After losing Deon Long and Stefon Diggs to the NFL, Maryland was bound to have a new look at wide receiver. However, there was good news in the fact that there was plenty of experience and production coming back behind those two big losses.
Fast forward a few months and position coach Keenan McCardell has his work cut out for him heading in to the fall. Not only are Long and Diggs gone, but it seems like no one wants to do what it takes to be a starting wide receiver anymore.
On Monday it was reported that Juwann Winfree, a sophomore wide receiver was indefinitely suspended from the team for a violation of the University of Maryland student-athlete code of conduct. According to the report out of the Baltimore Sun, it appears the suspension doesn’t have to do with anything legal or was drug related though.
It’s not the first suspension for Winfree though, as he was also suspended from the team for the final two games of last season for a violation of the same code of conduct.
Losing Winfree, if he isn’t reinstated for the fall (and that appears unlikely given his multiple suspensions already) is a massive blow to this group considering another piece of recent news. That’s the decision of expected star receiver Marcus Leak to leave school for what he termed “personal reasons.”
It wasn’t the first time this had happened, with Leak missing all of the 2013 season thanks to “personal reasons.”
Maryland missing Leak is a huge blow, given his experience and the fact that he was the leading returning receiver from last season with 20 receptions for 297 yards and three touchdowns. Winfree became the leading returning receiver by default, with his 11 receptions for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
With Winfree and Leak gone, Maryland is left with a depth chart devoid of any receiver returning with a season of double-digit receptions from last year. It means a position that was pretty strong and promising is completely left up in the air.
Oh, and we didn’t even mention hybrid slot receiver and running back Jacquille Veii’s decision to transfer this spring as well.
The one bright spot appears to be the return of senior Levern Jacobs, who missed all of last season with an injury. He recorded 47 receptions two seasons ago to top both Long and Diggs, and will be joined in the starting lineup by his younger brother Taivon, who also is returning from injury himself.
While that’s a nice starting spot, both are coming off injury and we’re talking about losing three of the expected starters from the spring.
Maryland also doesn’t have much in the way of backup coming in from this recruiting class. The Terps signed just two players for this incoming recruiting class, picking up signatures from three-star receivers D.J. Moore and Jahrvis Davenport.
Neither jump of the page as college-ready wide receivers though, with Moore just 6-0 and 180 pounds and Davenport listed at 5-10 and 180 pounds as well. Both need some work and perhaps this summer will help, but will it be enough?
Maryland not only will be breaking in a new quarterback, but will be looking to work with a wide receiver group that hasn’t played together as a group very often. Summer drills and fall practice reps are going to be key to this group getting anything together before facing arguably the toughest schedule in the Big Ten.
Losing Leak was a big blow, but one that could’ve been compensated for with Winfree. Should Winfree not be reinstated, the Terps face a really difficult situation at a position they need to be good.