Where does Maryland land in preseason Big Ten power rankings?

Maryland football found itself predicted to finish fourth in the Big Ten East behind Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State with veteran quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa the lone Terp drawing honors as preseason offensive player of the year. With eleven returning starters for the 2023 season, Maryland will look to pull off its third consecutive bowl-eligible season in hopes of winning three consecutive bowl games for the first time in program history. With fall camp less than one week away, where do the Terps land? We take a look at the conference.

1. Michigan

Michigan returns perhaps the best running back in all of college football with Blake Corum and his backup, Donovan Edwards, is arguably a top-ten back in the Big Ten. Both players could easily rush for over 1000 yards this year. JJ McCarthy is in his second year as the starter and could be considered the best quarterback in the conference at season’s end. He’ll be helped by Cornelius Johnson, who was second on the team in receiving yards and third in catches last year. Roman Wilson is also back as he looks ready for a bigger role. The offensive line returns three All-Big Ten selections and brought in two transfers to fill in at left tackle (LaDarius Henderson) and center (Drake Nugent). Tight end Luke Schoonmaker is gone, but Colston Loveland started five games last year as a freshman and AJ Barner transferred in from Indiana. On defense, the Wolverines return their leading tackler (Junior Coulson) and interceptions leader (Rod Moore). They will be without speedy corner DJ Turner and reliable defensive linemen Mazi Smith and Mike Morris. Amorion Walker was moved from receiver to corner in the spring and may be taking over for Turner. Mason Graham and Braiden McGregor, meanwhile, are the projected starters on the defensive line. Will Johnson and Kris Jerkins also return to a unit that only allowed 30 or more points in one game in 2022.

2. Ohio State

Michigan may have the best running back duo in college football, but Ohio State’s TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams are not too far behind. Both averaged over five yards a carry last year and Dallas Hayden will make plays as well if one goes down. The Buckeyes’ receiving trio is as dangerous as they come with Marvin Harrison Jr, Emeka Egbuka, and Julien Fleming all poised to have big seasons in 2023. There’s even talk of Harrison potentially going as high as number two overall. Tackles Paris Johnson and Dawand Jones, and center Luke Wypler were big losses on the offensive line. However, guards Matthew Jones and Donovan Jackson were named All-Big Ten players last year. They also brought in Josh Simmons from San Diego State to fill one of the tackle spots. Defensively, Ohio State returns three of their top four sack leaders in Jack Sawyer, Michael Hall Jr, and JT Tuimoloau. Also returning is Tommy Eichenburg, their top tackler. They did lose four contributors on the defensive line Zach Harrison, Taron Vincent, Javontae Jean-Baptiste, and Jerron Cage. They also lost Ronnie Hickman and Tanner McCalister in the secondary, but get back Josh Proctor, Denzel Burke, and Lathan Ransom. If quarterback Kyle McCord lives up to the hype, the Buckeyes will give Michigan a fight for the conference.

3. Penn State

Is this the year Penn State overtakes Michigan and Ohio State? On paper, this may be the best team James Franklin has had since taking over as head coach. Drew Allar takes over for Sean Clifford at quarterback and showed off his talent in limited action last year. The dynamic duo of Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen are looking to build off of a freshman year where both rushed for over 800 yards and ten touchdowns. Parker Washington and Brandon Strange may be gone but KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Theo Johnson return, with Dante Cephas transferring in from Kent State. The offensive line lost three guys to injury last year. All will be back and left tackle Olu Fashanu is being hyped as the top offensive lineman in the 2024 NFL draft. Chop Robinson and Curtis Jacobs lead the front seven, while Kalen King takes over the top corner spot from Joey Porter Jr. Kalen’s brother Kobe, Tyler Elsdon, and Abdul Carter will team with Jacobs in the linebacking core again. Johnny Dixon and Jaylen move into starting spots in the secondary with Porter and Ji’Ayir Brown gone. PJ Mustipher is also gone, with Coziah Izzaard and D’von Ellies competing for his spot.

