Five Players Most Likely to Burn Their Redshirt

Maryland returns the most production of any Big Ten team this fall, a big reason why expectations are elevated for year four under head coach Mike Locksley. While fall camp served as a chance for the staff to solidify their starters and iron out the depth, Locksley has proven the young playmakers find their way onto the field as the staff continues to make a conscious effort to provide experience to the future of the team.

“For me, it’s about contributors, guys that contribute every single game, in different forms of fashion, whether it’s special teams or whether it’s on offense or defense and the meaningful reps they’re able to take,” Locksley said following the second scrimmage on Saturday. “The returning starters is a big deal for us because those guys have a lot of experience and have contributed the last three years quite a bit, but what we’ve gotta do now is we’ve got these really young, talented players that don’t have a lot of experience. So what you’re gonna see us continue to do is play a lot of players throughout the course of our season because we’re gonna need those guys to grow up fast. And as we know, it’s a long year, injuries are part of the game and we’ve seen how that has affected us in the past.”

So which five players are currently most likely to play through their redshirt this season? We take a deeper look.

LB Jaishawn Barham

It’s been tough hearing who the standouts are on Maryland’s roster without having Barham’s name come up. It’s been that way since he enrolled in January and after having very high praise from the coaching staff throughout spring and fall camp so far, it is very likely Barham the former four-star recruit will get lots of playing time this season as an inside linebacker. Barham, a 6-3, 230-pound linebacker, was a signing day flip coming out of St. Frances for head coach Mike Locksley. Linebacker was an important position in the 2021 recruiting cycle with many players graduating and moving on to the next level in the next year as well as the transfers the Terps lost after last season. Barham was the top signee from the linebacker position of the 2021 class for the Terps. Even with Gereme Spraggins, Ruben Hyppolite and Fa’Najae Gotay, keeping Barham off the field may be tough with him considered as one of the best players on the Terps’ defense. This comes less than one week after Barham was named a freshman All-American by two outlets.

LB Caleb Wheatland

The 6-foot-2, 220 pound linebacker out of Chantilly, Virginia was under-recruited out of high school and was a fringe top-1000 prospect by 247Sports, but he’s a byproduct of rankings not mattering once a kid enrolls. Wheatland will be another freshman linebacker to look out for this upcoming season. While Barham is more of a hybrid linebacker, Wheatland will spend most of his time, if not all of it, at the inside linebacker position for the Terps. The former three-star recruit has taken great strides in his progression since arriving on campus in January with his nose for the ball and quick pursuit to diagnose plays, especially against the run. Even with veterans in the room, Wheatland gives the inside linebacker room a quality young piece as Maryland’s front seven will be under the microscope this fall.

WR Octavian Smith

The former four-star athlete out of Paint Branch, Smith has been getting a lot of attention from the staff since arriving on campus. Smith has been getting more and more reps during fall camp practices as well as returning kicks. After committing, many wondered whether Smith was going to play cornerback or wide receiver for the Terps but so far the decision to be a wide receiver has paid off for the local freshman. With his speed and soft hands, Smith has the ability to take the top off a defense out of the slot position. Smith was also a track star in high school at Paint Branch high school which has helped him be the speedy player he has become on the football field. Even with the embarrassment of riches the Terps have at wide receiver, it’s been Smith who has emerged from the freshmen class and you can expect Smith to be on the field a lot this upcoming fall after showing out at practices in fall camp. 

RB Ramon Brown

Up until the day before signing day, Brown was a Virginia Tech verbal commit. But after the coaching change in Blacksburg, head coach Mike Locksley and running backs coach Elijah Brooks worked their magic and got the former four-star running back out of Manchester high school in Virginia to flip to Maryland after a late visit in December. With such a young group of running backs and senior Challen Faamatau being out an extended period of time, Brown could receive plenty of snaps in the new running back by committee approach the Terps will be taking this season. Each of the young running backs has their own special aspect of the game that they bring to the offense. Antwain Littleton has the power, Roman Hemby has the speed, and Colby McDonald, as well as Brown, are both just all-around types of backs with a combination of both. His blend of speed and power despite being only a freshman gives the room a complementary back that can bolster the run game.

CB Lionell Whitaker

Whitaker, the 6-0 170-pound defensive back out of Florida, arrived in June and has shown off in instincts through his first fall camp. With the lack of depth at the cornerback position, the former three-star has a high chance of getting lots of playing time as a depth piece for the defensive back room. Whitaker had five interceptions as a senior last year for James Rickards high school, showing his ball-hawking ability that the Terps staff love. After Tarheeb Still, Jakorian Bennett, and Deonte Banks, there are not many returning snaps at the cornerback position. So with Whitaker drawing praise in fall camp and the lack of experienced depth at corner, Whitaker could get many chances to show he belongs on the field.

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Maryland opens up the season next Saturday against Buffalo.

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