Another football recruiting story? Yes, people, it's signing day! People in Florida take holidays for this.
Anyway, we're using this as a test run of sorts, because we've never done this, so let us know what you think. It's a little roundtable within ourselves - me, Ben G., and DT all answered some various questions and gave all our opinions on the same topic - in this case, recruiting - something that usually doesn't happen.
Onward and upward:
1. Superlative time.
Player Most Able to Contribute Early
Ben B.: Javarie Johnson. He has the talent, he's an early enrollee, and he provides something Maryland doesn't have - a pass rush.
David: Javarie Johnson. The Terps have really missed a quick, athletic pass rusher the last few years and he should be able to step in right away to fill that void.
Ben G.: Javarie Johnson. There's a reason he's the highest rated recruit of Maryland's class. He's athletic, quick to the football, and a good blitzer. Simply put, Johnson is a playmaker. Those types of guys usually find their way onto the field the earliest.
Biggest Impact After 4 Years
Ben B.: Nathaniel Clarke. I had a tough choice between Clarke, Johnson, and Tyler Smith, but Johnson could leave early and Smith might not start until late in his career. Clarke by default. He'll be all-ACC two years, in my perfect world.
David: Probably the toughest one to answer because I think some of these guys could be gone in less than 4 years, but I'm going to go with QB Tyler Smith. I think Tyrek Cheeseboro could be gone after 3 years.
Ben G.: This pick is sort of wishful thinking on my part but I'm going to go with quarterback Tyler Smith. He has the height and release of an NFL quarterback and was dubbed by ESPN as the "definition of upside." Everyone knows that the quarterback (good or bad) leaves a considerable impact on his program. If Tyler Smith develops the way many expect him to, he will be the Terp you remember most from this class.
Ben B.: Max Garcia. He kicked off the frantic finish for Maryland and got some momentum going, and he'll be a major contributor at Maryland's weakest position.
David: Again, I'm going with Javarie Johnson. His defection from Miami to Maryland was huge, especially after the Terps lost double digit games last year. Getting pressure on the QB from Johnson is going to help Don Brown's defense and will at the same time take pressure off the Terps' corners.
Ben G.: Sal Conaboy, the O-lineman from Pennsylvania. He was one of the hottest guard prospects in the region and will help Maryland in an area it was severely lacking in last season. Conaboy isn't a sexy pick or someone fans are going to drool over, but he should end up being a solid ACC lineman. As we learned last Fall, you need those guys in order to score points.
Ben B.: Devin Burns. Desmond Kearse is probably #1 on a lot of people's list, but Burns is really intriguing to me. He's my sleeper to challenge for the QB spot, maybe not this year, but down the road.
David: Safety Titus Till. Great MD in-state recruit. He could see time this year and landing him was huge for in state recruiting, especially against the likes of Penn State and Va. Tech. He could be one of the top members of the 2010 class.
Ben G.: Hate to repeat picks but it has to be Tyler Smith. He's the best QB prospect the Terps have had in years and nothing riles up excitement more than a highly rated quarterback. Whether or not Smith becomes the star that many are projecting him to be remains to be seen. At this moment, though, he gives fans some hope that with exceptional quarterback play, MD can once again rise to the top of the ACC.
Ben B.: Desmond Kearse. A Floridian that destroys the looktest and also happens to be the cousin of Jevon Kearse, Desmond is an athletic freak that will be undoubtably the most exciting player to don a Maryland jersey in quite some time.
David: Nathaniel Clarke. The OL never gets enough love. This guy could be a great OG and it will be nice to have him, hopefully for four years. Plus he's another local kid who picked MD over some other big name schools. I love the local loyalty.
Ben G.: I'm going to go Titus Till here. When it's all said and done, he may be the most productive player from this class. He's got good size for a safety and the guy can lay the wood. Along with Javarie Johnson, he's another one that should see the field fairly soon.
2. After a disastrous 2-10 season, Maryland actually grabbed a pretty good haul. Did this job of recruiting by James Franklin and Ralph Friedgen buy more time for the staff and/or improve how you see them?
