If the spring is used as a proving ground for a college football team with a new coach, there should be several positions open at Maryland under Michael Locksley, who oversaw his first practice Tuesday.
That certainly appears to be the case for the Terps, but this group might be coming together quicker than most. Despite replacing three offensive linemen who started a bulk of their careers, Locksley likes what he sees.
Though admittedly a “little thin” because of the loss of tackles Damian Prince and Derwin Gray, as well as center Brendan Moore, Locksley said after practice that the returning corps is strong.
More familiar with what the Terps lost than what they had when he was hired in early December, Locksley said, “I do feel, or felt coming into the spring, I really like the offensive line.”
“I felt like we had big, athletic guys that moved really well as we evaluated them through our offseason winter conditioning program,” he said. “Those guys are really big athletic guys.”
Redshirt sophomore Marcus Minor will likely take over at left tackle for Prince, redshirt freshman Jaelyn Duncan is expected to replace Gray at right tackle and junior Johnny Jordan will be at center for Moore.
Redshirt senior Sean Christie, who was granted a medical waiver for a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, will start again at left guard and senior Terrance Davis will be back at right guard.
Among those who also appear to be in the running for rotation spots are senior guard Ellis McKennie (McDonogh), sophomore tackle Tyran Hunt and junior tackle TJ Bradley.
Locksley made it clear that he and offensive line coach John Reagan have yet to settle on starters. In reality, a depth chart won’t be unveiled for several months, likely right before the season opener against Howard..
“We don't have starting spots. We have starting points,” Locksley said. “As coaches, we'll go back, watch the film from today and that thing will fluctuate on a day-to-day basis as guys perform and show their abilities.”
Among the other points Locksley made at a post-practice news conference:
Montgomery calling plays
Locksley doesn’t plan on calling plays. Locksley also said that the Terps will run the same system Nick Saban ran at Alabama, where Locksley served as offensive coordinator last season after joining the staff in 2016.
“I feel really confident in Scottie Montgomery as a play-caller, I do,” Locksley said of his offensive coordinator. “I will be heavily involved in how we shape it from Sunday to the ball is kicked, but my intention is to let Scottie call it.”
Montgomery served as offensive coordinator at Duke from 2014 to 2015 before becoming the head coach for two seasons at East Carolina in 2016. He was fired after 11 games last season.
Savoy to play cornerback
Transfer Sean Savoy, who played exclusively wide receiver in his two seasons at Virginia Tech, will be used at cornerback for the Terps. It is a position Savoy played in high school.
“When we made the switch and he transferred in, one of the caveats for us is we've got a lot of guys that play receiver for us right now,” Locksley said. “If you look at our roster numbers, we're a little depleted at corner.”
Savoy is still waiting to receive a hardship waiver to play immediately.
The Terps are also apparently waiting on the status for another transfer, linebacker Keandre Jones, who played three seasons at Ohio State and is also trying to be eligible for the upcoming season.
“One of the things that really jumps out from Keandre is having been around a winning program there at Ohio State,” Locksley said. He understands the work that it takes to be successful.”
Hill staying the course
Quarterback Kasim Hill, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL for the second time in two years last season, remains in the program despite putting his name in the NCAA transfer portal in February.
“We're in pretty much daily contact with Kasim,” Locksley said “He's still obviously being involved with our program from the academic standpoint and from the training room with his rehab.”
As for whether Hill plans on finishing his career at Maryland, Locksley said: “Where he is, you would have to ask him that part of it. But we'll continue to support him academically and from a health standpoint to rehab him.”
Getting up to speed
Locksley acknowledged that running his first practice as a head coach since he spent the last six games of the 2015 season as Maryland’s interim coach after Randy Edsall was fired was a little different than his time at Alabama.
“It's harder for a guy like me because I'm used to coaching a position,” he said. “I'm used to having a side of the ball and now I've got to kind of be aligned with the defense as well as the offense.
“I've got to kind of take a big-picture approach. Any time you start coaching all of them, it takes away obviously from your ability to have that individual relationship with the players like you typically have as a position coach.”