Maryland filed C.J. Brown’s medical waiver paperwork to the NCAA eligibility office two weeks ago, not expecting a quick turnaround. Maybe the decision would come down by summer’s end, or maybe by next spring. The Terrapins were hopeful that the NCAA would grant Brown a sixth year of eligibility, but they didn’t anticipate such a fast, no-brainer decision.
Now that Brown received his medical hardship waiver, officially earning himself two more seasons in College Park, he can focus squarely on returning to full strength for preseason camp in August. Coach Randy Edsall reaffirmed his support for Brown as Maryland’s starting quarterback once summer rolls around, but for now he’s been pleased with Brown’s spring progress, which has lately included 7-on-7 drills.
“I think he’s made a ton of progress from the first day that he came out and did 7-on-7,” Edsall said following Tuesday’s practice. “He was very tentative, wasn’t driving off that back leg; then you could see him today, it’s night and day. And now he’s got that confidence back and you could see that he’s really been studying and working and doing those things you want out of the quarterback. I see big improvement, now you just have to get better and better, now that he can do more over the summer.”
Brown, who struggled earlier this spring with some accuracy and communication issues with the second-team wide receivers as he shook the rust off, sported a markedly better completion percentage Tuesday. He was 10 for 21 during one-on-one dropbacks with the defensive backs and 10 for 15 in 7-on-7s, though he tossed an interception after overthrowing Stefon Diggs on a crossing route.
From the 5-yard line during one-on-ones, Brown completed five of 12 passes, but connected on four of his last six, including touchdowns to Deon Long and Diggs.
Brown’s best attribute in offensive coordinator Mike Locksley’s offense is as a speedy, smart, zone-read quarterback, but such progress through the air is an encouraging sign, especially given the bounty of outside weapons at Maryland’s disposal.
“Over the past year and a half, it’s just getting out of here and getting into the flow of things, taking physical reps,” Brown said. “I’ve been taking the mental reps for so long. It just feels good to finally get back out here, get my mind acclimated with my body. I think that’s the biggest change. I’m mentally there, I’m seeing everything I need to see, it’s just getting my body to go with my mind and get that on the same page. It feels really good right now.”
Brown, who hasn’t taken a live snap since 2011, will sit out Friday’s spring game. Edsall has praised his captain’s huddle presence, saying offensive leadership has been lacking with Brown sidelined during live drills. Ricardo Young, taking first-team repetitions in Brown’s stead, has made similar strides, but Edsall has mentioned inconsistency as a lingering issue.
“C.J.’s been through it,” Edsall said. “He’s been around. Experience is your best teacher, and you can’t sacrifice experience. Being in the huddle, the maturity, everything else … At the quarterback position, the command in the huddle, taking charge, when you have a guy who’s been around like C.J. and has the mind-set like he does, it’s comforting as a coach. You just watch the way the kid’s worked since it’s happened. You talk about someone who wants it real bad. He’s worked his tail off to get himself back. And that’s what he’ll continue to do, and that’s what you want out of your quarterback.”