While Maryland men’s basketball battles for a Big Ten regular-season title and a top-10 national ranking, the football program has been plugging away as it builds its roster for 2020.
After a 3-9 campaign in 2019 and a season-ending seven-game losing streak, Michael Locksley’s program has seen plenty of additions and subtractions. Sixteen players have either transferred out, declared for the NFL Draft or retired from football. Maryland signed 23 recruits on National Signing Day in December and three more this week. Three different coaching roles have changed hands in some form.
This seems like as good a time as any to break it all down. Here goes nothing.
We wrote Dec. 10 about the early-offseason roster shuffle, in which eight scholarship players left within just a week of the Terps’ final game. The attrition has quietly continued, with six rising seniors leaving the program for various reasons.
Right guard Terrance Davis, who redshirted in what would have been his senior season, entered the transfer portal Dec. 30. Slot receiver Rayshad Lewis announced his intention to leave Jan. 8. Running back Lorenzo Harrison III medically retired from football Jan. 20. Quarterback Max Bortenschlager entered the portal Jan. 27. And tight end Noah Barnes is no longer listed on the roster.
Most recently, and most notably, quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome reportedly put his name in the portal Feb. 4. The rising redshirt senior previously explored transferring last offseason, but remained with the Terps and started three games (and made 11 appearances) in 2019. Much like the rest of his Maryland career, he showed flashes of excellence as a dual threat but not enough consistency. Pigrome still had a chance at the 2020 starting job — his competition would have been redshirt senior Josh Jackson, redshirt sophomore Tyler DeSue and redshirt freshman Lance LeGendre.
THE SIGNING DAY ADDITIONS
The traditional signing day has become the far quieter event since the addition of an early period in December, and Maryland locked in 23 signees Dec. 18. The Terps announced three more additions Feb. 5 — safety Osita Smith (a December commit who’s now official), offensive tackle Amelio Moran and defensive tackle Almosse Titi. Smith was a former four-star recruit who initially signed with West Virginia in 2019. The latter two are JuCo prospects who continue the trend of adding size to the trenches.
Maryland still has two verbal commits in the 2020 class who haven’t yet signed. Wide receiver Corey Dyches and offensive tackle Santana Saunders haven’t wavered on their pledges, but according to InsideMdSports’ Ahmed Ghafir, Dyches “could join the program later this summer contingent on him fulfilling outstanding requirements” and Saunders “remains in limbo and could enroll in January 2021.”
Meanwhile, the Terps’ 2021 recruiting class is already starting to take shape. Maryland has added five commitments since Jan. 26, bringing the class total to eight. The headliners are a pair of St. John’s prospects — four-star defensive tackle Taisze Johnson and three-star 265-pound running back (!) Antwain Littleton. The new local additions also include St. Frances three-star defensive end ZionAngelo Shockley and unrated tight end Joseph Bearns. The full list is here, and expect it to grow as the cycle heats up in earnest this spring.
THE ROSTER UPDATES
Maryland updated its online roster last week to include the 11 early enrollees, all of whom already have jersey numbers.
The updated roster also included wide receiver Carlos Carriere, who had been removed earlier in the offseason (but never publicly announced transfer intentions).
By my calculations, this leaves the Terps with 54 returning scholarship players for the 2020 roster. Add that to 26 signees and two unsigned commits (assuming both can enroll), and Maryland is looking at three open spots for transfers. It’s common to add more and get back down to 85 scholarships in the summer; that’s what happened last season.
Expect the Terps to chase a quarterback with one of those spots, as they’re down to three on the roster. The only other position that wasn’t part of their 2020 recruiting class was tight end (just two scholarship players there), and while the running back room added two recruits, the only backs returning are Tayon Fleet-Davis and Jake Funk.
At the moment, there aren’t many names floating around publicly. Most of the higher-profile quarterback grad transfers have joined their new teams for the spring semester, and the options at those other positions aren’t as plentiful. But Locksley’s history suggests he likely has something up his sleeve.
THE COACHING SHUFFLE
The first offseason after an entirely new staff comes in is usually quiet, but there have still been a couple changes for the Terps. Special teams coordinator and inside linebackers coach John Papuchis was hired to the same position at Florida State, and Maryland replaced him in January with an up-and-coming name in George Helow. Prior to spending the last four seasons at Colorado State (he coached safeties in 2018 and 2019), Helow held off-field roles at Florida State, Alabama and Georgia.
Maryland also announced a shake-up to the defensive coaching staff Wednesday. Brawley Evans, who’s been an analyst with the program for the last four seasons — one of the only holdovers from the DJ Durkin era — has been promoted to an on-field role as outside linebackers coach. Brian Williams, who held that position last season, now coaches the defensive line. Delbert Cowsette, meanwhile, is no longer with the program after coaching defensive linemen for one season.
“We’re extremely excited to promote Brawley to an on-field coaching role,” Locksley said in a press release. “He’s been a key part of the Terps staff the past four years and has earned this opportunity. Brawley has exceptional relationships with our current players and is extremely well respected in the DMV area. I’m really pleased with our coaching staff heading into the 2020 season.”
It’s been a busy offseason, and the Terps aren’t done adding pieces. But following a 3-9 campaign with all this turnover, Maryland still has a long way to go.
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