As we continue our Maryland football preview series this summer, it’s time to take a look at the linebacker group. Thomas gave an overview Monday, I took a look at a pair of up-and-comers on Tuesday, Lamar previewed the veterans of the room on Wednesday and Lila broke down the transfers yesterday.
Today, I’m looking at three JACK linebackers who will serve as hybrid edge rushers, hoping to pressure opposing quarterbacks in conjunction with the defensive line. The trio of Bryce Brand, Durrell Nchami and Deshawn Holt may not have a ton of experience or prior production, but the position could be a crucial one for the defense and team as a whole.
Durell Nchami, No. 30
Hometown: Burtonsville, Md.
High School: Paint Branch
Nchami was a three-star recruit coming out of Paint Branch High School, which is just 20 minutes from the University of Maryland campus. Per the 247Sports Composite, he rated as the 2018 class’ No. 39 outside linebacker and No. 14 player in the state. As a senior, he posted seven sacks and recovered three fumbles.
He ultimately chose Maryland over Syracuse and Virginia Tech, among others, to play for his hometown team. Nchami was actually the first commitment out of the Terps’ 2018 signees. And he turned some heads as a freshman, racking up 15 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss across sparse playing time in 10 games. Against Penn State, he showed some of his potential, racking up a sack and a blocked kick.
Bryce Brand, No. 30
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
High School: Clayton Valley Charter
Brand, unlike his position counterparts, is not a local kid. He’s from Michigan, but he played high school football on both coasts. He started at IMG Academy in Florida before heading across the country to finish at Clayton Valley Carter in California. Brand drew interest from a diverse group of schools that included Arizona, Louisville and Mississippi State, but ultimately decided on College Park as his new home.
As a freshman, Brand finished with 13 tackles across 10 games in a reserve role. However, his debut in a Terrapin uniform was a flashy one, as he registered a sack in the upset over Texas in 2017. The following year as a sophomore, he saw his playing time diminish, finishing with three tackles (two for loss) in six games played.
Deshawn Holt, No. 16
Hometown: Waldorf, Md.
High School: Westlake
Holt is just making his arrival on campus, and his fit with the team will be an interesting one. At 6’5, he has the length of a defensive lineman but lacks bulk at 220 pounds. Time with a college training staff should help him put on weight easily, but his athleticism is something that can’t be taught — Holt ran a 4.74 40-yard dash in high school. And after picking Maryland over Rutgers and Temple, the No. 22 player in the state could be a name to watch.
Their role in the new scheme could vary.
As potential JACK linebackers in the 3-4 base defense Jon Hoke is bringing in, the trio are expected to be hybrid defensive ends/outside linebackers who can rush the passer as well as play a role in pass coverage. The Terps utilized a 4-2-5 scheme in past years, which limited the ability of linebackers to play on the outside. It’s going to be a new-look program in every facet entering Week 1, and this position is one to keep an eye on.