Status of quarterbacks at Navy, Maryland quite different this spring

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Midshipmen are set with Reynolds, while Terps still figuring it out

Last season, the quarterback situations at Navy and Maryland were feast and famine, respectively. In Annapolis, the emergence of sensational freshman Keenan Reynolds left the Midshipmen with an overabundance of signal callers, so they shifted Trey Miller to slotback this spring. By contrast, when the Terrapins lost four quarterbacks to season-ending injuries last fall, they had to convert a wide receiver and then a linebacker to play the position.

Maryland still was short at quarterback this spring. New Mexico transfer Ricardo Young was the lone scholarship quarterback cleared to participate fully. He will get plenty of snaps Friday night in the Terps' annual spring game, though junior C.J. Brown will be the starter when the Terps open the preseason.

Navy was scheduled to play its annual Blue-Gold game Friday as well but decided to cancel it when another appointment took precedence. On Friday afternoon, the Mids will bus to the White House to accept the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy from President Obama.

Up next
Maryland spring game
When » Friday, 7 p.m.
Where » Byrd Stadium

As the Mids wrapped up their final practice of the spring Wednesday afternoon, coach Ken Niumatalolo asked them to finish on a high note.

"Ten more minutes the rest of the spring," Niumatalolo shouted.

Both Navy, which went 8-5 last year, and Maryland, which went 4-8, had seasons that were defined by good and bad fortune at quarterback. After a 1-3 start, the Mids' season turned when Reynolds took over after Miller was injured against Air Force. After a 4-2 start behind Perry Hills, the Terps' season crumbled following the loss of the freshman to a torn ACL.

In a year filled with bad quarterback news, Maryland finally got some good news this week when Brown was granted an extra year of eligibility. In limited duty, Brown has made "tremendous" progress this spring, according to coach Randy Edsall.

"It was like night and day from the first day he did seven-on-seven to now," Edsall said. "He's got that confidence back, and you can see that he's been studying and working and he does things that you want out of a quarterback."

At Navy, the Mids' coaches saw what they needed from reserve quarterback John Hendrick to feel comfortable moving Miller. Slotbacks coach Danny O'Rourke said the position requires versatility and a high football IQ, ideal for a former quarterback. The Mids ask their slots to carry the ball, catch passes, run block and even pass protect.

"I tell him every day, 'Blocking is about 2 percent technique and about 98 percent want-to,'?" O'Rourke said. "Athletically he's got more than enough to play the position. He can run. He can catch. He's built for the spot. I'm really, really, really glad we made the switch."

At 6-foot, 199 pounds, Miller is at least two inches taller than the six other slotbacks on the depth chart. After the graduation of Gee Gee Greene, John Howell and Bo Snelson, the two slot positions are wide open.

"He's got a fresh start," O'Rourke said of Miller. "It's hard being a backup guy, holding your helmet, going you might play, you might not. Now he's playing. We play tomorrow, he's playing."

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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Kevin Dunleavy

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner