since become one of the most reliable players not just in the Terps’ secondary, but on the whole team. He didn’t need a redshirt season, and was a full-time contributor by his sophomore year. Before his junior season, Ellis changed his jersey number from 17 to 7, his high school number. Though he’s still waiting on his first career interception, he’s set up for a big year for Maryland.
Marcus Lewis, CB, No. 8
Weight: 195 lbs.
Year: Redshirt junior
Hometown: District Heights, Maryland
High school: Gonzaga HS via Florida State
Lewis was a four-star “athlete” and top-150 prospect coming out of Gonzaga in the Class of 2015. He originally signed with Florida State, played sparingly in Year 1 and made five starts in eight games in Year 2. Lewis missed the final five games of the season with an injury that ultimately helped contribute to his decision to transfer. He announced he’d be coming to Maryland in the summer of 2017, sat out the season and had a great spring, culminating in a pick-six in the spring game.
With JC Jackson leaving one year of eligibility on the table to go to the NFL, Lewis has the opportunity to step right into the vacated starting role. With his size, speed and skill, he’s a perfect fit.
These two could form one of the best cornerback duos in the conference.
Each standing 6’1, 195 pounds, they have the size to battle almost any receiver in the Big Ten. They’re the exact type of long and lean corners DJ Durkin looks for on the recruiting circuit. Both are big, strong and fast enough to play physical bump-and-run coverage at the line of scrimmage, allowing the rest of the defense to be aggressive.
Maryland’s secondary has been a strength on the team for a few years now. With the continued influx of talent and a entering a third year in the same system, there’s little reason to think that’ll change, especially at cornerback, where Aazaar Abdul-Rahim has been the position coach since December 2015.
If Ellis and Lewis play to their potential, it’ll not only benefit the defense, but the whole team, and could make them one of the best cornerback duos in the whole conference.