Terps football spring practice report: Day 1


(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

A brief rundown of what happened at the Maryland football team’s first spring practice on Saturday. Basketball’s media session overlapped with the tail end of Saturday’s workout, so these observations ended before the Terrapins moved into red-zone packages. 

VITALS

Date: March 1.
Practice number: 1.
Duration: A little more than 2 hours. Practice went for 24 periods of five minutes apiece.
Location: Practice field.
Dress code: Jerseys, pants, helmets and no pads.

ATTENDANCE

Injured and out: LB Alex Twine (labrum), CB Jarrett Ross (labrum), DL Kingsley Opara (labrum), DL Ty Tucker (ACL), WR Deon Long (broken leg), WR Stefon Diggs (broken leg), LB Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil (pectoralis), S Elvis Dennah (toe), S Milan Collins (toe), OL Derwin Gray (shoulder).

Yellow jerseys: None.

Limited: CB Jeremiah Johnson (toe) and WR DeAndre Lane (hamstring). Both stretched and did individual agility drills. WR Marcus Leak also had a tight hamstring and did some work on the side.

Disciplinary issues: None.

INJURIES

None occurred during practice.

HEADLINES

>> The biggest standout Saturday was dressed in sweatpants and a beanie. Wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell brought a new, palpable level of energy to positional drills, barking instructions, criticisms and compliments in furious waves while being hands-on in his teaching.

At his first official practice guiding Maryland’s most talented position, McCardell clearly coaches and still thinks like a former player, cramming routes, stances, catching and releases into a short window. Being a 17-year former NFL player probably helps him relate to teenagers too.

“Coach is fiery, a fired-up guy,” quarterback C.J. Brown said. “He’s going to be on his guys. I’m excited. These guys are going to work their tails off. Coach is a great coach. They have a lot to look up to with his experience. I think they definitely appreciate it.”

>> Running back Wes Brown, back from a university-imposed, semester-long suspension, looked like he has lost weight and stayed in shape during his time away. He worked mostly as the fourth back behind Brandon Ross, Albert Reid and Jacquille Veii, but keep in mind that Brown hasn’t practiced in more than a year. Shoulder and ankle issues shut him down in mid-November during his freshman season in 2012 and kept him out for spring practice in 2013. Then, over the summer, an encounter with police near campus earned him the suspension.

“He’s ready to go,” C.J. Brown said. “He’s excited. He’s been in my ear. He’s trying to throw, he’s trying to meet. He wants to get on the same page. He’s just eager to learn and get back out here.”

>> During seven-on-seven drills, C.J. Brown completed 4 of 7 passing attempts but had two dropped by running backs. Caleb Rowe, who mostly took repetitions with the second team, was 4 for 9 and had an underthrown ball intercepted by Alvin Hill, who is currently serving as the first-team boundary cornerback with Johnson sidelined.

Perry Hills, currently listed as the co-backup with Rowe, was 3 for 4 and had his one incompletion dropped. Fourth-stringer Shane Cockerille displayed a noticeably stronger arm, whipping passes across the field compared with some of the lame-duck attempts he had during summer practices as a freshman, but overthrew some targets and completed 2 of 10 passes.

“He’s still learning,” Brown said of Cockerille. “Might have been a little nervous today, getting back out here, taking all the reps with the threes, just understanding the pace of the game. Being on scout team for a year, you kind of sit back. I think he did a good job. Just got to get in the playbook. I’ll sit down with him and we’ll get it figured out.”

Remember, last season the Terps had two quarterbacks fully available during spring practice, neither of whom are Maryland quarterbacks any more. Ricardo Young graduated and Dustin Dailey is now a wide receiver. Brown was in a limited role after his torn ACL, while both Hills and Rowe were still progressing toward individual work while dealing with their own injuries.

“There were a lot of expectations on those guys because they’ve all played, they all know the system,” Coach Randy Edsall said. “We’re not going to expect some mistakes out of those guys that maybe sometimes they’ll make. They’ve got to hold themselves to a higher standard because of the experience and the reps that they’ve had in this system.”

>> During 11-on-11s, left guards Silvano Altamirano and Evan Mulrooney split time with the first team. They are competing for the starting job there.

“”I think the thing is it’s different than playing center,” Edsall said of Mulrooney. “It’s just a matter of the footwork and the technique that he’s got to get down. He’s smart enough to pick everything up. Again, I thought they communicated well. I thought that was the big thing and a lot of energy out there today.”

>>As for the quarterbacks in 11-on-11 drills, Brown was 2 for 5 and nearly had a crossing route intercepted by linebacker Cole Farrand. Rowe was 2 for 2, Hills was 2 for 3 and Cockerille was 2 for 2. The session was primarily used for rushing plays and short check-down passes.

>> Receiver Taivon Jacobs, a rising redshirt freshman who spent all of last season rehabbing a torn ACL, looked tremendous with the second and third teams. One of the fastest Terps, if not the fastest, Jacobs will have an uphill battle behind Nigel King and Malcolm Culmer, but could work his way into the kickoff return rotation and see the field at receiver, too.

“The little speedster,” Brown said. “He came out there today, he showed quickness, his hands were there and he knew what to do. That’s the biggest thing. Especially for a freshman in his first spring ball, to come out here, to get in with the ones and twos, to understand what he needed to do, I think it was very promising.”

>> One generic quote from Edsall, on his initial thoughts following practice: “The thing that I was really pleased with today was I thought the communication was very, very good on both sides of the ball in terms of calling things out and doing all the stuff that we were asking them to do. I thought they did a great job. That was impressive for me today.”

>> Leak, back from personal leave, did some individual work but also spent team drills on the side, pounding a tire with a sledgehammer after his hamstring tightened up.

“He’s fired up,” Brown said. “He’s very grateful and humble to be back. He’s going to work his tail off on the field and off the field, especially in the film room. Anytime I pass that room, we’ve met and gone over film. I’m excited for him to get healthy and back out there.”

>> Kicker Brad Craddock hit attempts from 18 yards, 27 yards, 33 yards and 46 yards. He missed from 39. Backup Adam Greene was successful from 19, 33, 39 and 46, but missed the 27-yarder.

>> Dailey will fit in just fine at his new position, serving mostly in a scout-team slot receiver role. He made several nice catches during team drills and will help add depth while Diggs and Long heal.

>> Offensive lineman signee Damian Prince was in attendance, watching from the sidelines. Several recruits were present, including three-star offensive lineman David Robbins from Glenelg High School.

>> Guard JaJuan Dulaney took some snaps at center.

>> Running back Tehuti Miles changed his jersey number from 85 to 42. Walk-on defensive end Ruben Franco will wear 49.

>> Last season’s motto was “Hold the Rope.” This season, it’s “By Any Means.”

WHAT’S NEXT

Due to weather, the open practice originally scheduled for Monday has been moved to Sunday. I will be at Clemson with the men’s basketball team, so your next round of updates will come from me on Wednesday at 9 a.m.

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