FOOTBALL IS BACK! To kick off my time at SSN, I will do a breakdown of my Maryland Terrapins football season. Starting with a positional breakdown of the current state and the future state.
QB: Current- A-. Taulia Tagovailoa is the best QB Maryland has had since Scott McBrien. Taulia last year had 3,860 yards 26 TDs and 11 INTs on a 69(nice)% completion percentage. Those stats don't tell the whole story as he had 5 INTS in a horrid game against Iowa last year. He should be a top 5 Qb in the Big Ten. They also put Walk-on Eric Najarian on scholarship but he figures to be QB3 at the moment.
Future- C. the question remains, Will Taulia leave for the draft? Taulia still has eligibility after this season but there is an expectation that he will leave, Could NIL persuade him to stay if he isn't getting draft buzz? in the case he does not come back Maryland will likely start Wake Forest transfer Billy Edwards Jr. He was ranked as the 104th QB in the 2021 class. They also grabbed 2 local Qbs In Cameron Edge(DE) and Jayden Suaray(MD). Cameron Edge was a reclass from 2023 late in the cycle last year. Suaray was an early commit in the cycle. My opinion? I think they should try to grab a Grad transfer to be the bridge for these 3 in the case that Lia decides to go.
RB: Current- C+. YOUTH! the top 3 Running backs are all in their 2nd Year at Maryland. Although it will be a 4 man rotation, Roman Hemby is at the top of the list, Hemby was a redshirt last year but broke out towards the end of the season totaling 72 yards on 4.2 YPC and 2 TDs. Locksley said Hemby has the best "Big play" potential of the backs. Colby Mcdonald was one of the main guys in the rotation last year rushing for 325 yards on 5.2 YPC. My personal favorite RB is Antwain Littelton II. last year as a freshman was 285 Lbs. A recent picture came out, and Ant looks GREAT, slimmed down, and has the potential to be baby Derrick Henry. Maryland had one of the best NSD of any team in the country, they started the night before Flipping Ramon Brown from Virginia Tech. a 4star, top 10 RB in the class, Brown figures to be in the rotation that could end up like the last rotation of Rbs that come through CP (Jake Funk, Javon Leake, Anthony Mcfarlane, Tayon Fleet Davis, and Lorenzo Harrison, who had to retire due to injuries). This group is young and will only get better.
Future- A. I just went through the future in the current section, every RB has at least 2-3 seasons in CP, this group could be one of the most special position groups in Maryland history.
WR: Current- A+. This is the best position group at Maryland this year, Dontay Demus, tragically got injured during a Kick Return during Iowa that ended his season, and many people thought his career in CP. There was no expectation that he would be back unitl Mid-season this year, but he's HIM. He will be ready in week 1 to expand on his draft stock that was already soaring last year. Next to him will be Rakim Jarrett, Rak was a miraculous flip from LSU and had been the highest rated Receiver in the area since Stefon Diggs. He blew up during the Covid year and didn't exactly build on that as everybody thought, but he's draft eligible this year and I think he wants to be in the NFL ASAP. He was on Bruce Feldman's Freak list, with incredible athleticism. I think he will end up in the draft and test well. Selfish me would love him all 4 years but it might be better for him to leave this year with his 5-star rating. One of Maryland's best transfers this offseason was Jacob Copeland from Florida. Copeland is another draft prospect, who caught 41 balls for 642 yards and 4 TDS. Hard working guy with sure hands. Everybody remembers Jeshaun Jones's historic first game against Texas (Horns Daaaahn) a Pass TD, Rush TD, and Receiving TD. He hasn't been healthy his entire career here but could blow up this year if he can stay on the field. This is an incredible starting group and could have 4 guys drafted this year.
Future- B. It's going to be hard to replace that group and follow them up. There is some talent behind the big 4, starting with the fastest player on the team, Tai Felton. Tai had 5 Catches last year and is one of my favorite young players on this team. With the news of Marcus Fleming transferring out, Octavian Smith and Shaleak Knotts, 2 Freshman should step up. both were 4-star top 250 Recruits. they should grab another transfer Wr or 2 this offseason unless they can get a game-changing recruit.
TE: Current- B. The loss of Chig Okonkwo is a big one, but this team returns a ton of talent. Corey Dyches is a cheat code at TE, one of the fastest in the country. he will be behind Blocking specialist, Cj Dippre, who looks to add a receiving aspect to his game. Dippre has great size at the position at 6'5 260 and could become a top guy in the next 3 years.
