As fall camp begins, the Testudo Times summer preview pushes on. We have already detailed the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers and are now into Defensive Backs Week.
This week, we’ve taken a look at the group as a whole and profiled senior Antoine Brooks Jr., the starting corners, a strong pair of nickel corners, competition at free safety and the best opponents at the position on Maryland’s schedule. Today, we’re looking at how the players from Mike Locksley’s first recruiting class as Maryland’s head coach could impact the program early on.
Nick Cross, No. 3
Hometown: Bowie, Md.
High school: DeMatha Catholic
Cross is the main contender for consistent playing time out of this group due to competition at the safety position. He was the crown jewel of Locksley’s 2019 recruiting class —as the No. 55 player in the class, he’s Maryland’s top recruit in five years — and has the chance to help pave the way for other high-ranking locals in the future.
In his senior season at DeMatha, Cross finished with 94 tackles and four interceptions, earning him First Team All-Met and All-WCAC honors. On top of his football skills, Cross is simply a high-level athlete who ran a 6.33 55m and 11.29 100m during his senior track seasons. Look for Locksley and his staff to implement Cross whenever they are comfortable doing so.
Treron Collins, No. 17
Hometown: Fairburn, Ga.
High school: Langston Hughes
Collins spent his senior year of high school playing mostly corner despite having a safety’s body. He exhibited great use of his hands through both interceptions and forcing fumbles in high school, and could be a force in the future for Maryland. Collins was recruited as a safety, and while he may lurk in the shadows during the 2019 season, he’ll have a chance to be an impact playe before long.
Lavonte Gater, CB, No. 37
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
High school: Ballou
After a high school career where he played all over the field, Gater comes to College Park to add depth to the cornerback position. An alumnus of the same high school as Locksley, Gater was one of the long-standing commitments who signed during the early period just after the new hire was announced. Look for Gater to start focusing on just the cornerback position in college and potentially earn playing time down the road.
Deonte Banks, CB, No. 33
Hometown: Edgewood, Md.
High school: Edgewood
Banks was rated as the No. 13 player in the state of Maryland and came in as the fifth-highest ranking recruit in the 2019 class for the Terps. Like Gater, he pledged early in the cycle and maintained his commitment through the staff turnover. During his senior season, Banks took touches at running back in addition to his play on defense, showing off his toughness and physicality. He brings a college-ready frame to College Park, which could give him a chance at a role sooner rather than later.
Erwin Byrd, No. 26
Hometown: Powder Springs, Ga.
High school: McEachern
Byrd was one of the later additions to the 2019 class, committing to Maryland just over a week before National Signing Day. He played both safety and cornerback in high school, but comes to College Park as primarily a corner. Instinct is a big part of Byrd’s game, as he has a nose for one-on-one matchups and often came out on top. His hands and tackling ability will certainly give him a chance at playing time after he gets used to the college level.
This is a group for the future.
Outside of Cross, playing time may be scarce for this group in 2019, but moving forward these could be key players for the Terps. Locksley worked hard to secure these talented defensive backs in the limited time he and his staff had to recruit the 2019 class, so they are clearly an important part of his vision.