Maryland opens camp Tuesday, and there are storylines to examine beyond a new coach as the four weeks leading into the Terrapins’ Sept. 5 opener against Miami unfold.
First up: Based largely on opportunity, a look at five true freshmen who might see the field sooner than some of their classmates.
1. FB Tyler Cierski. The 6-foot, 255-pound Georgia native steps into a position where no game experience exists. Rahsaan Moore redshirted last year. Walk-on Jeff Hernandez sat out a transfer year last season. And Haroon Brown and Taylor Watson are both gone.
Cierski, meanwhile, was among the top four Class of 2011 fullbacks nationally according to both Rivals.com and Scout.com. It’s anyone’s guess exactly how much Maryland will use a fullback in coordinator Gary Crowton‘s offense. But if it does, Cierski will have a real opportunity to step in immediately and play.
2. LB Cole Farrand. The Terps have four scholarship players to fill in at their two traditional linebacker spots. Farrand is one of them.
That makes for some good odds to play. Granted, Demetrius Hartsfield and Darin Drakeford look safely penciled in as starters at middle and weak-side linebacker, respectively. But Farrand could solidify a No. 2 role (and maybe some special teams work) with a solid preseason camp.
3. P Nathan Renfro. Four-year starter Travis Baltz is gone, and chances are good Maryland didn’t offer Renfro a scholarship for him to sit around and wait a year or two to claim the job.
Walk-on Michael Tart redshirted in 2010, so there’s no game experience in front of Renfro. The Brentwood, Tenn., native averaged 39.0 yards a punt as a high school senior. A strong August might give Renfro the chance to become Maryland’s fourth straight four-year starter at punter, joining Brooks Barnard (1999-02), Adam Podlesh (2003-06) and Baltz (2007-10).
4. WR Tyrek Cheeseboro. The Baltimore native arrived on campus in the spring after a stint at Fork Union Military Academy. The head start should give Cheeseboro a bit of a lift in chasing playing time.
Also helpful: The departure of last year’s top two receivers, Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon. There are holdovers who worked their way into the rotation in 2010, Kevin Dorsey, Kerry Boykins and Quintin McCree among them. But there’s also snaps to be had at wideout for younger guys like Cheeseboro and Adrian Coxson.
5. RB Justus Pickett. A bit of a roll of the dice, though it is more likely for a running back or wideout to make an impact as a freshman than, say, an offensive lineman. Pickett was a late addition to Edsall’s first class, agreeing to join the Terps about a week after signing day.
The Terps pretty much know their top two tailbacks with Davin Meggett and D.J. Adams in the fold. But the No. 3 tailback could be former defensive back Jeremiah Wilson or one of two true freshmen (Brandon Ross is the other). Pickett ran for more than 2,400 yards as a high school senior, and at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, he offers a different look than Meggett (5-9, 215) or Adams (5-10, 220).
—- Patrick Stevens