As soon as Maryland's 51-41 victory at then-No. 23 Texas ended last Saturday in Austin, Kasim Hill's longtime coach texted the freshman quarterback.
"3rd and 19. No problem," Chris Baucia wrote, referring to the down and distance on the 40-yard pass Hill delivered to junior wide receiver D.J. Moore, setting up Hill's 3-yard touchdown to put the Terps up 10 in the fourth quarter.
"No sweat at all. LOL," Hill responded a short time later to Baucia, who has coached Maryland's newest football prodigy since he enrolled at The Quarterback Factory in Crofton as a fifth-grader.
With sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome out for the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL against the Longhorns, Hill will make his first collegiate start in Saturday's home opener against Towson.
Maryland fans have to go back a long time to remember a quarterback — especially a freshman quarterback — who responded the way Hill did in taking over for the injured Pigrome in the fourth quarter.
When starting junior quarterback Kai Locksley lost a cleat late in the fourth quarter, Hill went in the game and delivered a 17-yard touchdown pass to John Fitzgerald that turned out to be the game-winner for Gilman
"Just like every high school coach in the country, if the starter would lose a shoe, you would run the ball for a play and put the starter back in," said Baucia, who was the team's offensive coordinator.
Just not with Hill, who was already training with high school players as a seventh-grader at Baucia's facility.
Former Gilman coach Henry Russell, now the head coach at St. Frances, said "we wanted to get Kasim on the field." regardless of Locksley's missing shoe.
"He'd been getting a lot of reps in practice," recalled Russell. "We ran Kai a lot, he was a dual-threat quarterback. When you have that kind of kid, you have to make sure there's another kid ready to go or you can't run him as much because if something does happen, you're out of luck."
Added Russell, "If we didn't have Kai, Kasim was ready to go as a ninth-grader. He's always been pretty special."
Terry Totten, whose Central Catholic High team in Pittsburgh faced Hill last season as he was finishing his high school career at St. John's in Washington, wasn't surprised what he saw in watching highlights from Saturday's Maryland-Texas game.
It was what Totten witnessed first-hand last season, when a 63-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter put the game away.
"He was in total control out there, he almost looked like a man playing with kids," said Totten, who coached former Maryland quarterback Perry Hills, whose jersey number Hill has inherited. "He knew when they wanted to be in the gap, when they wanted to be throwing the ball outside when they needed to be. He just wasn't flustered."
Every coach who has ever worked with Hill talks about Hill's business-like approach to the game and perfecting his craft as a quarterback. That is what struck Baucia when Hill first showed up in Crofton.
Hill's parents, attorneys Joe and Michelle Hill, were still living in Delaware. Before moving to Maryland when Hill was in the 10th grade, Joe Hill would drop his son off at Gilman on the way to his job in Washington.
"He was just a really nice, hard-working, good kid," Baucia recalled. "I think that comes from the way he was raised. His family situation is very supportive."
Russell saw the same qualities during the three years they spent together at Gilman before the coaching staff left for St. Frances last year and most of the top players scattered to schools outside the MIAA.
"He's very mature," Russell said. "He's a natural leader. He does everything the right way. He gets along with everybody. Nobody is going to outwork him — in the weight room, on the field. We like to say he's push button. You turn him on and he goes until you turn him off."
Along with his obvious physical tools that the now 6-2 ½, 232-pound quarterback possesses, his maturity is what attracted Terps coach DJ Durkin and offensive coordinator Walt Bell when they started recruiting Hill.
"I don't know what drew Kasim to us in recruiting, but I knew what drew me to him in recruiting, and that was his maturity," Bell said Wednesday. "You're not talking to a 19-year-old kid, you're talking to a grownup. He's incredibly grateful, he's incredibly honest, he'll tell you what he can and can't do."
Said Durkin, "This guy is a really talented football player. But when you get to know him through the recruiting process and get to know what he's all about, you really open your eyes and say, 'Wow, this guy is special.' He went into there, fourth quarter of a three-point game and it didn't affect him ...That's what we expected and that's what we got."
When Hill talked on a head set to Bell in the coaches' box before going in the game Saturday, Bell said, "You could hear the smile on his face." Bell recalled how Hill told him later that "he was more nervous for DeMatha."
Not that Durkin believes Hill won't have what he called "some freshman moments," especially after the competition gets tougher in the Big Ten. That's where his older teammates will help Hill, Durkin said.
"He's got great teammates around him," he said. "Our offense, our team is more than just about one position and one guy. He's got great guys to hand the ball to, throw the ball to, he's got a real solid line in front of him protecting him. That's why he can handle it, because he knows that."
Sophomore running back Jake Funk said that Hill has impressed his teammates since he arrived. That feeling only resonated more on the team's sideline last Saturday.
"He's one of the most poised guys I've met," Funk said. "He came in and did what he had to do and took control, helped led us to the win. It's not just him as a football player, it's him as a person. He's a calm individual. It's a reflection of just who he is. He's a great leader and he has a lot of leadership qualities that are uncommon in a true freshman."
As he watched the fourth quarter play out in Texas, Baucia might have been more surprised if Hill had thrown an interception or coughed up a fumble rather than completing the long pass to Moore to get to the 7-yard line and two plays later taking it for the touchdown.
"You just know the kid is always ready," Baucia said. "When you're watching him at Texas and they put him in the game, they kind of protected him for a couple of plays with a short screen and a run. Then it's third and 19 [on the next series] and he just goes out there like it's no big deal."