The Washington Times - August 6, 2012, 07:06PM

It’s a worthy debate as to where Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown rates among the Terrapins’ most talented players.

He started a handful of games last year and holds the school’s single-season quarterback rushing record. He also completed less than 50 percent of his passes as a redshirt sophomore. There’s room for improvement.

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But there’s little argument he is one of the Terps’ most valuable players. Some of that is because he is the starting quarterback. Some of it stems from the absence of established options behind him.

As Maryland opened camp Monday and the Sept. 1 season drew ever closer, Brown’s ability to make things happen after escaping the pocket is an asset that brings with it the possibility of injury.

So what to do with that conundrum?

“I think right now, I’m not really trying to think about that,” Brown said Monday. “I’ve worked extremely hard this offseason to maintain my body, put on mass, put on muscle and just try to continue to work on my game. I think any time you think about getting hurt or playing a different way than you’re used to, you’re going to be more prone to injury. Maybe I’ll be smarter about not taking a big hit or getting down but I don’t think I’m going to change my playing style. It’s the way that’s got me to where I am today.”

Indeed, when Brown was at his best – his long touchdown run against Georgia Tech, for much of the first half and change against an utterly flummoxed Clemson defense and during a 110-yard day against Wake Forest – he ran. And ran. And ran.

It’s what he did best last year, and if Maryland is to make a run at a winning season after last year’s 2-10 debacle, it will probably need to take advantage of its starting quarterback’s most established skill.

“I’ve told the coaches we have to do whatever we have to do in order to win,” coach Randy Edsall said. “Some games it might predicate that we use C.J. a little more in the running game and then there’s games where we might not do that. We can’t sit here and play cautiously or be afraid to do the things that C.J. can do to make us better. He has the ability to use his legs, but I think he’s going to prove people wrong and show people he’s a good passer.”

Now here’s the rub: Maryland can’t get through a season with one quarterback starting every game. It hasn’t happened in the last five years, or in seven of the last eight.

It’s not in Angry Iowa Running Back-Hating God territory, but it’s getting there. Consider this timeline:

2005: Starter Sam Hollenbach misses a midseason visit to Florida State, but starts other 10 games
2006: Hollenbach takes all but 13 snaps while starting wire to wire
2007: Jordan Steffy starts the first five games but suffers a concussion against Rutgers; Chris Turner starts the final eight games
2008: Steffy earns back the starting job in camp but injures his thumb; Turner starts last 12 games
2009: Turner suffers a knee injury in the ninth game and misses the next two weeks
2010: Jamarr Robinson starts the first three weeks, but his shoulder injury opens the door for Danny O’Brien to take over
2011: O’Brien and Brown trade the starting job until O’Brien suffers a broken non-throwing arm in the 10th game

That’s not a great history to follow, which means there will be an onus on Maryland’s staff to get Perry Hills or Caleb Rowe ready to play in case Brown is hurt.

“Hopefully, nothing would happen to C.J., but the sport of football and that position, those things can happen,” Edsall said. “What we have to do is get the two younger guys ready to go. One of those young guys is going to play because I need to find a way to get them experience.”

For now, though, it’s Brown’s job. The last thing on his mind is getting sidelined because of an ailment of any kind.

“Injuries are part of the game, and if that’s going to happen, maybe that’s meant to be,” Brown said. “But hopefully, that’s not the case.”

Patrick Stevens