One of DJ Durkin's first recruits when he took the Maryland football head coaching job in December 2015 was Terrance Davis,
a highly regarded guard out of DeMatha Catholic High School
in Hyattsville, Md., and Durkin reeled in two more Stag offensive linemen the next two years in Marcus Minor and Evan Gregory.
Davis made nine consecutive starts at right guard as a true freshman in 2016, and Minor followed that act by earning playing time as a freshman in 2017. Durkin lauded the local powerhouse, led by head coach Elijah Brooks, at his National Signing Day news conference in December for producing college-ready offensive linemen.
"They know what they're doing there with linemen. They know what they're doing," Durkin said. "It is hard to come into a place as a true freshman and play on the offensive line, but Terrance Davis did that in his freshman year. Marcus Minor, we think is going to be an all-conference player, NFL football player.
"Still, as a true freshman, [Minor's] first real time aside from some mop-up time here and there came in the Michigan game when Damian [Prince] went down and he's sitting there blocking Rashan Gary, one of the best players in the country -- didn't even flinch. … That's not on us now. You get a true freshman, a lot of what he's playing on is what he learned prior to coming to your program."
Minor used the lessons learned at DeMatha to earn a spot on Maryland's two-deep depth chart ahead of the Terps' season-opening matchup at Texas last September. Minor was named a backup to Prince, who started 11 games at right tackle for the Terps last year. Minor, meantime, played in nine games last year, one of which was a start at right tackle in place of Prince at Michigan State last November.
Minor spoke during spring ball about the benefits of having played last year instead of redshirting.
"It was just like a quick bubble burst," Minor said. "I don't have that feeling of not being ready. Being young, it always feels like you're walking into a different world; you don't know what you're about to walk into. Playing against some of the biggest stars, it just felt good to actually get that under my belt, so I was happy about it. I did pretty well, so I was just proud of myself, and I'm ready for the next step."
The next step for Minor could be a bigger role this fall; he started at left tackle for the first-team offense during the spring game April 14. He's also improved his body; the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Minor said he's down to 21 percent body fat by working with Terps strength and conditioning coach Rick Court.
Rising seniors Sean Christie and Brendan Moore, junior Ellis McKennie and redshirt freshman Jordan McNair joined Minor on the first-team offensive line April 14, but Davis (right guard), Prince (right tackle) and rising senior Derwin Gray (left tackle) are all projected to start in the fall. However, the latter trio missed some or all of spring ball, giving more opportunities to less experienced linemen like Minor.
All of the Terps' linemen got a chance to work with new offensive line coach Bryan Stinespring, who was at Virginia Tech from 1990-2015 and James Madison from 2016-17. Stinespring is the third offensive line coach in as many years for Durkin. Dave Borbely held the job in 2016, and Tyler Bowen, now the tight ends coach at Penn State, coached the line in 2017.
"Coach Stinespring, I feel like he's really into us. He wants to make us reach our next level," Minor said. "… I feel like he actually takes us in like a family. I feel like he grinds us up, he'll yell at us when we need [it], he'll push us when we need [it], and then when we need to just be let go like a parent would let their kid go, he'll let us go and just play. I feel like that's the best for us."
Though Minor has played just tackle at Maryland, the Terps' coaching staff will have the option to shift him inside to guard in the fall if the staff thinks he's one of their five best offensive linemen. Minor started at guard for DeMatha during his sophomore season in 2014.
Though he played tackle at DeMatha as a junior and senior, Minor was listed as a guard as a recruit by 247 Sports. Minor was rated the 16th-best offensive guard in the country, according to
247 Sports' composite rankings
Brooks explained why Minor has the versatility to play guard or tackle.
"Number one is toughness. He's a football player more than anything," Brooks said. "As a coach, you want to put your fiercest players on the field regardless of the positions, so he's a competitor that wants to compete and that's what we always loved about him. As he got older and his body got in better shape, he's one of the best athletes at that position.
"So he has very good feet, he runs like a tight end … so he was really good on the edge as a pass protector and as a zone blocker. So the sky's the limit with him because he can move. He can get down the field, he can get to the second level and those are all things that are going to be good for him as he continues to improve."
But like his
high school and college teammate Anthony McFarland
, Minor's career at DeMatha ended prematurely. Minor suffered a spinal contusion during a win against Good Counsel in November 2016 and missed the rest of the Stags' undefeated season. Minor said he regained full strength in right side in December 2016.
"I wouldn't say it was life-changing, but it did leave some worries in the beginning," Minor said. "I had a spinal contusion, so having that, it was scary at the moment, not being able to feel much. But as time went on, I just prayed, just knowing that God got my back, I was able to come back healthy, get all my strength back."