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Why Strength and Conditioning for Maryland is Magnified This Fall

The job for director of football strength & conditioning Ryan Davis became even more critical following the Big Ten's decision as Maryland prepares for a spring season.

What Maryland cannot control is the lost fall season following the Big Ten’s decision. While commissioner Kevin Warren and the Big Ten continue to explore all options—including a potential winter season—what the Terps can control is how they take advantage of the added time in the 2020 offseason.

That starts with strength and conditioning.

Head coach Mike Locksley and the Terps hit the reset button following the Big Ten’s decision to postpone fall sports. The Division I Council approved a plan for impacted teams to begin practicing 12 hours a week through October 5, five of which can be spent through contactless drills on the field while the remaining seven can be spent in strength and conditioning work and meetings. 53 of Maryland’s 77 scholarship players on the current roster are underclassmen,

with 53 77 scholarship players, 53 of which are underclassmen on scholarship, that time becomes even more critical.

Led by director of football strength and conditioning Ryan Davis, the strength staff developed a summer workout plan for the team as Locksley and the staff eyed a six-week window “to prepare a player to be ready to play a football game, a least from a physical standpoint” ahead of summer workouts. “It’s a scientific type of window in terms of having spoken to our strength coach, [Ryan Davis], that’s his expertise, along with our trainers and the sports medicine people that know the sports science of it,” Locksley told Glenn Clark Radio back on April 6.

So while the Big Ten continues to iron out logistics of the upcoming season, Maryland has adapted their strength and conditioning plan to extend into winter. For a program that owned the third-lightest offensive line heading into year one under Locksley, that added time this fall through strength and conditioning can help develop a young Maryland roster. The average weight of Maryland’s starting offensive line checked in at 306 pounds, ahead of only Northwestern and Purdue, as they allowed a Big Ten-worst three sacks per game a season ago. Maryland addressed the immediate weight imbalance by turning to the junior college route in the 2020 cycle to add four offensive linemen over 300 pounds—Johari Branch (330), Ja’Khi Green (310), Khris Love (315) and Zach Perkins (319)—but the departure of senior Johnny Jordan coupled with indecision from sophomore Austin Fontaine opens a hole within the starting rotation.

The five hours of practice time per week can help fill the gaps along the starting rotation as the new faces on both sides of the ball have more time to rattle the Terps’ two-deep heading into spring. Practice time aides several position groups, as well, as the quarterback room has a pair of underclassmen who have thrown a combined 15 passes at the college level; Maryland’s tight end room features four scholarship players with two of the four converted defenders while the headliner, Chigoziem Okonkwo, is held out of conditioning due to a medical condition.

The underlying disappointment in no fall season for Big Ten fans still rings true as the first game of the fall season kicks off on September 3 between Central Arkansas and UAB. Where Maryland fans can take solace this fall is the added development time the staff gains with the 30 new players added to the 2020 roster.

"My strength and conditioning coaches are all working on some hypothetical deals,” Locksley told reporters following the Big Ten’s decision. “Our staff has a plan moving forward where we will virtually game plan the season we had already scheduled, so that we're continuing to move forward as a staff and then obviously put our players in the best possible position here over the next few months to be able to play a spring or winter season whenever that is determined.”