Any quarterbacks in College Park? I hear the Maryland Terrapins are looking for one – again – so if you have any experience playing quarterback and a decent track record for avoiding serious injuries, run as far away from Byrd Stadium as you possibly can.
Maryland quarterbacks this season are, apparently, doomed.
The team announced Sunday night that true freshman Caleb Rowe, who got his first start this weekend against Boston College, suffered an ACL injury in the 20-17 loss and will miss the rest of the year.
Rowe’s injury leaves the Terps without a single scholarship quarterback available. (Transfer Ricardo Young must sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules.)
Rowe, who was expected to redshirt, was shoved into the lineup after starter Perry Hills and backup Devin Burns both suffered season-ending injuries last week against N.C. State. Hills, another true freshman, took over as starter during fall camp after C.J. Brown, the only veteran on the roster, tore his ACL in preseason workouts.
“It’s very unusual,” Maryland coach Randy Edsall said of the string of injuries, in what might be the understatement of the season.
The three quarterbacks originally on the roster – Brown, Hills, and Rowe – all had their seasons cut short by ACL injuries. Burns, who switched from wide receiver to quarterback after after Brown’s injury, sustained a Lisfranc injury in his foot.
In a conference call Sunday, Edsall said Rowe’s injury occurred on the second to last play of the game against Boston College, when the quarterback was tackled running for the sideline on third-and-12.
“I saw it because he came out of bounds right where I was,” Edsall said.
Rowe, who got up slowly after the hit, told his coach he was fine. He was examined by the trainers and returned to finish the game. He was smiling in the post-game press conference, and he said he was excited to watch the film and see where he needed to improve next week.
On Sunday, Rowe woke up with soreness in his left knee, and an MRI revealed that the anterior cruciate ligament had torn away from the bone. He is expected to have surgery but could recover in as few as five or six months, according to Edsall.
In his only start, Rowe was 23 of 42 for 240 yards and two touchdowns, with three interceptions.
Petty played linebacker and quarterback in high school, and started on offense and defense as a junior until he broke his collarbone. In his senior season at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Petty was an option quarterback, and despite missing two games with a foot injury, he threw for 1,244 yards and 15 touchdowns. The first-team All-Metro player was recruited to Maryland as a linebacker because Hills and Rowe had already signed with the team.
Petty began practicing on offense late last week, after it was confirmed that Hills and Burns were both out for the year.
He’ll be backed up by converted tight end Brian McMahon, another former high school quarterback who switched positions last week.
McMahon, a walk-on, threw for 1,289 yards and 14 touchdowns at Atholton High School, where he was coached by former Maryland offensive lineman Kyle Schmitt.
Petty takes over a team that is two wins shy of becoming bowl eligible, with four games remaining. Two of those are against Florida State and Clemson, so the Terps really need to win this week against Georgia Tech to have a shot at becoming eligible.
It’s a tall order for a freshman quarterback who was playing defense less than a week ago, but the team will continue to rally around whoever happens to be under center, as it has all season.
“We have complete confidence in Shawn, in what he can do, and what he can bring to our team,” Edsall said,
Maryland’s star receiver, freshman Stefon Diggs, took to Twitter to encourage fans to stick with the team and to continue to support the players and the new quarterback.
Diggs has been the star of the offense all season, but Edsall quickly squashed any speculation that the Rookie of the Year candidate would start taking direct snaps in the Wildcat.
“I haven’t even considered it,” Edsall said firmly.
Instead, the Terps will move forward “with what we have.”
Right now, that’s a converted freshman linebacker, hoping to break the Terps’ quarterback curse.