Analyzing the Return of Senior Center Johnny Jordan
There was a time where the outlook of Johnny Jordan’s return to Maryland was bleak, where the Terps were seemingly in a position to replace the three-year starting center. But on Thursday, news broke that Jordan has returned to the program to give Maryland their third returning starter along the offensive line.
Athletic Director Damon Evans addressed the possibility for one of Maryland’s six public opt-outs to return to the program, stating “we will leave that up into the coach’s discretion,” but the return of Jordan helps gives some assurance to a unit that struggled with consistency a season ago. Part of the inconsistencies down the stretch were attributed to Jordan’s absence as the former lineman out of Gonzaga (DC) missed the final two games in what Locksley said were “personal reasons.”
It was versatile lineman Ellis McKennie who was able to step into Jordan’s absence a season ago, but the unit does not have the same luxury heading into 2020 as sophomore Spencer Anderson worked as Jordan’s replacement leading up to Thursday’s news. Jordan missed offseason workouts and will reacclimate himself within the unit, but his return does not translate into a day one starting position. Jordan’s experience will be tested against Anderson’s added size given their four-inch disparity in measurable, but what’s lost in the new camp battle is the added versatility the offensive line gains in Jordan’s absence.
The Terps lack a true center behind Jordan and with him entering his final season of eligibility, finding a seasoned replacement could be an underlying goal as offensive line coach John Reagan works with a deep stable of young talent. Anderson’s time spent inside could give him the leg up as sophomore Evan Gregory serves as another who can take snaps at center, but the competition now increases with just five weeks before the season-opening kickoff.
Maryland’s offensive line will look slightly different than a season ago, with left tackle Jaelyn Duncan hoping to stave off senior TJ Bradley, while the combination of Marcus Minor, Spencer Anderson and Tyran Hunt gives the staff a chance to test the right side of the line in Austin Fontaine’s absence. Jordan’s return adds to the depth in the trenches but Locksley pointed to the additions in the trenches last cycle as a means to increase competition. While no starting jobs have been cemented ahead of fall camp, it’s hard to ignore the impact of the added competition inside as the Terps must take a step forward in protection.
“I’m excited about competition,” Locksley said in December. “This program is going to be all about
competition and the way to get better is when you create competition at every position.”