Fellow freshman Diggs also has standout day
In Maryland's open preseason scrimmage Saturday, freshman Stefon Diggs was as electric as advertised, scoring three touchdowns. Meanwhile, another freshman -- one who arrived with little advance notice -- was better than anyone could have anticipated.
Perry Hills, suddenly serving as the Terrapins' quarterback after a season-ending knee injury to starter C.J. Brown, was efficient and resourceful before a crowd of approximately 1,500 at Byrd Stadium.
Hills, lightly recruited out of Pittsburgh, showed poise when pressured and the ability to make plays outside the pocket, completing 14 of 19 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown and rushing 10 times for 63 yards and another score. Throwing low-risk, short passes and rushing for three first downs, Hills directed an 18-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on the scrimmage's opening possession, which he capped with a 16-yard scramble for the score.
"I thought Perry had a good day," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "We didn't have any issues with delay of game. We didn't have any false starts. When you talk about the mechanics and the operation of the offense, I think he did that really well."
Later in the first period, it was Diggs' turn to amaze. The first time he touched the ball, he broke into the clear on a punt return and raced 68 yards for a touchdown. Before the quarter was over, Diggs took another return the distance, this one covering 98 yards on a kickoff.
In the final three minutes of the half, Hills directed a beat-the-clock touchdown drive, ignited by an underneath pass to Kevin Dorsey that the senior wideout turned into a 40-yard gain. Six plays later, it was Dorsey's preseason camp roommate, Diggs, who capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown catch on another underneath route.
"Stefon performed well, but you gotta take into consideration that was the scout team out there," Edsall said of the return touchdowns. "He's a dynamic player. He's got good instincts. He has football knowledge. He has talent, very coachable and very competitive."
Diggs might have had another score, breaking into the clear on a go-route. But under pressure, Hills' pass was long. Hills' only turnover came in the second half when senior linebacker Darin Drakeford stripped him of the ball, scooped it up and ran 18 yards for a touchdown.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Makinton Dorleant could have tacked on another defensive score as he anticipated a sideline throw by freshman quarterback Caleb Rowe for an interception, but he inexplicably dived to the turf after sprinting 15 yards up the sideline on the final play of the first half.
Rowe showed a strong arm and had some good moments as well. He threw a 69-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass to freshman Levern Jacobs. Sophomore Devin Burns, a former quarterback-turned-wideout who is back at his old position after Brown's injury, sprinted 54 yards for a score.
Burns was asked whether his return to quarterback was like riding a bike.
"This is my fourth day at quarterback, just getting the rust off," Burns said. "I'd say it's more like a unicycle than a bike."