Confident, Deep Wide Receiver Room Ready to Spark Maryland's Offense
Maryland enters the 2020 season with a deep stable of talent at wide receiver. The returning quartet of juniors provide experience to the unit while the recovery of sophomore Jeshaun Jones gives the Terps known commodities on the outside. Junior wide receiver Brian Cobbs is among those junior receivers looking to emerge in the spotlight in the 2020 season and with a date officially set for the return of Big Ten football, the group is confident in the opportunity.
“Excitement through the roof because like I said, it’s been a rollercoaster just kind of getting shut down, being resumed to play back and forth, back and forth,” Cobbs said in Wednesday’s press conference. “So being the fact that we have a target date and we know who our opponent is, it doesn’t matter who our opponent is, just the fact that we have a date where we’re going to play on TV, I think that’s the biggest thing that’s been motivating our guys. I’m sure you all have seen the Twitter videos they’ve been releasing so it’s been big plays on both sides of the ball from the beginning of stretch lines to the end of practice, jawing back and forth with the defense. They’re giving us good work, we’re giving them good work, we always say iron sharpens iron so that’s the best thing I can kind of describe our practice as.”
While the Terps have a top-heavy group to secure a rotation, the young crop of talent adds to the versatility of the unit. After sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules, former Virginia Tech receiver Dejuan Ellis is ready to slide into the ‘Y’ while redshirt freshman Dino Tomlin took advantage of an offseason with strength and conditioning to push for time in the slot. The unit did lose senior receiver DJ Turner, who is up to 124 receiving yards and a touchdown at Pitt, to give Tomlin an opportunity to shine inside but a four-man freshmen class will find their way onto the field.
Cobbs noted the athleticism of the unit in the early stages and their versatility will be needed in the passing attack.
“Biggest thing I’ve been proud of is just kind of how the guys have kind of adapted and learned the offense so quickly. Being quarantined, we were subject to a lot of Zoom meetings and stuff like that so it was really good period to kind of coach them up on the things that they might not have learned if we jumped right into a season so getting them those extra mental reps and stuff like that have really paid off so now, coming out here to practice there’s not mental errors that coaches have to clean up. We’re just out there ready to play and executing.” Short clips from the early practices have excited fans, while a deep ball from Taulia Tagovailoa to Rakim Jarrett drew attention, while New Jersey receiver Nick DeGennaro was highlighted. The local wide receiver has made “huge plays,” according to Cobbs, and his versatility gives Maryland a chance to move him around in the offense packages.
“Huge plays. I mentioned it on the other podcast I was on, he has really strong hands at the catch point and he’s really creative with his routes. Having him on the field in different personnel packages, like we know wherever the ball is thrown to him he’s going to come down with it whether it’s a one-handed catch, jumping over defender, something like that. It’s really exciting to see him out there.”
What will change for Maryland is who is throwing them the ball. Josh Jackson (opt-out) and Tyrrell Pigrome (transfer) are both off the 2020 roster to pave the way for a new quarterback battle between Lance Legendre and Taulia Tagovailoa. Legendre, the redshirt freshman out of Warren Easton (LA), attempted just three passes a season ago but drew praise from offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery last month. Cobbs noted the receivers have spent time this offseason to find field space to work and develop the chemistry with the new quarterbacks. “Whether getting in the indoor, just talking about the offense, different things we can change within our routes to make them more comfortable with throwing us open so that by the time we’re actually at practice, it’s like second nature so there’s not much we really kind of have to build.” While the Terps haven’t named a starting quarterback just yet, the added reps that Tagovailoa and Legendre have capitalized on led Cobbs to describe the offense as a “real efficient machine” with just four weeks before the season-opener against Northwestern.
“Huge plays, huge throws, smart decision. I feel like the offense is a lot more efficient being the fact that they’re making the right decisions. Going back to the chemistry thing I said, they know kind of where to throw the ball, they know where we want the ball so that really helps with the offense and then it’s just looking like a real efficient machine whether it’s taking what the defense gives you when you have the big shots or hitting on all of them, so I can’t really complain in regards to anything in the quarterback room.”