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Terps open preseason camp with confident coach and star quarterback who stayed

Maryland Terrapins football team holds first practice of preseason camp with high expectations for upcoming season
Taulia Tagovailoa
Posted at 4:28 PM, Aug 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-02 17:40:06-04

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Now is the time to make the unprecedented big leap forward in the Big Ten conference. That’s the thinking for the Maryland Terrapins football team as it opens preseason camp.

The Terps took to the field Wednesday for practice No. 1.

Expectations have never been higher for Mike Locksley’s crew. The head coach, entering his fifth season, put the Big Ten on notice last week at media day in Indianapolis by saying:

“Our program is at a point finally where we can say we’re here to compete for Big Ten championships.”

He echoed that on Wednesday speaking with WMAR-2 Sports Reporter Shawn Stepner.

“Why make that declaration at this point with this team?” asked Stepner.

“One, you use messaging and that’s a message to our team,” Locksley replied.

“The culture in that locker room is why I feel confident. But I also think being able to message to them that if you are going to talk the talk, now we have to do the work behind it. So, it puts a little pressure from inside. It’s our expectation not what everybody else thinks and I think our players will answer it.”

The Terps are coming off their most successful season since 2010. They went 8-5 last year while clinching back-to-back bowl wins for the first time since 2002 and 2003.

“I like the way our locker room is set up in terms of the leadership, in terms of guys that understand the standard of how we want to do things,” said Locksley.

He is talking about guys like Taulia Tagovailoa. The quarterback is the program record holder in every major career and single-season passing category.

“It was a no-brainer for me to stay here,” he said. “I made myself a home over here. Why not finish it out?”

Tagovailoa returns for a fourth season in College Park after spurning other schools who wanted him to transfer. He reportedly turned down $1.5 million from an unnamed SEC school to stay at Maryland. He said the money was enticing but there is unfinished business.

“Very tempting. The portal now, today, it can be crazy. But regardless of what it was, all that stuff is done. I’m here with the Terps.”

Tagovailoa will have some new receiving targets, including West Virginia transfer Kaden Prather and Florida International transfer, Baltimore native, Tyrese Chambers. Last year's stars - Rakim Jarrett, Dontay Demus Jr. and Jacob Copeland - are all gone and in NFL camps. They accounted for over 1,000 yards and six touchdowns in 2022. Jeshaun Jones returns for a fifth season. He was the Terps’ top receiver last year with 44 catches, 557 yards and 4 TD’s.

Top running back, Edgewood’s Roman Hemby also returns. On defense they’ll be led by senior safety Beau Brade out of Clarksville and senior corner Tarheeb Still.

The Terps open the 2023 season on September 2, at SECU Stadium, against Towson.

Follow Shawn Stepner on Twitter @StepnerWMAR and Facebook