How Revamped Tight End Room Can Mesh Together for Maryland
The tight end room for the Terps will look a bit different in the amended 2020 schedule. Head coach Mike Locksley and position coach Mike Miller reeled in Buffalo tight end Tyler Mabry to complement Chigoziem Okonkwo last year, but Mabry is now on the Seahawks’ practice squad while Okonkwo will not suit up in 2020 for medical reasons.
The change in plans led to a pair of offseason position changes, bringing former defensive end Tyler Baylor and linebacker Kam Blount over to join redshirt freshman Malik Jackson. A room that was once bolstered with experience will now turn to a young group that will benefit from the added reps with the increased role ahead of them. While Maryland has uncertainties at the position for the upcoming season, Baylor, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end out of Good Counsel, could step to fill the void left by Mabry as the high-ceiling prospect works with Miller and the unit ahead of the first game against Northwestern.
The length that Baylor provided out of high school was always evident and the minimal experience with organized football prior to College Park gave the Terps a chance to work with his raw tools, give him time as he puts it all together. The time spent in the strength and conditioning program helped him get there as he saw time in seven games a season ago, but the need on the offensive side of the ball is more glaring and the upside is still there for Baylor. There’s a possibility Baylor could’ve been part of the solution to Maryland’s defensive line in 2020, but there’s a certainty he has a bigger impact and higher ceiling on the offensive side of the ball.
As for redshirt freshman Kam Blount, his experience playing quarterback and tight end already gives him the strong offensive touch as the added size helps as he switches to absorbing tackles from the defense. Blount could be the person the Terps turn to in the passing attack in 2020 in Okonkwo’s absence, while Jackson takes advantage of the redshirt season to push Blount for snaps. The importance of the tight end in Mike Locksley's offense is critical and Okonkwo finishing the 2019 season as the team's second-leading receiver is evident of that.
In a season where depth becomes magnified, the trio could take advantage of the season to find their grooves in an increased role. It takes time to get acclimated to a new position, but 2020 provides exactly that for the Terps. The tight end room has help on the way with a four-man class at the position and with the return of Chigoziem Okonkwo in 2021, but the goal for 2020 is to see the in-season development from week one to week nine. Different position and situation, of course, but the in-season development that left tackle Jaelyn Duncan took from the beginning to end of the 2019 season is the model for the three-man tight end room. Maryland will strive for consistent practice time ahead of their October 24 season-opener against Northwestern and those reps will be put to good use with Mike Miller coaching the group.