Maryland safety Antwaine Richardson, who started 10 games last season, tore his ACL on Saturday and will likely miss the 2019 season, coach Michael Locksley announced after practice Tuesday. Richardson is expected to have surgery later this week.
“Losing him obviously is a guy that has played a lot of football around here,” Locksley said. “[He] has shown tremendous leadership, so we’ll obviously miss that experience and leadership he brought to the table for us from the defensive side of the ball.”
Richardson finished with 41 tackles as a junior last fall, including a career-high 11 (eight solo) in Maryland’s 52-51 overtime defeat at home to No. 10 Ohio State. Richardson, who switched from cornerback to safety before the 2018 season, recorded his first career interception in a win over Illinois in October.
This marks the second time Richardson has torn an ACL. He suffered the same injury the summer before his senior year in high school in Delray Beach, Fla,, causing several high-profile programs recruiting him to lose interest. He enrolled early at Maryland, but played in just two games in 2016, including the season opener.
Even before his injury, there was some question as to whether Richardson would have held onto his starting position with the stockpiling of talent at the safety spot. For now, it appears that rising sophomore Jordan Mosley will move from linebacker to safety.
The Terps have some depth at the position — including rising redshirt sophomore Deon Jones and highly-touted incoming freshman Nick Cross. There is also the possibility of moving senior Antoine Brooks, considered the team’s best defensive playmaker, from a hybrid role to more of a true safety.
While not identifying which players could replace Richardson as one of the team’s leaders on the defense — that might happen Saturday when the Terps hold their first intrasquad scrimmage — Locksley said that unit has demonstrated more leadership than the offense.
“I think the defensive side of the ball is starting to display some leadership,” Locksley said after the seventh of 15 spring practices. “That’s the thing as coaches we want to see obviously, which guys step up. I really felt like the defense put back-to-back practices of good energy, good effort. I think the offensive side of the ball, we’ve got to find some leaders.
“We’ve often say that leadership is having the ability to affect others in a positive manner. Today on the offensive side of the ball, I thought we were really sloppy. I’m starting to see quite a few mental errors I can deal with not knowing what to do, but when you make the same mistakes over and over and over. We’ve got to get that corrected.”
The injury to Richardson was the second serious knee injury a Terps player has suffered since the start of spring practice two weeks ago. Junior reserve offensive tackle TJ Bradley tore the patella tendon in his knee last week. After saying last week that Bradley would miss the spring, Locksley said Tueday that the offensive lineman would likely miss the season as well.