12 Returning Starters (6 offense, 6 defense)
Key Players: QB Sam Hollenbach, TB Lance Ball, TB Josh Allen, OT Stephon
Heyer, OT Jared Gaither, DT Conrad Bolston, LB David Holloway, LB Erin
Henderson, CB Josh Wilson, FS Christian Varner
After proving he could win with somebody else’s players in 2001 – 2003,
Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen has failed to enjoy the same success with teams
stocked full of his own recruits. The Fridge made a big splash by winning the
ACC in his first year as head coach at Maryland, and then getting blowout
victories over Tennessee and West Virginia in the Peach Bowl and Gator Bowl. But
the last two seasons have seen Maryland finish 5-6 with no bowl game. Can the
Terps rebound in 2006?
Maryland should have a good offensive line in 2006, and perhaps the best
combination of offensive tackles in the ACC. Jared Gaither impressed as a true
freshman in 2005 (just ask Xavier Adibi), and Stephon Heyer returns after
missing all of 2005 with an injury. He was mentioned as a possible First Round
NFL Draft pick before his injury.
Heyer is 6-7, 319, while Gaither is listed as 6-9, 330. There won’t be many
defensive ends anywhere in the country that can beat them. Maryland also returns
two starting offensive guards in Andrew Crummey and Donnie Woods. As a freshman
last season, Woods graded out higher than any other lineman.
The Terps will have a serious lack of receivers in 2006. They lost their top
four receivers from last year in tight end Vernon Davis, and wideouts Danny
Melendez, Jo Jo Walker and Derrick Fenner. Their leading returning receiver is
tailback Lance Ball, who caught 18 passes a year ago. Returning wide receiver
Drew Weatherly caught 10 passes, second most among returnees.
Maryland may have to turn to freshmen for help at wide receiver. Darrius
Heyward-Bey will get a lot of playing time, and Terrell Skinner should see
action as well. Sophomore Isaiah Williams hails from a family of athletes, and
he has a chance to shine this year after catching just one pass in four games
Maryland’s secondary should be the best part of their defense in 2006. The
Terps finished 18th in the nation against the pass last season, allowing just
184.8 yards per game. They gave up just four touchdowns through the air. Josh
Wilson returns to start at corner, and Christian Varner is an experienced
starter at free safety.
The other starting corner is Notre Dame transfer Isaiah Gardner, and Marcus
Wimbush, a senior, should do fine as he steps into the role of starting strong
Maryland’s defensive line was soft last season, and doesn’t project to be
much better in 2006. Sophomores Jeremy Navarre and Trey Covington are projected
to start at defensive end again, but they were easily pushed around as freshmen.
The defensive tackles are experienced, but except for Conrad Bolston, they don’t
get much production.
Maryland’s linebackers and secondary are talented players, but they must
get help from their front four if they wish to have a successful defense in
The Terrapins have a key game on October 14 at Virginia. Maryland has
winnable home games against William & Mary, Middle Tennessee, Florida
International, NC State and Wake Forest. If they can win all of those games,
they just need to pick up a road win or two to be bowl eligible.
With their other road games at West Virginia, Georgia Tech, Clemson and
Boston College, the mid-October game in Charlottesville appears to be their best