Countdown to College Football Kickoff: Top NFL prospects at Maryland

Nov 17, 2018; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins wide receiver Dontay Demus (7) catches a pass in front of Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Kendall Sheffield (8) during the first quarter at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Rang

College football is scheduled to return Saturday, August 29. Each day until then, will be evaluating the rosters of the best teams in college football, including all 64 within the Power Five conferences.

Maryland Terrapins

Head Coach: Mike Locksley (second season)

2019 Record: 3-9

2020 NFL Draft Picks: Anthony McFarland, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers – 4th Round, No. 124 overall

Antoine Brooks, S, Pittsburgh Steelers – 6th Round, No. 198 overall


Like a turtle toppled over onto its shell, the Maryland Terrapins struggled just to get upright throughout much of the 2019 season, losing the final seven games of the season.

The depth of Maryland’s struggle caught some by surprise as their season certainly started off in fine form. The Terrapins embarrassed Howard 79-0 in Week One and jumped back up to the FBS level and week later, posting similarly eye-popping points in a 63-20 thumping of Syracuse – which was ranked 21 in the country at the time.

Unfortunately, the 142 combined points Maryland posted in their final two games was not much less than the 161 points scored in their final 10 games, nine of which were losses.

Maryland’s lone conference win was a 48-7 drubbing of Rutgers but as their best players succumbed to injuries and the big boys in the league popped up on the schedule, the Terps were easily overtaken.

Fortunately, the Terrapins do have some legitimate professional grade talents on the roster to spark improvement. Former Florida State left tackle Jauan Williams was a key addition via the transfer portal, for example. His presence should help the Terps develop a little more consistency in the passing game, where Maryland’s most intriguing pro prospect is hoping to add more finish to his game after flashing as a true sophomore.

Featured 2021 NFL Draft Prospect: Dontay Demus, Jr., WR, 6-3, 200, JR

Losing top backs Anthony McFarland and Javon Leake to the NFL, the Terrapins may need to see significant improvement in the passing game if the team is to right itself in 2020 and improve upon last year’s 3-9 campaign.

Demus, one of just five players to start every game for the Terps a year ago as a true sophomore, was a relative bright spot with the raw talent to project much bigger things in the future.

Demus led Maryland in every meaningful receiving category last year, earning Big Ten Honorable Mention honors from league coaches with 41 receptions for 625 yards and six scores, the most from Terps’ pass-catcher since 2016, when D.J. Moore caught the same number before the Carolina Panthers made him a first round pick.

Like Moore, Demus’ statistics are limited by Maryland’s offense and streaky redshirt senior quarterback, Josh Jackson, a late round prospect, himself. Demus’ traits project well to the next level, however, with a truly breakout 2020 campaign possible.

Strengths: Angular wideout with broad shoulders, long arms and a tapered middle. Slim frame with room to add muscle without a significant loss of speed. Smooth acceleration off the snap to immediately threaten deep, forcing cornerbacks onto their heels. Good build-up speed with a knack for sneaking behind the last layer of defense. Good suddenness at the stem to explode out of his breaks, generating separation with proven breakaway ability.

Generally reliable pass-catcher who looks the ball into his mitts and shows the hand-strength and focus to make tough grabs with defenders bearing down on him. Tracks the ball well over his shoulder, showing the ability to adjust on the fly. Dangerous after the catch. Accelerates quickly and has some shake to him, using sharp cuts and lateral agility to elude defenders in the open field. Good vision to set up blocks and fights through arm tackles, scratching for every yard.

Weaknesses: Mostly a one-trick pony vertical threat at this time, running a limited route-tree in this offense. Uninspiring production to this point in his career… Enters his third year of action with a total of six touchdowns, each of which came last year. Accelerates smoothly but is not truly explosive and tops out relatively quickly, lacking the second gear to pull away from NFL-caliber cornerbacks. Only one career rush (four yards vs. Michigan) and has no experience as a returner. Has been stung by poor quarterback play, developing some bad habits. Some lapses in concentration on tape with drops going across the middle, showing alligator arms on occasion.

NFL Player Comparison: Geronimo Allison, Detroit Lions – Like Demus, the 6-3, 205 pound Allison was left hoping that the flashes he showed on tape were enough to overcome relatively pedestrian statistics in his two seasons at Illinois (106 receptions for 1,480 yards and eight touchdowns total) after signing with the team as a junior college transfer. Though he went undrafted, Allison made the Packers roster and immediately contributed, playing there for four seasons (89 passes on 146 targets for 1,045 yards and 6 touchdowns) before inking a one-year deal this offseason with Detroit.

Current NFL Draft Projection: Third-Fourth Round

The Top 10 NFL Prospects at Maryland:

1. Dontay Demus, Jr., WR, 6-3, 200, JR

2. Jauan Williams, OT, 6-6, 310, 5.20, rSR

3. Johnny Jordan, C, 6-1, 305, 5.20, SR

4. Tayon Fleet-Davis, RB, 5-11, 217, 4.60, SR

5. Chigoziem Okonkwo, FB/TE, 6-2, 245, 4.65, JR

6. Antwaine Richardson, S, 6-0, 195, 4.60, rSR

7. Josh Jackson, QB, 6-1, 218, 4.55, rSR

8. Ayinde Eley, LB, 6-2, 226, 4.75, rJR

9. Shaq Smith, ILB, 6-1, 251, 4.80, rSR

10. Chance Campbell, LB, 6-2, 235, 4.75, JR

*All 40-yard dash times are estimates