Terps un­de­terred by lack of depth en­ter­ing spring drills

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY PA­TRICK STEVENS

A dozen play­ers with el­i­gi­bil­ity re­main­ing left Mary­land’s foot­ball pro­gram since the end of a mis­er­able 2-10 sea­son in coach Randy Ed­sall’s de­but.

All three co­or­di­na­tors have changed, with of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor hires from out­side the pro­gram.

Put it all to­gether, and things are dif­fer­ent in Col­lege Park with spring prac­tice start­ing Satur­day.

“The one thing that is good about it is you will get your reps,” de­fen­sive line­man Joe Vel­lano said. “There’s no ques­tion about that. You’ll be able to rep it out.”

The most no­tice­able changes ex­ist on of­fense, where three starters (quar­ter­back Danny O’brien and tack­les R.J. Dill and Max Gar­cia) opted to trans­fer. The only re­main­ing schol­ar­ship quar­ter­back is ju­nior C.J. Brown, who will run new of-

fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Lock­sley’s pro-style of­fense.

The Terps also will ac­cli­mate a five­man group of of­fen­sive line­men who red­shirted a year ago. Some could eas­ily be needed in the fall af­ter the depar­tures of Dill and Gar­cia.

Mary­land also re­vamped its de­fense, hir­ing Brian Ste­wart to in­stall a 3-4 sys­tem. The Terps lost part-time starters at de­fen­sive end (David Mack­all), safety (Ti­tus Till) and line­backer (Mario Row­son) on de­fense.

Un­der­class­men who left the pro­gram early ac­counted for a com­bined 48 starts a year ago.

“It’s al­ways dis­ap­point­ing when peo­ple de­cide to move on,” Ed­sall said. “We want all the play­ers to grad­u­ate from Mary­land and get their de­grees. Just like in real life, when there’s change there’s al­ways go­ing to be things that take place that you can’t con­trol. It’s not go­ing to af­fect us at all in terms of the spring.”

Nonethe­less, Mary­land’s of­fense won’t be blessed with many op­tions un­til its fresh­man class ar­rives in the sum­mer. Thanks to in­juries, five of the Terps’ 12 po­si­tions on the of­fen­sive depth chart (three wide­outs are listed) fea­ture a walk-on as a sec­ond-string op­tion.

There is more im­me­di­ate depth on de­fense, where 15 play­ers who started at least one game will be back. Even there, though, op­tions are miss­ing af­ter the at­tri­tion of the past few months.

“It’s an ad­just­ment we have to make,” line­backer Demetrius Harts­field said. “It’s kind of some­thing you don’t harp on. You just move on from. I wish the other guys the best. Ev­ery­one had their own rea­son for leav­ing.”

Mov­ing on be­gins Satur­day, when Mary­land will squeeze the first of three prac­tices in be­fore spring break. The Terps will then take a week off be­fore work­ing over the fol­low­ing four weeks to lead up to the April 21 spring game.

With an in­flux of new coaches, an ex­o­dus of play­ers and plenty to im­prove upon, it could be a cru­cial spring for both Ed­sall and the pro­gram. The lack of num­bers could hurt, though the Terps in­sisted their pri­or­i­ties re­main the same.

“It’s go­ing to have some im­pact not hav­ing, what, 85 guys?” tight end Matt Fursten­burg said. “I think we’re han­dling it per­fect, and I know coach Ed­sall is go­ing to make ac­com­mo­da­tions to our depth. We’re just push­ing for­ward and we have the same goal and that can’t change any­thing from if peo­ple stayed or left.”

NOTES: Wide re­ceiver Tyrek Cheese­boro (knee), de­fen­sive back Mak­in­ton Dor­leant (knee), kicker Nick Fer­rara (hip), line­backer Kenny Tate (knee) and of­fen­sive line­man Peter White (shoul­der) will miss the spring.

Ed­sall said he an­tic­i­pates wide re­ceiver Kevin Dorsey, who is not listed on the pre-spring depth chart, will re­turn af­ter spring break.


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