Coming out of high school, Anthony McFarland Jr. was the No. 3 all-purpose back in the country.
The “all-purpose” moniker was fitting and made sense to anybody who’d watched his high school tape or seen him play in person. He was primarily a ball-carrier, but would also frequently line up in the slot; he was a big weapon in the passing game from anywhere. A leg injury robbed him of his senior season, but it was easy to see why almost every big program in the country wanted him.
After a redshirt season at Maryland and entering the 2018 season with a new offensive system that seemed tailor-made for a player with his skill set, one of the biggest storylines was how McFarland would be used as a Terp.
He played sparingly against Texas in Week 1, though none of Maryland’s running backs could get much going. And while Week 2 against Bowling Green wasn’t a coming-out party, per se, McFarland flashed potential in virtually every facet of the offense.
His speed was evident on jet sweeps, a staple of the Matt Canada offense.
The Terps have run dozens of jet sweeps in the two games Canada’s been in charge; basically everybody has taken one. McFarland’s speed and agility makes him a unique candidate to handle these jet sweeps. He can take them all the way around the outside like he does in the clip above, or he can cut them up inside the pulling blocker like Tayon Fleet-Davis here.
McFarland also finally got to show how dangerous he can be as a pass catcher.
There’s this flat route that Maryland keeps running, which tends to put the running back in a position to do very little after the catch. But thanks to McFarland’s speed, he’s able to make a one-handed catch and turn the corner to pick up the first down.
After watching his high school tape and film from Nike’s The Opening, though, what everybody has been waiting to see was McFarland running under a ball down the field. On Saturday, Terps fans finally got to see that come to fruition.
A 46-yard dime from Kasim Hill to McFarland is something that could bring a tear to the collective eyes of the DMV. With the threat of the jet sweep coming across the formation and the two near-side receivers drawing the attention of the safeties, the deep right side of the field is wide open for McFarland to run under the ball from Hill.
This is all in addition to lining up and taking the ball as a traditional running back. McFarland didn’t have as much success in that facet this week as the others mentioned here, but it feels like it’s just a matter of time before he breaks out from that position too.