Terp Profile: Linebacker Ayinde Eley
Name: Ayinde Eley
2019 Stats: nine starts in eleven appearances; second on team with 79 tackles, led defense with two fumble recoveries; four TFLs, 0.5 sacks, one INT and five PBUs
Breakdown: the agile, rangy linebacker out of Good Counsel (MD) opted for the hometown team as Eley had an opportunity at an impact role and after redshirting his first season on campus, he did just that. Eley appeared in all 12 games in 2018 and made his first career start against Rutgers when he totaled six tackles and a pass breakup. His limited role was largely due to the stellar play inside by graduate transfer Tre Watson as Eley learned the position while coming down with his first career interception in the Week Two win against Bowling Green. The patience he endured learning behind Watson helped set Eley up for a monster season in an increased role.
In a unit that featured plenty of veterans in Keandre Jones, Isaiah Davis and Shaq Smith, Eley paved the way as a leader after making nine starts in eleven appearances as he finished second on the team in tackles (79) and fumble recoveries (2) while also posting four tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, five pass breakups and one interception. Eley proved himself as a reliable open-field tackler with great range as he broke out against Rutgers as he led the defense with eleven tackles, including eight solo, as Maryland allowed just seven points in the victory.
Eley now returns to the defense as an upperclassmen, where once again, the inside linebackers will be the strength of the defense. With Eley, Chance Campbell and likely Shaq Smith splitting reps inside, Eley has the athleticism and tackling skills to impact both the run and pass defense. But it’s not only his on-the-field production that will be critical to success in 2020 as the defense will replace leaders Jones, Antoine Brooks, Tino Ellis and Isaiah Davis.
Eley, along with Campbell and Smith, have an opportunity to emerge as vocal leaders on the defense with the leadership role void heading into the fall. Maryland will work tirelessly ahead of their Week One matchup against Towson to help reverse course to regain momentum in the trenches so as the Terps lean on their upperclassmen to do so, Eley has the chance to also emerge as the vocal leader as he prepares his draft profile.