Five Risers in the First Week

Turtle Sports Report takes a look at five players who have stepped up in the first week of fall camp...

1. Davin Meggett

Before his senior season in high school, Meggett only had interest from FCS programs. He was considered too small, too slow. But he impressed at Maryland's summer camp, and in early September, the Terrapins offered. He committed shortly after and not even the talk of a possible grayshirt bothered him.

Meggett went on to have a stellar senior season, rushing for 1,784 yards and 27 touchdowns and leading Surrattsville to its first playoff appearance in school history. There was no more grayshirt talk.

Now it seems possible he won't even redshirt.

The 5-foot-8, 215-pound running back has ascended the depth chart with an excellent first week of camp and is battling Morgan Green for No. 2 behind Da'Rel Scott.

Meggett is learning the playbook faster than most freshmen, coach Ralph Friedgen said. Friedgen has praised Meggett after just about every practice so far.

In Saturday's scrimmage, Meggett had 13 rushes for 73 yards and two touchdowns, including a 50-yard scamper down the sideline and back across the field.

"He did a good job for a true freshman, seeing all the things he has to see," Friedgen said. "He's got to learn where to make the right cut and he's got a lot of growth. But you can see he has ability."

Meggett remained modest, though. He estimated he made 11 errors on the 13 rushes, and got his share of commentary on the sideline from offensive coordinator James Franklin. Still, Meggett has exceeded just about everyone's expectations, including his own. He expected to hop in an ice bath and get something to eat following Saturday's scrimmage. Instead, he answered questions from a group of reporters.

2. Nolan Carroll

Carroll turned the tables on Friedgen last season. In a wide receiver logjam and itching to hit, Carroll asked Friedgen if he could switch to defensive back.

The move has worked out for both parties. Carroll has cemented himself as the starting cornerback opposite Kevin Barnes. At 6 foot 1, 202 pounds, he's one of the bigger defensive backs, which gives him another advantage.

"Nolan Carroll is having an outstanding camp," Friedgen said. "He's a physical guy and he's just playing with a lot of confidence right now when in the past he always was hesitant whether he was going to make a mistake. I don't see that right now. It's every scrimmage, every team period he's picking one off and doing something right."

The secondary as a whole thus far has pleased Friedgen, who said it is further along at this point than it was last year.

3. Josh Portis

It's taken Portis some time to learn that natural ability will only take him so far as a quarterback under Friedgen. So he immersed himself in the playbook and cut down the small mistakes that hindered him before.

It's clear this first week of practice he's come a long way in nailing down the mental aspect of quarterback. Though he still makes some small mistakes—a slight hitch in his throw led to Nolan Carroll's interception in the scrimmage—he's put himself in position to see playing time this fall.

"I'm more mentally sharp than I've ever been before," he said. "I've just been real, real, real focused, just real mentally into it. Knowing assignments, coach Friedgen takes upon more that than talent. I think I've been doing the little things he's asked me to do and I guess I'm just seeing the reward from it."

In Saturday's scrimmage, Portis' highlight was a 42-yard hookup with Quinton McCree. He finished 4 of 9 for 69 yards.

"I thought Portis made some big plays up the field," Friedgen said. "The thing I think that was really positive with him today is he didn't screw up any plays."

Portis' biggest threat—his running ability—can't be put on display in practice because quarterbacks can't be hit. Friedgen considered making Portis "live" in the next scrimmage, but he nixed the idea after talking to Franklin.

"I'm not going to do that," Friedgen said. "We talked about it, and James didn't want to do it. We've come this far with him now. James' thought was--and it's probably a legitimate one--we know what he can do. My concern was we put him in there and he hasn't been hit in three years and he gets in there and fumbles or something."

4. Da'Rel Scott

Injured off and on for most of his first two years, Scott is finally healthy and appears poised to lead the rushing attack.

With Morgan Green battling a quad injury, the 5-foot-11, 192-pound Scott gained separation the first week of camp as the starting running back. While he won't carry the ball 30 times a game, he's an explosive threat whose speed Maryland hasn't had in the backfield since a healthy Josh Allen.

Last season, Scott averaged 18.5 yards per touch.

"I've been very pleased with him," Friedgen said. "I've been pleased with his effort, I've been pleased with his toughness, I've been pleased with his pass protection. I think he's much more physical. Right now he's having a good camp. He's broken a couple long runs."

5. Rick Costa

Costa, another player who has battled injuries throughout his career at Maryland, is as healthy this camp as he's ever been. He moved from WILL to LEO and brings a more physical presence to the position.

"Rick is faster than [starting LEO] Trey [Covington], stronger than Trey. He's probably actually quicker than Trey. So he's a more explosive player," said outside linebackers coach Al Seamonson.

The new defensive set aims to add more speed up front, and Costa figures to be one of Maryland's best pass rushers. But first, he has to learn the position, which involves playing off the line of scrimmage—like he's used to—and on it, which is foreign to him. That versatility and knowledge of the position is why Covington, who's started there since the third game of 2005, is ahead.

"Rick's got to evolve to play on the line of scrimmage," Seamonson said. "I've been encouraged with what I've seen from Rick so far. I know he's going to give us another dimension out there when he's on the field. I'm anxious to see, there's some things that he may be able to do better than Trey Covington as he continues to learn and get good at the fundamentals."


TerrapinTimes Top Stories