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Which Freshmen From Maryland’s 2017 Recruiting Class Can Make An Immediate Impact On Defense?

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We breakdown Maryland’s huge 2017 recruiting class and who can possibly see some significant playing time on defense.

Wisconsin v Maryland

Now that we’ve taken a look at offense earlier today, is there help coming for Maryland on defense? Offense was mostly not the issue last year but Maryland was woefully bad stopping the run last year and not too much better at generating pressure, which flowed into the pass defense as well. Is help on the way?

Defensive Line

Returning Players: Adam McClean, Jessie Aniebonam, Cavon Walker, Kingsley Opara, Keiron Howard, Chandler Burkett, Brett Kulka, Melvin Keihn

Incoming Freshmen: B’Ahmad Miller, Lawtez Rogers, Brandon Gaddy, Breyon Gaddy, Cam Spence

In short: Maryland needs help on the defensive line. The run defense was atrocious last year. Aniebonam is a pure pass rusher and Keihn is a step behind him while the rest of the line is a work in progress. Cavon Walker and Kingsley Opara showed flashes last year in the middle so the hopes are they step up this year in full time starter roles. It remains to be seen who fills in as the other DE but I’d bet on Chandler Burkett. Keiron Howard will be a key backup at DT and the hopes are that Jimmy Brumbaugh can coach these guys up into a more respectable unit.

It’s not really reasonable to hope for production out of freshmen defensive linemen unless they’re one of the 3-5 best in the country out of high school. Miller, Rogers, and Brandon Gaddy will all be redshirted barring catastrophe, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Breyon Gaddy and Cam Spence go that route too. The latter two have the best chance to see the field this year but could really use the time to transform their bodies for Division 1 play where they won’t dominate purely due to size.

Linebacker

Returning Players: Jermaine Carter, Antoine Brooks, Shane Cockerille, Isaiah Davis, Jalen Brooks, Brett Sheppard

Incoming Freshmen: Bryce Brand, Nick Underwood, Ayinde Eley

Maryland had a ton of returning players and not too many are seniors so it made sense that the class was small here. Nick Underwood is a juco transfer who figures to land a spot in the two deep but other than that I expect Brand and Eley to redshirt. Brand may transition to the BUCK position on the DL so this really may be a two person LB class for the Terps.

Defensive Back

Returning Players: JC Jackson, Josh Woods, Denzel Conyers, Elijah Daniels, Antwaine Richardson, RaVon Davis, Qwuantrezz Knight, Darnell Savage, Elisha Daniels, Tino Ellis

Incoming Freshmen: Deon Jones, Markquese Bell, Fofie Bazzie, Alex Woods, Kenny Bennett

I debated breaking this up into corner and safety but a lot of things are up in the air right now and gets complicated because Maryland uses a 4-2-5 defense that has a third safety on the field that acts in a joker role similar to what Michigan ran with Jabrill Peppers playing somewhere between Safety and Linebacker. That being said, the starters are most likely going to be JC Jackson (corner), RaVon Davis (slot), Tino Ellis (corner), Denzel Conyers (Safety/LB), and Quantrezz Knight (safety). At least going into the summer.

Deon Jones is probably the most skilled player coming in but he’s coming off of a torn ACL so I’m assuming he redshirts a year. Markquese Bell has the best chance to overtake a starter at safety and impressed throughout spring camp to the point many think that Savage may move over to corner or that Bell overtakes Conyers at the “joker” position. Bell should turn some heads with his athletic ability along with size and should turn heads this year. Alex Woods is a juco transfer who should slot in to the two deep at corner but expect Bazzie and Bennett to redshirt. Both have the height that Durkin was looking for but get stuck behind established players in the secondary unless they are much better than expected their freshmen seasons.

You didn’t read all that? Essentially there is more help coming on offense than defense but that’s purely due to the depth not being there combined with skill coming in on that side of the ball. The secondary is getting an infusion of talent but we should see this recruiting class make bigger impacts next year on defense.