Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and intern Connor Letourneau -- co-sports editor of The Diamondback -- weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
Joe Vellano has been named to several “watch” lists, including one for the Outland Trophy. Where does he rank on the list of Terps career defensive linemen?
Jeff Barker: Hey, where does he rank in his own family? His father, Paul, was a Kodak AFCA All-American and an All-ACC selection as a defensive tackle.
Joe Vellano, A.J. Francis and others in the defensive line rotation will be critical to Maryland’s fortunes this season. I’m not sure you could make the move to a 3-4 defense if you had a nose tackle and ends that were going to consistently get blown back into the run gaps. I don’t expect that to happen.
Vellano, coming off a foot injury that sidelined him in the spring, is one of the best returning players in the ACC. He and Francis, who is expected to be the nose tackle, are talented and experienced.
Plus, Francis writes songs and poetry and is a great quote. I asked him once whether he had talent as a songwriter.
He replied: “I've been doing it since I was 16 years old. If I wasn't good, it would be a waste of my time."
Mark Turgeon was in Philly this week to watch the Harrison twins, Rysheed Jordan, Suitland’s Roddy Peters and others. Should Maryland wait for the Harrisons and/or Jordan no matter what, or is it worth going after Peters – a four-star prospect who reportedly loves Maryland – now or continuing to wait for the bigger names?
Don Markus: I think Turgeon should figure out a way to take either Jordan or Peters, given that both are considered four-star prospects who would be more than capable of stepping in and starting at Maryland. I think he can sell them on the fact that they would compete for time as freshmen, even if the Harrisons come to College Park, and then have a chance to stay if the twins wind up being one-and-doners with the Terps.
But Turgeon also has to be careful not to take the Terps out of the running for the Harrisons, if he believes Maryland has a good shot at them. Given his relationship with their father, who coaches their AAU team (which will be playing Monday night at St. Frances), and the fact that their former AAU teammate Shaquille Cleare will be a freshman in College Park this year, I do believe Maryland has a legitimate shot.
It's pretty remarkable that we're even having this debate. It shows how respected, and how tenacious a recruiter, Turgeon is and how far the Maryland program has come since he took over. I can see a day -- in the not-so-distant future -- when Turgeon puts together the kind of talent at Comcast Center that Mike Krzyzewski has at Duke and Roy Williams gets at North Carolina.
Given Turgeon's relative youth compared to those two coaching icons, this is the kind of debate we should be having every summer. Sounds like fun. Matt Furstenburg was named to the Mackey Award watch list on Tuesday. Will he be another in the long line of Maryland tight ends (Vernon Davis, Jeff Dugan, Dan Gronkowski, Joey Haynos, etc.) to the NFL?
Connor Letourneau: Right now, Matt Furstenburg is a fringe NFL prospect at best. NFLdraftscout.com rates him the No. 22 tight end in the class of 2013, and the No. 999 overall prospect.
Of course, those numbers could easily change with a productive senior campaign. Furstenburg has already shown he can be a difference maker (just look at his 104-yard outburst against Clemson last season), and he has the size (6-4, 245 pounds) NFL rosters require.
He just needs an opportunity to show his worth.
After torching the Tigers last October, Furstenburg recorded just 10 catches for 92 yards over the Terps’ final six games. Stuck in former offensive coordinator Gary Crowton’s moribund spread last year, Furstenburg simply didn’t get enough touches to prove he’s an NFL-caliber tight end.
Personally, I think he is. He has nice hands, solid speed and the necessary bulk to bully his way into the end zone. Now that C.J. Brown has locked up the starting quarterback gig, he’d be smart to start targeting Furstenburg with more regularity.
And if the spring game is any indicator, that’s exactly what he’ll do. Playing in new offensive coordinator Mike Locksley’s multi-set offense, Furstenburg and fellow tight end Ryan Schlothauer finished with higher receiving totals than any of the team’s wide receivers.
Expect to see more of the same come the start of practice Aug. 5. Since Brown isn’t exactly a deep threat, it’d be wise for him to try and move the chains with consistent, short passes to Furstenburg.
If that happens, expect the Princeton, N.J., native to continue the Terps’ recent run of tight ends drafted to the NFL.