Ben B.: I have to be honest and say that, for the moment, yes, I think better of Friedgen and Franklin and this might've bought the duo time. They still need to go bowling, but they're on the right track. Recruiting is half the battle, and they're winning that half right now.
David: Yes. From what I've heard/read, Franklin seems to be doing pretty well out on the recruiting trail, which makes me much happier to see him as the next head coach. I know a lot of the fan base wanted to see a coaching change after this season, but I think Ralph and Franklin earned the right to stay on. Fans severely underestimate the importance of maintaining staff members over time when it comes to recruiting. If Franklin is building these inroads now, hopefully the recruits will continue to file in.
Ben G.: It's hard to say whether this class bought the duo any more time but it did make me view them a little more favorably. The last couple classes have been pretty strong for the Fridge and this one certainly follows in that pattern. This latest haul is especially impressive considering the 2-10 season. Does recruiting well make Friedgen and Franklin look better? Yes. Will it matter if they have another 2-10 season? I don't think so.
3. Better job of recruiting for 2010: Gary Williams and his staff or Ralph Friedgen and his?
Ben B.: I'm saying Fridge. Gary didn't have to work with a squad that missed the NCAA, NIT, and CBI altogether, and Fridge stuck close to him anyway. Plus, Javarie Johnson + David Mackall > Mychal Parker + Terrell Stoglin. For the time being. If Gary closes out with C.J. Leslie, this changes. If he closes with Haukur Palsson, well...I like Hawk, but not that much.
David: I'd give this one an incomplete. If Ross hadn't recommitted, I'd probably give it to Gary, but we're not sure who else will fill out the basketball class of 2010. If Ralph caps off this class with another 4 star though, you might have to give it to him, especially considering he's coming off a 2-10 season. But if Gary some how pulls another 4 or 5-star rabbit out of his hat, it swings back to him.
Ben. G: This is a tough one. I think you have to take into account how easy or hard a recruiting job is when comparing who's done a better job of it. For example, Roy Williams has a little easier time recruiting than say, Jimmy Patsos, due to the prestige of the program, recent results, etc. For that reason, I'm going to go with Ralph on this one. His 2010 class is somewhere between 35-40, and that's coming off a 2-10 season. With the de-commitment of he who shall not be named, Gary's class is probably in the 25-35 range. Also, one would think it would be easier to sell a kid on MD basketball, than MD football. From a recruiting perspective, Ralph's got the edge.
4. Maryland is simultaneously expanding their recruiting base and losing ground at home - they grabbed only 1 player in the top 10 in state. Do you get the feeling that the staff is getting spread too thin or not winning enough battles in the DC/Baltimore area? Is that (more recruits from far away vs. more recruits from home) a tradeoff you're willing to make?
Ben B.: I'm torn. I want to get players no matter where they are, and if Maryland's getting better players in Montana, then go there. At the same time, I recognize that most teams get to the elite level by locking down their home state. If I had my druthers, that's what would happen - Maryland would grab 6 of the top 10 every year. As long as that's not happening, though, they need to keep working Florida.
David: If the trade off means setting up shop in Florida and regularly getting Florida talent up to CP, sure. But I wouldn't say they're losing ground in the state. I'd say they're gaining ground in state and successfully expanding in not just Florida, but Georgia as well. If they can sure up and get some pipelines going in state and start landing one or two five star guys, I think we'd be set.
Ben G.: It's hard for me to judge whether the staff is spreading itself too thin or not because I'm not there on the recruiting trail or at Ralph's board meetings. Obviously, you'd like to see the staff bring in local talent and they have this season in Javarie Johnson and Titus Till, two of the highest rated recruits in their class. Having said that, taking 2 of the top 20 Maryland recruits in isn't particularly impressive for a school called "Maryland." Would I like to see MD recruit better in state? Of course. But I don't know enough about the ins and outs of how the staff recruits to fault them for not putting enough effort in one area over another. The bottom line is that this staff needs to win. If that means with players from Maryland or players from Germany, it doesn't really matter as long as they win. When you win, no one questions your recruiting. When you have 2-10 seasons, questions like these become fair game.