2016 Terps Season Preview: Cornerbacks
The Maryland Terrapins got some big news during the off-season when star cornerback William Likely announced that he would be returning to the team for his senior season. It came as a shock to most people, including many of his teammates. Likely’s return will help to soften the blow of losing starting cornerback Sean Davis to the NFL. The unit as a whole looks a lot better now that he is returning, and boasts some young depth as well. Head coach DJ Durkin has expressed a desire to play a lot of young, aggressive defensive backs, which should open up some opportunities for a few of the freshmen cornerbacks on the roster.
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2016 Terps Season Preview: The Series
Running Backs: http://baltimoresportsandlife.com/2016-season-preview-running-backs/
Wide Receivers: http://baltimoresportsandlife.com/2016-terps-season-preview-wide-receivers/
Tight Ends: http://baltimoresportsandlife.com/2016-terps-season-preview-tight-ends/
Offensive Tackles: http://baltimoresportsandlife.com/2016-terps-season-preview-offensive-tackles
Offensive Guards: http://baltimoresportsandlife.com/2016-terps-season-preview-offensive-guards
Defensive Ends: http://baltimoresportsandlife.com/2016-terps-season-preview-defensive-ends/
Defensive Tackles: http://baltimoresportsandlife.com/2016-terps-season-preview-defensive-tackles/
J.C. Jackson (Redshirt Sophomore)
2016 Projection: Starter (Field)
2015 Statistics (Junior College): 25 tackles (3.0 for loss), 0 interceptions, 2 passes broken up
It was announced last week that Jackson, a former Florida recruit who played his last season at Riverside City College, would be transferring to Maryland. The announcement was a big deal for the Terrapins, who were in need of a compliment to Likely at cornerback. Jackson is eligible to play immediately, and has three years of eligibility left. He was dismissed by the Gators before the 2015 season after being charged with four counts of armed robbery. A few months later however, he was found not guilty on all of those charges and found a new home at Riverside City College.
I have projected Jackson to start across from Likely at the field cornerback spot. He was a 4-star recruit in Florida’s 2014 recruiting class, and was recruited by Durkin to play in Gainesville. He was ranked as the 20th-best player in the state, seen by many at the time to be a future wide receiver. He will provide a perfect compliment to Likely at cornerback, and will allow some of the younger players on the roster to contribute in smaller ways while they continue to learn defensive coordinator Andy Buh’s defensive scheme.
William Likely (Senior)
2016 Projection: Starter (Boundary)
2015 Statistics: 44 tackles (4.0 for loss), 0 interceptions, 11 passes broken up; 11 carries, 93 yards, 0 TD; 5 catches, 17 yards, 0 TD; 35 kickoff returns, 789 yards, 1 TD; 23 punt returns, 419 yards, 2 TD
Likely did it all for the Terrapins in 2015. He was named to the 2015 All-Big Ten team as a defensive back by the conference’s coaches, and won numerous awards for his work as a return specialist. Towards the end of the season, he began seeing some time on the offensive side of the ball, where he racked up over 100 yards of total offense over the course of 6 games. While his season was full of highlights, his performance as a returner in the team’s season opener against Richmond was one that no one will ever forget. In that game, he returned 8 punts for 233 yards and a touchdown. That’s an average of 29.13 yards per punt return. He finished the season averaging a whopping 18.22 yards per punt return.
Likely will start at the boundary cornerback spot for Maryland in 2016. He will also serve as the team’s primary kickoff and punt returner. It’s doubtful that he will see any time on the offensive side of the football this season, but anything is possible. He will be one of the most-watched players in the Big Ten Conference this season, and will surely be talked about by NFL scouts all season long.
Alvin Hill (Redshirt Senior)
2016 Projection: Second-Team (Field)
2015 Statistics: 17 tackles (0.0 for loss), 0 interceptions, 2 passes broken up
After starting the first 4 games of the 2014 season at cornerback, Hill suffered a season-ending injury and took a medical redshirt for that year. However, he lost his starting job to Sean Davis in 2015, seeing time exclusively as a backup. He was set to re-claim his starting job this season until Jackson arrived on campus this week. Hill has been a solid reserve defensive back for the Terrapins throughout his career, and will provide good senior depth at the cornerback position this year.
I have projected Hill to serve as Jackson’s backup at the field cornerback spot for the Terrapins this season. There is a chance that he could challenge Jackson for the starting job at the position, but I would expect Jackson to win that challenge. However, with Durkin and Buh set to use a lot of nickel and dime formations, Hill should get plenty of opportunities for playing time.
