2016 Terps Season Preview: Offensive Tackles
When former head coach Randy Edsall first arrived in College Park, the offensive line was one of the program’s biggest weaknesses. However, through some very impressive recruiting both on his part and on the part of new head coach DJ Durkin, the present and the future of the offensive line looks very bright. Last season’s unit was the most talented in Edsall’s tenure, and this year’s offensive line is shaping up to be even better. This article will explore the offensive tackles on the roster for the 2016 season, with future articles tackling the offensive guards and centers.
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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/
Michael Dunn (Redshirt Senior)
2016 Projection: Starter (Left Tackle)
2015 Statistics: 11 games played (11 starts)
Dunn has one of the best stories on Maryland’s roster. He walked onto the team in 2012 and redshirted. In 2013, he impressed the coaching staff so much that he earned the starting right guard job, and due to injuries slid over to right tackle towards the end of the year. In 2014, he started at both left tackle and right tackle. In 2015, he started all but one game at left tackle. Due to an injury late last season, his string of 37 consecutive starts was snapped, but he remains one of the most consistent players on Maryland’s roster.
I have projected Dunn to start at left tackle for the Terrapins in his final season with the program. Having the consistency that he brings at the most important offensive line position will be huge for new offensive coordinator Walt Bell. While he is not the flashiest left tackle around, he is more than capable of handling the outside pass rushers of the Big Ten Conference.
Damian Prince (Redshirt Sophomore)
2016 Projection: Starter (Right Tackle)
2015 Statistics: 10 games played (6 starts)
When Prince committed to Maryland as a part of Edsall’s 2014 recruiting class, it was clear that the “DMV-to-UMD” movement was in full swing. A 5-star recruit out of Bishop McNamara High School, Prince was one of the most talented offensive linemen in the country; and he was headed to College Park to play for the Terrapins. After redshirting his freshman season, he started 6 games last season. That experience should help him mightily heading into his redshirt sophomore year.
I have projected Prince to start at right tackle for the Terrapins this season. He is the most talented offensive lineman on a team with a lot of talented young offensive linemen, and may very well get the opportunity to slide over to left tackle next season. But for now, he will stay on the right side across from Dunn. If Durkin and Bell want to get him on the field at the same time as Derwin Gray, I would expect Prince to be the one to move inside.
Derwin Gray (Redshirt Sophomore)
2016 Projection: Second-Team (Left Tackle)
2015 Statistics: 2 games played (0 starts)
Gray’s arrival to College Park was a bit delayed due to academic issues, but he wound up arriving in the same recruiting class as Prince. A 4-star recruit out of Friendship Collegiate Academy and Fork Union Military Academy, Prince was one of the best offensive linemen in the DMV area. He redshirted his freshman season, and played in 2 games last season. He has had some injury issues during his career so far, which have hindered his ability to get on the field.
I have projected Gray to serve as the primary backup to Dunn at left tackle. There is a chance that Bell will want to get Dunn, Prince, and Gray on the field at the same time, meaning that Prince would likely move inside while Gray slides over to the right side. However, for now I am projecting Gray to stay at left tackle. Next season, he will likely be competing with Prince for the starting job at left tackle, with the loser sliding over to the opposite side.
EJ Donahue (Redshirt Freshman)
2016 Projection: Second-Team (Right Tackle)
2015 Statistics: Redshirted
Donahue came to Maryland last season as one of the best high school offensive linemen in the state out of Linganore High School. He served a redshirt season last year, and is likely a few years away from contributing as a starter. However, he seems primed for a backup position this season, and could see playing time if an injury arises.
I have projected Donahue to serve as Maryland’s primary backup to Prince at right tackle. He is a bit shorter than your prototypical offensive tackle, but is the same height as Prince (6’3″). It would not surprise me to see the coaching staff move Donahue inside in the future. But for now, I see him staying at right tackle.
Brian Plummer (Freshman)
2016 Projection: Redshirt
2015 Statistics (High School): N/A
Plummer was one of the first commits for Edsall in his 2016 recruiting class, and has kept his commitment solid with the new regime. The first thing that stands out about him is his size. He stands a huge 6’7″, and looks every part of a big-time left tackle. He comes to College Park as a 3-star recruit out of South Carroll High School.
I have projected Plummer to redshirt during his true freshman season, though he will probably be the third-string left tackle.
Will McClain (Redshirt Freshman)
2016 Projection: Third-Team (Right Tackle)
2015 Statistics: Redshirted
McClain came to Maryland as a 3-star recruit in Edsall’s 2015 recruiting class, and redshirted his freshman season. He played his high school ball at Middletown High School.
I have projected McClain to serve as the team’s third-string right tackle in 2016.