Monday Terps Mailbag: Offensive linemen, freshmen contributors and hoops recruiting

August 19, 2013

(Doug Kapustin for The Washington Post)

The Maryland football team opens the 2013 season against Florida International in just 12 days. This, of course, means it’s time to kick the Monday Terps Mailbag back into high gear. As always, submit your questions via Twitter or electronic mail. Any and all will be taken.

The Terps were at full strength along the front five during Saturday’s scrimmage, save transfer Silvano Altamirano. And yes, the unit struggled. Linebacker Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil blew past Nick Klemm for three sacks and Ryan Doyle once. Mike Madaras struggled at times to contain the edge blitzes from linebackers as well. This could indicate a breakout-ready defensive front seven, but more likely it highlights the offensive line’s need for improvement. Bear in mind that starting quarterback C.J. Brown sat out the scrimmage to give the three backup quarterbacks work, so how his return affects the protection remains to be seen.

Old friend Patrick Stevens did an offensive line size analysis over at Syracuse.com, and it’s worth a look. Maryland’s starting line ranked as the ACC’s third-smallest. It seems Randy Edsall and offensive line coach Tom Brattan will head into the Big Ten recruiting comparably sized linemen, relying on speed and mobility for coordinator Mike Locksley’s offense. This is nothing new for Edsall. He goes after under-the-radar offensive linemen and banks on player development. Brendan Moore and Jared Cohen, the two current class of 2014 offensive line commitments, are 6 feet 4 and 6-3, respectively, neither weighing more than 275. But adding Damian Prince and securing the return of Derwin Gray would give the Terps two hyped, monster prospects to bolster the line years into the future. If Maryland makes itself a regular competitor for top offensive line talent from the Washington area, then how could things not get better –and bigger?

Before Saturday, an obvious answer would have been running back Jacquille Veii. The Avalon School speedster has shown impressive bounce between the tackles during preseason camp and a surprising ability to spin off tackles into open space. Yet during Saturday’s scrimmage, Veii appeared sparingly before retiring into the training room and emerging on crutches, a boot on his foot. Monday’s injury report will clarify the severity of Veii’s injury. (On a semi-related note, this suddenly thins Maryland’s backfield even further, a previously unthinkable notion for a unit that started four non-seniors last season.) That said, Will Likely is your guy. He will play on nickel and dime packages immediately, and could even spell Stefon Diggs on punt returns. Enrolling this spring put the rabbit-chasing cornerback ahead of the curve, and he hasn’t slowed down since. Likely hasn’t just been the most impressive freshman this camp; he’s been among the most impressive players. His size might bring trouble against bigger-bodied receivers, but he flies around the field and has a nose for interceptions, something sorely lacking in Maryland’s secondary last season. The Terps have depth, and few other freshmen have impressed enough to warrant burning their redshirts, just so they can appear over older players with comparable skills. Yannick Ngakoue could sneak his way onto special teams or in a reserve linebacker role, Jarrett Ross might be a valuable special teams asset and DeAndre Lane could return punts if necessary.

Excuse the typo. He means Chinanu. As in Chinanu Onuaku, the shot-blocking stalwart from Riverdale Baptist. Reed is Trayvon Reed, the Georgia center who sent Twitter into a frenzy late Friday night after telling some reporters that he committed to Maryland, when it turned out that, in fact, he did not.

The Reed hullabaloo reveals two things. First, Maryland is clearly on his mind. He wouldn’t go around telling reporters about a commitment, even though he hasn’t even visited College Park, officially or unofficially, for no good reason. The Terps made an impression, and Reed evidently got a teensy bit excited and jumped the gun.

Second, Reed saying he committed, at least on Friday night, means about as much as me saying that I have committed to play basketball at the University of Maryland. There are transcripts to review and hurdles to clear, as exists with any recruit. Without the coaching staff on board, it means nothing.

That said, the Terps want Reed, just like they want Onuaku. Friday night will not change their recruitment of Reed; if anything, it means Reed’s opinion has tipped in their direction. But Onuaku remains on the radar, and I get the sense that Maryland will operate on a first-come, first-serve basis, at least once both players get on campus. (Martin Geben remains in the mix, as does North Carolina tweener forward Gary Clark, but the Terps backed off Goodluck Okonoboh weeks ago. Those appear to be the four clear options for that fourth class of 2014 spot. That’s a lot of fours.)

It’s hard to imagine a situation where the athletic department’s deficit would affect the football team off the field. Those players get 21 square meals a week. The facilities have not changed, and won’t change this season. Yes, the athletic department needs increased ticket sales, especially from the football team. But ticket sales come with success. Safe to say, the Terps are trying to win, no matter what actually happens on Saturday. Struggling finances are the athletic department’s burden to bear.

MORE FROM THE POST ON MARYLAND FOOTBALL

News and notes from Saturday’s scrimmage.

Backup quarterbacks inconsistent.

Diggs throws out first pitch at Orioles game.

LB Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil out to prove himself.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · August 19, 2013

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