4. Illinois

The big question for Illinois is how do they replace the production they lost from last year? Devon Witherspoon, Chase and Sydney Brown, Jartavius Martin, and Isaac Darkangelo are all gone. Illinois, though, does return Isaiah Williams, Pat Bryant, Jer’Zhan Newton, and Keith Randolph Jr. The Fighting Illini also brought former four-star quarterback Luke Atlmyer from Ole Miss and Nicario Harper from Louisville to presumably replace Sydney Brown at safety. Matthew Bailey or FIU transfer Demetrius Hill will start at the other safety spot. Taking over for Chase Brown at running back is most likely Reggie Love or Josh McCray. Love rushed for 330 yards on just 71 carries in 2022, while the 235-pound McCray is back after missing most of last season due to injuries but had two 100-yard games in 2021. Williams, Bryant, and Casey Washington make a nice trio at receiver. Tip Reiman will be at tight end again, along with Colorado State transfer Tanner Arkin. Illionis’ left side of the offensive line returns with Isaiah Adams at guard and Julian Pearl at tackle, while Zy Crisler moves into Alex Palczewski’s spot at right tackle. Joshua Kreutz, meanwhile, takes over the center position from Alex Philstrom. Tarique Barnes and Seth Coleman lead a linebacking core that is replacing its leading tackler in Darkangelo. Bret Bielema has done a great job turning Illinois around, now he has to show he can reload.

5. Wisconsin

One thing college football fans can always count on is that Wisconsin will always have a great rushing game. Braelon Allen has rushed for over 2500 yards and 23 touchdowns in his first two years at Wisconsin and will be a contender for the Big Ten offensive player of the year in 2023. Leading receivers Chimere Dike and Skyler Bell also returned and the Badgers brought in two transfers CJ Williams and Will Pauling from USC and Cincinnati, respectively. The team will have a new quarterback in former SMU starter Tanner Mordecai after Graham Mertz left for Florida. Center Jake Renfro and right guard Joe Huber transferred in from Cincinnati. Left guard Tanor Bortolini was an All-Big Ten honorable mention last year and left tackle Jack Nelson was named one in 2021. Wisconsin is replacing their two leading sack masters as Nick Herbig and Keenu Benton were drafted by the Steelers. CJ Goetz has one edge spot, with the other most likely taken by Michigan State transfer Jeff Pietrowski. Linebackers Maema Njongmeta and Jordan Turner are back to lead the Badgers’ defense with safety Kamo’i Latu. Latu is joined by Boston College transfer Jason Maitre at Nickel, Hunter Wohler, who is replacing John Torchio, and Ricardo Hallman, who started eight games last year.

6. Maryland

There might not be a duo more underrated in the Big Ten than Maryland’s safeties Dante Trader and Beau Brade. They will lead a secondary that is replacing both starting corners. Tarheeb Still will man one side, while Cincinnati transfer Ja’Quan Sheppard has the other. Miami transfer Avante Williams will see a lot of snaps at safety, as well, giving Trader and Brade breaks when needed. Corey Coley, Lionell Whitaker, and Perry Fisher help out Still and Sheppard at corner. The Terps lost three receivers to the draft but got Jeshaun Jones back for one more season, along with transfers Tyrese Chambers and Kaden Prather. Taulia Tagovailoa is back for his fourth year as the Terps’ starting quarterback where he has already broken many school records. Could he be considered Maryland’s best quarterback of all time by season’s end? Roman Hemby is looking the break the 1000-yard mark in 2023 after falling just short last year. The Terps are replacing four of their five starters last year on the offensive line, with DJ Glaze being the only returning starter. Glaze will take over Jaelyn Duncan’s spot at right tackle, with Frostburg State transfer Gottlieb Ayedze at right tackle. North Carolina Central transfer Corey Bullock has one guard spot, while the other will be between Amelio Moren and Kyle Long. Center will also be a competition with Aric Harris and Michael Purcell looking to be the starter. Linebacker Jaishawn Barham is a breakout candidate and Jordan Phillips is a name to know on a defensive line that’s replacing three starters. Taize Johnson and Tommy Akingbesote are due for big roles this year. Ruben Hyppolite and Fa’Najae Gotay join Barham in the linebacker room. Watch out for freshman Neeo Avery and St. Francis transfer Donnell Brown as the Terps need to find a replacement for Durell Nchami.

