Maryland’s QB position has been defined by ACL tears, transfers and a decade of instability

“In fact, you do not assume any other quarterback goes to get harm,” mentioned Petty, who additionally performed that place in highschool. “You assume our good fortune is already unhealthy sufficient.”

Six days later, Caleb Rowe led Maryland’s offense in a slim loss at Boston School. The workforce returned to School Park through dinnertime. Later that night, trainer Randy Edsall referred to as offensive coordinator Michael Locksley and requested whether or not he was once seated ahead of sharing the inside track. Rowe tore his ACL throughout the sport’s ultimate pressure. The Terps had run out of quarterbacks.

The rash of accidents started within the preseason, with incumbent starter C.J. Brown tearing his ACL. Rowe sooner or later turned into the fourth misplaced quarterback. Locksley, employed ahead of the 2012 season, scoured the roster for gamers with highschool revel in at that place. He landed on two beginners: Petty and tight finish Brian McMahon.

Petty recollects Locksley finishing movie classes early to stroll via performs outdoor. Locksley packed Petty’s wristbands with all of the offensive performs, together with notes published in crimson, akin to, “Learn the defensive finish to the best.” Petty and McMahon requested to switch their jersey numbers, however Locksley had them keep on with 31 and 87 — the absurdity of the placement on complete show.

“We’d be in pregame warm-up, it was once virtually just like the circus,” Locksley mentioned. “Other folks from the opposite workforce, coaches incorporated, would all the time come watch us heat up — watch those quarterbacks heat up — to be like, ‘Guy, that is in reality taking place?’ ”

The ones ultimate 4 video games of 2012, when a scout-team linebacker turned into the beginning quarterback, encapsulate Maryland’s combat of the decade — the only this system hopes to quickly amend. Since 2010, just one season featured the similar quarterback starter in each and every recreation. Accidents and attrition have plagued the placement, and this system will now upload any other participant to this carousel of starters.

Both Taulia Tagovailoa or Lance LeGendre will take the primary snap when Maryland opens its 2020 marketing campaign Saturday at Northwestern. Tagovailoa, a sophomore switch from Alabama, has little revel in on the faculty degree, however he’s proficient and carries a final identify that indelibly hyperlinks him to his brother, Tua, who had a record-setting occupation for the Purple Tide. LeGendre, a redshirt freshman, performed sparingly closing season however arrived at Maryland after a standout highschool occupation. Each gamers have more than one seasons of eligibility ultimate, introducing the likelihood that possibly the following few years will convey one thing new to the Maryland quarterbacks staff — consistency.

“If in case you have steadiness — a quarterback that’s been for your device, that is aware of the device, that’s acquainted with the gamers at the box with him — the ones issues lend a hand,” mentioned Locksley, now the Terps’ head trainer. “We haven’t had a franchise man round right here for numerous years — and now not as a result of we didn’t have the skill within the room.”

Most up-to-date Maryland quarterbacks have cycled out and in of this system, continuously coping with accidents throughout their time in School Park. Tyler DeSue arrived on campus within the spring of 2018, and throughout his freshman season, he shared a quarterbacks room with Kasim Hill (torn ACL in 2017 and 2018), Tyrrell Pigrome (torn ACL in 2017) and Max Bortenschlager (season-ending ankle accidents in 2018 and 2019). The ones 3 gamers have since transferred.

“Everyone was once all the time on edge,” mentioned DeSue, who seemed in 9 video games as a reserve. “Any time any considered one of us did anything else instead of sit down within the pocket or throw or hand the ball off, we had been like, ‘Please don’t get harm.’ … It was once surely one thing that was once all the time at the back of our heads as it took place so continuously.”

Virginia Tech switch Josh Jackson joined the gang in 2019, wholesome after breaking his fibula whilst enjoying for the Hokies. When requested a yr in the past about Maryland’s quarterback damage woes, Jackson joked that the workforce didn’t point out the ones problems in its recruiting fabrics. Jackson laughed and mentioned he wasn’t superstitious. He in the end overlooked two video games with an ankle damage however have shyed away from any other critical setback. DeSue and LeGendre stayed reasonably wholesome. However overdue within the season, LeGendre dislocated his shoulder whilst enjoying as a reserve. DeSue medically retired this offseason and had surgical treatment for nerve injury in his elbow.

