Soon after Tyler Mabry put his name in the NCAA transfer portal in mid-February, the Buffalo tight end received offers from some of the top football schools in the country.
Alabama came calling for the services of the 6-foot-4, 248-pound Mabry, who would be immediately eligible to play as a graduate transfer. He had just completed his third season at Buffalo, during which he earned first-team All-Mid American Conference honors.
After deliberating for about three weeks, Mabry instead chose Maryland because he saw the potential of playing in an offense under new head coach Michael Locksley that would utilize him in both the passing game and as a blocker while also giving him the best chance of being noticed by NFL scouts.
"It's my senior year. I get to show different parts of myself before the draft comes around to show scouts," said Mabry, who caught a combined 51 passes for 472 yards as a sophomore and junior at Buffalo. "But the main objective to help this team win."
Midway through fall camp, Mabry has been exactly what Locksley hoped he would be when he called the tight end to invite him to visit Maryland last spring.
"He's a guy that when he left Buffalo had a lot of opportunities to go anywhere in the country and I think because of how we use our tight ends, I think that's what brought him to us and I've been really pleased with him," said Locksley, who saw Mabry's potential as an edge-setting tight end for one of the most potent rushing attacks in the Big Ten. "The guy is a workhorse, a guy that can set the edge and block the C-gap for us and give us a chance to run the ball at the point of attack."
As a junior, Mabry was key for Buffalo's rushing offense, which ranked in the top four in the MAC in total rushing yards (2,648) and rushing yards per game (189.1). He will be asked to do the same at Maryland, blocking for redshirt sophomore Anthony McFarland and juniors Javon Leake and Tayon Fleet Davis. The trio helped Maryland pile up 230 rushing yards per game in 2018.
Locksley said he was also pleased with the tight end's catching ability in the red zone. Mabry caught a stellar over-the-shoulder touchdown from quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome in the Terps' second fall scrimmage Aug. 17, showing a glimpse of what he could offer to a passing game that is lacking a consistent pass-catcher at either tight end or wide receiver. Maryland hasn't had a tight end catch double-digit passes in a season since Avery Edwards in 2015 (14 receptions).
"My whole process was finding the right offense," said Mabry, who was impressed with how Locksley utilized tight end Irv Smith -- a second-round pick for the Vikings this year -- in his offensive scheme at Alabama in 2018. Smith caught 44 passes for more than 700 yards and seven touchdowns for the Crimson Tide. "They welcomed me with open arms during the visit so I thought it was the right spot for me."
Though Mabry was unable to participate in spring practice with Maryland, Locksley showed how much tight ends could play a role this season after years of being underutilized.
Four touchdown passes were thrown to tight ends
in Maryland's spring game April 27.
Mabry has already earned the respect of his offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery, who called the tight end a "beautiful specimen" who has already learned the ins and outs of the playbook in a few short weeks.
Sophomore Chigoziem Okonkwo, who led all Maryland tight ends last season with six catches for 69 yards, has welcomed Mabry's experience into a tight end room that includes juniors Noah Barnes, Robert Schwob and Zack Roski and freshman Tyler Devera and Malik Jackson.
"I see how good he is and I want to be just as good. It helps me be even more competitive," Okonkwo said. "It is an added bonus because he knows it's his final year. You can see by the way he comes into work every day. He doesn't joke around because this is it for him. After this, if he doesn't do what he needs to do, he won't be able to get to the next level. So it's really good to have a guy like that."
Photo Credit: Paul Hokanson