(If You Only Have Time to Read One Terps Preview This is it) Terps Football Preview Part 3: Wide Receivers

July 20, 2008 |

Team
Number
Name/Stars
Year
Position
1st
84
Isaiah Willaims-***
SR
X
2nd
3
LaQuan Williams-**
rsSO
X
3rd
82
Torrey Smith-***
rsFR
X
1st
17
Danny Oquendo-***
SR
Slot
2nd
7
Adrian Cannon-***
rsSO
Slot
3rd
85
Tony Logan-****
rsFR
Slot
1st
8
Darrius Heyward-Bey-****
rsJR
Z
2nd
83
Emani Lee-Odai-**
rsSO
Z
3rd
88
Quinton McCree-**
rsFR
Z
-
87
Kevin Gresham-*
SR
WR
-
24
Ronnie Tyler-***
rsFR
WR
-
25
Kevin Dorsey-****
FR
WR
-
-
Kenny Tate-****
FR
WR
-
-
Kerry Boykins-****
FR
WR
This is Part 3 of a 10-part series previewing the 2008 Maryland Football Season. In addition to discussing the various positional battles within the team, I hope to also raise awareness for Terps Football because it is often overlooked in the crowded Baltimore media market. For the full 2008 spring football depth chart, goto http://terps.wikispaces.com/
“X” Receiver
At the “X” wide receiver position, the Terps are led by a duo of Williams, Isaiah, a true senior from Montclair, New Jersey and LaQuan, a third-year sophomore from Poly in Baltimore.
Isaiah, a 2005 commit who picked Maryland over strong interest from Wisconsin, West Virginia, Connecticut, Rutgers, and Virginia, started eleven games as a true sophomore in 2006. He had 28 receptions and caught 3 touchdowns. In 2007, Williams, after a disappointing beginning to the season, was usurped by LaQuan Williams as the starter at the “X” position. Often criticized for taking plays off and doing a lackluster job blocking, Isaiah still went on to catch 25 passes for a team-leading 15.8 yards per reception as a junior.
The other Williams, LaQuan, was a diamond in the rough for Ralph Friedgen as the 2-star athlete was not offered a scholarship by any other Division 1-A program.
LaQuan “redshirted” the 2006 season as a reserve defensive back but was switched in the spring of 2007 to wide receiver. Williams had an outstanding spring, moving up the depth chart faster than Maryland coaches could imagine before finally wrestling the starting job away from Isaiah Williams.
In a win against Top-10 ranked Rutgers, LaQuan recorded two catches for 66 yards including a spectacular diving grab for 27 yards. He finished the season with 217 receiving yards.
Behind Williams and Williams at the “X” position is former high-school quarterback Torrey Smith, a 3-star prospect from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Smith escaped Hokie-land, choosing the Terps over the pressure to play for hometown Virginia Tech. Penn State and Virginia also displayed high interest in Smith.
Despite being 3rd on the depth chart, Torrey Smith is simply too talented to be kept off of the field. The redshirt freshman has a very good chance of receiving some playing time.
Slot Receiver
In the slot, Danny Oquendo enters his senior season having already played 33 games as a Terp. The speedster from Hackensack, New Jersey was highly recruited and picked Maryland over interest from Rutgers, Syracuse, Connecticut, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Boston College among a few others.
As a true freshman in 2005, Danny was one of only four true freshmen to see action in all eleven games. He finished with two catches to go along with a team-best ten tackles on special teams and two fumble recoveries. Oquendo handled much of the punt returning in 2006, but he still managed to catch 34 passes and rack up 396 receiving yards. Despite a season-ending knee injury which forced him to miss the final 4 games of the season, Oquendo still was the team’s leading punt returner and caught 19 passes.
Oquendo enters the 2008 season again as the team’s starting slot receiver and should get plenty of time on special teams.
Behind Oquendo, a pair of young talent will look to stand out and contribute on the field.
Adrian Cannon and Tony Logan from Pontiac, Michigan and Piscataway, New Jersey respectively could both very well see the field as part of Offensive Coordinator James Franklin’s plan to play more young talent especially at the skill positions.
Logan was the most highly recruited choosing Maryland over Rutgers, Tennessee, Purdue, West Virginia, Mississippi State, and Connecticut along with close to a dozen others. Maryland recruited Logan as a wide receiver, but the second-year freshman played cornerback and quarterback in high school.
Adrian Cannon is the team’s only slot receiver besides Oquendo to see the field as a Terp, catching three passes including a 44-yarder as a redshirt freshman in 2007.
“Z” Receiver
At the “Z” position, there is no doubt who the main target will be for Chris Turner, Jordan Steffy, or Josh Portis.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, a fourth-year junior from McDonogh School in Owings Mills, has played on such a high level in his first two years of eligibility that most college football experts consider him the second-best receiver in the nation behind Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree. NFL Draft experts call him a likely first-rounder with a good chance to be taken in the Top 15. Most importantly, however, Darrius Heyward-Bey is the most talented player on the Terps’ roster and one of the most-talented, if not the most-talented, player in the ACC.
The 2005-signee who was nicknamed “Sea Biscuit” in high school qualified for the Nike High School Track and Field Championships, finishing sixth in the 55-meter dash. The top six runners in each event earn All-American honors. Seeing his speed, Heyward-Bey was recruited by many of the East Coast’s top programs, earning offers from Maryland, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Alabama, Marshall, and Michigan State with high interest from other SEC schools, Notre Dame, and Northwestern.
After taking his redshirt year in 2005, Heyward-Bey literally burst onto the scene with 45 receptions and 694 receiving yards in 2006. In home wins against powerhouses Florida State and Miami, Heyward-Bey raced for four touchdowns of 5, 30, 65, and 96 yards. With the great season, Heyward-Bey was chosen a 1st-Team Freshman All-American by Sporting News and Rivals.com. His 96-yard touchdown shattered the school’s record for longest play.
