- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 24, 2022

This week’s “Terps Top Three” looks at how Maryland players and coaches take a pause for Thanksgiving before one final regular season matchup this weekend against Rutgers.

Closing a chapter: Eighteen Terrapins will play their final game at SECU Stadium Saturday in Maryland’s season finale with Rutgers (noon, Big Ten Network). The group includes significant playmakers for the Terrapins, such as cornerback Jakorian Bennett, receiver Dontay Demus Jr., offensive lineman Jaelyn Duncan and defensive tackle Ami Finau, that have left an impact on Maryland’s underclassmen.

“He keeps me level throughout the game,” cornerback Tarheeb Still said of his secondary mate Bennett. “Some of the stuff that he does routinely — before he goes out on the field, he’ll take deep breaths to get his mind right. Stuff like that also helps me, because I just start to calm down, just lock into what I’m doing.”

Keeping It light: Maryland coach Mike Locksley always gets a question or two this week of the season about what he’ll have on the table for Thanksgiving. Athough he’s made references in the past to ‘grandma’s mac and cheese’ as a family favorite, he admitted this year that he’s keeping things a little bit lighter in the side dish category.

“I anticipated that as the season goes on, I typically stress and start out skinny and I end up a little robust,” Locksley said. “And so, with the meal prep that I put into it, I’ve got the Ka’chava [superfood] smoothie, I’ve got the almonds there to kind of keep me going throughout the day.”

Locksley said most of his players that are from within a two-hour drive from College Park are allowed to go home for the holiday. “Any and all” from the program are welcome at his house, as well as those of the Terrapins’ assistant coaches.

“I plan on being very disciplined Thursday,” Locksley said. “Maybe hit a two-minute drill at the end of the night as I put things away.”

Lights On for warmth: For the 20th-straight year, former Maryland standout Shawne Merriman’s foundation will be collecting coats outside of SECU Stadium before Saturday’s game.

The “Lights On” Foundation Coat Drive started while Merriman played in College Park in the early 2000s, with more than 38,000 coats collected in the drive’s history.

A play on Merriman’s “Lights Out” nickname and sack celebration from his playing days, the donations this year benefit Helping Up Mission and the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training.

The former NFL All-Pro knows first-hand the impact donations can have from his time growing up in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

“The coat drive has always been special to me because I know how it feels to not have a coat during Maryland’s brutally cold winter weather,” Merriman said. “To commemorate 20 years of providing warmth to our community, I want to set the bar high and bring in a record number of donations.” 

• George Gerbo can be reached at ggerbo@washingtontimes.com.

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