After committing to the Maryland football team, freshman Anthony McFarland joined a competitive backfield led by Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison, who combined for more than 1,600 yards in 2016.
His promise gave him a chance to earn immediate playing time as a backup. He was a four-star recruit and the third-ranked all-purpose tailback in the nation, according to 247Sports.
But McFarland was not one of the four running backs who played in Maryland’s 63-17 win over Towson on Sept. 9. Coach DJ Durkin said McFarland was still recovering from a lingering broken fibula injury that prevented him from participating in his senior season at DeMatha Catholic High School.
Offensive coordinator Walt Bell indicated Wednesday that McFarland might take a long-term recovery plan.
“We’ve got this whole season to … really develop his mind and start to work on getting his body back to where it was from a physical standpoint,” Bell said, “and we’ve got an entire spring to grind on him and give him nine million carries. A year from now, he’s got a chance to be a really special player.”
With Johnson averaging 15.1 yards per carry this season, the running game hasn’t needed McFarland. Backups Jake Funk and Javon Leake have added scores on the ground, and Bell said Harrison is on the verge of a breakthrough.
So, the Terps could redshirt McFarland, a move that would preserve a year of eligibility by keeping him sidelined for the remainder of the campaign.
The coaching staff has not offered an official statement on whether it intends to redshirt McFarland, but Bell emphasized it would be a while before fans witness the Hyattsville native’s potential.
“It takes time,” Bell said. “We’ve got to season him, he’s got to marinate a little bit, and when it’s time to get out of the Ziploc bag and go on the grill, he’ll be ready to go.”