A loaded Maryland receiving corps, containing enough expected star power and electricity to carry its offense through the upcoming season, suffered a personnel hit Thursday afternoon when Marcus Leak announced his withdrawal from the university, effective immediately.
According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, Leak’s departure was not academic- or discipline-related, but rather a personal decision. In a statement released by the Terrapins, Leak said he would return home but expressed his intentions to return to the program after a semester off.
“I have withdrawn from the University of Maryland and will return home to North Carolina to be with my family while I deal with some personal issues,” Leak said. “I would like to thank Coach [Randy] Edsall, my teammates and the rest of the Maryland football program for their continued support as I work through these personal matters. It is my intention to return to College Park in January. I look forward to rejoining my teammates and continuing my education at the University of Maryland.”
Leak was Maryland’s second-leading receiver in 2012, catching 23 passes for 393 yards and two touchdowns despite missing the final five games with a broken toe, suffered against North Carolina State. A big-bodied speedster along the outside, Leak’s 17.1 yards-per-catch ranked second on the team, behind only Kevin Dorsey.
A rising junior from Charlotte, Leak missed all of spring football while rehabilitating his broken toe, but was expected to challenge for a starting spot alongside Stefon Diggs and junior college transfer Deon Long. Instead Nigel King, who had a phenomenal spring, will likely assume the role, though given Leak’s injury, he might have won the battle anyway.
“Nigel’s taken advantage of his opportunity, and that’s what you need to do,” wide receivers coach Lee Hull said in April. “You need to take advantage of your opportunity. Someone’s not there, so it’s your chance to step up and show what you can do. It’s only going to help us depth wise, to have another guy we can count on.”
Leak’s absence, while certainly unexpected, shouldn’t damage a position still stocked with talent. Quarterback C.J. Brown will still have plenty of weapons, chief among them Diggs, a legitimate all-American candidate, and Long, who led the nation in receiving with Iowa Western Community College last fall.
Levern Jacobs is healing from a torn labrum and should provide speed in the slot, while his brother, incoming freshman Taivon Jacobs, could contribute immediately. Without the Jacobs brothers this spring, youngsters like Malcolm Culmer and Amba Etta received more repetitions and could factor in as well.
However, this means the Terps have now lost, whether by attrition or graduation, their second, third, fourth and fifth-leading receivers from last year’s roster. Save Diggs, Maryland returns just 27 receptions from 2012, or half of Diggs’s total.