2016 Season Preview: The Quarterbacks
The 2015 season was one of the worst possible for Maryland’s quarterbacks. A constant rotating door between three different players led to immense problems that were only compounded by injuries. All three of them combined to throw 15 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. The average completion percentage between them was 43.2%. The Class of 2016 was supposed to bring Maryland’s quarterback of the future, but Dwayne Haskins de-committed after the firing of former head coach Randy Edsall. A similar cast of characters awaits Maryland fans in 2016, with a few new freshman faces. Time will only tell what new offensive coordinator Walt Bell can do with them this season.
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Perry Hills (Redshirt Senior)
2016 Projection: Starter
2015 Statistics: 90/180 (50.0%), 1001 yds, 8 TD, 13 INT; 109 carries, 535 yds, 3 TD
Hills was Edsall’s surprising choice to start the 2015 season at quarterback, a job that he kept for just two games. He was rotated in and out of the job for the remainder of the season. He proved to be an important asset for the Terrapins with his running ability, putting up over 100 yards on the ground in three straight games against Ohio State, Penn State, and Iowa. However, his throwing ability left a lot to be desired, as he averaged a 50% completion rate on the season.
I have projected Hills to be Maryland’s starting quarterback when they begin the 2016 season against Howard. He is currently competing with Caleb Rowe for that job, but I believe that Hills’ mobility and experience give him the edge to lead Bell’s spread offense. His running ability will be on full display this season, with Bell dialing up a variety of option plays for him. He will need to improve his accuracy on short and intermediate passes, as those are what Bell’s offense relies upon the most. Most importantly, he will need to take care of the football. If the Terrapins are to have success this season, they’ll need to rely on their defense and their running game. They need Hills to be a distributor behind center, letting the team’s skill players do the work and protecting the football.
Caleb Rowe (Redshirt Senior)
2016 Projection: Second-Team
2015 Statistics: 76/164 (46.3%), 894 yds, 6 TD, 15 INT; 20 carries, 147 yds, 0 TD
Rowe was the projected starter heading into the 2015 season, but Hills was able to unseat him during camp, leaving Rowe as the backup quarterback to begin the season. However, he stepped into the starting role in the team’s third game against South Florida, and was rotated in and out of the position for the remainder of the season. His best performance was in Maryland’s final game against Rutgers, where he threw for 239 yards and ran for 98. He showed excellent decision-making in that game, giving fans hope for his future with the team. As a whole however, Rowe’s 2015 season was a disaster. He consistently showed poor decision-making and was unable to show any sort of consistency in his performances.
I have projected Rowe to be Maryland’s second-string quarterback for the 2016 season. There is a chance that he could unseat Hills as the team’s starter during camp, but I don’t think that he has the consistency that Bell is looking for from his starter. He will need to show the coaching staff that he has tamed his “gunslinger” mentality and is a more mature, more levelheaded quarterback that they can trust. He has all of the arm talent in the world, but his decision-making simply hasn’t been there during his time in College Park.
Gage Shaffer (Redshirt Freshman)
2016 Projection: Third-Team
2015 Statistics: N/A (Redshirted, Did Not Play)
Shaffer was a 3-star recruit out of Ridgeley, West Virginia in Maryland’s Class of 2015. He redshirted during his true freshman season last year. He stands very tall at 6-foot-7, and former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann has been quoted as saying, “he’s a five-star to me.” The only glimpses that fans have seen of Shaffer is during spring and fall scrimmages, where he has performed adequately but has not been overly impressive.
I have projected Shaffer to be Maryland’s third-string quarterback for the 2016 season. There is a slight chance that he could unseat someone and move into a second-string role, but that seems doubtful. His best chance of becoming Maryland’s starting quarterback would seem to be next season, after Hills and Rowe have graduated.
Max Bortenschlager (Freshman)
2016 Projection: Redshirt
2015 Statistics (High School): N/A
Bortenschlager is a 3-star quarterback recruit out of Indianapolis, Indiana in Maryland’s Class of 2016. He is one of the two freshman quarterbacks that will be joining the team for their fall camp. He had originally been committed to Buffalo before switching his commitment to Maryland on January 30, 2016. The Terrapins were his only offer from a Power Five school.
I have projected Bortenschlager to redshirt during his true freshman season in College Park, primarily due to the three quarterbacks who are above him on the depth chart. He will be able to spend this season learning Bell’s offense and preparing himself to make an impact during the 2017 season.
Tyrrell Pigrome (Freshman)
2016 Projection: Redshirt
2015 Statistics (High School): 178/274 (65.0%), 3080 yds, 44 TD, 4 INT; 161 carries, 1349 yds, 18 TD
Pigrome is a 3-star quarterback recruit out of Pinson, Alabama in Maryland’s Class of 2016. He is the other of the two freshman quarterbacks who will be joining the team for their fall camp. He committed to the Terrapins on National Signing Day this year, just a few days after Bortenschlager committed. He had a number of other offers from Power Five schools, but Maryland is reportedly one of the few schools to recruit him as a quarterback.
I have projected Pigrome to redshirt during his true freshman season in College Park. After Pigrome committed to Maryland in February, many fans watched his tape and expected him to start immediately in Bell’s offense. While his tape is extremely impressive and he is an immensely talented athlete, he would only have a few weeks to learn a brand new offensive scheme and prepare for facing the defenses of the Big Ten Conference. Additionally, his poor throwing mechanics and run-first attitude need some work, things that a redshirt year will certainly help with. There is a chance that Bell may use him sporadically this season as a change-of-pace behind center, but I believe that the best option both for Pigrome and for the team is to have him spend a year improving himself, learning the offense, and preparing for the 2017 season.