Maryland Football Recap, Recruitment, and Reasons for Hope
The Maryland football team entered the 2020 season full of unknowns. How much of a season will we have? Who will play quarterback? How will we compare to the stiff competition of the Big 10? What is known, is that Mike Locksley can recruit. He served as a top recruiter in Alabama and brought in several high-profile players in his return to Maryland. Yet, fans are unsure if he can coach. His career record as a head coach was 6 – 40 entering the season and no matter how much Maryland fans respect the man, there would need to be signs of improvement entering year two as the coach.
Unaware of how just how good the North Western Wildcats would finish this season, Maryland fans were left hiding in their shells after getting shredded by the Wildcat offense 43 – 3. New quarterback, Taulia Tagovailoa appeared to be unsettled, underprepared, and unlikely to remain the starter with Lance LeGendre waiting in the wings. The game started promising on its opening drive, but that was about it, getting outmatched in the nationally televised game.
However, Maryland would respond by playing its most exciting two games the following weeks. Maryland got off to a hot start against Minnesota but running back Mohamed Ibrahim seemed to be unstoppable. Pushing and pounding for five yards each time he touched the ball. While Ibrahim would finish the game with a career high four touchdowns, the Terrapin offense would not yield. Taulia Tagovailoa decided to not only throw a coming out party to the country, but he’d also throw for 450 yards and running for another 59 with 5 total touchdowns. After trailing by 17 points in the fourth quarter, Maryland watched a Gopher extra point sail right and their miraculous comeback complete. The win brought hope to the fanbase and Maryland got their first glimpse of something special happening in College Park.
In game three, Penn State headed into the game leading the overall series 40 – 2 – 1 with Terps fans last clinching victory by a single point in 2014. While Penn State appeared to be having a down year, Maryland’s team showed no signs of remorse, punishing Penn State 35 – 19. “Great team win,” Locksley said. “I’m just so happy for those players in that locker room. I am happy for the former Terp football players that have endured us not playing competitively with (Penn State).”
Maryland would have its next two games cancelled due to Covid – 19 leaving Maryland fans sick as they wanted to test their high-powered offense against the best the in nation in Ohio State. Several national analysts suggested that Maryland showed the capability to give the Buckeye’s a true test that could hurt their National Championship hopes. However, the game was never played and Terps fans would have to wait yet another week after their game against Michigan State was also cancelled.
In their return to the field, Maryland would be matched up against an #11 Indiana team that had just seen their comeback cut short in a loss to Ohio State by a single touchdown late. Maryland would be without several of its key players and never seemed to get their offense settled in against the Hoosiers and fell 27 – 11.
Maryland would again see a game cancelled. This time against Michigan. By the time they faced Rutgers in early December, they were without team leaders Taulia Tagovailoa and Chance Campbell for safety concerns related to Covid – 19 and lost in overtime due to a missed field goal.
While the Terps would have been eligible to participate in a bowl game, Maryland informed the Big 10 that they would not be participating in a bowl game this year with its players health deemed more important.
The Terps finished the season with a 2 – 3 record. The offense showed that it could be one of the tops in the country with Tagovailoa, Jake Funk, and Rakim Jarrett on the offense. However, the defense gave up an average of 4.9 yards per carry and 14 rushing touchdowns in 5 games. Mike Locksley and his staff would look for help.
Overall, Maryland would finish with a top 20 recruiting class ranging from anywhere from 15th – 18th depending on where you read. Mike Locksley looked to solidify the defensive side of the football in this year’s recruiting class.
Maryland would bring in twenty-three total recruits, with seven of those recruits playing defensive line. Demeioun Robinson is the crown jewel of the class. The Quince Orchard product is ranked 64 nationally and should be an immediate impact as a part of the pass rush.
Branden Jennings, a four star outside linebacker, was the surprise of the class as he flipped from Michigan late in the process helping provide reasons for excitement for years to come on defense.
After getting pushed around on the defensive line, the Terps brought in eight hundred sixty pounds of defensive tackle in Taizse Johnson, Tommy Akingbesote, and Andre Porter. Johnson and Akingbesote are both four stars from the DMV and Porter is a three star from Washington, Pennsylvania.
The Terps recruiting class could also gain some national attention early in 2021. Terrence Lewis is a five-star linebacker who originally committed to Tennessee but re-opened his recruitment and has only Maryland and Tennesse listed as his choices next season. Terrance has no intention of revealing his commitment until early January, but after wearing a Terrapin sticker on his helmet during the state championship game, Terps fans hope Lewis will call College Park home next season.
Reasons for Hope:
Maryland will be entering year three of Mike Locksley as its head coach. The players he recruited should be entering their junior seasons and leadership positions both on the field and in the film sessions. Maryland has finished 47th, 31st, and now 19 during his time, which is the first time Maryland has had consecutive top recruiting classes in years.
Despite Jake Funk declaring for the NFL draft, Taulia Tagovailoa, Jeshaun Jones, and Rakim Jarrett still remain on offense. Nick Cross and much of the defense returns next season. The defense should also be ignited by the defensive recruits of this year’s class.
Next year Maryland will enter the season with raised expectations. They will have the talent to be a top 25 team and the culture of the Locksley coaching staff will be tested yet again. Terps fan have been patient while waiting for their time to compete in the Big 10. Should the Terps have a productive offseason, they might not have to wait much longer.