Friday, January 9, 2009

A Belated Farewell to Two Terrapins

Us at Around the Harbor are very late in commenting on the departure of Josh Portis and Darrius Heyward-Bey (damn those Ravens and their playoff run), but these losses warrant some discussion. As I'm sure most if not all of you know, Josh Portis has announced that he intends to transfer to California University of Pennsylvania and Darrius Heyward-Bey has announced that he will declare for the NFL Draft. These are two vastly different situations so let's take each in its turn.

Josh Portis
Josh Portis transferring should be a shock to noone, but it is an oddly fitting end to what has been a bizarre and disappointing run at the University of Maryland. Josh Portis initially transferred to Maryland after his freshman season at Florida, and was greeted with immense hype and expectation. During his first spring practices, onlookers were wowed by his strong arm and electric open field running and Terp nation waited eagerly for his opportunity to play after sitting out for one year due to NCAA rules on transfers. The following season, when he was poised to make a run at the starting quarterback job, he gets caught cheating on an exam and had to miss yet another season as a result. Again, Terp fans waited expectantly and watched him place third in the quarterback competition behind Jordan Steffy and Chris Turner. This season Josh played sparingly and ineffectively, and drew terrible reviews from coaches who did not trust him to execute the offense in a game situation.

Given the lack of playing time and comprehension of the offense, it makes perfect sense that Josh transfer. There was no way that Portis would be in the starting role next season, and it's hard to blame him to look for playing time elsewhere. He'll go to California University of Pennsylvania and be able to show off his athletic ability and just play football. Unfortunately his career at Maryland will leave nothing but thoughts of what could have been, given his immense natural talent, but I believe he is making the right choice in getting out and going somewhere where he can play. I wish him all the best in the future.

Darrius Heyward-Bey
Darrius recently announced that he will declare for the NFL Draft, now that he has completed his redshirt junior season at Maryland. Unlike Josh Portis, Darrius was a relative unknown coming into College Park but exploded once he found his way onto the field as a redshirt freshman. Darrius has been the Terps most dangerous and prolific receiver in each of the three years he has played, and has only improved over time. Certainly his numbers were not outstanding this year, but those are not representative of his performance as defensive coordinators shut him out at the expense of leaving other Terrapin receivers free. With more receiving talent coming in along with an improved backfield and an average quarterback in Chris Turner, Heyward-Bey's numbers would most likely only go down next year, making this the right time to get out for the NFL Draft.

As an NFL prospect, Darrius is rated very highly, most likely a second round pick or possibly a low first round pick. He has a good combination of size (6'2"), hands, and elite speed to be a top receiver. Heyward-Bey is also known as a 'high character'-type player who is very coachable, and given the fact that he only started playing football in his sophomore year of high school has a good deal of upside. The downside to Darrius is that while he shows good hands on game day he does not always show them consistently in practice, and there are games when he disappears entirely. So, while Darrius Heyward-Bey is an excellent prospect, he still is a step below the top prospects such as Michael Crabtree and Hakeem Nicks (in my opinion). That being said, I would love to welcome Darrius back to the Harbor as a Baltimore Raven. Fans are allowed to dream, aren't they?

(Photo Credit: Doug Kapustin/Baltimore Sun)

1 comment:

Bill-DC said...

I'm sorry to see both go but understand both of their situations. I'd love DHB to either be a Redskin or Raven.

As for Josh Portis, I often wondered why Friedgen or Franklin didn't try to convert Portis into a Wide Receiver.

I too want to wish both players good luck.