- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 22, 2017

COLLEGE PARK — As Maryland running back Ty Johnson spoke to reporters Tuesday, his teammates passing by shouted in the background. “We love you Ty,” one yelled in a high-pitched voice, followed shortly by “Prepare them meals, bro!” from another.

Coincidentally, Johnson was discussing how he’s changed his preparation, which Maryland coach D.J. Durkin compared to a professional. Johnson is entering his junior season after setting a team-record of 9.1 rushing yards per carry in 2016.

The running back led Maryland in rushing (1,004), rushing touchdowns (6) an all-purpose yards (1,249).

And that 9.1 yards per carry, on just 110 attempts, led the entire FBS.

“I became very tedious,” Johnson said. “I would say I’m just very … whether it’s treatment, watching film, out here doing whatever. I’m being very detailed. I want to be perfect. Obviously no one is perfect, but I want to get as close to that as possible.”

Johnson brought a versatility to the Terrapins’ backfield and played a large role in the team’s 6-7 record last year. In year two under Durkin, Johnson said Maryland is more comfortable with practicing and knowing Durkin’s expectations.

Maryland has a tough-task to open begin their season next week — traveling to No. 23 Texas on Sept. 2. Johnson said they are preparing as if they were facing any other team, and they’ve practiced in the middle of the afternoons to get used to the blazing heat in Austin.

Johnson, though, is preparing for a multitude of scenarios, including being open to who Maryland’s starting quarterback will be. After last year’s starter Perry Hillis graduated, Maryland is having an open competition among freshman Kasim Hill, sophomores Tyrrell Pigrome and Max Bortenschlager and redshirt junior Caleb Henderson.

Pigrome took the majority of snaps alongside Johnson when on the field Tuesday, but the decision will be ultimately up to Durkin, who’s not in any rush to name his starter. In the meantime, he’ll count on Johnson in the way he’s used to seeing.

Durkin said he sees another jump in Johnson’s game.

“He’s as focused and as hard-working, all those adjectives that you could name — that’s Ty,” Durkin said. “He’s very serious about what he does. He’s having a great camp. … He’s extremely talented and going to get the ball.”

Johnson hopes getting the ball involves being a threat in the passing game, as well. Since Maryland will have a new quarterback, the running back said he wants to stick to the playbook and execute each play perfectly — no matter who’s under snap.

Johnson had just 16 receptions for 206 yards last year.

“It’s just field control,” Johnson said. “If someone is in this area, you have got to control another part of the field so you can occupy an area to open something up. So it’s being conceptually sound and being where I’m supposed to be at.”

Based on his preparation process already, there’s a good chance Johnson will be in the right place.

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