Terps Football: 2017 Season Preview – The Tight Ends
The tight end position was not one of much focus for offensive coordinator Walt Bell last season, as the players on the roster at this position combined for just 5 catches all year long. While it likely won’t be a large focus this season either, the Terrapins are building up the back of the position’s depth chart with some talented players who could change how Bell uses the position moving forward.
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Derrick Hayward (Redshirt Senior)
2017 Projection: Starter
2016 Statistics: 4 catches, 17 yds, 1 TD
Hayward’s transition from linebacker to tight end has been very impressive to watch. While he isn’t much more than a blocker, it’s a job that he does extremely well. Whether he’s lined up on the line, in the wing, or in the slot, he has become an excellent lead blocker for Maryland’s running game and has helped the offensive line in pass protection as well.
I have projected Hayward to start in his final season with the Terrapins, though he will be spelled occasionally by Edwards. He has tremendous value to this offense as a blocker, and with the number of talented wideouts on the roster, they don’t need him to be much more than that.
Avery Edwards (Junior)
2017 Projection: Second-Team
2016 Statistics: 1 catch, 23 yds, 0 TD
After a breakout start to his 2015 freshman season, Edwards has essentially dropped off the map for Maryland’s offense. His two-touchdown performance against South Florida is a distant memory now, as he recorded just one catch last season. His value is purely as a pass-catcher, with his blocking abilities leaving a lot to be desired.
I have projected Edwards to serve as Hayward’s primary backup this season. He will likely see action in every game, and it’ll be interesting to see if Bell tries to get him more involved in the passing game or not. This will likely be his job to lose next season when Hayward has graduated.
Noah Barnes (Redshirt Freshman)
2017 Projection: Third-Team
2016 Statistics: Did Not Play
Barnes came to College Park last season after he flipped his commitment from Memphis. He’s a talented pass-catcher from the state of Alabama, and certainly has a chance to compete for the backup job with Edwards this season. Much like Edwards, he will need to continue to get stronger and improve his blocking.
I have projected Barnes to serve as the third-string tight end this season. He will be given the chance to compete for the backup job this season, and will be in the mix for the starting job next year.
Kevin Woodeshick (Junior)
2017 Projection: Fourth-Team
2016 Statistics: Did Not Play
Woodeshick is primarily a depth and practice squad player, who didn’t see any game action last season.
I have projected Woodeshick to serve as the team’s fourth-string tight end this season. Barring major injuries, I would not expect him to see game action again in 2017.
Andrew Park (Freshman)
2017 Projection: Redshirt
2016 Statistics (High School): 21 catches, 343 yds, 1 TD
Park is the lone tight end in Maryland’s 2017 recruiting class. He is a 3-star recruit from Burke, VA and chose Maryland over offers from Miami (Ohio), Pittsburgh, and Temple, among others. He is another talented pass-catcher who will need to work on building strength and blocking.
I have projected Park to redshirt this season before competing for the starting job with Edwards and Barnes next season. However, if he has a strong fall camp and impresses the coaches enough, he could move into the backup role as a true freshman.