With the departure of Chigoziem Okonkwo, Maryland football is looking to find a star in the tight end’s returning group

Our Maryland football position previews continue with another important offensive group: tight ends. Catch up on our quarterback, running back, wide receiver and offensive line prospects.

The Terps will need to fill the void left by last year’s starter and 2022 Tennessee Titans fourth-round pick Chigoziem Okonkwo. Okonkwo was as dependable as college football could be, and he was also one of star quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa’s favorite targets. The Powder Springs, Georgia product had 52 receptions, 447 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 2021. Okonkwo’s five scores were tied for the team lead while his 52 catches were just behind receiver Rakim Jarrett.

Although Okonkwo is a big loss, the Terps have a versatile talent in the position which they hope will provide more than adequate production.

2022 Maryland tight end depth

Player Year Statistics 2021
Player Year Statistics 2021
Dyches Corey Second year in red shirt 19 rec, 208 yards, 4 TDs
CJ Dippre Second year 3 rec, 25 yards, 0 TD
Weston Wolff Freshman in red shirt 1 rec, 10 yards, 0 TDs
Husbands of Leron Freshman in red shirt N / A
Preston Howard First-year student N / A
Maxwell Brown Freshman in red shirt N / A
Joshua Jennings First-year student N / A

Corey Dyches can play receiver

Although Okonkwo started every game for Maryland in 2021, Dyches joined him as a listed starter on Oct. 23 at Minnesota and Nov. 27 at Rutgers.

Dyches became an under-the-radar favorite for Tagovailoa last season, catching at least two assists in seven of his 13 games played. He averaged 10.9 yards per reception last year and publicly displayed his big-play ability this offseason with a 43-yard catch in April’s spring game.

The third-year Terp isn’t lacking in athleticism either. While at Potomac High School in Oxon Hill, Maryland, Dyches earned first-team All-Met honors in basketball and football. There was speculation that Dyches would join the Terps basketball team as well, but that obviously didn’t materialize.

“He’s definitely niche, he can do both,” Mike Miller, Maryland’s tight ends coach and offensive coordinator, said March 29. “I mean, he’s got a mentality. He’s not lacking in courage to block, but he’s also a misunderstanding going through the courses, catching the ball, making contested catches. So yeah, he’s definitely a guy who – he’s going to be all over the pitch, lined up in multiple positions, and that’s part of his role.

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Apparently, Miller doesn’t talk lightly about Dyches’ versatility. Dyches made two starts in straight sets last season, and he was also drafted as a wide receiver. Due in part to wide receiver injuries at Maryland, Dyches spent the spring working as a wide receiver. The 15 practices allowed him to further develop his receiving skills as he returns to the tight end room this fall.

“I think the biggest thing with C. Dyches is that he’s grown as a leader,” head coach Michael Locksley said after the spring game. “He is now a vocal guy. I thought about his development last season and how he complemented Chig… Corey’s development has been very important to us as a team. [because] he’s one of those guys that’s a matchup problem. We intentionally moved him to receiver last spring to develop his receiving skills by working with [wide receivers] coach [Gunter] Brewer.”

Dyches is smaller than Maryland’s other two tight ends (Dippre and Wolff), but that might be something that just adds to his value in the play. Dyches will be the most dynamic wide receiver in a group that could turn into a two- or even three-headed monster this fall.

“[Corey’s] does a great job, but we see him being a movement guy, sort of replacing Chig,” Locksley added. “He obviously has the ability to be a playmaker for us in the system and really likes the way he’s going.”

Could CJ Dippre become the No. 1 tight end? What could Weston Wolff bring?

While Dyches is more of a tight hybrid in terms of receiver, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Dippre become the most valuable piece in this group.

Dippre was ready to contribute immediately as a true freshman in 2021, appearing in all 13 games and making his debut alongside Okonkwo in the Pinstripe Bowl against Virginia Tech. A three-star recruit in the Class of 2021, Dippre ranks more as a blocking tight end. The second has a massive six-foot-five, 260-pound frame that gives the Terps a boost in the running game.

“I know we lost Chig, but it was great to see how CJ Dippre kind of stepped up to that role in the tight end position,” Locksley said after the team’s April 16 scrimmage.

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There are similarities between Okonkwo and Dippre in that both came to College Park as three-star tight ends and appeared in every game during their respective freshman campaigns. Although Okonkwo only fully exploded as a playmaker in 2021 after missing the 2020 season, he saw his receptions more than triple from his first year to his second year and caught several assists in six games. during the 2019 list.

Dippre could be ready for the same type of offensive leap this fall. He is proud of his blocking but showed flashes as a receiver late in the season. During the Pinstripe Bowl, Dippre had a timely 10-yard reception on third-and-7 to keep the drive — the one that ultimately resulted in a touchdown — going. The camaraderie between tight ends is strong, and Dippre noted how he and roommate Wolff, likely Maryland’s third tight end, connect.

“We bond with each other, we hit each other and we fill each other’s shoes,” Dippre said of Wolff after the spring game. “Like, he tries to show me how to do better receiver stuff, I try to show him how to block a little better.”

Wolff has only appeared in two games in 2021, guaranteeing he won’t burn through any of his four years of eligibility. Wolff had just one reception, a 10-yard catch against Virginia Tech, but shone for the second-team offense in the spring game. He caught five passes for 45 yards and could be an impact offensive player off the bench this fall.

When released to the media last March, Miller also listed Leron Husbands as the fourth man to watch. Preston Howard, a dual-threat quarterback from the McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Maryland, is someone Miller also noted, though he’s still transitioning to the tight end position.

“We’re excited about this venue, and I think we’ll continue to get a lot of production out of it,” Miller said. “Just big, smart, tough, reliable athletes who understand a good conscience, football intelligence.”

With about four weeks into the season, Maryland’s newest group of tight ends are looking to add value to an offense that looks the best in years — at least on paper.

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