PFF tabs pair of Terps among top returners in Big Ten

Maryland football welcomes several newcomers this fall that will step into impact roles, but a pair of local linemen were recognized among the best in the Big Ten at their positions.

Former FCS All-American Donnell Brown was rated the second-highest returning edge rusher in the Big Ten by Pro Football Focus.

Brown, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound Riverdale Baptist (MD) product, is expected to play a big role in Maryland’s outside linebacker room with a chance to slide in as the starting SAM this fall as the former St. Francis lineman looks to make an impact. Brown dominated last fall after leading St. Francis with 14.6 tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries and 5.5 sacks en route to being named the NEC Defensive Player of the Year. Brown opted to enter the transfer portal in December with a host of Power Five schools showing immediate interest, but just two days later, Brown announced he was headed to College Park.

“I didn’t want to leave Saint Francis at the time. It was about figuring out what I need to do to get to the next level. They’ve got the resources, the connections. They’ve got everything most Power Fives have to take your game to the NFL,” Brown told IBG. “It was just the time to level up and play better competition. It’s 20 minutes away from my house,” he added.

Brown isn’t the only former PG County product-turned-Terp to be recognized by PFF as offensive guard Corey Bullock was tied for the ninth highest graded returning offensive linemen in the Big Ten. A former two-year starter at North Carolina Central, Bullock entered the transfer portal back in December and initially committed to Cincinnati in mid-January before the staff was able to reverse course, get him on campus for an official to flip his pledge.

Bullock’s decision ultimately gave the Terps a big piece along their new-look offensive line with the senior stepping into a starting spot, likely at right guard, while DJ Glaze and Gottlieb Ayedze take over as the starting left and right tackles. Maryland also added former Elon lineman Michael Purcell this spring, who gives the unit a veteran piece with 21 starts at center to fill the void left by Coltin Deery. Similar to Brown, Bullock’s return to Maryland for the 2023 season gives him a chance to play in front of his family and friends just like his high school days.

“Just my story coming from an HBCU, it feels good. Playing in front of my family. It’s going to be an amazing time this final year. Having everyone come to the game and support me, it’s going to be huge for me,” Bullock said after his decision.

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