There will be a preseason quarterback competition at Maryland after all.
The Terps announced Thursday that Oklahoma State's Daxx Garman would transfer to Maryland, and coach Randy Edsall made clear in the news release that there would be an open competition in College Park this summer.
Edsall said the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Texan comes in “knowing he is competing for the starting quarterback position and is looking forward to the competition and being part of our football family.”
Said Garman, in the same statement, “Coach Edsall has done a great job with the football program and he truly cares about his players. I'm very excited to compete in the Big Ten Conference. Maryland is an outstanding university and I'm excited to further my education and continue playing football. I enjoyed my visit in College Park and I'm excited to have this opportunity.”
Getting Garman not only gives expected senior starter Caleb Rowe some competition as he returns from missing the last seven games in 2014 as well as team drills this spring while recovering from his second knee surgery. It also gives Edsall another viable option either as a starter or the top reserve.
In the spring game, backup quarterbacks Perry Hills and Shane Cockerille (Gilman) struggled and Edsall said Rowe would go into summer practice as the presumptive starter. Still, Edsall acknowledged all along that he would look at the possibility of bringing in a graduate transfer.
Maryland waited for Garman to graduate in Stillwater, Okla., and be admitted to grad school in College Park — he will go for his master's degree in supply chain management and operations — before announcing his signing. The school is in the process of getting an NCAA waiver for Garman to play immediately, which is expected.
Former Maryland star and current Big Ten football analyst Shawne Merriman doesn't think that Rowe “has done enough to be named the starter just yet.”
“Can Caleb play? Yes. Can he lead the team? Yes. But he still hasn't done enough where you walk into a season and hand a guy who was backing someone else up the starting job, I don't think there's any benefit there to anyone, especially the team,” Merriman said. “These guys get there and Caleb looks a lot better, he heals up from his knee injury OK, then fine.”
In nine games after replacing injured starter J.W. Walsh last season, including eight starts, Garman completed 152 of 277 passes for 2,041 yards with 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
In his first five games, four as a starter, the Cowboys were 5-0 and Garman completed more than 56 percent of his passes for 1,030 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions.
In his last four starts, all defeats, Garman completed just a shade over 50 percent for 680 yards, with two touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was demoted to third string and announced he was transferring.
For his career, Rowe has completed 53.7 percent of his passes for 1,768 yards, with 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, winning once as a starter, over Virginia as a sophomore. Rowe seemed on the verge of replacing a struggling C.J. Brown last season. But Rowe was injured against Ohio State. He played well off the bench in a road win at Indiana as well as in a blowout loss against the eventual national champion Buckeyes at Byrd Stadium.
Rowe was subsequently awarded an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA for a medical hardship after missing the bulk of two seasons. Garman will have one season of eligibility in College Park. If Rowe can establish himself, it might allow Edsall not to rush four-star prospect Dwayne Haskins Jr. onto the field as a true freshman. Haskins, who will be a senior at the Bullis School in Potomac in the fall, recently announced that he was going to Maryland.
Edsall said Thursday night during the athletic department's Coaches Caravan in Frederick that Rowe is “on track with his knee and everything else” and that he is expected to be ready for the start of practice Aug. 9.
“We're just looking forward to everybody coming back and really having a great summer,” Edsall said before the Keys game.
The addition of Garman gives Edsall and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley more freedom with which to run their offense than they did for a stretch last season after Rowe was injured. Edsall acknowledged that he went into a couple of games trying to not get Brown hurt by limiting the number of times he ran. That changed during late-season road wins at both Penn State and Michigan.
“What you're always trying to do as a coach, you're always trying to better your roster each and every day,” Edsall said in a telephone interview Thursday. “You try to do that at any position. One of the positions we targeted where we could help ourselves was at quarterback. We feel that we went out and we did that.”