Less than 48 hours after starter C.J. Brown suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament that will sideline him for the entire 2012 season, media members got their first opportunity to watch true freshman Perry Hills take snaps as Maryland's top quarterback.

Terps coach Randy Edsall said Wednesday that Hills, a three-star recruit out of Pittsburgh's Central Catholic High School, has the edge over fellow freshman Caleb Rowe and will practice with the first string.

It was clear why on Thursday.

Hills appeared comfortable in the pocket, and his footwork was more refined than Rowe's. He also connected on several difficult throws during the 90-minute practice, and rarely turned over the ball.

Edsall said after practice that he was particularly impressed with Hills' command of the huddle.

"I've been pleased with what I've seen," he said. "I've been pleased with what I've seen out of Caleb, too. We're going to be fine there. We've just got to get him as many reps as we can."

Burns impresses at quarterback

Hills and Rowe weren't the only quarterbacks that impressed Thursday. Sophomore Devin Burns, who converted from wide receiver to quarterback after Brown went down, drew rave reviews as a signal caller.

"It was just shocking for me to see someone go from receiver back to quarterback and still have that smooth transition," senior wide receiver Kevin Dorsey said.

Burns arrived in College Park as a quarterback in 2010, but played exclusively as a reserve wide receiver last season. However, when Brown's injury left the Terps with just two options behind center, Burns offered to return to his old position and take snaps with the third string.

Edsall said Burns, who Scout.com rated the nation's 56th best quarterback in 2009, has seemed poised and comfortable running the offense.

"It's kind of been a little bit surprising," he said. "You know, from the standpoint of coming out and not having had any problems with cadence or those sorts of things. And that's what you look for, fumbled snaps or whatever."

Robinson out at least three weeks

Sophomore safety Matt Robinson, who injured his left shoulder during practice Tuesday morning, will miss at least three weeks of football-related activities.

Robinson will be in a sling for a week, and then rehab for another two weeks before team doctors evaluate him. That means Maryland will be forced to test the depth of arguably its thinnest defensive position during its Sept. 1 season opener against William & Mary.

True freshman Sean Davis has replaced Robinson in practices, and other eligible players include senior walk-on Clarence Claiborne, redshirt freshman Undray Clark and true freshman Anthony Nixon.

"You know, you still see some of those freshman mistakes that they make and we're looking for the consistency," Edsall said. "But the thing that I like is that they play very hard and they play very aggressive."

To help add some depth, though, sophomore defensive back Jeremiah Johnson took some snaps at safety during practice Thursday. The move came after Johnson visited defensive coordinator Brian Stewart's office Wednesday and offered his skills at the position.

"It was just from the standpoint of being prepared," Edsall said.

cletourneau@baltsun.com

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