Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and editor Matt Bracken weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland football and basketball.
Five Maryland commitments helped the U.S. All-Stars to a 105-93 win over the Capital All-Stars in the Capital Classic on Saturday. After seeing incoming post players Shaquille Cleare, Charles Mitchell and Damonte Dodd in action, how can we expect those freshmen to fit in a frontcourt that returns James Padgett, Alex Len and Ashton Pankey?
Don Markus: Based on the way Mark Turgeon coached the Terps his first season, I expect Len and Padgett to begin the season as starters. Given some of the comments Turgeon made about Pankey last season -- particularly the one early on about the redshirt freshman forward being "brain dead" -- I am actually surprised that Pankey is still at Maryland. That says to me he remains in Turgeon's plans -- or should I say his career has been resuscitated? Pankey showed flashes last season of being a productive inside player, but then he'd disappear. As for the newcomers, I think Cleare is the one who they're counting on to be ready. It will give Turgeon a chance to move Len out to play a high-post center at times, something he's skilled enough to do given his passing skills and shooting range. It should also help Padgett be more effective in playing 20-25 minutes a game rather than 30. I think Mitchell is going to be more of an energy guy, along the lines of a Bambale Osby when he first came to College Park. I am not sure how much Dodd will play at this level, but he showed in the Capital Classic that he has the athleticism to compete at his size.
Maryland finished spring football Saturday with a Red-White Game dominated by defense – although the 67-53 score might not indicate it. What position unit appears to be in the best shape coming out of spring, and what group needs the most work before fall?
Jeff Barker: There sure were a lot more memorable moments for the defense than the offense during the spring game. It looked like the stronger unit. I like the defensive line with Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis returning. The linebackers could be strong in the new 3-4, particularly if Kenny Tate can come back from knee surgery. “Depth-wise, the safety position is where we need some help,” defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said recently. The fans had to be rattled by watching the offensive line surrender 13 sacks. You just don’t expect your quarterbacks to be so harrassed in a spring game. It may be driving Randy Edsall crazy that people keep asking him about the dozen Maryland players who left the program after last season. Here’s how a reporter phrased a question during the most recent ACC teleconference: “How concerned are you that you could experience some growing pains or difficulties at quarterback in the fall when Danny O'Brien's out there leading Wisconsin to another Rose Bowl?” Think the ball coach loved that question? His reply: “I'm just concerned aboutC.J. Brown and Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe.”
The Terps football program picked up its second commitment of the 2013 class last weekend when Gilman quarterback Shane Cockerille offered his pledge before the Red-White Game. What can Maryland fans expect from Cockerille?
Matt Bracken: Terps offensive coordinator Mike Locksley apparently declined to compare Cockerille to any other quarterback he's seen, but the Greyhounds junior said offensive line coach Tom Brattan was reminded of a certain miracle-working signal-caller in New York. “Coach Brattan actually was like, ‘I’m gonna call you Tebow. Does anyone ever call you Tebow?’ I just laughed. I get that a lot,” Cockerille said. Comparing Cockerille to Tebow is apples and oranges; the latter was a consensus five-star prospect with offers from every major college football program in the country, while the former is a three-star recruit that picked Maryland over Navy, Temple and Virginia. The comparison presumably stems from size – Cockerille is 6-2, 210 pounds, Tebow is 6-3, 236 pounds – strength, running style and toughness. Cockerille is a pro-style passer who did more running (1,300 yards on the ground) than passing (1,100 yards through the air) in 2011. But the fact that Maryland prioritized a guy like Cockerille -- who also wrestles at Gilman and was recruited by Michigan as a safety -- at quarterback is telling. This Terps coaching staff, which also targeted a notably physical QB prospect last year in all-state wrestler Perry Hills, wants gritty, brawny passers who can run and won't be overwhelmed physically. In Cockerille, Maryland got a guy who fits that profile to a T.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun