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Maryland spring primer: Linebackers

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

Running down Maryland’s linebackers …

Starters returning (2): LB Demetrius Hartsfield (108 tackles, 7 TFL, 1 sack, 9 starts), LB Darin Drakeford (68 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 4 forced fumbles, 8 starts), LB L.A Goree (60 tackles, 6 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 7 starts)

Other notable returnees: OLB Alex Twine (44 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack, 4 starts), LB Kenny Tate (35 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 2 INT, 4 starts, out for spring), ILB Cole Farrand (3 tackles)

Starters lost (0): None

Other notable departures: LB Mario Rowson (27 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 4 starts)

Notable additions: OLB Marcus Whitfield (shifted from defensive end), OLB Clarence Murphy (shifted from defensive end)

Emerging names to know: OLB Lukas Foreman (redshirt freshman), ILB Cole Farrand (sophomore), ILB Bradley Johnson (junior)

Career starts returning: 48 (Hartsfield 29, Drakeford 8, Goree 7, Twine 4)

Career starts lost: 4 (Rowson 4)

BREAKDOWN

Put away the experience excuse. It doesn’t hold up with the Maryland linebackers.

Now, whether it’s good experience or relatively useless experience will be discovered soon enough.

Demetrius Hartsfield is the most known quantity of the bunch, an honorable mention all-ACC performer despite missing three games. He’ll play the “Mo” position, the second inside linebacker spot, and leads the Terps’ roster in career starts.

The other inside spot is less certain, with Cole Farrand and L.A Goree (note the changed preferred name for Goree) listed 1-2. Farrand played mostly on special teams last season, while Goree filled in for a variety of injured players last season. Both are sophomores, and the second inside linebacker position will almost certainly be a competition reprised in preseason camp.

Much will be expected from Darin Drakeford, who was placed in the high-profile weak-side linebacker spot in the 3-4. Remaining on the field after dealing with an ankle injury the first half of last season is a priority for the senior, who is listed ahead of a pair of converted defensive ends (Marcus Whitfield and Clarence Murphy).

On the strong side is Alex Twine, who generally acquitted himself well as a 17-year-old freshman a year ago. Plugged in out of necessity, he was the ACC’s rookie of the week for a 12-tackle game against Notre Dame in November.

Hartsfield and Drakeford are as close to sure things as Maryland could have in this group, and Twine emerged as a player the Terps’ staff was clearly comfortable with a year ago. Creating a solid two-deep would be a welcome development for the Terps even with a linebacker-heavy recruiting class arriving over the summer. It would also be a turn from last year, when linebacker depth was a question that never entirely went away.

If there aren’t eight solid options after spring ball, just think about the amount of work Twine, Goree and the departed Mario Rowson logged at linebacker last year. Maryland’s staff isn’t hesitant to play freshmen, especially in this particular unit.

Patrick Stevens

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