Sure, the Terps didn’t announce a starting quarterback, but it’s always helpful to learn how the team shapes up across the board as it enters the season. We spent all summer overviewing each position group, and now we have starters (and co-starters in some instances) everywhere.
Here’s what stood out to each of us.
The offensive line is shuffling.
Thomas: Maryland returns all five starters from last year’s offensive line, so it’d be reasonable to expect minimal changes. But sophomore Johnny Jordan is the new Week 1 starter at center, which moves senior Brendan Moore to right guard and junior Terrance Davis to the bench. The latter of those is probably the biggest surprise; Davis had started 21 straight games and has drawn some attention as an NFL prospect.
This most likely means Davis still isn’t 100 percent after sitting out all of spring practice and the start of summer workouts with injury. His appearance on the two-deep suggests he’ll be available for rotational snaps but won’t see a starter’s workload. Expect to see a lot of sophomore Marcus Minor as well. Maryland’s line combinations will probably continue to shuffle throughout the season, but this version is certainly eye-catching.
The true freshman wide receivers are already on the two-deep.
Jared: Replacing DJ Moore’s production from a year ago was always going to be a tall task. As such, it makes sense that the few veteran receivers on the roster would get the first crack at it. Beyond Taivon Jacobs, Jahrvis Davenport and DJ Turner, though, there’s a bit of a surprise.
Nine freshman receivers have enrolled at Maryland over the last two seasons: five in the Class of 2017 and four in 2018. At the X and the Z (more commonly known as WR1 and WR2) positions, the Terps’ four true freshmen occupy the backup spots. While word out of practice was that each one was impressing early, all four of them essentially being second-stringers while a crop of redshirt freshmen have been bypassed is a bit of an upset.
Dontay Demus and Darryl Jones will backup Davenport at the X while Jeshaun Jones and Brian Cobbs are behind Jacobs at the Z.
Rayshad Lewis will stick on the defensive side.
Lamar: After spending a season at Utah State at wide receiver, the son of Hall of Famer Ray Lewis transferred to Maryland to play the same position. Lewis caught 40 passes for 476 yards before deciding to come back east and sitting a season, per NCAA rules, and looked to potentially be a two-way player in the spring. However, it appears he’ll stick on the side his dad made a name on.
With a couple crops of freshman receivers eligible, Lewis is only listed on the two-deep as a backup cornerback. He should see a good amount of rotational snaps on the outside, listed behind co-starters Tino Ellis, Marcus Lewis and RaVon Davis. Ellis and Marcus Lewis (a transfer from Florida State) will likely take the field first against Texas, but Rayshad Lewis will get his shot at the Longhorns’ receivers.
Starters appear to the primary kick and punt returners.
Justin: Just like last year, the Terps will feature two of their biggest offensive weapons at kick and punt returner once again.
Ty Johnson is back for another year at kick returner after averaging 24.4 yards per return, and Taivon Jacobs will return punts for the first time in his collegiate career. Both have been home-run hitters on offense throughout their careers, so giving them the chance to contribute on special teams will more opportunities to generate big plays.
This strategy can backfire as well, since it takes away from their time on offense. Johnson has had more than 15 carries in a game just three times, and if the Terps’ defense struggles and Johnson has to return more kicks, that trend could continue. Jacobs had more receptions last year than all of Maryland’s returning wideouts combined, so having him recovering on the sideline could be trouble if the young receiving corps develops slowly. Having Jacobs and Johnson return kicks increases the risk of injury for both players, but that shouldn’t be as much of a problem since Maryland has more offensive weapons this year than it had in 2017.