Maryland Football Position Previews: Defensive Backs


Nov 23, 2013; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins defensive back William Likely (4) returns a kick off during the second half of the game Boston College Eagles at Byrd Stadium. Boston College Eagles defeated Maryland Terrapins 29-26. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland football program has had to face some tough battles this offseason, which could, in turn, affect their performance in their second season in the Big Ten Conference. The Terps will be employing a new defensive scheme and there will be a host of new starters taking the field in 2015. The strongest unit on Maryland’s defense this upcoming season will be the secondary, which features a crop of talented upperclassmen.

Many pundits believed that the Terps’ defensive backfield would take a step back, following the departure of Tennessee transfer D’Andre Payne. While this loss may ultimately affect Maryland later on down the line, it shouldn’t hurt them much this season.

The Terps’ secondary will feature the team’s best player: cornerback William Likely. There aren’t many good reasons to watch Maryland this year, but Likely is certainly one of them. The junior is fast rising as one of the top cover guys in the country. In two seasons in College Park, he has registered 153 total tackles and seven interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Likely is also very dangerous in the kick return game. He was an All-Big Ten selection a season ago and is the unquestioned leader of this defense. 

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Holding down the other cornerback spot will be senior Sean Davis, who is wrapping up his transition from safety to corner. Over the course of his career as a Terp, Davis has recorded 230 tackles, to go along with two interceptions, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He has great size at 6-foot-1 and 202 pounds, allowing him to be physical with opposing receivers. Although Davis has spent little time at corner since arriving at Maryland, he wants to play there and he surely has the talent to be successful.

Similar to the cornerback position, the two starting safety slots are practically set in stone. Those spots will be manned by seniors Anthony Nixon and A.J. Hendy. As a junior, Nixon made 62 tackles, picked off one pass and came up with four pass deflections. Hendy missed the 2014 season due to suspension, but for his career, he’s recorded 66 tackles and two interceptions, both of those going for scores. The Terps should benefit from the experience at safety.

Despite the inexperience behind the starters, there is still a good bit of talent that is looking to prove that they have what it takes. Cornerbacks Alvin Hill and Jarrett Ross and safeties Josh Woods and Denzel Conyers figure to play key roles as well, particularly on special teams.

All in all, the Terps will be solid in the secondary. While they don’t have the ideal depth, this unit is still one of the few bright spots for Maryland this season.

Next: Previewing Maryland's Linebackers for 2015

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