Projecting Maryland football’s week one depth chart vs. Towson: offense

The time has finally arrived for Maryland football where depth charts are a thing of the past, leaving uncertainty as to who will be the starters for Saturday’s season opener against Towson. Maryland, of course, enters the season with little doubt about who leads the way like Taulia Tagovailoa as he prepares for his fourth season as the Terps’ starting quarterback. What about the rest of the roster? And who could emerge from the trenches? We take a stab at projecting the week one depth chart.

Quarterback

Maryland enters the season with an experienced quarterback back for year four in Taulia Tagovailoa, holding program records in every major and single-season passing category. That experience bodes well for a Maryland offense that returns several key skill players as this season, Maryland will look to create more explosive plays through the air and capitalize on the deep ball under first-year OC Josh Gattis.

Billy Edwards Jr. and Cam Edge have been battling for QB2 duties since the spring with both consistently drawing praise from head coach Mike Locksley, while Edwards Jr. enters the season as the likely backup to Taulia where he’s been able to build off his comfort and familiarity within the offensive system. Maryland also returns Jayden Sauray and added Champ Long this summer to round out the unit’s rotation after Long enrolled this summer.

Running Back 

Maryland has been looking for their home run hitter and Roman Hemby proved to be exactly that, standing top six in the conference in both rushing touchdowns and yards per carry. The John Carroll product returns in year two and leads the room where he’ll be asked to be the game-changing back that he flashed in 2022, whether it be out of the backfield or out of the slot.

Antwain Littleton returns as Maryland’s short-yardage back as he’s been able to refine his physique and technique through camp, flashing himself as a receiving back, but don’t sleep on Colby McDonald especially in the redzone. Meanwhile, second-year running back Ramon Brown has bounced back from his lower leg injury that sidelined him for the spring game as he returns to the rotation alongside the vets. Michigan native Nolan Ray also joined the room in June and has been able to flash his top-end speed through camp to give the room a young back to round out the depth.

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Wide Receiver & Tight End

Despite the turnover, there’s been confidence in Maryland’s receiver room since the spring and the vets are a big reason why. Jeshaun Jones was trending back for a sixth season in the weeks leading up to spring ball as the message was clear that as long as he’s in a good situation, there’s no reason to depart from the program. Fast-forward six months and off the field and Jones was an offseason focus for TBIAF while being a leader on the field for the offense. Jones enters the fall as a strong candidate as Maryland’s top wideout, but he’s far from alone with Tyrese Chambers and Kaden Prather joining the room. Chambers’ elusiveness and shiftiness out of the slot give the Terps a reliable wideout, while Prather fills the much-needed void as the big-bodied receiver and is ready to shed the tag that he can shine when the lights are bright.

Maryland could trot out a four wideout look with third-year receiver Tai Felton filling that spot, giving the rotation an experienced wideout with the top-end speed to become a deep threat. The Terps have talent waiting in the wings with Octavian Smith providing the room with an electric option out of the slot, along with Leon Haughton giving the room the big-bodied wideout behind Prather along Shaleak Knotts giving the room depth behind Jeshaun Jones.

Wide receiver will be a position that fans see a long list of players make their first impressions after signing five out of high school one season ago, though it’s the pair of early enrollees in Ryan Manning and Braden Wisloski who’ve been able to take a step ahead as they look to play through a redshirt this fall.

At tight end, Corey Dyches leads the way and he’s out to prove he’s among the best pass-catching tight ends in the country let alone the Big Ten. The biggest question was who the second tight end would be, and now, tight end Preston Howard is in line for that role as the athletic former quarterback has made a smooth transition in his second season. Former four-star Rico Walker will also play a role as the big-framed tight end has been able to build off a strong spring into camp where he’s honing in on consistency with his technique, while Dylan Wade looks smooth and fits the exact profile of the type of tight end Mike Locksley loves at the position. AJ Szymanski also enrolled this summer to round out the room, while third-year tight end Leron Husbands has battled injuries heading into the season.

Offensive Line 

At last, Maryland’s biggest question heading into the 2023 regular season.

Maryland rolled out a first-team unit with (L-R) DJ Glaze, Corey Bullock, Mike Purcell, Amelio Moran and Conor Fagan during the open portion of Tuesday’s practice as veteran OT Gottlieb Ayedze’s status remains unclear.

Second-year OL Ja’Kavion Nonar was working with the second team at left tackle during Tuesday’s practice while Andre Roye has been able to rotate in at right tackle with the 2s in rotations through camp. Roye, a former four-star out of St. Frances (MD), did well reshaping his body through his first season with the program and now, the new-look lean tackle will get a chance to add good weight to his 6-foot-6 frame.

With Aric Harris running with the second-team at center, it’s been redshirt junior Khris Love and freshman Tamarus Walker behind him at center while former LSU guard Marcus Dumervil gives the unit a long-term answer at guard. Dumervil and Kyle Long appear to have emerged as the primary backups at guard, with Long previously in the mix for the starting guard spot back in the spring.

There’s no doubt that Maryland enters the 2023 season with talent at the skill positions as starting Saturday, all eyes will be on the offensive line heading into head coach Mike Locksley’s fifth season.

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