Spring Game Shows Maryland Still Has Talent at Wideout
Sunday, April 26, 2009
On an afternoon when former Maryland standout Darrius Heyward-Bey became the first wide receiver taken in the NFL draft, the next generation of Maryland wideouts offered strong glimpses of their potential during the team's annual spring game.
Sophomore Quintin McCree caught three touchdown passes, and junior Adrian Cannon had two touchdown receptions as the Terrapins showed why -- even without Heyward-Bey -- wide receiver will be among the team's deepest positions.
"It's a big question, what are we going to do without Darrius," said McCree, who played mostly on special teams last season and did not catch a pass. "We showed everyone what we could do today."
Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen said he has a lot of players who can make plays at wide receiver and it has seemed as if a different player has emerged every week during spring practice.
Maryland fans were aware of Cannon's potential after seeing him haul in a 59-yard touchdown reception in the Humanitarian Bowl victory over Nevada. McCree's performance yesterday was more of a surprise, and even he said it was a critical showing because he had felt overshadowed at times early in spring practice.
"He is an incredible athlete," said quarterback Jamarr Robinson, who threw three touchdown passes to McCree. "He is one of the fastest guys we have, and he can make people miss at any time."
Earlier in the game, Robinson, who should back up starter Chris Turner in the fall, tossed a pass near the sideline toward McCree, who found an open space in coverage and ran untouched to the end zone for a 58-yard touchdown reception. Later in the game, McCree outjumped defensive back Cameron Chism for a 24-yard score.
And finally, Robinson fired a pass near the sideline to McCree, who outraced everyone for a 75-yard touchdown reception early in the third quarter.
"I was surprised," Turner said. "He has made plays, but to have a breakout day like this, I didn't see it coming. Give him the ball in space and you are not going to catch him."
Early in the scrimmage, Turner hooked up with Cannon on a 30-yard touchdown reception. Cannon juggled the ball but held on despite good coverage by cornerback Anthony Wiseman. In the third quarter, Turner again found Cannon for a 23-yard touchdown pass.
In the end, Maryland's White Team, which included the first-team defense, beat the Red Team, featuring the first-team offense, 34-24. Cannon played for the Red Team, McCree for the White.
After missing a 26-yard field goal early in the scrimmage, Mike Barbour, who will compete for the starting job in summer camp, made a 43-yarder in the final minute of the second quarter. Friedgen said the competition is still close, with Barbour holding a slight edge over Nick Wallace.
Several key players, including running back Da'Rel Scott (knee), defensive lineman Travis Ivey (shoulder) and cornerback Nolan Carroll (concussion), were injured recently and did not play. Linebacker Alex Wujciak missed spring practice while recovering from offseason knee surgery.
Overall, Friedgen saw encouraging signs from a young team that has 61 of 85 scholarship players with at least three years of eligibility remaining.
"I think we have come a long way this spring," Friedgen said.
Williams Stars for Hokies
Tailback Ryan Williams (Stonewall Jackson) took a short pass 56 yards for a touchdown and broke off a few long runs as the Maroon team beat the White, 13-7, before a sunbaked crowd of about 40,000 fans at Virginia Tech's spring game in Blacksburg.
"Explosive is kind of the word for him," Coach Frank Beamer said of Williams, who finished with 85 yards on 10 carries, including a 36-yard burst. "He runs with quickness, but the pile kept moving there a couple of times. One guy usually doesn't bring him down."
Williams said he hadn't played in front of a bigger crowd, and taking the first offensive play through the defense "was the best feeling I've had so far."
Williams upstaged fellow redshirt freshman Ju-Ju Clayton, who was named backup quarterback this week but struggled in the spring game. Clayton was just 4 for 15 for 103 yards with one interception and several near-misses.
"There's a lot of things I could have done better," Clayton said.
On the other side, starter Tyrod Taylor was 16 for 33 for 188 yards.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.