Maryland is back and camping, and Randy Edsall spoke to the press Wednesday on a variety of topics. There were some position changes, of course: Jacquille Veii to wide receiver and Damian Prince to guard, but Stefon Diggs has moved to the outside as well. We'll see if that means someone like Marcus Leak moves inside to the slot, or if Levern Jacobs has found himself with a starting role (he certainly played for one last season).
Edsall also had high praise for true freshman center Brendan Moore, whose polished high school game appears to have translated to the next level.
The big news, however, comes at the tight end position, where it appears the battle for the starting job is over:
"Tight end has kind of separated itself...Andrew [Isaacs] is the No. 1 guy and P.J. [Gallo] and Derrick [Hayward] fighting there for the two's. What's happening now is you going to see some guys that might be two's that could overtake somebody who's a one based on what they're doing in practice or maybe what somebody else isn't doing."
That last sentence is a bit wordy, but in summary: Andrew Isaacs is the starting tight end at the moment. That could change, just like most positions, based on his play and the play of his back-up, but there has been enough separation to call him the top guy.
Isaacs, the 23rd-ranked tight end in the 2013 class, played 11 games last season as a true freshman on special teams
Full quotes, from the release:
On position changes:
"There were a couple of position changes that we made. We took Jacquille Veii and moved him into the slot. We took Damian [Prince] and put him in at guard. Again, things that we think can help us as guys continue to work at practice. Really those were the only to position moves that we made. We moved Stefon [Diggs] outside as well, but again, our receivers can pretty much play different positions. Those are things we felt could help us."
On the freshmen offensive linemen:
"What everybody has to understand is that these young guys, Damian [Prince], Brendon Moore and Derwin Gray, they are young men that have a lot of ability, but it's a process for them to go through in terms of the technique. We've got to get them to learn to get their hands inside. They want to go and take them and bear hug people so we're working on them. Damian has great size and good strength. The more reps he gets the better he'll become in getting the playbook down. Right now, Brendon is probably playing the fastest of those three. For the freshmen, it's about them understanding the playbook. It's hard because of how much is thrown at them. It's not that anybody's disappointed in them. We understand as coaches that it's a process. We're not disappointed. Most of the freshmen should get redshirted anyhow, unless they show something that they are so outstanding. If we get our program where we want it, it's going to be very hard for freshmen to come in and play truthfully."
On why he moved Damian Prince to guard:
"We're going to put him at guard because we've got a need at guard. That was one of the reasons we put him in there. We feel that with the four tackles we have we feel pretty solid. Right now he was really the fifth tackle. Now you put him inside at guard and he's a backup in there at left guard. For him to be able to get on the bus and help us, it's going to be better at guard. Probably in the long run he's more suited to be a guard than a tackle. He does have a skillset where he could be possibly a right tackle more than a left tackle, but for us and for where we are and for what we want to accomplish we feel guard is the best spot for him."
On why he moved Jacquille Veii to wide receiver:
"One thing is he's a guy that is a dynamic guy for us. You can't play four tailbacks. You just can't do it. Putting him out there I think that helps us. It helps the wide receiver room. It gives us a guy that has a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm and can block. It enhances us from an offensive standpoint that we put him there. One of the things he's demonstrated through practice and his hard work is that he deserves an opportunity to be out on the field helping our team win in whichever way he can. He was excited about the move and it's something we think it going to benefit us quite a bit."
On Jacquille Veii's transition to wide receiver:
"I don't think it will take him too long. He was in here late last night, well, not late but until bed check. He was in here today after the morning session watching film. Some of the things he's doing there he did as a running back because we did some things with the running backs at that position. It won't take him long. I'm not worried about that with him. I think you'll see tonight probably that he'll be out there doing things. He'll be fine."
On Quinton Jefferson's situation:
"I just got some information right before I came out here, but I haven't had a chance to talk to Quinton. I think things are positive, but I don't really want to say too much until I get an opportunity to speak to him."
On Perry Hills' absence:
"Perry Hills won't be here for a couple days. He had to go home because his grandmother passed away. He left last night."
