National Signing Day 2011: Lessons Learned from Terps' 2011 Haul

Unfortunately, there was no snowpocalypse in the first week of February this year, which means I can't give wall-to-wall coverage of National Signing Day, like I did last year.

For those of you that don't know, National Signing Day is the first day that football commitments are allowed to sign their National Letters of Intent, thus making their commitments 100% solid. It's a big day for football schools (weird, huh?), and not so much for basketball schools, like us. Normally, I'd get a liveblog going (or something similar), but that's a no-go today.

But, conveniently, the way recruiting goes is that 99% of it has already happened, and that let's us get a little prep work in. Like, for instance, a few (very broad) things that we learned from the 2011 recruiting session. Yeah, that sounds good. But first, a disclaimer:

  • We can't really judge Edsall on this. This class is mostly Ralph Friedgen and James Franklin's, and neither is here anymore. It's hardly fair to judge Edsall's recruiting ability, good or bad, based on a month of recruiting, most of which entailed holding onto his own class. 2012 (and, really, 2013) will be better judges.
  • But the early results are encouraging. He lost a few recruits, as is to be expected with any coaching change, but he held onto the most important ones. And as a bonus, he recovered A.J. Hendy's pledge, something that I honestly don't think even James Franklin could've done. Is that to say that he's a better recruiter than Franklin? Or that you should expect him to clean up in PG County next year? Hardly. He appeals to a specific type of player, and not all the recruits will be attracted to it. But he just proved that, yes, he can pull a recruiting surprise. 
  • As a whole, it's not quite as good as expected. After landing a really solid class last year, most people expected Maryland to do better when they were working with a 9-win season. Instead, they're left with a class that's in the 40s and 50s by most services. And you can't just say that the coaching change did it all; though it's possible that Travis Hughes and Darius Jennings could've been Terrapins had the coaching change not gone down, it's far from certain. I wouldn't have bet on either of them. Disregarding those two, the class seems to be a little light on the type of talent Maryland was supposed be bringing in with Franklin and a winning season. It's disappointing, though it's not disastrous by any measure.
  • Don Brown's still locking down Florida. Maryland's had three decommitments from the Sunshine State, which is just the way the game is played down there. But even with that, Maryland has four commitments from Florida, which is pretty impressive considering their northerly location. It's not as many as last year and it lacks the impact player I had hoped Brown would've been able to grab, but it's a positive development nonetheless: South Florida is the most saturated football market in the country, and getting a foothold there is always a good thing.
  • The linemen blueprint is changing. Edsall may not continue this trend, but out of the five OL that Maryland recruited this year, all fit into the "smaller, quicker" mold that's becoming a little more popular nationally. Only one of the five tops 300 pounds, and that happens to be Nate Clarke, who has notoriously quick feet. Quickness and versatility was mentioned in nearly every scouting report I read of any of Maryland's OL commits. I'm not sure how this will fit Edsall/Crowton's scheme, but it's an interesting development nonetheless.
  • Playmakers galore at wide receiver. I don't know why, but Maryland's always had great depth at WR. It doesn't look like it'll be changing this year: they're adding Tyrek Cheeseboro, Nigel King, and Marcus Leak, and don't forget that former four-star Adrian Coxson transferred in last year. I'm really high on King and Leak, who are both from NC: King's a possession receiver who was very nearly an LSU commitment, while Leak is unbelievably shifty and quick. With Coxson and Cheeseboro, Maryland has quite the stable of young wide receivers to play with.
  • 2012 will be the key class (as usual). I know, everyone always says that the next class is the most important one. But it's true this time (as it usually is). As fun as this class was, it's light on impact players. 2012 will be crucial, for more reason than one. Aside from having a wealth of local talent, including high four-star guys like Wes Brown and Cyrus Jones and a legitimate five-star in Stefon Diggs, it's Edsall's first year. There's some excitement and intrigue surrounding him, so 2012 may be an opportunity for him to cash in. It's also his first impression on the recruiting world, and as we all know, first impressions aren't something to mess up.  2011 is a solid base especially when compared with the impact players that 2010 saw (David Mackall, Adrian Coxson), but - as always - next year's class appears to be the key.
So, what's your opinion on the class? Let it fly in the comments.
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