It’s spring break time across the nation but instead of hitting the beaches or taking a cruise to a tropical destination, two former Maryland Terrapins are planning to visit Oxford.
Sophomore quarterback Danny O’Brien and offensive tackle Max Garcia are scheduled to visit with Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and his staff today before traveling to other schools looking for the best fit after both were released by Maryland coach Randy Edsall on Feb. 13.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound O’Brien, who was named the ACC Rookie of the Year as well as a freshman All-American from the Football Writers of America Association, threw for 2,438 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2010 before having a down season under Edsall and former LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton in 2011. O’Brien finished with just 1,648 yards and seven touchdowns this past season while also throwing 10 interceptions in nine games. He suffered a broken bone in his non-throwing hand against Notre Dame on Nov. 12 and did not play the last two games of the year against Wake Forest and N.C. State.
O’Brien is considered a pro-style passer, something Ole Miss quarterbacks coach Dan Werner is very familiar with from his time at the University of Miami. O’Brien is listed as being from Kernersville, N.C., but he moved to North Carolina his sophomore year in high school from Minnesota. Wisconsin, one of the schools that is also courting O’Brien, is considered to be the leader in landing him in part because of the family’s Midwest roots.
Wisconsin is also looking for an immediate replacement for the departed Russell Wilson, who helped lead the Badgers to the Rose Bowl last season.
Other schools that are pursuing O’Brien, who can play immediately because he is due to graduate after the spring semester, are Florida and Penn State, a place he has already visited.
According to a source in Maryland, O’Brien is looking at the best place where he can be the starting quarterback in the fall.
Vanderbilt, who is coached by James Franklin, O’Brien’s former offensive coordinator at Maryland, was the school O’Brien wanted to transfer to but Edsall put restrictions on that at first before reconsidering his decision after intense media scrutiny.
Garcia a talent
Garcia (6-4, 310) is originally from Norcross, Ga., and is a close friend to O’Brien, according to a source.
In a statement released back in February, Edsall said Garcia, who started all 12 games at tackle last year, was looking to get to a school closer to home.
“Max showed great promise,” Edsall said in the release. “But after two seasons in College Park, Max is still homesick. He wants to transfer to a school closer to home so his family can see him play.”
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Garcia would visit Ole Miss today, Georgia on Friday and then Florida on March 30. The article also said that a trip to Clemson is a possibility. Garcia, who would have to sit out the 2012 season, told the AJC that Georgia was the leader due to the proximity to his home.
Freeze is unable to talk directly about O’Brien and Garcia, but he did address a question regarding upgrading the roster with transfers prior to Ole Miss’ matchup with Vanderbilt in the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament.
“We’re always looking for players that will help us improve and if they bring a certain amount of attitude and character to our team, we’re wide open to that,” he said. “It certainly needs to be at a place where we have a scholarship where we feel like it won’t hurt us in future classes and get it skewed too much in one area. We can’t comment on certain kids but we’re always open to looking into those.” (March 20, 2012, Page 6)