It’s August, which means the start of fall practice for college football programs everywhere. Maryland opens its season in 29 days against Howard, and while there are still some questions that will have to be answered between now and then, right now is a time for overarching optimism.
Maryland held its media day Friday morning, with head coach Mike Locksley, coordinators Scottie Montgomery and Jon Hoke and 16 players speaking to reporters at the Gossett Team House. Here’s Locksley’s full press conference, in which he answers a mix of roster-specific and big-picture questions.
Good morning. It’s Maryland football media day. Here’s Mike Locksley. https://t.co/DN55MwQV7L— Testudo Times (@testudotimes) August 2, 2019
As fall camp continues, we’ll learn more about the quarterback competition, how the depth chart seems to be shaking out and which players have made the most progress since the spring. But here are the two newsiest pieces of the morning.
Keandre Jones is immediately eligible.
Perhaps the biggest news to come out of Friday morning was that the senior linebacker’s waiver for immediate eligibility had been granted. Jones transferred to Maryland in January after three years at Ohio State, and he’ll have one year of eligibility for the Terps.
This means all five of Maryland’s offseason transfers will be eligible in 2019. Quarterback Josh Jackson, tight end Tyler Mabry and linebacker Shaq Smith were all graduate transfers, while wide receiver Sean Savoy’s waiver was granted earlier this summer. Smith and Jones now give Maryland a pair of outside linebackers who’ve been in blue-blood programs (Clemson and Ohio State) and could change the outlook of the whole defense.
“You have Keandre and then Shaq as your outside linebackers, you have Chance [Campbell] and Ace (Ayinde Eley) as your inside linebackers,” defensive coordinator Jon Hoke said. “They have athletic ability, they have length, and they have instincts for the position. And so for us, we feel like it could be a strength of ours moving forward.”
Jones told Testudo Times he found out “the same time you guys did,” and that he’s excited not to have to worry anymore about whether he’d be able to play.
Sean Savoy and Tahj Capehart are switching positions.
Capehart is now listed as a defensive back and Savoy is back at wide receiver on Maryland’s updated roster. Both players played both ways in high school and started their college careers as receivers. Savoy played cornerback in spring practice due to the relative lack of experienced depth at the position, but with an influx of freshmen coming in, the staff was able to move him back to a spot where he was productive at Virginia Tech (with new Terps quarterback Josh Jackson throwing to him).
“Sean has the ability, the feet, the skill set and the ball skills to do both, but now that our freshmen have arrived and we’ve been able to build our depth on the defensive side of the ball, it’s enabled us to probably move him back to his natural position,” Locksley said.
Capehart was a high three-star wide receiver and started his Terps career there, but missed last season after tearing his ACL in spring practice. The 5’10 redshirt sophomore is another player whose skill set can go both ways, and swapping him with Savoy keeps the scales somewhat balanced at both position groups.
“We’re gonna take a look at him as a secondary defender — corner, safety, nickel guy — this summer,” Locksley said. “We’ll see what it looks like, and if he’s a guy who flourishes on the other side of the ball, we’ll keep him there. If he’s not being successful with the transition there, we can always bring him back.”
Capehart’s switch means changing numbers from No. 14 (also used by safety Deon Jones) to No. 31. While Savoy’s No. 29 is an unusual number for a wideout, he’s still wearing it.