Before Wednesday, the Maryland football team was dangerously thin at running back. Now, with the commitments of Virginia Tech transfer Trey Edmunds and three-star Florida back LaDerrien Wilson, the Terps look very much back in business in the offensive backfield.
Maryland's running back depth chart had consisted, basically, of rising sophomore Ty Johnson. With Wes Brown suspended indefinitely (but reportedly until November) and none of Andrew Stefanelli, Marcus Smith and Tehuti Miles having any meaningful offensive college game experience, the Terps needed an injection of talent at the position. They've gotten it, although to what degree remains to be seen.
The Terps are also set to add freshmen Lorenzo Harrison and Jake Funk. Harrison is rated similarly to Wilson, while Funk factors in as a lower-three-star addition on the 247Sports Composite.
In the way of Wednesday's news, let's start with Edmunds, who's expected to be eligible straight away. Virginia Tech recruited him for the class of 2012 as a four-star running back and outside linebacker. He's played offense in college, obviously, and had some legitimately good times in Blacksburg.
He was an important Hokie in 2013, his first actual season of play, carrying 166 times for 675 yards (a 4.1-yard average) and 10 touchdowns. But he found himself buried the last two seasons, only running 68 times in total. Last season, he was fifth on the roster in carry attempts (fourth among running backs) and never got traction.
But there's reason to believe Edmunds, with opportunity, could be a good bit better at Maryland.
|Travon McMillian||TB||6'0, 196||FR||200||1042||7||5.2||5.2||39.0%||1 (0)|
|Brenden Motley||QB||6'3, 221||JR||73||340||3||4.7||3.4||45.2%||6 (2)|
|Sam Rogers||FB||5'10, 223||JR||62||260||2||4.2||3.4||35.5%||1 (1)|
|J.C. Coleman||TB||5'6, 187||SR||48||210||1||4.4||2.5||39.6%||2 (2)|
|Trey Edmunds||TB||6'2, 223||JR||47||185||3||3.9||4.7||29.8%||0 (0)|
|Michael Brewer||QB||6'1, 195||SR||19||68||1||3.6||3.2||21.1%||1 (0)|
|Dwayne Lawson||QB||6'6, 230||FR||14||55||1||3.9||1.6||50.0%||1 (0)|
|Shai McKenzie||TB||5'11, 229||SO||13||50||0||3.8||1.4||38.5%||0 (0)|
|Isaiah Ford||WR||6'2, 188||SO||7||51||0||7.3||1.6||100.0%||0 (0)|
|NOTE: Quarterback run totals above do not include sacks (which are counted toward pass averages below) or kneeldowns.
Take Virginia Tech's team rushing depth chart, via SB Nation's Bill Connelly. Edmunds only ran for 3.9 yards per rush, but there's a case here that he was a victim of circumstance. His opportunity rate – the frequency with which he got beyond the first 5 yards, considered the responsibility of his offensive line – was an unusually low 30 percent. When Edmunds got beyond his offensive line-given threshold of 5 yards, he ran for 4.7 "highlight yards" per carry, second-best on the team and a pretty decent figure. (At Maryland, Johnson ran for an excellent 7.1 highlight-yard average.)
This isn't to take anybody too far into the analytical weeds, but Edmunds probably has more raw skill than the end of his time at Virginia Tech indicated. Behind a Maryland offensive line that should be legitimately good – Virginia Tech's last year was bad in run and pass blocking – Edmunds could make real progress in his last year of eligibility.
Edmunds is listed at 6'2, 223 pounds. Here's a cherry-picked video from a few seasons ago of him looking big and explosive against the best defense anywhere. It tells us there's probably something here, if Maryland can just help Edmunds find it.
Then there is Wilson, on whom we don't have nearly as much data. But he's got a great shot to be Maryland's No. 3 running back behind Johnson and Edmunds (in no particular order), just by virtue of Maryland's current recruiting situation and depth chart. Wilson is a big kid, too, listed at 5'10 and 210 pounds.
If Johnson is lightning, the idea for Wilson is that he could be thunder. A review of Wilson's highlight tape shows some speed and agility, definitely, but makes clear he'll be something of a power back in college. On several plays, he lines up like a fullback with his hand on the turf, then explodes into the line of scrimmage with the ball. He doesn't run through teams untouched, but he runs into them and pushes forward.
It's best to temper expectations here, especially for Wilson. There are a lot of three-star running backs floating around the Big Ten, and not all of them work out. But if Maryland's offensive line develops over the next few years the way it should, Wilson will have a strong foundation for success.