Maryland will finally have a fun quarterback battle brewing this offseason
No matter how hard it tries, Maryland hasn’t been able to get out of the constant state of flux that has consumed its quarterback situation. And in the second spring season under D.J. Durkin, that same problem is still lingering.
The starting role is vacant again this offseason, with Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe both on the way out. There are three potential candidates who will be battling this spring – Tyrrell Pigrome, Caleb Henderson and Max Bortenschlager – before a fourth, Kasim Hill, arrives on campus in the summer.
Unlike recent years, Maryland has a reason to be optimistic about its quarterback situation. Sure, none of the four contending for the starting job have much experience, but each brings a unique skill-set to the mix, which should make the race interesting over the next five months.
Pigrome and Henderson are the top dogs in the fight, at least until Hill arrives. Pigrome is the veteran of the group, though that term should be thrown out loosely. He appeared in 11 games last season and started against Minnesota, posting modest passing numbers. The freshman completed 37-of-71 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns.
Henderson, on the other hand, is eligible after transferring from North Carolina last season. He’s thrown just one pass over the past three seasons.
Experience likely won’t play a factor here, though. Instead, it’ll be what Durkin values most in his quarterback – a dual-threat guy or a passer who can stretch the field.
Pigrome fits that dual-threat description, and was often used for his effectiveness running with the football last year. He totaled 254 yards and four touchdowns on 62 carries. And the to-be sophomore showed off his power on occasion, including this seven-yard touchdown run while dragging a pair of Penn State defenders.
As a dual-threat quarterback, Pigrome could certainly be the guy. As a passer, though, he’s got some things to work on.
The same can be said for Hill.
There’s plenty of hype surrounding the four-star prospect, who has already been used in a season ticket advertisement during a men’s basketball game in February.
Signing the four-star quarterback from Washington, D.C. was certainly a nice get for Durkin and his staff. It provides Maryland with a good problem – loaded depth at a position that has been an Achilles Heel for the program for several years. And while his face might be the right avenue to selling more season tickets, he’s going to have to grow up quickly to be a serious contender for the starting job.
Maryland's got QB commit Kasim Hill on its advertisement for season tickets for next season. pic.twitter.com/LnvQLHgzeM
— Ryan Connors (@RyanConnors_) February 4, 2017
In the Under Armour All-America Game back in January, Hill proved he can be an asset for the Terrapins early in his career. But he looked more comfortable – and was definitely more effective – running with the ball rather than slinging it around the field
You can’t look too much into those games. It’s a pickup game more than anything else. But Hill didn’t demonstrate the type of decision-making or accuracy you’d associate with an immediate starter.
Of course, that could all change when he gets to College Park.
If Durkin is looking for a more pure passer and a big arm, Henderson is guy.
Standing 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Henderson is the pro-style quarterback that has the skill set to allow Maryland to attack vertically with more consistency. He’s been complimented for his accuracy on those short-to-intermediate routes while still possessing the ability to hit targets deep down the field.
Having the ability to stretch the field – on the surface – seems to be the best weapon for Durkin heading into 2017. Especially considering how poor Maryland’s passing game was just a year ago.
The top priority for Durkin last season was cutting down on the turnovers. And that’s what happened. The Terrapins shaved their NCAA-worst 29 interceptions in 2015 down to just nine last year, tied for third-fewest in the B1G.
But even with better decision-making, the passing attack still wasn’t as efficient as it needed to be.
Maryland ranked 10th in the conference – and 106th nationally – in passing yardage, averaging 178.2 yards per game. Only 15 of the team’s touchdowns came through the air, too, which was the second-lowest total in the B1G East.
In that regard, Henderson could be the solution. His ability to go vertical would allow the Terrapins to present a more balanced approach.
Durkin’s run-first mentality isn’t going to change. With Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison III occupying the backfield again next season, why should it? An effective rushing attack can win a lot of games in the B1G.
And if he wants to be super ground-and-pound, Pigrome and Hills would be at the top of depth chart.
Regardless, Durkin has options to fill his vacated quarterback spot this offseason. His choices are a lot more interesting than what he inherited last year. Pigrome, Henderson and Hill will all be worthy of consideration, and all should make a push before the season kicks off against Texas.
Maryland’s quarterback situation is still in flux. It’s going to be awhile before Durkin and the Terrapins name a starter for 2017.
This time it doesn’t feel like such a problem.