I just feel really, really bad for C.J. to see the work he's put in for this season to be go away with one cut in a non-contact drill, Maryland head coach Randy Edsall said during a conference call Wednesday afternoon.
Brown was running a two-minute drill when he broke out of the pocket and scrambled downfield before hurting his right knee making a routine cut. MRIs returned, showing Brown had suffered a season-ending torn ACL. Edsall would not give a timetable for his recovery, but said that the Terps would like Brown to have surgery before classes begin so it does not interfere with his academics.
As one of the four captains on the team, Brown will still have a leadership role off the field even though he will no longer be under center for the season. Edsall emphasized the importance of Brown on the team as a leader and a mentor despite his inability to contribute as a player.
As you can imagine, it's tough on him, Edsall said. He's got a lot of emotions right now, but as I told him and I got through addressing the team, C.J.'s going to be as big a part of this team as he was going to be if he was the starting quarterback. He's still our captain. He's going to be a leader for us. He's going to be a coach for us. He's going to be a mentor for the young quarterbacks. He's going to do all the things he can do to make the team better even though he's not going to be on the field contributing to the success that we'll have, but he's going to be a big part of the success because of what he's going to bring through his leadership capabilities and through him being a captain for us.
With C.J. Brown lost for the season, only two quarterbacks are eligible to play in 2012, both freshmen. Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe were competing for the backup spot to Brown during training camp, but the stakes are now higher as one of them will be taking charge of the offense as the starting quarterback in the fall.
I'm also excited for Perry and Caleb because that was one of the reasons we recruited them to come here, Edsall said. We felt that they were outstanding football players that would have the opportunity at some point in time in their career to help the University of Maryland win football games. Just so happens that opportunity to going to come this year in their freshman year.
Edsall said Tuesday after morning practice that Hills was ahead of Rowe in the position battle. Edsall said Hills will practice with the first team while Rowe will take second team reps in Brown's absence.
Sophomore wide receiver Devin Burns, a former quarterback recruit, approached Edsall after Brown's injury and expressed his desire to help the team by moving back to quarterback. Burns was battling for a spot as the second receiver, according to Edsall, but will practice with the third team as a quarterback.
Even with two freshmen quarterbacks contending for the starting role, Edsall said the Terps will not need to simplify the offense for them. He said the quarterbacks have been practicing the same plays during practice and should be fine for the season.
We really don't have to do anything, Edsall said. Those guys have been doing the same exact things for the first 11 practices that C.J.'s been doing so we have not altered anything even though those guys were working with the twos and the threes, those guys had the same menu, the same plays that C.J. was taking.
The 2012 season carried a lot of hopes for an improvement after last year's 2-10 disappointment. A very strong recruiting class with playmakers Stefon Diggs and Wes Brown, new coordinators, new offensive and defensive schemes, a new turf field and new uniforms gave the Terrapins hope that this year would be different. The loss of Brown hurts the Terps, but Edsall said the team cannot dwell on the negatives.
Well it's disappointing for C.J. but the excitement we've had and the kind of practices we've been having in the last few days and the things that are taking place, that hasn't dampened anything, Edsall said. Again, we're disappointed and upset that this injury occurred to C.J. but none of the expectations or the enthusiasm or the excitement that we've had for this season has been taken away from us.