Five Maryland Players To Watch Heading into 2020 Season
The Big Ten officially announced the return of fall sports on Wednesday morning to give Big Ten teams an opportunity to prepare for an October 24 kickoff. Head coach Mike Locksley talked about maximizing the opportunities available in the time leading up to Wednesday’s decision, but he’ll lead the Terps—including twenty-nine new additions to the program—into a fall season with 36 days to prepare. A schedule for the nine-week, nine-game season could come later this week, but we take a look at five Terps who could make an impact through fall camp.
Redshirt freshman QB Lance Legendre
The redshirt freshman appeared in three games in 2019 and attempted just three passes as the versatile quarterback had his development derailed following an injury late in the season. Legendre now returns as one of two scholarship quarterbacks for the Terps as the competition for the starting job boils down to him and new quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa. Offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery noted Legendre’s physical development this offseason as he’s taken the next steps as a passing quarterback. “Tremendous arm strength and ability to go downfield with the ball, he has grown in his intermediate ability to pass the ball from what some of our guys have told us, but probably the most Lance has grown is his understanding of how to get us into what we want to be in on certain plays and how to utilize his skillset, his ability to run, his ability to run action passes, ability to drop back pass and his ability to manipulate the defense late in his down,” Montgomery said last month. “Those are the things we look forward to seeing in-person and we look forward to being able to see them at full speed.” Proving himself as a true dual-threat quarterback will arguably be the biggest factor in naming a starter.
You could make the equal argument for Taulia Tagovailoa here. His progression in the offense, comfort running the show and chemistry with his receivers will be tested but the sophomore has been diligent this offseason getting reps where he can with his teammates in College Park and beyond. Will be a fun battle to cover from beyond as the Terps have young juice leading the offense in 2020.
Redshirt sophomore WR Jeshaun Jones
Maryland saw Dontay Demus explode during his sophomore season and cemented himself as the go-to target in the passing game. The offense will need to prove its balance in year two under Montgomery, but redshirt sophomore Jeshaun Jones returns in 2020 to alleviate stress off Demus and the passing attack. Jones became a critical factor in the offense as a true freshman as he appeared in all twelve games with two starts, but the length and reliable hands he brings along the outside gives the Terps options at receiver. It’s a deep stable that has other experienced targets in Brian Cobbs and Darryl Jones, while the crop of underclassmen talent will make their push. Establishing a consistent passing attack will help a revamped rushing attack mesh together in the offense and Jones can become a big piece in helping the Terps to do so.
Redshirt sophomore C Spencer Anderson
The importance of the redshirt sophomore Spencer Anderson is magnified heading into year three with the program. Maryland will replace three-year starting center Johnny Jordan following his August decision to opt-out of the 2020 season, paving the way for Anderson to slide into a starting spot inside. His experience as an interior lineman gives Maryland bolstered size along the offensive line—a big boost over a season ago. There’s little debate that the trenches on both sides of the ball remain the biggest determining factor for Maryland’s fate in 2020, but the group has had time to work together in Jordan’s absence and develop chemistry alongside expected new starting left guard Johari Branch. Big opportunity ahead for the former Bishop McNamara standout as he takes reign of the line.
Sophomore DE Joseph Boletepeli
The former NC State transfer enters his first season with the Terps as his addition adds much-needed help to the defensive line. Maryland will hope to add more athleticism on the edge to strengthen the pass rush and Boletepeli gives the Terps exactly that as the NCAA reconfirmed his immediate eligibility for the 2020 season. Boletepeli was originally expected to contend at the JACK alongside Durell Nchami but his length and experience off the edge gives Maryland a dynamic pairing on the left side of the defense. Lawtez Rogers returns to increase the competition alongside Boletepeli, while juco defensive end Mosiah Nasili-Kite continues to earn rave reviews but finding someone who can consistently generate pressure in the backfield is a must for the defense.
Junior DT Ami Finau
There’s a possibility that Maryland looks for help inside the defensive line and if playing time opens wide open between now and October 23, juco addition Ami Finau could be prime to slide into an impact role. The 6-foot-2, 320-pound defensive tackle has the size to take on the double team and the high motor he’s brought during his time on campus has been tough to ignore. New defensive line coach Brian Williams will retool his interior line as freshman defensive tackle Tre Smith will serve as a student assistant alongside Cam Spence this season. Locksley noted the emphasis on the junior college market helps cut into the learning curve needed at several key positions and the second-team All-Jayhawk Conference selection could be primed for that breakout.