7. Nebraska

New head coach Matt Rhule is known for turning around struggling college programs. Nebraska is hoping he can do it again after the disappointing Scott Frost era. Casey Thompson is out at quarterback after transferring to Florida Atlantic, and in comes former Georgia Tech starter Jeff Sims. Leading receiver Trey Palmer is also gone, now in the NFL, as Marcus Washington and Virginia Tech transfer Billy Kemp look to fill his shoes. Running back Anthony Grant finished just 85 yards short of 1000 yards and is looking for a strong senior season. The Cornhuskers have a veteran-led offensive line group that gets back Nouredin Nouili, who didn’t play last year due to a failed drug test. Ben Scott transfers in from Arizona State to play center. Ethan Piper, Bryce Benhart, and Turner Corcoran have all started at least 15 games during their time at Nebraska. Leading tackler Luke Reimer returns to lead a Cornhusker front seven that could have as many as five newcomers in the two deep. Defensive tackle Ty Robinson is back, along with linebacker Nick Henrich, while another linebacker, MJ Sherman, transferred in from Georgia. Garrett Nelson and Colton Feist are gone on the defensive line, meaning Blaise Gunnerson and Nash Hutmatcher will have to step up. The secondary, meanwhile, has three returning starters in Marques Buford Jr, Malcolm Hartzog, and Quinton Newsome. Myles Farmer also returns and Corey Collier transferred in from Florida.

8. Purdue

Another team that had a quarterback change in the offseason, Purdue got a big transfer in former Texas starter Hudson Card taking over from Aidan O’Connell. Card can count on Devin Mockabee to make his job easier. The former walk-on had almost 968 yards and nine touchdowns on 195 carries in 2023. The Boilermakers are replacing wide receiver Charlie Jones and tight end Payne Durham, their top two pass catchers. TJ Sheffield is back after catching 46 passes for 480 yards and Mershawn Rice could be in for a breakout season. Florida Atlantic transfer Jahmal Edrine will have a big role as well and Garrett Miller is the favorite at tight end. Gus Hartwig and Marcus Mbow  will be manning the interior of the offensive line once again, with a new face in Bowling Green transfer Jalen Grant. Mahamane Moussa is back at left tackle after starting nine games last year and DJ Johnson takes over at right tackle for Eric Miller. Sanoussi Kane and Jalen Graham were the only two defenders to have over 50 tackles last year and Graham is now with the 49ers. OC Brothers and Kydran Jenkins will start at linebacker again, while Nic Caraway is the favorite to take over for Graham. Kane is back and he’ll be part of a senior-led secondary with Cam Allen and transfers Marquis Wilson and Salim Turner-Muhammad. With the two transfers, along with, Jamari Brown, the Boilermakers should have enough to replace Cory Trice and Reese Taylor. The defensive line has three senior transfers of their own in Jeffrey M’Ba, Malik Langham, and Isaiah Nichols after losing all three of their starters. Joe Anderson and Cole Brevard are names to remember. Ryan Walters was hired as head coach after Jeff Brohm left for Louisville. He’ll have his work cut out for him after all the reloading the team had to do in the offseason.

9. Iowa

Iowa’s defense was as strong as ever in 2023, giving up the second-fewest points in the Big Ten and not allowing any opponent to score 30. Jack Campbell, Seth Benson, Riley Moss, and Lukas Van Ness are gone but Cooper DeJean, Logan Lee, and Quinn Schulte return. Joe Evans is also back after tying with Van Ness as the team leader in sacks. Jay Higgins takes over for Campbell, while Virginia transfer Nick Jackson was brought in to replace Benson. Lee was the  leader for tackles among the defensive line and DeJean led the team in interceptions. Noah Shannon and Deontae Craig round out a defensive line that should be a problem again for offenses. The Hawkeye offense, though, is a big question mark after struggling for most of last year and scoring the third-fewest points in the conference. Spencer Petras is gone and was replaced with former Michigan starter Cade McNamara. Running back Kalab Johnson was a bright spot for Iowa last year after rushing for over five yards a carry. Tight end Sam Laporta is gone but his backup, Luke Lachy, is back and finished second on the team in catches. The Hawkeyes had more out of their wide receivers this year, as Nico Ragaini was the only one to record more than 20 catches in 2022. Diante Vines, the other projected starter, only has ten career catches. Production from transfers Seth Anderson and Kaleb Brown wouldn’t hurt either. The offensive line returns three starters in center Logan Jones, left guard Nick DeJong, and left tackle Mason Richman. Rusty Feth will be a right guard after starting 34 games at Miami (Ohio). Right tackle, meanwhile, will be between Gennings Dunker and Saginaw Valley transfer Daijon Parker. Despite their offensive struggles last year, Iowa almost won the Big Ten West. If the offense improves this year and the defense’s play remains mostly the same, the Hawkeyes could be a runaway winner.

