Ralph Friedgen’s grumblings grew louder as spring ball progressed, a regular after-practice bemoaning of the absence of an emerging option at receiver for an offense seeking a high-priority target.
Apparently his wideouts were listening.
On a day the Terrapins’ last receiving star went in the top 10 of the NFL Draft, Quintin McCree caught three touchdowns from Jamarr Robinson as the white team (second-team offense and first-team defense) upended the red team (first-team offense and second-team defense) 34-24 in Maryland’s spring game Saturday at Byrd Stadium.
Starting quarterback Chris Turner connected with Adrian Cannon for two touchdowns as the Terps shelved many of the bells and whistles of new defensive coordinator Don Brown’s scheme.
Cannon, who caught a touchdown in December’s Humanitarian Bowl, surged late during spring practice. McCree, a sophomore who appeared in four games last season, summoned his finest flourish for the last of Maryland’s 15 spring sessions.
McCree caught scores of 58 and 23 yards in the first half, then hauled in a 75-yard touchdown on the first play after the break.
“Everybody had their performances, and everybody had their week where they shined,” McCree said. “I felt today was my day. I just had to come out and show what I could do. Adrian Cannon, the last few weeks he’s been having a hell of a spring ball catching balls. His name’s getting mentioned, and I just had to come out and show what I could do.”
It was enough to place his name in a crowded field of possible targets for Turner next season. Torrey Smith is probably the most established returning wideout, and Ronnie Tyler was groomed as an eventual replacement for departed slot receiver Danny Oquendo.
However, many of the options are relatively untested. Cannon, McCree, Kerry Boykins, Kevin Dorsey, Emani Lee-Odai and Tony Logan are among the guys who figure to contend for time when the fall arrives.
“They’ve improved so much,” Turner said. “Seeing those guys improve means so much to me obviously because they’re my receivers. If they can improve even more between now and camp and improve even further into camp, we’ll be pretty deep at receiver.”
The performances of Cannon and McCree in particular quelled some of Friedgen’s concerns, especially after losing Darrius Heyward-Bey after last season. Heyward-Bey, whom Oakland selected with the No. 7 pick Saturday, was a target for opponents to try to contain last season. Maryland probably doesn’t have someone as talented as their erstwhile speed-burner but will try to make up for his loss with a more committee-based approach.
“It seems like a different guy every week rises to the occasion,” Friedgen said. “This week it was Quintin McCree, and he had a big game. Last week it was Adrian Cannon, and [before that] Kevin Dorsey. I just think we have a lot of players there.”
The receivers were helped by absences in Maryland’s defense. Linebacker Alex Wujciak (knee surgery) and nose tackle Dion Armstrong (academics) sat out spring practice, and cornerback Nolan Carroll and defensive tackle Travis Ivey both suffered concussions in the past two weeks that prompted the Terps to hold them out Saturday.
Still, there were defensive bright spots. Safeties Jamari McCollough and Kenny Tate closed out active springs, and linebacker Darin Drakeford, who enrolled a semester early, blocked two punts.
Friedgen was also pleased to escape the spring game with no long-term injuries and as a result was already subtly glancing toward the Sept. 5 opener against California.