Terps Football: 2018 Positional Preview – Tight Ends
While former offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s offenses were often flashy and focused on spreading the ball around, he never had much use for Maryland’s tight ends. During the two seasons that he was calling plays, tight ends combined for 5 catches (1.3% of the team’s total receptions.) All 5 of those catches came in 2016, with no tight ends touching the ball last season. That’s all set to change under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who not only loves to get tight ends involved in the passing game, but will undoubtedly use a lot more 2- and 3-tight end sets in his offensive scheme.
This article is part of a series previewing the 2018 Maryland football season. You can find my full projected depth chart here.
(Discuss this article on the BSL Message Board here.)
Avery Edwards (Senior)
2018 Projection: Starter
2017 Statistics: None
Maryland fans have been waiting for Edwards to capitalize on his excellent start to his 2015 freshman season, but it simply hasn’t happened yet. Whether due to Bell’s under-utilization of the tight end position or hitting some sort of developmental wall, Edwards has all but disappeared in College Park. But with Canada’s more tight end-focused offensive scheme, he’ll have every chance to put together a solid finish to his Maryland career.
I’ve projected Edwards to be the Terrapins’ starting tight end this season, but he’ll likely be sharing time with some of the other players on the roster. He’s improved his blocking skills over the last few years, and has always had excellent pass-catching ability. If he still has his 2015 game against South Florida bottled (3 catches, 36 yds, 2 TD), this would be the time to break it open.
Chigoziem Okonkwo (Freshman)
2018 Projection: Second-Team
2017 Statistics (High School): N/A
Much like Edwards was when he came to College Park in 2015, Okonkwo comes to Maryland as a pure pass-catching tight end in every sense. He essentially played the role of a wide receiver in high school, and likely won’t be asked to do much blocking in his career. He enrolled early as a freshman, giving him the opportunity to contribute immediately in Canada’s offense.
I’ve projected Okonkwo to be Edwards’ primary backup at tight end this season, but it’s more likely that they wind up splitting time fairly evenly. With all of the team’s youth at the wide receiver position, you can essentially lump Okonkwo in with some of the younger slot receivers. Canada knows how to leverage his players’ skill sets into successful formations and plays, and Okonkwo’s receiving abilities are too good not to take advantage of immediately.
Noah Barnes (Redshirt Sophomore)
2018 Projection: Third-Team
2017 Statistics: None
Barnes came to Maryland as a 3-star recruit from Alabama in 2016, and saw his first game action of his career on special teams last season. Before committing to Maryland, he had been verbally committed to Memphis. He’s another pass-catching tight end on the roster for the Terrapins, and stands a tall 6-foot-4.
I’ve projected Barnes to serve as the team’s third-string tight end this season. However, with virtually all of the tight ends on the roster being unproven and young, there will be plenty of opportunities for him to fight for playing time.
Andrew Park (Redshirt Freshman)
2018 Projection: Fourth-Team
2017 Statistics: Redshirt
Park redshirted last season after coming to College Park as a 3-star recruit from nearby Fairfax Station, VA. He’s the only true blocking tight end on the roster, standing 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 260 lbs. If Canada is looking for an end-line blocker to compliment all of his pass-catchers, Park is likely the first player he’ll turn to.
I’ve projected Park to serve as Maryland’s fourth-string tight end in 2018, but he could very well see time as a blocker in some multiple-tight end formations or even as a fullback.
Zack Roski (Sophomore)
2018 Projection: Fifth-Team
2017 Statistics: Did Not Play
Roski is one of two tall walk-on tight ends that the Terrapins added to their roster this season. He stands 6-foot-7 and hails from Laurel, MD. He led the St. Vincent Palotti High School football team with 6 touchdown receptions in his senior season. It’s unlikely that he sees the field this season, but could become a project with his size.Robert Schwob (Sophomore)
2018 Projection: Sixth-Team
2017 Statistics: Did Not Play
What can Schwob do for you? Standing 6-foot-6, he can probably help your grandmother with that thing on the top shelf she can never reach (how did she get it up there in the first place?). Robert walked on to the Maryland football team this year, and joins Roski in Dave Bucar’s tight end room.
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]