Maryland senior quarterback Josh Jackson has opted out of the upcoming football season, leaving the Terrapins with very little depth and experience at the pivotal position.
Jackson is the most prominent of six Maryland players who have decided not to play in 2020 for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic, coach Michael Locksley said during a teleconference Friday.
But Maryland learned later in the day that Alabama transfer Taulia Tagovailoa has been granted immediate eligibility, making the talented sophomore the immediate front-runner to be the starting quarterback.
Jackson played in 10 games last year for Maryland after transferring from Virginia Tech. He went 98 for 207 for 1,274 yards and 12 touchdowns with six interceptions.
His backup was Tyrrell Pigrome, who transferred to Western Kentucky during the offseason.
With Jackson out, Locksley is now counting on big things from Tagovailoa, the younger brother of Tua Tagovailoa, who starred at Alabama and was selected fifth overall by Miami in the 2020 NFL draft.
Taulia Tagovailoa has been working out with the Terps since June 1 with the understanding that he might have to sit out the season. Fortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.
“We signed him and brought him in with the expectations that we wouldn’t have him available to play this year,” Locksley said before the NCAA revealed its ruling. “If he’s granted immediate eligibility, that would be icing on the cake for us.”
Tagovailoa completed 9 of 12 passes for 100 yards in five games for the Crimson Tide, who went 11-2 and won the Citrus Bowl.
Lance Legendre is the only other Maryland quarterback on scholarship. He played in three games last season, completing one of three passes in a mopup role.
There are also two walkons, Eric Najarian and David Foust.
Others who opted out: defensive lineman Jalen Alexander; offensive linemen Johnny Jordan and Austin Fontaine; linebacker T.J. Kautai; and defensive lineman Vincent Flythe.
In addition, Locksley said starting tight end Chig Okonkwo will be held out with a medical issue.
“We will continue to support those guys as best we can,” Locksley said.
Locksley said North Carolina State transfer Joseph Boletepeli, a pass-rushing end, has received an NCAA waiver allowing him to play this season.
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