Tyrrell Pigrome has all the ingredients to face unfair expectations.
The Maryland football team's new three-star, dual-threat quarterback commit enters a program whose signal-callers last season posted the worst team passer rating of any power conference team since 2008. He's got plenty of pedigree, including a Gatorade Player of the Year award in his native Alabama, but he's not so highly rated that he should be expected to immediately contribute. Yet he's so dizzyingly athletic that we'll all want to see him, and fast.
"‘Piggy,' down in Alabama, that guy is electric," Maryland coach DJ Durkin said Wednesday. "He is unbelievable. I can't tell you how happy we are that it worked out with him. He's from several states away in the South and for him to make the decision to come up here tells you a lot about him; he'll be a household name around here soon."
In a statement, offensive coordinator Walt Bell glowed about him, too.
"Tyrrell has the chance to be one of the most dynamic players in the class because of his incredible athleticism," Bell said. "He's very comparable to some of the spread quarterbacks that I have had in the past."
That last point Bell makes – about Pigrome's similarity to past quarterbacks of his – might be the real money line here. And it might leave Pigrome positioned to contribute sooner than later.
Bell's spread offense at Arkansas State was prolific despite not having blue-chip recruits. His quarterback the last two years was Fredi Knighten, who stands the same 5'11 as Pigrome and was also classified as a dual-threat recruit.
Like Pigrome, Knighten is athletic. He carried from the quarterback position 349 times the last two seasons for almost 1,200 yards, and those figures are depressed by the NCAA's pointless insistence on classifying sacks as negative rushing yards for quarterbacks. Watch Knighten take off and run out of a read option:
And watch Pigrome do the same:
Pigrome's game film suggests he's a much better downfield thrower than Knighten is, and I don't mean to put Pigrome into a box by suggesting he's just a running quarterback. He rather conclusively is not:
But it's hard not to watch Pigrome run a spread offense at Clay-Chalkville in Alabama, watch Knighten do the same for Arkansas State, watch Bell take the Maryland offensive coordinator job and not think the coach is going to try to turn Pigrome into his new Knighten. For Maryland, that'd be a pretty exciting outcome.
For as long as Pigrome is a Maryland quarterback, he'll face comparisons to Dwayne Haskins, the four-star local product who flipped from the Terps to Ohio State in January. Haskins is more highly rated than Pigrome for a reason, but if Bell's system from Arkansas State makes its way to Maryland, there's a fair case that Pigrome fits it more naturally.
Haskins is not a runner and won't be nearly as effective in zone-read and option runs as Pigrome should be. (Of course, C.J. Brown was better at running the option than, say, Andrew Luck, but that's another matter.) The Terps won't win in the Big Ten without a quarterback who can throw, and Pigrome – or three-star commit Max Bortenschlager, or rising redshirt freshman Gage Shaffer – will need to be that guy to be the Terps' quarterback of the future.
But if the Terps plan on running an option spread, they weren't going to get anybody who fits it more naturally than Pigrome. Bell's Arkansas State offense ran on 67 percent of all standard downs last season, and there's no reason to think Maryland will be any less ground-oriented with a strong offensive line and running backs in 2016 and beyond.
Pigrome can beat teams with his legs. If he can open up defenses just a little with his arm, he'll be exactly what Bell needs.