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After near misses last fall, Maryland QB Tyrrell Pigrome trying to make good first impression in spring

Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome talks about competing this summer with graduate transfer Josh Jackson for the No. 1 job going into the 2019 season. (Don Markus, Baltimore Sun video)

Nearly five months later, Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome still thinks about what happened in those final, frantic moments in overtime against Ohio State.

Pigrome has watched that play over and over, but it always ends the same way.

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After leading the heavy underdog Terps to the brink of victory, Pigrome underthrew a wide-open Jeshaun Jones in the end zone on a 2-point conversion attempt to end a heartbreaking 52-51 overtime loss to the then-No. 10 Buckeyes.

“I’m still not over it, I’m not going to lie,” Pigrome said after practice Thursday.

Pigrome acknowledged that the emotional hangover carried into Maryland’s final game, a lackluster 38-3 loss at No. 12 Penn State. A few days later, Pigrome put his name into the new NCAA transfer portal.

“It was never a culture thing or a competition thing,” Pigrome said about the possibility of transferring. “It was just like what fits me, and I felt the pass offense was a good offense, but it just didn’t fit me as well. Coach Locks got hired and that’s when I took my name out.”

Pigrome was among a few players who considered transferring before Alabama offensive coordinator Michael Locksley, who had spent nearly a decade at Maryland as an assistant under both Ralph Friedgen and Randy Edsall, was hired Dec. 6 as the team’s head coach.

Asked how he likes the offense Locksley brought with him from Tuscaloosa, Pigrome said: “In this offense, I feel more comfortable because it’s something I ran with Coach [former Maryland offensive coordinator Walt] Bell and in high school. That’s the main reason that I came here. This offense is similar to it.”

There’s a chance — perhaps a likelihood — that Pigrome could find himself backing up Josh Jackson, a graduate transfer from Virginia Tech with two years of eligibility remaining, as he did for then-redshirt freshman Kasim Hill last fall until Hill suffered a torn ACL for the second straight year.

“I hung out with Josh when he visited, he seemed like a cool dude,” Pigrome said. “We’ll take anybody that’ll make the quarterback room stronger. We always welcome new people in the room. No beef, no harm. He’s a good guy. All of us will be competing and have to work.”

Asked what kind of message he gave Pigrome to keep him at Maryland, Locksley said Thursday: “We didn’t really have to send a message. Everybody understands that everybody’s competing. I think Piggy has embraced competition.

“He’s been through it quite a bit in his time here. He’s doing a good job of picking up the offense and has asserted himself. … We’re going to try to create as much competition — not just the quarterback position — to make us a better team.”

Pigrome conceded that he wants the starting job “bad” but said that is the way he has felt on whatever team he has played, in whatever sport he was playing at the time.

Asked how badly he wants to get the starting job Aug. 31 against Howard, Pigrome said: “Just growing up, the game of football is about competing. I played three sports growing up, so that’s all I knew. It’s never been a thing where you don’t compete. Just competing in a good way. We’re positive. But at the end of the day, we’re trying to do better than one another.”

Nearly two years removed from his own knee injury, suffered after helping the Terps take a big lead at then-No. 23 Texas in the 2017 opener, Pigrome said that he is more confident than he has ever been since he came to Maryland as a lightly-recruited three-star prospect who had been Alabama’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior.

Though he still is wearing a brace — “I feel like my quad can get a little bit stronger” — Pigrome can see a difference even from last season.

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“Last year I was more hesitant,” Pigrome said. “This year I feel I won’t be as timid to cut on the leg.”

Pigrome showed a little of his speed in a two-minute drill Thursday, but said later it “was just like a little jog. I haven’t really ran [fast] since my leg got stronger.”

The only painful memory for Pigrome right now remains what happened against the Buckeyes.

“The play was designed to go as a wheel route,” he said. “On that play, they took two [defenders] to go with Taivon [Jacobs]. Then I was deciding to run at one point but then I looked back and I just saw an open guy get big eyes and I threw it. Maybe I [should have] put a little touch on it.”

Even now, during moments before practice when he is just playing catch with Jones, the two will talk about that final catch. There is still some confusion about what happened and sometimes, more than five months later, “I just throw the ball away somewhere in the sky,” Pigrome said with a smile.

Like Maryland fans who still talk about it, Pigrome will continue to think about it. Even with some of the good things he did that day, including a 27-yard touchdown pass to Jones in the fourth quarter, it all comes back to the failed 2-point conversion.

“That one play, it hurts,” Pigrome said Thursday. "That play will be in the back of my mind until we play them again.”

Locksley said that he didn’t watch any tape of Pigrome from the 23 games he has played in at Maryland, including four career starts. Aside from starting against Ohio State and Penn State last season, as well as at Texas in 2017, Pigrome started against Minnesota as a freshman.

“I didn’t watch any tape of any of the guys from last year other than what I saw on TV,” Locksley said. “Most of what we’ve done is with the installing of our system right now, so I haven’t seen enough or a bunch of him to say.

“But from evaluating him, obviously, developing him in the passing game, and a lot of it can be fundamentally corrected. I think Scottie has done a great job. From a fundamental standpoint, he has a strong arm, obviously accuracy sometimes is about alignment.”

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