As a sophomore in 2007, Heyward-Bey once again did not disappoint as he pulled in 51 more receptions. Easily the team’s most dangerous offensive threat, Heyward-Bey recorded 786 receiving yards and 107 rushing yards including a 54-yard scamper against Wake Forest.
Unfortunately for Maryland fans but luckily for the rest of the ACC, the 2008 campaign will most likely be the last for Heyward-Bey especially if his NFL stock keeps rising.
Emani Lee-Odai, a third-year sophomore from Washington, made his presence felt in 2007 with 3 catches for 78 yards against Boston College. Although Lee-Odai is listed at the “Z” position, he stepped in for an injured Danny Oquendo in the slot last season. Emani chose the Terps over NC State, Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.
Lastly at the “Z” position, second-year freshman Quinton McCree will look for playing time as a receiver and on special teams. McCree’s only other offer was Tennesse but schools such as Akron, Buffalo, Connecticut, and Marshall showed interest.
Other Receivers
Listed simply as a wide receiver, senior walk-on Kevin Gresham will provide depth at all three receiver positions.
Ronnie Tyler, a speedy redshirt freshman from South Carolina, originally committed to Georgia but backed out of his commitment and settled on the Terps. Besides the Dawgs, Clemson, North Carolina, Wake Forest, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, and others offered and showed high interest in Tyler.
Even though Ronnie Tyler entered the spring simply listed as a wide receiver, his speed and high-talent level, as evidenced by his impressive offer sheet, gives him a great chance to see some early playing time. He is yet another example of a highly-skilled player buried deep on Maryland’s talented wide receiver depth chart.
Finally, the Terps bring in three very talented true-freshmen receivers in Kevin Dorsey, Kenny Tate, and Kerry Boykins.
Of the three, Dorsey, a Forrestville grad, was the only one who enrolled early at Maryland and participated in spring practices. Doresy committed to Maryland on July 21, 2006, making him the earliest commit of the 2008 recruiting class by far. Even though Dorsey received early interest from schools such as Ohio State, Michigan, and Auburn, he settled on Maryland, making Terps fans very, very happy.
Not quite as happy, however, as when DeMatha standout Kenny Tate, the last pledge of the 2008 class, chose the Terps over offers from Penn State, Illinois, Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Tennessee, and many, many others. The most-heralded recruit in 2008, Tate will almost certainly receive playing time as a true freshman even with the talent above him on the depth chart. He is simply too good to not be on the field.
Lastly, possession receiver Kerry Boykins from Chesapeake, Virginia picked Maryland over North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and several more. For Tom Brattan, the Terps recruiter assigned to the Hokie-infested Tidewater region of Virginia, this was yet another big pickup in an area where Virginia Tech is expected to get every high-level prospect.
Boykins collected 35 receptions as a junior and was named first-team All-Tidewater.
My Take
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! That was probably a lot for you to read, as it was definitely a lot for me to write, but I hope it was fun. If you’re a Maryland fan right now, you should be extremely excited. If you’re a fan of another ACC team, you should be peeing your pants.
Maryland has a ridiculous amount of talent at the wide receiver position, from top to bottom of the depth chart. Of the 13 receivers listed, eight or nine could see the field next year. James Franklin has said again and again that he wants to utilize young talent especially at this position, and I think he will.
At the very top, former McDonogh Eagle Darrius Heyward-Bey will be the go-to-guy for Maryland quarterbacks. He is simply an excellent receiver that I would love to see the Ravens take in the first round (you hear that Ozzie!) The question is not whether Heyward-Bey will do damage in his junior season, it is how much damage he will do. He is the face of the team, and he should be used in recruiting wide-outs for years and years to come.
Behind him at “Z”, Emani Lee-Odai will probably be given the chance to improve upon last year’s flashes of brilliance. Third-stringer Quinton McCree is one of several redshirt or true freshmen with the chance to earn early playing time.
At “X”, Isaiah and LaQuan Williams will probably split the starting job as they did last year. Isaiah is more reliable and is sounder tactically, but LaQuan works harder, blocks better, and has more big-play ability. Not to mention LaQuan is Baltimore tough! I believe they will split the starting job unless one goes out and earns it in practice or on Saturdays. Like McCree, Torrey Smith could play early as a redshirt freshman.
In the slot, Oquendo will start and carry most of the load with Cannon and Logan fighting to be his backup. I would even throw Ronnie Tyler in there because of how impressive he looked in spring practice. At least one of those guys will receive early playing time.
Finally, we come to the three true-freshmen, Dorsey, Tate, and Boykins. Tate will most likely not redshirt and will play, as I said before, he is simply too good not to. I believe Boykins will redshirt as a freshman, and I think Kevin Dorsey is the wildcard. Analysts have projected him to be a star in college which may have explained the early interest from powerhouses Ohio State, Michigan, and Auburn. Whether he plays next year or not, don’t forget the name Kevin Dorsey because you will be hearing it a lot.
So there it is.
Heyward-Bey, Oquendo, Isaiah Williams, and LaQuan Williams will start with a logjam of talent behind them eager to get on the field. With this crop of Maryland receivers, you really can’t go wrong anywhere, and that’s very encouraging. Maryland Football is set at the wide receiver position for several years to come.
Up Next: Tight Ends and H-Backs, where the Terps have developed NFL players Frank Wychek and Vernon Davis. Don’t forget to leave a comment!

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