On Evan Mulrooney:
"Evan is back. He's with us now. No [he won't practice]. That's not going to happen. He's got some medical conditions that he'll have to take care of within the next two weeks to get some more tests done and he'll do those things once they take a look at those tests and everything else, we'll go from there. Next week he's got some tests he's got to do and then a week after that he's got some more so it's two weeks right now before the tests will be done to see where he is and where we go from here."
On the running back competition:
"I'm looking for the guy that is the most complete guy. You see things with Brandon [Ross] that he can catch the ball, he can run the ball, he can block. I'm seeing much more consistency out of him. Thank goodness he hasn't missed anything. One of his issues had been he had had a little bit of the injury bug that's kind of slowed him down a little bit, but I haven't seen any of that. I see a guy that has really caught hold of the system and is preparing well. He's out here being productive."
On L.A Goree
"L.A., it's interesting. We were in the coaches meeting and talking and I see him doing his job, but he's kind of going unnoticed a little bit. I think he's got that mentality hey, I'm going out there and I'm going to do my job and do it to the best of my abilities and lead by example. That's really what he's doing. He's playing physical and right now he's had a couple of nagging things with him, but he hasn't had any of that. He's playing with confidence and playing with enthusiasm and being productive."
On what he saw in morning practice:
"That it rained like crazy. I still think I'm waterlogged a little bit. We almost had to get the paddleboats out. I haven't practiced in any weather like that kind of rain. That's our wet ball day that we had. Hopefully we won't have any more days like that, but the kids were very focused and fought through it. Brad Craddock had a great morning. He was perfect on all of them. He was 5-for-5 with a 51 yarder. Adam [Greene] was 4-for-4 and missed a 51 yarder. I thought the concentration was good throughout the practice and guys didn't really let that bother them. It was hard to throw the ball because of how much rain was coming down, but we had some center quarterback exchanges, but we have to get used to that so when we play in it, we can handle it. At least now guys will have some recall when we play in it in terms of the gloves and those sort of things to combat those elements."
On position battles:
"There are not that many positions that really we're looking for. Tight end has kind of separated itself. Running back has kind of separated itself. Andrew [Isaacs] is the No. 1 guy and P.J. [Gallo] and Derrick [Hayward] fighting there for the two's. What's happening now is you going to see some guys that might be two's that could overtake somebody who's a one based on what they're doing in practice or maybe what somebody else isn't doing."
On Andrew Isaac's development:
"I just wish he was a redshirt freshman. I wish we could have redshirted him last year, but we didn't have the opportunity to do that. That's what we've got to remember. He got an injury coming out of high school and got in last year and you can start to see it. He's a worker. He's a guy that really works hard. You can see it in his body. He's out there playing with more confidence now and he's a student of the game. We like what we've seen so far and we just want him to keep improving. That's another guy you don't have to worry about. He's self-motivated and is going to do the things necessary to be as good has he needs to be."
"He's probably moving a little bit better. I think he's sculpted himself a little bit more. I think he's about 247 pounds after this morning's practice. He was up to 255 or something. He's moving good and doing all the things that you'd like him to do."
On what he likes from practice so far:
"I like the attitude. I like the way these guys are competing with each other. I like the way our defense is flying around and communicating really well. Offensively, you can really start to see it coming into shape now as we cut back now in the installation and we go over things. Even though it was wet, I thought we did some better things. I'm very pleased with where we are from a field goal standpoint. We've just got to get better each day. We had Jon Gordon in here and one of the things he told the guys was just get one percent better every day you go out there. If they can do that and we can keep that mindset, then we'll be where we want to be August 30."
On what the offense has done better:
"Just from a crispness standpoint and guys doing what they're supposed to do. We didn't have as many penalties in the scrimmage that we did. It's guys just getting back in the swing of things and just getting into the playbook and knowing more what you're doing and getting more confident with what you're doing. It's those little things that you see. Hopefully, you're not going to see a lot of big plays because of what we're doing defensively. We've still got to better defensively and make sure we maintain our gaps and hit the right our gaps. We've gotten better from a technique standpoint, but we've still got a lot of work to do there so it becomes habit. That's the one thing that we're going to constantly harp on and coach up."