A glance at three Maryland football players who aren't expected to begin the season in the starting lineup but could still produce for the Terps:
Sophomore running back Wes Brown
Brandon Ross is Maryland's starter at running back, and Albert Reid is Ross' top backup, but coaches will look to take advantage of Brown's physicality and toughness.
Ross is an all-purpose-type back who has decent size (5-feet-10, 205 pounds), decent speed and decent receiving skills out of the backfield. Reid, meanwhile, is a solid, dependable backup.
But Brown is the most naturally gifted of the running backs.
Brown, who was suspended last year, had more mental errors during preseason practice than Ross or Reid. He also isn’t as reliable in pass protection. However, he is 6-feet, 215 pounds, is violent as a runner and also moves well for his size.
It is unclear how Maryland plans to implement him, but it’s possible the Terps could use him in some short-yardage or goal line situations and then progressively increase his role depending on how he does.
“He’s not fun to tackle,” Terps running backs coach Andre Powell said of Brown earlier this month. “When he gets his shoulders squared and starts going downhill, not many people are volunteering to jump in front of him. He’s got good ball skills. He needs work because he missed a hunk of time. But I think by the time we get to game week, he’ll be a guy that we’ll find can help us win.”
Brown could get an opportunity to prove himself Saturday if Maryland jumps out to a sizable early lead against James Madison.
Junior wide receiver Levern Jacobs
Stefon Diggs and Deon Long are Maryland’s two stars at wide receiver and will get plenty of opportunities in the passing game. But Jacobs will be a factor as well.
Jacobs may be disciplined after being charged with second-degree assault last week. However, as it stands now, Jacobs is set to begin the season as the Terps’ No. 3 receiver and will see plenty of playing time. He could even start a decent amount, considering how frequently Maryland will likely have three or more receivers on the field.
Jacobs is not as well-known of a name nationally as Diggs or Long. But he had 47 catches last year and consistently stood out during preseason practice with his athleticism, his ability to get open and his sure hands.
Don’t be surprised to see him put up some respectable numbers this year.
"I feel like Stefon has a big target on his back, and it's good to have a player [with similar talent] as Stefon," safety Sean Davis said of Jacobs. "With Levern, I feel like he's a sneaky guy and people are going to sleep on him, but he's going to take advantage of it."
Sophomore outside linebacker Yannick Ngakoue
Ngakoue was a problem for Maryland’s offensive linemen throughout preseason camp, and he looks poised to do some damage as a situational pass rusher.
Ngakoue, whom Rivals.com ranked as the fourth-best outside linebacker in last year’s recruiting class, played only a limited role as a freshman, but teammates and coaches have raved about the progress he has made heading into this year.
“He’s definitely matured,” outside linebackers coach Lyndon Johnson said. “He’s 180 degrees from where he was last year. He’s just playing at a higher level right now. … He’s much more coachable. He wants to get better. He wants to learn as much as possible. I think he’s bought into the system. That’s probably the biggest thing, and he feels much more comfortable at the position and with what’s going on around him.”