Byrd Stadium may have been host to Maryland football’s Fan Appreciation Day scrimmage on Saturday, but it was really just a preview of the Stefon Diggs show.
Diggs, the #13 recruit in ESPN’s Top 150 and former Good Counsel standout athlete, put on a display for everyone in attendance from start to finish, scoring electrifying touchdowns on each of his first two touches. On the first, Diggs was simply returning a punt. Only with Diggs, returning a punt is a major threat for other teams, because he proceeded to juke out several defenders and blew by the rest en route to the end zone.
On his second touch of the game, Diggs was just as impressive as the first. Returning a kick off at the 2-yard line, Diggs ran straight at a throng of defenders before deftly maneuvering around all of them with his agility and breakaway speed to find himself in the end zone yet again. For any other player that would have been a good enough performance to mail home the rest of a scrimmage, but Diggs is different. He still wasn’t done.
Running a hurry up offense with true freshman (and potential starter) Perry Hills leading the drive, Diggs caught the ball around the 1-yard line on a slant route before forcing his way into the end zone for yet another score. That touchdown gave Diggs 21 points on three touches; in short, he showed exactly why he was one of the most sought after talents in the nation last year.
Diggs spurned offers from Florida to Florida State , from Auburn to Southern California, in hopes of bringing some semblance of success to his hometown University of Maryland football program. If this performance is any indicator, Diggs may well be able to put Maryland on his back.
While the star WR was a great storyline, many fans really came out to try and assess the quarterback situation. With starter C.J. Brown sitting out for the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Randy Edsall finally got to test out his other options at quarterback.
Perry Hills, a freshman out of Central Catholic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, started the game for Maryland. Hills took the first team snaps and led Maryland to three scoring drives in the first half. He showed off his ability to scramble and use his legs throughout the first half, opting to run instead of pass on numerous occasions. On one of those instances, Hills scrambled down the sideline for a 15-yard touchdown run to cap off a long offensive drive down the field.
While his short passes were solid and accurate, Hills played more conservatively than the other quarterbacks on the roster like Caleb Rowe. Rowe, the South Carolina native who went largely unnoticed out of high school, slung the ball all over the field. He took chances on deep balls, and threw crisp passes into tight windows on intermediate routes. His deep balls were slightly overthrown, but not terribly inaccurate. The downside is that Rowe threw two interceptions and a few near misses on tipped balls, and set his teammates up to get destroyed with buddy passes.
The other quarterback of note was Devin Burns, who played wide receiver last season but asked to make the transition to quarterback. Burns was easily the best scrambler of the three quarterbacks, using his legs far more than his arm to create plays when the pocket caved in. Burns was also the worst passer of the three, displaying decent velocity on his throws but poor accuracy. Still, he is a more than capable scrambler and seems like a very good fit for an Edsall offense that emphasizes running.
The defense provided some big hits, but given that this was a scrimmage there were a lot of missed opportunities for big hits. A notable big hitter, Kenny Tate, spent the entire scrimmage on the sideline, getting the day off by coach Edsall.