On Maryland Football Recruiting: Big Board Edition

The next step? Image via 247

We have a fair amount of basketball recruitniks around, but much like the rest of Maryland in the main, football's on a generally smaller scale. But if yesterday's piece about the revival - or, uh, vival? - of Maryland's football recruiting efforts got you interested in the future of the oblong ball in College Park and want a guide to the names you need to know, well, we've got you covered.

This list isn't exhaustive, but it's a very good starting spot - both to learn, for the newbies, and to discuss where the Terrapins will go from here, for those who are already well-acquainted with this lot. We'll go position-by-position, but remember that all of these players (and the current commitments) can be found in the Football Recruiting Big Board (the link to which can always be found in the sidebar). This class should be a fairly large one for Maryland: there will be at least 18 open scholarships, to say nothing of new attrition, so it will reach into the 20s. Standing at only 10 right now, there's still plenty of additions to be made.

Right then. Let's get to it:

Quarterbacks

Okay, so we picked a boring opener. Sorry about that. Unless there's a surprise, things are more or less finished here. There are still two more years of C.J. Brown to be had, and Edsall brought in two quarterbacks last year in Caleb Rowe and Perry Hills. Then the staff secured a big early commitment from Shane Cockerille, quarterback of Gilman in Baltimore, and he's impressed mightily in camps since his commitment - Trent Dilfer invited him to the ESPN Elite 11 tryouts because he "epitomizes" everything the event is about. (That said, the E11 guys seem to think his future could be on defense as easily as offense.) Throw in the impending transfer of Ricardo Young, and by the start of the 2014 season Maryland could go five-deep under center.

It's not as if Maryland has ignored QB this year; they almost got a visit from Asiantii Woulard and offered Brandon Cox, but neither ended up Terrapins and there's probably a reason for that. Unless something changes, it makes sense that the staff is probably done looking for QBs in this class.

Running Backs

Similar situation here, as they loaded up on quality last year with Wes Brown and Albert Reid (and potentially Kenny Goins and Joe Riddle as well, depending on where they end up on the field) and have already added another two guys who can play the position. Recent commitments DeAndre Lane and Richie Anderson are both scat-back types who could play either as a traditional tailback or move out wide to the slot. Both are dangerously quick with big-play ability, and will at the very least add quality depth. You can never have too many options in a spread attack, though, so they'll probably keep their eyes out for anyone they like - especially if they can get in the game with David Williams or Alvin Kamara, who both had early interest in Maryland. As it stands, there's probably only one prospect with enough mutual interest to warrant inclusion. And, surprisingly, he isn't local.

- Augustus Edwards (6-1, 221 / Staten Island, N.Y. / Tottenville): Ignore the bad luck Maryland's had with guys names "Augustus." Edwards is slated to announce his decision on July 10, choosing between Syracuse, N.C. State, Virginia, and Maryland, though he just received a recent offer from Miami as well. He's a big back, a downhill runner who isn't lightning quick but can be dangerous when he gets a full head of steam. His hands are strong, too, which should help in Maryland's spread. We'll know before long if he'll join the backfield in College Park; if he does, expect at least one of Lane and Anderson to move out wide. Video

Wide Receivers

And now we get to some real prospects. There's certainly no lack of young talent already on tap here, either: Stefon Diggs (freshman), Nigel King (freshman), Marcus Leak (sophomore), Levern Jacobs (freshman), and Amba Etta-Tawo (freshman) could all factor in at receiver for a long time, and other youngsters like Tyrek Cheeseboro, Malcolm Culmer, and potential transfer Deon Long could all feature, as well. This is about finding the right pieces to complement what's already here; that'll likely mean a slot receiver and a larger possession guy. Luckily, there are more than a few options, especially in the area.

- Zach Bradshaw (6-3, 205 / Damascus, Md. / Damascus): Bradshaw had an early offer and visited several times last year, but his recruitment has seemed to slow down significantly over the past few months. He's a bigger guy who could end up either as a possession receiver, a tight end, or even on defense as a linebacker if need be. He's not the fastest guy in the world, but he has good hands and knows how to use his size to shield away defenders. Video

- Paul Harris (6-4, 185 / Upper Marlboro, Md. / Douglass): Harris has exploded a bit after impressing at several camps, but Maryland's been following him for some time now. He's big, lanky, and athletic, with a frame that can hold more weight. A four-star prospect with dozens of high-profile offers, if he can add muscle in college he'll be extraordinarily dangerous - just in terms of body shape, he reminds me a bit of Plaxico Burress. Landing him will not be easy, and he's been focusing for some time now on a top four that doesn't include Maryland. But he hasn't explicitly ruled the Terrapins out, and he's exactly the type of player that the recent commitment splurge should attract. He'll be a litmus test for how far Maryland's come. Video

