Young quarterbacks take center stage in Maryland's spring game

For a little more than a month, Maryland quarterbacks Tyrrell Pigrome and Max Bortenschlager have been sharing snaps in practice with redshirt junior transfer Caleb Henderson, hoping to show second-year coach DJ Durkin how much they improved from their freshman year.

With Henderson ruled out of Saturday's Red-White spring game with an ankle injury, the two rising sophomores took the turf stage at Maryland Stadium with hopes of proving they could compete with Henderson and incoming freshman Kasim Hill for the starting job next season.

The results were decidedly mixed, though Bortenschlager did not make the obvious mistakes Pigrome did. Still, Durkin said the competition at such a key position will be stronger and the talent pool deeper than it was when he took over last season.

"I'm really excited where we're at, at the quarterback spot," Durkin said. "I think Kasim coming in will really add competition to it. We're going to keep competing all summer through preseason camp [before] making a decision on that. We have some good answers there."

Pigrome, who spent most of his freshman year as the main backup to senior Perry Hills, showed he was still mistake-prone in the pocket, as he was last fall. But after being intercepted by senior linebacker Jesse Aniebonam on his first possession, Pigrome seemed to settle down.

Though he was also intercepted later in the offense-versus-defense scrimmage — on a back-to-the-field, over-the-shoulder, diving catch by sophomore safety Antoine Brooks — Pigrome threw two touchdowns, including a 29-yarder to senior Taivon Jacobs.

"I just put it in my past and make sure I move on from it," Pigrome said of his early interception. "I think I developed that in high school, some time around my senior year. My high school coaches always told me, 'Leave your mistakes from the last possession, just make sure you bounce back on this one.'"

Asked about Pigrome's ability to shake off mistakes, Durkin said, "That's a great quality to have as a quarterback, and Pig certainly has it where he's not going to let much affect him. He throws a pick or makes a bad decision, he's the same guy he was before that that he is after. He's very confident."

As for Bortenschlager, Durkin added, "Max has been consistent throughout the spring. He makes good decisions back there at the quarterback spot. He knows where to put the ball."

Bortenschlager, who finished 7-for-16 for 152 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown pass to rising sophomore DJ Turner, said he had already heard from offensive coordinator Walt Bell about the performance of his quarterbacks. Pigrome was 6-for-14 for 70 yards and freshman walk-on Ryan Brand was 1-for-4 for 19 yards.

"Coach Bell didn't think it was our best day. We don't think it was our best day," Bortenschlager said. "We just forget about that, think about the good stuff that happened and work on the bad stuff and carry that into summer with our player-run practices and fall camp."

Durkin was not as tough on his young quarterbacks.

"Those guys are gaining confidence every day," Durkin said. "Having a day like this and come there in the rain and throw it around a little bit is good for them. It's good competition. They make each other better."

The competition come preseason camp will have a similar storyline to last season, when many believed Pigrome had a chance to beat out Hills or fellow senior Caleb Rowe. Rowe then suffered a hip injury early in camp and it became apparent that Hills' experience had given him the edge over Pigrome.

While it appears Henderson might've been the favorite going into the spring, the next few months will help determine who will start the opener on Sept. 2 at Texas. As was the case a year ago, many think Hill, a four-star prospect out of St. John's College High, has a chance to win the job.

"It'll still be competitive. You've got Kasim coming, so you're just going to be competing again, like spring practice, but it's just going to be fall camp," Pigrome said. "All of us are about the same."

Notes: Turner finished with six catches for 126 yards and a touchdown to lead the offense to a 45-40 win over the defense. Turner was suspended the last four games of 2016 along with fellow freshman Lorenzo Harrison III and was reinstated in January after charges were dropped from a November incident where they were accused of shooting off Airsoft guns on campus. … Harrison rushed for 79 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown. … On Saturday, Maryland added two four-star prospects from nearby DeMatha, defensive tackle Austin Fontaine and offensive guard Evan Gregory. The Terps now have five players committed for the class of 2018. Fontaine is the 69th-best prospect in the nation, according to the 247sports.com Composite rankings. Gregory is the 282nd-ranked player in the country, and 14th-best at his position.

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