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Most indispensable players: Maryland

5/29/2014

The unofficial start of summer came this past weekend, but we're dreaming about the fall. With that in mind, we're looking at the most indispensable players on each Big Ten team.

By indispensable, we don't necessarily mean best. We mean the players who would be hardest to replace between now and the start of the season if they got hurt/suspended/decided to try out for "America's Got Talent." That could be because of their value to the team or because of a lack of depth at their position.

We'll pick two players from each team, usually offense and defense, but not always. Big Ten newcomer Maryland is up next.

Matt Robinson, LB, Sr.

The Terrapins returns plenty of experience at linebacker with three returning starters, but Robinson is the biggest difference-maker with his playmaking ability. As Maryland tries to replace Marcus Whitfield (15.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, two forced fumbles last season), Robinson's presence will be critical. He recorded 10 tackles for loss, four pass breakups and a forced fumble as a junior, starting 10 games at outside linebacker after moving from safety last spring. Like many of his Maryland teammates, Robinson has battled several injuries in his career but showed last season how he can impact games when healthy. The Terps would miss Robinson's speed and production if he's not on the field this fall.

Sal Conaboy, C, Sr.

Almost any center who makes starts in each of his first three seasons will earn indispensable designation as a senior, and Conaboy is no exception. Maryland has some uncertainty at both the tackle and guard positions as junior-college tackle Larry Mazyck didn't qualify and Moise Larose was suspended by the school for a year. The Terrapins likely will be counting on young players, including blue-chip incoming recruits Damian Prince and Derwin Gray, for significant playing time. They certainly need Conaboy to stay on the field and provide leadership from the middle of the line. Conaboy started all 13 games last season, seven in 2012 and two in 2011, and made the Rimington Trophy preseason watch list. An academic All-ACC selection who serves on Maryland's leadership council, Conaboy provides stability for the line on an offense that boasts plenty of depth at the skill positions.