Like clockwork: take a day's vacation, and something big happens. In this case, Mike Locksley went H.A.M. on the D.C. recruiting trail, as Maryland last night landed three absolutely massive commitments from - where else? - Friendship Collegiate. FCA's highly-touted trio of Derwin Gray, Yannick Ngakoue, and Cavon Walker are all now Terrapin pledges, giving a huge DC-flavored boost to UMD's fledgling 2013 class.
Gray is the headliner of the bunch. He's an athletic specimen of the first degree, just a step behind someone like Bruce Campbell when he came in. A four-star on all four major networks and top-100 on Rivals, Scout, and 247, Gray is perhaps the area's best prospect after Kendall Fuller. As a left tackle he's a potential cornerstone of an offensive line, with good mobile feet and a fantastic frame. With offers from Ohio State, Auburn, and Florida State, among others, getting a commitment from him makes a big statement.
The same holds for Ngakoue, who is actually my favorite of the three players. He's a freakish athlete, even more so than Gray, boasting great speed and athleticism despite checking in at 240 pounds. He's a fearsome pass rusher, and will likely slot in on the weakside of Maryland's new 3-4 scheme, wreaking havoc as a Shawne Merriman-type off the edge. He has some work to do in terms of technique, but his raw tools are fantastic and a perfect fit for a critical spot in the defense.
Finally, Walker is a similar type of player to Ngakoue, but lacks his bulk at this point. He could slot in at any of the linebacker spots in the 3-4 without issue, but is perhaps a longer-term stock than either Gray or Ngakoue - who could be instant difference-makers.
I was already working on a football recruiting post, which will be coming tomorrow or more likely on Monday, but this is a paradigm-changer of a sort. The #Locksley'd thing is perhaps clichéd, but it's also appropriate: Locks' hands are all over this, and it's mighty impressive. (Of course, credit to Edsall as well, but Locksley's work is shockingly good.) If you had any doubts about the man's ability to lock down D.C., they should be gone. I'm a bit skeptical about a Good Counsel pipeline forming, but an FCA pipeline - and, looking wider, a locking down of the District entirely - is increasingly possible.
Even more impressively, it's coming after an absolutely disastrous year. You can chalk that up mostly to the magic of Locksley, and to a lesser extent (no matter how little you want to admit it) the Pride branding efforts. As Locksley builds more connections, as the branding efforts improve (with a new field, perhaps), and as the on-field efforts (hopefully) improve, things will get even better - and that should scare everyone else in the ACC.
I'll expand on this a bit in Monday's post, but it's rather jaw-dropping, in a very good way.