Terps’ young backups learning jobs on the field
Walk-on Davis starting at corner with Jackson out; freshmen gain experience
COLLEGE PARK — RaVon Davis started spring practice at Maryland as a walk-on after spending last season at a junior college in Mississippi, worked his way up to second string, earned a scholarship during preseason camp and found himself starting at cornerback in Saturday’s season opener against Howard.
An undisclosed “academic matter” kept another sophomore transfer, JC Jackson, on the sideline during a 52-13 win at Maryland Stadium and could keep him off the field when the Terps play Florida International in Miami on Friday night.
As of Tuesday, Jackson’s status was unchanged. The likelihood is that Davis, who grew up in Fort Washington, will make his second start, with true freshman Friday, 7:30 p.m. TV: CBS Sports Network Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM Line: Maryland by 101⁄ Tino Ellis, also a backup wide receiver, playing behind him.
Davis “went from a guy that we didn’t even know his name to starting at corner for us,” coach DJ Durkin said. “That tells you a lot about his ability, but more than that, how he’s worked and what he’s done.”
Davis and the others who got their first chance to play college football Saturday — including more than a dozen freshmen — will help give Maryland depth as the season unfolds. It also gave Durkin and his assistants what the new coach called “teachable moments” with his relatively young team.
As well as Davis played in an emergency start, he and some of the other newcomers
also showed their inexperience at times.
The Terps built a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter by scoring seemingly at will, and the defense forced five straight threeand-outs to start the game. But after a 35-0 halftime lead grew to 45-0 early in the fourth quarter, the Terps surrendered two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes. The letdown came against a Football Championship Subdivision team that did not score against two Football Bowl Subdivision opponents a year ago.
“We didn’t finish the way we need to, coasted in there a little bit and didn’t need to do the things we needed to do,” Durkin said during a teleconference Monday with reporters. “We didn’t execute at the same level as we did at the start of the game.”
While acknowledging that the one-sided nature of the game had an effect, Durkin said Howard’s two late touchdowns helped him and his staff convey a message to the reserves, particularly the freshmen, that the Terps can’t afford similar letdowns later in the season.
“We want to make sure we know how to do it right and not ... be up on a team and allow them back in the game,” Durkin said.
Senior cornerback Will Likely said it was exciting to watch some of his younger JC Jackson Against Howard, “we didn’t finish the way we need to,” Maryland coach DJ Durkin said. “We didn’t execute at the same level as we did at the start of the game.” teammates get onto the field.
“They’ve been talking about it all [preseason] camp,” Likely said. “Just seeing the things they were going through, it brings excitement. As senior, because you’ve got depth behind you, guys that are willing to compete, that’s always a good sight to see.”
Durkin said he and his staff spent much of their time with the team Sunday going over the breakdowns.
“You’ve got to learn from these things,”
Big Ten power rankings
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While Durkin would love to see Jackson, who grew up on Florida’s Gulf Coast, on the field in Miami on Friday, the first-year coach knows he might have to adjust to playing another week without him. Durkin said Monday that “several players” are affected by Jackson’s being sidelined.
“RaVon was the one that got the start [against Howard], and I think he did a good job with that,” Durkin said. “That means more reps for him. We’re leaning on Alvin [Hill] a little more. Tino played about 40 snaps in that game and did well with those. He will continue to get more reps, as will Antwaine Richardson.”
Said Likely: “We’re all together, and we know what any person can do. It’s always the ‘next man up’ mentality. [Jackson will] be back soon. You can’t worry about things like that. You can only control what you can control. We’ve got some great depth. We’re not worried.”