Image via www.washingtonpost.com
The D.C. area is quietly establishing itself as one of the nation's premier producers of talent in football recruiting, putting out three five-star quality players in the 2012 class alone - Eddie Goldman, Ronald Darby, and of course Stefon Diggs. Early returns are similarly impressive on the 2013 class, with Kendall Fuller, Derwin Gray, and Dorian O'Daniel earning high marks from the various scouting services.
And no mistake, the biggest program in this brewing hotspot isn't DeMatha, or Gonzaga, or even Friendship Collegiate (which, we should note, is getting there) - no, it's Good Counsel. Need proof? The Falcons have won the past three WCAC championships, the last two coming by a combined score of 84-3. It's been utter domination for the past several years. With DeMatha losing both its legendary coach, Bill McGregor, and much of its high-level talent, like E.J. Levenberry, this trend shows no signs of reversing.
GC hasn't been on its perch for very long, but Maryland has struggled to get a real foothold in the budding local powerhouse. Between 2006 and 2011, the Terrapins garnered commitments from only two Good Counsel players: Caleb Porzel, who was only on campus for a year, and Drew Gloster. In that same period, GC had fourteen players (not counting those two) commit to BCS conferences, including six of them to ACC schools.
This year? Maryland's brought in three commitments from Good Counsel players, plus a figurative fourth by way of Zach Dancel, a transfer from New Mexico and former GC quarterback - and that figure includes arguably the most-hyped recruit in recent D.C. football recruiting history in Diggs.
It's early to make talk of a pipeline - it takes more than one year to a pipeline build - but the groundwork has certainly been laid. And while a phrase like "pipeline" is heavy-handed, if nothing else Maryland will certainly have a much larger presence at Good Counsel than they have in the past. And it isn't just the numbers factor, which is what a lot of people seem to be interpreting: it's who, not just how many.
Diggs and Brown were a part of all three championships, and as such have a somewhat legendary status at the school. Zach Dancel is similarly important, and his father, Bernie Dancel, essentially bankrolled the program to begin with before becoming a position coach there. Not to mention that head coach Bob Milloy is a Terrapin alum himself. These are very powerful friends to have.
And that's a very good thing. The aforementioned Fuller and O'Daniel, both Good Counsel players, are very highly-regarded in the 2013 class - Fuller actually very well may be GC's most highly-ranked recruit in history, as he's currently Rivals' #4 player in the country. The train of elite, high-level players being pumped out of Olney is unlikely to slow down anytime soon.
That said, GC is a national program, and their players will be recruited like it. They'll send kids all over the country, and every single program will be sending recruiters to Olney. Again, "pipeline" is a very heavy-handed term to use when describing the effect this sort of thing will have. But expect Maryland to be a serious factor at Good Counsel going forward, and they may just have an upper hand with most of their recruits.
Say what you will about Randy Edsall - Juan knows he deserves most of it - but the man has recruited very politically. No presence at Good Counsel? Bring in four recruits, including the most hyped recruit in the program's history, and the team's benefactor. Haven't landed a kid from Gilman in two generations? Bring in Kenneth Goins. Rising power Friendship Collegiate? Land their star running back Albert Reid.
That isn't to say that these are cosmetic additions - far from it. All, particularly Diggs and Brown, will have immense impacts on the field. But they'll also make a difference on the trail going forward, and that's nearly as important.
Maryland has never really seemed to understand the political side of football recruiting. Edsall, for all of his faults, does - or, at the very least, has assistants who do, and he gets out of their way. I can't say enough how well this recruiting class was put together, in a political sense. If there were three local programs upon which Maryland could build a powerhouse, they'd unquestionably be Friendship, Good Counsel, and Gilman. And Maryland built up relations with all three. (Schools like Calvert Hall and DeMatha would be nice as well, but they're a notch below those Big Three.)
Throw in Mike Locksley, who is relationship-ed to the hilt, and it's very easy to imagine a bright future in Maryland football recruiting. They've been sitting on a goldmine of talent for years now, and have never been able to capitalize on it. If they do, things will get mighty interesting. Win a few games next year, and who knows where this takes them.