Spring Football Rewind: Offensive Line

What began as a promising spring camp for the Terps newly-constructed offensive line ended with a bit of a fizz thanks to a hole at the left tackle spot.

What began as a promising spring camp for the Terps newly-constructed offensive line ended with a bit of a fizz thanks to a hole at the left tackle spot.

First, junior returning starter Michael Dunn was shut down due to a sore back, though he is expected to be ready for fall camp, and it was more a precautionary move anyway. Worst yet, the torn labrum (shoulder) injury suffered by prized former four-star Under Armour AA left tackle Derwin Gray two-thirds of the way through camp, which was operated on last month. Gray could be on the shelf/rehab for six months, and it’s his second shoulder surgery in two years.

That left some former walk-ons manning the spot in the annual Red-White Game on April 11, and the Terps hoping for the best come the 2015 season.

On the other side, the revelation was No. 1 right tackle Damian Prince, Gray’s buddy and classmate, who even before the injury was ahead of Gray in terms of the learning curve and locking down a future position. And that is very good news for the former five-star Under Armour AA, who reported to UMD last summer way overweight.

Next to him, inside at guard, is junior vet Andrew Zeller, who along with junior left guard Ryan Doyle formed the "bricks and mortar" of the line this spring, Doyle in his new spot since moving from tackle last year. Both were steady and productive last month in camp.

At center, junior Stephen Grommer was in a tight battle with promising redshirt freshman Brendan Moore, a potential future star at College Park, and solid junior utility man Evan Mulrooney, who has played various spots on the line during his career.

Among others, Randy Edsall praised the spring play of youngsters like redshirt freshman tackle Sean Christie, who had knee surgery last fall in camp, while other 2-3rd years guys like Jajuan Dulaney have yet to hit their stride.

Redshirt freshman Mike Minter helped lend a hand in the spring game at left tackle with the others out, sophomore Maurice Shelton the same.

Meanwhile, the Terps will probably need a rookie or two from their vaunted incoming class of five OLs in the 2015 signing class to get in the two-deep perhaps by the fall.

Despite the injury adversity down the stretch (and Gray was beginning to hit stride after a bit of a bumpy start in camp), the Terps showed this spring that they do have some more power and punch up front, especially in run block, where they lacked physicality and aggressiveness at times last season. The bookend tackles Gray and Prince are the future of the line, and represent the progress UMD has made in recruiting up front. Now the hope is half the tandem will be ready by September or so, while the good news is the Terps have some swing guys (see Doyle) who have played multiple positions before and can fill in spot duty if need be. Gray has all the physical tools, and looks the part of future pro, but is still working on technique, footwork, landmarks, etc, as he continues his development at the all-important blindside spot.

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