Highly touted Terps freshman Jesse Aniebonam could be factor as pass rusher

COLLEGE PARK — Like most football roommates, Maryland linebackers L.A. Goree and Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil constantly talk about football.

Goree and Cudjoe-Virgil talk about practice. They talk about defensive game plans. They talk about what’s going on with the team, and they talk about individual players they have been impressed with.

According to Goree, freshman outside linebacker Jesse Aniebonam is one of the players Cudjoe-Virgil has raved about throughout the summer.

“He is always telling me like, ‘Man, Jesse’s going to be nice. Jesse’s going to be nice,’” Goree said, “and I see it. It’s almost inevitable. With his speed and his size, he can’t be denied.”

Like most freshman, Aniebonam is still learning and adjusting to the college level. He is also continuing to mold his body to be able to hold up physically at this new level. But Maryland coach Randy Edsall expects Aniebonam to have a role this season.

Is Aniebonam ready to contribute in the run game? Probably not.

Is he going to drop back and be reliable in pass coverage? Probably not at this point of his career.

But the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Aniebonam may be the fastest and most athletic of the Terps' linebackers, and he showed during preseason practice that he can do some damage as a pass rusher.

“Jesse is a guy who is very talented,” Edsall said. “He’s very athletic, and he’s a guy that we feel will have an opportunity to be able to contribute in some capacity. Certain positions and certain things that you do within your scheme will allow guys to maybe get on the field a little bit quicker than maybe at some other positions based on their skill level [and] based on what you do. It might just be one or two situations that those guys can handle, but Jesse is very natural in some of the things that we want him to do.”

Aniebonam was one of the top-rated members of Maryland’s past recruiting class.

Rivals ranked him as a four-star prospect and the second-best recruit in the state of Maryland.

Aniebonam did not have many standout moments during the team portion of preseason practice. But he apparently stuck out to Cudjoe-Virgil during pass rushing drills. Edsall also singled out Aniebonam for his play during the Terps’ final scrimmage of preseason camp last week.

In particular, Edsall talked about Aniebonam's effectiveness as a pass rusher.

“He’s going to be really, really good once he ends up going through that process and learning all the fundamentals and the techniques and he develops some of the things that you have to develop to play that position,” Edsall said. “But he’s put himself in a position to have an opportunity. Now, we’ll have to see if that opportunity presents itself or not this week.”



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