Our summer football preview series keeps moving on. After looking at the entire offense — quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends and offensive line — we’ve turned our attention to the defensive front this week. Thomas overviewed the position group Monday, then Wes looked at the changing landscape at defensive end. Now it’s time to kick inside.
While there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding Maryland’s defensive line group, Oluwaseun Oluwatimi and Keiron Howard are two veterans who look like a lock for starting roles. The pair played in all 12 games last season and started at defensive tackle in the spring game.
Oluwaseun Oluwatimi, No. 52
Hometown: Upper Marlboro, Md.
High school: DeMatha Catholic
Oluwatimi joined the team as a walk-on in 2016 after a strong high school career at DeMatha. He was a 2014 and 2015 WCAC all-conference selection under now-Maryland running backs coach Elijah Brooks. He didn’t see game action in 2016, but appeared in all 12 games in each of the last two seasons.
While he saw action in every game, Oluwatimi only started once last season behind the talents of Jesse Aniebonam, Byron Cowart and Mbi Tanyi. He still led the team with three forced fumbles, in addition to 22 total tackles and a sack.
Oluwatimi, along with Lawtez Rogers, was awarded the Best Defensive Lineman of spring practice by Mike Locksley’s coaching staff. Now entering his senior season and with two years as a reserve under his belt, he makes a strong case for a starting role.
Keiron Howard, No. 59
Year: Redshirt senior
Hometown: Fort Washington, Md.
High school: Potomac HS
Howard came to Maryland as a consensus three-star prospect and the 13th-best player in the state after playing four years of varsity at Potomac High School. He had an impressive senior season, totaling 52 tackles, 7.5 sacks and one interception to earn a spot in the US Army All-American Game and the Crab Bowl. He redshirted his first season in College Park, and saw action in a fair number of games over the next two years.
Similarly to Oluwatimi, Howard played in all 12 games in 2018, though he never got a start. Howard showed his star potential against Indiana on Nov. 11, posting two solo tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. He ended the year with 22 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
After starting in the spring game on a similar trajectory to Oluwatimi, Howard looks to have a real chance to start this season. His high school career showed how talented he is, and now he’ll have a chance to prove it. He’s entering his fifth season at Maryland, and will provide crucial leadership to the position group.
Offseason departures cleared the way for this duo to make an impact.
Before he announcing his intentions to enter the transfer portal late May, Adam McLean was the most established member of Maryland’s defensive line. The former four-star recruit broke out last season with 36 tackles and a sack as a junior. Maryland now has no returning starters up front, as Aniebonam, Cowart and Tanyi all graduated in the offseason.
Oluwatimi and Howard started for the first-team defense in the spring game, and having McLean off the roster removes their most experienced competition. Now as the two veterans with the most on-field experience, they not only have a chance to carve out a consistent starting position, but could have their best season yet as the core of the defensive line.