Quarterback Perry Hills probably did not expect to be thrust into a starting role at Maryland as a true freshman. When it happened, he needed only a week to solidify the spot.
“I met with all three [quarterbacks] this morning, and pretty much after the scrimmage and practice yesterday, I wanted to [explain] clearly that Perry is the No. 1 guy,” Edsall said after practice. “I just wanted our team to really understand who they’re working with and get as many reps so they can all get comfortable.”
Freshman Caleb Rowe will open the season as Maryland’s backup quarterback, while sophomore Devin Burns will serve as the No. 3 option under center.
Quarterback was not expected to provide any hint of a camp battle this month. Former starter Danny O'Brien transferred to Wisconsin after last season, leaving Brown as the only quarterback with college experience on the roster.
But Brown, who started five games and set a school quarterback record with 574 rushing yards last season, tore his right anterior cruciate ligament Aug. 14 and was lost for the season.
Hills, who like Brown is a western Pennsylvania native, created separation between himself and Rowe during the first week of camp. He handled the first team snaps in Maryland’s open scrimmage Saturday and seemed especially adept at handling the zone reads in coordinator Mike Locksley’s offense.
“I’ve been studying my playbook as much as I can,” Hills said. “I’ve been coming in early, watching film, either correcting my mistakes or watching William & Mary already, and taking everything that the coaches told me and using it on the field.”
Rowe, a Landrum, S.C., product, worked with the second team since Brown’s injury, including during Saturday’s scrimmage. As is the case with Hills, he has participated in barely more than two weeks of college practices.
Burns arrived at Maryland as a quarterback in 2010, enrolling a semester early. He was moved to wide receiver shortly after Edsall’s hire but volunteered to move back to quarterback when Brown went down in a noncontact drill.
Besides Brown, Hills and Rowe, the only scholarship quarterback on Maryland’s roster is Ricardo Young. However, Young transferred from New Mexico over the summer and is required to sit out this season in accordance with NCAA rules.
The announcement was somewhat surprising.
“I think there was clearly a situation where there’s been a decided guy that’s been ahead,” Edsall said. “You’ve got the guy that’s ahead, and you go with that and feel comfortable with it.”
Hills will become only the sixth freshman to start at quarterback at Maryland, and the first since Danny O'Brien in 2010.
He will be only the third true freshman to start for the Terps, joining Randall Jones (four games in 1998) and Latrez Harrison (two games in 1999).
He also will be only the second freshman to start an opener for Maryland, joining Calvin McCall (1999) and the first true freshman to earn a nod in the season’s first game in program history.
It’s a challenge Hills is prepared to embrace.