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Maryland football enters 2019 with a talented but inexperienced receiving corps

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Our summer preview series moves to Wide Receivers Week.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland football’s 2019 season starts in 68 days. It’s the first year of the Mike Locksley era, and fans are hopeful it can be the start of something special. Once again, we’ll be spending our summer running through the Terps’ position groups as fall camp approaches.

We looked at the quarterbacks to start things off, then focused on the running backs last week. Now it’s time to turn our attention to Maryland’s wide receivers.

Maryland’s 2019 wide receivers

Player Year 2018
Player Year 2018
DJ Turner SR 13 rec, 159 yds, TD; 8 rush, 25 yds
Jeshaun Jones SO 22 rec, 288 yds, 5 TDs; 18 rush, 173 yds, 2 TDs; 1-1 passing, 20 yds, TD
Dontay Demus SO 13 rec, 278 yds
Darryl Jones SO 9 rec, 147 yds
Brian Cobbs SO 5 rec, 108 yds
Tahj Capehart R-SO DNP (torn ACL)
Carlos Carriere R-SO No stats; 4 appearances
Jayden Comma R-SO No stats; 7 appearances
MJ Jarrell R-SO DNP
Sean Nelson R-SO No stats; 10 appearances
Isaiah Hazel FR High School (4-star recruit)
Dino Tomlin FR High School (3-star recruit)
Chris Jones R-SR DNP
Justin Brown SO DNP

The passing game was quiet all season, but this group had its bright spots.

The Terps ran the ball 67 percent of the time in 2018, and when they did throw it, their quarterbacks weren’t accurate. Of Maryland’s 241 pass attempts, only 125 were completed — the lowest total by any non-triple option offense in the country. Taivon Jacobs was the team’s leading receiver with just 25 catches for 328 yards. Maryland only had 12 passing touchdowns all season (10 to wideouts).

It wasn’t an entirely bleak year for the receiving corps, though. Jeshaun Jones burst onto the scene in his first career game, recording a rushing, receiving and passing touchdown on his first three touches as a Terp. He finished his rookie year with five receiving touchdowns, easily the most on the team. Dontay Demus emerged as a deep-ball threat late in the season, averaging 21.4 yards per reception.

Maryland’s wideouts also took their fair share of handoffs on jet sweeps last year. Jacobs and Jones combined for 30 carries, with Jones tallying 173 rushing yards and a pair of scores. He returns as one of the team’s premier playmakers, and getting the ball in his hands will be a priority this season.

The Terps enter 2019 with a new offensive scheme, and play selection in the spring game featured more passes than runs (the nature of spring games can lend itself to that, in fairness). While the ground game is still the strength of this offense, Mike Locksley knows the unit needs to be two-dimensional, which requires both better quarterback consistency and as many playmaking receivers as possible.

This position has depth. Who can separate themselves?

Jacobs is gone after six seasons in College Park. So is Jahrvis Davenport, who had a pair of touchdowns last fall. But Maryland returns four of its top six receivers from 2018, and there’s plenty of youth and potential throughout the room.

Jones and Demus should be the headliners on the outside. DJ Turner, the lone senior in the group, provides a reliable presence as a slot receiver. Darryl Jones and Brian Cobbs both contributed as true freshmen and impressed in spring ball; one or both could easily make a leap this season.

Then there’s a quintuplet of redshirt sophomores — Tahj Capehart, Carlos Carriere, Jayden Comma, MJ Jarrell and Sean Nelson — seeking to break through after a slow start to their careers. Capehart, whose one reception in 2017 is the only catch among that group, tore his ACL last spring and is looking to reclaim a role in the slot.

And don’t be surprised if the two newcomers enter the mix quickly. Isaiah Hazel, who flipped to the Terps shortly after Locksley’s hiring, is the highest-rated high school receiver the Terps have signed since Stefon Diggs. And Dino Tomlin (son of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin) has the talent to make an early impact as well.

Of course, no team has a regular role for 12 different receivers — only seven Maryland wideouts even had a catch last season. So fall camp will be all about which six or seven players can play their way onto the two-deep. With a new staff and a new scheme, nothing is guaranteed just yet.