2011 Preview: Matt Furstenburg

What to expect from the Terps tight end this season.

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Though it may have taken some injures to the tight ends atop the depth chart in 2010, but last season we saw a glimpse of Matt Furstenburg's potential in the Maryland offense.

Devonte Campbell, speculated to be a dynamic threat in the passing game, and Will Yeatman, a former Notre Dame lacrosse player who transferred to College Park, were both slotted ahead of Furstenburg at the start of the season. But after Campbell suffered an MCL strain and Yeatman broke his finger, the third-stringer finally got an opportunity.

Furstenberg drew starts in 11 of the team's 13 games, totaling 12 catches for 206 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown against Clemson in mid-October. In the finale, the Military Bowl, he made two receptions for 20 yards.

In Randy Edsall's run-first offense, Furstenburgh will primarily be used as a run-blocking tight end. However, at Connecticut last season, tight end Ryan Griffin was the team's third-leading receiver (31), racking up 245 receiving yards. In 2008, Martin Bedard recorded similar statistics with 13 grabs for over 150 yards.

Last season at LSU, offensive coordinator Gary Crowton kept 10 tight ends on the roster. Among them, DeAngelo Peterson was the fourth-leading pass-catcher with 16 receptions for just under 200 yards. A year earlier, Richard Dickson caught 21 passes for the Tigers.

It's likely Furstenburg will be utilized as Griffin and Peterson were, though like the wide receivers on the Terps roster will have more opportunities to get involved with a true standout playmaker. From the tight end position, Yeatman has graduated in hopes of fulfilling an NFL future, and Furstenburg has been slated ahead of Campbell, Ryan Schlothauer and Dave Stinebaugh on the depth chart heading into summer practice.

At 6-4 and 245 pounds, Furstenburg is among the bigger targets for quarterback Danny O'Brien. The four-star tight end from Princeton, N.J. earned all-state honors as a senior at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in 2006, then led The Hun School Raiders to an undefeated season a year later.

As mentioned earlier, Furstenburg shined brightest against Clemson when he caught the 53-yard score. He caught five passes that afternoon for 98 yards, nearly 20-yard-per-reception average against the ACC's no. 2 defense.

However, Furstenburg did have a tendency to appear absent in games at times. In seven games he failed to record a single catch. He still finished third in receiving yards behind only Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon.

With his sophomore campaign a breakout season, Furstenburg could become a vital piece to the Terps offense with a full training camp of taking first-team reps behind him. Maryland has not had a true pass-catching threat from the tight end position since 2005 when Vernon Davis caught over 50 passes for 871 yards and six touchdowns.

Furstenburg's ceiling may not be nearly as high as Davis, who went on to become the sixth overall pick in the NFL Draft to the San Francisco 49ers, where he eventually became a Pro Bowl-caliber player. However, Furstenburg compares to other clutch Terps tight ends – Joey Hatnos, now catching balls for the Miami Dolphins, who caught 37 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns in 2006, and Dan Gronkowski, currently playing for the Detroit Lions, who in a year later caught almost 30 balls for 287 yards and three touchdowns.

If the Terps can get that type of production in 2011, it will yet another weapon in this young, potentially dangerous offense.

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