Five players to watch in Maryland's Red-White spring football game

Sophomore running back Javon Leake is right behind redshirt freshman Anthony McFarland Jr. on the depth chart.
Sophomore running back Javon Leake is right behind redshirt freshman Anthony McFarland Jr. on the depth chart. (Will Newton / Getty Images)

When a new coach takes over a college football program, the winter is used to get familiar with the roster and set the tone off the field.

The spring is a time to see what players can do on the field, though many are still learning a playbook and perhaps a different coaching style.


That has been the case at Maryland since Dec. 4, the day Michael Locksley returned to the Terps as their head coach. While some of the players he started to recruit when he was Randy Edsall’s offensive coordinator remain, most are gone.

As Maryland finishes a month of spring practice with the annual Red-White intrasquad game at noon Saturday, there are still more questions than answers about how the Terps will look — and how they’ll play — come fall.

Despite a breakout redshirt freshman year, Anthony McFarland Jr. is facing strong competition at running back under new coach Michael Locksley.

Virginia Tech graduate transfer Josh Jackson, who most figure will be the starting quarterback when Maryland opens the 2019 season Aug. 31, has yet to arrive on campus as he finishes his undergraduate responsibilities in Blacksburg, Va.

The same is true for Buffalo tight end Tyler Mabry.

Linebacker Keandre Jones, who transferred from Ohio State, is still awaiting word from the NCAA regarding his personal hardship waiver that would allow him to play immediately rather than sitting out a year. Jones has practiced this spring and, according to Locksley, has assumed a leadership role.

Just as happened when Ralph Friedgen took over for Ron Vanderlinden in 2000, Locksley has inherited a lot of talent that was recruited by DJ Durkin and was coached last season by Matt Canada, who took over when Durkin was put on administrative leave in August and then fired Oct. 31.

Asked what he is looking to see in Saturday’s Red-White game, Locksley said this week: “I think the first thing, I want to get us out of there as healthy as we can. Depth is an issue until we can get some of the [2019] recruits on campus this summer, and then certain positions we’re just thin at.

“The next thing is to allow our players to go out there and play. We’re going to make the teams as competitive as we can make them so that it’s a competitive game. … We want to figure out which guys have the ability to make plays for us.”


Here are five players to watch Saturday.

Javon Leake

After being buried on the depth chart to start last season, the sophomore running back moved up because of injuries to others as well as his own performance, including a four-touchdown game against Illinois. Having scored nine touchdowns on just 43 carries in his first two seasons, the 6-foot, 210-pound Leake is right behind redshirt freshman Anthony McFarland Jr. on the depth chart. Leake will also get a chance to return kickoffs.

Chigoziem Okonkwo, right
Chigoziem Okonkwo, right(Patrick Semansky / AP)

Chigoziem Okonkwo

After the tight end seemed to be an endangered position in Durkin’s two seasons, the 6-2, 235-pound freshman emerged as a playmaker for the Terps last year. Though he only caught six passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, he ran three times for 72 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown against Illinois. Given the way Locksley employed his tight ends last season at Alabama, it’s apparent that Okonkwo and Mabry will be a big part of Maryland’s offense this fall.

Chance Campbell

As a freshman last season, the 6-2, 223-pound linebacker from Baltimore (Calvert Hall) was a terrific special teams player who might be remembered for recovering a bouncing kickoff deep in Ohio State territory to give the Terps possession after their opening touchdown. (Maryland fans will also recall how the Terps fumbled on the next play.) With senior Isaiah Davis out the last couple of weeks of spring practice with an injury, Campbell and Ayinde Eley have stepped in trying to help replace first-team All-Big Ten linebacker Tre Watson.

Austin Fontaine

After redshirting this past season, many expected the 6-4, 335-pound Fontaine to fill a hole on the team’s defensive line. But a season-threatening torn patella tendon injury to junior offensive tackle TJ Bradley, as well as lack of other healthy players in the spring, forced Locksley to move the former four-star prospect from defensive line to offensive line, where he played some in high school. The move appears to be permanent.

Jordan Mosley
Jordan Mosley(Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

Jordan Mosley

With the departure of second-team All-Big Ten safety Darnell Savage Jr. and the subsequent season-ending torn ACL for senior Antwaine Richardson this month, the sophomore linebacker will likely be used similarly to the defense’s top returning playmaker, Antoine Brooks Jr. Just as Brooks can play linebacker, safety and slot corner, so apparently can Mosley, who last season made 29 tackles, including a career-high six in the season finale at Penn State.