VIP: QB Plans, OL Pursuit, Offseason Checklist

Maryland football wrapped up the 2022 season on Friday afternoon with a 16-12 win over NC State in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, marking the first eight-win season for the program in twelve years. Head coach Mike Locksley will look to carry the on-field progress into the offseason as he looks for his third consecutive bowl game in 2023, but to get there, he and the staff will need to answer some questions first as we delve into where things stand.

-Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa will now enter decision mode to resolve undoubtedly the biggest question mark surrounding Maryland football this offseason. This situation has been brewing since around the Ohio State game with uncertainty around his plans and the transfer portal has come up as a realistic option over the last few weeks. Roughly a month ago, one contact told IBG it was a matter of “when not if” Taulia would depart from the program. Inside the building, there have been minimal open discussions about recruiting other potential quarterback options in hopes of stabilizing Taulia’s situation as much as possible. While Tagovailoa and his family have a strong rapport with head coach Mike Locksley and offensive coordinator Dan Enos, Maryland has question marks to answer such as the supporting cast and protection for Taulia next season in order to solidify a return. With uncertainty surrounding his future, Maryland has worked on filling those needs to motivate a return while NIL is being leveraged as the cherry on top to lock down the position for 2023. While the relationships are in tact, Taulia’s camp isn’t letting emotion be the primary factor as they closely analyze their options, so Maryland will need to present concrete proof that the roster will allow Taulia to flourish yet again in Maryland’s offense. His decision isn’t expected to drag on much longer with the transfer window closing in two weeks.

-Taulia’s decision is tied to veteran WR Jeshaun Jones, who remains a candidate to lead the WR room in 2023. Initially, Jones was expected to move on until about two weeks ago when the tone shifted back. Heading into the weekend, Jones is a true toss-up to stay or go with Taulia’s ultimate decision influencing him. Should Taulia return, Maryland also remains the expected landing spot for WVU WR Kaden Prather who has kept his recruitment slightly open since his official visit. Penn State has gradually faded from Prather’s pursuit. On the defensive side of the ball, the expectation remains that DL Mosiah Nasili-Kite returns to anchor the defensive line in 2023.

-While Maryland will look to replenish the offensive line next year, the search for an impact tackle remains while the staff is linked to a number of portal guards. Jackson State guard Willis Patrick will officially visit Maryland next month while the staff has been linked to UF guard Ethan White and Baylor guard Micah Mazzccua, but optimism has faded for Mazzccua. Maryland has been in contact with Stanford Walter Rouse, though an official visit had not been scheduled as of Friday. Rouse will look to finalize his visit plans through the weekend, so Maryland will find out definitively where they stand in the next few days.

-There have been concerns about the 2023 plans for Brian Williams with buzz around Florida State and Georgia making a run while public speculation linked the first-year defensive coordinator to Arkansas, but a source told IBG this week that Williams is likely to return to College Park for a fifth season as Locksley works to retain him. Williams joined the program as an OLB coach and gradually ascended through the program through the years, both on and off the field, and has been able to win over the defensive side of the ball over the last year. Williams was also extremely active recruiting down the stretch with Neeo Avery, the Harris twins, Andrew Rumph and Markus Strong taking the bulk of his attention.

-As for elsewhere on the staff, Maryland will look to fill the vacant tight end position in the coming weeks as Locksley makes his move there. But he’ll also need to address the expiring contracts of ILB coach Lance Thompson and CB coach Henry Baker. As things stand, there’s confidence that Baker returns for his fourth season in College Park.

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