Future- B. Mike Locksley has made it a point to recruit TE since he's been here. adding Preston Howard this offseason could prove to be a great one, with great height at 6'6 but only 220 Lbs right now. He won't be expected to contribute immediately.
OL: Current- A-. Whew. This offense could be scary. Maryland's offensive line lost ZERO starting OL from last year and has 2 2023 NFL draft prospects in Jaelyn Duncan and Spencer Anderson. Delmar Glaze has gotten some spotlight as well as a future draft pick. Mason Lunsford started all 13 games last year and Johari Branch has been a starter for the last 2 years. This team finished really high in pass protection last year and spent the offseason working on the run game. This sneakily could be one of the best OL units in the country this year.
Future-B. the Terps spent a lot on OL in the recruiting game bringing PA wrestling State champion Coltin Deery, JUCO all-American Maximus Mcree, and early morning NSD flip Andre Roye Jr. They also brought in Towering Teammates Keon Kindred and Ja'Kavion Nonar. Time will tell what these guys turn into but I think they have tons of potential with the sheer size of all the guys they brought in. They want to have the scariest OL to face in the country.
DL: Current B+. this is the oldest group on the team. With Ami Finau and Mosiah Nasili-Kite in the front. Two guys from Independence CC have been starting since the covid year. Could play themselves into draft consideration but either way, they are a dependable bunch. They added Henry Chibueze(Liberty) and Quashon Fuller(FSU) as depth this offseason but also have a ton of DL commits from the last couple of years so they will need to find time for guys like Timmy Akingsobete and Taizse Johson, both 4 stars from the 2021 class. The depth chart has Durell Nchami listed as a DE and Greg China-Rose as Jack, but I think it's the other way around. Greg did slim up a ton after coming out of nowhere as a walk-on. This is one of the deepest groups on the team. did not even mention former 4 Star Austin Fontaine, who moved to every position on the line on each side of the ball and will settle at DL, Andrew Booker, and Tyler Baylor who will all contribute some.
Future-B+. they will lose a ton this offseason, but they could still be deep on the DL with the 2 4-star guys I mentioned as well as Riyad Wilmot and Zion Shockley who will need to prove themselves and Isaac Bunyon who is another walk-on that contributed last year. Bring in Calvert Hall Freshman, Daniel Owens as well. the DMV has a ton of DLs including flip candidates Deshawn Womack and the Unicorn Nyckoles Harbor, who can play DL, and TE and is also a nationally track athlete with a sub-10-second 100. This position could be good for years if they can recruit and develop.
LB: Current- B-. What a whirlwind year it has been for LB. Signing a 5-star LB, who had been playing on a Torn ACL for 2 months in HS. Signing another 4-star from Florida, then during the season losing Fa'Naje Gotay and Durell Nchami for the year early and dealing with more injury over the year. Then in the offseason losing Chop, the 5-star local prospect, along with 5-star Terrance lewis and Branden Jennings. Then on top of that signed 4-star Jaishawn Barham as a 2-day flip from South Carolina. so let's take a step back and see what we've got. We bring back Gotay and Nchami, who has the best pass rushing grade in B10. Rueben, the most hard-working guy I've seen needs to take a step up for this run defense, which was awful last year. Bring in former 4-star Alabama/West Virginia player Vandarius Cowan. Jaishawn Barham is in a man's body and will start and be important as a freshman, and even Caleb Wheatland, another freshman, has impressed coaches and should play a lot. This group NEEDS to take a step up and impress with this defense.
Future- B. This is an older group with not a lot behind. Kellan Wyatt, Andrew Booker, and Terrance Butler are the guys not named that should have a role in the future. If they can be good, I'll feel a lot better about this group going forward. Barham and Wheatland take this group from a C to a B, because I believe those guys will be incredible.
DB Current- B. The Terps lost a lot at the S position with Nick Cross and Jordan Mosely leaving. They will replace them with Lacrosse 5-star RS FR Dante Trader, who has impressed early, and Beau Brade, A thumper like Cross and Mosely. S is a really young position and could be a weakness of the Defense. the CB has a big 3 of guys who were all hurt last year and it killed Maryland, Jakorian Bennett, another player on Bruce Feldman's freak list, is the fastest player on the defense, and could test his well to be an early draft pick next year. Early reports in CP say, Deonte Banks, who was hurt last year, is the best player in the secondary and looks like an NFL CB. Tarheeb came onto the scene leading all freshmen in PBU but hasn't seemed to build on that, this could be the year and if it is, watch out for this secondary.
