Cameron Chism knew it was coming.
As a first-time starting cornerback when Maryland played Middle Tennessee three weeks ago, the sophomore was easy to spot. The Blue Raiders threw at him - frequently.
Sometimes Chism, who intercepted two passes, got the better of play. On occasion, such as a long pass on Middle Tennessee’s game-winning drive, he didn’t.
The day’s most significant development, though, was the Terrapins’ discovery of a capable cornerback in the wake of Nolan Carroll’s season-ending broken leg.
Chism is in some ways a reflection of Maryland (2-3, 1-0 ACC), which enters Saturday’s visit to Wake Forest (3-2, 1-1) alone atop the Atlantic Division. Like many Terps, Chism was an unknown quantity when the season started, and he was thrust into a prominent role perhaps earlier than anyone anticipated.
Nonetheless, he has settled in and improved to the point he is arguably Maryland’s most effective corner since taking over a starting job.
“My expectation was always that Cameron would be a good player,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I thought he played well even last year, but I think he had the mindset he was going to be a redshirt guy and just didn’t have the confidence. The thing that surprised me and pleased me was that when he was able to step in after Nolan went down, that he played with tremendous confidence.”
Chism ranks fourth on the Terps with 26 tackles, and his two interceptions are more than the rest of his teammates combined. He almost had another, breaking up a pass the play before Demetrius Hartsfield’s game-clinching sack and fumble recovery Saturday against Clemson.
“What Cameron Chism’s doing out there is things we’ve seen since he stepped into the program,” safety Terrell Skinner said.
He was always familiar with the cornerback on the other side. Chism’s brother Carl, now a defensive back at Texas Southern, and current Maryland senior Anthony Wiseman played together at DeMatha. Cameron Chism would often tag along and followed the recruiting process of both his brother and Wiseman.
“I was young and I was thinking, ‘I want to do that when I grow up,’ ” Chism said. “I just stuck with it.”
With Wiseman’s encouragement, Chism landed at Maryland. He seemed a prime redshirt candidate, but when injuries whittled the Terps’ depth at cornerback, he was tossed in on the kickoff and punt return teams in nine of the team’s last 10 games.
That, though, was minimal work compared to what was to come this fall. Thrown into extended action when Carroll was hurt in the overtime defeat of James Madison, Chism didn’t have much time to think about his predicament. That changed a week later in the moments before he wound up taking more than 80 snaps in his first start.
“Before we ran out, I wasn’t nervous, but I felt, ‘What is wrong with me?’ ” Chism said. “During the coin toss, I was a little nervous. Once I stepped on the field, I wasn’t.”
He hasn’t ever since, with Chism growing up a little faster than expected along with several others.