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Stefon Diggs should benefit from better surrounding talent


Maryland sophomore wide receiver Stefon Diggs threw out the first pitch at the Aug. 18 Baltimore Orioles game against Colorado. It wasn't a strike -- which means it might be the last less-than-stellar thing Diggs has done for a while.

Diggs (6 feet, 195 pounds) arrived amid a ton of hype out of high school in the Baltimore area, then began to live up to it. He was one of the best true freshmen in the nation last season; he ranked second in the ACC and eighth nationally with 172.4 all-purpose yards per game, and his 1,896 all-purpose yards were the second most in a single season in school history, trailing only Torrey Smith, who had 2,192 in 2009. In his primary role as the Terps' go-to receiver, Diggs -- who has big-time speed (he has been clocked at under 4.4 in the 40) and elusiveness -- had 54 receptions for 848 yards and six TDs.

He put up those reception numbers despite working with four starting quarterbacks and being a marked man on offense because there was no complementary No. 2 receiver (no other Terp caught more than 23 passes) nor a consistent rushing attack (Maryland was 115th nationally in rush offense).

The Terps' offense should be better this season. C.J. Brown was supposed to be the starting quarterback last season, but he tore his ACL during fall camp and missed the season; he was one of four Terps quarterbacks who were lost for the season with injuries in 2012. Brown is a good athlete with an adequate arm.

The offensive line should be better, and, in turn, the rushing attack should be stronger.

Finally, Maryland has added a legitimate No. 2 receiver in the well-traveled Deon Long (6-0, 195), a Washington, D.C., native who is on his fourth college. He signed with West Virginia out of high school but never played a down and moved on to New Mexico to play for then-Lobos coach Mike Locksley. Long played well as a redshirt freshman in 2011, with 47 receptions for 809 yards and four TDs. Locksley was fired after that season and became Maryland's offensive coordinator.

Long left New Mexico after Locksley was fired and played last season at Iowa Western CC, putting up phenomenal numbers: 100 receptions for 1,625 yards and 25 TDs. He went through spring practice at Maryland but missed most of fall camp with a back injury. He is expected to play in Saturday's opener against FIU, and his presence should take some pressure off Diggs.

Coaches also are extremely high on sophomore Nigel King (6-3, 210), who had nine catches for 125 yards and a TD as a true freshman last season. King is big, physical and fast. In short, Maryland could go from basically a one-man receiving corps to having one of the two or three best receiver trios in the ACC.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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