While the college football season kicked off last weekend with Maryland upsetting No. 23 Texas, the 10 Terps currently on NFL rosters will begin their respective seasons this Sunday. On the other hand, several other pro Terps didn’t survive preseason cuts. Below is a synopsis of each player’s 2017 season and what to look forward to during this upcoming year.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Diggs had a big 2017 campaign with 849 yards and eight touchdowns, but his season, and in all likelihood his career, will be defined by his game-winning 61-yard touchdown with no time left that beat the Saints in the divisional round. With Kirk Cousins now at quarterback, one can expect another strong season from Diggs in 2018. He and Adam Thielen are both signed long-term in Minnesota.
Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Ngakoue had a coming-out party in 2017 as he anchored a dominant defensive line for the Jacksonville Jaguars, en route to 12 sacks, six forced fumbles and an appearance in the AFC Championship Game. There is no reason why Ngakoue and the rest of the Jaguars defense will slow down in 2018.
Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins
Davis racked up 648 yards in his 13th NFL season, partly due to another injury-filled year for Jordan Reed. If Davis can find the chemistry he once had with Alex Smith, now at QB for the Redskins, it’s possible Davis can put up similar numbers this fall.
DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
Last year, Maryland fans watched a team whose season began with so much promise suffer two season-ending injuries at QB and a disappointing 4-8 season. The one positive was Moore, who saw his draft stock rise throughout the season and ultimately was drafted 24th overall by the Carolina Panthers. While Devin Funchess may be Carolina’s No. 1 receiver, Moore will still see plenty of targets in 2018.
Torrey Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers
Smith’s statistics were subpar for a receiver in his age-28 season, but in the end, his Eagles defeated the Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII. Smith, now a two-time Super Bowl champion, was traded from Philadelphia to Carolina during the offseason. With DJ Moore also on the roster, it’s possible that Cam Newton can have a dynamic duo of Terps to throw to in 2018.
Jermaine Carter Jr., LB, Carolina Panthers
Carter had an excellent senior season for the Terps in 2017 with 90 tackles and 3.5 sacks. A fifth-round pick by Carolina, Carter becomes teammates with Moore and Smith and will look to make an impact during Thomas Davis Sr.’s four-game suspension.
Sean Davis, S, Pittsburgh Steelers
Davis had a superb sophomore season for the Steelers with three interceptions and 92 combined tackles. Entering his third year entrenched at safety, his success is likely to continue in 2018.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Heyward-Bey begins his 10th season in the NFL, but he is buried on the Steelers’ depth chart behind Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Justin Hunter. With only two catches for 47 yards in 2017, it’s possible that Heyward-Bey may have an even tougher time this season.
Quinton Jefferson, DE, Seattle Seahawks
Jefferson made more headlines on the sidelines than on the field last season. He only had seven combined tackles last season and became known as the player who nearly started a massive brawl when he tried to enter the stands in Jacksonville. Jefferson is listed as a starter on the depth chart, so he is likely to surpass those meager 2017 statistics.
JC Jackson, CB, New England Patriots
Jackson played a big role for the Terps in 2017 with three interceptions as a cornerback. He went undrafted this spring, but made the Patriots’ 53-man roster after a strong training camp showing.
There were plenty of Terps who latched onto teams during the offseason, only to get cut after the preseason. Rookie defensive tackle Cavon Walker and safety Josh Woods were cut by the Bears, while defensive tackle Kingsley Opara failed to make the Texans’ roster. Defensive end A.J. Francis was cut by the Giants, running back Trey Edmunds was cut by the Saints, cornerback Dexter McDougle was cut by the Lions and defensive tackle Joe Vellano was cut by the Cowboys in March.
Cornerback Nolan Carroll, who was released by the Cowboys last season, remains a free agent.