The Terrapins’ starting quarterback, Jamarr Robinson, has a cannon arm, quick feet, and more athleticism than any recent Maryland signal-caller. However, less than a year ago, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever be under center at Maryland.
“At that point, I had been sitting for a year or two, and I just wanted to play,” Robinson said before the Terps’ first practice since the spring. “It was a matter of me getting on the field and doing whatever I can to contribute to the team, because I felt like I wasn’t really contributing.”
Measuring 6 feet tall and under 200 lbs., Robinson considered switching positions, perhaps to defensive back, talking with former Terp defensive backs Nolan Carroll and Terrell Skinner, who also switched positions while in College Park.
Robinson said he never considered transferring, wanting to finish what he started, and trying to find a way to contribute to the Maryland football team.
“(Transferring) was never really a thought once I got here,” he said, “I felt like a transfer would be a failure, or quitting. It never came into my mind.”
Robinson had a bittersweet breakthrough moment late last year, in the midst of the Terps dismal 2-10 showing, starting two of the last three games after senior, multi-year starter Chris Turner went down with a left knee injury against NC State.
In the final three games of the year, Robinson showcased some of the skills that have made him relentlessly self-confident despite sitting on the bench for two and a half seasons, running for 129 yards against Virginia Tech in his first career start, then throwing for 213 yards and a touchdown against Florida State in his second start a week later.
“I feel like it’s just my competitive nature,” said Robinson. “I’m a competitor. I’m going to go into every battlefield like I can win, so I just use that to motivate me. You might get me one play, but you won’t get me the next one, and that’s what I’m thinking every play.”
Despite his success, Robinson and head coach Ralph Friedgen both acknowledged that the Charlotte, N.C. product needed to work on reading defenses and the subleties of the quarterback position.
“I just think he’s a lot more comfortable with his reads and his decision making,” Friedgen said. “The thing I really noticed over the course of the summer and the spring is that I think he’s really coming along as a leader right now. He’s very confident and maybe more vocal, and I think these are very encouraging signs.”
Robinson said he has put in the work in the offseason with offensive coordinator and head-coach-in-waiting James Franklin in the film room to improve further.
“Coach Franklin, he puts us through some rigorous tasks in the meeting room,” Robinson said, “askng us questions that we don’t expect, just trying to give us the knowledge to understand the defenses and what they do overall.”
Despite Friedgen and Franklin’s tutelage, one thing they can’t coach is speed, a dimension that Robinson gives them over Turner last year.
“What Jamarr did last year, once he went in I thought sacks went down because he was able to make some plays,” said Friedgen. “I’m sure (Franklin) will be creative with what he can do with Jamarr as far as his running ability.”
The only thing that the coaches are concerned about is Robinson, who is undersized for a quarterback, getting knocked around too much.
“The concern we have is he got a little nicked up last year,” Friedgen said, “but I’m sure we’ll have some plays where we’ll use his running ability to our advantage.”