As March 1 approaches and a new — ahem — bigger era of Maryland football dawns, the spring depth chart was released on Friday with positional competitions across the board. Nine positions have players either listed as co-starters or co-backups. At running back, the logjam has two Terrapins tied for the starting spot, three for the backup spot and two more for third string.
This is by design. Coach Randy Edsall likes wiping the slate clean and giving everyone an opportunity to prove themselves during spring and summer workouts. So forget that Marcus Leak was the starting wide receiver two years ago; he will battle Daniel Adams for the backup spot behind Amba Etta-Tawo. Forget that Caleb Rowe was the clear-cut backup quarterback behind C.J. Brown last season; he and Perry Hills are the second-stringers now.
“It’s going to be very competitive,” Edsall said Friday. “That’s the way I want it. That’s how you get better. If there’s somebody who’s always pushing you, making you work harder, you’re going to be a better player and you’re going to make your team better. We want to create as much competition, we want to create as much depth as we can.”
And then there’s the backfield, which graduated no one but welcomed back Wes Brown from a university-imposed suspension. Now a redshirt sophomore, Brown is listed as a tri-backup alongside Jacquille Veii and Joe Riddle. Brandon Ross and Albert Reid, as they were for much of 2013, are the co-starters.
With highly touted recruit Derwin Gray and junior college transfer Larry Mazyck not scheduled to report until June, Maryland shuffled around its offensive line, moving center Evan Mulrooney to left guard, where he will battle Silvano Altamirano for the starting spot. Ryan Doyle and Michael Dunn return at the starting tackles, while Sal Conaboy (center) and Andrew Zeller (right guard) also open at the spots they finished last season, when Maryland went 7-6 and lost the Military Bowl to Marshall.
”I think it’s absolutely critical,” offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said. “It goes back to what we talked about with the depth. If you’ve got five guys and there’s nobody pushing those guys, people tend to get comfortable. We don’t want anybody comfortable. Your job’s on the line every single day. That’s how you develop a great team, that competition, day in and day out. You better not take a day off, because if you take a day off somebody’s going by you.”
The defensive side remained largely unchanged. Andre Monroe, who had a monster season with 9.5 sacks, is the sole starter at defensive end, now that Keith Bowers moved to nose tackle to challenge Darius Kilgo. Sophomore Yannick Ngakoue will man the blitz-happy “Will” outside linebacker spot for the interim until Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil returns from injury, as will Alvin Hill for Jeremiah Johnson at the boundary corner.
P.J. Gallo and Andrew Isaacs are listed as co-starting tight ends to replace Dave Stinebaugh; that position is, without question, the least experienced spot on Maryland’s roster, as the Terrapins return players with starting experience at every other position.
“What you have on paper, that’s where we’re starting this spring,” Edsall said. “There could be somebody who’s listed as a starter and somebody who’s listed as third team, and by the end of the spring they’ve flip-flopped. Our guys know that every day is an evaluation day. You’re being evaulated each and every day. The standards we have here, you’re supposed to go out and do the best you can each and every day. That’s the thing I like. Our guys really understand the standards which we operate our program with.”
The full depth chart, if your eyes are good, is below.
Terps spring football depth chart. Evan Mulrooney moved to left guard, co-starter there. pic.twitter.com/0hVDvZlVRQ
— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) February 21, 2014