The Maryland football team that won eight games and captured the program’s second straight bowl victory is gone. Instead, the 2023 Terps bring a roster filled with uncertainty with them to this year’s Red-White game, presenting a steep challenge.

“To go from seven wins, eight wins to trying to compete for championships is a big task,” coach Mike Locksley said in late March. “And we’re up for it as a program.”

If Maryland is going to take that step, it will need to address some of the questions that remain after offseason departures left holes in the Terps’ depth chart. How the team’s coaches deploy players in this Saturday’s spring game and how those players perform could begin to help answer them.

Reshuffling on the offensive line

Last year’s Maryland team came into the season with continuity and experience on the offensive line. That’s no longer the case after four of the five starters — left tackle Jaelyn Duncan, left guard Mason Lunsford, center Johari Branch and right guard Spencer Anderson — departed.

Those exits, combined with center Coltin Deery’s decision to enter the transfer portal, mean that the group tasked with protecting quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and opening holes for Roman Hemby and Antwain Littleton II remains largely undecided and unproven.

The one returning starter, right tackle DJ Glaze, played left tackle in the one game Duncan missed last season and could make the switch across the line.

“DJ Glaze has picked up where he left off and has gotten even better and stronger,” offensive line coach Brian Braswell said during preseason media day.

The other starter at tackle will likely come from one of the Terps’ incoming transfers — Corey Bullock from North Carolina Central, Marcus Dumervil from LSU or Gottlieb Ayedze from Frostburg State. Bullock and Ayedze primarily played left tackle while Dumervil split time on both sides in limited action with the Tigers.

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The interior is somehow even more jumbled. Senior Aric Harris, who started nine games at center in 2021 before starting sparingly in 2022, could return to a full-time starting role after the Branch and Deery’s departures.

Where early enrollees could factor into Maryland’s plans

The Terps’ incoming freshmen that chose to join the team early have had a tough time with a grueling schedule, Locksley said.

“This is the toughest time in our program to be showing up here,” Locksley said. “Our winter workouts are tough, they’re grueling, they’re strenuous, they’re challenging … This has been a tough three months for [the early enrollees] but they’ve persevered and now they get an opportunity to do what they really came here for, which is to play football.”

But it’s been a worthwhile schedule, with Locksley noting the players worked with the coaching staff to develop further and learn the team’s scheme.

Rico Walker, a four-star from Hickory, N.C., could be in line for extensive playing time this year. Walker played both edge and wide receiver in high school but has focused on the tight end position since coming to College Park.

The departure of CJ Dippre, who transferred to Alabama, leaves a hole in Maryland’s depth chart behind established Big Ten deep threat Corey Dyches. That, combined with Locksley’s love of two-tight end sets because of the “balanced line” they create on run looks, opens opportunities for a second player at the position to receive playing time.

Walker and redshirt freshman Preston Howard were the players Locksley highlighted in mid-April when asked about the backup tight end spot and will be the likely options to fill the role for Maryland.

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Youth movement at receiver?

The Terps will need to replace the bulk of their wide receiver production after losing Rakim Jarrett, Dontay Demus Jr. and Jacob Copeland.

None of the three played in Maryland’s bowl game win, giving the team’s young pass catchers a chance to show their talents. They showed promise, as sophomore Tai Felton caught four passes for 69 yards and Octavian Smith Jr. reeled in an impressive touchdown catch, but Locksley offered a lukewarm review of their play postgame.

“I thought they were just okay,” he said. “We did not block the perimeter … those are growing pains … those are the valuable lessons that during the offseason we’ll go back and watch the tape.”

In what seems like insurance for the mistakes that inexperience creates, the Terps brought in two transfers. Kaden Prather was a recent four-star recruit from West Virginia and Tyrese Chambers set Florida International records with 1,074 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2021.

They will compete with Felton and Smith for playing time. Despite the transfers’ experience, the young receivers could find their way into legitimate playing time.

A potential sleeper to explode at the position is freshman Shaleak Knotts, who caught just five passes last year. But Locksley levied heavy praise on him during the spring press conference.

“I think [Shaleak] Knotts is going to be one of the better receivers to ever play here based on the size, talent and his skill set,” he said.