Live scrimmage offers unfamiliar experience for Terps QB Ricardo Young

From the rap music blaring so loudly he shouted during interviews, to the pregame bus ride deep into the heart of Baltimore, everything felt like game day for Ricardo Young.

After stops at Virginia Tech, New Mexico and Iowa Western Community College, constant transferring has precluded Young from playing a single down of live college football. Until (and if) that time arrives this fall, Saturday’s live scrimmage at Dunbar High School will have to suffice.

“In 2011 when I was at Virginia Tech, competing with Logan [Thomas] for the starting spot, that was the closest thing to live,” Young said. “I didn’t have a yellow jersey back then. It felt the same, but there I felt like I didn’t have a grasp of what was going on as much as I do here. Now I feel like I’m picking the system up well. I told [offensive coordinator Mike] Locksley, I’m just trying to learn it, becoming a coach on the field, become a guy who understands down and distance, personnel, protections and be able to do those things on the line. It helps our team go a long way.”

With C.J. Brown still rehabilitating from a season-ending ACL tear, Young is Maryland’s clear first-stringer this spring. Given his cross-country college tour, some growing pains are predictable. “Inconsistent” has been Coach Randy Edsall’s operating word of choice.

Young was better Saturday, completing 8 of 14 passes during 7-on-7 drills, some deep balls to tight end Dave Stinebaugh and a pretty fade route to Deon Long for a six-yard touchdown. But he still struggled with accuracy, tossing an interception during 7-on-7s, and his 60-yard completion to Long on the scrimmage’s first play was actually a lame-duck pass that wobbled through the air. Had Young hit his fellow transfer in stride, it would have been an easy touchdown.

“You could really tell that Ricardo really doesn’t have much game experience, and he’ll get better with more game reps like this,” Edsall said. “Just some little things today. Sliding in the pocket, stepping up, going outside, all those little things you don’t get by watching film. I thought he had some pretty good moments, but then he did some knucklehead things. The good thing is he’s willing to learn, he’s willing to work. That’s really what you’re looking for.”

Still donning the yellow no-contact jersey during practice, Young said he “can’t really display what I can do” on the ground. He flashed some speed between the tackles Saturday, but also botched a zone-read pitch to Albert Reid that the offense eventually recovered.

With repetition, Young said, comes continuity, and each day brings increased comfort. Earlier this spring, Young had issues communicating with the offensive line – “The majority my fault” – but has since rectified those problems, heaping praise on his front five for holding strong against the first-team defense.

“Like I told Coach, I consider myself a guy who comes out and works hard every day, and when it’s game time, I’m ready to go,” Young said. “With me being out of ball for so long, and now I’m the guy who takes all the reps as the starter, it was a really great experience for me to feel like it’s game day, and we traveled and things like that. I was able to come out and help my team move the ball a lot and I think we gelled really good today, and we were real enthusiastic. I commend the offensive line, once again, on a great day. I feel like they had the best day of anyone.”

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