Maryland Football: Handicapping the Terps quarterback race

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 26: Maryland Terrapins head football coach D. J. Durkin watches the action during the game against the Boston College Eagles at Ford Field on December 26, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 26: Maryland Terrapins head football coach D. J. Durkin watches the action during the game against the Boston College Eagles at Ford Field on December 26, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The Maryland football team had Perry Hills running their offense over the past few seasons.

Now the Terrapins will begin a new era at the quarterback position.

Hills appeared in 11 games, but left three early due to injury. Durability was always a concern while Hills was under center given his run-first nature.

Whoever it is under center will have plenty of playmakers to work with even with Levern Jacobs and Teldrick Morgan having graduated.

Wideouts D.J. Moore and Taivon Jacobs return to the program while Jacquille Veii is back after a year at Towson in 2015. The running back position should take a ton of pressure off of whoever is under center with Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison back in the fold.

Caleb Henderson offers upside

As for this group of quarterbacks, there’s certainly a lot of quarterback that coach D.J. Durkin has to work with.

Prior to Maryland’s Red-White Spring Game, the hot name was Caleb Henderson. The North Carolina transfer had impressed the coaching staff, but was unable to take the field in the Spring Game.

Henderson broke his foot in April, but is back on the practice field for training camp.

The Virginia native enters the quarterback competition without as a ton of experience at the collegiate level. During his two years in Chapel Hill, Henderson threw just one pass and had five carries for 53 yards on the ground.

Henderson had an 18-yard run against North Carolina A&T during the 2015 season. In addition, he ripped off a 21-yard run against Delaware that very same season.

One of the biggest positives for Henderson is his ability to keep defenses off balance. He’s comfortable as a pure pocket passer, but also has the capability to pull the ball down and pick up yards on the ground.

Henderson is definitely the type of signal caller that could have tremendous success in offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s system. While there’s still nearly a month before Maryland faces Texas, Henderson looks like the surest bet to be the starter in Austin.

Tyrrell Pigrome looking to build off freshman season

Tyrrell Pigrome was forced into action relatively early as a true freshman last fall.

The Terrapins did use Pigrome in special packages to keep opposing defenses guessing. However, most of his play was in relief of Hills.

Pigrome appeared in 11 of Maryland’s 13 games last season, including starting against Minnesota on Oct. 15. The Alabama native completed 52.1 percent of his passes while tossing two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The biggest positive of Pigrome’s play is definitely his speed. As was evident several times in 2016, he is extremely dangerous in the open field when he elects to run the football.

There was a never a better example of that than the Central Florida game last year. Hills got hurt in overtime and Pigrome came in and broke off a 24-yard game-winning touchdown run.

The biggest question mark for Pigrome is his passing ability.

Pigrome did only throw 71 passes last season, but he proved to be inaccurate at times. Another offseason under his belt certainly could improved his decision making as a quarterback.

Pigrome is the most experienced signal caller that Maryland has, so that’s certainly an ace in his back pocket. He’ll definitely see the field in certain packages, but may not start to begin the year.

Max Bortenschlager offers potential

It almost seems as Max Bortenschlager is an afterthought in the quarterback race.

Bortenschlager wasn’t a very highly-regarded recruit when he arrived in College Park. However, he looked solid in limited time last season for the Terps.

Much like Pigrome, Bortenschlager also received a start last season in the absence of Hills. The Indiana native completed 14-of-29 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown against Nebraska.

Bortenschlager didn’t do anything extraordinary, but he did manage the game and didn’t turn the ball over. For example, when standing inside his own 10-yard line, he was able to find Moore on a screen and Moore took the pass for a 92-yard touchdown.

The 6’3 quarterback displayed solid quarterback vision at times and found pass catchers on underneath routes. On the other hand, Bortenschlager did take a few shots down the field, which is never a bad thing.

Bortenschlager is the type of signal caller that is not going to necessarily wow fans with his athletic ability. However, he could be the definition of a game manager and sometimes that’s what a game will call for.

The odds aren’t exactly in Bortenschlager’s favor to claim the starting job. But if injuries hit the depth chart, he would be a very suitable option to take the snaps.

Kasim Hill is the future of the program

Maryland has been searching for a program-changing quarterback since the Randy Edsall era.

The Terps thought they had one in Dwayne Haskins, but Haskins ultimately ended up flipping to Ohio State after Maryland struggled to start off the 2015 season.

Durkin came to Maryland and made an immediate impact on the recruiting trail and Kasim Hill was one of the biggest early pledges for the program. Hill was one of the top players in the DMV in the 2016 class and for good reason.

Hill is a pro-style quarterback that played at one of the top schools in the area in St. John’s College in the Nation’s Capital. He is the type of signal caller that hangs tough in the pocket, but does have the ability to run when he needs to.

The question becomes when Maryland fans can expect to see Hill on the field.

Obviously, the coaching staff felt strongly enough about Hill to include him in the quarterback competition even though he didn’t arrive on campus until the summer. In addition, as we saw last year, Durkin wasn’t afraid to give any player a chance to win a starting job and the Terps did have several true freshmen receive playing time in 2016.

Hill probably isn’t going to be named the starter, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see him play significant time in the season. That’s obviously going to depend on where Maryland is in terms of the Big Ten race and bowl eligibility.

Next: Forecasting fantasy football from a Terps perspective

If potentially the Towson game ends up being a blowout, the Terps could throw Hill out there to get some reps.