Perry Hills steps down from his dormitory stairs, sleepy-eyed and stretching, barely visible in the early morning darkness. Decked out in black Under Armour gear and a backward flat-brimmed red cap with “Terps” written in cursive, Hills wishes he had worn long sleeves. It’s 6:20 a.m. on a Wednesday and Maryland’s freshman quarterback is cold. ¶ The sun not yet visible over the College Park campus, Hills’s day begins with a 15-minute walk over mowed grass and broken glass, past a lone janitor emptying the trash and singing, “La, la, it’s wake-up time!” ¶ Never a morning person, Hills nonetheless refuses to rely on coffee or energy drinks. These days run on willpower. Maybe hot chocolate, too. ¶“There’s points where you’re pretty tired, but you have to fight through it,” Hills says. “If the coaches are here, running off little sleep, I have to step it up a little bit. No time for a nap. I have no choice. It’s got to work.”
Six feet 3 and unassuming, with cheeks that groove upward when he laughs, Hills maintains a hectic schedule that swarms him like oncoming pass rushers. The day directs him from meeting rooms to dining halls to auditoriums, everywhere but beneath the covers on his twin bed.