clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Maryland football spring positional preview: Perry Hills, Caleb Rowe, maybe others will have quarterback battle

New, 125 comments

Spring football is just around the corner. Here's where Maryland stands at quarterback.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland football program is eligible to start spring practices under DJ Durkin on March 8. Over the next few days, we'll be previewing where the Terps stack up at every position heading into the offseason's regular season.

Full plaudits to our friends at Inside NU, whose structure for these posts is so good that we've decided to use it as a model for the Maryland version you're about to read. We'll start in the only rational place, with quarterbacks.

The players

Returning starters: Perry Hills (redshirt senior), Caleb Rowe (redshirt senior)

Other contributors: Shane Cockerille (redshirt junior)

Coming off redshirts: Gage Shaffer (redshirt freshman)

Incoming freshmen: Tyrrell Pigrome (three stars), Max Bortenschlager (three stars)

Neither Pigrome nor Bortenschlager is an early enrollee, so neither will participate in spring practice.

The overview

Maryland's quarterback play was a terrible circus act in 2015. The numbers speak for themselves, as the Terps' 90.27 team passer rating was the worst in a Power 5 (or earlier equivalent) conference since 2008, when Washington and finished within a point below that mark and Connecticut (hmm, Connecticut?) nearly matched it.

Rowe was the country's most interception-prone quarterback, throwing 15 of them in just 165 attempts. (A few quarterbacks had as many or more, but all in two or more times the total throws.) Hills was incrementally better but still not good through the air, instead hurting teams who got too far upfield in the pass rush by taking off and running.

In sum, the Terps finished 110th in passing S&P+ and 124th in passing success rate, 127th in passer rating and 109th in total passing offense (but 121st in yards per attempt). It was dark stuff.

Position battles

If not a true freshman (and it probably won't be), who?

This is already a crowded race, and it will only get busier once spring practice ends and Pigrome and Bortenschlager show up in the summer. Three-star freshmen hardly ever play in the Big Ten, but drastic times sometimes call for drastic measures, and maybe that's the situation in which Durkin and offensive coordinator Walt Bell will find themselves.

Hills is probably the favorite, because Bell enjoys running an option offense and Hills has demonstrated more mobility in his career than Rowe, and because Bell's offenses historically haven't required a rocket-armed quarterback like Rowe.

But this is anybody's race between Hills and Rowe, with Shaffer probably in the picture and the athletic Cockerille as a dark horse if Bell really decides he's not going to throw the ball at all and just wants to shred teams with a thousand options. (That might happen: Bell's Arkansas State Red Wolves ran on almost 70 percent of their standard downs last season.)

Key question

Can Caleb Rowe put it together?

Rowe definitely has the best arm of any Maryland quarterback who's played collegiate games before, but his decision-making last year was bad enough to get him benched more than once despite Maryland's otherwise arid passing situation. This is Rowe's fifth year in College Park but first without Mike Locksley and Randy Edsall tutoring him. He's Bell's now, and that's a good thing.

Breakout player

Gage Shaffer.

Pigrome is going to be a lot of fun, but he won't be here yet. Shaffer was just a scout-teamer last season, but people say he's got a strong arm and could be effective. At Maryland's spring game on April 16, Shaffer will be the guy to watch. He's a former three-star recruit and now has a year of seasoning out of the way.

Depth chart projection

1st String Perry Hills
2nd String Caleb Rowe
3rd String Gage Shaffer
4th String Shane Cockerille