COLLEGE PARK -- As five-star offensive lineman Damian Prince affixed a Maryland hat to his head and announced on national television earlier this year that he would be playing his college football in College Park, the Terrapins staff cheered and high-fived at reeling in the state’s best prospect from the class of 2014.
But the luster of the program’s recruiting victory in February now shifts to the reality of the situation in August that even a player as highly regarded as Prince isn’t an immediate fix to what ails Maryland up front.
Prince, four-star Derwin Gray and the now departed and Kansas-bound Larry Mazyck were supposed to help solidify a unit that ranked 74th out of 125 teams in the nation in sacks allowed per game last season.
Mazyck is gone. Gray has been tabbed as the backup at right tackle. Prince is the third option in the preseason at left tackle. What does that mean? It’s all a process.
“It’s too early to even talk about those guys,” Edsall said on Tuesday before his team’s second practice of training camp. “With offensive lineman you’re never going to see anything in terms of what you want to see out of them until you put the pads on.”
Expect both Prince and Gray to compete for playing time, but it’s also true that those high-fives the coaching staff shared in February were more about understanding the longer-term potential they had on their hands than a plug-and-play talent.
“They’re both great kids. Love them to death. They have ability,” Edsall said. “How quickly or how hard they want to work. How much time they want to study the playbook will determine how fast their development will go and how coachable they’re going to be will determine where they are.”
The unit as a whole will likely determine how well the offense does, especially considering Maryland is talented at the skill positions.
Sixth-year quarterback C.J. Brown has proven to be an able signal caller and Maryland’s best option under center. He’ll be throwing to two NFL-caliber receivers in Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. Wes Brown returns from suspension and will be part of a competitive backfield alongside Albert Reid, Brandon Ross, and Jacquille Veii competing for playing time.
The key is keeping Brown upright, something they failed to do and paid for last season, not only in immediate, in-game lost production but also in seeing Brown miss time due to injury.
What does Edsall say about it? Just wait, really.
“We’ll really reserve judgment until we get a little further down the in preseason when we can make a fair evaluation.”