Maryland football lost a quartet of weapons for quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa last season. Wide receivers Rakim Jarrett, Dontay Demus Jr. and Jacob Copeland all departed for the NFL, while tight end CJ Dippre left the Terps for Alabama.
Enter transfers Tyrese Chambers and Kaden Prather.
The two receivers announced their returns to their home state from FIU and West Virginia, respectively, easing the loss of four key playmakers.
“It was kind of an easy decision,” Prather said. “Being close to home, being close to my family, my friends, it’s a true blessing.”
Chambers and Prather — paired with other returning wideouts and a deep running back group headlined by Roman Hemby — lay the groundwork for a formidable 2023 Maryland offense.
Hemby leads a backfield that averaged the seventh-most yards per game at 141.3 and scored 23 touchdowns in 2022, the fifth-most rushing touchdowns among Big Ten schools last year. The redshirt sophomore finished just 11 yards short of a 1,000-yard campaign, breaking out for four 100-yard outings last season.
Hemby knows the next step he needs to take. It’s improving mentally, whether that’s anticipating defender moves or training his brain to take hits.
“The next step for Roman is creating extra yards after contact, at the second and third levels,” offensive coordinator Josh Gattis said.
Beyond Hemby in the Terps’ running back room lie Antwain Littleton II, Ramon Brown and Colby McDonald. Four of Littleton’s five touchdowns from last season were within five yards of the goal line.
“You’ve got to be able to run the ball to close those games out,” Gattis said. “We feel like the depth we have there will help us tremendously.”
Maryland’s offensive depth isn’t limited to its running backs. Chambers and Prather allow for a deep receiver corps, headlined by the transfers and Jeshaun Jones.
Jones, who started playing for the Terps in 2018, has seen countless wideouts enter and exit the program. The graduate student is now the leader of his position group.
“From a leadership standpoint, he’s the guy in that room that those guys lean on,” coach Mike Locksley said. “He’s really played a role of coach mentality with all those guys.”
Then there’s Tai Felton and Octavian Smith Jr., who combined for more than 450 receiving yards last season. Gattis believes the wideout depth allows for flexibility in the packages they run, allowing him to find creative roles for many of the options at his disposal.
Jones’ experience makes him a leader on and off the field. Prather and Felton provide physical presences at 6 feet 4 inches and 6 feet 2 inches, respectively. Chambers — now at his third school — performed at a high level in both of his first two stops. Smith’s explosiveness has already been on display as a return threat.
“It’s fantastic because the defense never knows whose day it’s going to be,” Prather said. “You really don’t have one person to set a gameplan around.”
The Terps also return their second-leading receiver from a season ago in tight end Corey Dyches, who split time with Dippre at the position. His 35 receptions and 449 yards were career bests.
Between Dyches at tight end, the number of options out wide and Hemby leading the backfield, Maryland boasts one of the deepest skill position groups in the conference — a big reason why Locksley believes that his crew is ready to compete for Big Ten championships.