Recruiting is something that not even the experts fully understand sometimes. You think you have a hold on what a team is trying to do with a class, and then, all of the sudden, something weird happens.
This year's Maryland class is no different. Quarterback Will Ulmer is considered one of the better commitments the Terps have in the class of 2014, and while some analysts said he might be better suited as a skill player at the college level, there was nothing to suggest the coaching staff felt the same way.
Well, either they feel that way now, or they've learned from last year that there's no such thing as too much quarterback depth. Maryland has reportedly offered 2014 four-star California quarterback Brad Kaaya, who is currently committed to Miami.
What does the offer mean? Well, for one, that Maryland feels Kaaya's commitment is open enough that they could make a run at him. For another, it means that the Terps feel, for a reason of your choosing, that a four-star quarterback from California would be interested in the program.
We asked SB Nation Recruiting Editor Bud Elliott about the specific offer and offers like this in general.
"I really don't know why Maryland offered Brad this late in the game. Does someone on the staff have a connection to Kaaya or his area of the country? Did they get word that the prospect was looking around at another school and thought they should also threw their hat in the ring? There was some UCLA chatter a while back.
"There's very little downside to offering a prospect, and coaches are typically very confident in their abilities to recruit. What's the worst a prospect can say? If a team has a need at a position, and the prospect fits the need, the prospect should be offered unless the offer might complicate matters with other prospects."
It seems unlikely Maryland lands Kaaya -- he's already committed to Miami, and local schools UCLA and USC are now also hounding him. But that last sentence is key -- "unless the offer might complicate matters with other prospects." Even if the Terps don't land Kaaya or any other 2014 quarterback, the fact that they are targeting one means we can talk about Ulmer's future at the position.
Many fans probably thought the next few years would look something like this at the quarterback position: C.J. Brown next season, Caleb Rowe the year after that, Perry Hills (assuming he receives a medical redshirt) or Shane Cockerille until Ulmer's ready, and then Ulmer until (hopefully) Kai Locksley's ready.
This move would appear to suggest Ulmer is out of that picture (although, again, not necessarily). That would mean Brown for next year, Rowe as a senior the year after that, and then either Perry Hills or Cockerille until Locksley (or someone else) is ready. Not a huge difference, as Locksley (who, again, is not committed yet) is thought to be the future there, but perhaps a more significant one in the short-term.
So where could Ulmer play? The most talked about option is running back, but he could end up as a slot receiver if his hands improve. Between Maryland's wide receiver depth and the aforementioned hands, running back seems the most likely option -- especially with the decommitment of Johnathan Thomas.
Wes Brown comes back to the running back rotation next year, joining Brandon Ross, Albert Reid, Jacquille Veii and Joe Riddle. The latter four are all talented backs who will play a role, but it's fair to say that none of them have exactly jumped out and screamed "start me!" -- Reid and Ross are between 4.2 and 4.6 yards per carry, respectively, while Veii is under 4.0 and Riddle did not receive any carries this year.
That's all to say that while Maryland may have a lot of options at running back, there's not a whole lot of clarity there -- heck, even Brown averaged just 4.2 yards per rush last year (although I think most folks involved with Maryland think he's the future at the position). Ulmer might actually be able to make a quicker impact there then at quarterback (he'll certainly have an opportunity to, at least, as the team plays more than one running back), and we'll see what the coaches decide to do when he gets on campus.
Kaaya is considered a four-star by the 247sports composite, rated the 143rd-best player in the class, the seventh-best pro-style quarterback and the 13th-best player in the state of California. Ulmer is considered a three-star, rated the 427th-best player in the class, the 11th-best dual-threat quarterback and the third-best player in D.C.