Big Ten: Jacquille Veii

Spring game recap: Maryland

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
10:00
AM ET
Maryland's first spring practice as a member of the Big Ten is in the books. Randy Edsall's team wrapped up the spring Friday night with its Red-White spring game at Byrd Stadium.

The White team prevailed against the Red by a score of 187-143, as Maryland used a modified scoring system that took into account previous scrimmages during the spring. An announced crowd of 8,139 attended the game.

Check out coverage here and here and here.

Star of the game: Brandon Ross helped his cause in the running back competition with 90 rushing yards and two touchdowns on only four carries, highlighted by a 75-yard scoring dash. Cornerback Will Likely capped a strong spring with two interceptions.

How it went down: Coaches in spring ball often express relief that the real games are far away, and Edsall is no exception. He used the word "inconsistent" several times after the spring game, which featured four turnovers from starting quarterback C.J. Brown and other sloppiness, especially when rain came in the the second half. Maryland quarterbacks combined for four interceptions.

Edsall blamed himself for not making Brown and the other quarterbacks live. Brown admitted he's "hesitant" when he can be tagged rather than hit.

"C.J. has to understand that he has to use his legs," Edsall said. "When things open up, he has to take off and run. He sits there in the pocket when he's got a yellow jersey on and doesn't get things done the way he needs to do as a quarterback. That's on me."

Brown and the other quarterbacks didn't have the top wideouts at their disposal. Stefon Diggs and Deon Long didn't participate in the scrimmage, and Marcus Leak sat out with a hamstring injury.

The running backs provided more intrigue as Ross had a nice night, and Albert Reid (79 rush yards) and Jacquille Veii (75 yards) both produced. Edsall said the competition will continue in fall camp with Ross, Reid, Veii and Wes Brown. "There were a couple big runs and few things along those lines, but again, guys were just very inconsistent," Edsall said.

Likely was among several defensive backs who made plays, and A.J. Hendy recorded a pick-six and nearly another interception, and Alvin Hill picked off C.J. Brown.

"It was a boost for the season," Hill said of the spring. "I know training camp will be tough as well."

Spring game preview: Maryland

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
9:00
AM ET
Ten Big Ten teams wrap up spring practice this weekend with games or scrimmages, and we're taking a look at each one. Maryland kicks things off Friday night.

Here's a quick look:

When: 7 p.m. ET Friday

Where: Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md.

Admission: Tickets and parking are free

TV: None

Weather forecast: After a potentially stormy day, partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the mid to upper 50s, winds at 5 mph.

What to watch for: As of Wednesday, coach Randy Edsall hadn't finalized the format for the game but said it likely will be a mix of individual work as well as a scrimmage using a modified scoring system. Fans will get to see standout wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, both recovering from leg injuries, in the individual (noncontact) drills. Quarterbacks won't be hit during the scrimmage.

Running back Wes Brown and wide receiver Marcus Leak both return to the field after a year away from the program. Brown is in a crowded mix at running back that includes Brandon Ross, Jacquille Veii and Albert Reid. Leak adds depth to the receiver group, where Levern Jacobs has stood out this spring, according to quarterback C.J. Brown.

Although the offense won't be whole until the summer, it could showcase some of its explosiveness in the scrimmage. Brown is the cemented starter, but reserves Caleb Rowe, Shane Cockerille and Perry Hills have their final showcase opportunity for the coaches.

On defense, cornerback Will Likely has had a good spring making plays on the ball as he moves closer to locking up a starting spot. Alvin Hill also is competing at cornerback as Jeremiah Johnson has been limited by injuries.

Several top defenders have been limited this spring, so the real intrigue Friday is the offense, which could take a significant step this fall if everyone can finally stay healthy.

Spring position breakdown: RBs

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
1:00
PM ET
Spring practice is off and running in the Big Ten, as Michigan took the field Tuesday and Northwestern followed on Wednesday. We're taking snapshots of where each team stands at each position group.

We've already discussed the quarterbacks -- and will have much more on the way -- so the series begins with the running backs.

Illinois: The Illini are in a bit better shape here than they were the past two springs, as veterans Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young both return. Ferguson averaged 5.5 yards per carry and added 50 receptions for 535 yards as the primary playmaker for Illinois' revamped offense. Young added 376 yards on 93 carries. The Illini are looking for others behind the top two, and Dami Ayoola is back with the team after being dismissed in September for a rules violation.

Indiana: Tevin Coleman quietly put together a superb sophomore season and leads the Hoosiers' running backs in 2014. Coleman provides big-play ability after averaging 7.3 yards per carry with 12 touchdowns on only 131 attempts in 2013. Indiana loses Stephen Houston but brings back veteran D'Angelo Roberts, who will play behind Coleman. Younger players such as sophomore Laray Smith could get a look here.

Iowa: Not only did the Hawkeyes toss AIRBHG to the side and get through the season without any major injurie, but they bring back everyone for 2014. Senior Mark Weisman leads the contingent after rushing for 975 yards and eight touchdowns last fall. Jordan Canzeri came on strong late in the season and is showing no effects from his ACL tear in 2012. Veteran Damon Bullock also returns to the mix, and Iowa has talented younger backs such as LeShun Daniels Jr. at its disposal. Good situation here.

