Maryland football began preseason practice Monday. Here are some notes and observations from the first day:
Sophomore running back Wes Brown looks good
Brown was suspended last season and put on 10-15 pounds while he was away, but the former four-star recruit trimmed up leading into spring practice and looked good Monday.
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He appears to be in good shape, was moving well and had a couple runs in particular that stuck out. On one, he found a hole, got about 15 yards downfield and then made an oncoming defender miss with a move in the open field that elicited a loud reaction from teammates.
But it wasn’t just Brown. The running back group as a whole looked solid, as much as it can until pads come on Friday.
Last year’s starter, Brandon Ross, had some good runs. So did Albert Reid. Jacquille Veii looked fast and shifty, and reserve Joe Riddle did well during one-on-ones early in practice, running some good routes to get open before making catches down the field.
Sophomore Andrew Isaacs stands out among tight ends
Isaacs, P.J. Gallo and converted linebacker Derrick Hayward are all competing for the starting tight end job vacated by Dave Stinebaugh, but Isaacs was by far the most impressive of the group, at least from a pass-catching standpoint.
The former four-star recruit was praised by coach Randy Edsall for having a productive summer and is unquestionably the biggest threat among the tight end group as a pass-catcher. That was clear Monday.
The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Hayward did catch at least two touchdowns during short-yardage drills, but he lacks fluidity as a route-runner and was inconsistent catching the ball during the spring.
Gallo is the best blocker of the group, but he struggled during one-on-one receiving drills and is not the same caliber of athlete as Isaacs and Hayward. Edsall also said Gallo did not have as productive of a summer as Isaacs or Hayward.
Junior wide receiver Marcus Leak praised by quarterback C.J. Brown
Leak took the year off from school and football last year, but he is back and was praised by Brown after Monday’s workout. On a day when other receivers like Deon Long and Amba Etta-Tawo dropped passes, Leak appeared to have a good day.
“He’s come back bigger and stronger than ever,” Brown said Monday. “And you saw him out there today running and make catches. It looks like he hasn’t lost anything.”
Maryland is deep at receiver, but Leak began camp as the starter at the No. 3 spot.
OTHER NOTES: Sophomore starting cornerback Will Likely had two nice pass breakups during the red-zone portion of practice, including a diving one to prevent what may have been a touchdown. … Junior defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson has an impressive build and looked good during one-on-one rushing drills. Andre Monroe and Darius Kilgo are the two big names along the defensive line, but Jefferson has the look of an NFL player and will try to build on a productive sophomore season. … Four-star freshman right tackle Derwin Gray looks bigger and more advanced physically than a lot of college freshman, but fellow highly touted freshman Damian Prince appears to still be in the process of working his way into optimal shape. Prince is talented, and the team has high hopes for him, but he did not have the advantage of spending the summer training with the team like Gray did.