Amba Etta-Tawo had hit a rough patch in his junior year. The Maryland wide receiver had lost his starting job after a loss to Bowling Green in the second game of the season and had a two-game streak without a catch entering Saturday's matchup with Penn State.
But in the Terps' 31-30 loss to the Nittany Lions, Etta-Tawo was able to prove himself to be a reliable target for quarterback Perry Hills and a reliable option for interim coach Mike Locksley's offense. Etta-Tawo had two catches for 27 yards in the defeat, and he feels like he's worked through a tough past month.
"I feel like I was in a funk for a little bit," Etta-Tawo said. "I had to shake it off a little bit. Coach Locksley did a good job with that, keeping my head straight and continuing to give the opportunity."
Though Etta-Tawo's production might appear to have been meager, one of his catches had a big impact Saturday. With the Terps facing a third-and-11 at their own 27-yard line, Hills hit Etta-Tawo for an 18-yard gain and a first down. It was the lone third-down conversion in a 10-play, 88-yard drive that ended with Hills hitting wide receiver DeAndre Lane for a 10-yard touchdown catch and a 27-24 lead.
In the Bowling Green game, Etta-Tawo had team highs with five catches for 49 yards. But the Terps still struggled to respond to the high-powered Falcons in a second-half collapse. Over the next three games, Etta-Tawo had three catches for 27 yards in a more limited role. On the season, he has 12 catches for 124 yards, marks that rank third and fifth, respectively, on the Terps.
"I feel like with the Penn State game, even though we lost, I feel like a lot of players, not only me, a lot of guys got back in their grooves and remembered the fundamentals of the game and why they're here and what the game actually means to us," Etta-Tawo said.
Etta-Tawo credits Locksley for helping him by continuing to put him in a position to contribute despite occasional problems with dropped passes. Maryland rotates its wide receivers frequently, with seven seeing playing time against Penn State. Hills completed passes to nine different players against the Nittany Lions, so Etta-Tawo knows the opportunities to contribute are there.
"[Locksley] told me to continue doing what I was going, just control what I can control," Etta-Tawo said. "In the end, it's been working out for me."