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Max Bortenschlager brings experienced depth to Maryland football’s QB room

The redshirt junior has nine career starts under his belt, but faces an uphill battle for playing time in 2019.

Max Bortenschlager Maryland Football Spring Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

We’re previewing Maryland football’s roster one position group at a time this summer. This week, we’re focusing on the quarterbacks.

Lila profiled Tyrrell Pigrome on Monday, and Sean took a look at Tyler DeSue on Tuesday. Today, Quarterbacks Week continues with Max Bortenschlager. The redshirt junior started games in each of his first two seasons, despite never starting the season at the top of the depth chart. Like DeSue, he had a strong spring game but figures to be closer to the bottom of the depth chart.

Max Bortenschlager, QB, No. 18

Height: 6’3
Weight: 220
Year: Redshirt junior
Hometown: Fishers, Ind.
High school: Cathedral HS

2018 stats: 4 games as the team’s holder, no passing attempts
Career stats: 137-of-266 passing, 1,522 yards, 11 TDs, 5 int.; 84 rushing attempts, -14 yards, 2 TDs

The background

Bortenschlager, a three-star recruit coming out of high school, flipped from Buffalo to Maryland just before National Signing Day 2016. He made his Maryland debut in the fourth quarter of the season opener against Howard, completing 2-of-4 passes for 18 yards in a blowout win. With Perry Hills recovering from a shoulder injury, Bortenschlager became the third Terp quarterback to start a game that season in a 28-7 loss at Nebraska. In the fourth quarter of that game, he threw a short pass to DJ Moore that the future NFL first-round pick converted into a 92-yard touchdown, the second-longest reception in Maryland history.

He started his sophomore year third on the depth chart, but it didn’t take long for him to be thrust into action after Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill both tore ACLs in the first three games of the season. Following a gutsy performance in his first start against Minnesota, he struggled the rest of the way, throwing for 1,313 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions while completing just 52 percent of his passes.

With both Hill and Pigrome healthy to start 2018, Bortenschlager was back at third on the depth chart, and started the year as the holder for field goals and extra points.

Even Bortenschlager couldn’t avoid the quarterback injury bug.

After playing four games in 2018, Bortenschlager underwent ankle surgery and missed the rest of his junior season. He was granted an extra year of eligibility, and it remains to be seen if he’ll use that at Maryland.

Bortenschlager was the first Terps quarterback to suffer a season-ending injury in 2018, and just having one signal caller go down would be significant at almost any other school. But at Maryland, quarterback injuries are a common occurrence. Hill suffered a torn ACL against Indiana, marking the fifth straight season and 12th in the last 13 that multiple quarterbacks had been injured during a season. It’s unlikely Bortenschlager would’ve played after Hill’s injury, though he would’ve provided more experience on the depth chart ahead of true freshman Tyler DeSue.

Like DeSue, he performed well in the spring game.

With likely starter Josh Jackson finishing up his degree at Virginia Tech, all three healthy scholarship quarterbacks had a chance to prove themselves this spring. Bortenschlager took some reps with the first-team offense during practices, and completed 29 of 47 passes for 352 yards and two touchdowns during the spring game. Even though it was only an exhibition, it’s good to see he’s comfortable with new head coach Mike Locksley’s offense.

However, with Jackson officially joining the team last week and Pigrome already ahead of him on the depth chart, Bortenschlager may not see the field often. He struggled with accuracy as a sophomore, and his completion percentage would’ve been lower if not for Moore. Bortenschlager has never been a particularly mobile quarterback either, and ankle surgery may have reduced his mobility further. But this is Maryland, so it never hurts to have too many quarterbacks. If Bortenschlager has to play, he will be an experienced option.