Inside Maryland football’s decision to start QB Tyrrell Pigrome vs. Texas

Maryland Football

By: Max Marcilla

After Perry Hills graduated in the spring of 2017, the Maryland Terrapins needed to pass the baton at the quarterback position to someone new. This past week, they announced that sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome had earned that job.

Pigrome may not have a ton of experience, as he started just one game in his freshman season, but the experience he did gain was valuable.

“[Pigrome] had to play well before he was ready based on the roster and health last year,” offensive coordinator Walt Bell said. “This should be a redshirt freshman heading into his first game, but he had to play before he was ready and that helps you improve. Sometimes those failures help make you a better human being and player.”

What could have been a redshirt season turned into a full-time reserve role for Pigrome, who played in 11 of 13 games during Maryland’s 2016 season. He played in a packaged role, often running the football — he even finished the season as the Terps’ third-leading rusher and scored the game-winning rushing touchdown in a Week 3 victory at UCF.

“I think experience is always something that helps,” head coach DJ Durkin said. “The best way to get better at football is to play football. So if you’ve been out there playing, you’ve certainly had an opportunity to get better and been in the fire before.”

Pigrome has had to battle freshman Kasim Hill for the starting nod, a competition that Durkin noted “makes everyone better.”

Hill, a four-star pro-style quarterback from St. John’s College High School (Washington D.C.), is one of “several guys at that position” Durkin feels good about.

But Pigrome’s improvements during the offseason, especially in the passing game, won him the starting job.

“Where you have seen the game slow down for Pig is his communication at the line of scrimmage, managing the sideline and managing the offense,” Bell said.

Pigrome’s teammate and summer workout partner, wide receiver D.J. Moore, agreed with that testament.

“In practice he [does] make plays, slowed down instead of rushing through his reads,” Moore said. “His confidence got built up throughout training camp with the line and just having trust in us to be where we’re supposed be.”

It certainly doesn’t hurt that Pigrome will be taking snaps from Brenden Moore, one of the Big Ten’s better centers. Moore was named to the Rimington Award watch list in July. The award goes to the most outstanding center in Division I football.

“Brenden is able to handle a lot and there’s a lot of trust between him and Pig,” Bell said. “Every time we huddle on the sideline to go take the field, Brendan is the one who leads all that.”

Pigrome will have a tall task in his second collegiate start, when he takes the field against No. 23 Texas. The Longhorns’ defense wasn’t good in 2016, but, under new head coach Tom Herman, is expected to improve vastly. It also has Malik Jefferson, a potential first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft who has shown flashes of being an All-American.

Pigrome’s teammates, including Moore have confidence in the young quarterback.

When Moore was asked if he expects Pigrome’s solid summer to carry over to Maryland’s season opener, the junior cracked a smile and laughed.

“Of course.”