(The ninth of 10 posts looking ahead to the 2010 Maryland football season)
The last of the Maryland positional breakdowns features the only unit with zero turnover from last year.
The same nine wide receivers who entered camp with a chance to contribute last year are back. There are no redshirt freshmen in the mix, and the lone signee at the position (Tyrek Cheeseboro) is off to prep school.
This, of course, means plenty in the long-term; the first Maryland-related prediction for the 2013 season is the Terrapins will be young and fairly inexperienced at wideout.
But that's far off in the distance. Maryland remains much the same at receiver at the moment, which has its good parts and its uncertain parts.
First of all, let's look at Maryland's targets/catches chart from 2009 (*-not on 2010 roster):
TARGETS & CATCHES, MARYLAND 2009
|WR Torrey Smith
|WR Adrian Cannon
|WR Ronnie Tyler
|TB Davin Meggett
|TB Da'Rel Scott
|TE Tommy Galt*
|WR LaQuan Williams
|FB Cory Jackson*
|WR Kerry Boykins
|TE Devonte Campbell
|TE Lansford Watson
|TB Gary Douglas
|WR Quintin McCree
|TE Matt Furstenburg
|WR Kevin Dorsey
|TB Caleb Porzel*
|FB Taylor Watson
There's not a whole lot unexpected here. Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon were the favorite targets of quarterbacks Chris Turner and Jamarr Robinson a year ago, Ronnie Tyler filled the slot receiver role and the rest of the targets were doled out in a fairly egalitarian manner among the guys who were on the field a fair amount.
(Note on the targets: Smith averaged 7.58 targets for the season, but 9.75 targets for the four games Robinson played considerable time in. Meanwhile, Cannon averaged 6.08 targets for the year and 5.0 targets in the final month of the season).
What is particularly interesting in some way is the No. 3 receiver on the roster (Tyler) wound up with nearly as many targets (40) as the six backups combined (41). In fact, Tyler had more catches (28) than those six guys combined (24).
It all prompts some question about how legitimately "experienced" the Terps really are at wideout, which might be a matter of semantics. In any case, they don't harbor many questions among the starters.
Smith is the team's big-name guy and perhaps the on-field face of the program, the second wideout in three years to assume that de facto role (Darrius Heyward-Bey being the other receiver to do so). Between his receiving and kickoff return skills, Smith is Maryland's most dangerous player, and it is safe to assume he'll draw his share of double teams.
What's interesting about Smith from a football-perspective is the relatively limited time he's spent at receiver. The former high school quarterback might not be an entirely finished product (a scary thought in some ways), but he's impressed since he arrived on campus in 2007.
Cannon is a solid complement, and he quietly piled up the most receptions for a No. 2 receiver at Maryland since the Mark Duffner days. The senior might not have produced the monster season coaches were hinting at during camp last August, but Cannon (468 yards, four touchdowns) was a reliable option. That should continue into this season.
Tyler, a converted running back from his high school days, figures to again slide into the slot receiver role (assuming his academic issues were settled). Quick and sure-handed, he's someone Maryland will need more substantial production --- and more yards after the catch --- from this season.
LaQuan Williams, who enters his final season in the program after seemingly being around College Park forever, will be Maryland's fourth receiver. The Terps believe he's found a home as an inside guy, but he's also the most versatile player in the unit.
And after that? There's plenty of guys high on promise who nonetheless are relatively unproven.
Kerry Boykins drew two starts last year as an extra inside receiver, and he'll no doubt fill a similar role this season so long as Tyler and Williams play well.
The bigger questions are the reserves behind Smith and Cannon, both of whom could probably use a couple more breathers over the course of a game. Quintin McCree (five career receptions) enjoyed a strong start to spring ball, and it's hoped he will be able to spell Smith on occasion. Tony Logan (no career catches) is also a reserve at Smith's Z position.
Behind Cannon is Kevin Dorsey, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound sophomore who made three receptions while earning a little extra playing time toward the end of last season. Emani Lee-Odai (17 career catches, none in 2009) is the other reserve at X receiver.
If last year demonstrated anything, it was that a team struggling through a bunch of close games (Maryland started the fourth quarter leading or within a possession of the lead in nine of its 12 contests in 2009) simply isn't going to play nine wideouts.
The starters, particularly Smith and Cannon, seem well-entrenched as camp begins. Williams, too, could be set to build on his modest bounceback from a frustrating 2008. Only one other receiver was targeted once a game on average last season (Boykins).
Clearly, Smith and Cannon will be crucial pieces to Maryland's offense. Yet between Cannon being a senior and Smith possibly looking at his NFL prospects at season's end, the future of the position is uncertain.
Generating production from the two veterans will be crucial to the Terps' chances of getting to .500 (or perhaps better). Both guys (and Smith in particular) could become much more recognizable names than they already are, particularly if the offense improves considerably. But for the long-term, sizing up who emerges as a steady contributor among the reserves will be one of the quietly important developments that could unfold this season.