Maryland first-year coach Randy Edsall will have 14 returning starters to work with when the Terps open spring practices on Tuesday, including 2010 rookie of the year Danny O'Brien at quarterback, four starters on the offensive line and seven of the top 10 tacklers from a year ago.
Not a bad start.
Maryland has to replace its top two receivers, though, will miss linebackers Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten and will obviously be making a significant transition in coaching philosophy, style and scheme. Edsall said on Friday that spring practices are a chance for the players to realize that "every position is wide open."
It's also a chance for Edsall to learn more about what he has to work with.
"Our systems will be based on our players, but we're going to be multiple," Edsall said. "I think in this day and age, and we have the personnel where we can be multiple on both sides of the ball. That's what we're going to do. We're going to incorporate a lot of things that we want to do. We'll find out -- what do we do best? And that's what we'll find out this spring."
The biggest position change was that of Kenny Tate from safety to linebacker. Tate's move still leaves two returning starters in the secondary in senior cornerbacks Cameron Chism and Trenton Hughes. Tate is Maryland’s active career leader in tackles (162) and interceptions (five).
"When you watch the tape of Kenny from a year ago, almost 90 percent of the time he was playing down," Edsall said. "He wasn't playing back in the deep half, the quarters or a post player. When you take a look at his abilities, he's better suited to being a linebacker. And he's better suited for being a linebacker for his future after playing at the University of Maryland. In terms of my having coached in the NFL and had an opportunity to work with guys at that level -- when you watch Kenny, his best position as far as we're concerned, is being a linebacker."
Edsall said the players will determine what schemes are used.
"Any good coach I've ever been around says you don't pigeon-hole the players into a scheme," he said. "What you do is take a look at the talent you have available and develop the offense and defense that's best suited to bring out the best in those young men. Are we going to be the finished product by April 30th? No. But we don't have to be the finished product by then. It's a process we go through. We've had the strength and conditioning throughout the winter, and now we go to spring ball and now we'll learn more about our team. As we go into the fall, here's who we're going to be and here are the things we need to work on, knowing that we're going to add 17 or 18 more players in August."
OUT WITH INJURIES: OL Justin Lewis, OL Pete DeSouza, TE Dave Stinebaugh, DB Avery Graham (but will run track this spring)
LIMITED: OL Justin Gilbert, TE Ryan Schlothauer, DL Marcus Whitfield