Maryland football has a new offensive coordinator in Matt Canada, a void to fill at wide receiver after the departure of NFL-bound DJ Moore and a slew of new recruits. Next year’s squad could look very different from the one that went 4-8 last campaign.
One of the players who could emerge as a key contributor, however, has already spent a season with the Terps.
After taking a medical redshirt to recover from the broken fibula he suffered in 2016 as a senior at DeMatha Catholic High School, running back Anthony McFarland is healthy. During Tuesday’s spring practice, he displayed the blend of power and agility that made him a touted prospect.
“Anthony really finally looks like his old self right now,” coach DJ Durkin said. “He’s been tremendous at practice. … He’s explosive, he’s dynamic.”
Despite his injury, McFarland arrived in College Park as a four-star recruit and the third-ranked all-purpose tailback in the country, according to 247Sports.
On Tuesday, McFarland made quick cuts that showed off his speed and elusiveness. At the same time, McFarland didn’t shy away from contact as he frequently drove his way through multiple defenders.
“He can make some people miss, man,” senior offensive lineman Brendan Moore said. “That guy can get a little sauce on people. It’s pretty crazy. If he gets a linebacker or a safety squared up, it’s going to be hard to take him down.”
Though he came into the program as the highest rated running back recruit on the roster, McFarland will have to compete for playing time against a pair of well-established rushers. Senior Ty Johnson has racked up more than 2,000 all-purpose yards in his career, while junior Lorenzo Harrison has accumulated over 1,000 rushing yards in two seasons.
“We have great competition in that room,” Durkin said. “They’re all pushing each other.”
Maryland veterans such as redshirt senior wide receiver Taivon Jacobs believe in McFarland’s ability to produce a breakout season. For a team without Moore in its starting lineup next season, his explosiveness should be a welcome addition.
“I knew him since he was about eight years old so just watching him grow up and all the work that he put in, I’m super proud of him,” Jacobs said. “Every day that I get a chance to see him make a big play, it just boosts his ego up but not too much. Just tell him to keep working.”