Randy Edsall and Co. has never enjoyed as prolific a summer nabbing critical fifth-year transfer pieces, and at tight end the impact may be truly felt this fall.
Of course, Oklahoma State fifth-year quarterback Daxx Garman jumps out as the most obvious new pickup, but at tight end, a down position at UMD the last several years, the Terps pulled a late coup that should reap dividends right away.
With presumptive starter Andrew Isaacs returning from major knee surgery, and behind him not a crew exactly known as catchers-and-runners, adding former North Carolina big-athlete Avery Edwards was huge for Maryland this month.
Edwards, a former Top 20 national tight end recruit, is a 6-foot-5, 230-pound catch-and-run guy who has been clocked at 4.55 40 yard dash times in the past.
After slipping up off the field last year, and not being allowed to enroll at UNC amidst all the other issues currently swirling in Chapel Hill, Edwards is Maryland's "Christmas in July" present, a talent that will challenge for the starting job immediately at College Park.
He can catch, run, split out wide, block, you name it. Edwards, who worked out at IMG Academy in Florida last spring, had some coaches thinking he was a college junior or senior when he first started working there.
Maryland needs more vertical threats in the tight end crew, and Edwards brings excellent "YAC" ability with his size, hands and speed. He should be a match-up problem for many defenses, and comes with an attitude ready to prove himself again.
Maryland attempted to recruit him out of high school the first time around, but he had a score of national offers and but always favored in-state UNC coming out of Ravenscroft.
If Isaacs is fully healthy and back from his knee injury, it will make for an interesting battle, while Maryland also likes to use multiple tight end sets as well. Isaacs hopefully hasn't lost too much speed from the injury, but it likely will be a process rounding all the way back from the devastating, multi-tear injury he suffered at Syracuse early last season. He was awarded a medical hardship year.
Isaacs is also a big, athletic target who can move, as is sophomore Derrick Hayward, who while improving more and more as a former defensive end, is still a tad raw as a catcher and blocker. Hayward's development continues, but at 6-5, 245-pounds he is an intriguing talent once all the other parts catch up in his game.
Meanwhile, behind them is junior P.J. Gallo, the Terps best in-line blocking tight end who caught a critical touchdown pass at Penn State last season in the narrow win, and behind him redshirt freshman Andrew Gray out of Ohio, who is still adding strength and developing as a blocker. The Terps also have sophomore walk-on Eric Roca.
Maryland hasn't had a true threat at the tight end position in years, and it's a spot with great tradition in the last few decades when you consider Vernon Davis, Matt Murphy, Joey Haynos, Jeff Dugan and the others who have gone on to play on Sundays. The Terps may finally be cultivating more of those.
TT's Summer Football Thoughts: Tight End
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