The Terps’ staff finally has its No. 1 quarterback.
The (second to) last commitment in Maryland’s 2016 class came courtesy of their first priority: Clay-Chalkville (Pinson, Ala.) dual-threat Tyrrell Pigrome, a 5-foot-11, 205-pounder, who announced his pledge the morning of Feb. 3.
“Maryland was just the right place for me, where I felt most comfortable around the coaches and players. There was just something about the vibe at Maryland,” said Pigrome, who chose the Terps over Virginia Tech and Tulane. “I want to play quarterback, and Maryland is recruiting me as a quarterback. Coach [D.J.] Durkin said they need a guy like me to run the offense and said I could do my thing in [the Terps’ offense].”
Pigrome’s “thing” consists of anchoring an up-tempo, high-flying attack, complete with designed roll-outs; shots down the field and zone-read runs. The 2016 Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year has a swashbuckling mentality, a Favre-like risk taker with a Russell Wilson-like frame.
“I like to take chances on the field, and the Maryland coaches like my confidence; my athleticism; and how I’m a playmaker,” Pigrome said. “I run the exact same things at my high school that [offensive coordinator Walt] Coach Bell runs at Maryland, so I know I’d fit right in.
“Like, if they have a play called ‘I’ and it’s like a designed roll-out with [multiple] receivers to one side, we have the same sort of play with almost the same exact name. When I was sitting down with Coach Bell it’s like I already got [the Maryland] offense.”
Pigrome’s Maryland commitment comes four days after embarking on an official visit to College Park, Md., his first foray through the Old Line State. The Pinson native wasn’t quite used to the urban setting in College Park and around Washington, D.C., but said the area didn’t bother him at all.
“I liked it out there, for real for real,” said Pigrome, who tends to repeat words for emphasis. “D.C. was real nice. We went out there on the official and I loved it. Baltimore isn’t too far away either.”
More important than the school’s location was Pigrome’s immediate bond with the coaches and players. He said he had productive meetings with Bell and Durkin, while he interacted with almost every other staff member. Meanwhile, Pigrome’s player host, receiver D.J. Moore, showed him a good time.
“Basically the Maryland coaches all have a lot of energy and they have a plan to get the program rolling again,” Pigrome said. “They said they want guys like me there to help them get to the top. They want me to run their offense for them.
“And the players were real cool and welcomed me in. D.J. said he needs me throwing passes to him … and like all the receivers, they were all on me saying they wanted me [at UMD]. I had a real good time with them … and I feel like I’d in well with them.”
The three-star offered up high praise for the under-construction $150 million indoor practice facility, the various buildings around campus, the Under Armour jerseys and the academic support staff.
“And Maryland in the Big Ten,” added Pigrome, who wants to major in business. “I’m a competitor, and it’s a chance to play in a major conference against great competition.”
Pigrome’s Maryland pop came in the wake of longtime pledge Dwayne Haskins’ (Bullis/Potomac, Md.) flip to Ohio State Jan. 16. But well before Haskins opted out of the DMV, rumors were swirling around the four-star local gunslinger’s status. Thus, Walt Bell immediately set out to find a viable option suitable to his up-tempo spread.
The offensive coordinator’s first two offers went out to Devon Modster (Tesoro/Las Flores, Calif.) and the No. 1 signal caller in Alabama, Pigrome. Modster opted for hometown UCLA, but Pigrome’s interest was immediately piqued.
“I was really excited about [the offer],” said Pigrome, who officially visited Tulane Jan. 15, in addition to UMD and Va Tech later in January. “Coach Bell was recruiting me at Arkansas State, and I knew him from that, and now he’s saying he’d love to have me at Maryland.”
“Coach Bell let me know [the Terps] have a couple quarterbacks on the roster, but that I could come in and compete for time right away and maybe play four years there. If not, he said I could redshirt next year and then compete for time the year after. He said I was his main guy, and he wanted me out there. That kind of opened my eyes a bit.”
Five days after Bell extended the offer, the coach trekked through Clay-Chalkville during the first day of the winter open recruiting period Jan. 14. To Pigrome, Bell’s visit let the quarterback know he was priority No. 1.
“Coach Bell said I was his guy,” Pigrome said. “It was a good meeting, and it was good seeing him again. Coach Bell is a really good guy and I love his energy. He seems genuine, and is just easy to talk to.
“We had a great talk. We talked about what they have going on there with the quarterback position and just how I’d fit in. The offense he’s running, it’s the same kind of spread he ran at Arkansas State. It all sounds really good to me.”
Even so, it wasn’t a particularly easy decision for Pigrome. The Virginia Tech staff, anchored by Justin Fuente, actively recruited the quarterback when they were at Memphis. They’d developed a strong rapport with the Clay-Chalkville athlete, hosting him and meeting him in person on several occasions.
Pigrome openly admitted he thought long and hard about the Hokies following his Blacksburg, Va., official visit. But, ultimately, the chance to play quarterback at Maryland won him over.
“I was really comfortable around the Virginia Tech coaches and players too. I liked it a lot there,” said Pigrome, who also visited Penn State Jan. 31 but didn’t entertain the Nittany Lions’ greyshirt offer. “But I kind of felt a little more comfortable at Maryland, and they want me at quarterback. I know I can do what I do best [at UMD].”
With that, Pigrome became Maryland’s second quarterback pledge in the 2016 class, joining Max Bortenschlager (Cathedral/Indianapolis, Ind.). The Alabama native said he’s ready to compete as soon as he arrives in College Park.
“The Maryland coaches said the best man gets the job, and I’m planning to show them all I’ve got,” Pigrome said. “My goal isn’t to sit on the bench. I’m going to go in there, work hard, do what I do and compete for the job.”
In two years as a starter, Pigrome’s arm has guided Clay-Chalkville to back-to-back class 6A championship game appearances, Clay winning once. He’s finished runner-up for the prestigious Mr. Football award two years in a row, throwing for almost 6,000 total yards; rushing for almost 3,000 more; and combining for 123 total touchdowns. Pigrome, 29-1 as a starter, is coming off a senior season where he compiled more than 3,000 passing yards; tossed 44 touchdowns; rushed for 1,500 yards; and scored 18 more times.
“I can do a lot of different things on the field. I can throw the deep ball, make all the throws, throw on the run, and I can [scramble] if I have to,” Pigrome said. “I have things I need to work on, but I feel like I can play quarterback [at the FBS] level. Now hopefully I can help take the [Maryland] offense to another level.”