Future- B. Terps coaches really like Lionell Whittaker and Trader and that boost this grade. Gavin Gibson is another FR CB with intrigue as well as speedy Perry Fisher and Lavain Scruggs. the Terps already have 3 CB commits in 2023 and at NSD, ill do a blog breaking down the commits.
ST: Current B+. This is the terps most improved unit during the offseason. the special team last year was PUTRID. they bring in Chad Ryland who is on the preseason watch list for the Lou Groza. the coverage should be better but it's the same coach so it's still TBD on that. they recently put Anthony Pecorella and Colton Spangler on scholarship and they both have been great.
Future TBD. Hard to judge ST's future without info on K/P coverage.
Now I'll go through the schedule game by game and do my picks (Disclaimer: I don't know everything about these teams and things will change during the season, this is my 100% healthy vs 100% healthy game predictions.)
9/3 Home Vs Buffalo- Buffalo had a terrible defense and brought in a different DC and 20 Transfers. I like Buffalo's squad and think they will be good in the MAC but that many moving pieces vs an offense I think can be top 10 is just too much for a brand new team. Buffalo brings in a new QB but he's brand new and I don't think can do enough to break this defense. Maryland W. 1-0
9/10 Away @ Charlotte- We all saw Charlotte lay a dud in Week 0. I liked this squad coming in and if they don't have QB Chris Reynolds it will be tough to even get a first down. Charlotte's defense let FAU run all over them, I just don't see them being competitive. Maryland W 2-0
9/17 Home vs SMU- This is Maryland's toughest OOC game and could be an absolute Shootout. This will be a good test for the secondary, Tanner Mordecai is an absolute Gun slinger and they even brought in Alabama transfer Camar Wheaton to go with Tre Siggers at RB. this is a dangerous offense and will give Maryland some trouble. The defense last year for SMU wasn't good and it's trending to be that way again this year. New DC from Liberty, should have a good DL, but with OL being a huge strength for the Terps, they won't make a huge difference and Maryland should drive as fast or as slow as they want. I think SMU keeps the score close but it's a game that was never in doubt for Maryland. Maryland W 3-0
9/24 Away @ Michigan- 0-100 real quick. this is one of the toughest games, the biggest stadium in the NCAA, and will be a ginormous test for the Terps. Michigan loses a TON on defense and it could be where Maryland has an opening to win this game. another opening is Jim Harbough being indecisive about who his QB is. Michigan's defense still has crazy talent and while being a weakness, still a challenge. Michigan's offense will sport likely the nation's best OL again while having a deep RB/WR room and an NFL TE. whoever the Qb is, will still have it easy to move down the field. I think Maryland will keep it super close and maybe even give Michigan a scare, but Unfortunately, I think Maryland will lose this game. Maryland L 3-1.
10/1 Home Vs Michigan St- The nation's most improved team after being projected one of the worst B10 teams last year. Kenneth Walker led Mich St to a 10-2 record last year while having the worst secondary in the country. They bring in Georgia transfer Ameer Speed to try to amend that, but I don't think that will be enough to beat one of the deepest Wr groups in the country. This will be a test for the OL, as Mich St should have one of the best DL groups in the BIG. Mich St's offense brings in 2 RBs to replace Kenneth Walker, Jarek Broussard from Colorado was the PAC-12 OPOY during the Covid year but was not as good last year, and Jalen Berger from Wisconsin. Payton Thorne is a solid QB and he has some decent weapons. I think the Defenses match up similarly in ability but I like this Maryland offense more and I think that'll be key for the win. Terps are also at home, that makes a difference. Maryland W 4-1.
