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Perry Hills is leading contender to start at quarterback, Randy Edsall says again

Maryland quarterback Perry Hills, right, gets off a pass during the Red-White spring football game at Byrd Stadium.
Maryland quarterback Perry Hills, right, gets off a pass during the Red-White spring football game at Byrd Stadium.(John McDonnell / Baltimore Sun)

Maryland coach Randy Edsall has maintained throughout fall camp that his decision on the Terps' starting quarterback race will be made on a merit-based system after evaluating Perry Hills, Daxx Garman, and Caleb Rowe in a variety of areas.

And after going on Washington-area radio Monday and confirming that Hills is indeed leading the race after taking first-team reps during Saturday's open scrimmage, Edsall reiterated that fact Tuesday.

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Entering camp, it was a three-way race. The order is based upon the players' performance since Aug. 10. And that's it.

"The one thing is our guys know you got to come out and perform," Edsall said. "So everybody knows what the expectations are. I don't know who anointed anybody to tell you the truth. Because all I know is anything that's come from the coaching staff is we all said it was going to be a competition. That was known right from the get-go."

Hills spent last season as the third-string quarterback behind the graduated C.J. Brown and Rowe and split time with quarterback-turned-fullback Shane Cockerille in the spring. With Rowe returning after a second torn anterior cruciate ligament and the addition of Garman, the Oklahoma State transfer, in the offseason, Hills seemed destined for a similar fate this fall.

But with the trio rotating reps with the first team in the early part of camp, Hills seized his opportunity to impress Edsall and the coaching staff. That earned him top billing in Maryland's first appearance before the public Saturday.

"The one thing is all these guys have been given a tremendous opportunity to show what they can do so they can't say they didn't get enough reps," Edsall said. "That's one thing and you evaluate it and you go from there. It's nothing personal. You have to make an evaluation and give people the opportunity to show what they can do and then you make your evaluation."

Hills appeared in three games last season, including a 38-31 win over Iowa on homecoming in mid-October in his first appearance in almost two years after a torn ACL ended his freshman season. He completed five of 10 passes for 86 yards and had a 53-yard touchdown completion to Stefon Diggs in the win over the Hawkeyes.

In 2012, Hills started the first seven games of the season before suffering the season-ending knee injury against N.C. State. He was 4-2 in Maryland's first six games and threw eight touchdown passes to seven interceptions.

Garman started eight games for Oklahoma State last season, giving him a slight edge in experience on Hills, while Rowe has made three starts, though he's appeared in relief 10 times in his career.

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Edsall met with each quarterback Sunday and appraised them of their performance so far in camp. During Monday's radio appearance, Edsall said Rowe is "a little behind" Hills and Garman.

"The conversations I have with the quarterbacks will stay between me and the quarterbacks and me and any of the players, really," Edsall said Tuesday. "[Rowe] knows the things that he has to work on. He has to be more consistent. That's the one thing. He just hasn't been real consistent in terms of performing the way that he would be capable of performing. Maybe it's coming back off the injury. I'm not sure."

No matter which quarterback is under center next Saturday against Richmond — Edsall said Saturday he has until gametime to make his decision — there should be some familiarity and continuity within the offense. Hills and Rowe are entering their fourth year within the program, while Garman has had the opportunity to work with the first team this month.

"I've seen that they're all competitive, they all can play, they all can throw," running back Brandon Ross said. "It's one of them good situations where you've got three good quarterbacks and so whatever happens, we got a guy to step in and play. they're all good. They can all start. They all have started at one point in their careers, so it's a good situation to have."

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