Follow Sam on Twitter
Haroon Brown and Taylor Watson have graduated, goal line specialist and fan favorite Zach Kerr is ineligible for the 2011 season and Cory Jackson isn't returning to Byrd Stadium anytime soon. So what will the Terrapins' fullback situation look like this year?
Sitting atop the depth for now is Rahsaan Moore, a redshirt freshman. Backing him up, a transfer from Bowie State, Jeff Hernandez. Ultimately, the fullback position is one of the biggest question marks on the offense.
Moore, a Hyattsville native, was Scout.com's no. 13-rated fullback while playing at Wise High School. And for the first time since his senior season in which he racked up 461 yards and 15 touchdowns, he's being launched right into the thick of the action for the Terrapins.
In a Gary Crowton offense, though, how much of a factor can the fullback be?
Dating back to Crowton's first offensive coordinator job with the Chicago Bears in 1999, the fullback is primarily a block-first commodity. On the collegiate level, his M.O. remained the same.
With %%MATCH_20%% in 2005, the offense was spearheaded by a collection of four running backs, none of which were fullbacks. That season, no true fullback received a carry. In his first season at %%MATCH_21%%, starting fullback Shawn Jordan carried the ball four times, clearly used as a blocker.
The exception, in 2008, was Quinn Johnson. A future NFL back with the Green Bay Packers, Johnson was a key component in the Tigers offense his senior season. Johnson received 14 carries, seventh on the team in that category, for 28 yards. Though that may not sound too impressive, his three rushing touchdowns were second on the team only to starting back Charles Scott.
Does Crowton see Moore having a similar impact to Johnson? That has yet to be seen, but it is obvious that the fullback will have a significant role creating holes for rushers in this offensive scheme, and protecting Danny O'Brien.
Crowton's resume includes a number of running backs who enjoyed 1,000-yard seasons while he called plays. Scott, along with Jacob Hester, 2001 Doak Walker Award recipient Luke Staley and recent New England Patriots draftee Stevan Ridley are some of the standouts in Crowton's offense. Keiland Williams and Jonathon Stewart also went on to professional careers.
"We need to be physical," Crowton told reporters late in April. "For [the fullback] position to really work, they need to be able to block hard and catch the ball out of the backfield. That's what we're looking for out of that position."
Moore must show he is able to provide an extra layer of protection in the passing game, too. Maryland's offensive line will feature just two seasoned players – junior right tackle R.J. Dill and senior left guard Andrew Gonnella – with left tackle Max Garcia, center Bennett Fulper and right guard Josh Cary starting their first full seasons. In addition to the tight end, the running backs – especially the fullback – will have to assist the line in safeguarding O'Brien.