Terps Football Preview Part 4: Tight Ends and H-Backs

July 22, 2008 |

This is Part 4 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, go here.

Dan Gronkowski-**
Tommy Galt-**
Lansford Watson-****
Starting at tight end for Maryland is the Amherst, New York native Dan Gronkowski. Gronkowski, a 2003 commit and high school quarterback who chose Maryland over Arizona, Purdue, Syracuse, and others, is one of team’s best students and is currently pursuing an MBA.
After redshirting in 2004, Gronkowski saw action as a reserve tight end in 2005. He caught two passes for 37 yards. With the departure of Vernon Davis, Gronkowski played a much bigger role in 2006. Although he still only caught two passes, the 6-foot-6 255-pounder was utilized as the team’s best blocking tight end. In 2007, Gronkowski again split time with tight end Joey Haynos and caught seven more passes.
In the weight room, Gronkowski has four times won Iron Terp status for his strength index. His squat of 635 pounds is second to Vernon Davis in team history.
Tommy Galt, a fifth-year senior from Silver Spring, Maryland, entered Maryland in 2004 along with his twin brother, Deege, a defensive tackle. Like Gronkowski, Galt is more of a blocking tight end and has not recorded a catch in his college career.
Galt was also recruited by Boston College, Virginia, Army, and James Madison.
Lansford Watson, a redshirt freshman from Brooklyn, New York, was one of Ralph Friedgen’s prize recruits of the 2007 class. An Army All-American, Watson chose Maryland over an impressive list of suitors including USC, Florida State, and Miami. North Carolina, Syracuse, Rutgers, Penn State, Pittsburgh, and others were also involved.
Originally ranked as a 5-star prospect but eventually bumped down to four stars, Watson chose Maryland in part because of Vernon Davis, the Terp tight end that Watson modeled his game after.
Unlike Gronkowski and Galt, Watson has good speed and outstanding pass-catching ability. Even though he is currently third on the depth chart, he will almost certainly be on the field next year.
My Take
Besides Vernon Davis, Ralph Friedgen has typically used his tight ends as extra blockers rather than receiving threats. This year appears to be no different as neither Gronkowski nor Galt are great receivers.
However, Lansford Watson was an excellent route runner in high school with outstanding hands. Making the full transition to tight end, he put on close to 25 pounds since arriving at Maryland. He will definitely receive playing time as yet another weapon in the Terps’ passing attack.
Drew Gloster-****
Taylor Watson-**
Devonte Campbell-****
Matt Furstenburg-***
Drew Gloster entered the spring with a relatively weak depth chart at H-Back and a guaranteed staring spot. Due to an academic issue, however, it looks as though he will be suspended for the entire 2008 season. A big time recruit, Gloster originally chose Maryland over Florida, Georgia, Miami, Oklahoma, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Nebraska, and several others.
Flushed into the starting job with Gloster ineligible, Taylor Watson, a 2007 signee from Accokeek, Maryland, will be forced to take on a much bigger role than he anticipated. Waston was not nearly as highly recruited as Gloster, receiving offers from Temple, Akron, and Connecticut.
Watson does not possess the ball skills to be part of the Terps’ passing attack but was a very good blocker in high school.
Behind Watson is a pair of talented true freshmen, Devonte Campbell and Matt Furstenburg. Both Campbell and Furstenburg chose to enter Maryland early, giving both a huge head start and a better chance to play as true freshmen, something very rare at Maryland.
Campbell, originally from Forrestville High School, looked to be a lock towards committing to either Illinois or Georgia Tech before “boomeranging” back to Maryland. He picked the Terps over the Fighting Illini and Yellow Jackets as well as Syracuse and Tennessee.
Unable to qualify in 2007, Campbell chose to attend Hargrave Military Academy to sure up the grades needed to play at Maryland.
Unlike Devonte Campbell, Matt Furstenburg flew completely under the radar in his first four years of high school. Looking to physically mature and gain Division 1 offers, Furstenburg attented The Hun School in New Jersey and began to garner interest from Michigan State, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Maryland.
However, only the Terps offered, and they eventually won a 6-foot-4 220-pound blocker with 4.5 speed. In a testament to his ability, Rivals.com moved Furstenburg all the way up to four stars.
My Take
Maryland was given a severe “dagger” with the loss of Drew Gloster, but the Terps have three viable options to take over at H-Back.
A position used mostly for blocking, Watson, Campbell, and Furstenburg will all be given the chance to win the starting job. Campbell and Furstenburg possess better ball skills and more speed, but Watson has a year of experience under his belt and may be just as good a blocker.
I think Campbell eventually wins out, but there is still much uncertainty surrounding the position. Coach Friedgen rarely starts true freshmen, but Campbell has the ability to win the starting job.
With Gloster, H-Back would have been a position of strength for the Terps. Without him, however, this is still not a position of weakness.
Up Next: Offensive Line, where the Terps were battered with injuries last season and come back even stronger this year. Don’t forget to leave a comment!