College Sports

Unheralded Hills leads Maryland in open scrimmage


Daxx Garman brought a big arm and a resume featuring success in the Big 12 Conference when he transferred to Maryland in late May. Caleb Rowe had flashes of brilliance in inconsistent appearances over the past three years, two of which were cut short by knee injuries.


And when the Terps began the search for C.J. Brown's successor two weeks ago, all eyes turned to the Rowe, the veteran gunslinger, and Garman, the tantalizing talent described as a "football junkie" by coach Randy Edsall.

All that left Perry Hills to toil in near anonymity. But after Edsall tabbed him to lead the first-team offense during Saturday afternoon's open scrimmage at Fan Appreciation Day, Hills return to the starting job could be close to reality for the Terps.


"I thought Perry had a great day," offensive lineman Ryan Doyle said. "He really performed. He led us out there. I thought our offense was clicking on all cylinders, which was a nice change of pace. The other quarterbacks have been doing the exact same thing. Perry got the nod today."

Edsall and his coaching staff evaluated the trio of quarterbacks based on their performances over the first two weeks of practice. The fifth-year coach said Hills came out on top, followed by Garman and then Rowe. Hills led the first team on five series — Garman had two — and finished 12 of 17 for two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Hills made one glaring mistake when he was deep in his own territory early in the scrimmage. After scrambling away from defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, Hills threw off balance toward the middle of the field. Cornerback Will Likely stepped in and nabbed it out of the air.

"This isn't your first rodeo," said Hills, who was informed by Edsall he would work with the first team in the morning before practice. "You've been through this, you've had to compete before, you've had to go with the ones, things like that. So honestly nerves aren't really a factor at this point."

Edsall made it clear that the Terps haven't made a decision on who will start the season opener against Richmond on Sept. 5. Hills got the nod to work on with the first team with the public and Big Ten Network watching based on his performance over the past two weeks. Edsall and the coaching staff will evaluate what they saw from Hills, Garman (six of eight for 135 yards) and Rowe (nine for 18 for 81 yards) in Saturday's scrimmage before deciding who gets first team reps Monday and beyond.

But Hills' performance gave Edsall the confidence to put him with the first team.

"We told everybody, it's a competition," Edsall said. "If you tell people it's a competition and then you go and evaluate everything, and it's right there on paper and you don't go with what they've been doing on the field, then you have credibility problems. I think that's one thing that we don't have here."

Hills showed chemistry with wide receiver Levern Jacobs, and the pair connected for a seven-yard touchdown pass during the scrimmage. Jacobs finished with four catches for 47 yards and the score. Hills also rushed four times for 21 yards and showed improved mobility almost three years removed from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.


There's no timeline for a decision from the Terps. When asked about when a decision will come, Edsall said, "Not until, what, 12 o'clock or 12:06 on Sept. 5? We don't play until then, so I don't have to make any decision until we go out and line up the first snap, really."

Hills said he has no idea which way the coaching staff and who will step under center against Richmond. He knows he wasn't regarded as a favorite for the job despite being listed as a co-starter in the depth chart and taking first-team reps during the first two weeks of camp.

And that's fine with him.

"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."