Wednesday is a day that has been marked on the Maryland football calendar for a while. It's the first full practice of fall camp, the first time the Terps will be out on their College Park practice fields for a full session this month. It's there that position battles, of which there are quite a few, will be settled, and first-year coach DJ Durkin can continue to put his imprint on the team.
There's plenty that's unsettled about the Maryland depth chart, and there are bound to be some surprises. Here are four players who could get the opportunity to surprise and make an impact this season.
RB Ty Johnson, sophomore
The slight running back who put up dazzling numbers at tiny Fort Hill out in Cumberland bookended his season with big numbers: He rushed for 83 yards in the season opener against Richmond and then carried twice for 87 yards and two touchdowns in Maryland's wild comeback at Rutgers in the season finale. In between, he was used sparingly behind Brandon Ross and Wes Brown. With Brown, Virginia Tech transfer Trey Edmunds and a trio of freshmen, the running back position is crowded once again. But Johnson's listed weight is up nearly 20 pounds from last season, and offensive lineman Michael Dunn said the sophomore has transformed his body.
Can that lead to results on the field? Edmunds and Brown boast the experience, but Johnson's speed in offensive coordinator Walt Bell's system could turn him into a big piece of the offense.
DE Melvin Keihn, redshirt sophomore
Keihn, a former four-star recruit out of Gilman in the Class of 2014, sat out last season after transferring from Virginia Tech, and he's expected to compete and rotate with Jesse Aniebonam at the "buck" position — a sort of defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid — in Durkin's defense. With a new system being installed, Keihn has an opportunity to seize some early playing time and assert his claim to a spot in the defensive rotation.
He hasn't played in a game since Virginia Tech's season finale in 2014 and resided in the background for the past year. Keihn could be a breakout performer and boost to the defense as a pass rusher this fall.
OL Quarvez Boulware, redshirt freshman
It seems hard for a former four-star recruit who was one of the top players in Washington, D.C., coming out of Friendship Collegiate Academy to be a surprise, but Maryland's offensive line is in such flux that a strong camp from Boulware could be a breakout. The Terps are replacing three starters from a season ago and have eight offensive lineman on their roster who either started a game last season, appeared in a game or worked with the first team in spring practice. There are so many options, and they frequently slid around the line to improve their versatility.
Boulware should be in the mix for one of the guard spots, and he could be a solid contributor for a group that will need to be solid to help the quarterback situation.
LB Shane Cockerille, junior
The Gilman product's Maryland career has been filled with ups and downs and position changes. As a backup quarterback in 2014, Cockerille appeared on special teams. Last summer, he moved from quarterback to fullback but then had to move back to quarterback during the season while still playing special teams. This spring, he moved to linebacker, where it appears he can make an impact in a rather thin position group. Maryland's preseason media guide writes that Cockerille "is making a strong case for a starting role."
If Cockerille becomes a reliable contributor on defense — which his hard-nosed attitude suggests he can — it would be the fulfillment of a winding and unusual career in College Park.