Maryland Terrapins football, in its second year of a rebuild, took a plethora of JUCO linemen in its last recruiting cycle to beef up the trenches. They were also able to grab Taulia Tagovailoa, younger brother of Tua Tagovailoa, who transferred from Alabama to Maryland after his brother was drafted third overall by the Dolphins.
The question remains: are they merely depth pieces or will a few see the field? Ultimately, I think that a couple will, while the remainder will provide depth and competition if we ever get to summer practices or ultimately a fall season.
Taulia Tagovailoa, QB
It’s not a surprise to anyone that Maryland’s QB situation last year was less than ideal. Josh Jackson started off red hot but eventually when Maryland got into conference play, the performance of the OL was bad enough that Jackson was often playing still bruised up from the week before and was visibly being affected by how fast he needed to get the ball out to avoid being sacked or hit. On the plays though where Jackson was afforded the protection to get through his progressions, his performance was less than stellar and needless to say could be improved upon.
Enter Taulia Tagovailoa.
Taulia was a 4-star QB out of high school, where he played in Alabama after his family moved there from Hawaii to watch his brother play. Taulia torched the competition there and in his limited time at Alabama he showed well in their spring game but wasn’t afforded much game time other than mop up duty where he mostly handed the ball off.
There is still optimism though that Taulia could provide an immediate upgrade, although will need to fend off competition from Jackson as well as redshirt freshman Lance Legendre, who himself was a 4-star QB in Taulia’s class and ranked in the same area as him.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic this spring, many NFL players have been working out back at home or at their respective colleges to continue to train. Video emerged on Stefon Diggs instagram of him running routes and working out with Taulia throwing to him, where he showed a strong arm and accuracy hitting Diggs in stride on many routes. I’m sure it’s like every highlight video where they only show the good but it’s all we have to go from for recent play.
If there is a season this year, I expect Taulia to challenge and take the QB position from Josh Jackson. Of course, all of this relies on him getting an eligibility waiver this year but as we’ve seen from the NCAA, if you have money or a high profile, they generally give it out to make sure no one comes asking.
Will Taulia Tagovailoa start for Maryland in 2020?
This poll is closed
No, but he’ll play
No—we just forgetting about Legendre?
Buddy, he ain’t even getting a waiver. Welcome to non-Ohio State transfer rules.
Jakorian Bennett, CB
Jakorian Bennett is a 3 star CB coming from Hutchinson C.C. in Kansas, bringing decent size and athleticism to the Maryland secondary. Bennett wasn’t recruited out of HS but blossomed at Hutchinson where he racked up offers from schools in every P5 conference, including half of the Big 10 and SEC.
Bennett should slot in at one of Maryland’s boundary corner positions opposite Deonte Banks, who saw himself push and earn playing time as a true freshman last season. Bennett’s presence should allow for Maryland to keep Antwaine Richardson as one of the starting safeties unless they opt to start him at slot corner with Osita Smith (4 star 2019, one year post grad) coming in at safety.
Poor secondary play plagued Maryland last season, but that was more a result of needing to endlessly cover with the lack of pass rush generated by the front 7. The LB group for Maryland will be much improved this year so any marginal increase in pass rush should allow for the rest of the defense to improve over its abysmal performance last season.
Johari Branch, OG
Maryland took six OL in last year’s recruiting class, two of which were JUCO players. Johari Branch may have been the lowest rated of the bunch but there has been a very positive buzz around the program that he could push for the vacant guard position this summer. A lot of the team has been posting videos of them working out on campus over the summer and Branch is seemingly putting in work and making appearances in all of them.
Branch would provide what Maryland doesn’t have a lot of on the OL right now: size. Listed at 6’4, 325lb, Branch comes in with some size already that Maryland lacks. The previous regime continually focused on athleticism over size in recruiting on the line (even more evident on Maryland’s DL), which may or may not have been the worst idea playing in the Big Ten. Branch is the longer shot of the three transfer/JUCO prospects I believe will push for playing time this fall.