Terps Spring Football Preview V: Tight Ends

Spring practice began March 4, and for our next position preview we take a look at the tight ends.

Well, on the subject of thin Maryland units for the spring, tight end jumps out as well.

Early last season, down went the Terps best all-around threat (on a thin and young unit to begin with), sophomore former four-star signee Andrew Isaacs, just four games in to a massive knee blowout at Syracuse. He had caught just two balls for three yards to that point, but he was the biggest, most athletic dual-threat to either stretch the field in the passing game, or stay at home and block.

That left junior P.J. Gallo, who if you combined his blocking with freshman former defensive end Derrick Hayward’s athleticism, well you might have a solid dual-threat. But neither was an ace catching the ball, especially Hayward, who struggled mightily at times in 2014 with his mitts.

A greenhorn with good size but not good ‘feel’ yet at the position, the 6-foot-5, 235-pounder still needs weight gain/bulk to block, and confidence bringing the ball in. He caught two balls for 25 yards last season, but easily had twice as many glaring drops, failing to look the ball in and secure it.

Gallo, the top student on the team, also had two grabs, for 13 yards, including his first career touchdown reception in his Pennsylvania homecoming at Penn State in the close win. Gallo, a good blocker, has worked to become a better pass-catcher, but will never be known as a premier field-stretcher.

Meanwhile, former three-star pickup from Ohio Andrew Gray spent the year redshirting, and brings some dual-threat ability once he, too, gains more strength as a blocker. He is a solid pass-catcher with modest speed.

Isaacs will miss the spring, and the Terps certainly hope he’s ready by the fall as they failed to ink a tight end in the 2015 recruiting class.

It remains a position devoid of stars, and numbers, not like the days the likes of Vernon Davis, Joey Haynos, Jeff Dugan, Matt Murphy and others were cycling through UMD seemingly every year.

Among the Terps other roster tight ends, former walk-on Brian McMahon graduated this winter and moved on, while freshman walk-on Eric Roca returns.

Tight ends were little-used in the offense last season, especially when Isaacs went down, and given the Terps needed all the blocking help they could muster, more than often they stayed home. Hopefully, someone will emerge to give the Terps reason to look to them as threats again.

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