COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The Maryland football team kicked off spring practice on Monday, holding its first of 15 scheduled practices. Spring camp will culminate with the annual Red-White Spring Game on April 14.
The Terps will hold two more practices this week and three next week before taking the week of March 18 off for spring break. Following the break, practices resume on Tuesday, March 27.
Head coach DJ Durkin, now in his third season in College Park, was thrilled to return to the field to begin preparation for the 2018 season.
"First day of spring, obviously an exciting day for our coaching staff, our players and our program," said Durkin as he met with the media prior to practice. "Beautiful day, we’ve got the sun out, we’re looking forward to this. As you go through your winter drills, it’s been great. We’ve had a really good offseason so far but obviously you get a little excited to get out here and actually use a football and do all that. Guys are chomping at the bit to get out here today."
Maryland returns eight starters on offense, including the entire offensive line, and five starters on defense. The Terps also inked their second consecutive Top 30 signing class in February and will have nine early enrollees participating in spring practices.
Maryland returns 95 percent of its total rushing yards from 2017, including 1,497 combined rushing yards from Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison III. Johnson led the Terps and ranked eighth in the Big Ten with 875 rushing yards last year. As a junior, Johnson averaged 6.4 yards per carry, which ranked third in the conference, and his 132.7 all-purpose yards per game average was fourth best in the league. Harrison posted 622 rushing yards in his sophomore campaign. The duo combined for eight rushing TD's.
The Maryland offensive line returns all five starters, including four fifth-year seniors: Damian Prince, Brendan Moore, Derwin Gray and Sean Christie. That group, along with junior Terrance Davis, helped Maryland’s rushing attack average 161.7 yard per game in 2017. It marked the third consecutive season that the Terps have averaged more than 160 yards on the ground - the first time Maryland has achieved the feat during a three-year span since 2001-03.
The Maryland defense returns five starters, including three defensive backs – Antoine Brooks, Jr., Darnell Savage, Jr. and Tino Ellis. Brooks and Savage garnered Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors last year after strong seasons. Brooks, who played in all 12 games with 11 starts, ranked second on the team with 77 tackles. One of the top playmakers on the defense, Brooks paced the team with 9.5 tackles for loss and was third on the squad with two interceptions. Savage ended the year tied with JC Jackson for the team lead in interceptions (3), which ranked tied for seventh in the Big Ten. The junior paced the Terps with eight pass breakups and ranked tied for 12th in the league with 11 passes defended.
Maryland’s early enrollees include transfer defensive lineman Byron Cowart and offensive lineman TJ Bradley. Seven true freshman will also participate in spring practice: defensive lineman Jalen Alexander, quarterback Tyler DeSue, defensive back Vincent Flythe, wide receiver Jeshaun Jones, linebacker Jordan Mosley, linebacker Durell Nchami and tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo.
A trio of Division I transfers are set to make an impact for the Terps in 2018. After sitting out last season per NCAA transfer rules, defensive back Marcus Lewis (Florida State) and wide receiver Rayshad Lewis (Utah State) are eligible to play in 2018. Additionally, graduate transfer Tré Watson (Illinois) can play immediately for the Terps this coming season.