While Maryland brings in new talent and looks toward youth at the linebacker position in 2019, the Terps’ opponents return a lot of experience. The Big Ten has always featured some big names at the position, and this year will also feature challenges in the nonconference slate.
Three of Maryland’s 12 regular-season opponents were included in Bleacher Report’s prediction of the top 10 defenses for the 2019 season, which included Big Ten powerhouses Penn State (No. 2), Michigan (No. 4) and Ohio State (No. 9). As for individual linebackers, the Terps will face two of USA TODAY’s 10 best linebackers in the nation. Here are some of the best linebackers that will take the field against the Terps this season.
Joe Bachie, Michigan State (Nov. 30)
After receiving First Team All-Big Ten honors by the coaches and ESPN.com, Bachie passed up the 2019 NFL Draft and returned for his season season with Michigan State. Bachie, voted one of three team captains last year, started all 13 games last season at middle linebacker for the Spartans.
The Brook Park, Ohio, native was ranked as the fourth-best linebacker in the nation by USA TODAY, behind Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons, Alabama’s Dylan Moses and Northwestern’s Paddy Fisher. Similar to Fisher, Bachie received Big Ten preseason honors, which was chosen by a media panel that selects five players to represent the East and West divisions of the Big Ten.
Since starting at the middle linebacker position two year ago, the 6’2, 238-pound Bachie has started every game for the Spartans and reached 100 tackles in each of the last two seasons.
Last season, Maryland needed a win against Penn State to become bowl-eligible and lost 38-3. If the Terps find themselves in a similar situation in East Lansing, Michigan, this year, they are going to have to find a way to limit Bachie.
Micah Parsons, Penn State (Sept. 27)
Despite only starting one game for the Nittany Lions last season, Parsons finished the year with a team-high 83 tackles, becoming the first freshman in program history to lead Penn State in tackles for a season.
Parsons was a five-star high school player out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who was ranked as the No. 5 overall prospect and the No. 1 player out of his home state for the Class of 2018, per the 247Sports Composite. After a stellar freshman season, Parsons was chosen as an All-Big Ten honorable mention by the media and named to the Freshman All-America team by ESPN.
Despite signing to Penn State as a defensive end, Parsons was immediately moved to linebacker, where he was able to utilize his speed and allusiveness. Sporting a 6’3, 245 pound frame, Parsons shows natural ability to come downhill and make tackles.
In order for Maryland to break its four-game losing streak to Penn State, the Terps will have to limit the 20-year old Parsons, who will have a much larger role for the Nittany Lions this year.
Shaun Bradley, Temple (Sept. 14)
In Maryland’s final no-conference game, the Terps will face Bradley, a two-year starter at the middle linebacker position for the Owls. Bradley, who received an All-Eastern College Atlantic Conference — which is an organization that includes over 200 member schools across Division I, II and III and acts as a secondary conference to most of their schools — Honorable mention for 2018, is expected to be one of five upperclassmen returnees for Temple.
Bradley has played in 37 games for Temple in the past three years, appearing in every game but two. During his sophomore campaign, Bradley led the team with 85 tackles and set a career-high 13 tackles against Tulsa. A year later, Bradley finished second on the team with 78 tackles and was the recipient of Kasim Hill’s first interception as a Terp, which resulted in a touchdown for Temple. (The play can be seen at the 37-second mark in his highlights below, if you can stomach it.)
Bradley, at 6’1, 225 pounds, has shown his ability to anchor the Temple defense. With his natural tackling instincts and his ability to drop into coverage on passing downs, Bradley will be a solid first test for Maryland before they enter into conference play and one of the most experienced linebackers the Terps will face this season.
Other notable Big Ten linebackers on Maryland’s schedule includes Michigan linebacker Khaleke Hudson, who had 44 tackles and one fumble recovery last year, and Nebraska linebacker Mohamed Barry, who recorded 112 tackles and two sacks in 2018.
Syracuse linebacker Ryan Guthrie will be another name that could cause some trouble for the Terps. Guthrie had a total of 107 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and two fumble recoveries.