Maryland will enter the 2020 season featuring plenty of youth with 50 scholarship underclassmen on the roster. As the Terps look to battle it out and spend the limited time this summer ironing out the kinks ahead of their scheduled September 5 kickoff against Towson, we take a look at the three deepest unit for the Terps this season.
The Terps lose veteran linebacker Isaiah Davis inside, but the return of juniors Ayinde Eley and Chance Campbell make the interior unit the strength of the defense. Senior linebacker Shaq Smith could end up inside as well, giving new inside linebackers coach George Helow a talented rotation. Add in sophomore Fa’Najae Gotay and true freshman Ruben Hyppolite and the interior linebacker core shines bright for the Terps. If Smith were to move to the MIKE, that could open up explosive sophomore linebacker Durell Nchami to get a chance as the JACK linebacker. The added experience that Campbell, Eley and Smith could bring inside will be critical for a Maryland defense that returns just four scholarship seniors.
Maryland will look to battle it out at quarterback heading into fall, but the staff will enjoy a deep receiver unit with slot receiver DJ Turner the lone returning senior in the room. Junior receiver Dontay Demus flashed as an underclassman and was a repeated mismatch in one-on-one coverage downfield and will be leaned on as a junior, while classmates Brian Cobbs, Carlos Carriere and Darryl Jones all played in at least eleven games last season to add key experience heading into year three. The returning upperclassman provide a healthy blend of speed and size at the position, while the return of Jeshaun Jones and eligibility of Virginia Tech transfer Dejuan Ellis gives the staff a chance to utilize more speed. Redshirt freshman Dino Tomlin will look to leave his mark on the field after being named the Terps’ Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year in 2019, while Maryland added more speed to the unit last cycle, headlined by the Signing Day flip of Rakim Jarrett, as he joins Deajaun McDougle and Nick DeGennaro. Maryland’s lone unsigned 2020 commit Corey Dyches is still expected to enroll and should be on campus in late June, giving Maryland a lethal local receiver to add into the mix.
For position coach Joker Phillips, finding reps within the deep unit is a good problem. As Maryland uses the limited time to develop chemistry among the quarterbacks and receivers, the Terps have ammo in the passing game.
Maryland will return veteran safety Antwaine Richardson alongside sophomore standout Nick Cross as the talented duo own the backline. Richardson tore his ACL last spring, opening the door for him to serve as a mentor for the defense while he utilized a medical redshirt. His thirteen career starts makes him the most experienced defensive back in the Terps’ secondary, while Cross left his mark defensively from the beginning of his freshman year. The DeMatha standout finished the year with five career starts as he led the team with two interceptions and five pass breakups. Cross’ efficient first season landed him on the All-Freshman team for Pro Football Focus and figures to be a key piece in 2020. Junior safety Jordan Mosley gives the Terps experienced depth along the backline, though he could fill a void left by Antoine Brooks, while his younger brother will join him in the program. Safety Shane Mosley joins his fellow freshmen teammates Osita Smith, Beau Brade and Glen Miller along the backline.