By: Max Marcilla
Maryland was leading then-No. 23 Texas by three points in the fourth quarter. It was 3rd-and-19 and Kasim Hill, a 19-year-old true freshman quarterback, was about to take his second career snap.
The Terps’ coaching staff tried to play conservatively to avoid third-and-long scenarios for their quarterbacks. It was a bad time to be unsuccessful at that.
The Washington D.C., native ran a designed run up the middle and picked up a few yards.
Just one drive later, after a crucial defensive stop, Hill faced another 3rd-and-19. This time, he made a play. Hill dropped back and fired a perfect pass to D.J. Moore. The junior wide receiver caught the ball and ran well past the first down marker, inside the Longhorns’ 10-yard line.
Saturday’s season-opening thriller provided the first glimpse at Hill’s poise, something the Maryland football program believes will frequently be on display.
Hill finished the upset victory, completed all three of his pass attempts and even ran for his first career touchdown. It wasn’t an easy situation for the freshman, but the coaches believe there wasn’t a better player to handle it.
“[Kasim] has been like a veteran guy since day one,” head coach DJ Durkin said. “All last week he prepared like he was the starter, and you could see when he went in the game. There was no drop-off.”
It was the first time Hill entered a college football game, and he was charged with securing Maryland’s first victory over a ranked opponent in seven years. It was the Terps’ first road win over a ranked team since 2008.
“The moment he came in the game against Texas he was poised, he was happy, he was smiling,” wide receiver Jacquille Veii said.
It’s not an anomaly to see No. 11 with a smile on his face.
“Even today I saw him smiling ear to ear,” Veii said on Wednesday, “and I was like, ‘man why are you smiling?’ and he was like, ‘Man, I’m always smiling.'”
Hill’s next task will almost surely be greeted with a smile — his first collegiate start in his first career game at Maryland Stadium as a Terp. That will happen when the Towson Tigers visit College Park this Saturday. Offensive coordinator Walt Bell anticipates Hill will have some jitters, but, just like seemingly everyone else around the program, Bell believes Hill is the man, and the quarterback, to handle the situation.
“The thing that drew me to him [during recruiting] more than anything… was his maturity,” Bell said. “When you sit with Joe, Michelle [his parents] and Kasim, you are sitting with three unbelievably well-educated, professional, grown people. It’s very evident that Kasim is a product of his home and his parents. You’re not talking to a 19-year-old kid, you’re talking to a grown-up.”