No one —- at any spot on Maryland’s roster —- managed to disappear from the conversation quite like Gary Douglas since the beginning of the month.
It was really no fault of his own. The redshirt freshman started camp behind three guys who played last year, and true freshmen D.J. Adams and Caleb Porzel have drawn plenty of attention.
Until yesterday, that is.
Douglas had 17 carries for 122 yards, a breakout day from someone who was relatively quiet the last two weeks.
“I didn’t even know I had that many,” Douglas said of his yardage. “That’s as surprise to me. That’s good news.”
Indeed it is, especially since he’s facing a substantial glut at his position.
Da’Rel Scott and Morgan Green still have a year of eligibility left after this season. Davin Meggett will have two. And Adams and Porzel aren’t going anywhere.
And it has to make you wonder if there’s room at the inn for another year for all six guys.
Douglas, who missed part of camp with a concussion, made a bit of a case for himself as the No. 3 back yesterday.
“He showed some elusiveness today, some real ball skills,” coach Ralph Friedgen said afterward. “What impressed me the most was it was against our first-team defense, who was running every defense we’ve got. That’s something we have to take a look at.”
It also was something Friedgen said he sees on a routine basis in practice.
In fact, “elusiveness” —- not simply quickness, but the ability to slip away from a sure tackle —- separates Douglas from the rest of the Terps’ backs.
“He has quick lateral movement,” Friedgen said. “We do this open-field tackle against our first-team defense and we put him in a 5-by-5 square and they have to tackle him in an open field. They get him maybe one out of 10 times. He’s that good in that space.”
He does have the standard-issue problem of a young back: Pass protection. But Douglas has added 20 pounds since arriving in College Park, and his protection has improved.
What he hasn’t shook is the company in the backfield. But perhaps that will come in time.
Douglas professed to not know the depth-chart situation after yesterday’s session. But there’s little doubt that busting out for a productive outing will do a lot for his standing in the deep competition.
“It makes you want it more,” Douglas said. “It really makes you want it more. You see that they’re all good, they all shine, they all have something special about them. You’ve got to shine more than anybody else and do what you do have to do to get on the field.”
—- Patrick Stevens