Maryland: The Terrapins wide receivers tend to get more attention, but the team also returns its top three running backs from 2013 in Brandon Ross, Albert Reid and Jacquille Veii. Maryland also regains the services of Wes Brown, who finished second on the team in rushing as a freshman in 2012 before being suspended for all of last season. Joe Riddle is back in the fold as well. The group brings different strengths, from power (Brown) to speed (Veii) to a mixture of both (Ross, Reid).

Michigan: Sophomore Derrick Green enters the spring as the frontrunner to be Michigan's lead back, although coach Brady Hoke wants to ramp up competition everywhere. The Wolverines struggled to consistently run between the tackles, but the 240-pound Green could change things. Hoke also is excited about another sophomore, De'Veon Smith. Michigan moved Ross Douglas from cornerback to running back, and Justice Hayes and Wyatt Shallman also are in the mix. "We've got more depth," Hoke said.

Michigan State: Things look much more promising than they did last spring, when the Spartans ended the session with a linebacker (Riley Bullough) as their top back. Jeremy Langford emerged as a very solid option during the season, rushing for 1,422 yards and 18 touchdowns. He's back as the clear-cut starter, and Nick Hill also returns. It will be interesting to see if Gerald Holmes makes a push, or whether Delton Williams remains on offense.

Minnesota: Here's another team that finds itself in very good shape at running back entering the spring. David Cobb leads the group after rushing for 1,202 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore. Veterans Donnell Kirkwood and Rodrick Williams Jr. are still around, and highly touted redshirt freshman Berkley Edwards will take the field after missing last fall because of knee and ankle injuries. Perhaps the best news will come in the summer as decorated recruit Jeff Jones arrives.

Nebraska: Notice a theme here? Nebraska is yet another Big Ten squad that can feel very good about its running backs entering the spring. Ameer Abdullah elected to bypass the NFL draft for one final season at Nebraska, where he led the Big Ten with 1,690 yards on 281 carries as a junior. Abdullah will contend for national awards in the fall. Imani Cross, who rushed for 10 touchdowns last year, is one of the nation's top backups. Terrell Newby and others add depth behind the top two.

Northwestern: Top back Venric Mark (ankle) will miss spring practice following surgery, and reserve Stephen Buckley (knee) also is rehabbing, but Northwestern has no reason to panic. Treyvon Green, who filled in well for Mark last season with 736 rushing yards, will get much of the work. Warren Long also is in the mix after appearing in seven games as a true freshman. Northwestern also loaded up at running back in recruiting to solidify the position for years to come.

Ohio State: This will be a position to watch in the spring as Ohio State must replace Carlos Hyde, who was nearly unstoppable during Big Ten play last fall. Veteran Jordan Hall also departs, and Rod Smith will be the veteran of the group despite only 83 career carries. The Buckeyes have some talented young backs, from Dontre Wilson, who saw significant playing time last fall, to Bri'onte Dunn, Ezekiel Elliott and Warren Ball. Keep an eye on Elliott, who averaged 8.7 yards per carry in limited work last season but could emerge this spring.

Penn State: If it feels like Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton have been competing for carries forever at Penn State, it's because they have. Zwinak and Belton have been part of Penn State's running back rotation for the past two seasons and enter another competition this spring with talented sophomore Akeel Lynch, who rushed for 358 yards on only 60 carries last season. It will be interesting to see how much Lynch can push Zwinak and Belton in the team's first spring under a new coaching staff. Penn State has depth issues at several positions, but running back isn't one of them.

Purdue: The Boilers finished 122nd nationally in rushing offense last season, so the fact all of their running backs return might not spark mass celebration. Senior Akeem Hunt leads the group after recording 123 of the team's 319 rushing attempts in 2013. Other veteransBrandon Cottom and Raheem Mostert also are back, along with younger ball-carries such as Dayln Dawkins and three backs -- Keyante Green, David Yancey and Keith Byars II -- who redshirted last fall and could have much bigger roles.

Rutgers: Here's yet another team that returns basically its entire stable of running backs for spring ball. Paul James is the name to watch, as he rushed for 573 yards in the first four games last season before suffering a leg injury. James' health is a concern for Rutgers, which could also turn to Justin Goodwin, who showed some flashes following James' injury. Savon Huggins, who entered last season as the starter before losing ground, is in the mix as he looks to re-establish himself on the depth chart.

Wisconsin: How many teams can lose a 1,400-yard rusher and still claim to have the best running back group in the Big Ten? James White is gone, but Wisconsin remains in very good shape in the backfield. Melvin Gordon bypassed the NFL draft for another year in Madison after rushing for 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns on only 206 carries. Gordon should move into more of a featured role beginning this spring, although he'll be pushed by Corey Clement, who had 547 yards and seven touchdowns on only 67 carries. Jeff Lewis provides another option behind the top two.

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