Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome has watched the play countless times this offseason.
Down a point in overtime against Ohio State Nov. 17, then-interim head coach Matt Canada opted for a two-point conversion to win the game outright against the No. 10-ranked Buckeyes.
Pigrome, a redshirt sophomore, can recall the play with picture-perfect detail: a rub route for Taivon Jacobs in the right corner of the end zone. Both OSU defenders followed Jacobs, leaving receiver Jeshaun Jones wide open and no opposing player within five feet of him.
“I almost decided to run at one point but then I looked back and I just [saw] an open guy [who had] the big eyes,” Pigrome said. “[I] threw it and maybe put a little bit of touch on it.”
The pass fell incomplete just wide of Jones who sprawled on the turf with his hands on his helmet in disbelief. Ohio State survived, 52-51, and went on to win the Big Ten.
As Maryland slogs through the third week of spring practice, Pigrome said the failed two-point conversion has been his biggest motivation since the end of the season, through winter workouts and now during spring ball.
“I’m still not over it,” Pigrome said. “That game was in the back of my head because that could have taken us to a bowl game.”
The only way he will forget the play is to match up with the Buckeyes again. They will face off in Columbus, Ohio, Nov. 9.
“I told a couple teammates, we can’t come up short no more against a good team like that,” he said. “I’ve always had it in the back of my brain … [to] keep going hard and just pushing ourselves.”
After an uneven 2018 season, in which he split time with redshirt sophomore Kasim Hill, Pigrome is the No. 1 quarterback on Maryland’s spring roster — for now. In the fall, the Terps will add former Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson as a graduate transfer — the move hasn’t yet been finalized — and consensus four-star recruit Lance LeGendre. It will be Pigrome’s third consecutive quarterback competition with the program and something head coach Mike Locksley said he didn’t need to talk to Pigrome about.
“I think Piggy has embraced competition. He’s been through quite a bit of it in his time here,” Locksley said. “He’s done a good job of picking up the offense and has asserted himself. Everybody — not just Piggy — understands that we’re always going to try to create as much competition at every position to be able to make us a better team.”
Pigrome put his name in the NCAA transfer portal in November before withdrawing it in January shortly after Locksley was hired. He said his brief flirtation with transferring had nothing to do with the culture at Maryland or the prospect of another quarterback competition but rather the fit on offense.
A three-sport athlete growing up, “all I knew was competing,” Pigrome said. “We’ll take anybody to make the quarterback room stronger. We always welcome new people in the room. No beef, no harm.”
As he awaits his future teammates, Pigrome has used the spring to get more comfortable playing on the reconstructed ACL he tore in the 2017 opener, which kept him out for the entire season.
“The way my leg feel right now just feels stronger,” Pigrome said. “Last year I feel like I was more hesitant. … This year I feel like [I’m still] protective but just running-wise I won’t be as hesitant to cut on my leg like I was last year.”
While Pigrome has watched the Ohio State play endlessly, Locksley said he hasn’t watched any tape of his quarterback, instead opting to focus on installing the same offense he ran at Alabama.
Pigrome said he much prefers Locksley’s new system to the one he ran last season, not because there was anything wrong with Canada’s motion-heavy scheme but because “it didn’t really fit me as well.”
“I feel like in this offense I feel more comfortable,” Pigrome said, pointing to the similarities of Locksley’s run-pass-option scheme to the systems he played in during high school and as a freshman with former offensive coordinator Walt Bell.
Locksley said Pigrome still has to work on his mechanics and accuracy but has made strides under new offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery.
“Scottie has done a great job of trying to correct and develop him from a fundamental standpoint,” Locksley said. “He has a strong arm — and obviously accuracy is about alignment and having your feet positioned in the correct way, so Scottie has developed drills, not just for him but all the quarterbacks, to try to develop him in the passing game, which will be big part of our offense.”
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