Terps practice for first time after spring break
On Tuesday, the Maryland football team stepped lively through its fourth spring practice and first since spring break. It was a full pads practice with plenty of hitting. Here are some highlights.
- Visiting Dignitaries. Recent Maryland signees Albert Reid (running back), Stefon Diggs (wide receiver), and Roman Braglio (defensive end) attended the workout, along with players and coaches from D.C. private school St. John’s College High.
- Play of the Day. On an intermediate route, sophomore WR Marcus Leak took a pass across the middle from junior QB C.J. Brown and turned it into a long-distance touchdown. Leak was impressive on Tuesday, along with WR Kerry Boykins. The Terps’ top returning WR, Kevin Dorsey, practiced for the first time coming off a season-ending injury last fall.
- King for a Day. If it was a beauty contest between the wideouts, statuesque freshman Nigel King (6-3, 210) would have won. But he appeared confused with some of the plays and struggled to get separation on pass routes. “He’s got the ability. Now, it’s taking that clay and starting to mold it,” Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. “It’s a beautiful piece of clay that you have. But you’ve gotta mold it, shape it, and develop it.” King was academically ineligible last year and redshirted.
- Mmm-Mmm Good. Senior TE Devonte Campbell continued to impress. He caught a 25-yard strike from Brown in traffic. Campbell has received high marks from Edsall for his off-season conditioning work. Edsall also praised FB Tyler Cierski. “They have a chance to really be physical guys for us, to set that tempo for us,” Edsall said.
- Grasping new offense. Brown ran several option plays expertly, making polished fakes and decisions, slipping through holes, and pitching out to backs when the defense converged on him. Brown was inconsistent however in the passing game, missing some open receivers on both long and short routes. “I brought him in today. I told him he’s trying too hard. He’s trying to be perfect, rather than just letting it fly,” Edsall said. “He’s had a lot thrown at him.”
- Getting their kicks. Punters Nathan Renfro and Michael Tart got plenty of work with Edsall taking note. Renfro, a freshman, boomed a punt 65 yards in the air and appeared to have the more explosive leg. Tart, a sophomore, was more consistent, generally kicked the ball higher, and got it off his foot quicker after receiving the snap. Junior CB Dexter McDougle and freshman WR Levern Jacobs handled most of the punts flawlessly.
- Sharper Image. Seventeen days earlier, at the end of the Terps’ first practice this spring, the first-team offense performed dismally, going four-and-out in a two-minute drill. On Tuesday the offense was much sharper as Brown passed for one touchdown and ran for another.
- Walking Tall. The highlight of the end of practice drill was walk-on FB Jeff Hernandez talking a swing pass from walk-on QB Ricky Schultz and weaving his way to score on a 40-yard play. Hernandez is a former 290-pound two-way tackle at Kennedy High in Silver Spring.
- His finest Hauer. Another highlight was Brown’s sprint-out touchdown pass, throwing a strike to senior tight end Ryan Schlothauer, who made the catch on the run, dragging his feet across the end line.
- Evans out. Sophomore DL Ian Evans (pulled abductor) will miss the rest of the spring. His injury will not require surgery. “It’s unfortunate,” Edsall said. “He had three pretty good practices.”
- Bowers sidelined. Maryland starting DE Keith Bowers will sit out the rest of spring practice with a heart ailment. The 6-1, 260-pound rising sophomore felt discomfort two weeks ago, before spring break, and will be held out of workouts until specialists can determine more. “We don’t think it will be any long-term issues there,” Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. “But now it’s a matter of him getting some tests done and monitoring if he gets those [palpitations] again.” According to Edsall the palpitations did not occur during practice. “He said he was experiencing it for a couple weeks, then finally came out and said something.” Doctors have outfitted Bowers with a monitor that he activates when the palpitations begin.
- Accentuating the Positive. Edsall was asked about the negative “buzz” surrounding the program after his rough 2-10 debut season at Maryland. “I think we put a pretty big buzz out there about what we did from a recruiting standpoint,” Edsall said. “If I was here in this state, I’d want to get season tickets. I’d want to come out and see these kids play, not just the kids that are here, but also the ones that are coming in.”