Spring breakout player: Maryland

With spring practice officially behind us, we’re taking a look at each Big Ten team and identifying a player who announced himself as a potential key performer this fall. These are guys who haven’t played big roles yet but showed enough during the 15 spring practices — not just some fluky, spring-game performance against backups — to factor heavily into their team’s plans.

The latest installment swings over to Maryland, which appears to have found another viable candidate to fill out its secondary.

Spring breakout player: CB Alvin Hill

Maybe a consistently productive camp won’t give him an official starting job when the Terrapins are back at full strength.

But Hill did everything he could to force the coaching staff to give him a serious look at a full-time job. And even if he doesn’t wind up with one in the fall, having a third cornerback capable of shutting down a passing attack is more necessity than luxury in this era of college football.

Hill, just a two-game starter in the secondary a season ago for Maryland, showed a knack for delivering big plays and a nose for the football when given the chance to run with the starters throughout camp while projected first-teamer Jeremiah Johnson was recovering from injury. During his stint working across from the other presumptive starter, Will Likely, the Terrapins made life difficult on their quarterbacks with strong work in the secondary, capping it all off in the spring game by nabbing an interception that again suggested Hill could be factor for a unit that is replacing a pair of veterans.

The Terrapins and Hill have both seen how critical it is to have depth at cornerback with Johnson playing in just two games, and having talent in reserve has become even more important with sophisticated passing attacks and spread offenses continuing to become more prevalent across the college football landscape. Maryland will see two of those aggressive offenses right off the bat when it is welcomed into the Big Ten with matchups against Indiana and Ohio State, so even if Hill winds up as the third guy in the rotation or largely playing in nickel and dime situations, the junior could still be in position to make a significant impact this season.

And if he can keep snagging picks like he did during practices and the spring game, that role might expand even more — and the Terrapins might actually be even better because of it. Covers Ohio State and the Big Ten.Joined ESPN in 2012.Attended the University of Wyoming.

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