Locksley Breaks Down Offensive Line, Minor to Guard
The offensive line was a weakness for Maryland in 2019 as the Terps looked to the junior college market to add needed size in the trenches. The shifted recruiting strategy, coupled with the offseason development of the current unit, gives the offensive line a vote of confidence in 2020.
“It starts and ends up front whether it’s O-line or D-line and we’ve been very fortunate that we’ve recruited some junior college players that we feel can come in and play and help us,” Locksley told reporters on Thursday. Senior center Johnny Jordan returned to the program last month to give Maryland a trio of starters from a season ago, but Locksley also noted junior Marcus Minor has moved from tackle to guard.
“Moving Marcus Minor inside has helped us as well as getting Johnny Jordan back, two veteran guys that have played a lot of football around here for us as well.” The development of junior Spencer Anderson heading into year three aided that decision to move Minor inside as Maryland fans begin to see the 2017 and 2018 recruiting classes develop into full-time starting roles. Sophomore left tackle Jaelyn Duncan was credited for a “night and day” in-season development by Locksley in 2019, but he and Anderson were thrown into larger roles early in their college careers. The valuable experience gained in 2019 hopes to serve them both well as a more experienced line returns to College Park.
“Returning guys like Jaelyn Duncan and Spencer Anderson who were thrown into the fire last year as redshirt freshmen in the position, as I’ve said before, playing young players—especially up front—the more game experience, the more experiences they add to what I call their toolboxes, the better they’ll become and I think we’ll be better served with those two guys because of the amount of games and some of the trials and tribulations as playing as a redshirt freshman last year. I would expect to continue to see both those guys make tremendous improvement.”
2020 signee Johari Branch has been pegged as Sean Christie’s replacement at left guard as Locksley credited the first-year guard, while sophomore Amelio Moran has embraced the culture in College Park. “We also signed a good amount of high school players to develop on the o-line and so, been really pleased obviously with the newcomers, veteran newcomer guys, the Johari Branchs of the world along with Amelio Moran, are two guys of the new ones that have junior college experience that I thought have really did a good job assimilating and buying into the culture that we’ve created and are two really good players.” Maryland signed nine offensive linemen in Locksley’s first two classes as offensive line coach John Reagan develops the next wave of talent, but sophomore interior lineman Evan Gregory has capitalized in camp to add to the unit’s depth.
“I’ve been really pleased with Evan Gregory, who played a little limited role for us last year, has really come on. The addition of the two JuCo guys—Moran and Branch—as well as moving Marcus Minor to the inside and Spencer Anderson’s development. We have a healthy TJ Bradley that gives us a little more depth than what we had last season and what I had called cluster injuries on the o-line, we lost two, three guys in the position group. The goal is to try to keep some guys healthy to keep letting them develop.”