With Perry Hills (left), C.J. Brown (center) and Devin Burns… (Steve Ruark, Baltimore…)
COLLEGE PARK — Medical tests have confirmed that Maryland lost not only starting quarterback Perry Hills for the season in last Saturday’s game but also his replacement, Devin Burns — leaving the Terps with a freshman who has played one series at the position and a 230-pound linebacker as his backup.
The school also said Thursday that Marcus Leak, an emerging sophomore receiver whose 23 receptions and 17.1 yard average were second on the team, will miss the remainder of the season with a broken toe.
“You take a look at it, it’s kind of crazy,” coach Randy Edsall said of losing the freshman Hills to a torn anterior cruciate ligament and Burns, a redshirt sophomore, to a serious left foot injury in the 20-18 loss to North Carolina State. Hills had taken over in August after presumptive starter C.J. Brown’s ACL injury sidelined him before the season.
After losing three quarterbacks since the opening of training camp, the Terps are left with just one eligible player at the position — freshman Caleb Rowe, who threw the first two passes of his career Saturday. The next option would be freshman Shawn Petty, a linebacker who also played quarterback at Greenbelt’s Eleanor Roosevelt High School.
Burns suffered a Lisfranc injury — in which bones in the midfoot are broken or ligaments are torn — Saturday but continued to play despite a noticeable limp. Burns’ injury was diagnosed during the week but not officially released until Thursday’s injury report.
Maryland (4-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) did not want to tip off Saturday’s opponent, Boston College (1-6, 0-4), prematurely.
Burns and Leak are both scheduled to undergo surgery, and their recovery periods are expected to last for months.
Edsall studied several plays on the video from Saturday’s game in which Burns may have sustained the injury. The coach believes it may have happened in the fourth quarter when a defender looped an arm around Burns’ waist as he faded back in the pocket. Burns stumbled awkwardly, pushing off his left foot.
The injury, coupled with the loss of Hills in the second quarter, makes the N.C. State game one of the unluckiest for the Terps in recent years. It ended — fittingly, perhaps — with kicker Brad Craddock’s potential game-winning, 33-yard field goal bounding off the left upright.
Burns rushed for 50 yards against the Wolfpack. He had the ability to put pressure on defenses and keep them guessing with his running ability.
Rowe has developed a reputation in practice for his accuracy.
“He’s got a lot of natural ability to make all the throws,” said Wade Cooper, Rowe's former coach at Blue Ridge High School in Greer, S.C.
Maryland’s coaches had planned to redshirt Rowe before all the injuries. Several teammates have called him a “gunslinger” because of the way he whips the ball around in two-minute drills and places it in tight spots.
“I told Caleb, ‘Go out there and have fun,’ “ Edsall said. “It’s his team. Don’t got to worry about a quick hook. The other guys, we’ll teach them as much we can teach them.”
Maryland may be able to survive the quarterback injuries, as long as Rowe remains upright.
The Terps are one snap away from turning to Petty, a 6-2, 230-pound reserve linebacker not listed on the two-deep defensive depth chart.
“Caleb goes out there and loses his helmet, Shawn Petty you’re in the game,” Edsall said.
Petty ran a Navy-style option offense in high school, his coach Tom Green said.
Green said he asked Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley months ago if he might be interested in trying Petty at quarterback.
“They didn’t feel comfortable then, but I guess due to injuries they have to give someone else another opportunity,” Green said. “He can pass, he can run. If all else fails, I think he’s serviceable.”
Maryland needs two victories to become bowl-eligible, which would be an achievement considering all of the injuries and last season’s 2-10 record. Maryland has also been missing a number of other players in recent weeks, including safety Matt Robinson and wide receiver Kerry Boykins.
“We’ve got five games left,” Edsall said. “You hope nothing else happens, but if it does you’ve got to be prepared.”