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Maryland football spring positional preview: Ty Johnson headlines exciting Terps running back group

Ty Johnson leads an unsettled but interesting Maryland backfield into 2016.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland football program is eligible to start spring practices under DJ Durkin on March 8. Over the next few days, we'll be previewing where the Terps stack up at every position heading into the offseason's regular season.

The players

Returning starters: Wes Brown (senior, suspended).

Other contributors: Ty Johnson (rising sophomore)

Coming off redshirts: None.

Incoming freshmen: Lorenzo Harrison (three stars), LaDerrien Wilson (three stars), Jake Funk (three stars)

Incoming transfers: Trey Edmunds (graduate), Jacquille Veii (redshirt senior/ineligible this year)

Funk is an early enrollee and eligible to participate, while Brown was indefinitely suspended at the end of last year and is facing an unclear future. Wilson and Harrison won't be on campus yet for spring ball. Via PeachesTerp in the comments, Edmunds is listed in Maryland's student directory and therefore likely enrolled and eligible for spring.

The overview

It was an intriguingly solid 2015 season for Maryland's running backs. Brandon Ross had by far the best year of his career in his senior year, and freshman Johnson was a lightning bolt who showed real flashes of potential. Brown was just OK before being suspended and may or may not be back at all in the future.

New running backs coach Anthony Tucker has a mostly blank canvas this spring. Johnson is still here, and he'll have new enrollee Funk on-hand to start his college career. Edmunds, provided he's around for the spring, should be a fun new part of Maryland's offense. So should reported returning transfer Veii, though he won't be eligible next year. But at least two or three of Maryland's running back options for the next few seasons simply won't be on campus by spring, making this a little less exciting in the interim than it otherwise could have been.

Position battles

Who gets the lion's share of the carries?

This will play out more in the summer than the spring, but it's worth watching anyway. It's also not clear what Brown's eligibility situation might be. The only players who seem certain to be involved are Johnson and Funk, and perhaps Edmunds, too. Maryland has a lot of options at running back, but they're not all in one place just yet.

Key question

Does Ty Johnson make the leap?

Johnson had a really good true freshman season. He only got 35 carries, but he took them for 250 yards (a 7.1-yard average) and didn't fumble once. He showed patience and explosiveness behind Maryland's offensive linemen and was a legitimate bright spot. He's going to get a lot more work as a sophomore, and that presumably starts in the spring.

Breakout player

Ty Johnson

He might be Maryland's breakout player this year, period.

Depth chart projection

1st String Ty Johnson
2nd String Trey Edmunds
3rd String Jacquille Veii
4th String Jake Funk