Maryland football secures graduate transfer linebacker Shaq Smith from Clemson

Interim coach Mike Locksley speaks during a press conference at Gossett Team House on Oct. 11, 2015.

Former Clemson linebacker Shaq Smith officially joined the Maryland football team as a graduate transfer, a team spokesperson confirmed to The Diamondback.

Smith, a Baltimore native, joins a bevy of players to transfer to College Park since coach Mike Locksley took over the program in December. Including Smith, that list now includes quarterback Josh Jackson (Virginia Tech), linebacker Keandre Jones (Ohio State), defensive back Sean Savoy (Virginia Tech) and tight end Tyler Mabry (Buffalo).

Smith is now reunited with Cory Robinson, who was Smith’s former coach at St. Frances Academy and joined Locksley’s staff as defensive backs coach.

[Read more: Three-star cornerback Rashad Battle joins Maryland football’s 2020 recruiting class]

As a former four-star recruit, per 247Sports, Smith committed to the Tigers rather than the Terps. But the 6-foot-2, 250-pound linebacker featured mostly as a special teams player in 2017 before seeing an uptick in defensive snaps last season during Clemson’s run to a national title.

Smith racked up 16 tackles and one sack in 2018. He was expected to see a larger role this season, with starting linebackers Tre Lamar and Kendall Joseph both turning pro. But Smith entered the transfer portal after graduating in May 2019 and wound up back in his home state.

[Read more: Miami Dolphins sign Maryland linebacker Tre Watson as undrafted free agent]

Had Smith committed to Maryland back in high school, he would’ve been the second-highest rated recruit in the class behind Terrance Davis, a mainstay guard along the Terps offensive line.

Maryland’s defensive depth took a hit this offseason when first team All-Big Ten linebacker Tre Watson graduated and later signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent. But Smith and Jones could become a large part of the linebacker group. Smith will join the Terps as a redshirt junior and will be immediately eligible for the 2019 season.

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