The true freshman was tearfully carted off the field after he was hit from behind while trying to chase down N.C. State cornerback David Amerson, who’d just intercepted him.
Over the weekend, Terps’ head coach Randy Edsall said: “I’m just disappointed for Perry, and very disappointed in the way the block took place.”
Hills was hit from behind by the Wolfpack’s Rickey Dowdy. N.C. State was penalized on the play, negating Amerson’s interception return for a touchdown.
It didn’t look good when it happened, and an MRI on Monday confirmed the team’s worst fears – a second starting quarterback out for the season with an ACL injury.
Hills took over the starting job in August, when projected starter C.J. Brown tore his right ACL making a cut during preseason practices, and Hills had started all seven games.
Expectations were low – the team was, after all, coming off a 2-10 season, and had never won a game with a true freshman starting at quarterback.
Hills had his ups, including a career-game against then No. 9 West Virginia, and more than his share of downs, with 24 sacks, but he helped lead the Terps to a 4-2 record (2-0 in the ACC) before his injury.
He completed 57.4% of his passes and threw for 1,336 yards, eight touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He also added three rushing touchdowns.
“I am proud of the way he stepped in this season and led our team. Perry is a great competitor,” Edsall said Monday.
Hills often credited his wrestling background – he was a Pennsylvania state champion in high school last year – with preparing him to start at quarterback for a Division I football program.
Back in August, he told The Washington Post: “All eyes are on you. There’s no one you can blame for a loss…. It’s a really tough sport physically, and with the mental aspect, that really prepared me for this.”
Hills will have to rely on that same mental toughness as he watches the rest of his freshman season from the sidelines while rehabbing his injury. ACL tears typically require surgery and a 6-12 month recovery period.
With Hills out, the Terps will have to rely on sophomore Devin Burns or true freshman Caleb Rowe, or some combination of the two.
Burns, a standout in high school, was recruited as a quarterback but had been playing wide receiver. He volunteered to switch back to his old position after Brown was injured during training camp.
Maryland had hoped to redshirt Rowe, but with Hills’ out for the season, Rowe might become the second true freshman to start for the Terps in 2012.