Towson’s Tyrrell Pigrome is not the only former Maryland quarterback reviving his career in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Kasim Hill, who spent his first two years with the Terps, is in the first month of his third season at Rhode Island. The redshirt senior admitted that his time in College Park seems long ago.
“It feels like the years have flown by,” said the 6-foot-2, 234-pound quarterback. “I feel like it was a previous chapter, but I still talk to a lot of old teammates and friends that I met at Maryland. I try to keep up with them and still follow some of the guys that I played with that are still there.”
While keeping in touch with Maryland redshirt senior wide receiver Jeshaun Jones, senior wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr. and redshirt senior defensive end Austin Fontaine, Hill has become the Rams’ undisputed starter. After ranking fourth in the conference in passing yards with 2,178 and compiling 18 touchdown passes against just six interceptions last fall, Hill has completed 52.8% of his throws (47 of 89) for 705 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions in three starts for Rhode Island (2-1 overall, 1-1 CAA).
Rams coach Jim Fleming said Hill is a much-improved quarterback from last season.
“I think the difference in him is his physical preparation,” Fleming said. “He lifted some weights in the offseason and put himself in a better position. His familiarity in the offense has allowed him to grow and allowed us to grow as an offense.”
Maryland fans might have had similar expectations when Hill, who played three years at Gilman before transferring to St. John’s College High School in Washington, replaced Pigrome in the third quarter of what was eventually a 51-41 upset of then-No. 23 Texas in the 2017 season opener. After starting in a 63-17 rout of Towson, Hill tore the ACL in his right knee in his second career start against Central Florida.
A year later, Hill beat out Pigrome for the starting job and connected on 17 of 29 passes for 222 yards and one touchdown in a 34-29 win against the No. 23 Longhorns. Then he tore the ACL in his left knee at Indiana on Nov. 10, 2018.
In 10 starts, Hill completed 49.4% of his passes (84 of 170) for 1,083 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions. He acknowledged that his career might have unfolded differently if he had been able to remain healthy.
“You always look back and think about what could have happened if the injuries didn’t happen,” he said. “But as crazy as it sounds, I appreciate the adversity those injuries gave me. God had a different path for me, and I’m enjoying the path where it has taken me.”
What did Hill learn from the ACL tears?
“It taught me that life is always going to give you adversity, whether you’re prepared to deal with it or not,” he said. “When life throws something at you, you’ve got to find ways to adjust and overcome those challenges, and I feel like I’ve been trying to do that ever since I had those injuries.”
Hill transferred from Maryland to Tennessee, sitting out the 2019 season and using the time to strengthen his knees. He then left for Rhode Island on the advice of former high school teammate and redshirt senior wide receiver Ed Lee and the relationships he built with offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Patrick Murphy and Fleming.
Fleming said Hill’s arm strength and mobility were intriguing.
“I think he’s got the ability to throw the ball downfield,” Fleming said. “I think he’s got enough movement ability to be able to move around and keep plays extended. ... Where I want to see him improve is to just put a full game together.”
After a 2-0 start, Rhode Island had jumped to No. 14 in the American Football Coaches Association poll. Saturday’s 42-21 setback to No. 10 Delaware dropped the Rams to No. 21 as they prepare to visit Pittsburgh on Saturday.
In that loss, Hill threw two touchdown passes, but missed 21 of his 37 throws and was limited to 179 passing yards and 15 rushing yards on 10 carries.
Fleming said Hill understands what the team needs from him.
“Our offense is a quarterback-driven offense, and you can have a bad play, but you can’t have a bad day at that position,” he said. “Last Saturday, I felt like he was just off enough where we couldn’t get anything sustained. So what I’m expecting is a good week of practice from him and the offense and that we execute our game plan to a ‘T’ and hopefully put the ball where it needs to be.”
Hill accepted his share of culpability in the setback.
“I’m the type of person that I’m a perfectionist,” he said. “So if anything is wrong, I’m the first person to say something about it, and I want it to be fixed.”
Towson is not on Rhode Island’s schedule this season, so there won’t be a Hill-Pigrome showdown. Still, Hill said he has been keeping tabs on Pigrome’s progress.
“Piggy, that’s my guy,” he said. “I think it’s crazy how our careers have taken different paths, but it’s kind of bringing us back to similar spots at the end. So I think it’s pretty cool, and I hope he keeps playing well.”
Hill said he has set aside any personal goals for the primary objective of helping the Rams capture the CAA title and earn a berth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, which would be the program’s first postseason appearance since 1985. He said he will use his first two years at Maryland to aid his development, but won’t dwell on them.
“I don’t try to look back into the past,” he said. “I don’t try to hang my head on that. I don’t want to feel any regret about anything. The things that happened, happened, and I’m just trying to learn from it and move forward.”
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