Terps Football: 2017 Season Preview – The Quarterbacks
While the 2016 season was nothing to write home about for Maryland’s quarterbacks, there is plenty of optimism surrounding the position in 2017. Three of the team’s six signal callers from last season have departed, and two new faces have joined the roster this season. While this is still an offense that will be built around running the football, the passing attack ought to be a much bigger threat in 2017.
This article is part of a series previewing the 2017 Maryland football season. You can find my projected depth chart here.
Caleb Henderson (Redshirt Junior)
2017 Projection: Starter
2016 Statistics: Did Not Play
Henderson enters the 2017 season as the clear favorite to win Maryland’s open quarterback job. After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer regulations, Henderson looks ready to lead offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s high-octane spread offense. He was a 4-star recruit when he began his college career with North Carolina three years ago. While he doesn’t have much in-game experience, he carries himself like a veteran and has more arm talent than any Maryland quarterback since the Ralph Friedgen era.
I have projected Henderson to start at quarterback for the Terrapins this season. While he doesn’t have a solid lock on the job, I do expect him to remain the starter for the entire season.
Tyrrell Pigrome (Sophomore)
2017 Projection: Second-Team
2016 Statistics: 37/71 (52.1%), 322 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT; 62 carries, 254 yds, 4 TD
Pigrome won the hearts of many Maryland fans when he scored the game-winning touchdown on his first play from scrimmage in the team’s game against UCF in overtime. He played in 11 of the team’s 13 games last season, and started at home against Minnesota. While his athleticism and ball skills are unquestionably excellent, he has severe limitations as a passer that were highlighted against the defenses of the Big Ten Conference.
I have projected Pigrome to be Henderson’s backup at quarterback, but it’s a job that he’ll have to compete for with Bortenschlager. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him enter the game as a Wildcat quarterback at times, especially in packages near the goal line.
Max Bortenschlager (Sophomore)
2017 Projection: Third-Team
2016 Statistics: 16/33 (48.5%), 209 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT; 12 carries, -27 yds, 0 TD
Bortenschlager started one game last season for the Terrapins in Lincoln against Nebraska. While the team struggled mightily in that game, he showed ability as a passer that Pigrome didn’t. His footwork was more polished, and he made reads fairly well.
I have projected Bortenschlager to be the Terrapins’ third-string quarterback this season, but he may very well snatch the backup job from Pigrome with a good performance in fall camp. I would tend to treat the two sophomores as co-backups, as they complement each other well and likely ought to be used in tandem if Henderson was forced out of a game.
Ryan Brand (Redshirt Sophomore)
2017 Projection: Fourth-Team
2016 Statistics (San Mateo Community College): N/A
Brand comes to College Park as a Junior College transfer, tagging along with his brother Bryce, a defensive end/linebacker. Ryan spent his freshman season at Air Force, which ought to tell you what type of quarterback he is. Undersized at 5’11”, he is a run-first player who has his limitations as a passer.
I have projected Brand to be the Terrapins’ fourth-string quarterback this season, as he will essentially provide depth to the position. However, as Maryland fans know all too well after the team’s disastrous 2012 season, you can never have too many quarterbacks on your roster.
Kasim Hill (Freshman)
2017 Projection: Redshirt
2016 Statistics (St. John’s College High School): 115/176 (65.3%), 1,431 yds, 16 TD, 4 INT; 75 carries, 885 yds, 10 TD
Hill is the lone freshman quarterback in Durkin’s 2017 recruiting class, and a damn good one at that. He is the future of the quarterback position in College Park, and is expected to take the reins sooner rather than later. A 4-star recruit with tremendous arm talent, Hill is the best quarterback recruit that the Terrapins have had in a long time.
If he had enrolled early and been able to participate in spring practice, I might have been inclined to project Hill as the team’s starter this season. However, given how difficult it is for an 18-year old to learn a college offense in a matter of weeks, I would expect him to redshirt this season. The presence of Henderson on the roster gives Maryland the luxury to groom Hill for a year before giving him the opportunity to win the job. Of course, if Henderson goes down for any sort of extended period of time, I wouldn’t be surprised if Durkin decides to burn Hill’s redshirt and play him in his true freshman season.