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Terps' Shane Cockerille on transition to fullback: 'I just wanted to contribute'

Maryland quarterback Shane Cockerille (Gilman) is pictured during spring practice in 2015. Photo courtesy of Maryland athletics.
Maryland quarterback Shane Cockerille (Gilman) is pictured during spring practice in 2015. Photo courtesy of Maryland athletics. (Baltimore Sun)

Shane Cockerille may never attempt a pass during a regular-season game in a Maryland football uniform.

After the highly touted recruit from Gilman redshirted in 2013, his first year in College Park, he served as a backup in 2014. Three Terps quarterbacks appeared in games last year, but Cockerille never got a chance.

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On Monday, Maryland announced the sophomore would be moving from quarterback to fullback. About a month ago, he went into coach Randy Edsall's office to request a position change, but he didn't go in planning to be a fullback. He was hoping to switch over to defense and play linebacker, which he did in middle school.

Cockerille said Edsall told him playing fullback would give him the best chance to help the team win, so he agreed.

"My main thing was I just wanted to contribute," Cockerille said. "I just wanted to be on the field. I hate sitting down. I just wanted to do anything to help the team win."

Cockerille got his first chance to showcase his arm in front of fans during the Terps' spring game April 11. With veteran Caleb Rowe sidelined with a torn ACL, Cockerille took the snaps with the first-team offense while Perry Hills led the second team.

While both signal callers struggled, Cockerille's woes were worse. He went 5-for-20 for 91 yards and an interception while also enduring four sacks. With former starting quarterback C.J. Brown out of eligibility, Rowe, Hills and Cockerille appeared to be in a three-way competition for the job.

The position battle became more muddled this offseason, though, when the Terps announced the addition of former Oklahoma State quarterback Daxx Garman on May 28. With three more experienced players ahead of him and four-star recruit Dwayne Haskins Jr. orally committed for the 2016 season, Cockerille's future at the position was unclear.

"I just really wasn't having fun with it that much this year," Cockerille said of playing quarterback.

Plus, he knew the position was a logjam, especially after Garman was added to the roster. Cockerille wasn't sure when his time would come, and he said he missed playing other positions like he did when he was growing up.

"To have somebody sitting on the sidelines like that doesn't make much sense to me," Shane's father, Todd Cockerille, said of his son's first two years with the Terps.

The elder Cockerille estimated his son played everywhere but center growing up. He played halfback and linebacker in middle school before moving under center. Shane Cockerille also saw time at safety in high school, and he appeared on special teams four times last season at Maryland.

He has always had a stronger build than the prototypical quarterback, and Cockerille said he weighs between 230 and 235 pounds now.

"I'm just focused on getting bigger, faster and stronger," Cockerille said. "I'm on a different weight program now and doing different weightlifting techniques.

It might not be easy to earn playing time at fullback, though. Kenneth Goins Jr. has garnered recognition as a NFL-caliber fullback and has two years of eligibility remaining with the Terps.

Still, it should give Cockerille more of a chance than he had at quarterback.

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"I've just been kind of a man on a mission this summer," Cockerille said, "just doing anything to be out on the field."

rbaillargeon@baltsun.com
twitter.com/RyanBaillargeon

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