How O'Brien Earned His Spot

How O'Brien Earned His Spot

Redshirt freshman Danny O'Brien finds himself in a dual-QB system thanks to his preparation.

Sure, Jamarr Robinson is the “starter” for the Terps this season. But starter is just a title, not a privilege.

This season, the Terps find themselves using the Juicy Fruit method at quarterback – double the pleasure, double the fun – and for their sake, hopefully more than double the wins.

Redshirt freshman Danny O’Brien is not the starting quarterback for the Maryland Terrapins football team. Going into the year, there was no inclination of even how much time he’d even see on the field. But after tossing three touchdowns on his first three career passes as a Terp, as well as making the entire fan base hold their breath when he suffered an ankle injury, O’Brien has engraved himself as a critical part of the Terps’ quarterback plans in 2010.

There’s something about the six-foot-three, North Carolina native that really catches the attention of the Maryland coaching staff, his offensive coordinator James Frankin especially. Maybe it’s his good grades? Maybe it’s because of him calm, cool demeanor? Or maybe it’s because of his passion for football.

Franklin told a story about O’Brien’s time at East Forsyth High School – how he prepared like a college quarterback back then. He, along with his head coach at the time, Todd Willert, would break down game films and really soak in the experience.

“[O’Brien and Willert] kind of prepared like college coaches. They would come in on Saturday, and he would buy breakfast or lunch, and they would sit and watch the film together,” Franklin said. “He was kind of a football junkie. He loves the game; he loves to study it.”

But when you love a game like football, there’s nothing better than actually getting the opportunity to play. And as the quarterback of a team, you have the ball in your hands every play. You control the entire offense.

More often than not, guys like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are who we think of when we think of the top quarterbacks in the game today. And what’s Manning so notorious for? Film study – a prime method of learning all there is to know about the Xs and Os of the game. Like that of Manning, O’Brien too has a keen interest in the game.

“All of his preparation and how easy the game came to him – concepts, coverages and why – some guys have [it], some guys don’t. He has it, and a lot of guys have to work for it,” Franklin said of O’Brien, who used to send him text messages during meetings asking questions that made the other quarterbacks in the room say “wow.”

“It was like chess – he was already two steps ahead,” he added.

On the field, O’Brien carries himself that Joe Cool style – Franklin had trouble trying to find times when his young quarterback got rattled. Fortunately, he proved O’Brien human – he was “pissed about the fumble” during the Navy game. But most of the time, Franklin described him:

“He’s pretty consistent. He’s very positive. He’s very happy. He’s very poised. He’s very confident. He’s got that.”

But what impressed his quarterbacks coach the most? Coming into practice every day with a goal in mind: to be the starting quarterback for the Terps. Despite all the hype surrounding Robinson’s first year as the starter, O’Brien didn’t let articles or press conferences get in his way. No, he had other plans.

“It takes maturity and it takes discipline to say, ‘I’m going to come every day and I’m going to prepare like a starter. I’m going to outwork those guys every single day and I might not play for another three years. But I’m going to come every day and play,’ “Franklin said.

The next test for O’Brien will be the No. 21-ranked team in the country, the West Virginia Mountaineers. For O’Brien, it will be his first matchup against a ranked team, and it will of course be on the road in midst of a roaring Morgantown crowd.

I’m sure O’Brien’s game.

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