COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland looks to put a tumultuous season in the rearview mirror when it kicks off the 2019 campaign at home against FCS outfit Howard on Saturday. Mike Locksley takes over from D.J. Durkin, who was dismissed as coach after an investigation into the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, and the former Alabama Crimson Tide offensive coordinator hopes to usher in a new era of success at College Park by leading the team to its first winning season since 2014.
TV: Noon ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Maryland -31
"We're all aware of the things that have taken place here, but this 2019 team will be defined in the present," Locksley told reporters. "Whatever we do today then that's how we're going to be defined." Locksley went 1-5 as Maryland's interim coach after Randy Edsall was fired in 2015 and has served for a total of 10 years in various roles within the program, and his familiarity with the DMV area has helped him land highly-touted safety Nick Cross, who was the top-ranked player in the state of Maryland. The Terrapins bring back 75.3 percent of their total offense from last year, including dynamic running back Anthony McFarland, who set a new program record for most rushing yards by a freshman with 1,034, as the Terrapins aim to get back to a bowl game for the first time in three seasons. Howard also had to replace its head coach from last season as Mike London resigned and Ron Prince, who was the head man at Kansas State from 2006-08, hopes to start his tenure with a bang by leading the Bison to their second victory over an FBS opponent in the last three years.
ABOUT HOWARD (2018: 4-6)
Quarterback Caylin Newton was named to the 40-man shortlist for the FCS Player of the Year Trophy after throwing for 2,629 yards and 22 touchdowns en route to winning the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year award in his sophomore season. Wide receiver Jequez Ezzard was named to the MEAC Preseason All-First Team after hauling in 40 catches for 1,064 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns while setting a new single-game program record with 223 yards against Ohio on Sept. 1. The Bison's defense will be led by linebacker Marcellos Allison, who registered 71 tackles last season, and defensive back Tye Freeland (66 tackles, 10 pass breakups and two interceptions).
ABOUT MARYLAND (2018: 5-7)
Graduate transfer Josh Jackson, who threw for 3,566 yards and 25 touchdowns in 16 games with Virginia Tech before breaking his leg in 2018, won the quarterback competition against Tyrrell Pigrome while Kasim Hill transferred to Tennessee after two injury-plagued seasons with the Terrapins. McFarland racked up four 100-yard rushing games, the most by a Maryland freshman, and will be joined in the backfield by junior Lorenzo Harrison, who rushed for 1,339 yards and nine touchdowns in 24 career games before suffering a season-ending knee injury during practice last September. The additions of linebackers Shaq Smith and Keandre Jones, who transferred from Clemson and Ohio State, respectively, should bolster the position with standout safety Antoine Brooks poised to have a breakout year.
1. Jackson was 11-5 as a starter for the Hokies.
2. The Terrapins ranked fourth nationally in red zone offense (93.5 percent) last season.
3. Ezzard led the country in yards per reception (26.6) in 2018.
PREDICTION: Maryland 42, Howard 13