BALTIMORE - The University of Maryland football team’s 2017 season began like a dream, but after that, it became a nightmare.
The Terrapins beat the University of Texas on the road 51-41 in their season opener and jumped to a 3-1 start.
However, Maryland then lost quarterbacks Tyrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill to severe injuries very early in the season, throwing most of the load to inexperienced Max Bortenschlager, who played well at times but often struggled.
All of that combined is why Maryland slipped to a 4-8 finish last season. Things did not get better in the summer as Jordan McNair died after becoming sick at a workout.
Now, the Terrapins are working on getting through that, a difficult task at any time, and it’s something that Head Coach DJ Durkin talked about at the Big Ten Media Day on July 24.
“That’s been our focus with our guys, is to come together, be there for one another, both at student-athletes as well as the staff and coaches and everyone involved,” Durkin said. “He had such tremendous impact on so many lives. So everyone is working through and dealing with that. We’re a team playing for Jordan this year.”
Durkin took Maryland to a bowl game (the Terps went 6-7 overall) in 2016 in his first year but they fell back last year due to the significant number of injuries.
However, Durkin made it clear that Maryland intends upon being a major force in the Big Ten – even though there are some tough football programs in the conference.
“Our goal is to compete and win the Big Ten,” Durkin said. “Again, back to recruiting area and the people we’ve been able to bring into this program, we feel we’re doing it at the level we need to do to be able to accomplish that.”
Durkin will have some great players to work with this upcoming season who have already garnered attention for their athletic efforts. Maryland punter Wade Lees was named to the watch list for the Ray Guy Award for the second straight year. This award, created in honor of the great punter for the Oakland (and Los Angeles) Raiders from 1973-1986, will honor the top punter in college football.
Lees was one of 28 punters named to the pre-season watch list this season.
For Maryland, Lees has started in all 25 games since coming to College Park in 2016. The junior averaged 39.2 yards per punt last year and put 17 of his punts inside the opposing team’s 20-yard line. Also, Lees had seven punts of 50 or more yards last year.
The Ray Guy Award committee is going to announce its 10 semifinalists on Nov. 15 with the overall winner being announced on ESPN Dec. 6.
Also, running back Ty Johnson earned a spot on the 2018 Paul Hornung Award Watch List while kick returner Taivon Jacbos made the Wuerffel Trophy Watch List.
The Hornung Award is given each year to the most versatile player in major college football. It is picked by Hornung, former Green Bay Packer star in the 60’s, and the Louisville Sports Commission.
Last year, Johnson totaled 1,592 all-purpose yards for Maryland. The winner of this award will be announced in Louisville next March.
The Wuerffel Trophy is known as “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service. It is named for Danny Wuerffel, who won the Heisman Trophy 22 years ago.
Jacobs (Suitland High School) is Maryland’s best returning wide receiver and is very involved in the program’s community service work. He has done things such as volunteering at the National Institute of Health and took part in the Best Buddies Walk, Maryland Day and the team’s work at local food shelters.
The semifinalists will be announced Nov. 1 with finalists revealed Nov. 19 with the announcement of the winner coming on Dec. 4 at the National Football Foundation press conference in New York.
Also, there was some big news in College Park recently as Maryland announced July 26 that the athletics department and the M Club will induct nine new members into the University of Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame. This group will be the Class of 2018.
The list of this year’s incoming class include: Adrian Branch (men’s basketball), Eden Kroeger Burks (volleyball), Gillian Cote Cook (gymnast), Jason Garey (soccer), former Suitland standout LaMont Jordan (football), Howard Labow (fencing), Karen Trudel Martellucci (lacrosse/field hockey), Cathy Nelson Reese (lacrosse student-athlete and now head coach), Joe Walters (lacrosse).
They will be inducted in a ceremony at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center on Nov. 2.
“We would like to congratulate all of this year’s inductees, and their families,” Maryland Director of Athletics Damon Evans said in a statement. “This is a tremendous class of Hall of Famers who have made an undeniable impact on Maryland athletics both on and off the field.”
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