Maryland Terrapins' spring football will feel a bit different this year.
For the first time since the 2016 season, Maryland will be coming off a season where it played in a postseason bowl. The Terrapins demolished the Virginia Tech Hokies 54-10 in the Pinstripe Bowl to finish 7-6 on the season.
Now Maryland and fourth-year head coach Mike Locksley will hope the team takes the next step in the Big Ten. The Terrapins started spring practice this week, a total of 15 sessions that will culminate with the Red-White Spring Game on April 30.
Maryland returns eight starters on the offensive side of the ball, including all five offensive linemen. The Terps also welcome back seven defensive starters.
5 Storylines to Watch During Maryland's Spring Practice
1. Can Taulia Tagovailoa take his game to another level?
After transferring from Alabama, Tagovailoa was one of the better quarterbacks in the Big Ten last season. He finished in the top four in the conference in both passing yards (3,860) and touchdowns (26) to go with 11 interceptions. He added two rushing scores.
With Tagovailoa at the helm, Maryland was 13th nationally in passing offense (304.6 ypg) while averaging 29.3 points per game. If he's able to improve on his 2021 performance, then it's possible that the Terrapins can climb in the division standings while earning another postseason invitation.
2. Sorting out the receiving corps
Tagovailoa certainly won't lack for talented options to throw to. Leading receiver Rakim Jarrett (62 rec., 829 yds., 5 TDs) is back, and so are Dontay Demus Jr. and Jeshaun Jones after injuries limited both players to just six games last season. Prior to getting hurt, Demus was averaging 18.1 yards per reception.
Maryland also welcomes Florida transfer Jacob Copeland, who led the Gators with 642 yards on 41 catches last season. If all four are healthy, it could make for quite the spirited competition in spring practice.
3. Defensive coordinator change
Maryland thought it had hired a new defensive coordinator in Kevin Steele, but he backed out of a verbal agreement in February and took the same job at Miami instead.
Locksley eventually promoted Brian Williams to the role to replace Brian Stewart, who is no longer on the Terrapins' staff. Williams has never served as a defensive coordinator at the college level, but he was the primary play-caller for the team's final two games last season. Williams will try to improve a defensive unit that was 85th in the country a year ago (403.5 ypg, 12th in the Big Ten) and gave up 30.7 points per game (13th).
4. Demeioun Robinson's unexpected transfer
Unfortunately, Williams got some bad news right before the start of spring practice when Robinson, a defensive end, announced he has entered the transfer portal. A 4-star, top-70 overall edge prospect in the 2021 recruiting class, according to 247Sports, from nearby Gaithersburg, Robinson arrived on campus and immediately made his mark, playing in all 13 games as a true freshman. He saved his best for last, recording three tackles and a sack in the Pinstripe Bowl win over Virginia Tech.
Expected to play a vital role this coming season, Robinson's sudden departure opens another hole for Williams to fill. Linebackers and fellow 2021 recruits Terrence Lewis (UCF) and Branden Jennings (Kansas State) also have transferred.
5. Can Maryland maintain its momentum?
Maryland is coming off its first winning season since 2014. Now the Terrapins will try to maintain that momentum once again while hoping to contend in the rugged Big Ten East.
Maryland will face Buffalo, Charlotte and SMU before kicking off conference play in the Big House against defending champion Michigan. The Terps also have road games against Wisconsin and Penn State while hosting Ohio State and Michigan State. The road back to a bowl game won't be easy and the path begins with spring practice.
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— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders, and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.