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A trio of young Maryland safeties looks to take the next step in 2019

Defensive Backs Week turns its focus to Fofie Bazzie, Raymond Boone and Fa’Najae Gotay.

Illinois v Maryland Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

It’s Defensive Backs Week at Testudo Times. We’re continuing a summer preview series that’s already focused on Maryland football’s quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and offensive linemen, defensive linemen and linebackers. Fall camp starts today, and we’ll have plenty more coverage as it progresses.

This week, we’ve put out an overview of the position group and profiled the star senior, the starting corners, the competitors at free safety and the presumed slot corners. Today, we’re looking at the depth pieces at both positions, starting with a trio of safeties. (We’ll close with freshmen tomorrow.)

Fofie Bazzie, No. 11

Height: 5’11
Weight: 199
Year: Redshirt sophomore
Hometown: Silver Spring, Md.
High school: Quince Orchard

Bazzie was a three-star prospect in the 2017 recruiting class, committing to Maryland a month after receiving an offer in spring 2016. He redshirted his first season in College Park — until last year, one appearance could burn a player’s redshirt — and saw his first game action last year.

While Bazzie was recruited as a cornerback, he’s profiled as a safety since last spring. He’s put on approximately 10 pounds in college, which gives him a strong frame for the free safety position. At Maryland’s spring game this April, Bazzie’s six total tackles tied for most on the victorious Red Team.

Raymond Boone, No. 21

Height: 5’11
Weight: 193
Year: Redshirt freshman
Hometown: Landover, Md.
High school: Eleanor Roosevelt

Boone was a high school teammate of defensive end Lawtez Rogers, who’s a year older and now potentially in line to start for the Terps. He committed to Maryland in June 2017 and signed roughly six months later. Like nearly half of his recruiting class, Boone enrolled early in College Park. Despite showing some promise in spring and fall camp, though, he didn’t appear in game action last season.

Boone was hospitalized for precautionary reasons following a team workout in February. He was fully healthy in spring ball and matched Bazzie with six tackles in the spring game, including a tackle for loss. He still faces an uphill battle at a crowded position, but has the athleticism to earn a role on defense and/or special teams as a redshirt freshman.

Fa’Najae Gotay, No. 23

Height: 5’10
Weight: 221
Year: Redshirt freshman
Hometown: North Fort Myers, Fla.
High School: North Fort Myers HS

Gotay is still listed as a defensive back on the Terps’ online roster, but spent time in the spring at linebacker. It’s unclear where the redshirt freshman will ultimately line up when the season starts, or if he’ll settle into more of a hybrid spot. Either way, he’s got the upside to become a playmaker in the near future.

Maryland added Gotay one day before Early Signing Day in 2017-18 (one day before securing a commitment from fellow Fort Myers native Jeshaun Jones). Gotay was recruited as a three-star outside linebacker, but played primarily safety when he enrolled in College Park. As a rookie, Gotay carved out a role on special teams, impressing on kick and punt coverage units. He only appeared in four games, which preserved his freshman eligibility for this season.

There’s certainly potential in this group, but with more experienced players vying for the starting spots, these guys will most likely be competing for more rotational roles. There will be competition from each other and from a freshman class highlighted by high four-star prospect Nick Cross (more on that tomorrow). But Maryland knows it’s fortunate to have this trio in its back pocket.