Maryland Terrapins Football: An NFL Factory
The University of Maryland’s football program is not recognized as a premier team, nor should they be. Over the last 10 years, they can be summed up as mediocre to solid at best, which is impressive considering what Ralph Friedgen had to work with and a casual fan base.
Even though there are many major colleges that produce consistent NFL players, they are also recruiting All-Americans, going to BCS games or winning their conferences–which obviously isn't happening at College Park. Given the Terps’ record I feel that it is very impressive with the amount of pro talent that comes out of the University over the past decade and they should be acknowledged.
Tight End: Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
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- Davis is an absolute freak; he also put up one of the best NFL combine performances ever. It took him a couple years to get established in San Francisco, but he has stepped up as a team leader and their most consistent passing threat. He is as strong as a lineman and as fast as a receiver making him almost impossible to match up with. I would like to see his production improve even more with a better quarterback in the future.
Linebacker: E.J. Henderson, Minnesota Vikings
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- E.J. is your typical 4-3 middle linebacker, not too flashy or athletic, but just an overall good and intelligent football player as he earned himself a Pro Bowl selection. Despite suffering a broken leg in the 2009-2010 season, Henderson has come back and had another solid season in Minnesota. He’s a team leader providing consistent play year after year.
Quarterback: Shaun Hill, Detroit Lions
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- If there has been any former Maryland product that has exceeded expectations it has been Hill. He was given little chance of making an NFL roster being an undrafted free agent and signing with Minnesota. It took five years for Hill to finally earn playing time and has now established himself as a solid player. Shaun Hill won’t be the face of the franchise or a Pro Bowler, but he has been dependable and a good veteran to have around the locker room.
Linebacker: D'Qwell Jackson, Cleveland Browns
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- The most consistent tackler on the Browns since being drafted in the second round of the 2006 draft. Jackson has had some injury problems, but he remains a tackling machine, he even led the NFL in that statistic back in 2008. Despite being relatively undersized, D’Qwell has molded himself into one of the leaders of the defense on and off the field.
Linebacker: Shawne Merriman, Buffalo Bills
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- Even though Penn State will always be known as “Linebacker U”, Maryland has had its fair share of NFL players at this position. Prior to his injuries, Merriman was one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL. His accomplishments go as far as Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2005, three-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro. Shawne has essentially been injured since the 2008 season and he hopes to revive his career in Buffalo. While at Maryland and his peak in San Diego, Merriman was arguably the most exciting player on the field and he would be the clear number one on this list if his injuries have not plagued him the past three seasons.
Cornerback: Josh Wilson, Baltimore Ravens
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- I was surprised to see Seattle trade Wilson away to the Ravens this past offseason. In the four years that Josh has been in the NFL he has developed himself as a dependable number two or three corner. He’s averaging about three interceptions a year and can also be a threat in the punt return game if called upon.
Cornerback: Domonique Foxworth
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- This is another reliable corner that has come out of College Park. Foxworth’s 2009 season lead him to receive a big contract from the Ravens this past offseason. Unfortunately, a torn ACL had him miss the entire 2010-2011 season, but I expect him to come back and contribute to Baltimore’s defense. Domonique is a versatile defender having seen time at cornerback, safety and special teams.
Defensive Tackle: Kris Jenkins, Free Agent
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- When Jenkins is healthy he is very effective at an unpopular and less than glamorous position. He is a four-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro. This is another player that would be ranked higher if he wasn’t injured for the majority of the past two seasons. Jenkins is a gap filler and his duties are essential to stopping the run.
Safety: Madieu Williams, Minnesota Vikings
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- Madieu’s first four years in Cincinnati seemed to show great promise against the run and the pass. His successful early career earned him a big contract with the Minnesota Vikings, while his production has slipped; he remains a consistent force to their secondary.
Defensive Line: Randy Starks, Miami Dolphins
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- It seems that Randy Starks has been in the NFL for quite awhile now and he has resurrected his career in Miami’s 3-4 defensive scheme. Starks has started every game for the past two years and 2009 featured a career high in tackles and sacks in a season earning him a Pro Bowl selection.
Honorable Mentions: Linebacker, Moises Fokou,Philadelphia Eagles. Linebacker, Eric Barton, Free Agent and Offensive Tackle, Jared Gaither, Baltimore Ravens.