When you’re Maryland defensive end Joe Vellano, a 300-pound offensive lineman blocking the way to the backfield typically is nothing more than a minor inconvenience.
Against a Terps offensive line ransacked by injuries and transfers, that’s especially true. So it was hardly a surprise, then, to see Vellano, a likely preseason All-America pick next season, get more than a few free runs at quarterbacks C.J. Brown and Ricky Schultz in the team’s first spring practice Saturday.
If only he could’ve done anything once he got to them.
Quarterbacks are always treated as an endangered species in practice, given a bright yellow jersey that just screams caution at all comers. But when you have only two signal callers – quarterback Danny O’Brien has decided to transfer, and recruits Caleb Rowe and Perry Hills won’t arrive until the summer – you don’t take any risks.
"[Brown’s] not going to get touched at all this spring,” Edsall said last week.
It all adds up to some pretty funny-looking moves from Vellano and line partner A.J. Francis. In one period Saturday morning, Vellano burst through the line, put Brown in his sights, realized it was Brown who was in his sights, then bolted after an imaginary quarterback to Brown’s left.
“They’ve always heckled me a little bit,” Brown said. “Any of the quarterbacks, we’ve always gotten grief from the D-line because they can’t do anything, or if they do, they always get chewed out.”
From any coaching staff, it can seem a counterintuitive message: Get to the quarterback, until you actually get to him. Still, it’s one Edsall has probably repeated to the point where the Terps can finish his reminder before he can.
“You don’t want to break his finger, anything dumb like that,” Francis said. “I was going to try to knock a pass out of his hand while he was throwing and I pulled my arm back because I was like, 'That’s a bad idea. You don’t want to hurt him. You’d be down to one quarterback.'”
“I don’t think twice about it,” Brown said as he laughed about the potential for a little contact with Maryland’s biggest bodies. “I’m sure [the coaches] do. “
Jonas Shaffer is a sports reporting intern at The Baltimore Sun. The senior journalism major at the University of Maryland also serves as sports editor of The Diamondback. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him at twitter.com/jonas_shaffer.