It’s not easy to rattle Kasim Hill.
Maryland football’s redshirt freshman starting quarterback won’t get too animated on the football field. He celebrates with his teammates after scores and big plays, but doesn’t get visibly frustrated when he makes a mistake. This demeanor was instilled in him from a young age, and it’s become a strength as his career has developed.
“Ever since I was younger, my parents always taught me about composure,” Hill told reporters Tuesday. “I try and stay calm and everything no matter the situation because then you can really understand the situation and try and adjust to it.”
Hill has had plenty to adjust to in the last 12 months. After starting the 2017 season as the backup to Tyrrell Pigrome, Hill was called into action in the opener against Texas and helped guide Maryland to an upset win. But the freshman didn’t last six quarters before tearing his ACL against UCF in the third game of the season. While the Terps floundered in his and Pigrome’s absence, Hill could only focus on rehabbing for 2018.
When Hill returned, the Terps had a new offense under Matt Canada, hired to replace Walt Bell as coordinator in January. During fall camp, Canada was thrust into the acting head coach role as DJ Durkin went on administrative leave. And although Hill had long been the presumed starter if healthy, he had to fend off Pigrome for the job.
Through it all, he’s remained calm. Maryland is 2-0 with wins over Texas and Bowling Green, and has a chance to go 3-0 Saturday against Temple. Hill is still growing comfortable in Canada’s offense, but has been effective in it so far.
“I’m enjoying it. It’s a lot of fun going out there and throwing a bunch of different things at the defense,” Hill said.
Maryland has won its two games in vastly different ways. Texas, who had one of the top run defenses in the country last season, keyed in on Maryland’s ground game and held the Terps to 3.1 yards per carry, but big plays and a steady passing game made the difference. In rainy conditions the following weekend, the running backs broke loose, as Maryland rushed for 444 yards in what became a blowout late.
“I think that’s really big, just making the reads, just getting used to seeing different things, how teams play us,” Hill said. “So I think it’s just a comfortability thing for me and for the whole offense.”
Hill threw 29 passes against Texas, completing 17 for 222 yards and a touchdown. He had a much quieter performance Saturday at Bowling Green, going 9-of-16 for 121 yards (46 came on one throw to Anthony McFarland). Perhaps most importantly, he’s remained turnover-free and kept his team in good position.
“Obviously we weren’t throwing the ball all around the yard in the second half,” Canada said Tuesday. “He was handing it off, he was managing the game, managing the clock, managing the weather, and that’s what that game called for.”
Hill’s composure was evident even as he played more of a supporting role. It’s a trait that should pay dividends as Maryland enters conference play. Emotions will be high when the Terps take the field in College Park this season, but Hill won’t lose focus of the task at hand.
“He didn’t come out and ask what about this and what about this. He just said, ‘Great, we scored.’ You watch those guys run in and score, Kasim is down there celebrating. The wideouts are celebrating,” Canada said. “There will be a game when we don’t run the ball as well. When they stop the run and we have to throw passes. I’m certainly hopeful—and I know it will be—our backs will be just as happy because hopefully we’ll win.
“I think it’s a credit to our whole football team, and Kasim certainly is one of the leaders of this team.”