Quick Hits: February 26, 2015
Image Credit: Maryland Terrapins
College football is a year-round sport nowadays, and spring football practice for the Maryland Terrapins will begin in just a few days. There are plenty of things to watch for when the Terrapins take the practice field, and we should get a few of our questions about the program answered in the coming months. Recruiting for the 2016 season is in full swing, and the DMV area boasts one of its most talented classes in a long time.
(Discuss this article on the BSL Message Board here.)
New Defensive Coordinator
The Maryland Terrapins made a very surprising move last week, parting ways with defensive coordinator Brian Stewart and naming inside linebackers coach Keith Dudzinski as his replacement. Stewart joined Randy Edsall’s staff in 2012, after Edsall parted ways with Todd Bradford after just one season. Stewart brought NFL experience to the program, having spent 7 years in the league with the Houston Texans, San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys, and Philadelphia Eagles. Just before joining the Terrapins, he served as the defensive coordinator for the Houston Cougars.
Stewart brought the 3-4 defensive scheme back to Maryland, an aggressive system that features versatile linebackers and a run-stopping defensive line. His system also relied on man-coverage from his defensive backs to allow his linebackers to rush the quarterback. His first season with the Terrapins was a success. While the offense struggled to find any sort of rhythm, the defense was solid. With players like A.J. Francis, Darius Kilgo, and Joe Vellano on the defensive line, and Kenneth Tate, Darin Drakeford, Cole Farrand, and Demetrius Hartsfield filling out the front seven, Brian Stewart looked like the defensive coordinator that the Terrapins needed.
However, his defenses struggled a bit over the past two seasons. Injuries played a large part in the decline. Taking the 2014 season for an example, Stewart had to deal with the losses of staters Quinton Jefferson, Cole Farrand, Matt Robinson, Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, and Alvin Hill at different points in the season. Personnel also played a part in the defense’s decline, but I believed that 2015 would be a good year for the defense. The roster boasts some very good young talent, and I thought that Stewart would be able to create a special defense this season. It didn’t take him long to find a new job, as Nebraska hired him as their defensive backs coach this week.
Keith Dudzinski is the team’s new defensive coordinator. He has been the team’s inside linebackers coach since 2011, and was in the running for the defensive coordinator job before Brian Stewart was hired in 2012. He will be moving the team to a 4-3 defensive scheme, which is a bit surprising given how late he took over as the coordinator. However, the team seems confident that the change will be good for the defense’s success.
New Scholarship Offers
The Maryland Terrapins have made some more scholarship offers to some 2016 and 2017 recruits this week. Here they are:
4-star WR Binjimen Victor (Fort Lauderdale, FL) – Class of 2016
3-star RB D’Vaughn Pennamon (Manvel, TX) – Class of 2016
3-star CB Malek Young (Pompano Beach, FL) – Class of 2016
4-star ATH Jordan Anthony (Olney, MD) – Class of 2017
0-star ATH Joshua Paschal (Olney, MD) – Class of 2017
4-star OC Baveon Johnson (Lakeland, FL) – Class of 2016
3-star OG Nik Urban (Willoughby, OH) – Class of 2016
3-star OG Mackenzie Nworah (Manvel, TX) – Class of 2016
3-star OT Brandon Ford (Pittsburgh, PA) – Class of 2016
3-star TE Jacob Mathis (Tampa, FL) – Class of 2016
3-star OT Darius Harper (Springfield, OH) – Class of 2016
3-star OT Luke Fortner (Sylvania, OH) – Class of 2016
3-star SDE Thomas Schaffer (Lake Forest, IL) – Class of 2016
As you can see, the Terrapins are focused on three big out-of-state areas: Florida, Texas, and Ohio. Florida and Texas are great places to recruit athletic players on both sides of the ball, while Ohio is great for recruiting offensive and defensive linemen. Florida and Texas are generally recruited by wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell, who has proven to be a major asset in recruiting. Ohio is generally handled by defensive line coach Chad Wilt, who has strong ties in the area from his time at Bowling Green.