University of Maryland senior tight end Dave Stinebaugh sat out seven games as a redshirt freshman in 2010 because of shoulder and knee injuries.
Then things got worse.
The following season, shoulder surgery — one of three he would have in his career — sidelined the Perry Hall High grad for the year.
"I definitely think I had a lot to prove after being hurt all these years and having to deal with everyone saying, 'He is injury-prone. He is never going to play and get off the (training) table,' " Stinebaugh said. "I feel I have a chip on my shoulder to show people I can still do it."
He's doing that this season. Stinebaugh is healthy and a vital part of the offense with 11 catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns for the 5-2 Terps. His role might become even more important after top receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long suffered season-ending lower leg fractures in Maryland's 34-10 loss at Wake Forest on Saturday
Stinebaugh's diving, 12-yard touchdown reception from backup quarterback Caleb Rowe, in the middle of the end zone with 5:14 remaining lifted Maryland past Virginia, 27-26, in College Park on Oct. 12.
"For sure, it's the biggest play of my career," said Stinebaugh, who caught four passes in 2010, but none last year. "Being my second career touchdown, it ended up being a game-winner. It's definitely one of those memorable moments. I saw Caleb get flushed out of the pocket, so I started drifting over to my right. He ended up throwing it and I went down and got the ball."
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound senior also caught the first touchdown, a 6-yarder from C. J. Brown, in the Terrapins' 37-0 romp of West Virginia at M&T Bank Stadium on Sept. 21.
Doing it with friends and family in attendance made it that much more enjoyable.
"It was definitely a good experience in your hometown," Stinebaugh said. "You are at an NFL stadium and it's your first touchdown in college. It definitely meant a lot, considering everything I had been through to get to that point."
With five games remaining — Clemson, Boston College and Syracuse at home while traveling to Virginia Tech and North Carolina State — Stinebaugh figures to see more passes come his way.
"He is not the fastest guy in the world, but he runs great routes and knows how to set up a defense," Brown said. "He uses leverage to his advantage and he has great soft hands for a big guy."
Last year, Stinebaugh played on special teams and sat behind three senior tight ends, including Ravens practice squad player Matt Furstenburg.
This year, Stinebaugh is the Terps' leader at the position, with the depth chart also listing redshirt freshmen Brian McMahon and P.J. Gallo and true freshman Eric Roca.
"It's definitely been an older brother, younger brother kind of relationship," Stinebaugh said. "You are teaching them things. They are eager to learn."
Said Brown: "He really has stepped up and led the way with those guys."
Stinebaugh might have had more scholarship offers if he hadn't committed to Maryland before his senior year at Perry Hall. Scout.com ranked him as the nation's 57th best tight end as a senior with the Gators.
"His career at Maryland is certainly a lesson in perseverance," Perry Hall High football coach Keith Robinson said. "I think it speaks of his character. I think a lot of kids would have folded up the tent and said it's not in the stars for me."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun