Posted: 12:00 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013
By Pete Volk
Stefon Diggs, C.J. Brown, Dexter McDougle - these are all familiar faces to Terrapin fans. While the more casual fans may not know guys like Quinton Jefferson and Nigel King, they have seen playing time with the Terps before so are at least somewhat of a known quantity.
There is, however, a large group of newcomers ready to burst into the program and onto the field. Between transfers, previous redshirts, and true freshman, there is a healthy group of new faces hoping to make an impact straight away in College Park.
The obvious standout of the transfer class is Deon Long, who comes by way of Iowa Western College. A former four-star recruit who committed to West Virginia, Long was a five-star JuCo prospect who broke junior college records last year on his way to a national championship. Long is the starter at the X receiving position - one of two outside spots. He is expected to be C.J. Brown's second primary target after Stefon Diggs, and brings a ton of size and speed to the table.
Staying on offense, there are two second-teamers who could see playing time - left guard Silvano Altamirano and quarterback Ricardo Young. Altamirano, the primary back-up at left guard, comes from San Diego Mesa College and is a big, mean lineman who should help with Maryland's O-Line depth problem. Young is a former local star who originally committed to Virginia Tech before transferring to New Mexico and ending up as a Terp. He is still competing with Caleb Rowe for the back-up starter, but will likely not see the field without an injury to starter Brown.
On the defensive end of things, three reserves should see a lot of field time. Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil, a transfer from Seton Hill, is the reserve at WILL linebacker behind redshirt senior Marcus Whitfield. Cudjoe-Virgil has impressed in camp, and wowed spectators with a four-sack performance in Maryland's preseason scrimmage. Another New Mexico transfer/local boy, Zach Dancel, is Anthony Nixon's back-up at one of the two safety positions. A former star quarterback at Good Counsel, Dancel had a strong spring game but has been hurt throughout fall camp. Once healthy, he is expected to be one of the top reserve defensive backs on the team. Zeke Riser is a transfer from defensive coordinator Brian Stewart's old program, Houston, and could see some time in his familiar system at the defensive end position.
Moving on to the redshirts, there is only one - a surprise - on top of the Maryland depth chart. Walk-on Michael Dunn, originally listed as a tackle, will start at right guard in favor of Andrew Zeller, it was announced yesterday. Dunn was a second-team all-county lineman at local Whitman High School.
Another redshirt freshman that could start is fullback Kenneth Goins Jr., who was taking first team reps before the injury to expected starter Tyler Cierski. Goins went to Gilman in Baltimore, where he played running back but really starred as a linebacker, being named the All-Met Defensive Player of the Year. Maryland's offense doesn't call for much fullback work outside of the goal line, but Goins may very well be the guy over Cierski.
An additional redshirt who should figure in with the first team regularly will be Amba Etta, a receiver from Georgia who was taking first-team reps in place of Deon Long until his own injury this week. Etta is one of the fastest players on the team and has considerable length. While he needs to work on his route running, he's a real deep threat that should be utilized in key situations down the stretch. He will likely be the fourth receiver for the Terps this year.
On the defensive end of things, defensive end Roman Braglio is in competition with Andre Monroe to be the first lineman off the bench. From Owings Mill, Braglio had 18 sacks in his senior year at McDonogh, and will be seeing significant time whether he wins the battle against Monroe or not.
Two on offense should see some time on the field - tight end P.J. Gallo, and running back Joe Riddle. Gallo, a Pennsylvania native, will be Maryland's second tight end this year. Maryland's system does not often utilize a second tight end, but Gallo should get some targets this year and will be auditioning for the starting spot next season. Riddle was a star in Frederick, and is one of four running backs who will probably see playing time - for him, it will likely be on third downs (unless another freshman, who we'll talk about later, takes his place).
On Media Day, Randy Edsall estimated that ten true freshmen would find their way onto the field this season. Right now, we can see nine possibly playing - Jacquille Veii, DeAndre Lane, Taivon Jacobs, Kingsley Opara, Cavon Walker, Yannick Ngakoue, Jarrett Ross, Will Likely and Adam Greene.
Veii is from Gaithersburg and went to The Avalon School, and was originally recruited as a cornerback before moving to running back. He has been the most impressive player at the position in camp by far, and has perhaps been the most impressive player in camp in general. He's a shifty, speedy back who provides a nice balance to the styles of the two starters - Brandon Ross and Albert Reid.
Sticking on offense, freshman receivers DeAndre Lane and Taivon Jacobs could also see some play. Lane is a former running back who was moved to the slot, and who will probably be Stefon Diggs's primary back-up at the position this season (with Levern Jacobs moving to the outside). Levern's brother, Taivon, is a speedy former Ohio State commit who has been hurt during camp this year, but once he recovers could be a real deep threat if they decide to use him.
In the front seven, Kingsley Opara, Cavon Walker, and Yannick Ngakoue are the most likely freshmen to see time. Opara is a highly touted defensive lineman from Florida who switched from nose tackle to end at the start of camp, and he will likely compete with Riser for playing time. Walker and Ngakoue were high school teammates at Friendship Collegiate Academy in D.C. (along with inside linebacker Jermaine Carter, Jr.), and could both see time in the linebacking corps. Walker is absolutely huge, and could be a force off the edge at the SAM position (and is the current favorite to take over once Matt Robinson and Alex Twine graduate). Ngakoue is Maryland's highest touted recruit of the class, and could possibly compete for Marcus Whitfield's starting job at WILL.
In the secondary, two cornerbacks could join the rotation - Will Likely and Jarrett Ross. Likely is almost a lock - he and Veii have been the two breakaway stars of camp, and his playmaking ability is sensational (especially considering his small stature). Ross, the younger brother of running back Brandon, has been very solid in camp as well and could push for playing time, especially if injuries occur.
Walk-on kicker Adam Greene is another true freshman that could see the field - Brad Craddock has been anything but consistent in his time with Maryland, and Greene has shown an impressive leg in practice. Craddock is the starter, but seeing Greene line up would certainly not be out of the realm of possibility.