Laurel resident adapts to position change for Terps
By David Driver
Aug 20, 2015 | 6:00 AM
Near the end of training camp about a year ago, Will Ulmer sat down with head coach Randy Edsall at the University of Maryland to talk to him about switching from quarterback to wide receiver.
The Laurel resident was the starting quarterback as a senior at St. John's College High and led the Cadets to a 9-2 record and a berth in the Washington Catholic Athletic Association (WCAC) championship game.
As a quarterback in 2013, he passed for more than 1,100 yards and ran for more than 1,300 yards and he also played in the Under Armour All-American High School game. But then he decided to focus on catching the ball and not passing it as a true freshman last year.
"It was my decision. I was just looking down the road and to the next level," said the speedy Ulmer. "I had played (some) receiver in high school; it wasn't like it was anything new. It was just good to get it done early."
Edsall told reporters last year: "He's all for it and believes wide receiver will be his best position going forward."
But Ulmer was not fully able to make the full-time transition to wide receiver last year as he sat out the season as a redshirt.
"It was very tough, being the competitor I am," he said. "At the same time it was a learning process to fully develop as the receiver I want to be. It was more about learning the plays and getting used to the system since I switched to wide receiver."
"I think he handled it well. He had played quarterback all of his life," said his father, Will Ulmer, Jr., a North Laurel resident who played prep football at Archbishop Carroll High in Washington. "He seems to have bought in to the change."
This year, Ulmer hopes to see playing time as a redshirt freshman for the Terps, who begins the season at home Sept. 5 in a non-conference game against the University of Richmond.
"I pay close attention to detail and learn the plays. It has been really good. I am making strides every day to become the player I can be," said the 6-foot, 185-pound Ulmer.
The Terps will have to replace Stefon Diggs, a standout wide receiver last season and a product of WCAC rival Good Counsel High in Olney.
"I have been watching him since I was in high school. He is a hard worker," Ulmer said of Diggs, now with the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League.
Diggs was drafted in the fifth round by the Vikings and had a 62-yard punt return against Pittsburgh in an exhibition game earlier this month. On the Maryland website, Ulmer lists his football heroes as Russell Wilson (Seattle), Robert Griffin III (Washington) and Tom Brady (New England) – all NFL quarterbacks.
But what about wide receivers? "Being the player I am I look at everyone on the offensive side of the ball," notes Ulmer, who adds he is also a fan of wideouts Odell Beckham (New York Giants), Percy Harvin (Buffalo) and the retired Jerry Rice.
Quarterbacks on the Maryland roster include redshirt junior Caleb Rowe, junior Perry Hills, freshman Gage Shaffer and senior Daxx Garman. "All of quarterbacks are coming and working their tails off. There has not
been a final decision on who the quarterback is. I get a lot of reps with all of them," Ulmer said.
Ulmer was born in Silver Spring and is also the son of Angela Duling, who lives in South Laurel. His older brother, Thomas Holmes, played football at Eleanor Roosevelt High in Greenbelt and Laurel High.
Ulmer was first-team all-WCAC as a junior and senior and was honorable mention All-Met according to The Washington Post. He was named a four-star recruit by ESPN and a three-star recruit by Rivals.com and Scout.com.
He attracted attention from several schools, listing Ohio State, Miami, West Virginia, Florida State and Arkansas as some of the schools he was interested in.
"I wanted to stay home. I wanted my parents to come and see me play. In order to make it at the next level … I can do it in my backyard. I don't have to go all over the country," he said.
Notes: Another former St. John's standout at the college level is sophomore defensive back Maurice Harley, who is playing at the University of Delaware …The Maryland roster also includes freshman offensive lineman Tyler Smith of River Hill High in Clarksville and junior offensive lineman Maurice Shelton of Eleanor Roosevelt.