If Maryland is to succeed in 2012, it will be led by 11 hardworking players each play as opposed to one or two stars. Although Maryland lacks star power, there are several players who are certainly key to the team’s success.
In 2011, head coach Randy Edsall found out the devastating impact that injuries to key players can have on a team.
Here are five guys the Terps cannot live without in 2012.
Kenny Tate, Safety/Linebacker
Will Kenny Tate play safety or linebacker this season?
The thing is, it does not really matter which position Tate plays. The All-ACC performer will make an impact so long as he is on the field. It should be noted that Randy Edsall was criticized for converting the safety into a linebacker last season. Regardless of his position on defense, Tate will make an impact.
Last year, he was injured early on and was granted permission by the NCAA to play for a fifth year. This NFL prospect will bring experience, leadership and talent to a young Terrapin squad.
Justin Gilbert, Right Guard
The Richmond, Va., product plays an underappreciated role for the Maryland offensive line. Justin Gilbert does not come to mind when you think of the Terps’ top five players, but the reality is that the right guard will play a pivotal role in 2012.
He has six career starts and closed out 2011 strong following an early-season injury. As the man responsible for protecting C.J. Brown’s blind side, he will be responsible for keeping the mobile quarterback healthy.
As Maryland lacks depth at the quarterback position, Gilbert must step up to the plate in 2012.
Joe Vellano, Defensive Lineman
The defensive lineman and returning captain may be the best at his position in the entire country. In 2012, he has the potential to lead the country in tackles by a lineman. The All-American has made nearly 20 tackles for a loss in his career.
Joe Vellano is important not only for his numbers, but because teams will have to game plan around his presence on the line.
Matt Robinson, Safety
Matt Robinson will return to College Park as a sophomore in 2012 with three seasons of eligibility remaining. He was injured in 2011 and granted an additional season by the NCAA. Though he only started three games in 2011, he showed great promise at the safety position.
Robinson is a terrific athlete with huge potential. Coming out of Atholton High School in Columbia, Md., Robinson quickly adjusted to the speed of play in the ACC. Last year, he averaged nearly 12 tackles a game.
He appears on this list because of his ability to complement safety Eric Franklin. Though Franklin is more widely regarded, the Maryland secondary will be helpless without the presence of Robinson in 2012.
Kevin Dorsey, Wide Receiver
Kevin Dorsey is a household name in College Park for good reason. The 6’2", 210-pound senior is as durable as he is athletic (though injured in the spring). He is one of the few key players who appeared on the field consistently for Maryland last season. Further, he has good chemistry with C.J. Brown. Dorsey totaled 45 receptions and three touchdowns in 2011.
Though no one knows exactly what to expect of Dorsey in Mike Locksley’s offense, he will certainly play an important role in the air game.