Maryland offensive lineman Pete DeSouza, whose 2010 season was ended by a motor scooter accident that left him with two broken legs, has been cleared to practice when the Terps start pre-season workouts on Tuesday, Coach Randy Edsall said Thursday.
But Edsall said he planned to bring DeSouza along slowly, starting him off with individual work, rather than putting him directly into team drills, in an effort to gauge his readiness for a potential return to the lineup.
“He has come a long way, but he still has got a long way to go,” Edsall said during Thursday’s pre-season press conference at Gossett Team House. “It’s great that he’s going to have the opportunity to be able to be out there to practice….We’re not going to put him out there and put him in position to not be successful. That’s why we’re going to gradually ease him into doing things.”
DeSouza, a former All-Met from DeMatha, played five games at right tackle for Maryland last season, starting three, before the catastrophic Oct. 21 collision, in which his scooter hit a passenger car on campus. He underwent 12 hours of surgery the next day, multiple surgeries after that and is expected to have the titanium plates in both legs for the rest of his life.
DeSouza was considered particularly nimble and agile for his size (6-6, 310 pounds) as a starter. They key question facing Edsall and his staff as they sort out Maryland’s depth chart in advance of the Sept. 5 opener against Miami is whether DeSouza can regain sufficient speed and explosiveness.
“It’s great that he’s cleared,” Edsall said. “But being cleared and being able to play the game the way you have to play it—with the quickness and explosion you have to have as an offense lineman—]are different]. That’s what we’re going to be evaluating on August 9th.”
Despite returning quarterback Danny O’Brien and several key starters from a 9-4, 5-3 team, Maryland was picked to finish a humbling fifth in the ACC’s Atlantic Division the league’s annual pre-season media.
“I’ve never really bought into any of that stuff,” Edsall said, asked what he felt about the low expectations. “It’ll just give us a little more incentive and sense of urgency to prove people wrong.”