Hughes is either seeing his brother again or really likes Maryland. Or both. Image via HamptonRoads.com
It's been awhile since Maryland's made any type of noise in football recruiting. After a blistering start that included commitments from highly-touted Floridian Shaun Ward (who is now gone) and N.C. wide receivers Nigel King and Marcus Leak, Maryland hasn't received a commitment since July.
But get one win and some positive momentum starts to build up. Either that I just happen to notice all this more. Or maybe it all seems more relevant because it suddenly becomes more possible. Or maybe it's all just coincidence. Whatever.
Regardless of why, it seems like a lot of positive recruiting momentum has been building up for Maryland lately. Virginia linebacker Travis Hughes is visiting the Terps again this week after being in person for the Maryland-Navy game. The Terps are also one of Pennsylvania safety Dondi Kirby's top two schools ($$$ link, but the headline tells you what you need to know), and they're jockeying with - get this - Florida, USC, Iowa, and North Carolina. And Maryland's even still lurking around in the Sunshine State as serious players for Florida CB Corey Tindal (another $$$ link, but you get the idea).
Let's go in order: with Hughes, that has to indicate some serious interest, right? He's the brother of current Maryland CB Trenton Hughes, but lives in Virginia Beach, which is quite a drive. That North Carolina is hurting can only be a good thing, too; Hughes has been rumored to be a UNC lean for awhile now. If that doesn't happen, Maryland could loom large with a successful season.
In terms of splash, Hughes would be pretty big. He's the #154 player in the nation on Rivals and would fill one of Maryland's biggest needs: an impact inside linebacker. David Mackall has filled in there for now, but there have to be doubts about his effectiveness there against, say, his more natural defensive end spot.
As for Kirby, Maryland's been recruiting him for some time now. The Terps always seem to recruit hard in that Pittsburgh area, but rarely come away with a player as highly-touted as Kirby. He, like Hughes, is pretty high up there in the rankings - #152, to be exact - and would make a huge splash. Pennsylvania has been Lee Hull territory in the past, and he's always done a good job of getting some serious consideration out of players; of course, the next step is for Friedgen or Franklin to seal the deal.
Tindal wouldn't be as significant as Kirby or Hughes, but he'd still be one of the best commitments Maryland's landed in 2011. He's a three-star on all three major services, but the #29 CB on Rivals: players ranked lower than him are headed to Ohio St., Florida, LSU, Virginia Tech, Florida State, and a few other powerhouses. Not too long ago, Maryland was his leader. But then he got antsy regarding the coaching staff, which was very ominous indeed.
But a few wins can instill a lot of confidence in the fanbase and administration, and eventually the recruits, too. We wondered what would happen if Maryland had another terrible year, but what if they can go, oh, 6-6 or 7-5 and win a bowl game? Tindal, for one, might end up a Terp. And maybe Hughes' and Kirby's recruitments might see a little boost in favor of Maryland. I wouldn't be surprised: it's a lot easier to join a winning team than a losing team.
And of course, Darius Jennings and Blake Countess are still on the board. Countess should be a possibility; Jennings, for a variety of reasons, probably isn't. (And don't even bring up Cyrus Kouandjio.) But considering how frantic last year's recruiting finish was after a 2-10 season, who knows what a bowl game might bring?