COLLEGE PARK — COLLEGE PARK -- Though it's difficult to imagine Ralph Friedgen having an extra bounce in his step, the Maryland football coach seems more energized going into his team's spring practice this year than in the recent past.
Coming off a 6-7 season that concluded with a 21-14 loss to Oregon State in the Emerald Bowl, the Terrapins began workouts yesterday with at least one new important addition: assistant head coach and offensive coordinator James Franklin.
Franklin, a former Terps assistant, was hired away from Kansas State after last season.
"He has familiarity with what I expect," Friedgen said during a luncheon yesterday at the Gossett Team House. "I sat in on about the first four meetings. He actually runs meetings better than I did, so I feel very confident that he understands exactly what I want."
Franklin, who was not at the luncheon, will likely have a major role in deciding two significant personnel decisions: who will emerge as the team's starting quarterback and who will take over at running back.
Friedgen said Chris Turner, who took over last season when Jordan Steffy was sidelined because of a concussion and Josh Portis had been suspended after getting caught cheating on a quiz, goes into the spring as the team's No. 1 quarterback.
But the competition for the starting job is up for grabs, depending on how the quarterbacks adapt to a system that incorporates some of Friedgen's past tendencies with Franklin's philosophy.
"Chris is still No. 1, but it's a wide-open situation," Friedgen said. "We've changed a lot of our terminology. I'm anxious to see how that works out. The fact that he ended up the starter, that's where he'll start. We'll see how the competition goes from there."
That there is competition between two and possibly among three quarterbacks with some experience - Portis played behind Chris Leak at Florida before transferring - "is a nice problem to have," Freidgen said.
"I'm not opposed to [playing] more than one quarterback if it works. I have similar situations at other positions, but it's never as critical as it is at quarterback."
Whoever gets the starting quarterback job will be playing behind an experienced offensive line, which lost only Andrew Crummey, and throwing to a deep group of receivers led by Darrius Heyward-Bey.
While there is depth and experience on both the offensive line and at receiver, one key offensive position - running back - is lacking in both.
Friedgen is hoping that sophomore Da'Rel Scott is ready to take over the bulk of the workload that was shared last year by then-seniors Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball. Scott has shown flashes but has a difficult time staying healthy.
"He is not as big [as Lattimore or Ball], but he has tremendous acceleration. I think we saw that last year in the games he was able to [play]," Friedgen said. "My biggest concern is can he stay healthy. You take a lot of shots at that position."
Scott will get challenged in the spring by Morgan Green, also a sophomore, who at 207 pounds is 15 pounds heavier than Scott. Friedgen said that he is hopeful that incoming freshman Davin Meggett, the son of former Towson State and NFL star Dave Meggett, will be part of the rotation at running back once he arrives this summer.
Friedgen said the addition of Franklin - one of three coaches added to the staff after last season - has paid immediate dividends.
"It's taken a lot off me, it really has," Friedgen said. "I really found I can spend more time with the players, which is something I was able to do and wasn't doing a really good job at."
Note -- The Terps will practice three days a week between now and the April 26 spring game. That game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Byrd Stadium. The Terps will also hold a scrimmage at 2 p.m. April 19 that is part of Gridiron Bash and will feature performances by locally based national touring bands O.A.R. and Good Charlotte, beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets for that event are $email@example.com