Head Coach: Mike Locksley
2018 Record: 5-7, 3-6 Conference
Season Win Prop: 4 wins (O -130, U EVEN)
Make 4 Team Playoff: +30000
Jordan McNair’s death during a team workout put a dark cloud over 2018 Maryland Terrapin football that never really lifted. It led to the dismissal of third-year coach DJ Durkin. Replacing him this season is Mike Locksley. The Terrapins are hoping this restores some faith and hope into the program, following the investigation of its medical practices and much more.
Locksley brings a lot to the program, but a winning record certainly is not among those things: He is 3-31 as a head coach. Even so, he has managed to assemble a strong coaching staff, brought in a strong recruiting class, and instilled some optimism into a program badly needing it.
The Terrapins have done a good job of recruiting the local talent in its region. It is a recruiting class that is both local and loaded with offensive talent at the skill positions. Locksley did well.
Anthony McFarland Jr. returns at running back for his junior season after having rushed for a school-record 1,034 yards last season along with a 7.9 yard-per-carry average. McFarland had back-to-back 200-yard rushing games against the Ohio State Buckeyes and Indiana Hoosiers. The offense averaged 230.2 rushing yards per game, which ranked No. 17 nationally. The new staff will look to mix in more passing plays this season, but the Terrapins are so strong on the ground that this cannot be done “overboard.”
The quarterback position will have a new face in Virginia Tech transfer Josh Jackson, who enrolled this summer. He is a strong QB and a better option than Tyrell Pigrome, despite Pigrome’s strong spring before the arrival of Jackson. Jackson started twice for Virginia Tech, and he set a freshman passing record with nearly 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2017. He started three games last year before sustaining a season-ending injury, and over his NCAA career, he has an 11-5 record as a starter with a 59.9 percent completion ratio. He has totaled 25 TDs and 10 INTs.
Jackson’s top targets include Jeshaun Jones, Dontay Demus, and DJ Turner. Tyler Mabry comes in to start at TE after transferring from Buffalo. Locksley leans towards two-TE sets, and the other tight end will be hybrid Chigoziem Okonkwo. Both will see plenty of throws.
Lorenzo Harrison, Javon Leake, and Tayon Fleet-Davis make up the bulk of the backfield talent. Terrance Davis and Sean Christie both return up front to block for that talented trio, and redshirt freshman tackle Jaelyn Duncan will be important in this group.
Maryland’s defense is where some of the problems begin. It returns only four starters from a poor unit last year that surrendered 390.4 yards-per-game and allowed 28.7 points per contest. Injuries only made an already mediocre unit worse in 2018.
Jordan Mosley moved to strong safety after starting at linebacker. He switched positions due to Antwaine Richardson’s season-ending knee injury. Now he moves again to free safety. That should help the secondary, but redshirt freshman Raymond Boone and four-star prospect Nick Cross are both in the mix, too. All-Big Ten nickel back Antoine Brooks Jr. led the team wit h9.5 tackles for loss last season and is another linebacker to star in Maryland’s 3-4 formation.
CB Tino Ellis was No. 6 in the Big Ten in passes defended and is a source of strength for the secondary, which also features senior Marcus Lewis at the other corner. OSU transfer Keandre Jones should be a tremendous help at linebacker, but the front seven is on the small side and short on experience. Adam McLean is decent at nose guard, and Keiron Howard backs him up—but the rest of it lacks depth and Maryland will probably try shuffling guys around in hopes of finding something that works.
Joseph Petrino was 12 of 14 on field goals attempts as a freshman, and he knocked down his first 11. Wade Lees transferred out as punter, which leaves a roster hole that needs to be addressed. Leake and Jeshaun Jones will be strong kick and punt returners, respectively.
Locksley seems to be the right guy for the head coaching job, and this season cannot really be worse than last year’s considering the tragedy it started with. The defense is pretty weak, though, especially up front and at linebacker—which is not a good basis to start from. Locksley should help turn this program around, but do not expect it to happen in Year 1. His recruiting will play a role as time goes on.
Prediction: 5 wins (over)