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Maryland football’s offensive line will have to rely on some new faces in 2019

Our summer preview series continues with a group losing three regular starters.

maryland football-iowa-rutgers-2018 schedule Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland football’s 2019 season starts in 54 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 first, then examined the running back room before turning our attention to wide receivers and then tight ends last week. This week, it’s time to look at the offensive line. Maryland has been able to recruit some talent at this position, but has struggled since joining the Big Ten.

Maryland’s 2019 offensive linemen

Player Year Position 2018
Player Year Position 2018
Sean Christie R-SR G 12 starts
Ellis McKennie R-SR T/G/C 12 appearances, 3 starts
Terrance Davis SR G 8 appearances, 6 starts (missed 4 games to injury)
TJ Bradley R-JR T 4 appearances
Johnny Jordan JR C 11 appearances, 6 starts
Marcus Minor R-SO T/G 4 appearances, 3 starts (missed 8 games to injury)
Tyran Hunt R-SO T 6 appearances
Parris Heath SO T/G Junior College (3-star recruit)
Jaelyn Duncan R-FR T DNP
Evan Gregory R-FR T/G DNP
Spencer Anderson R-FR T/G 2 appearances
Austin Fontaine R-FR G Played defensive tackle; 2 appearances, 2 tackles
Marcus Finger FR T High School (3-star recruit)
Mason Lunsford FR T High School (3-star recruit)
Tyler Hamilton* JR G/C DNP
Jack Wagman* JR G 1 appearance

Maryland has to replace some key pieces from last year’s line, but has some key players returning.

Like the Terps’ offense last year, Maryland’s offensive line was above-average in the running game and dreadful in the passing game. In adjusted line yards, which accounts for how many yards the offensive line is responsible for on certain plays, the Terps ranked 59th on standard or running downs, and 114th on passing downs.

Maryland will replace three starters from last year, all of whom were multi-year fixtures. Despite an inconsistent senior season, left tackle Derwin Gray was drafted in the seventh round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Damian Prince and Brendan Moore each started games the past four years, with Prince spending last year at right tackle and Moore starting games at both center and right guard. With that trio departing, Maryland will be looking for new faces to step on the line’s most important positions.

Luckily for the Terps, the cupboard on the line isn’t completely bare. Sean Christie was given a sixth year of eligibility and should start again at left guard for the third straight season. Senior Terrance Davis struggled to stay healthy last season and played just eight games, but should be back at the right guard position he started for 22 straight games during his freshman and sophomore seasons. And junior center Johnny Jordan should take on a bigger role as well after splitting time with Brendan Moore at the position last year.

Some young players are ready for their shot.

DJ Durkin did a good job snagging some highly-touted offensive line recruits during his time as head coach, and the next wave could be ready to step into bigger roles this season.

Redshirt sophomore Marcus Minor has already been a factor his first two seasons in College Park and enters fall camp as the starting right tackle. The Lanham, Maryland, native started three games at left tackle last season and appeared in another before missing the final eight games due to injury.

Redshirt freshman Jaelyn Duncan, who was Maryland’s highest-rated recruit in the Class of 2018, was the Terps’ starting left tackle throughout the spring. He didn’t see any action last season, but brings NFL size to the position with a 6’5, 335-pound frame.

Behind the starting five, though, there isn’t much experienced depth.

When you move down to the second string group, redshirt senior Ellis McKennie is the only player with experience. Like Minor, he can play multiple positions, and spent the spring backing up Jordan at center. McKennie is also one of Maryland’s most vocal leaders, being one of the team’s main voices during a tumultuous 2018 season before being elected to a position in the school’s university senate for the upcoming year.

Outside of McKennie, though, is where the questions begin. None of the other projected linemen in the two-deep have seen serious playing time. TJ Bradley, who started the spring as the backup left tackle, tore his patellar tendon on March 30 and could miss the 2019 season. That injury prompted the staff to move Austin Fontaine from defensive tackle to offensive line, which looks like a permanent position change.

Redshirt freshman Evan Gregory and redshirt sophomore Tyran Hunt rounded out our two-deep from the spring, and they have a combined six appearances between them.

Offensive lines rarely make it through a season completely healthy, which is why having depth at every position is crucial. Maryland already lost one of its projected rotation players from the spring, and could be in trouble if it loses many more.