Maryland wide receiver coach Keenan McCardell knows talent when he sees it. At least, he should be given his career in the NFL. As he gets set for his first season as an assistant coach at the college level, just as Maryland prepares for a move from the ACC to the Big Ten, McCardell feels optimistic about the talent he will be coaching at Maryland in 2014.
“I looked at some of the talent level and when I got here, everybody told me how talented everybody was,” McCardell said in a report by The Washington Post. “I had done some research earlier. I was like, ‘Woah, they are talented.’ It’s up to me to make sure that talent comes out. That’s what I want to do.”
He’s not kidding. The makings of hat could be one of the most lethal receiving units in the Big Ten in 2014 starts with one of the crown jewels of the Class of 2012, Stefon Diggs. Diggs is a big play waiting to happen every time he touches the football, which is why he can be so deadly on special teams as well. Maryland added five-star receiver Deon Long as the prized recruit in the Class of 2013. Long transferred to Maryland after playing the 2011 season with New Mexico. With the addition, Maryland was putting together a one-two combo that could prove to be difficult to slow down when he and Diggs are on the field together. Unfortunately for Maryland, that was the problem last season. Diggs and Long each played just seven games before being placed on the injured list for the rest of the season.
With those key injuries came some opportunities for others to get some significant playing time. Levern Jacobs capitalized by ending the year as Maryland’s leading receiver. Amba Etta got in the mix as well by ending the season as the third-leading receiver. Juwann Winfree is a four-star receiver joining the Terps this year as well out of the most recent recruiting class. So does Maryland have what it takes to have one of the top aerial attacks in the conference? They certainly appear to have the receivers to make it possible.
Last season Maryland averaged 7.8 yards per passing attempt, which ranked sixth in the ACC. Had Maryland been in the Big Ten in 2013 the Terps would have been tied for the highest yards-per-attempt average with Indiana (even if you include Rutgers in the mix). The Big Ten is also going to see a good amount of turnover among the leading receivers in 2014. Seven of the Bi Ten’s top ten receivers in 2013 are all moving on, leaving plenty of room for Maryland’s talented receivers to leave their respective marks right away in the Big Ten stat sheets.
If they can stay healthy, that is.