The Terrapins starting quarterback, Jamarr Robinson, has a cannon arm, quick feet, and more athleticism than any recent Maryland signal-caller. However, less than a year ago, he wasnt sure if hed ever be under center at Maryland.
At that point, I had been sitting for a year or two, and I just wanted to play, Robinson said before the Terps first practice since the spring. It was a matter of me getting on the field and doing whatever I can to contribute to the team, because I felt like I wasnt really contributing.
Measuring 6 feet tall and under 200 lbs., Robinson considered switching positions, perhaps to defensive back, talking with former Terp defensive backs Nolan Carroll and Terrell Skinner, who also switched positions while in College Park.
Robinson said he never considered transferring, wanting to finish what he started, and trying to find a way to contribute to the Maryland football team.
(Transferring) was never really a thought once I got here, he said, I felt like a transfer would be a failure, or quitting. It never came into my mind.
Robinson had a bittersweet breakthrough moment late last year, in the midst of the Terps dismal 2-10 showing, starting two of the last three games after senior, multi-year starter Chris Turner went down with a left knee injury against NC State.
In the final three games of the year, Robinson showcased some of the skills that have made him relentlessly self-confident despite sitting on the bench for two and a half seasons, running for 129 yards against Virginia Tech in his first career start, then throwing for 213 yards and a touchdown against Florida State in his second start a week later.
I feel like its just my competitive nature, said Robinson. Im a competitor. Im going to go into every battlefield like I can win, so I just use that to motivate me. You might get me one play, but you wont get me the next one, and thats what Im thinking every play.
Despite his success, Robinson and head coach Ralph Friedgen both acknowledged that the Charlotte, N.C. product needed to work on reading defenses and the subleties of the quarterback position.
I just think hes a lot more comfortable with his reads and his decision making, Friedgen said. The thing I really noticed over the course of the summer and the spring is that I think hes really coming along as a leader right now. Hes very confident and maybe more vocal, and I think these are very encouraging signs.
Robinson said he has put in the work in the offseason with offensive coordinator and head-coach-in-waiting James Franklin in the film room to improve further.
Coach Franklin, he puts us through some rigorous tasks in the meeting room, Robinson said, askng us questions that we dont expect, just trying to give us the knowledge to understand the defenses and what they do overall.
Despite Friedgen and Franklins tutelage, one thing they cant coach is speed, a dimension that Robinson gives them over Turner last year.
What Jamarr did last year, once he went in I thought sacks went down because he was able to make some plays, said Friedgen. Im sure (Franklin) will be creative with what he can do with Jamarr as far as his running ability.
The only thing that the coaches are concerned about is Robinson, who is undersized for a quarterback, getting knocked around too much.
The concern we have is he got a little nicked up last year, Friedgen said, but Im sure well have some plays where well use his running ability to our advantage.