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Perry Hills named Maryland's starting quarterback

After a three-way quarterback battle that stretched through most of August, redshirt junior Perry Hills will be Maryland's starter when the team opens its season Sept. 5 against Richmond at Byrd Stadium, coach Randy Edsall announced Friday.

"I thought he had the best camp, and he earned the opportunity to be the starter," Edsall said in a teleconference. "We have guys that competed very, very hard but at the end of the day we had to make a decision and he's the guy that won the job.

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"He's won games for us before. Those guys competed very hard and work very hard and the great thing about it is you know you got a bunch of guys there that can win games for you. He was the guy that came out on top."

Hills beat out redshirt junior Caleb Rowe and Oklahoma State transfer Daxx Garman, both of whom were considered to be ahead of him when camp started earlier this month. Hills was Maryland's third-stringer behind the graduated C.J. Brown and Rowe when last season started.

"I think he's improved his total game," Edsall said. "He's gotten better in all phases of quarterback play. He's been in the system now for a few years and understands and knows what we're doing. He's slimmed down just a little bit. He's been throwing the ball with accuracy. He hasn't been making a lot of mental mistakes. I think he's improved in all facets of his game."

Maryland's depth chart lists Rowe as Hills' backup. Edsall said Rowe had an impressive end to camp after struggling early on and beat out Garman for the second-string spot.

Hills' last career start came Oct. 20, 2012 against N.C. State. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during an interception return, ending his freshman season.

Hills, a three-star recruit out of Central Catholilc High School in Pittsburgh, Pa., beat out Rowe for Maryland's starting job in 2012 after Brown suffered a torn ACL during preseason camp. He became the third true freshman to start at quarterback in school history and the first since 1999.

Hills started the first seven games that year and had the Terps at 4-2 before being injured against the Wolfpack. He completed 97 of 169 passes for 1,336 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. He earned Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Week honors after completing of 11 of 21 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another in his second career game against Temple.

"He's gotten better since that time and he's very composed, very poised," Edsall said. "He's a guy that goes out and does the things that he's coached to do. I think that the players respect him. He's tough. He's gritty. He's a guy that is dependable and reliable as well and can make good things happen for your offense."

Hills redshirted in 2013 as he recovered from his knee injury.

Last season, Hills moved up to second string after Rowe suffered a torn ACL in October. Hills appeared in three games, including a 38-31 win over Iowa on homecoming. In his first game action almost two years to the day of his torn ACL, Hills threw for 86 yards and completed a 53-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

Maryland entered camp with a three-way battle for the starting job between Hills, Rowe and Garman. The trio split reps with the first team during the first few weeks while Edsall and the coaches watched. Hills' performance earned him most of the first-team reps at Maryland's open scrimmage as part of Fan Appreciation Day last Saturday. He completed 12 of 17 passes for 72 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

"He went out and worked," Edsall said. "He did the things that he thought he should do and what he was told to do over the summer to work and then when we got back here to fall camp, he went out there and competed just like Caleb competed and Daxx competed and Perry came out on top."

After the open scrimmage, Hills spoke about being perceived as the dark horse or underdog in the quarterback race.

"Honestly, it's pushed me pretty much because you always have people that don't believe in you and you want to prove them wrong," Hills said. "That's the person I am. I want to prove someone wrong."

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erroneously indicated that Caleb Rowe is a senior. He is a junior, having redshirted last season.

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