Maryland sophomore quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during Saturday’s 51-41 upset over Texas, Coach DJ Durkin said Tuesday.
While the win over the Longhorns, Maryland’s first over a ranked team in seven years, served as a potential springboard to a promising season in College Park, it came at a heavy price.
The loss of Pigrome thrusts the quarterback situation back into a state of flux — the Terrapins will start true freshman Kasim Hill on Saturday in the home opener against Towson. The team’s upstart defense also suffered casualties in Austin.
Senior linebacker Jesse Aniebonam, the Terrapins’ best pass rusher, will miss several months with a fractured ankle, Durkin said, while sophomore cornerback Antwaine Richardson is out for an undisclosed amount of time after suffering a head injury.
Pigrome is expected to have surgery later this week; Aniebonam was scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday.
Although Pigrome likely will be able to attain a medical redshirt to preserve a year of eligibility, his injury nonetheless sets back a career that looked ready to take off through the first three quarters against Texas. Not only was Pigrome resilient, overcoming an interception that was returned for a touchdown on his first throw of the game, but he was equally as dangerous with his arm as he was with his feet in helping Maryland build a 30-14 halftime lead.
Pigrome completed 9 of 12 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns; he also ran 11 times for 66 yards and another touchdown.
The 11th and final carry, a four-yard scamper deep inside Texas territory on the final play of the third quarter, proved costly. Pigrome came up limping and was eventually helped off the field by trainers.
“Very tough for him and for our program. I’ll tell you what, I was proud of him how he played, how he competed,” Durkin said of Pigrome. “I know there were a lot of questions about him going into the season, what he can and can’t do, and a lot of judgments made on a guy when he was a true freshman, just throwing him into the mix, into the fire, he probably wasn’t quite ready for that, but it had to be done. I was really proud of him how he responded and played. I think he showed everyone what he’s capable of doing.”
Pigrome was replaced by Hill, the former four-star recruit from St. John’s College High School in the District who pushed Pigrome for the starting job during fall camp and was named the backup over sophomore Max Bortenschlager.
Hill played beyond his years as Maryland pulled away in the fourth quarter, after he was flagged for a delay-of-game penalty that forced his team into a third-and-19 situation. The rookie responded with a 40-yard throw to junior wide receiver D.J. Moore to set up a red-zone opportunity. Hill topped it off by using his 6-foot-2, 232-pound frame to barrel into the end zone for a three-yard touchdown run.
“There wasn’t an ounce of doubt. I mean, that’s how he’s been since the day he got here,” Durkin said after the win. “It’s just him. He’s got that way about him, he’s got that ‘it’ factor about him, for sure.”
While Maryland’s staff is more than confident in Hill’s ability to carry a talented offense the rest of the season, it will also be imperative to preserve his health.
The position’s depth is dangerously thin with the loss of Pigrome and the uncertain status of junior Caleb Henderson, who injured his right foot last spring and didn’t enter fall camp fully healthy. Henderson was limited and wore a boot for the late stages of camp, although Durkin said recently the North Carolina transfer would be back in the fold soon.
While Bortenschlager is a sturdy backup option to Hill, the position’s depth is rounded out by redshirt sophomore Ryan Brand, a former Air Force signee who played last season at a junior college in California.
The most promising news to come out of the pool of injuries was the progress of Richardson, who was down on the field for several minutes with an apparent head injury after making a tackle in the third quarter. He was eventually carted off the field and taken to a hospital, where he was responsive and moving. Durkin said Tuesday that Richardson is in concussion protocol and is listed as day-to-day.
Maryland will also have to account for the loss of Aniebonam, the former Good Counsel star who came into his own as a “Buck” linebacker last season with nine sacks and 14 tackles for losses. His absence will give more reps to redshirt junior Melvin Keihn and freshman Bryce Brand, who recorded his first career sack against the Longhorns.
“He’s a dynamic pass rusher . . . that’s a hard one. To see the disappointment on his face, those are hard moments as a coach. You feel for guys,” Durkin said of Aniebonam. “Unfortunately, injuries are part of our game and they happen.”
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