Perry Hills taking snaps with the first team during Saturday’s open scrimmage in College Park was an indication that he was the leader in Maryland’s three-man quarterback race.
Then head coach Randy Edsall flat-out said it during a radio appearance on ESPN 980 Monday, adding the detail that Oklahoma State transfer Daxx Garman is a “close second” in the race and redshirt senior Caleb Rowe was third.
Below are three factors that may help to explain the way things have shaken out so far.
1) The justification by Edsall
After Saturday’s scrimmage, Edsall made clear his methodology in determining that Hills would take snaps with the first team during the scrimmage.
In plain terms, it is this: At the start of camp, the staff communicated to the quarterbacks that they would be evaluated on Variables X, Y, and Z -- whatever they specifically were. The player who displayed the ability to do those things would put himself in the best position to be named the starter.
That method of evaluation puts all assumptions aside, like last season’s depth chart or the presumption that a starting-caliber Power 5 quarterback (with his pick of schools) would only transfer to College Park if he were in a prime position to win the job.
Citing his desire for credibility, Edsall made an evaluation through two weeks of camp and Hills being the leader is a reflection of the fact he is viewed as the player who most effectively expresses Variables X, Y, and Z.
2) The narrative hasn’t centered around Hills, judging by Edsall’s words
If Hills had been excelling, it didn’t necessarily come across that way in Edsall’s quotes to the media. Perhaps in an effort to maintain that open competition, individual players were rarely praised.
Instead, the brush strokes were more broad and emphasizing consistency or the lack thereof. But when pressed on specifics, one quote stands out. Explaining the biggest obstacle so far for each quarterback, this is Edsall on Aug. 18:
“Caleb hadn't practiced in the spring coming off that ACL. Daxx came in as a transfer and still trying to learn, get comfortable with everything and then Perry [Hills] is there.”
Perhaps it’s an oversight in the course of speaking, but the brevity is surprising considering that player would be named the leader in the clubhouse less than a week later.
3) But only three practices prior to the scrimmage were open to the media
In those three sessions, it wasn’t that Hills struggled. But, at the same time, he wasn’t pulling away from the pack.
Media members are only seeing a small sample size, though. Practices and two-a-day practices had been going on with plenty of time for players to separate themselves in camp away from the media. During that time is when Hills must have jockeyed for position.
And there is still time to go. By the time the opener rolls around, Hills could widen his gap or Garman could overtake him.