By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun
8:11 PM EDT, October 21, 2012
COLLEGE PARK —
After Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown was lost for the season with a knee injury in August, wide receiver Devin Burns went to coach Randy Edsall and said he would like to switch positions to help fill the void.
So Burns, who has alternated in his career between quarterback and receiver, was given a playbook and began the transformation back to his original position.
Burns' instinctive decision may prove beneficial to the third-year player and his team. Burns could well become the starter at quarterback for next week's game at Boston College if incumbent Perry Hills' left knee injury prevents him from playing.
Hills is awaiting an MRI on Monday to evaluate the injury sustained in the second quarter of Saturday's 20-18 loss to North Carolina State.
"Really have no update on Perry whatsoever. He was devastated," Edsall coach said Sunday, adding that the former high school wrestler wanted to strap a brace on the knee at halftime and return to the game.
Hills, a freshman, was injured chasing Wolfpack defensive back David Amerson after Amerson's interception. Hills appeared to be run over from behind during the return by the Wolfpack's Rickey Dowdy. N.C. State was penalized on the play, negating a touchdown by Amerson.
"It was an illegal block," said Edsall, who was "just disappointed for Perry and very disappointed in the way the block took place as well."
After Hills left, Burns led three second-half scoring drives. The last one led to a 48-yard field goal by Brad Craddock that put the Terps (4-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) ahead, 18-17, to cap the first series of the fourth quarter.
Burns finished 3-for-4 for 47 yards. He also rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown, saying afterward that his position switch seems increasingly like the right move.
"Obviously I wasn't planning on coming in with this kind of situation with Perry going down," Burns said. "I guess it turned out to work out in my favor. With coaches helping prepare me, I was ready to go into the game."
Burns, 6-3, 200 pounds, was a quarterback at his Georgia high school. After practicing at the position during his freshman year, he switched to wide receiver.
Burns played in seven games as a backup receiver last season, catching one pass for 17 yards
His teammates said he did not seemed fazed at suddenly being summoned into Saturday's game after Hills was carted off the field in obvious pain.
"I'm a laid-back kind of guy, so I mean you see me walking around and I don't say too much," Burns said.
But he has acknowledged that learning the quarterback position poses a unique challenge.
Asked in August if learning the position — again — was like riding a bicycle, Burns hesitated. "More like a unicycle than a bike," he said.
Burns lost 7 yards on his first play in the second quarter before leading the scoring drives in the second half.
Caleb Rowe played the final series at quarterback for the Terps because Edsall said he liked the way the true freshman had been running the two-minute offense in practice.
Rowe had Maryland positioned for a winning score. But Craddock's 33-yard field-goal attempt hit the left upright with two seconds remaining.
"Each of those guys (Burns and Rowe) were ready to come in and do the job that was asked of them," Edsall said.
The coach said it was premature to name a starter for Saturday's game at Boston College (1-6, 0-4 ACC). "We'll have a plan in place," the coach said.
Note: Edsall said he is sticking with Craddock, who has missed two extra points this season in addition to the 33-yard field-goal attempt. "We stay the course," Edsall said. "I've got complete confidence in Brad. It's a technique thing."
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