Terps Football: UMD Lands Jackson and Cross; Depth Chart Preview
Despite National Signing Day happening two weeks ago, Maryland head football coach Michael Locksley wasn’t, and likely still isn’t done putting together his team for the 2019 season. The Terrapins have added three players to their roster since February 6th, including two very high-profile additions. In this article, we’ll take a look at those two key pieces and project a very early depth chart for next year.
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On February 12th, just under a week after National Signing Day, Maryland flipped 4-star safety Nick Cross from Florida State. Cross hails from nearby DeMatha Catholic High School, and was primarily recruited by his old head coach Elijah Brooks, now the Terrapins’ running backs coach. As mentioned in our National Signing Day recap, his father was standing in the way of signing his Letter of Intent (LOI) to play for the Seminoles because he preferred his son to play for Penn State. Locksley and Maryland entered the picture as a home-state compromise for Cross, and he’ll be arriving in College Park this summer.
He immediately became the Terrapins’ top-ranked recruit and catapulted the overall class ranking to #46 in the country. He was the 4th-best safety in the 2019 class, and the best player overall in the state of Maryland. Holding offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Penn State, and countless others, he’ll likely start immediately in Maryland’s secondary.
6 days after Cross flipped, former Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson announced he’ll be transferring to Maryland after completing his degree in the spring. He is a former 3-star recruit from the state of Michigan, and served as the Hokies’ starting quarterback as a redshirt freshman in 2017. He entered 2018 as the starter, but suffered a season-ending ankle injury in late September.
In 2017, Jackson threw for just under 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also ran for over 300 yards and 6 scores. For a program that has struggled to produce a quality quarterback in many years, adding Jackson is a major coup for Locksley and his coaching staff. With competition for the starting job expected to be wide open, expect Jackson to compete primarily with redshirt junior Tyrrell Pigrome and freshman 4-star recruit Lance LeGendre this summer.
The Depth Chart (Offense)
Maryland’s 2019 season-opener against Howard is more than 6 months away, but it’s never too early to start looking at the depth chart. Above is what I’ve projected as the Terrapins’ three-deep on the offensive side of the ball under new offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery. A few notes:
– As mentioned above, I expect all three quarterbacks listed to compete for the starting job. Pigrome likely has a leg up as the only one participating in spring practice, but any of them could potentially open behind center against the Bison on August 31st.
– The Terrapins could use as many as 5 or 6 different running backs this season. Lorenzo Harrison III and Anthony McFarland will likely be the primary ball-carriers, with Javon Leake, Tayon Fleet-Davis, and Jake Funk getting time as well.
– Isaiah Hazel will have every opportunity to compete for a starting job at split end this season, but Jeshaun Jones and DJ Turner will have the first crack at the flanker and slot positions, respectively. Virginia Tech transfer Sean Savoy will get plenty of playing time in the slot as well.
– Maryland is losing 4 of their 5 starting offensive linemen from last season, so the future of this group is a bit unknown. Younger players like Jaelyn Duncan and Evan Gregory will have a chance to compete with guys like Marcus Minor and Tyran Hunt for playing time.
The Depth Chart (Defense)
Above is my projected three-deep depth chart for the Terrapins under new defensive coordinator Jon Hoke. He ran a 4-3 defensive scheme in his last post as a defensive coordinator in 2015, and is expected to run a similar system in College Park. However as is the case with most collegiate (and professional) defenses nowadays, the team will likely base out of their nickel formation. For reference, the JACK position is a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker and the SPUR position is the nickel defensive back. A few notes:
– Both of Maryland’s starting defensive ends from 2018 are gone, so there ought to be plenty of competition for both of those jobs.
– Adam McLean had his best season as a Terrapin in 2018, and his senior season is set to be a big one.
– The addition of Ohio State transfer Keandre Jones is a big one, and he’ll step right into the starting job vacated by Tre Watson.
– The field and nickel cornerback positions will be covered by Tino Ellis and Antoine Brooks, Jr., respectively. There should be some competition for the boundary cornerback spot vacated by Marcus Lewis.
– I expect Cross to step right into the starting strong safety job, with Antwaine Richardson taking the spot across from him.
The Depth Chart (Special Teams)
Above is my projected three-deep depth chart for Maryland under new special teams coordinator John Papuchis. A few notes:
– Joseph Petrino returns as the team’s starting kicker after an excellent freshman season.
– I expect freshman Anthony Pecorella to win the punting competition over Bentley Faulkner after Wade Lees’ departure.
– There will likely be a good bit of competition for the returner jobs.