On Randy Edsall’s birthday, Maryland’s football coach discusses depth chart changes

August 27, 2013

(Doug Kapustin for The Washington Post)

Tuesday was Randy Edsall’s birthday and the Maryland coach celebrated with a news conference, four days before the season opener against Florida International. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs joked that Edsall had turned 30. He’s actually 55, and doesn’t much care for birthday celebrations. Since high school, Edsall said, he’s been too busy with football around late August to bother. But, he said Tuesday, “if I had a special thing, I wouldn’t want to do anything other than have my birthday with you guys.”

The sincerity warms the soul.

During the half-hour session, Edsall welcomed former Terps signal-caller Scott McBrien to the Maryland broadcast booth and displayed a white Under Armour T-shirt, distributed free to all incoming freshmen to wear at upcoming games. He talked about Florida International, the week one opponent, and how he respects the Golden Panthers “tremendously.” Midway through, a reporter apologized for asking another question about  Diggs. Edsall interrupted her. “I can talk days and days and weeks and weeks about him,” he said, and then he did.

Edsall also scattered as many depth chart notes as possible, touching on the fullbacks, backup quarterbacks, third-string kicker and starting safety. Those items are below:

>> C.J. Brown will start at quarterback, which is no surprise. His backup remains a mystery. “That’s probably the most disappointing situation of the preseason,” Edsall said. “But if that’s the worst situation we have, I’ll take that.”

Perry Hills, who started seven games as a true freshman last season, faded from the three-way competition weeks ago. Only Caleb Rowe and Ricardo Young remain. Rowe, a sophomore, has the liveliest arm on the team but can be erratic in the pocket. Young has never taken a college snap despite enrolling at three different universities, but possesses the systematic knowledge and athleticism to take over.

Neither has separated himself, and that might just frustrate Edsall into action.

“Maybe if the separation hasn’t taken place, I’ll make the separation myself and decide that somebody’s going to be the number two guy,” he said. “Right now we’re working both guys, Caleb and Ricardo, and I’d like to get where we have a number two and give that guy all the reps. Hopefully he won’t have to play, but I’d rather have one guy getting all the reps and the other guy standing over there, rather than sharing the reps.”

>> Punter Nate Renfro impressed Edsall with his offseason progress, finding his form after an inconsistent freshman season. He punted in all 12 games last season, but averaged just 39.7 yards on 75 punts. Once the nation’s leader after the first game, Renfro finished the season ranked 82nd nationally among regular punters, and Maryland’s 33.08 net punting average was fourth-worst in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

“I’ve been very pleased with Nate Renfro,” Edsall said.

Since open practices ended, Edsall said starting place kicker Brad Craddock has grown more consistent. Earlier this preseason, Craddock would alter his leg swing at greater distances, changing his approach to concentrate. “We talked to him about it and, when he does it, he’s pretty accurate,” Edsall said.

Edsall also praised freshman Adam Greene’s “strong leg,” particularly on kickoffs, which was enough to elevate the Broadneck High School graduate past Brendan Magistro and into the backup spot. Earlier this month, Edsall hinted that the kicker’s job was still open, but it appears that Craddock will line up first on Saturday.

“The thing I’m hoping for, is we get Adam to be very, very consistent, so we have somebody to fall back on,” Edsall said. “For Adam being a freshman, I think he’s making good strides. Hopefully we won’t have to use him.”

>> With Tyler Cierski (calf) still sidelined, former Gilman School standout Kenneth Goins will start against the Golden Panthers at fullback. Edsall said Goins had pushed Cierski during practice, even when the incumbent starter was healthy.

“We feel good about Kenny,” Edsall said. “Kenny’s a good man who can be very versatile for us. He was running some tailback for us, but he can block, he can catch out of the backfield. He’s going to be a guy who’ll play on special teams for us as well.”

Andrew Stefanelli, a Good Counsel graduate who transferred from Temple, will back up Goins. More on the fullback situation Wednesday.

>> Wide receiver Deon Long (back) has returned to practice, Edsall said. He declined to elaborate on Long’s injury, referring all questions to Thursday’s injury report.

>> Edsall confirmed that Michael Dunn, Gary Harraka, Regis Whittington and Tony Perry were put on scholarship, reaching the FBS scholarship limit at 85.

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