It’s really hard to win without a good quarterback. Like, really hard.
To win without a good quarterback, a team has to either run the ball or play defense—or both—so well that it completely masks its deficiency under center. That, of course, is much easier said than done. And when a team doesn’t have a good quarterback and doesn’t field an elite defense or rushing attack, things can get ugly.
Such is the case for Maryland football, which demonstrated exactly what happens when there isn’t a good quarterback on the roster and there are no good quarterback recruits coming to the rescue. Here’s how the Terps have progressed in the last five cycles.
2013: Same backfield
Maryland brought in Shane Cockerille in 2013, the year after signing Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe. Though Cockerille was a fairly high three-star recruit coming out of high school, he never really panned out as a quarterback. This was partially due to his own limitations as a passer and partially due to then-coach Randy Edsall moving him to fullback. Cockerille was moved back to quarterback for the 2015 season before DJ Durkin moved him to linebacker ahead of the 2016 season. That’s presumably where he’ll play again in the 2017 season.
This was essentially a waste of a class for the Terps as far as quarterbacks go. Maryland signed Will Ulmer, who was classified as a three-star dual-threat quarterback out of St. John’s in Washington, D.C., but he was listed as a receiver during his freshman year. He ended up never playing a down for Maryland football before leaving the program after only one season.
The 2014 season was also the last one for C.J. Brown; while he wasn’t Maryland’s best quarterback ever, Brown was the best option the Terps have had under center in the last several years. Going forward, the quarterbacking duties would be left primarily to Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe for the remainder of their college careers.
2015: Not quite
The Terps signed 6’7, 205-pound, three-star gunslinger Gage Shaffer out of West Virginia in 2015. Just like Ulmer, he never played a down for Maryland. Accounting for Cockerille’s position change, this was basically the third class in a row that Maryland ended up with a net-zero at the quarterback position. That isn’t exactly a recipe for success.
Daxx Garman joined the program as a graduate transfer from Oklahoma State ahead of the 2015 season, but only appeared in two games.
2016: Last-minute scramble
This class was going to change Maryland football. Dwayne Haskins was hyped as a local savior of a quarterback. Needless to say, that didn’t exactly work out, as Haskins flipped to Ohio State just two weeks before National Signing Day.
The writing had been on the wall for some time, though, so Durkin and offensive coordinator Walt Bell were quick to identify new targets and bring them aboard. Three-star quarterbacks Max Bortenschlager and Tyrrell Pigrome joined the class in the last few days of the cycle to finally give the Terps some options beyond Hills and Rowe.
Each started one game in 2016, and Pigrome even found his way into 11, serving as the primary backup to Hills. It’s early in their careers, and each could be serviceable, but neither looks like the the answer going forward, at least not right now.
Right before the 2016 season, Maryland also landed a transfer from former four-star recruit, Caleb Henderson. Henderson started his college career at North Carolina, but transferred back closer to home to be near his family. He’ll have two years of eligibility left, and looks like he may be the favorite to win the starting job heading into 2017.
2017: On the board
For the second year in a row, Maryland landed a commitment from the top quarterback in the region, but this time, he stuck. Four-star Under Armour All-American Kasim Hill was the lone scholarship quarterback signed in 2017. He’s got the ability to make plays with both his feet and his arm, and just might be the future of Maryland football.
Maryland also added Ryan Brand, a former three-star quarterback who started his college career at Air Force. He’ll be a walk-on and will have two years of eligibility left. His younger brother, Bryce, is a 2017 signee.
More recently, the Terps have also added Legend Brumbaugh, son of defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Brumbaugh. He probably won’t be a legend in College Park, as he’s just a walk-on for now, but he’ll at the very least provide depth and another mind in the quarterbacks room.
2018: Another one
Tyler DeSue, a three-star quarterback from Bishop Sullivan Catholic in Virginia Beach, committed to Maryland in April 2017. There’s a long way until signing day, but all indications are that he’ll stick, just like Hill.
DeSue will likely be the only quarterback Maryland takes in this class.
2019: On the lookout
The 2018 recruiting cycle is nowhere near over yet, but like anyone who’s good at this stuff, Maryland is already looking forward to 2019. Sam Howell, Zamar Wise, Taquan Roberson and Brendon Clark are four guys the staff is looking at right now, while several others will surely be offered.
The Class of 2019 appears to be a weaker class nationally at the quarterback position, just judging on the number of offers a lot of quarterback prospects have. It’ll be important for Henderson and Hill to show that they’re capable of holding down the job for at least the next two years, and hopefully beyond, just in case the Class of 2019 doesn’t bear the same quarterback fruit the last few have.
Should Henderson, Hill and DeSue all live up to their hype, Maryland could be set at the quarterback position until 2022 or so. That said, this staff seems to understand the importance of an able quarterback, and will surely have a plan in place in case that doesn’t work out.