Testudo Times’ annual summer Maryland football preview series is back. Between now and the start of the 2020 season, we’ll be breaking down each position group with in-depth analysis on key players.
Maryland football looks to continue its rebuild in 2020 under head coach Mike Locksley, though it’s sure to be an unusual season — if played — due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’re starting things off by previewing the wide receivers position group, which looks to be one of the Terps’ strongest assets going into 2020.
Maryland’s 2020 wide receivers
|DJ Turner||SR||4 rec, 84 yds (only played 3 games)|
|Jeshaun Jones||R-SO||DNP (torn ACL)|
|Rakim Jarrett||FR||High School (5-star recruit)|
|Dontay Demus Jr.||JR||41 rec, 625 yds, 6 TDs|
|Brian Cobbs||JR||16 rec, 243 yds|
|Darryl Jones||JR||9 rec, 158 yds|
|Carlos Carriere||JR||12 rec, 137 yds, TD|
|DeJuan Ellis||R-SO||DNP (transfer)|
|Isaiah Hazel||SO||Appeared in 10 games on special teams|
|Nick DeGennaro||FR||High School (3-star recruit)|
|Deajaun Mcdougle||FR||High School (3-star recruit)|
|Corey Dyches||FR||High School (3-star recruit)|
|Justin Brown||JR||DNP (walk-on)|
Wide receivers should play a much bigger role
All signs point towards wide receivers playing a much larger role in Maryland’s offense in 2020. Two main factors play into this: there is more depth than the program has had at the position in recent years and there is significantly less running back talent.
Before we dive into that depth, let’s consider how drastically different Maryland’s running back room looks this year. For the first time since 2007, the team does not have more than two running backs on scholarship with playing experience. But even back then, the team had nine players on scholarship at the position — there are only four heading into 2020.
The two backs with experience, Jake Funk and Tayon Fleet-Davis, will be joined by two incoming freshmen in the position room. Still, four running backs is still quite slim, especially for Maryland, and Funk is recovering from an ACL tear — the second of his college career.
Alternatively, for the first time since 2016, Maryland returns three wide receivers with over 200 yards in their last season played, as well as four players at the position with at least 12 receptions in their last season. Add in five-star incoming freshman Rakim Jarrett — the fourth-highest ranked commit in program history — three other receivers with playing experience and five other freshmen and redshirts, and Locksley has a lot of options at his disposal.
With a super thin running backs corps and an array of wide receiver talent, it’s only logical to expect a much more pass-heavy offense and some new schemes in 2020.
With so much depth, who are the top guys?
Unlike past years, the media hasn’t gotten the chance to watch any practice at this point due to the pandemic. But even without seeing who lines up where on the practice field, the four top guys at the wide receiver position seem pretty clear.
Though the top man of the group is still to be determined, expect Jeshaun Jones, Dontay Demus Jr., DJ Turner and Jarrett to be focal pieces in the Terps’ 2020 offense.
Turner is set to be the team’s top slot receiver, while Demus and Jones excel on the outside. Jarrett is the kind of talent that can be utilized all over the field, and his explosiveness will surely come in handy.
The roster features three other players with ample experience on the field — Brian Cobbs, Darryl Jones and Carlos Carriere — and they just all happen to be juniors. Cobbs was second on the team with 243 yards on 16 receptions last season, though he didn’t score a touchdown. Jones and Carriere each recorded over 130 yards.
Then comes a plethora of inexperienced guys whose specific impact is to be determined. Isaiah Hazel was a four-star recruit out of high school, but only saw time as a reserve and on special teams last year. Still, he has the talent to earn some valuable snaps in his second year. Dino Tomlin redshirted as freshman last season, while DeJuan Ellis had to sit out a year after transferring from Virginia Tech. Ellis played quarterback in high school and never saw time on the field as a Hokie, so he’s bit of a wild card.
The position room is capped off with three freshmen in Nick DeGennaro, Deajaun McDougle and Corey Dyches, each of which were three-star recruits. It’s hard to imagine any of the trio seeing much time with such a stacked group, but with Maryland football there’s always room for surprises.
Only so many receivers can see playing time, but Locksley was known for his efficiency at running a spread offense in prior coaching jobs, so don’t be surprised to see multiple of these guys lining up at once.