Maryland History of QB Injuries Continues

With Hills and Burns seeings their season end, the Maryland quarterback curse continues.

It started with quarterback Danny O'Brien 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year transferring during the offseason to play for the Wisconsin Badgers, leaving C.J. Brown as the starting quarterback going into training camp. With two true freshmen behind him in Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe, Brown's position at the top of the depth chart was secure.

Then one day in mid-July, Brown went down in practice while making a cut during a non-contact two-minute drill. The MRI revealed the worst: a season-ending torn ACL.

“I just feel really, really bad for C.J.," said Maryland head coach Randy Edsall. "To see the work he's put in for this season go away with one cut, one cut in a non-contact drill, a cut that he's made thousands of times, it's just devastating.”

The Terps handed the starting position to Hills and sophomore wide receiver Devin Burns decided to make the change to quarterback, the position he played in high school. Burns eventually beat out Rowe for the backup quarterback spot, but the hope was that Burns would never need to be forced into service.

Hills performed well, leading the Terps to a 4-2 record, completing 57.4 percent of his passes for 1,336 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. Hills also provided some offense with his legs, rushing 70 times for a gain of 168 yards and three touchdowns.

Hills made it halfway through the season before he too fell to the Maryland quarterback curse. After throwing a pick against N.C. State that was returned for a touchdown that was called back for a penalty, Hills was illegally blocked in the back when trying to chase down the defender. Hills remained on the field in pain and was carted out of the game. A torn ACL ended his promising freshman campaign.

“Of course, we are all upset for Perry,” senior offensive lineman Justin Gilbert said. “It's a terrible loss and back during camp when we lost C.J., but we are in the middle of a season right now where we are 4-3 and still have a good shot at the ACC [championship]. We just have to keep playing our game and we can't really let something, as tragic as it was, to slow us down. We have to keep building. Whoever goes in at quarterback this week, that's the guy who's leading us and play Maryland football.”

Burns came in the second half of the game, rushing for 50 yards and a touchdown and passing for 47 yards. His ability to run the zone-read option opened up the running game that had been pretty stagnant for most of the season, allowing freshman running back Wes Brown to dominate, carrying the ball 25 times for a season-high 121 yards and a touchdown.

But rumors swirled around College Park that more bad news was imminent. Burns was sighted around campus riding in a cart carrying crutches, causing people to believe that a third quarterback would be lost for the season. And on Thursday, it was revealed that Burns was indeed out for the season with a foot injury.

Caleb Rowe is now the only remaining true quarterback that the Terps have for this season. The Terps have Ricardo Young, a sophomore transfer, but he is ineligible this season due to NCAA transfer regulations. High school senior Shane Cockerille is another quarterback commit to the Terps. But for the remainder of this season, Edsall has moved linebacker Shawn Petty and tight end Brian McMahon to the quarterback position to add some depth. Even senior defensive lineman A.J. Francis is on the depth chart, even though he is the 18th-string quarterback.

Back in the day, Maryland used to be known as the “Quarterback Factory” for producing so many NFL-caliber passers. Great quarterbacks passed through College Park, Md., including Jack Scarbath, Boomer Esaison, Neil O'Donnell and Shaun Hill. But in more recent history, the “Quarterback Factory” appears to have been making their quarterbacks out of glass. Not since 2006 with Sam Hollenbach has a Maryland quarterback been able to remain healthy to start all season.

The Terps find themselves in an awkward situation with only one true quarterback left on their roster. With five games left in their regular season, they can only hope that Rowe can stay healthy and that they will not have to put Francis behind center.

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