10. Minnesota

PJ Fleck continues to show why he was the right choice for Minnesota after winning nine games in 2022. However, 2023 will be a big year for him, as he’s replacing long-time starters in quarterback Tanner Morgan and running back Mohamed Ibrahim. Ibrahim’s backup Trey Potts left for Penn State and Bryce Williams is the only other back to record over six carries in 2022. Luckily for Minnesota, they brought in Sean Tyler, who rushed for over 1000 yards in back-to-back years for Western Michigan. Minnesota’s interior on the offensive has an all-new look. Quinn Carroll moves from right tackle to right guard, while Nathan Boe has the tough task of taking over for John Michael Schmitz at center. Aireontae Ersery returns at left tackle and JJ Guedet is the favorite at right tackle. Athan Kaliakmanis was the starter after Morgan went down with an injury but completed 54% of his passes and had only three touchdowns to four interceptions in five starts. The good news for him and Minnesota’s offense is that Chris Autman-Bell is back after missing all but three games in 2022. Last year’s leading receiver Daniel Jackson and starting tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford are also back. Minnesota’s defense has key pieces back with corner Justin Walley, safety Tyler Nubin, edge Danny Striggow, and linebacker Cody Lindenburg. Some big pieces missing from last year are corner Terrell Smith, safety Jordan Howden, and linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin, who led the team in tackles. Transfer Ryan Selig will take over for Sori-Martin, while Tre’von Jones and Tyler Badie are competing for Smith’s old spot. Darius Green, meanwhile, replaces Howden next to Nubin at safety. Kyler Baugh will team with Striggow to lead this Golden Gopher defensive line that only lost one contributor in Trill Carter.

11. Michigan State

One of the biggest surprises in the Big Ten this offseason was quarterback Payton Throne’s decision to transfer to Auburn. With Thorne gone, Noah Kim will lead a Michigan State team that missed out on a bowl game in 2022 after winning 11 games in 2021. Jalen Berger didn’t give the Spartans the kind of season they were hoping for, rushing for only 683 yards last year. However, he is back and the team brought in two transfers, Nathan Carter and Jaren Mangham. Michigan State’s top two receivers are gone with Jayden Reed in the NFL and Keon Coleman transferring to Florida State, leaving Tre Mosley as the only returning wideout that had over ten catches last year. Montorie Foster Jr, Christian Fitzpatrick, and Nebraska transfer Alante Brown will be counted on to step up as upperclassmen. Redshirt freshmen Jaron Glover and Antonio Gates Jr have a chance to make an impact as well. Tight ends Daniel Barker and Tyler Hunt are gone, but the team did get a transfer in Tynell Hopper from Boise State. Junior College transfer Keyshawn Blackstock replaces Matt Carrick at right guard and Brandon Baldwin will man left tackle. The rest of the offensive line consists of returning starters Nick Samac, JD Duplain, and Spencer Brown. On defense, both starting safeties, Kendell Brooks and Xander Henderson, are in the NFL with sophomores Dillon Tatum and Jaden Mangham projected to take their place. Starting corner Ameer Speed and linebacker Ben VanSumeren are also gone, but Cal Haladay, Charles Brantley, and Jacoby WIndmon are back. Haladay led the team in tackles as a sophomore last year, while WIndmon was off to a strong start with 5.5 sacks in the team’s first two games but not recording any after that. Derrick Harmon, Maverick Hansen, Zion Young, and Avery Dunn are back on the defensive line.

