Ross's placement at starting running back an expected surprise

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Maryland made an official announcement about their running backs today, and had yet to tell the starter.

Throughout camp, Maryland had two running backs on the top of their depth chart - Brandon Ross and Albert Reid, who had split carries last year with Wes Brown. It was expected that Maryland would keep this arrangement on the depth chart, even with the likelihood that Ross would get more carries. So when coach Randy Edsall named Ross as Maryland's starting tailback Tuesday, the significance came in the statement being made, not any change in workload.

Ross had received the majority of the first team reps throughout camp, and so the move itself is less surprising than the announcement. Both running backs are sophomores, and Reid, a former four-star recruit, will still figure heavily into Maryland's offensive gameplan.

"Albert's going to play and I'm not afraid to have Albert in the game," Edsall said at Tuesday's press conference. "I think that Brandon just has a bit more experience and has done some things that we as a coaching staff feel that puts him as the starter. But we always know that we're going to have two tailbacks playing in the ballgame anyhow, so we've got complete confidence in both of them. But Brandon's just showing a little bit more."

Ross himself was unaware of the move, having not seen the depth chart change this morning. The running back said he had already assumed that he was the starter, and was happy with the announcement.

"You know, [Edsall] actually never really told me," he said. "It's just how we've been running things through camp. I just kind of put myself out there, I wanted to be the starting guy. I would just take a lot of the reps first, and that's kind of how it stayed."

Ross said he wasn't sure how the carries would divide between him and Reid, but added "I do want to play, so hopefully I can be out there a lot." He put around five pounds of muscle on between this year and last, and said he's done considerable work to improve the mental aspect of his game.

"I think mainly I've become a smarter player, being able to read defenses better," he said. One thing I really tried to work on is my ball security and my vision, being able to see holes, where I need to go."

Ross is a physical back, and last year had 85 rushes for 390 yards and a touchdown. He had two 100-yard games, including a breakout performance against North Carolina in the season's final game, when he ran 21 times for 141 yards.

Ross said that even with the battle between him and Reid for playing time, the two are very close friends only hoping to better the team.

"It's really like friendly competition," he said. "We're always trying to help each other out become the best backs we can possibly be. If there's something that one of us doesn't know, we ask each other and try to help each other out, because really our play really affects how the offense plays, so you never want to leave somebody out there to dry. You've got to make sure your teammate knows what they're doing, that's the only way we can become a better team."

Ross will primarily be working with quarterback C.J. Brown, as the two will be running the zone-read offense together. Both Ross and Brown said they were "very comfortable" with the zone-read, especially when working it with each other.

"When we run it in practice, the defense doesn't really know who has the ball, so it kind of throws them off guard," Ross said. "I actually like it."

"I've been working it all camp," Brown said. "We're just really excited to get back out there on the field. I've been taking a lot of reps with him and he's done a great job, so I have all the confidence in the world."

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