Previewing Maryland’s battles, injuries and personnel moves for spring football

February 25, 2013

The Maryland football team kicks off its spring practices Saturday. Coach Randy Edsall and a few players spoke with media Monday, mostly to preview the upcoming workouts and discuss the key stories entering Edsall’s third season in College Park.

Over the next few days, we’ll have plenty of posts breaking down those aforementioned story lines, including an in-depth look at Maryland’s quarterback situation, a look at the Terps offensive line, plus some mini-profiles on those who spoke with reporters.

For now, consider this a spring practice primer with some quick-hitting notes on positional battles, injuries and personnel changes.

INJURIES

>> The following players are out for spring practice:

RB Wes Brown (torn labrum and ankle surgery) — Brown’s ankle surgery, which happened Friday, was a recent development, but Edsall said the ailment “followed him” to Maryland from Good Counsel. Sounds like the Terps wanted to get that fixed, so long as Brown is recovering from his torn labrum too.

WR Marcus Leak (toe) — Edsall said Leak, the team’s second-leading receiver last season behind Stefon Diggs, also has some academic issues “to shore up” before the season begins.

QB Caleb Rowe (ACL tear)

QB Perry Hills (ACL tear)

LB Cole Farrand (left ankle fracture)

>> The following players will be limited in spring practice:

QB C.J. Brown (ACL tear) — The incumbent captain and projected starting quarterback will do some individual drills and could progress to seven-on-sevens, according to Edsall. “We’ll start him off on individual work and see how he goes from there,” Edsall said.

WR Levern Jacobs (Labrum) — “He really won’t be doing anything this spring,” Edsall said. “Might be able to get some routes on air or do some things along those lines, but we’ll find out a little bit later this week.”

OLB Matt Robinson (Labrum) — Will participate in some non-contact work.

DL Andre Monroe (Knee) — Will do individual work during practice and progress from there. “I’m not sure he’ll get into any contact stuff or team work,” Edsall said.

KEY BATTLES

>> The biggest positional battle figures to be at center, where Evan Mulrooney will compete with Sal Conaboy. Mike Madaras (left tackle), De’Onte Arnett (left guard), Andrew Zeller (right guard) and Nick Klemm (right tackle) have locked down the other first-string offensive line spots entering spring practices.

Conaboy started Maryland’s first six games last season before Mulrooney, a redshirt freshman, took over for the next five. Conaboy slotted back into the lineup during the season finale at North Carolina. Edsall said he doesn’t intend to move either away from center.

Edsall also mentioned that transfer Silvano Altamirano could compete for Arnett’s spot at left guard. By and large, the offensive line enters 2013 as a relatively inexperienced unit. Only Arnett has double-digit career starts with 10. (Madaras has eight, Mulrooney has five, Klemm has four, Conaboy has nine and Zeller has three.)

>> Anthony Nixon will assume one starting safety spot after Eric Franklin graduated. He played in all 12 games last season, starting five and finishing with 41 tackles and one interception. Sean Davis (12 games, two starts, 13 tackles) and A.J. Hendy (eight games, four tackles) will compete for the other starting safety position.

>> Jeremiah Johnson and Dexter McDougle return as the starting cornerbacks, but Edsall expressed his enthusiasm for Isaac Goins and freshman Will Likely.

>> Along defensive coordinator Brian Stewart’s front seven, Darius Kilgo returns as the starting nose tackle, but the Terps must replace Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis. Edsall mentioned Quentin Jefferson, Justin Anderson, Keith Bowers and Roman Braglio as possible options, especially with Monroe sidelined for the spring. Nate Clarke should back up Kilgo at nose tackle.

>> With Matt Furstenburg, Devonte Campbell and Ryan Schlothauer all gone, Dave Stinebaugh will assume the starting tight end role. Daniel Adams, P.J. Gallo and Brian McMahon will back up the senior. “I think we’ll be fine there,” Edsall said.

>> No special teams changes for the Terps, but Edsall expressed his desire to see improvements from punter Nate Renfro and kicker Brad Craddock. He also said the Terps “have even some more guys to return the ball than we did a year ago.”

MISCELLANEOUS

>> Robinson will receive the Kenneth Tate treatment and move from safety to outside linebacker. “He’s more suited for that position,” Edsall said. A rising senior, Robinson was hampered by injuries last season, playing in just five games and finishing with 26 tackles and one interception. Edsall said Robinson currently weighs around 234 pounds, and should get as heavy as 240, making him suited for the switch.

>> With Brown limited to an individual role, both Rowe and Hills sidelined for the spring and Devin Burns having transferred, the Terps will have just two quarterbacks in Ricardo Young and Dustin Dailey. Both transferred into the program last season and sat out per NCAA eligibility rules.

More on the quarterback situation to come. But given its limitations at quarterback, Maryland will protect Young and Dailey in the spring, keeping them from getting hit or anything physical that could cause an injury.

“We’ll keep those guys off-limits,” Edsall said.

>> Speaking of quarterbacks, Maryland will explore redshirt options for either Hills or Rowe. Hills started seven games as a freshman last season before tearing his ACL against North Carolina State. Rowe, a fellow freshman, got tabbed to start the next game at Boston College before suffering the same exact injury.

Neither will participate in spring practice, and Edsall said redshirting one is certainly possible.

“I’ve had that thought in my mind since that happened with those guys,” Edsall said. “Then you take a look at the numbers we have, that’s what you really like to do. We’ll let all that play out as we get back here in August and we see how everybody, between Caleb and Perry, how they’re doing. The best situation for us would be to take one of those guys and to be able to redshirt him.”

>> Speaking of quarterbacks again, sophomore Shawn Petty will return to linebacker after his crazy four-game stint under center last season. With Farrand out for spring practices, Petty actually will compete for the first-string inside linebacker position alongside Bradley Johnson.

“I think he’s worked hard,” Edsall said of Petty, who was a scout-team linebacker before injuries necessitated his positional switch. “He’s slimmed down a little bit, reshaped his body. You can tell that he’s worked hard. We’re all anxious to see him contribute and compete at that inside linebacker position.”

>> In an effort to expand their visibility throughout the region, the Terps will move two practices off-site to Dunbar High School in Baltimore (March 30) and Middletown High School in Frederick (April 6). Both will be open to the public.

Seems like Edsall wants to continue this practice into future seasons, and will change the location each year.

“We want to grow our brand throughout the area and throughout the state,” Edsall said. “I just felt it was important for us to go out and reach out to the community rather than having them come down here and just, like I said, try to grow our brand more in different parts of the state. We hope to move them around each year, but this year we just felt, wanted to get up into Baltimore because we’ll be playing West Virginia up at M&T Stadium this year.

“Then the one thing is, I wanted to establish more of a presence out in the western part of the state, in Frederick and Hagerstown or people from Pennsylvania can drive down to see us there. Just all part of developing the brand in terms of Maryland pride and being out in the community.”

>> The ACC released its 2013 football schedule shortly after availability ended. Check out Maryland’s slate here.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · February 25, 2013

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