Quarterback spot in hands of freshmen Hills and Rowe
On the first day of the preseason, Maryland coach Randy Edsall was asked to address the Terrapins' doomsday scenario -- a serious injury to their only quarterback with college experience, C.J. Brown.
On Tuesday evening, the question proved prescient as Brown was lost for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee. The junior made a cut on the new FieldTurf at Byrd Stadium, and his knee collapsed.
"I just feel really, really bad for C.J.," Edsall said in a teleconference Wednesday. "To see the work he's put in for this season, to go away with one cut in a noncontact drill, a cut that he's made thousands of times, it's just devastating."
Brown, a junior who started five games last year and had three of the top eight rushing performances by a quarterback in program history, will undergo surgery after swelling in his knee reduces "probably within the next couple of weeks," Edsall said.
Edsall discounted where the injury occurred.
"This is an injury that could happen anywhere. It could happen on turf. It could happen on blacktop. It could happen on grass," Edsall said. "It was just one of those things where you make a cut and it happened. I've seen this injury happen on multiple surfaces."
Brown spent 2009 as a redshirt and suffered a season-ending fractured shoulder on a running play on the fourth snap of his college debut in 2010. Last year on a running play at Florida State, he sustained a concussion that knocked him from the game. Three weeks later against Notre Dame, Brown regained the starting quarterback job for the rest of the season when Danny O'Brien broke his arm.
O'Brien, who was named ACC rookie of the year in 2010, decided to transfer to Wisconsin in the offseason.
On Tuesday, Brown again was hurt while on the run after breaking through the pocket during a two-minute drill, Edsall said.
"To see it go away with just one cut, it's just heartbreaking," Edsall added.
The injury leaves Maryland with two true freshmen quarterbacks, Perry Hills of Pittsburgh and Caleb Rowe of Landrum, S.C. Hills will run with the first team and Rowe with the second as Maryland prepares for its opener Sept. 1 at Byrd Stadium against William & Mary.
Brown's injury came after Edsall revealed to reporters earlier Tuesday that Hills had the edge in the competition to become Brown's understudy.
In addition, sophomore Devin Burns, who came to Maryland as a quarterback before he was shifted to wide receiver, volunteered to move back to his original position. The speedy Burns, who will run with the third team, passed for 1,795 yards, ran for 541 yards and totaled 21 touchdowns in his senior year at Carver High in Columbus, Ga.
"Devin's fighting for a spot at receiver," Edsall said. "But Devin came to me and said, 'Coach, I think I can really help the team at quarterback.' That was before I got the results of the MRI that C.J. had. I asked him if this is what he wanted to do, and he told me yes. I said let's [wait and] see until after I get the results."
Edsall will get another look at the quarterbacks in a scrimmage Saturday afternoon at Byrd Stadium.
He was asked whether the injury negates the positive momentum that the program built with a strong recruiting class, the new field at Byrd and new coordinators Mike Locksley (offense) and Brian Stewart (defense).
"We're disappointed and upset with what's happened to C.J.," Edsall said. "But none of the enthusiasm or expectations or excitement that we have for this season has been taken from us."