Devin Burns was a quarterback in high school. He played there for his first year at Maryland.
And after a one-year stint at wide receiver, he’s returned to his old position in an attempt to help out the short-handed Terrapins.
“This is my fourth day at quarterback,” Burns said Saturday after Maryland’s scrimmage at Byrd Stadium. “Just getting the rust off, I’d say it’s more like [riding] a unicycle than a bike. But I’m getting back in the swing of things.”
Burns’ move was precipitated when junior C.J. Brown suffered a season-ending right knee injury Tuesday. His loss left true freshmen Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe as Maryland’s only available scholarship quarterbacks.
Just hours after Brown’s injury, Burns discussed the possibility of returning to quarterback with his parents. Wednesday morning, he broached the subject with coach Randy Edsall, who had moved Burns to receiver shortly after his hiring last year.
Burns worked with the third team the rest of the week, with Hills settling as the starter at the moment and Rowe as his backup.
“It’s interesting because when Devin went to quarterback and the first day that he practiced, we sat there as offensive coaches and myself and said ‘Man, it looks like he’s been playing quarterback the whole time,’” Edsall said. “He’s handled everything really well. He’s not where we need him to be, but I thought he handled things really well.”
Burns provided one of the offensive highlights of the scrimmage, rushing 53 yards for a touchdown. But he also threw some passes while showing understanding of an offense he already knows from a receiver’s perspective.
“He looks really comfortable at it,” senior wideout Kevin Dorsey said. “You could kind of tell [Saturday], just throwing the ball and making reads and running the ball. He’d probably be a little better at the option stuff that we do, but he can still throw the ball.”
For now, Burns is taking advantage of Brown’s advice to re-acclimate himself at quarterback. He also knows there’s no shortage of things to work on in the coming weeks.
Improving his footwork and his processing of progressions he must make in the pocket are among the priorities. But for a guy three years removed from his last game snap at quarterback, Burns’ initial practices impressed Edsall.
“Devin is a very unassuming guy,” Edsall said. “There was no pressure on him. The thing’s that good is he’s handled all the snaps. The ball hasn’t been on the ground with him. He’s a cool, calm, collected guy back there.”
Burns is optimistic he can help at quarterback this year if needed, and he gave up the chance for his first extended playing time to move back under center. He appeared in seven games last season, collecting a 17-yard reception in a September loss to West Virginia.
Further development at receiver, though, will have to wait.
“I was making a lot of progress,” Burns said. “Coach was saying how I improved from the spring up to this point. With C.J. going down, I just felt I could contribute to the team switching back over.”
Notes: Sophomore A.J. Hendy left Saturday’s scrimmage with a left ankle injury. Edsall was uncertain of the injury’s severity. Hendy just moved back to safety (where he played last season) from cornerback as Maryland attempts to cope with Matt Robinson’s absence. Robinson suffered a left shoulder injury last week and is expected to miss at least the Sept. 1 opener against William & Mary.