After a redshirt sophomore season that was hampered by a nagging ankle injury, Maryland running back Anthony McFarland Jr. thinks he has done enough in his two seasons with the Terps to turn pro.
McFarland, who last season broke LaMont Jordan’s freshman rushing record with 1,034 yards that included a career-high 298 yards against Ohio State, announced Tuesday on Twitter than he will put his name in the 2020 NFL draft.
It comes three days after McFarland rushed for 134 yards on eight carries, including a 63-yard touchdown run, in a 19-16 season-ending loss at Michigan State. McFarland’s previous high for the season was 132 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries in a 20-17 loss at Temple Sept. 14.
“I can’t thank everyone at Maryland enough for the last three years,” McFarland said in a statement released by the team. “The future is bright under [coach Michael Locksley]. I know my brothers are going to do some special things in the coming years for our amazing fans in College Park. Terp for Life!”
Said Locksley, who helped recruit McFarland to Maryland as the team’s former offensive coordinator: “Anthony McFarland represented his home state and university. He’s one of the most dynamic playmakers I’ve ever coached. I’m looking forward to watching him represent the Terps at the next level.”
McFarland said a couple of weeks later that he suffered a high ankle sprain in that game, which accounted for his production dropping precipitously from his freshman year. He sat out only one game — against Indiana on Oct. 19 — but had just 255 yards on 60 carries in the seven games his two 100-yard performances.
For the season, the 5-foot-9, 199-pound McFarland rushed for 641 yards and eight touchdowns — including an 80-yarder against Rutgers — on 114 carries. He also caught 17 passes for 126 yards and one touchdown. His last play for the Terps was a 40-yard kickoff return at the end of the game Saturday.
McFarland came to Maryland from nearby DeMatha, where as a junior he was ranked the No. 3 running back in the country. A broken leg suffered in a preseason game before his senior year caused him to miss the entire season and opened the door for the Terps to get him.
The departure of McFarland wasn’t totally unexpected for the Terps, who now must await what is likely to be a similar decision by junior running back Javon Leake, who in McFarland’s absence this season took over as the team’s featured back.
Leake, who according to multiple team sources said is “going through the process” of getting his evaluations from NFL scouts and front office personnel, led the 3-9 Terps with 736 yards and eight touchdowns on 102 carries.
A backup his first two seasons, Leake rushed for 408 yards and scored nine touchdowns on only 43 carries while playing as a freshman behind former Maryland star Ty Johnson, now finishing his rookie season with the Detroit Lions, as well as behind Johnson and McFarland last year.
Leake also emerged as one of the nation’s top kick returners during the 2019 season, and on Tuesday was named the winner of the Rogers-Dwight Award as the Big Ten’s return specialist of the year. Leake led the conference with 804 return yards — including a pair of 100-yard touchdowns — and was third in Football Bowl Subdivision.
NOTES: Leake, who was also selected first team All-Big Ten returner by the media and the coaches, joins former Maryland star Williams Likely, who won the inaugural Rogers-Dwight in 2015, as well as former Michigan star Jabrill Peppers in 2016 and former Penn State star Saquon Barkley in 2017. Senior linebacker Antoine Brooks Jr. was named second-team All-Big Ten. Senior linebacker Keandre Jones, sophomore linebacker Ayinde Eley and freshman defensive back Nick Cross were each named honorable mention All-Big Ten.