For most, Ricardo Young represents the fresh face on the Maryland football team, a journeyman quarterback seeking to challenge for the starting job. For Young, however, the upcoming season will have some familiar aspects to it.
Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley was Young’s head coach at New Mexico, where the Lobos ran a pro-style offense that’s similar to Maryland’s current system. Wide receiver Deon Long, a junior college all-American last season, was his teammate at both New Mexico and Iowa Western Community College. A Woodson High School graduate and former Washington D.C. Gatorade Player of the Year, Young is familiar within the local football community, a group that contains, among others, Stefon Diggs.
So yes, Young has some advantages entering spring practice.
“Me, Deon, Stefon, a lot of those guys who have been in it, we have a great rapport,” Young said Monday in his first media session since transferring before last season. “We go out there every single day, I’m really on them every day about being crisp in rotation and route running and sticking and staying and stacking DBs and whatnot. I’m just really on them about getting in the film room, staying on their course of work and staying in the game every single day to show nothing less than 110 percent effort and give it their best every time.”
Young’s road began at Virginia Tech, where he redshirted his freshman year. Maryland was initially one of Young’s first offers, but the District’s third-ranked player picked the Hokies instead. He saw a thin pecking order, an opportunity to start soon. Once Tyrod Taylor graduated, Virginia Tech opened up a competition between Young and Logan Thomas.
The second week that spring, Young got hurt and Thomas took off, running away with the starting job. Already at a disadvantage, Young scrambled to make up ground that summer, but fell short. So he looked elsewhere, settling on New Mexico and Locksley.
Young sat out the 2011 season per NCAA transfer rules. But before he even took a competitive snap in Albuquerque, New Mexico canned Locksley following a tumultuous 0-4 start in 2011. So Young packed his bags again, first moving to Iowa Western for spring practices, and then to College Park, where he again sat out a season according to the NCAA’s bylaws.
Young was settling in just as Maryland’s quarterbacks became engulfed with injuries. He spent the season attending meetings and working out, mentoring the young signal-callers forced into the starting role, specifically linebacker Shawn Petty.
“It was a great year for me,” Young said. “Not as great as it would be playing, obviously, but it was a great year for me. I really took a lot of time to study the details and dynamics of the system. I took a lot of time to keep my grades high. I wanted to get out on the field with those guys and have a good rapport and have everyone look up to me as a leader.”
That shouldn’t be a problem. Young has all spring to establish himself, with C.J. Brown (ACL) limited to individual work.
“Ricardo is going to get a lot of work,” Coach Randy Edsall said. “It will be good for Ricardo because he had to sit out because of the transfer. It will be good for him to get all of these reps and get him working to see where he will be able to fit in for us in the fall. We won’t let him get hit. We only have two quarterbacks for the spring between Ricardo and Dustin Dailey. We will keep those guys off limits. I am anxious to see him go out there and get to work every day and see what he can do and how far he can progress.
“From what I have seen he is a very good athlete, he can throw the football. We will see how accurate he will be this spring but like I said in terms of being a guy who can be a dual threat, he has those capabilities and that talent to be able to do that. He can do all of the things that we want to do with our offense. The other added dimension that he gives you is if he is back there and he drops back throwing the ball and things break down, he has more than enough speed and athletic ability to make a play. He will be able to make plays with his feet and his arm.”
The outspoken Long also championed Young’s cause. The two played against each other in high school. Long remembers Young routinely switching coverages at the line, baffling the opposing defense.
“Ricardo reads defenses like that, he can change plays,” Long said. “He’s a smart guy. He’s taught me half of what I know about reading coverages on the fly. I don’t know how smart C.J. is, I don’t know how much he can run, but I know what Ricardo can do. It’s going to be a duel. They’re going to have to compete.”