Jeremiah Johnson talks about being third cornerback; Nnamdi Egbuaba to miss season

August 28, 2014
The Post Sports Live crew offers best-case-scenarios for Maryland in its first season in the Big Ten conference. (Post Sports Live/The Washington Post)

Although Maryland defensive back Jeremiah Johnson was listed as a backup cornerback to enter the season, the senior didn’t make any qualms about the move when he met this week with members of the media. He was calm as usual. Johnson has been labeled a starter by coaches all camp, even if he was still competing with Alvin Hill for the second starting corner spot next to Will Likely.

Coach Randy Edsall said earlier this week that the depth chart is merely paper, and in the case of Johnson, he will likely see the amount of snaps as most of the starters on defense after missing nearly a year with a toe and multiple hamstring injuries.

“I wouldn’t say I was disappointed at all,” Johnson said of being listed behind Hill and Likely. “I understand the situation that took place. I understand how much I want to play this season. I still view myself as a starter, and I have to be prepared as a starter every day. So if I get caught up in that, that’s going to take away from my game.”

Likely and Hill both had productive camps, and after Johnson knocked off some rust early in camp he looked as though he was ready to take the step toward returning to his sophomore form. He expects the team to continue to use heavily the dime package, which relies on Likely, Hill and Johnson on the field together.

“It’s a three-corner set. That package is going to be relied upon heavily to make plays for this defense. I’m just looking forward to that,” Johnson said.

Here’s some other notes as Maryland prepares for the season opener against James Madison:

— Randy Edsall said Thursday that freshman linebacker Nnamdi Egbuaba will have labrum surgery on Friday and will miss the rest of the season.

Edsall expects the 6-foot-1, 216-pound Baltimore native to be back for spring practice. It was unlikely that Egbuaba would see the field this season, although he is considered a talented pass-rusher who had 19 sacks as a high school senior at St. Frances.

Egbuaba is the second freshman casualty of the preseason, joining offensive lineman Sean Christie on the injury shelf. Christie had surgery to repair a damaged ligament in his knee in August and will miss the rest of the season.

— Maryland has flipped its practice schedule from afternoons to mornings this year, something that Randy Edsall has eyed for the past couple of years.

Edsall had approached some coaches he trusts to seek advice on moving the sessions to the morning, but didn’t receive a green light to move practices to the morning until last spring because of potential academic scheduling conflicts. Meetings start around 7 a.m., and the team usually practices a couple hours until 10:30 a.m. That gives players more down time in the afternoon and eliminates conflicts with study sessions and night classes, among other things.

“It forces the kids to go to bed earlier, which is good from a coach’s standpoint,” Edsall said. “They have so much on their plate. They go through a whole day, they get up they go through academics, they go through all the other trails and tribulations that a 17 to 21 year old goes through. So then they come over here in the afternoon and they’re just shot. They’re just haywire. This way you get them up in the morning, and then we know they’re up and then we practice, and I think they’re sharp where they’re more mentally into things.”

— Against James Madison, Maryland will wear standard white helmets with red jerseys and white pants. It is the same ensemble the team broke out for the open scrimmage in August. Quarterback  C.J. Brown, lienbacker L.A. Goree and kicker Brad Craddock. Matt Robinson will carry the Maryland flag and Albert Reid will carry the American flag prior to the kickoff.

Roman Stubbs covers the University of Maryland athletics for The Washington Post.
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Roman Stubbs · August 28, 2014