Gone is one of the best meat-and-potatoes group of linebackers Maryland has had in some time, when you consider multi-year stalwarts like Cole Farrand, Matt Robinson, LA Goree, Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil and Alex Twine all graduated last spring. That was a ton of tackles and run-stuffing 'backers. And with the shift to the 4-3 defensive scheme this off-season, unit up-and-coming-stars Yannick Ngakoue, Jessie Aniebonam and Cavon Walker all moved up to the line to play with their hand in the dirt.
Though numbers are down overall, the Terps have a talented group of sophomores and juniors ready to prove their worth now on a full-time basis.
Starting outside first, sophomore Jermaine Carter, the unit's "runner-and-hitter," enjoyed a breakout spring camp as the leader of the pack. The former FCA (Washington, D.C.) standout didn't get all the hype teammates like Yannick Ngakoue and Derwin Gray got out of high school, but he will be a stat-stuffer deluxe this fall with his range, desire and nose for the ball.
The other outside spot will feature the tightest competition of fall camp, between sophomore Jalen Brooks, who has continued to progress physically and with technique, and fifth-year UConn senior transfer Jefferson Ashiru, who arrived this summer and will play immediately. He has a motor and is a quick learner, so will push Brooks right away, and may well lap him.
Inside, the Terps welcome back, full-time now, junior Abner Logan, who had to sit half of last season due to a school suspension. But he paid his penance, had a strong spring, and is looking like a physical specimen/'thumper' these days after some major weight room work during his time away and in the spring.
The Terps have a lot of other young talent coming up in the ranks, and the group is led by redshirt freshman Tyler Burke inside, redshirt freshman Nnamdi Egbuaba, while among the veteran reserves who have seem ample playing time in the past include junior Avery Thompson, junior Brock Dean and sophomore walk-on Matt Gillespie, who has shown promise.
Overall, the onus is on the group to get better in pass coverage, something that lacked last season.
In the 2015 recruit class, the Terps inked a handful of top backers, and Virginia signees Isaiah Davis (inside) and Gus Little (outside) looks the most physically ready of the group so far, especially Davis, and one may have the chance to get in the depth for the fall.
TT's Summer Football Thoughts: Linebacker
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