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With less than five days until the annual Red-White Spring Game, the jockeying for starting positions is underway.
Maryland head coach Randy Edsall said that the competition at wide receiver, running back, fullback, cornerback and defensive line spots are still open. However, that does not mean the second-stringers and freshmen are out of the picture.
It may not be guys just fighting for starting positions that you're evaluating. You're evaluating whose going to be number two, or is it going to be one those situations where you look at who's there, and these freshman coming in – some of them might get put into the two-deep right away.
They got basically three more practices to solidify their spot as we head into August," Edsall added.
A trio of upperclassmen wideouts have seemingly emerged as the favorites for the top three spots, Edsall said. Kevin Dorsey, Ronnie Tyler and Kerry Boykins' stock has all risen in the past week, and both converted quarterback Devin Burns and freshman Tyrek Cheeseboro were commended for making strides.
"I like the ability that we have there, it's just a matter of guys really focusing and concentrating on enhancing not only their individual skills but making sure … they can all be on the same page [with the quarterbacks] and be on a better page come the fall."
Despite fierce competition at the start of the spring, one position not up for grabs is quarterback.
Incumbent starter Danny O'Brien has drawn praise for the progress he has made with each week practicing in the new system. After Saturday's scrimmage, which Edsall described as O'Brien's best effort to date, the head coach said his quarterback is growing more comfortable with the offense.
"I'm very comfortable with Danny. When you're putting something new it's not going to come overnight. Those very good players are those guys who get better with each practice, with each week, and you can see that progression taking place with him and I think that's going to continue.
Edsall stated O'Brien has done his due diligence, further establishing his reputation as a student of the game. O'Brien has been watching film, flooding the coaching staff with questions and improving his ability to grasp game-like scenarios.
In fact, O'Brien's understanding of the playbook has blossomed to the point that he points out mistakes to his teammates, something Edsall said shows how much he has improved.
O'Brien is in the boat with all of his teammates in learning Edsall's scheme. As spring practice culminates, Edsall alluded to his players' familiarity with the system as what has impressed him most.
More importantly, though, is the coaches' ability to determine how the players to perform within these boundaries, which Edsall believes will allow the team to form a collective identity this summer.
"That was the big thing for me in spring practice," Edsall said, "really being able to analyze what the strengths and what the weaknesses are of each of our players, and collectively what are strengths and weaknesses can be for our team."
News and Notes:
- Freshman wide receiver Nigel King will be able to practice with the team this week, the first time he will be permitted to do since possibly facing an NCAA violation. King has filed an appeal to the NCAA.
- Injuries: OT R.J. Dill did not scrimmage Saturday. RB Gary Douglas tweaked his hamstring last week, an injury he had been dealing with all spring. RB Jeremiah Wilson might sit out practice this week after being hit on the leg. Wilson had missed practice previously because of a hamstring injury. WR Kevin Dorsey has hip/groin strain.
- FB Taylor Watson will graduate this summer, and will not be a part of the team this fall.