12. Indiana

No one could have predicted how much Indiana would have missed Michael Penix after he transferred to Washington. While Penix was setting records for the Huskies, the Hoosiers dealt with the inconsistent Conner Bazelak and only won four games. Now Indiana is going with a redshirt freshman at quarterback in either Tennessee transfer Tayven Jackson or Brendan Sorsby. Running back will also change as Josh Henderson takes over for Shane Shivers. Cam Camper is once again ready to lead the Hoosiers receiving core, as is Cody Andison.  Meanwhile, Donaven McCulley could be in for a breakout season and Fordham transfer Dequece Carter has the third-most receiving yards in the Rams history. The two returning tight ends, Aaron Steinfelt and James Bomba combined for 11 catches last year. Carter Smith will have a challenge this year in being a left tackle in the Big Ten as a redshirt freshman. Besides Carter, every projected starter on the Hoosier offensive line has had starting experience. This includes 2021 All-Big Ten honorable mention Matthew Bedford, who is back after missing all but one game last year with an injury. Two names Terp fans might know on Indiana’s offensive staff are former Maryland coaches Anthony Tucker and Walt Bell. Indiana was busy in the transfer portal this offseason as they lost much of their production from last year. Leading tackler Avery Casey is back along with Noah Pierre, as they will lead this new inexperienced defense. Indiana is replacing every starter in the secondary, with two transfers, Jamier Johnson and Kobee Minor, expected to man the corner spots. Josh Sanguinetti and Louis Moore are the projected safety starters.  Defensive lineman Andre Carter and linebacker Jacob Mangum-Farrar come in with starting experience from their previous schools.

13. Rutgers

Rutgers is hoping for a big jump from quarterback Gavin Wimsatt. The former four-star struggled in his freshman year but has the talent to become a top quarterback in the Big Ten. Running backs Samuel Brown, Aaron Young, and Kyle Monangai to hopefully give the Scarlett Knights a solid trio. While their top two receivers are gone, tight-end Johnny Langan is back to be used in a number of ways. Chris Long moves into a starting spot after catching 15 passes last year and Western Illinois transfer Nasiem Brantley could be the top guy this year. Center Ireland Brown and left guard Curtis Dunlap are the leaders on the offensive line, while left tackle Hollin Pierce will reach 30 career starts this year barring injury. Reggie Sutton is back, as well, missing all of last year. Safeties Christian Izien, Avery Young, and corner Christian Braswell left in the NFL, but Aaron Lewis, Deon Jennings, Tyreem Powell, and more are back on defense. Replacing Izien across Desmond Igbinosun and Minnesota transfer Flip Dixon, while Max Melton  and Robert Longerbeam are the presumed starting corners. Jennings and Powell will lead the linebacking core again and Shaquan Loyal takes over the Star position from Young. Ole Miss transfer Isaiah Iton joins an experienced defensive line that includes Lewis, Kyonte Hamilton, Wesley Bailey, and Mayan Ahanotu.

14. Northwestern

Northwestern might be the biggest question in college football right now after letting go of Pat Fitzgerald recently due to allegations of hazing. Even before that, things did not look good for a Wildcats team that won one game last year and needs to replace their best player from last year in Evan Hull. Hull was their leading rusher and second-leading receiver last year, so Cam Porter has much to live up to. Ben Bryant transferred from Cincinnati to be the team’s quarterback after Ryan Hillinski struggled in 2022. Leading receiver Malik Washington transferred to Virginia and Donny Navarro exhausted his eligibility. Bryce Kirtz returns to fill one starting spot, while transfers AJ Henning and Cam Johnson hope to earn the other two. Charlie Mangieri returns at tight end after only playing in two games, as are Thomas Gordon and Marshall Lang. The offensive line lost a lot of starts this year, the big one being left tackle Peter Skoronski. Caleb Tiernan takes over for Skoronski, while guard Josh Priebe returns from injury. Zachary Franks looks ready to lock down right tackle, and Ben Wrather and Dom D’Antonio most likely have the other two spots. Rod Heard and Jeremiah Lewis are back to lead a secondary that will have two new starters at corner in Garnett Hollis and Theran Johnson. Also returning are starting linebackers Bryce Gallagher and Xander Mueller, who were the top two leaders in tackles last year. On the defensive line, Sean McLaughlin is the only starter back, as Northwestern needs a new edge rusher after the departure of Adetomiwa Adebawore.

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