While rehabbing from the torn ACL in his right knee which cost him the last nine games of his freshman season a year ago, quarterback Kasim Hill said that he approached the sessions with the team’s training staff as he would a practice or a game.
“It’s just a different type of work that you have to do,” Hill said one day last March. “I’m the type of person that works hard at whatever I do, and that’s always going to carry with me. It’s just different exercises, going about getting ready for the season in a different way this year.”
Unfortunately for Hill, he will now have to get ready for his redshirt sophomore year next season the same way he prepared for the 2018 season, which ended Saturday when he tore the ACL in his left knee during the second quarter of a 34-32 loss at Indiana.
After Hill alluded to the injury and its aftermath in an Instagram post Sunday night — “Never thought I’d have to attack this process all over again, but the Lord has more adversity for me to overcome,” — Maryland interim coach and offensive coordinator Matt Canada confirmed the news at a Tuesday conference that Hill will miss the team’s last two games.
“It’s very disappointing. There’s no words to say to make it any better,” Canada said of Hill’s injury. “Great kid, a kid who worked so hard and battled his way back [from the first ACL]. He will again, but certainly a very, very hard situation for him and his family. He will be back, and he’ll be stronger and he’ll have two really, really strong knees.”
Hill was injured on what Canada called “a freak play, a very, very disappointing play” when the 6-foot-2, 234-pound quarterback tried to elude a tackle out of the pocket by Indiana freshman linebacker Cam Jones, who caught him from the side and twisted Hill to the ground.
As Hill fell backward, his left knee buckled. He remained on the field for a few minutes while being attended to and walked off. At the time, the Terps trailed the Hoosiers 21-6 and would fall behind by as many as 16 points, 31-15, in the third quarter before briefly taking the lead, 32-31, with a little under five minutes to play.
Along with redshirt freshman running back Anthony McFarland Jr., who broke a school freshman single-game rushing record with 220 yards on 29 carries, Pigrome sparked the Terps in their comeback bid.
After scrambling for a 9-yard gain and a first down on his first snap, Pigrome completed 10 of 13 passes for 146 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Jeshaun Jones with 4:54 left to put Maryland in front.
Indiana wound up winning on a 42-yard field goal with 2:32 to go. Pigrome fumbled at midfield on Maryland’s last possession, though photos and replays showed a possible face-mask penalty by the Hoosiers wasn’t called.
The performance came after Pigrome was used only sporadically, typically for a few packages or in mop-up situations, throughout the season.
“He’s hung in there. It’s a great credit to Piggy,” Canada said. “If you watch that game, everybody wants to play, everybody wants to start. He started before. It wasn’t the greatest situation, but he never complained. He wasn’t pouting. As soon as that happened, he stepped up in the game and he played very well.”
Asked about the mindset he had taking the field in Bloomington after Hill was injured, Pigrome said after practice Tuesday, “I was mainly trying to stay calm the whole game just doing what I had to do to help the team out. That’s what I tried to do, but we just came up short.”
The injury to Hill marks the end of an inconsistent first season as a full-time starter. It also marks the 13th time in the past 15 years that the Terps have played multiple quarterbacks in the same year, often because of torn ACLs.
After completing 18 of 21 passes (85.7 percent for 230 yards and two touchdowns) in about six quarters last season, Hill was just 84 of 170 (49.4 percent) for 1,030 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions.
Hill’s streak of playing well against bottom-tier teams and struggling against the Big Ten’s elite ended against Indiana when he completed just four of 12 passes for 83 yards and an interception on which he underthrew freshman receiver Dontay Demus Jr. downfield.
Asked Tuesday to assess Hill’s season — which statistically was remarkably similar to the one now-junior Max Bortenschlager had in place of Hill last season — Canada said he saw progress despite the erratic performances.
“I think he was progressing. We had a couple of games there, he threw the ball pretty well. A couple of games where he didn’t throw as well as we wanted to,” Canada said. “I think mentally and reading the defense were the things that were coming. I think he was understanding that. Leading the football team. He plays with great passion.
“I think harnessing that the right way was a process for him too. Kasim’s got a great future ahead of him. Obviously he’s on a road to get healthy again. That’s challenging. That’s something it you haven’t gone through that, that’s a challenging situation.”
The timetable for Hill’s return this time is a little more uncertain. The typical recovery time for a torn ACL is nine months to a year, but players have been known to come back faster. Hill was able to come back for the start of summer practice with the last injury, which occurred in late September.
“He’s already done it once, which should help him understand it,” Canada said. “He’s going to have those days, ‘I’m doing this again.’ But I don’t have any doubt he’ll do it. He’s got great family support. Great teammates. He’ll come back and he’ll be really, really good.”
One thing is clear about Hill. His priorities are in the right place, As devastating the injury was for him and potentially for his football career, it paled in comparison to what happened over the summer as Hill was starting to get back on the field.
Hill’s Instagram post also alluded to teammate Jordan McNair, who died in June after suffering heatstroke during a team conditioning test two weeks earlier.
“Every Saturday this season I gave my all to every single one of my teammates, as we all honored our brother,” he wrote. “This was one of the most special teams that I have ever been a part of. Love everybody on this team, and I’ll always have their back.”
NOTES: Asked whether he has had any conversation with the Big Ten office regarding the possible face mask, Canada said Tuesday: “It’s a great question. I have had a conversation with the league office about that play. I did get an answer. I respect the league, I respect the situation. We don’t talk about those things. I think they do a very good job of getting back to us the feedback. It’s not the answer you want to hear. … It really doesn’t matter. The game’s over. We didn’t make enough plays to win the game. I didn’t coach well enough to win the game." … Canada also announced Tuesday that junior guard Terrance Davis, who sat out last week’s game with an injury, will also be out against the Buckeyes. Senior running back Ty Johnson, who suffered his second injury in the past three weeks against the Hoosiers, will be a game-time decision for Ohio State, as is sophomore running back Javon Leake.