(The sixth of 10 entries previewing Maryland's 2010 football season)
Qualitatively, running back might be Maryland's strongest position on a per-person basis entering camp.
Quantitatively, trouble isn't far away for a team that had a bounty of riches at the position just a year ago.
Maryland, after all, was without Da'Rel Scott, Gary Douglas and Caleb Porzel for significant stretches last season, and yet the Terrapins managed to retain the redshirt on D.J. Adams while true freshmen were getting tossed into action pretty much everywhere on the roster.
Yet a six-man corps of tailbacks is winnowed to four, with Porzel an academic casualty and Morgan Green's seemingly endless stay at Hotel College Park finally over. That will probably lead to a walk-on from defense switching to offense to take a pounding during camp as a scout teamer. Lucky him.
With four holdovers --- Scott, Douglas, Adams and Davin Meggett --- we know this much as Sept. 6 fast approaches:
CAREER STATS, MARYLAND TAILBACKS
Needless to say, Scott is easily the most accomplished of the bunch, and the senior seems like a good bet to start for much of the season so long as he is healthy.
There are some interesting --- though flawed if examined solely in a vacuum --- numbers to illustrate the difference between Scott and Meggett a year ago. Running behind a weak line, Scott still average 5.0 yards a carry, while Meggett checked in at 3.4 yards a carry (with a long run of 13).
The problem with the data is Scott missed the bulk of conference play, so it's no surprise Meggett absorbed a severe decline after averaging 5.1 yards a carry as a freshman. But besides a catch-and-run for a long touchdown at Duke, Meggett was generally held in check.
That wouldn't matter much if Maryland simply had a better offensive line and remained static elsewhere. But that's hardly the case.
The line will remain a question mark until it demonstrates otherwise, so in that regard it could be difficult for Meggett to bust out. Scott's healthy, which should further limit his touches.
Douglas remains perhaps Maryland's most elusive backfield option. If he can remain healthy and act as a semi-credible blocker, he seems like an ideal third-down option.
Then there's Adams, who is listed at 5-foot-10 and 220 pounds and looks like a potential touchdown vulture as a goal line back.
For those not paying attention, that was Meggett's role the last two years. Eight of his 10 career touchdowns have come from a yard out, a total just one shy of the most for any Terp since 1997 (i.e. as far back as the complete records of the D1scourse library go).
ONE-YARD TOUCHDOWN RUNS FOR MARYLAND, 1997-2009
9: Marc Riley
8: Lance Ball
8: Davin Meggett
7: Josh Allen
4: Shaun Hill
4: Keon Lattimore
3: Chris Downs
3: Sam Hollenbach
3: LaMont Jordan
3: Sammy Maldonado
3: Scott McBrien
3: Da'Rel Scott
2: Matt Kalapinski
2: Calvin McCall
2: Joel Statham
2: Chris Turner
1: Morgan Green
1: Cory Jackson
1: James Lynch
1: Mario Merrills
1: Buddy Rodgers
That's not to say Meggett won't be a short-yardage guy for Maryland. He just might not be the short-yardage guy. At the very least, he probably won't be the only short-yardage guy.
Nonetheless, Maryland has options at tailback, two of which are established and another in Adams who is among the most promising underclassmen on the roster.
There isn't quite the same certainty at fullback, where Cory Jackson departs after a turn of more than three seasons as an ultra-reliable. Taylor Watson, a junior who saw some time as Jackson's backup last year, probably would have earned the chance to start if not for a torn ACL suffered during spring ball. He is expected back in mid-September.
That leaves Haroon Brown as the probable starter. Brown looks the part of a fullback, and he even got on the field as a true freshman. But a laid-back personality and occasional disinterest in practice held him up the last few years, and he wound up redshirting last season.
However, he was a revelation during the spring, and the proud 757 product seems poised to take over the full-time gig as the blocker out of the backfield when Maryland opens on Sept. 6.
Chances are, Scott will be the man lined up just behind him. But Meggett, Douglas and Adams will no doubt get looks, too. Assuming injuries are kept to a minimum, it seems like a position with answers --- at least for now.