Now Petty, a left-handed bruiser who drew comparisons from teammates to Tim Tebow — at least in body type and playing style — will become the fourth quarterback in three games to take snaps from Mulrooney.
Petty’s big chance
Before 2012, the Terps had started just two true freshmen quarterbacks in team history, and none since 1999. Petty will be Maryland’s third true freshman starter this season.
“For him to start the year as a linebacker, then be the backup quarterback, then the next day it gets announced you’ll start?” said Ray Petty, Shawn’s father and the defensive coordinator at Howard University. “Just a perfect storm.”
Rowe, who brought the Terps back from a 13-0 second-half deficit against Boston College only to fall 20-17, felt healthy until he woke up Sunday morning and found his left knee stiff as a board. After visiting team trainers and undergoing a hasty MRI, Rowe phoned his father and broke the news. “I said, ‘It’s not funny, Caleb,’ ” Dave Rowe recalled. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Who would? Three quarterbacks suffering season-ending injuries was maddening enough, but at least a wiry gunslinger from South Carolina remained. Rowe endured similar growing pains as Hills did in his debut against William & Mary — each threw three interceptions — but still flashed drastic improvements during the second half, completing 23 of 42 passes in the game for 240 yards and two touchdowns, including a 66-yarder to Stefon Diggs that gave Maryland a 17-13 lead.
That came just one week after Terps fans held their breath while Hills writhed on the Byrd Stadium turf, his season ripped away when his left leg brutally jammed into the turf. Burns starred in the second half, opening up running lanes and breathing life into the Terps offense, while Rowe nearly finished the job before Brad Craddock’s potential game-winner smacked the left upright.
And so the Terps, still boasting a .500 record but on a two-game losing streak, officially enter “nothing to lose” territory, turning to another true freshman, one who long ago gave up dreams of becoming a college quarterback because he and his father figured that linebacker offered the best chance for greater playing time.
“He played quarterback in high school and I think he really feels like he’s a quarterback at heart,” Edsall said of Petty. “I know he’s looking forward to the opportunity to go out there and play, and we’re excited for him. He wants to play really, really well, so he can stay as a quarterback.”
He has to. The Terrapins have no choice.