Spring was a time for rebirth at no position more so than receiver at Terps football camp last month.
Despite a few players sidelined due to carry-over injuries (Taivon Jacobs, Amba Etta-Tawo), it was an opportunity for a few young players to get back in the conversation.
That group was led by sophomore slot DeAndre Lane, who was mostly a forgotten man last season, but got the opportunity and ran with it. The smallish speedster out of Catonsville was the biggest offensive surprise of the spring, routinely coming up with big catch-and-runs most every day at spring camp. He could also be an asset on special teams in the return game this fall.
But at receiver, there wasn’t an offensive player Randy Edsall mentioned quite as much, as with Jacobs down, Lane took his chance and ran with it. In a spring where quarterback-to-receiver hookups were a tad inconsistent at times, he appeared to have some of the most consistent hands of the lot all month, be it over the middle or on deep balls he broke loose on.
Whether it continues over to fall camp remains to be seen, but Lane reemerged this spring no doubt, and gives the Terps another shifty threat with the ball in his hands. Ball security was a big asset for him this spring.
The other rebirth, so to speak, also happened at slot, where former four-star quarterback/athlete signee Will Ulmer, the redshirt freshman, began to take to his new home this spring. While wicked-dangerous after the catch, and another guy that got a lot of reps this spring, Ulmer still needs to refine his hands and route running. But getting the ball to him in space, and his work "YAC" could be a sight to see this fall if he can catch the ball with more consistency. He is one of the team's top athletes.
Meanwhile, senior wide-out Marcus Leak had his ups and downs during the spring, battling consistency and drops here and there. But he finished with a rousing effort in the annual Red-White game on April 11, hauling in three TD passes from QB Perry Hills, and could have had a fourth. He has all the tools, now it’s just a matter of him becoming more consistent on and off the field to have a bang-up senior year.
Hopefully, for the Terps sake, it happens.
The other top upperclassman, senior Levern Jacobs, came back strong after his year-long suspension last season, and was perhaps the most consistent receiver start to finish in spring camp. He will likely be the go-to guy again this fall, as he was two seasons ago after Stefon Diggs and Deon Long were hurt and Jacobs led the team in receptions.
Sophomore-to-be Juwann Winfree overcame a mid-camp injury to show flashes yet again, and he is among the Terps brightest prospects for the future. Long, athletic, good hands, he keeps working and he will have all-Big Ten potential.
Meanwhile, junior-to-be Malcom Culmer had his moments from time to time as well, but also needs to become a more consistent pass catcher.
The Terps will likely get 2015 signee and four-star pickup D.J. Moore in the mix early after he arrives this summer. And the aforementioned Taivon Jacobs and Etta-Tawo are both expected back for the start of fall camp, while Jacobs (knee) won a medical hardship year this winter.
Spring Football Rewind: Receiver
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