Maryland Football Freshmen Tracker: Pair of Defenders Make First Career Starts

Maryland signed 21 players in its 2022 recruiting class and the bulk of the freshmen have already seen the field heading into conference play.

Linebacker Jaishawn Barham is one of two freshmen to start this season, rolling out with the first unit in his first three career games. The former blue-chip prospect out of St. Frances finished with 12 tackles against SMU, the most by a true freshman since D’Qwell Jackson posted 12 tackles against Notre Dame back in 2002. He enters conference play second on the team with 16 tackles while adding a sack and pass breakup. Cornerback Gavin Gibson also drew his first career start in his third appearance when the secondary adjusted to Tarheeb Still’s injury. Gibson, also an early enrollee like Barham, registered his first career pass breakup one week after racking up four tackles and his first career TFL at Charlotte. Head coach Mike Locksley spoke glowingly about Barham on Tuesday.

“Minus the 15-yard penalty where I had to bench him for pretty much the whole second half, I thought he’s played really, really well. And again, not to knock him for the penalty because he’s a young player. As I’ve said, a lot like young kids in today’s society, he made a mistake there but his play as a football player? Big sack early in the game, has played a lot of snaps for a true freshman, has a kind of veteran feel for the game. That interception that Beau Brade got, he was the guy that got underneath it and got the ball tipped. So I’m really pleased with his football production.”

Running back Ramon Brown, wide receiver Octavian Smith, linebacker Caleb Wheatland and linebacker Kellan Wyatt have also all played in the first three games thus far and have established themselves in the rotation. Brown, a former four-star out of Manchester (VA), is the fourth back in a young backfield and has registered 53 all-purpose yards on 14 touches. Octavian Smith is one of two receivers with three catches this season and posted a 41-yard kickoff return in the week one win over Buffalo. The former Montgomery County star has dazzled with his quickness and though he was discussed as a possible position switch, Smith has flashed his potential after just months with the program. Wheatland has been part of Maryland’s heavy linebacker rotations thus far and is up to five tackles, just like Kellan Wyatt who posted a tackle for loss in week one.

Receiver Leon Haughton, cornerback Lionell Whitaker, center Coltin Deery and left tackle Andre Roye played in the first two games but did not participate in the week three win over SMU. Haughton reeled in a 25-yard catch in week two while Whitaker recorded his first pass breakup in his first career game. Although he enrolled in June, Deery is already running as the second-string center behind Johari Branch and is the future anchor of the Maryland offensive line. The same can be said for Roye, who did well retrimming his body ahead of enrolling and is the current backup left tackle. Knotts, a former four-star prospect out of North Carolina, has battled back from a hand injury and has one catch on the season.

Perry Fisher, who signed as a wide receiver, flipped sides of the ball shortly after enrolling and made his debut against Buffalo. The lone freshmen to not see game time this season are tight end Preston Howard, Daniel Owens, safety Lavain Scruggs, offensive tackles Ja’Kavion Nonar and Keon Kindred and quarterbacks Cam Edge and Jayden Sauray.

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