It’s difficult to remember the last time Maryland really had serious questions at tight end.
Wait, back up a second. That’s totally untrue. During the slow, hazy days of camp in 2006, everyone who bothered to show up at practice every day took a turn wondering just how the Terrapins would cope without Vernon Davis.
Well, former walk-on Joey Haynos (he of the posse of fans wearing “Haynos Is My Homeboy” t-shirts) and Dan Gronkowski did just fine splitting the duties the last two years, with a small-but-effective dose of Jason Goode tosed in.
Well, Haynos and Goode are gone, but Gronkowski is back to handle much of the tight end duties. He was the Terps’ favored blocking tight end last season, but it would be no surprise if he quickly doubles his career receiving totals (11 catches, 114 yards) in September.
Another safe bet is that he’ll continue to be looked at as a red zone option. Gronkowski was only targeted 10 times all of last season, but four of them came inside the opponents’ 20. No one else came close to being primarily a possibility to cap drives.
Tommy Galt is back as well, and he was used throughout last season on the field goal/PAT unit. He’ll have a chance to etch out a larger role this year. Another possibility is redshirt freshman Lansford Watson, one of several tight ends the Terps have brought in over the last few years that have dimensions – if not necessarily the ripped physique – similar to Davis.
Two more of those guys are lurking as a possible H-back, a position that was scrapped last season for depth chart purposes but is back with new offensive coordinator James Franklin. None of the options are particularly experienced:
* Sophomore Drew Gloster, who contrary to some rumors remained on the roster late last month according to a team spokesman. Gloster played on the kickoff return and field goal teams last year and in garbage time on offense for a few games.
* Freshman Devonte Campbell, who came to Maryland in the spring after a semester at Hargrave Military Academy.
* Matt Furstenburg, a freshman who arrived on campus last semester but dealt with injuries through spring ball.
If none of those guys are ready to help, it might not matter all that much. Maryland’s sudden glut at wide receiver (14 scholarship players) and depth at fullback (Cory Jackson and Haroon Brown) provide plenty of flexibility to tailor the offense as needed.
So it’s not like the Terps (and new position coach Danny Pearman) have any serious questions about the tight ends. Not that it’s a particularly new spot for Maryland to find itself in.
Coming tomorrow: The offensive line