10/8 Home Vs Purdue- Offense vs Offense in this Crossover matchup. Purdue should have a good Defense despite losing George Karlaftis. Another matchup where I think the defenses match up similarly but Id give Purdue the edge there. Offensively, Purdue loses David Bell and replaces him by adding 2 Iowa Transfers. Aidan O'Connell is a gunslinger and a former Walk-on. He should be ranked around Lia in terms of B10 Qbs. Payne Durham is also looking like an NFL TE for Purdue. This one is gonna be a super close game, and hard to pick. I really like Purdue to blow up this year and beat Maryland on the way to the top of the West. Maryland L 4-2
10/15 Away @ Indiana- Indiana had the opposite effect as Michigan St, preseason top 25, but ended as (easily) the worst team in the BIG. they bring in Connor Bazelak(Mizzou) to try and get an edge on offense, BUT they hired Walt Bell (who Maryland fans know very well) and I really hate this hire for them. Defensively they dealt with injuries and the secondary could be one of the best in the BIG, but they lost a lot of star talent there and I don't see them taking advantage of a run game that I believe will be dangerous. Indiana's Offense is gonna be BAD. losing its top targets and not bringing in much to mend. Auburn Transfer Shaun Shivers could be good but I don't think it's enough to contain Maryland in any Facet. Maryland W 5-2
10/22 Home vs Northwestern- Northwestern has a great run game/OL and if you play soft coverage, Ryan Hilinksi is smart enough to thrash you (@ Nebraska). Defense is Northwestern's weakness, although they looked good in week 0. Nebraska had a lot of new and I think it was a game to mesh together. The secondary starters had 0 turnovers last year so I think if Lia takes care of the ball, we can take advantage of a home atmosphere and put up some points. We have some good press corners so if we can cover well Hilinksi will need to put it into some tight windows and I like us to give him some turnovers. I like Maryland at home here to become Bowl eligible. Maryland W 6-2
11/5 Away @ Wisconsin. A perfectly placed BYE week before the toughest 3 weeks of the season. Wisconsin will likely run the ball down our throats, no matter how mediocre Graham Mertz is. but that doesn't matter if we can't drive down the field. Wisconsin always has good defenses and this might be the best they'll face, add on going to Camp Randall, it's gonna be a rough game. It's hard to be confident coming into this game and I like Wisconsin to hand Maryland its worst loss of the season. Maryland L 6-3
11/12 Away @ Penn St- This is the biggest recruiting game of the season. Penn St has dominated Maryland in DMV recruiting and also has dominated Maryland with only 2 losses since Maryland joined the B10. Penn St brings back Sean Clifford for his 10? season at PSU. A bad OL last year that still has questions going into this year, the loss of Jahan Dotson but the gain of WKU transfer Mitchell Tinsley and solid recruiting at RB, It could be a good offense but hard to gauge. Clifford has been up and down since he's been a starter, to his defense he had the worst OL he's ever played with last year, but I'm just not sure how much better they will be. Defensively, Penn St had injuries and should be good this year. With a secondary that might be able to Rival Maryland WRs. Chop Robinson transferred to PSU and figures to be in the DL rotation. the LBs were bad last year and don't seem to be much better. this is a game where both teams will play harder because a lot of players have a history together. Especially ones who know Chop and I think that'll motivate them to go into the whiteout and BEAT PENN ST. Maryland W 7-3.
11/19 Home Vs Ohio St- Everyone remembers when Maryland took OSU to a 1-point loss but this is a REALLLLY talented Ohio St team with the best QB and WR in the country, along with Treveon Henderson who is a beast. They bring in OK St DC Jim Knowles, and it will be late in the season so the Defense will be acclimated. OSU had a Vanilla D(hehe) before and Knowles has a complex defensive scheme and should make them more dangerous. The terps have an opening as OSU had the 97th best Seconardy in the country but that won't be enough and Maryland will cover, but lose the game. Maryland L 7-4.
11/26 Home Vs Rutgers. Rutgers's last win against Maryland was during the covid year, when Maryland had a ton of players out with covid, and it was still a close game. Last year Maryland destroyed Rutgers and I don't see much difference here. Gavin Wimsatt will likely be the starter and he was playing high school during the season last year. I think Rutgers can be good as they did go 5-7 in the regular season, but without a legitimate QB, it muddies the water a lot. IF Wimsatt breaks out, I think they have talent but that's a huge IF. Maryland W 8-4.
8-4 Would be huge for recruiting, I think the talent could lead them to wins Vs Purdue and Mich, and if we catch Wisconsin at the right time maybe them too, but 11-1 is way too optimistic, or is it? This is Maryland's most talented team in a long time and they will need to win the games and not beat themselves as they have in the past, but this could be an absolutely special year.