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Avery Edwards and Maryland football's tight ends got more involved in 2015

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The Terps virtually ignored tight ends as receivers in 2014, but freshman Avery Edwards changed that this season.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland football team started to think of tight ends as pass-catchers in 2015, after a several-year period in which they were almost completely neglected in that part of the Terps' offense. Maryland's tight ends weren't receiving standouts, but they were at least involved, and most of them have multiple years of eligibility to build on what they did this year. The position could be a strength if the chips fall correctly in 2016.

The players

Avery Edwards, freshman, No. 82.

P.J. Gallo, redshirt junior, No. 88.

Derrick Hayward, sophomore, No. 48.

Tight ends Andrew Isaacs, Andrew Gray and Eric Roca did not appear this season.

What we thought was going to happen

After Maryland's tight ends were wholly irrelevant to the passing offense in 2014, I thought Maryland would get the position a bit more involved this season. That turned out to be true, at least to a point.

The numbers

Player Pos. Ht, Wt Year Targets Catches Yards TD Yds/ Catch Yds/ Target Catch Rate Target Rate
Avery Edwards TE 6'4, 234 FR 28 14 115 2 8.2 4.1 50.0% 8.0%
P.J. Gallo TE 6'2, 250 JR 6 2 9 0 4.5 1.5 33.3% 1.7%
Derrick Hayward TE 6'5, 240 SO 4 2 10 0 5 2.5 50.0% 1.1%

Maryland tight ends received 10.7 percent of the team's receiving targets, up from 4.1 percent in 2014. So they were drastically more involved overall, even though Edwards accounted for almost the whole difference.

The basics

The only tight end who mattered much to the passing game was Edwards, a former four-star North Carolina commit who joined Maryland this season as a true freshman. Edwards only caught 50 percent of the balls Maryland quarterbacks threw his way, but that was a higher percentage than a couple of teammates in Maryland's receiving rotation.

Gallo, who will leave the program with a year of eligibility remaining for a job with Goldman Sachs, was a good blocker. Check out this seal of two Indiana defenders that sprang Brandon Ross for a long touchdown run in November:

The future

Edwards should continue to be good as a receiving threat, but this gets interesting after him. Isaacs didn't play a down this season after suffering a knee dislocation in September 2014. Isaacs is a former four-star recruit who's now been on Maryland's roster for three seasons, but he's only made three starts at tight end and will have been out of game action for almost a full two years by the time next season starts. For Maryland, it'd be great if Isaacs could re-calibrate and tap into his apparent potential noticed during his time as a top recruit.

Maryland does not presently have a tight end commitment in its 2016 recruiting class. If nobody leaves or commits, the tight ends on Maryland's roster next season will be Edwards, Isaacs, Gray, Rocca and Hayward. That's a potentially good group of players, and perhaps one that could expand on the 10.7 percent of team receiving targets it got this year.