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Maryland football’s biggest question mark is at quarterback once again entering 2018

Two promising options are recovering from ACL tears. There’s reason for optimism, and there’s reason to worry.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Texas John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland football season starts in 82 days. Once again, we’ll spend the summer months running through the position groups as the season approaches. This series will take us into early August, when fall camp begins.

We’ll be taking a different approach to all this than we did last year. Profiles in Terpage won’t return in the same capacity—we’ll still go in-depth on every member of the roster, but that won’t always be in the form of standalone profiles. We’ll also have some new weekly big-picture and interactive posts that I hope you all enjoy. Stay tuned for a fun summer!

Let’s start at quarterback, which is Maryland’s well-documented position of sorrows.

For nearly a decade, Terrapin signal callers have collectively been plagued by injury, incompetence or both. It’s hard to top the time Maryland had three quarterbacks tear their ACLs and started a freshman linebacker under center for five games, but damn it, the Terps have tried. There was the 2015 season, when four different Maryland quarterbacks—one of whom played most of the year as a fullback and later moved to linebacker—threw 15 touchdowns and 29 interceptions in a season. In DJ Durkin’s first campaign, the numbers improved, but the team still relied on four quarterbacks, with three making starts.

But 2017 might have been the most heartbreaking Maryland quarterback season of them all. It all started with spring practice first-stringer Caleb Henderson breaking his foot and never being the same when he returned. Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill emerged from the pack in fall camp, with Pigrome earning the starting nod against Texas. He looked good, but then tore his ACL. Hill relieved him, looked good, then looked really good the next week, then tore his ACL against UCF.

There would be no additional knee injuries, but the damage was done. Max Bortenschlager, the best option left, turned in serviceable but uninspiring results. Even he got banged up a couple times, which led to walk-on transfer Ryan Brand finishing the Rutgers game and starting the following week against Michigan. It hardly mattered who was under center down the stretch; Maryland scored just 20 points in its final three games.

The main contributors are all back for 2018.

Pigrome and Hill received medical redshirts, so they’re still classified as a sophomore and freshman, respectively. Bortenschlager is entering his junior season. This trio combined for 89 percent of Maryland’s passing yards and 14 of its 15 passing touchdowns last fall.

Neither Henderson or Brand are still with the program, although both had eligibility remaining (more on that later in the week). Instead, the emergency option will be true freshman Tyler DeSue, who enrolled a semester early but by most evaluations isn’t quite ready for the college game. The fifth-stringer will be walk-on lefty Legend Brumbaugh, and beyond that ... let’s not find out.

Maryland’s 2018 outlook hinges on the two ACL recoveries.

Hill and Pigrome both had their surgeries in September, and DJ Durkin has given nothing but positive updates about their recoveries; he’s said both rehab processes are ahead of schedule. While both quarterbacks were held out of spring practice, they were always getting their own work in on the sideline. The expectation is that both will be ready to roll by the start of fall camp.

Assuming that holds true, expect Pigrome and Hill to battle for the starting job once again. Both played well when healthy last year, but because the sample sizes were so small, neither one seems to have a real upper hand on the other right now. It’s also unclear how new offensive coordinator Matt Canada will adapt his system for either player, or to what extent either’s mobility will be reduced from last season.

No matter what happens, though, it seems more likely than not that these two will be the Terps’ top two options in some order. Bortenschlager has the most experience of anyone in the group, and he’ll certainly get a chance to win the job, but both the nature of last year’s competition and the on-field results suggested that there was a clear gap between him and the Pigrome-Hill duo. If he’s done enough to close that gap, it’ll be to his credit.

Once again, quarterback is Maryland’s biggest question mark. We’re still over two months from any answers.