The quarterback of Maryland's past — and presumably its future — stood on the sideline with a ball cap and a headset, signaling in plays.
Recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, C.J. Brown has been limited to 7-on-7 drills and was unable to play in Friday night's spring game in front of an announced 8,200 fans at Byrd Stadium. So Brown, who will be a redshirt senior, watched other quarterbacks doing what he aspires to once the season opens: swing the ball to Stefon Diggs and watch the elusive receiver make defenders miss.
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Diggs (eight catches for 159 yards and a touchdown) and running back Brandon Ross (19 carries for 122 yards) starred in a Red-White game full of penalties and sacks that ended Maryland's spring practice season. The game ended in a 13-13 tie.
With its offensive line a work in progress, the Terps figure to use plenty of short passes — especially to Diggs — to relieve pressure on Brown, the presumptive starter.
It's a style that Diggs — who was swarmed by autograph seekers on the field after the game — described as "pitch and catch and try to make a move."
"He's better this spring," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said of Diggs, who joined the team last season as its most celebrated recruit in years and lived up to the hype. "He's more focused — not to say he wasn't before. He wants to be better. He doesn't want to stay the same, he doesn't want to regress."
On Friday night, it was transfer Ricardo Young — wearing a yellow, "no-contact" jersey — pitching the ball to Diggs, who was used in a variety of ways. He lined up as a receiver and punt returner — and even in the backfield for a running play that was stopped for no gain.
Given enough touches, it seems inevitable that Diggs — who had the second-most all-purpose yards (1,896) in a single season in program history in 2012 — will do something special.
On Friday night, he took a swing pass from Young in the third quarter, made a move at the line and bolted 51 yards for a touchdown to put his White team ahead, 10-7. Ross also played on the White team. Running back Albert Reid rushed for 135 yards for the Red team.
Maryland will not name permanent team captains this season, and will instead name captains game by game. But Diggs learned recently that he was among 10 players selected by coaches to a "leadership council" that will act as liaisons between players and coaches.
The other council members are Brown, Reid, tight end Dave Stinebaugh, center Sal Conaboy, defensive lineman Darius Kilgo, linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, linebacker Cole Farrand, cornerback Jeremiah Johnson and long snapper Greg Parcher.
Diggs said he takes his new leadership role seriously. "You've got to be mindful of what you're doing and who's watching you and how you're going to impact the team," he said. "A lot of guys are watching you leading, and you've got to lead by example."
Young, who sat out last season due to transfer rules, completed 12 of 21 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown and was intercepted once. His Red team counterpart, transfer Dustin Dailey, was 8 for 17 for 81 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted twice.
The game featured nine sacks and nine penalties.
Maryland was limited at quarterback because Brown, Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe are recovering from ACL injuries sustained last season. The only quarterback from last season on the field Friday night was Shawn Petty — and he is a linebacker who became a passer last season to fill the void.
Petty had a game-high 13 tackles Friday night. Linebacker Marcus Whitfield had three sacks.
The game ended when Red team kicker Brandon Magistro's 22-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Avery Thompson on the last play of the game. Edsall said the kick appeared to come out too low.
With neither quarterback having success early, it was fitting that the game's first touchdown came on a pass from a running back.
Red team tailback Albert Reid took a handoff, pulled up and threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Daniel Adams in the third quarter.
It was among a few trick plays that Edsall used. Another was the play in which Diggs lined up in the backfield, with Petty was the quarterback.
"It won't be in our arsenal for the season," Edsall said with a smile. "That was for the fans."