Right through the decade, Maryland has had 25 in-season beginning quarterback adjustments. (For comparability, Penn State had most effective seven adjustments throughout the similar span.) Of the 11 other Maryland starters, seven left this system in advance. The wounds have various — some nagging problems and others abrupt; ankles, elbows and specifically knees. Maryland quarterbacks have mixed to rip their ACLs seven instances within the closing decade — Brown (2012), Perry Hills (2012), Rowe (2012 and 2014), Hill (2017 and 2018) and Pigrome (2017). That’s turn out to be the placement’s defining feature.

“After I pay attention Maryland quarterback,” mentioned Caleb Henderson, a part of that place staff in 2016 and 2017, “I bring to mind folks happening, tearing ACLs and linebackers are in enjoying quarterback.”

The previous gamers don’t have a lot of an reason behind this development. Some name it unhealthy good fortune, and DeSue mentioned, “We could not play wary as a result of we had been nervous about getting harm or some form of curse that Maryland quarterbacks have.”

The Terps’ spotlight this decade got here in 2010, when redshirt freshman Danny O’Brien began the overall 10 video games and threw for two,438 yards. He gained ACC rookie of the yr honors, and Maryland completed Nine-Four. However that offseason, Maryland fired Trainer Ralph Friedgen, and the next yr, the beginning process bounced between O’Brien and Brown. O’Brien broke a bone in his arm overdue that season after which transferred.

In recent times, Brown is the nearest this system has come to growing a multi-season, strong quarterback. Brown began 29 video games, in spite of more than one accidents throughout his six-year Maryland occupation. Brown led Maryland to back-to-back bowl video games, and he began each and every recreation in 2014, passing for two,288 yards. No Maryland quarterback since has matched his luck.

As a program, Maryland’s main passer each and every yr within the closing decade has fallen wanting the typical around the top-tier Soccer Bowl Subdivision. The distance is very large between the Terps’ quarterbacks and the ones of the country’s very best groups. Jackson, who opted out of the 2020 season, led Maryland closing yr with 1,274 passing yards. The 4 quarterbacks within the School Soccer Playoff each and every completed the season with greater than three,200 yards.

How Maryland's leading passer compares to the FBS average and playoff quarterbacks -- In the last 10 years, Maryland's best passer has never thrown for more yards than the average FBS quarterback. The Maryland quarterbacks pass for far fewer yards than quarterbacks who start in the College Football Playoff.

“Clearly accidents are freak issues, particularly ACLs,” mentioned O’Brien, now the operating backs trainer for the BC Lions within the Canadian Soccer League. “However generally, it’s exhausting to construct and shape an identification as an offense with no need the similar man in the back of middle nearly all of the time.”

In recruiting, Locksley sells that as a chance. Quarterbacks committing to Maryland may just step in to turn out to be the face of this system. A Maryland quarterback hasn’t been decided on within the NFL draft since 1991. It’s a place full of force, reward and grievance, swinging dramatically in any path relying at the day. Locksley thinks each Tagovailoa and LeGendre have the ability set and psychological fortitude to maintain the function.

Locksley has spent a lot of his occupation operating with quarterbacks. He says no quarterback-coaching process will ever appear tough in comparison to the chaos of 2012. Each and every revel in, whether or not that was once teaching a linebacker-turned-quarterback or a Heisman Trophy finalist, progressed his talent to show. And the 2020 staff, Locksley mentioned, is the “maximum proficient quarterback room, despite the fact that it’s small with regards to scholarship gamers, that we’ve had round right here in a very long time.”

Tagovailoa has most effective thrown 12 passes in his collegiate occupation. LeGendre has tried 3. Neither possibility promises luck. However they, along side the quarterbacks Locksley recruits subsequent, have the possible to make this dreary development a part of the previous — a work of Maryland’s historical past left in that decade.

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