It’s time to continue this series of discussions with Maryland’s position coaches, this time with Charles Bankins.
There’s a lot to get to, since Bankins handles Maryland’s tight ends and special teams. Let’s just say he has a lot to sort out this camp.
Onward to the Q&A…
Q: At tight end, Ralph seems to think it’s a toss-them-in-a-bag-and-throw-one-out situation. Is that how you’re seeing it?
CB: I think they all have different roles and bring different skills to the equation. You add them all together and we have a chance to be pretty good at the tight end position by committee. There’s not a dominant player. There’s no Vernon Davis or anything like that at the position. But they’re all pretty good players.
Q: Let’s play a little word association. Tommy Galt?
Q: Lansford Watson?
CB: Very good athlete.
Q: Devonte Campbell?
CB: Super athlete, but still young.
Q: [Matt] Furstenburg?
CB: Furstenburg could be the best of the group.
Q: Why is that?
CB: Because he’s got the size to be a blocker and he’s got some speed to stretch the defense. Now, he’s got to understand he has a chance to be the best of the group, but until then we’ll make the best out of everything.
Q: And Dave Stinebaugh?
CB: Stinebaugh’s just a freshman, but very coachable. He’s hit that freshman wall right now where it’s all just running together and jumbled up. With a year with [strength coach] Deege [Galt] in the weight room, I think he has a chance to be a pretty good ballplayer for us.
Q: [Ryan] Schlothauer?
CB: He’s a great walk-on. Super. He tries to do everything exactly right, the way you want it. We talked about him having great sessions in the weight room and yoga and getting his flexibility. You couldn’t ask for more in a walk-on than what he’s given us.
Q: You mention Vernon, and then there’s Joey Haynos and Dan Gronkowski. All those guys finished second or third or first on the team in receptions at some point in their career. Is this going to be a different year where it’s not as involved in the passing game?
CB: I think the tight end position can still lead the team in the number of receptions. Any time you run the West Coast offense, a tight end has to be a major part of what you’re doing. I don’t know if one guy will be the guy, but by committee we should have enough catches to put us close to that.
We also have some talented receivers, too. You look out there and you’re pretty excited about what you see there, too.
Q: Now to the special teams. The kicking situation —-
CB: Right now we’re giving Mike Barbour the chance to lose the job, let’s say [laughs]. At some point, they say with anything if you try to get two, you end up with none. We’re going to give him a chance to show what he can do and put him in enough situations to see really what he’s made of and see how important it is to him. The cream usually rises to the top. If he’s the guy we think he can be, he’ll be fine. If not, we’ll open the door up for other people.
We’re going to have a consistent kicker one way or another.
Q: When you’re watching [Sunday]’s scrimmage and he makes four in a row, I’m sure there’s part of you thinking ‘Thank God this decision is now made,’ and then he misses the next three.
CB: [Laughs] It’s just like in the spring. As soon as you move one guy to No. 1, he has a terrible day. I think they like being the underdog. I think I just have to tell them how bad they are all the time [Laughs] and they’ll step it up and play.
Q: Kickoffs will be Ferrara, probably?
CB: Probably, but if he doesn’t kick it, Mike will be doing that, too. Or Travis [Baltz]. Travis has a strong leg as a kickoff guy. So, the great thing about the situation as far as kickoffs go is you always have Travis Baltz in your bullpen that you can go to. You never feel like you’re out there on a life raft.
Q: Of all the guys under your purview, has Travis been the most consistent of the bunch?
CB: No doubt. Even when he has bad days, he knows what he’s doing. That’s the great thing about Travis. He knows what it takes to be good. He knows when he’s not doing those things. And he works to fix it.
A lot of the guys, they can’t even figure out what they’re doing wrong to get it corrected. That’s a big step in being the kicker he is.
Q: Now to the return guys. How’s Torrey Smith at this point?
CB: Torrey is doing a great job. We’re excited about the ball in the hands of Caleb Porzel. We want to give him a chance to see what he can do. But like I say all the time, he just got done with prom and figured out how to put a corsage on a girl. I’m not ready to turn the keys over to him yet. [Laughs]
Q: And the same kind of thing goes for the punt return?
CB: Tony’s got to step it up. It’s his chance to be a special part of what we’re doing here. We’re going to give him time to field the balls and get north-south. The scheme is designed to take advantage of his athletic ability. He’s got to be consistent at catching the ball. Again, kind of like Mike, we’re giving him the chance to have the job and it’s his job to lose at this point.
Q: With those six special teams units, give me some guys that are going to be staples of those things —- will be on three, four or five of them.
CB: [Antwine] Perez is a guy who does a lot of things well. He’s involved in our defense a lot. Unit by unit, there’s different guys who step up, but he’s one who comes to mind. Austin Walker is another kid who’s been a force on those units in the past and I expect him to continue to do that.
Some of the young linebackers are going to have to step up and contribute —- [Avery] Murray, [Darin] Drakeford. Even Drew Gloster hasn’t been playing that much [before], and he can help us with his speed.
Surprisingly enough after the scrimmage the other day, LaQuan Williams —- phew, he’s fast down the field. He can disrupt some things on kickoff.
What I try to do is with a guy who plays a lot or starts is to try not to use him but on wwo units, whatever I think they’re going to be best at. Nolan Carroll will be great in our kickoff coverage and then our punt return as far as beating up their gunners and keeping our punt returners clean.
There’s a lot of roles for guys, and with special teams there are special skills involved. Like I told the team, Da’Rel Scott is a great back for us, but I don’t think he’d be too good at going down and covering kicks. Whereas an Austin Walker, that’s his forte. That’s what he does. I think it takes some special skills. Special teams is a skill in itself.
Q: Hakeem Sule is another guy in that bunch?
CB: Sule is another guy that’s steady, consistent, going to be in the right position. Maybe not tall enough or fast enough to be an every-[down] linebacker, but he can be a great contributor on special teams.
—- Patrick Stevens