Fall Camp Positional Preview: Tight Ends

In anticipation of fall camp this August, we're previewing each position and breaking down where things stand with Maryland as it heads into it's inaugural Big Ten campaign. Here's a look at the tight ends:

No, Vernon Davis nor Jeff Dugan nor Joey Haynos are walking through that door anytime soon.

The Terps had a nice little run as something of a 'Tight End U' (see Matt Murphy, Dan Gronkowski, as well among the others), but those days have now ceded to a day Maryland begins the 2014 season without a tight end that has caught a ball in a game. There are some bright young stars and some growth potential on the unit, but coach John Dunn is looking for a few good men to take it to the field this fall.

Leading the way is sophomore P.J. Gallo (6-foot-2, 250 pounds), an improved pass catcher but mostly a stay-at-home, blocking type end. He has become more physical as a blocker, and look for much of his work to be done in-line. Gallo is also a smart guy, the Terp with the highest GPA on the team. He will start, and hopefully for UMD will become more of a threat downfield catching the ball as well.

When it comes to "move" tight ends, well, those would be two young athletes, sophomore Andrew Isaacs, the former four-star signee out of Connecticut, who has solid potential once he continues to fill out and become a more physical blocker. He has good hands and can stretch defenses more than any of the other candidates. He played last year mostly on special teams as a true freshman and has all the physical attributes you look for with a 6-2, 245-pound frame and big hands.

The other intriguing youngster is converted defense end Derrick Heyward (6-5, 235), a wisp of a freshman last year who has bulked up and also brings another tall, rangy athlete to the mix who can get down the field. But he had a very inconsistent spring catching the ball (though he did play tight end in high school as well), and needs more bulk and to become more physical in the blocking game.

The Terps also have a heady walk-on in sophomore Brian McMahon (6-3, 240), who also served on special teams last year and was a scout team standout giving the Terps good opponent looks. He is a former high school (Atholton/Columbia, Md.) quarterback. McMahon could be another effective blocker.

The Terps employ multiple tight end sets, so it will be essential that numerous ones emerge this fall as regular contributors. They lost veteran Dave Stinebaugh to graduation, and while his career was limited by injuries, he had 15 catches and three touchdowns a year ago. His blocking was also quite effective.

Dunn and company need the youngsters to ramp up quickly, while incoming freshman Andrew Gray (6-2, 235) out of Ohio could be another blocker type early in his career if he catches onto the playbook. The Terps also have walk-on Eric Roca (6-2, 240) returning.

It's a position that's reloading, and one that will have its share of question marks in camp next month that need answering soon.

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