By Adam Gotkin
Even though it may not seem like it from the earlier preview of their offense, this. Maryland team will probably not have a high winning percentage this season. A large majority of the team’s struggles will most likely come from the defense. A defense that was among the bottom
in the Big Ten last season, allowed the most points in conference play. The defense also allowed the most yards in all of the Big Ten last season. The 2020 season will be a time for young players to gain experience while trying to keep the score as low as possible to stay in games.
For a defense to be successful, it needs to have a good front four. This will be Maryland’s biggest weakness. Senior nose tackle Olu Oluwatimi who was expected to be the star of the defensive line has opted out which leaves the team in an even bigger hole than they were in to start. Senior Sam Okuayinonu played in 11 out of the 12 games (only starting in
one) last season returns along with Durell Nchami who was out all of last season with a torn ACL. Nchami, a redshirt sophomore outside linebacker who rushes most plays he is in, was fourth on the team in tackles for losses his freshman year. He is looking to make a big impact this year. JUCO transfers Mosiah Nasili-Kite and Ami Finau should also get a lot of playing time right away. The true future of the defensive line, and team in general, comes in the 2021 recruiting class with four star rushers coming in
Things look a bit more promising for the Terps defense behind the line of scrimmage. Shaq Smith, a former five star recruit, returns to the team after a career high in tackles last year after missing time due to injuries. Ayinde Elay, an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten last season,
was second on the team in tackles. This upcoming season will be Elay’s junior year, and a year where he needs to break out even more and be a big part of this Maryland defense. Also returning is junior linebacker Chane Campbell who was 5th on the team in tackles last season with 54. And finally, at linebacker, a player that everyone needs to have their eye on all season is true freshman Ruben Hyppolite. Hyppolite is the only ESPN 300 player that Maryland recruited this year other than Rakim Jarret. Hyppolite held offers from LSU, Alabama and PennState. Hyppolite has the potential to be a true star and a big season from him would be huge for the Terrapins defense.
And lastly, behind them is the strength of the defense this season, the secondary. The star of the secondary for the Terps will be sophomore safety Nick Cross. Cross is almost a surefire NFL draft pick unless something catastrophic happens. He registered 45 tackles last season as a freshman and is sure to improve on that this upcoming year. The other safety spot
is held by Antwaine Richardson, who is returning from a medical redshirt last year. Richardson was 5th on the team in tackles back in 2018 when he last played, and he is looking to improve on that after a missed season. Deonte Banks, now a sophomore, is expected to be the teams top corner after starting the last eight games of his freshman season. The other starting
cornerback is expected to be Jakorian Bennett, a JUCO transfer who was named First Team All-Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference and picked Maryland over schools like Oklahoma, Ole Miss, and Miami.
Overall, this defense can be decent this season. If the defensive line can make drastic improvements from where they were last season, then maybe they will surprise us.
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