Friday, August 28, 2009
Terps get some clarity at receiver
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Maryland receiver Adrian Cannon is one of almost a dozen receivers on the Terps' roster who spent the summer trying to separate himself from a crowded group of potential playmakers.
"I'm always talking in the huddle like, 'Hey, I want the ball,'" he said.
Ask and ye shall receive.
After months with a muddled depth chart filled with talented young receivers eager to help compensate for the loss of star receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey to the NFL, the Terps' receiving corps has temporarily been put into order following Thursday's scrimmage. The official depth chart isn't out yet, but Cannon and Torrey Smith are expected to be the starters when Maryland lines up against Cal in next Saturday's season opener. And by naming the players who will travel, coach Ralph Friedgen helped give clarity to the position on the three-deep roster.
At X, it's likely to be Cannon, backed up by Kevin Dorsey and Emani Lee-Odai. At Z, Smith will be backed up by Quintin McCree and Tony Logan, and in the slot position Ronnie Tyler leads LaQuan Williams and Kerry Boykins.
"We're a deep group," Cannon said. "We have about nine or 10 guys who can play on Saturday. That's a blessing. We're all pushing each other, at the same time we're competing every day and making each other better. We're a very tight-knit group. We all love each other, but at the same time, we all want to make that play."
Since the spring, it seems like each of the receivers have had their moment to make that play, but Cannon had the most consistent summer, and Smith, after finishing a class, came on strong the past couple of weeks. Cannon has played in 20 career games, but spent most of his time as a backup. He started one game last year and caught three passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. He said playing against first-year coordinator Don Brown's defense, which requires the corners to play on an island, has made him better.
"Right now I'm making a lot of plays against this type of defense and it's doing nothing but making me better," Cannon said. "We won't see another defense like this, it's a good thing."
Smith had a breakout 2008 season and made a name for himself as a kick returner. He started the final six games and averaged 141.2 all-purpose yards per game over the last five games. He also averaged a school record 21.3 yards each time he touched the ball (1,425 yards on 67 attempts). And he set the ACC single-season record with 1,089 kickoff return yards.
He appears to have picked up right where he left off. In Thursday's scrimmage, Smith set up Davin Meggett's 3-yard touchdown run by making an impressive 30-yard reception from Chris Turner, setting up first-and-goal. He also returned a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown.
Smith isn't the only one who has drawn the praise of Friedgen this summer.
Williams had a good camp and made his presence known with his versatility, while McCree has shown the ability to get open, but has dropped too many balls. Tyler and Williams were dead even for most of the summer.
"LaQuan can play any of the positions, so I might even bump him out to Z," Friedgen said. "He's got good hands and a lot of shake. He seems to have gotten a lot quicker, and when he catches the ball, he’s making guys miss. He's making big plays. He's got very strong hands and catches the ball very well. He's a big, physical receiver. At one time I didn't know whether he ran well, he's probably a 4.5 and change, but he's got good quickness. They have trouble when he goes up, he gets a lot of jump balls."
And this fall, he's just one more option for Friedgen.