It is with a little trepidation that this series is launched. Typically, once a season – be it Maryland football or Maryland basketball or area college lacrosse – ends, it’s time for a year in review series.
Thing is, those series usually run a couple weeks. And that’s kind of a tricky situation right now.
Anyway, since the season is over, and Ralph Friedgen is definitely coming back for the 2010 season, there isn’t much left beyond year in review items. And so here is the first – a look at how much of an impact each of the 24 scholarship true freshmen on Maryland’s roster made.
Obviously, the top 10 all played. The rankings for the other 14 are based much more on how often they were discussed as opposed to actual value. No time on the field on Saturdays means there’s a lot less “seen” and a lot more “heard.” Needless to say, there’s time for all of those guys to make an impact.
And so, in reverse order, the rundown on freshman usage this season …
24. OL Cody Blue: Injured during camp and not really heard from again. As usual, it’s probably for the best that an offensive lineman redshirts, even if he did arrive a semester early like Blue.
23. DB Avery Graham: One of the early commitments of the class of 2009 wasn’t heard from much. Even with Nolan Carroll’s injury, Maryland wasn’t in danger of using most of its young corners this year.
22. LB Marcus Whitfield: Was acknowledged late in the season for playing well on the scout team. With a plethora of freshman linebackers on the field, it’s good to create some separation at the position.
21. LB Bradley Johnson: Ditto. He’s another linebacker who will be more useful to have for an extra season down the road.
20. DB Travis Hawkins: A surprisingly quiet year from the touted local product. But with the exodus at cornerback after this season, an opportunity could be there in the near future.
19. TE Dave Stinebaugh: Mentioned by Ralph a couple times during camp. When there were injuries during weeks of away games, it was walk-on Ryan Schlothauer who made the trip. Like a lineman, not a tough break to sit, watch, grow and get stronger in Year One.
18. DE De’Onte Arnett: The scout team player of the week a few times, Arnett is still growing into his 6-foot-2, 250-pound frame. If you’re going to bet on any redshirted player making a big difference next season, this is the guy.
17. CB Dexter McDougle: Aside from having a name that you just wish Pat Summerall could say from the broadcast booth, McDougle is also a promising return man. He made every trip as a backup option, and was a possibility to play before coaches thought better of using him as a spare corner. A good bet to play some next year.
16. T Pete DeSouza: Ever so briefly, he was the No. 2 option on the depth chart at right tackle. With the line potentially unsettled heading into 2010, his name will be mentioned in the spring.
15. G Pete White: Was in the mix for playing time at right guard for a while, but the massive guard (6-3, 330) still has some learning to do. No matter. It was far better to redshirt him than waste him for a few plays in a 2-10 season.
14. QB C.J. Brown: Fell behind Danny O’Brien on the quarterback depth chart and never passed him, which meant most of the backup talk when Chris Turner was injured didn’t focus on him. If Maryland goes to a system using a more athletic quarterback next year, it would benefit Brown.
13. T Nick Klemm: Wasn’t in camp because of an injury, but progressed quickly and ended the season as the No. 2 right tackle. That’s more of a technicality, since the Terps would have shuffled the line to avoid burning a redshirt in late November. Still, he got better as the season progressed.
12. TB D.J. Adams: A hard, forceful runner who impressed coaches a great deal, Adams was a guy who Maryland thought about using after injuries struck. It was wise that Adams remained on the sideline, and Maryland even left him home for the Florida State game to help avoid temptation. Smart move. He could be in the backfield mix next year.
11. QB Danny O’Brien: The O’Brien Redshirting Saga of Aught-Nine has to go down as one of the most ridiculous subplots of the season. The absurdity of even thinking about using a true freshman quarterback in the death throes of the worst season in school history was confounding. Nonetheless, plenty of pixels were wasted on a scenario that never developed, and Present O’Brien wasn’t forced to take away 2013 from Future O’Brien. He’ll be a contender for the quarterback job this spring and in camp.
10. LB Ryan Donahue: Ask, and ye shall receive. Donahue wanted to play on special teams, and he did just that the final two months of the season. His most impressive work came in the JV game in late October. When Alex Wujciak departs, Donahue has a chance to be a worthy replacement in 2011. He finished with four tackles this season.
9. DT Justin Anderson: At 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, Anderson certainly looks the part. He played as a reserve in the second half of the season, and his quickness and strength more than makes up for a relatively low weight for a tackle. All that said, whoever is Maryland’s coach in 2013 might wish Anderson had been held out and redshirted given how much more useful he’ll be then. He finished with three tackles on the year.
8. S Eric Franklin: In a perfect world, Franklin would have redshirted while also getting the experience of traveling to every game. But it wasn’t a perfect year – far from it. Down a safety, Franklin was needed to close out the Duke game, and he joined several special teams units after that. He finished with four tackles and a sack in the final five games, and should contend for time at safety next season.
7. DE Isaiah Ross: Probably would have appeared a couple spots up the list had he not torn his right ACL on Nov. 7 at N.C. State. The affable local product was a pleasant surprise for Maryland at defensive end, collecting six tackles, a half-sack and a forced fumble in seven games. Now the question becomes whether he’ll be ready to go come August. If the rehab is slow, he might just redshirt in 2010, anyway.
6. LB Avery Murray: Murray arrived on campus a semester early and received plenty of reps in the spring. Once the fall rolled around, he was used much more on special teams than anything else. Murray finished with seven tackles, and was a third-string middle linebacker before shifting over to the weak side after Demetrius Hartsfield got hurt. There were no senior scholarship linebackers this year, so it’ll be on Murray to get better rather than rise up the depth chart because of attrition.
5. TB Caleb Porzel: The lightning-fast freshman had 34 all-purpose touches in seven games. A couple years down the road, people could very easily wonder if five touches a week in seven losses was worth wasting a year of Maryland’s answer to Darren Sproles. Going forward, the Terps are going to have to find more creative ways to get Porzel involved – even if it reaches the point that opponents know what’s coming. Porzel is fast enough to overcome any predictability, and his game definitely isn’t suited for rumbling up the middle. He had 30 carries for 75 yards, and there’s no doubt his talent is better than that if utilized properly.
4. DT Zach Kerr: Just a couple tackles for Kerr, who was nonetheless important enough to plug in from the start. Some of that opportunity, certainly, but he should be able to improve as a sophomore.
3. LB Darin Drakeford: Like Murray, an early enrollee who made a difference on special teams. He also was the immediate backup on the strong side to Adrian Moten, which created some opportunities for the D.C. native. Drakeford led all freshmen with 18 tackles, and it’s easy to envision him in a similar role next season.
2. G Bennett Fulper: A steal out of tiny Gretna, Va., (no truth to the rumor it was renamed VicHallsburg), Fulper started four games before shoulder surgery ended his season. A smart player who quickly picked up the offense, Fulper is pegged to move to center over the next three seasons. He did as well as could be expected from a true freshman; the biggest question for Fulper is whether the stingers and the torn labrum are a sign of things to come.
1. K Nick Ferrara: Funny how a team can use 10 true freshmen and the kicker is far and away the most valuable. Ferrara was 18-for-25 on his field goal attempts, and considering how up-in-the-air the position was coming in, it was good for the Terps that he improved upon Obi Egekeze’s 15-for-24 from a year earlier. He also punted for most or all of seven games, and an average length of 39.8 yards was more than respectable. Maryland has its share of problems, but at least it knows who its kicker will be for the next three years.