The 2018 Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year was a consensus All-American a year after being named a first-team All-Big Ten selection. He was named a back-to-back Academic All-Big Ten performer. We spotlighted the fact that his leadership within the program was verified when he became just the second non-senior to be elected captain during the Jim Harbaugh-era. His father, Devin, Sr., was a first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons in the 1995 NFL Draft after starring at Florida State.
The Maryland Terrapins enter the 2018 season looking to become bowl-eligible for the second time under third-year head coach D.J. Durkin. Amid a controversial summer that included the sad circumstances and death of freshman offensive lineman Jordan McNair, Durkin was placed on administrative leave. Highly-regarded assistant coach and offensive coordinator Matt Canada will serve as the team’s interim head coach in Durkin’s absence.
Last season, the Terps finished 4-8 overall and 2-7 in the Big Ten. Maryland has been able to put points on the board under Durkin and with a strong offensive line led by center Brendan Moore (6’3, 302), that should remain the status quo in 2018. Last year, the Terps lost their two top quarterbacks: junior Tyrell Pigrome (5’11, 205) and sophomore Kasim Hill (6’2, 234), to season-ending injuries during the first two weeks of the season. Maryland will have to shore up the quarterback position during summer camp. On defense, Durkin has led top-level units at both Florida and Michigan, but that side of the ball hasn’t enjoyed the same success in Maryland. Senior defensive end Jesse Aniebonam (6’3, 260) suffered a fractured ankle during week one of last season but if he can return healthy in 2018, he could make life a lot easier on the Terps defense.
Troy’s player to watch
6 Ty Johnson 5’10 212 RB-Senior
With D.J. Moore entering the NFL (2018 NFL Draft, 1st Round, 24th overall pick), Ty Johnson will take over as the featured weapon in Canada’s offense. Johnson finished last season with 875 rushing yards and six total touchdowns. The senior running back’s production is a good gauge for the Terrapins offense. In the Terrapins four wins last season, Johnson averaged 9.9 yards per carry. In its eight losses, he averaged just 4.5 yards per carry. Canada has had stops in Wisconsin, Pittsburgh and LSU over the last six years. All of those schools have hung their hats on running the ball, which could lead to increased production for Johnson.
Game of the season
September 15th vs. Temple
Maryland has some marquee matchups on its schedule but the home opener against Temple will be a big one. The Terrapins have to play Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State in conference play, which means racking up wins in the non conference schedule will be key in order to qualify for a bowl game.
DraftNasty’s Prospect Watch
9 Byron Cowart 6’4 293 DL-Junior
Cowart, a former five-star recruit who originally played at Auburn, enters the Terrapins program with a lot to prove. He left the Tigers in the fall of 2017 and enrolled at Hillsborough Community College to ensure he wouldn’t lose a year. The former Florida Class 6A Player of the Year dealt with injuries during his previous stint and never seemed to get into a flow. Technically, he has to play more to his frame when fighting pressure from offensive linemen. On the plus side, he demonstrated enough versatility to play both defensive end and defensive tackle in limited SEC action. When motivated, he has the power and strength to be a block destructor. After doing so, he can re-map his courses and close distances in short areas. His speed/power ratio seems to be a fit for the Big Ten. Will it translate?
Maryland will miss out on a bowl game for the second straight season, according to Draftnasty’s Troy Jefferson. The Terps will fall to Texas in the season opener, Temple, Michigan State and Ohio State at home and on the road to Iowa, Michigan, Indiana and Penn State.