The 2015 Maryland football team starts anew on Wednesday with its first spring practice ahead of the upcoming season. Maryland coach Randy Edsall offered updates on his program in a Friday conference call, on the eve of those workouts.
With likely starter Caleb Rowe still recovering from last season's torn ACL, redshirt sophomore Shane Cockerille will start spring taking first-team repetitions at quarterback. "But don't read anything into that," Edsall said. Cockerille and redshirt junior Perry Hills will split duties with the first team as the spring progresses, and nothing here seems even the slightest bit final.
Edsall praised Cockerille's growth over the past few seasons, too.
Edsall also talked about Maryland's switch from its 3-4 defensive scheme to a 4-3. Despite having seven seniors in its defensive front last year, Maryland was regularly bullied at the line of scrimmage in conference play. The switch to a base defense with four down linemen, it seems, is Edsall's counteraction.
"You always sit down and you evaluate after each season, in terms of your personnel and what you think your young men can do best. I just feel that we're better suited to be a 4-3 team, and when you take a look at who we have, I think it fits us better, and I'm excited about it," he said.
To compete in the Big Ten, Edsall's been pushing his players to bulk up, perhaps more than is normal.
"When you take a look at the difference in terms of conferences, the ACC is a little bit different," Edsall said. You go to the Big Ten, and then you see what was going on there."
- Maryland's got plenty of players sitting out spring with injury. Running back Wes Brown (labrum) won't participate. Nor will receiver Amba Etta-Tawo, long-snapper Christian Carpenter, linebacker Avery Thompson, safety Elvis Dennah and cornerback Alvin Hill. Edsall allowed that Hill, receiver Taivon Jacobs and defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson could do limited work as the spring moves along. Linebackers Cavon Walker and Nnamdi Egbuaba and defensive backs Denzel Conyers, Daniel Ezeagwu will participate, Edsall said.
- Edsall said he looked forward to, among other things, watching one-time blue-chip prospects Damian Prince and Derwin Gray play on the offensive line this spring. "How is Derwin gonna do? How is Damian Prince gonna do? Brendan Moore, Sean Christie, all those young offensive linemen that we have there," Edsall said.
- Safety Sean Davis will move to cornerback full-time, Edsall said. Tackle Ryan Doyle will move inside to play guard, which makes plenty of sense with Prince, Gray and others in the pipeline.
- Maryland hasn't hired a full-time special teams coach to replace the departed Andre Powell, but Edsall said he'd eventually like to find one. Until then, he said Maryland is comfortable dividing up the duty of coaching Maryland's special teams. Receivers coach Keenan McCardell is working with punt returners, while new running backs coach Terry Richardson will be with kick returners. Tight ends coach John Dunn will cover the punt unit, while the new defensive backs coach (whom Edsall is hoping to have hired within the next week and a half) will handle kickoff coverage. Edsall and graduate assistants will also be involved with special teams, he said.