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National Signing Day 2016: Which Maryland football commits can contribute as true freshmen?

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Taking a look at the near-term future of Maryland's newest players.

DJ Durkin at his National Signing Day press conference on Wednesday.
DJ Durkin at his National Signing Day press conference on Wednesday.
Sung-Min Kim/Testudo Times

The Maryland football team's 2016 class is (probably) rounded out with 22 players, and now it's time to consider how they'll fit into the Terps' plans. The new prospects' biggest impacts probably won't be felt in 2016, but it's worth considering to what extent Maryland's reinforcements will help in the short term as well as the long term.

Here's an early look at what 2016 might hold in store for Maryland's class of 2016:

Very likely to play as true freshmen

WR Tino Ellis (4 stars)

Punter Wade Lees (unrated)

Ellis is a blue-chip receiver, and Maryland's receivers were not good last year. There's talent at that position, but there's not enough to keep Ellis from seeing snaps as a freshman, barring injury. It's a similar story with Lees, who only needs to beat out a punting corps that averaged 37 yards per kick last season. He'll probably succeed.

Could find themselves on the field if things break right

QB Tyrrell Pigrome

WR DJ Turner (3 stars)

S Elijah Daniels (3 stars)

S Tyrek Tisdale (3 stars)

Turner is lightning fast, so he could contribute on special teams (in whatever capacity Will Likely does not return every kick Maryland receives) or as a slot receiver-running back hybrid. Tisdale and Daniels are highly touted safeties, and Maryland is replacing both its safety starters, A.J. Hendy and Anthony Nixon, and has almost no experience at the position. If Daniels shows out in training camp, there's no real reason he couldn't play immediately. (It was brought to my attention in the comments here that Tisdale, classified as an athlete or all-purpose back by recruiting agencies, will play safety at Maryland.)

Then, of course, there's Pigrome. He's not Maryland's highest-rated recruit, but he might be the Terps' most important if he's as good as DJ Durkin seems to think he is. (The coach said Wednesday Pigrome would soon be a "household name" at Maryland "soon," which could mean any number of things.) I don't expect a three-star true freshman to start at quarterback for Maryland, but it's happened before, most recently in 2012. We'll see what the fall holds, although it's always a decent play to bet on the freshman quarterback redshirting.

Someone from these groups could get a shot

CBs Antwaine Richardson, Travon Stott, Elisha Daniels,

RBs LaDerrien Wilson, Lorenzo Harrison, Jake Funk (3 stars)

Maryland has running backs Ty Johnson and Trey Edmunds topping the depth chart at that position, but transfer Jacquille Veii won't be eligible this season, and Maryland will need three running backs. At least one of these players is certainly redshirting and maybe two or all three, but someone should have a real chance to play. Harrison is the highest-rated of the trio and might start out with the best chance.

At cornerback, Maryland has a lot of bodies - probably 10 or 11 on the final roster - but not a lot of experience behind Likely. One or two of Richardson, Stott or Daniels could get on the field, although even that isn't a sure thing.

Could get a chance, but would have to climb a long way

OG Terrance Davis (4 stars)

OG Richard Merritt (4 stars)

QB Max Bortenschlager (3 stars)

Davis and Merritt are blue-chip guards, and Maryland needs to replace two starters at center and guard, so it'd be premature to totally rule them out for playing time as true freshmen. However, it'd be extremely unusual for Maryland or any Big Ten program to play a kid one year out of high school on the offensive line. Even five-star tackle Damian Prince redshirted for Maryland two seasons ago, for instance. But Davis and Merritt are good enough to at least not forget about.

Bortenschlager probably won't appear, either, but has a nonzero chance of playing this season just because of how cover-your-eyes terrible Maryland's quarterbacks were in 2015. Nobody walking can be 100 percent ruled out at that position.

Highly likely to redshirt

LB Brett Shepherd (3 stars)

LB Antoine Brooks (unrated)

OT Brian Plummer (3 stars)

OT Terek Zingale (3 stars)

TE Noah Barnes (2 stars)

DE Dion Goldbourne (unrated)

S Qwuantrezz Knight (2 stars)

These prospects aren't blue-chippers, and they all play positions where Maryland has more developed options even for depth playing time. It'd be a huge upset if any of these players saw the field in 2016.