Entering the 2021 season, Maryland football is looking to build on its success from the abbreviated 2020 season — and the team’s plethora of weapons on the outside should help in that regard.
Despite going just 2-3 last season, Maryland got productive seasons out of its wide receivers, including seniors Dontay Demus Jr. and Brian Cobbs, redshirt junior Jeshaun Jones and sophomore Rakim Jarrett. All four return to this year’s team, and they figure to create matchup problems for opposing defenses.
“I don’t think there’s a team in the country that’s going to be able to match each one of us, so there’s going to be a mismatch somewhere on every play,” Cobbs said on Glenn Clark Radio April 7. “It’s up to us as an offense to identify that and execute it.”
Last season marked quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa’s first time as a collegiate starter. He showed flashes of brilliance but also some decision-making issues, throwing three interceptions each against Northwestern and Indiana.
Tagovailoa finished with 1,011 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions last season, while Cobbs posted 13 receptions for 188 yards and one touchdown. Tagovailoa’s competitive fire and positive mentality not only elevates his game, but also the play of his playmakers around him.
“He has such a big personality … no matter if he’s talking to offensive players or defensive players,” Cobbs said. “He just brings that competitive edge out of everybody, and he just brings a positive nature out of everybody. He really just brings energy up in practice and in games and playing for somebody like that, it’s kind of hard not to be on your ‘A’ game and produce for him when you have a leader pulling us in the right direction and doing what he does.”
Cobbs, Tagovailoa and the rest of the Terps’ offense will be working with a new offensive coordinator in Dan Enos, who will also serve as the quarterbacks coach. Enos was with Michael Locksley at Alabama in 2018. Enos served as the quarterbacks coach, while Locksley was the offensive coordinator.
Enos, who spent last season as the running backs coach at Cincinnati, coached Taulia’s older brother, Tua, during his time at Alabama. Although it’s only two weeks into spring practice, Enos’s teaching ability has stood out to Cobbs.
Enos has extensive coaching experience and familiarity with Locksley’s offensive system and has expanded upon some of the concepts utilized by previous offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery.
“He’s a great teacher. I’d say the way he teaches is probably the biggest thing that stands out to me,” Cobbs said. “There’s not a lot of yelling and stuff like that. It’s really just talking to you and teaching you through the steps of how to do things better and just picking your brain, enhancing your football IQ.”
Maryland fans are hoping the program takes a step forward in Year Three under Locksley. The Terps haven’t finished with a winning record since 2014 and haven’t reached a Bowl Game since 2016, a 36-30 loss to Boston College.
Returning a majority of their offensive production, there’s optimism this could be the season Maryland takes that step forward. Helping turn around the program would mean a lot for Cobbs, who bought into that vision when he committed to the Terps as part of the 2018 recruiting class.
“I’d say going back to my commitment, that was part of the reason I wanted to come here,” Cobbs said. “I wanted to be part of the rebuilding process and be a part of something bigger than myself, so being able to turn this program around and get it to where we know it can be is huge for us.”
One of the major keys to establishing a winning program lies in strong recruiting, specifically having the top players in the DMV area stay home. Maryland’s 2021 recruiting class was ranked 18th overall in the nation and No. 4 in the Big Ten, according to 247Sports.
That haul included three four-star recruits from the DMV: defensive end Demeioun Robinson, defensive tackle Taizse Johnson and defensive tackle Tommy Akingbesote. Jarrett, a consensus five-star recruit in the Class of 2020, is also a prime example of that.
“I think the DMV to UMD kind of movement is a staple because we know that we have great talent in the DMV,” Cobbs said. “If we can keep everybody here and just keep on building what we already have, Maryland will be a powerhouse, no doubt about it.”
For more from Cobbs, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics