Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and editor Matt Bracken weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
Maryland had no quarterbacks left standing at the end of last season, but there are a half-dozen in camp this year. Who will be C.J. Brown’s backup?
Jeff Barker: Randy Edsall didn’t waste any time anointing Brown as the starter, did he? The coach said during the spring that Brown – who was then limited to 7-on-7 drills as he returned from a knee injury – would be the guy.
But a competition has developed to be Brown’s backup. Transfer Ricardo Young and sophomores Caleb Rowe and Perry Hills were all listed on the depth chart as co-backups as training camp opened Monday.
No guarantees, but my guess is Rowe becomes the backup. Here’s why:
The redhead got valuable game experience last season, entering late against N.C. State. He looked pretty unflappable in his first college appearance, almost engineering a Terps victory.
Rowe, who got his chance because of other quarterbacks’ injuries, started the following week against Boston College but tore an anterior cruciate ligament -- a crippling blow to the offense overseen by Edsall and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley.
Young got an audition of sorts during spring practices following last season. Brown, Hills and Rowe were all limited during that period as they recovered from knee injuries, leaving Young to take the bulk of the snaps. Young is a dual-threat quarterback. But I’m not sure he completely seized his opportunity.
Rowe may have youthful, choir-boy looks but he is a natural passer. There is an ease to his motion. The ball just seems to come out correctly.
“When the time came and I got the opportunity to play, I felt like I was ready to go,” Rowe told me this week. “It didn’t feel like the game was fast. Coach Locksley has a little more faith in me now that I’ve been in a game. I don’t really get too nervous about football – it’s what I love to do.”
By the way, freshman Shane Cockerille (Gilman) is taking practice snaps with the rest of the pack, but may be headed for a redshirt year because of the logjam above him.
Will Damonte Dodd find his way into Mark Turgeon’s rotation up front as a freshman?
Don Markus: Though he has been off the radar for most of his basketball career that began on the Eastern Shore and continued with a one-year prep school stay in Virginia, the progress of the 6-10 center has made was evident in Maryland’s middle game of its three-game summer tour this week in the Bahamas.
In a 97-90 win Wednesday night over a team called the Commonwealth Giants, Dodd finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Mark Turgeon started Dodd as well as four other expected bench players – fellow freshman Roddy Peters along with three walk-ons.
The summer tour is a great opportunity for Dodd given the absence of sophomore Shaquille Cleare, who despite getting sporadic playing time as a freshman behind Alex Len could wind up in the starting lineup this season. Cleare is sitting out the summer tour because of a nagging back injury.
Unlike Cleare, who came to College Park with the expectations befitting a top 30 recruit, Dodd has long been viewed as a project. I remember seeing Dodd play with Cleare and Charles Mitchell in the Capital Classic last year and coming away impressed by his athleticism around the rim.
The Terps are going to need a shot blocker to help make up for the loss of Len this season, and I think that’s what is going to get Dodd on the court. Whatever he gives Turgeon offensively will be considered a bonus.
Still, Dodd is going to have to fight for playing time because Turgeon is not always going to have a traditional lineup with a center. He started transfer Evan Smotrycz, a 6-9 shooter, and Mitchell together Tuesday night, and I can also see Turgeon using Smotrycz and Jake Layman up front with Seth Allen, Nick Faust and Dez Wells.
While much of the preseason hype will be focused on Peters and his transition to college basketball, Dodd is in a great spot. Though I don’t see him doing what Jordan Williams did after being overshadowed by James Padgett coming out of high school, I see him being more than just a big body for Cleare and Mitchell to bang with in practice.
What stat stands out most from Maryland's tour of the Bahamas?
Matt Bracken: This question is a little premature, given that Maryland's third game was scheduled for today and we haven't received results/stats from that contest yet. But the first two games did reveal some interesting developments.
Jake Layman was the big story of Game 1, scoring 25 points in the Terps' win. Most followers of the program expect the 6-foot-9 sophomore to make a big jump in production this year, so I wouldn't categorize that stat line as a major surprise. Ditto Seth Allen and his 26-point, 10-assist performance in Game 2. We all remember the win over Duke at Comcast, when the then-freshman guard was, at times, unstoppable offensively in the second half.
Charles Mitchell predictably had a double-double in Game 2, with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Dez Wells (22 points, nine rebounds) and Nick Faust (10 points, six assists and six rebounds) also filled up the stat sheet in Game 1, just as you'd expect.
What I didn't necessarily expect to see was such significant rebounding production out of Michigan forward transfer Evan Smotrycz. The redshirt junior had 11 points and eight rebounds in the first game, and followed that up with a 12-point, 10-rebound performance in Game 2.
With the Wolverines, Smotrycz was a durable player who was especially dangerous from beyond the arc. Incredibly skilled for a 6-foot-9 player, Smotrycz was capable of taking over a game with his outside shooting, but there were definitely some issues defensively. And he didn't distinguish himself as a great rebounder, putting up 2.3 per game as a freshman and 4.9 per game as a sophomore.
Smotrycz should see more time in the Terps' lineup than he did at Michigan, where he averaged 21.1 minutes as a sophomore. So perhaps the statistical rebounding jump is expected. But if Smotrycz can be Maryland's second- or third-best rebounder, in addition to providing the offensive burst he was recruited for, the Terps could have one of the most versatile, well-rounded power forwards in the ACC at their disposal.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun