It’s off to College Park this morning for the first day of Maryland’s preseason camp. While answers might not be easy to come by before the Sept. 5 opener against Miami, here’s five positional competitions to take note of for the Terrapins:
1. Right guard, Josh Cary vs. Pete White: Cary is a former walk-on who left the spring as the starter. White was a lauded recruit who coach Randy Edsall would like to see trim a little more weight. Either way, it looks like as big a toss-up as there is heading into camp.
The position was thrown into flux a bit when Justin Lewis, who started last season, was booted from the team last month. Chances are, both guys wind up playing at some point if they remain healthy.
2. Defensive tackle, Andre Monroe vs. A.J. Francis vs. Justin Anderson: Though Francis isn’t listed as Monroe’s backup (he’s instead slotted behind Joe Vellano), Edsall has repeatedly claimed he wants to put the 11 best players on the field. Cliched though it might be, the mantra does permit license to mix things up for this exercise.
Edsall praised Monroe, a redshirt freshman, throughout the spring. Meanwhile, the gregarious Francis and versatile Anderson are both incumbent starters. At least one of them will be a reserve when this season begins, though Maryland is deep enough at defensive tackle that it would be wise to use as many guys as it can.
3. Slot receiver, Kerry Boykins vs. Ronnie Tyler: Another position where both guys will ultimately play if they’re available, but still a bit interesting. Tyler caught a career-low 13 passes and would no doubt like to finish up in solid fashion.
Boykins is a reliable target, but his best attribute might be a willingness – maybe even eagerness – to block with zest. It’s the sort of skill most coaches understandably covet, and a vocal name-on-the-front-of-the-jersey believer such as Edsall is apt to fully appreciate. The two open camp as co-starters.
4. Cornerback, Dexter McDougle vs. Trenton Hughes vs. Jeremiah Johnson vs. Avery Graham. Hughes is listed behind Cameron Chism, but mentioning him here followed the “Best 11” theory. McDougle claimed a starting role out of camp, and the sophomore played in all but two games a year ago after Hughes fended him off in the preseason.
Hughes started all 13 games a year ago and led the team with nine pass breakups. Graham was a reserve who missed time with a groin injury. Johnson redshirted in 2010. Both Graham and Johnson are listed behind McDougle.
5. Defensive end, Clarence Murphy vs. Bradley Johnson vs. Ian Evans: Murphy, a redshirt freshman out of Florida, made a positive impression on the new staff during the spring. He’ll open camp as the starter over Johnson, a sophomore, and fellow redshirt freshman Evans.
Johnson made 14 tackles as he transitioned from linebacker to defensive end last year, and he started the Military Bowl in place of ineligible starter Drew Gloster. With none of the three possessing a deep track record at the college level, this is a tough competition to get a reading on.
Other competitions of note: Punter (Michael Tart vs. Nathan Renfro), fullback (Rahsaan Moore vs. Tyler Cierski vs. Jeff Hernandez), No. 3 running back (Jeremiah Wilson vs. a cast of thousands), kickoff returner (Tony Logan? McDougle? Hughes? The depth chart offers no clues).