- Taivon Jacobs (5-11, 165 / District Heights, Md. / Suitland): Brother of Levern Jacobs, a current Terrapin wide receiver, the younger Jacobs has long been on Maryland's radar. He seemed almost something of a foregone conclusion at the start of the year; after receiving offers from the likes of Ohio State and FSU, that's certainly no longer the case. He's one of the most exciting players in the class: greased lightning with the ball, able to change gears on a dime, and capable of making defenders look foolish in the open field. As a potential slot receiver, I can think of fewer better options. He'll probably be a consensus four-star when all's said and done. Like Harris, this'll be a true test for Maryland's local recruiting pull. Video

Offensive Line

With all the talent coming into the skill positions, getting an offensive line that can pave the way for the likes of Diggs and Brown became a crucial task. Building from the lines is a sound idea to start with; when you already have the skill talent, it's absolutely necessary. The additions of Mike Madaras and Nick Brigham last year give a sound foundation, as both are potential future starters. But it's the recent commitment of Derwin Gray that really changes things here. Physically, he's a prototypical left tackle with as imposing a physique as there is in this class. Right there you have three potential lynchpins of a successful line, with Gray and Madaras possible future bookends at the tackle spots. Then there's Jajuan Dulaney and Mike Williams, both of whom are expected to play offensive line, who will add depth and competition. The bulk of the line is probably settled nicely, but it's impossible to have too much depth, so I assume they'll still add a lineman if they like him enough - and I guess they like the two guys below qite a lot.

- Khaliel Rodgers (6-2, 323 / Eastern Christian / Elkton, Md.): I think there's about as good a shot at this as we have of finding a flying turtle, but ... well, apparently those are sold for $90 a pop, so, that's a poor analogy. Anyway, it's not likely, is my point. Rodgers is a highly-touted interior lineman with a lot of big-time offers, and it wasn't long ago he was slated to decide in late June, having never given Maryland a second thought. But he pushed that back, and may have to give the Terrapins that second look after the recent recruiting surge. The longer his recruitment goes the better chance Maryland has. He's absolutely massive, with fantastic strength but surprising mobility as well. Don't hold your breath, but it might be worth keeping an eye on him. Video

- Na'Ty Rodgers (6-4, 285 / McDonough / Owings Mills, Md.): And yes, here's where it gets really confusing: two Rodgerses. Probably the best offensive lineman in the area past Gray and the other Rodgers, this Rodgers has outstanding physical tools and could play basically anywhere along the line. Like Gray, he'll need a good amount of seasoning, but there's little stopping him from reaching the top of the game. His father played at both Oklahoma and Washington if I recall correctly, so there will be the legacy factor to deal with, but Maryland has fought hard to keep him in play. He'd be a significant addition, and would solidify what's turning into a potentially very good-looking line. Video

And yes, I started thinking about a Gray-Madaras-Rodgers-Brigham-Rodgers line, too. And yeah, it would be freaking awesome.

Defensive Line

Things are trickier here, because Brian Stewart is still working on implementing his scheme and that means positions will vary as they try to settle players in. With Mike Williams purportedly being recruited as an offensive lineman, there are no DL commits thus far. There may be only three spots in the new scheme, but given that there was only one addition last year (Roman Braglio) they may want to add a few this class. Unfortunately, it'll be tough to focus on Marylanders in this class, as there aren't a ton on the DL - and probably the best, Henry Poggi, has already committed to Michigan. Instead, they need to get a bit creative and - gasp - look outside the state.

- Tevin Montgomery (6-5, 295 / Tabor / Marion, Ma.): Physically, Montgomery wouldn't look out of place lining up as a nose tackle in Maryland's new 3-4 defense. It's rare to find a high-schooler who already has the size to play that position already, so it's clear why Maryland likes him. He doesn't appear to have trimmed down his list yet, but Maryland has plenty of connections to the northeast on their staff between Edsall and Keith Dudzinski, so they'll have at least a chance with the three-star. Video

- Kingsley Opara (6-4, 270 / Mandarin / Jacksonville, Fl.): By this time last year, we'd have blown through four or five different Florida prospects. Maryland seems to have all-but-ignored the Sunshine State this year, but Opara has been receptive to whatever the Terrapins are selling and placed them in his top three. A big guy with a good frame, he could play any of the three DL positions in the 3-4, depending on whether he bulks up or stays at his current weight. He's physically overpowering most of his opposition right now instead of using superior technique, but he does have good explosion and burst. Video

