By Sean Whooley
Despite the Maryland football team’s rough start to this season, the program itself does have a rich history and has sent many players to the professional level.
With the program’s history in mind, and alumnus stars like Stefon Diggs contributing to their teams in the NFL, there are plenty of former Maryland football players doing big things.
There are 15 former Terrapins on NFL rosters this season. Notable players include tight end Vernon Davis, who helped the San Francisco 49ers reach Super Bowl XLVII in the 2012-13 season. Davis is sixth all-time in 49ers history for receiving yards, and fourth in receptions and receiving touchdowns. Davis’ team would lose to fan favorite Torrey Smith’s Baltimore Ravens that season, but now Smith has joined Davis and the 49ers. Smith is third in Baltimore Ravens history for receiving yards and second in touchdowns. Even more impressive, he was a Raven for only four years.
Other players include former first-round draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who has over 26-hundred career receiving yards. And, of course, the star wide receiver of the past few seasons for the Terrapins, Diggs of the Minnesota Vikings.
Those players made a lasting impact on the program’s history. For example, Smith and Diggs are first and third respectively in career all-purpose yards at Maryland. All four of the aforementioned players are in the top 15 in Maryland history for career receiving touchdowns, and all four have cemented themselves into the history books for many other records at Maryland.
Diggs, only a rookie, has played in three games for the Minnesota Vikings, but has introduced himself to the league in style. Against Denver, he had six receptions for 87 yards, and against Kansas City, accumulated seven receptions for 129 yards.
Diggs recorded his first career touchdown in week seven against the Detroit Lions in style, making a leaping 36-yard over-the-shoulder fingertip catch, paired with 108 receiving yards. Diggs seems to be developing a rapport with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and could be destined for more success.
The success of the former Terrapins has definitely excited students and faculty at Maryland. Interim head coach Mike Locksley said he maintains a relationship with Diggs and other former players that he’s worked with.
“I stay in touch with all of our guys,” Locksley said. “I talked to Stefon just the other day. We’re excited about what he’s doing and what all of the Terps in the NFL are doing.”
Locksley isn’t the only one following former Terrapins in the NFL. Plenty of students are interested in what the players are accomplishing. Sophomore criminology and criminal justice major Cameron Ivey has kept tabs on the former Maryland wide receiver.
“I’ve been looking at how Diggs is doing in the NFL, and he’s done pretty good,” Ivey said. “It’s cool to think that I saw him play here last year and then I see him on TV in the NFL. It’s awesome.”
One of the cool things about the players that move onto professional sports is that they play for teams that Maryland students follow. Spencer Klein, a sophomore economics major is not only a big fan of the Terrapins, but he’s a big fan of the New York Jets, where former Maryland cornerback Dexter McDougle plays.
“As a Jets fan and a current Maryland student it was a cool experience having the Jets draft Dex McDougle,” Klein said. “Even with his injury setbacks, I believe he’s going to be a good addition to the Jets secondary in the long run.”
Many Terrapins have retired from the NFL and moved onto broadcasting jobs, like Boomer Esiason and Scott Zolak. Many Terrapins will hope to make it to the league one day, like cornerback Will Likely. As for now, with the team’s struggles, Maryland fans can at least hang their hats on the success of the stars they used to watch at Byrd Stadium in the NFL.