More than a dozen Maryland football players have officially explored the possibility of transferring in the aftermath of offensive lineman Jordan McNair’s death and the firing of third-year coach DJ Durkin, according to information obtained from the NCAA transfer portal.
The NCAA transfer portal is an outgrowth of a rule change that went into effect in October. It helps players transfer and prevents schools from blocking transfers to rival institutions. It allows players who are thinking about leaving to get their name into a public forum so other coaches know the player is available to recruit.
Seven of the 13 Maryland players listed on the portal — including redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome, junior running back Lorenzo Harrison III, junior quarterback Max Bortenschlager and redshirt sophomore defensive back Rayshad Lewis — later withdrew their names, presumably in line with the hiring of new coach Michael Locksley, according to a source familiar with the process.
An athletic department spokeswoman declined comment.
Pigrome put his name into the portal Nov. 28, four days after the Terps finished a 5-7 season under interim coach Matt Canada. Pigrome started the last two games after redshirt freshman Kasim Hill suffered a second ACL tear in as many seasons.
Pigrome, who tore his ACL in the 2017 season-opening upset at then-No. 23 Texas, had nearly led the Terps to another upset after replacing Hill. On Nov. 17, Maryland lost 52-51 in overtime to then-No.10 Ohio State in College Park when Pigrome’s 2-point conversion pass was off-target.
Harrison sat out most of the season after undergoing what his father called “minor” surgery on the running back’s knee. Durkin reportedly visited Harrison in the hospital after the surgery. Harrison put his name into the transfer portal Nov. 8, a little more than a week after Durkin was fired. Locksley hired DeMatha’s Elijah Brooks, Harrison’s high school coach, as Maryland’s running backs coach.
According to information on the portal, Bortenschlager entered his name Nov. 29, the day after Pigrome. Bortenschlager, who started nine games after both Pigrome and Hill were lost early in the 2017 season, was the team’s third-string quarterback and holder on kicks before he was ruled out for the year after an ankle injury in early October.
Defensive lineman Cam Spence, a former four-star recruit whose career stalled because of injuries, also withdrew from the portal. So did junior wide receiver DJ Turner and sophomore defensive lineman Bryce Brand, who decided to remain with the Terps after Locksley was hired Dec. 4. Turner also played for Brooks at DeMatha. Lewis put his name into the portal Oct. 18, but later withdrew.
Two players who announced on social media they were leaving Maryland — defensive backs Marcus Lewis and Qwuantrezz Knight — were still on the portal exploring their possibilities to transfer. No players who played prominent roles last season had put their names into the portal.
Given the turmoil that enveloped the football program in the aftermath of McNair’s death June 13 after the former McDonogh standout suffered heatstroke during a May 29 team conditioning test, there was speculation that a large number of players might transfer or be forced to transfer by their parents.
The number of players who might wind up leaving — at least those whose names remain in the NCAA transfer portal — is not considered exorbitant, even for a team going through a coaching change that endured what the Terps experienced with McNair’s death.
More players left Maryland after Randy Edsall’s first season than might wind up departing with the switch from Durkin — and Canada as interim coach — to Locksley, who said in a recent interview that one of his biggest goals was to keep players he thought could help the program.