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Backup Running Backs Jockeying for Position

Maryland redshirt freshman Gary Douglas added intrigue to the running back position with his performance – 122 yards on 17 carries – in the Terrapins’ second scrimmage on Sunday.

Douglas left an impression on teammates and coaches because of the ease with which he ran and because most of the yards came against the same first-team defense that had shut down most of the offensive players in the team’s first scrimmage.

“Everyone kind of knows he is capable of that,” Maryland quarterback Chris Turner said. “He is a very smooth runner, and it looks very natural when he runs.”

Junior Da’Rel Scott, who earned first-team all-ACC honors last season, is expected to be the starter, with sophomore Davin Meggett backing him up. Douglas is battling junior Morgan Green for the No. 3 position.

Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen said Douglas, who has good lateral quickness, may be the most elusive Maryland running back. The problem: pass protecting. Douglas said he knows deficiencies in pass protection will keep him off the field.

“That is what I need to do,” Douglas said.

Two other young running backs who have impressed Friedgen, true freshmen D.J. Adams and Caleb Porzel, have also struggled with protection. Both are willing to be physical, Friedgen said, but they understandably have more protection assignments than ever before, and there is a learning curve.

“If you put the ball in their hands, they are not bad,” Friedgen said. “But we’ll lose a quarterback if they don’t know what the protection is or who they have in protection.”

Porzel, who teammates said is among the fastest players on the team, has been particularly impressive. On Sunday, he zigzagged around defenders for a 35-yard score that was nullified because of a penalty. His emergence has made Friedgen seriously consider whether Porzel could help the Terrapins this season.

“I have a feeling we are going to play that kid somewhere,” Friedgen said. “I can’t afford to go a whole year without playing him. I’ve got to get every guy who can get the ball across the goal line.”

By Eric Prisbell  |  August 24, 2009; 12:18 PM ET
Categories:  Football  
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