Maryland spring primer: Offensive line

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Part of a position-by-position look at Maryland football this spring

Running down Maryland’s offensive line …

Starters returning (2): C Bennett Fulper (10 starts), RG Josh Cary (9 starts)

Other notable returnees: LG Pete White (6 starts), T Justin Gilbert (3 starts), C Sal Conaboy (2 starts), LG De’Onte Arnett (1 start)

Starters lost (3): LT Max Garcia (transfer; 12 starts), RT R.J. Dill (transfer to Rutgers; 12 starts), LG Andrew Gonnella (graduation; 5 starts)

Other notable departures: None

Emerging names to know: T Nick Klemm (junior), T Jake Wheeler (sophomore), T Ryan Doyle (redshirt freshman), T Andrew Zeller (redshirt freshman)

Career starts returning: 46 (Fulper 21, Cary 9, White 7, Gilbert 6, Conaboy 2, Arnett 1)

Career starts lost: 71 (Dill 33, Gonnella 26, Garcia 12)

BREAKDOWN

If things had worked out a little bit different, Maryland could have one of the ACC’s (and probably the nation’s) most absurdly experienced offensive lines.

Think about this possible grouping: Tackles Max Garcia and R.J. Dill; guards Justin Gilbert and Justin Lewis; and center Bennett Fulper.

Put together, the five have 87 starts for the Terrapins. Had all remained at Maryland, the Terps might have fielded a line with four seniors and a junior.

Of course, that’s not how it worked out. Dill and then Garcia transferred after last season. Lewis was dismissed from the team after an arrest for disorderly conduct last summer.

And Maryland, which at long last no longer has the many misfires from its star-crossed 2007 offensive line recruiting class hanging over it in any way, isn’t as locked in up front as it appeared it would be at this time last year.

Arrests and dismissals happen from time to time. Losing a pair of experienced and capable tackles to transfers are less common occurrences, and the loss of Dill and especially Garcia (who has two years of eligibility remaining) will have an impact on Maryland’s development.

Still, some interesting pieces remain.

Certainly, Fulper will be one of the pillars of this bunch, whether he starts at center like he did last year and a half or swings over to guard as he did as a true freshman. Gilbert, who started the final three games at right guard last season, was moved to tackle for spring ball and is now working on the right side.

Fulper and Gilbert are among six offensive linemen with at least some starting experience; this isn’t entirely a rerun of 2009, when graduation wiped out the Terps’ line and the absence of many polished reinforcements essentially doomed the program to a miserable season.

Who will join Fulper and Gilbert as probable starters remains to be seen. Two will probably come from a group of De’Onte Arnett, Josh Cary, Sal Conaboy and Peter White, the latter whom is sitting out this spring after multiple shoulder surgeries.

There are a plethora of unseasoned tackles to occupy a slot opposite Gilbert, including junior Nick Klemm, sophomore Jake Wheeler and redshirt freshmen Ryan Doyle and Andrew Zeller.

The permutations could change; maybe Gilbert slides back inside, opening up an extra slot for a tackle. Maybe another redshirt freshman (Evan Mulrooney, perhaps?) emerges as a capable option and contends for a job.

The assurance from coach Randy Edsall, unsurprisingly, is Maryland will play the best five. That group doesn’t entirely look like what it was projected to be a year ago.

Given the gap in experience between what was expected and what turned into reality, it won’t be quite as developed as what was projected this time last spring, either.

Patrick Stevens

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