Coming off a season in which Maryland beat just two FBS teams and cleaned out its coaching staff, it's unsurprising that national expectations are low for the Terrapins in their first season under new head coach DJ Durkin.
In its "Way-Too-Early" conference power rankings after Alabama beat Clemson to win the national title on Monday night, ESPN.com ranked Maryland 13th out of 14 teams in the Big Ten for the 2016 season.
Only Purdue ranks lower. Rutgers, who Maryland came from behind to beat in the team's 2015 season finale, is projected one spot ahead at No. 12.
The rankings also point out one fact that will be difficult for the Durkin and the Terrapins -- the Big Ten East is a brutal division. ESPN's top three teams in the entire Big Ten are teams from the East, Maryland's division.
Ohio State is No. 1. Michigan, Durkin's former employer, is No. 2. Michigan State, the conference's reigning champs, are No. 3. Penn State, perhaps one of Maryland's most direct recruiting foes, is a bit further down the list at No. 8.
But Durkin is building a strong foundation, even if on-field results aren't fully visible in 2016. As recruiters only, Maryland's staff has a chance to be impressive.
Durkin has won National Recruiter of the Year from Rivals.com in the past. Defensive line coach and associate head coach Mike London consistently brought high-level talent to Charlottesville during his time as the head coach at Virginia. Defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim gives instant credibility locally. Offensive coordinator Walt Bell has packaged an exciting modern brand of football with a youthful, energetic sales pitch.
Add that to the strong mix of experience (London, Pete Lembo, Scott Shafter) and young innovators (Durkin, Bell) and Maryland should be on the right path. With a few years of talent infusion, the Terrapins should not be down near the bottom of those rankings for long.
Take a look at the full list here.