Darnell Savage, Jr. (Sophomore)
2016 Projection: Second-Team (Boundary)
2015 Statistics: 12 tackles (0.0 for loss), 0 interceptions, 0 passes broken up
Savage was on the field a lot during his true freshman season in 2015, seeing time in the team’s final 10 games of the year. He made his first career start in the season finale against Rutgers, where he recorded 5 tackles. He came to College Park as a 3-star recruit from the Caravel Academy, where he was ranked as the 2nd-best recruit in the state of Delaware.
I have projected Savage to serve as Likely’s backup at the boundary cornerback spot for Maryland this season. The experience that he gained last season will help him a lot in his sophomore season. However, he will probably be competing with a number of young players for this job.
Antwaine Carter (Redshirt Sophomore)
2016 Projection: Third-Team (Field)
2015 Statistics: 1 tackle (0.0 for loss), 0 interceptions, 0 passes broken up
Carter saw playing time in Maryland’s first 3 games of the 2015 season before suffering a season-ending injury. He was granted a medical redshirt for last year, and enters this season with 3 years of eligibility left. His lone tackle last season came against South Florida. He came to College Park as a 2-star recruit in former head coach Randy Edsall’s 2014 recruiting class from Westlake High School in Waldorf, Maryland.
I have projected Carter to serve as the team’s third-string field cornerback for 2016. He is a bit stuck behind Jackson and Hill at the position, and is probably a year or two away from making regular contributions on defense.
J.T. Ventura (Redshirt Junior)
2016 Projection: Third-Team (Boundary)
2015 Statistics: 2 tackles (0.0 for loss), 0 interceptions, 0 passes broken up
Ventura came to College Park in Edsall’s 2013 recruiting class, and has struggled to get onto the field so far in his career. He saw his first game action last season, spending the final 4 games of the season as a member of the special teams unit. He recorded both of his 2 tackles in the season finale against Rutgers.
I have projected Ventura to serve as Maryland’s third-string boundary cornerback for 2016. However, the end of the cornerback depth chart is very much up for grabs, with plenty of young players trying to win these jobs. Ventura impressed Durkin and Buh enough during the spring that he got a lot of playing time in the Red-White Spring Game, primarily as a nickel cornerback.
Antwaine Richardson (Freshman)
2016 Projection: Fourth-Team (Field)
2015 Statistics (High School): N/A
Richardson was a very late addition to Maryland’s 2016 recruiting class by Durkin, who dipped into the state of Florida to grab quite a few young players. Richardson comes to College Park as a 3-star recruit from Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach. However, he missed his entire senior season due to an injury, likely barring him from a much higher ranking.
I have projected Richardson to serve as Maryland’s fourth-string field cornerback this season. However, he may be able to push Carter for the third-string job. Due to Durkin and Buh’s desire to use a lot of young defensive backs, I wouldn’t expect many of them to serve redshirt years this season.
RaVon Davis (Redshirt Sophomore)
2016 Projection: Fourth-Team (Boundary)
2015 Statistics (Junior College): 19 tackles (0.0 for loss), 1 interception, 5 passes broken up; 3 kickoff returns, 59 yards, 0 TD
Davis comes to College Park from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where he spent the last two seasons. He attended Friendly High School in Fort Washington, Maryland.
I have projected Davis to serve as Maryland’s fourth-string boundary cornerback for 2016, but he could push Ventura for playing time.
Elisha Daniels (Freshman)
2016 Projection: Redshirt (Field)
2015 Statistics (High School): N/A
Daniels and his twin brother Elijah (also pictured above) both committed to Maryland on the same day during the off-season, with Elisha being the cornerback and Elijah being the safety. He comes to College Park as a 3-star recruit from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Davie, Florida.
I have projected Daniels to redshirt during his true freshman season. However, he will be in the mix for some of these open cornerback spots, and could just as easily win one of them and force someone else to redshirt.
Allen Corbin (Freshman)
2016 Projection: Redshirt (Boundary)
2015 Statistics (High School): N/A
Corbin comes to College Park as an unranked recruit from Winters Mill High School in Westminster, Maryland.
I have projected Corbin to redshirt during his true freshman season with the Terrapins.
Zack is a financial analyst for a defense contractor in Washington, DC. The Owings Mills native focuses most of his efforts on Maryland Football recruiting and individual coach and player pieces; but also covers Terps Basketball. He has established relationships with Big Ten beat reporters across the conference, which he utilizes in his game previews. Now a Sr. Terps Analyst for BSL, Zack can be reached at: [email protected]