Maryland rewind '08: Wide receivers

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This could be a player-by-player rundown of Maryland’s wide receiver corps.

Could be the operating word.

In reality, the only thing anyone will remember is how Darrius Heyward-Bey was used. Or wasn’t used.

Heyward-Bey, of course, declared for the NFL Draft earlier this month. He is fast. Really fast. And all he needs to do figure out which NFL teams will produce a Pavlovian response to his speed, then work out and interview well with them. Someone will probably wind up taking him on the first day of the draft.

Still, his final totals for the season – 42 receptions, 609 yards, 5 TD – don’t exactly make most folks want to drool. And it doesn’t get any better when you compare him to the other nine wideouts who left school early:

PlayerSchoolRec.YardsTD
Kenny Britt
Rutgers8713717
Jeremy Maclin
Missouri102126013
Hakeem Nicks
North Carolina
68122212
Michael Crabtree
Texas Tech
97116519
Jeremy ChildsBoise State
728027
Kevin Ogletree
Virginia587235
Percy Harvin
Florida406447
Darrius Heyward-Bey 
Maryland426095
Brian Hartline
Ohio State
214794
Andrew Means
Indiana344501

Hartline said this month he’s graduating in the spring and just wanted to move on. Means is a prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization who will be going to spring training rather than spring practice.

So that explains those situations away. Toss in Harvin’s role in Florida’s running game, and Heyward-Bey was the least productive of the guys who, quite frankly, have reason to believe they might be taken in the top two rounds in April.

Now let’s look at the run/pass ratio percentages for each of these 10 teams. Let’s consider runs to be “Rushes minus Sacks” and passes to “Pass attempts plus Sacks.”

TeamRunsPassesPass %
Texas Tech
29261567.8
Boise State
26045163.4
Indiana23938661.8
Missouri40158159.2
Virginia32345558.5
Rutgers40443451.8
Maryland40742751.1
North Carolina
42334845.1
Florida52934539.5
Ohio State
51129636.7

OK, so the  Heyward-Bey didn’t come close to the stats of either Britt or Nicks even though the Terps had comparable (or greater) reliance on the passing game to those guys’ teams.

So why didn’t he catch 87 passes (like Britt) or roll up 1,200 yards (like Nicks)? Maybe he wasn’t open enough. And maybe Maryland didn’t use him as much as it probably should. Both of those factors are probably in play.

In any case, the use of one of the top receivers in school history overshadows pretty much everything else about the receiving corps. But in the interest of a thorough accounting, here’s a quick rundown:

* Danny Oquendo was his usual reliable self, and will probably be appreciated for his steady play more now that Maryland doesn’t have it at its disposal. Of course, the Terps have a Mini-Oquendo in the program (Ronnie Tyler), so maybe that appreciation isn’t coming.

* Torrey Smith emerged as a capable option opposite Heyward-Bey, and will be the Terps’ top pass-catching option for a few more years.

* Isaiah Williams got lost in the shuffle and wound up with a quiet senior year (10-124-1 TD). Emani Lee-Odai put up similar numbers (12-115).

* LaQuan Williams got injured and was never a serious factor. Adrian Cannon had some moments, notably a touchdown early in the Humanitarian Bowl, and could be a very useful option down the road.

In the end, though, the judgment on this unit is really a judgment on Heyward-Bey. Maryland had an unusual talent at its disposal – at least by Maryland standards – and probably didn’t squeeze as much out of him as it probably should have.

Maybe that was because Heyward-Bey wasn’t as good as some fans hoped he would be. But given the proclivity to not quickly involve him in several games, play calling was certainly a factor, too.

Either way, he’s off for a late-April date with the NFL Draft. And, without question, fan frustration over whether any wideout left for 2009 is getting enough looks will be greatly diminished compared to how it was this past fall.

Patrick Stevens

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