Linebacker

The inverse of the defensive line in almost every way. Sure, there may be four linebacker spots to fill now instead of three, but man, does any team really need this many? The Terps loaded up at the spot last year with potentially five ‘backers, and have added another three already in Derrick Hayward, Yannick Ngakoue, and Cavon Walker. Ngakoue is the big name of the bunch - he's an athletic freak who has absolute superstar potential coming off the edge as a weakside ‘backer. That will hide where he's raw - technique - and allow him to simply be a pass-rushing monster. Walker, who is no slouch himself, is perhaps a better fit at SAM, where he'll be asked to do more dropping back in coverage. Hayward is a long-term prospect who needs to put on some weight but has wonderful instincts. You could argue the class should be done here, but there are more talented locals around, and Maryland's staff is still pursuing them.

- Jermaine Carter (6-0, 220 / Friendship / Washington, D.C.): Maryland already has the rest of Friendship's linebacker corps, why not just add the final piece? Carter isn't quite as highly-touted as either Ngakoue or Walker, but he's an athletic guy with good size and instincts. The three linebackers currently committed will likely fit as edge rushers, either at WILL or SAM; Carter, by comparison, could easily play on the inside, probably as the MO (weak side). He'll need time to add weight to play in the middle and polish his skills, but he looks like a natural middle 'backer, attacking the run and wrapping up in a way only middle 'backers do. Video

- Marcus Newby (6-1, 210 / Quince Orchard / Gaithersburg, Md.): Probably the best uncommitted local on the board, with Maryland on his shortlist. Newby's quite athletic, with good size and fantastic intangibles, which is surely a big draw to Edsall. I'm not 100% sure on where he'd play, but I'd guess he'd be another candidate to play SAM. His skillset is perfect for it, but he'll need to add weight to do it long-term. Nebraska may be the strongest competition here, but he, like Jacobs and Harris before him, is a type of litmus test for Maryland's staff. Video

Secondary

Maryland's undergoing an overhaul of the secondary, having lost several guys to graduation and transfers last year and bringing in a whole host of additions in their place. Four DBs came into the program last year, which should solve the depth problems, especially when you remember that super speedster Jarrett Ross has already committed for 2013. But there are no proven options, and a distinct lack of star power. Good thing a certain Mr. Fuller is available, then.

- Anthony Covington (5-11, 195 / Mallard Creek / Charlotte, N.C.): Covington has Maryland in his top three, along with N.C. State and Wake Forest, so there does seem to be a high level of mutual interest. The three-star has great size, and his measurables could make him anything from a big corner to a more traditional safety, depending on where Maryland wants him. He has good quickness despite his bulk, but probably needs to work on some cornerback technique if he's going to remain there. He does love to lay the lumber, though. Video

- Kendall Fuller (5-11, 190 / Good Counsel / Olney, Md.): You've probably heard plenty about Fuller, the area's top prospect and, says Mike Farrell, a possible #1 overall player. He's clearly the complete package as a cornerback, but what really sets him apart is his physicality - he's a big corner already, and he has no bones about using his size aggressively in bump-'n'-run or for jump balls. He's down to Virginia Tech (where his brothers are), Michigan (where his former teammate Blake Countess is), and Clemson (where his current teammate Dorian O'Daniel is committed), but then Stefon Diggs and Wes Brown had eliminated Maryland, too. A late statement of intent pulled it out for the Terrapins with those two, and it could happen with Fuller as well. He's friendly with Diggs, and is likely to take his recruitment to at least January. If Maryland has a strong showing on the field, they can at least work their way into the conversation and get their hat on the table. After that, who knows what could happen? Video

- Michael Parker (6-3, 196 / Kettle Run / Nokesville, Va.): Parker lays claim to one of the most confusing recruiting sagas I've ever seen - and I lived through Born Ready, dammit. Anyway, he (very publicly) committed to Maryland several months ago, in what was a seen as a major coup for the Terrapins at the time. For some reason, none of the recruiting services ever recognized the commitment, with some bandying about grades as a possible reason. Whatever's going on, it's clear that Parker likes Maryland, and it seems he's still in play for the moment. If he ends up in College Park, it'll be an interesting, nigh-game-changing development - he's quite reminiscent of Kenny Tate in terms of size and athleticism, and his aggressiveness and size will fit in well with Brian Stewart's pressure-focused scheme. Video

And so there you have it. All of these guys can be found in the Big Board link, along with others like Lucas Wilson, and Daikiel Shorts - guys I didn't include because I wanted to keep this list as short as possible. Maryland already lays claim to a pretty good class; if they can land even only a few of these players, they'll solidify that status and start edging toward a great class.

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