National Signing Day 2013: Overviewing Maryland's Commitments, Offensive Skill Positions Edition

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The big names.

We're closing in on National Signing Day 2013, the Egg McMuffin of football recruiting days. It's a bank holiday in places like Alabama, Michigan, and Florida, and while it's decidedly less of a big deal around these parts, we'll still be covering every angle of it. While we await the final decision of guys like Yannick Ngakoue, Jacquille Veii, and Jaylen Miller, we'll pass the time by breaking down each of Maryland's current commits. We start, though, with the glamorous positions, which is where the Terrapins have arguably their three most-promising recruits of the class.

Quarterbacks

It's fun to bemoan Maryland's bad luck at quarterback - and what spectacularly bad luck it is indeed - but the Terps don't find themselves in an awful position at the spot, either right now or in the future. Coming into the class, there were four scholarship options already on the roster, with varying remaining eligibility, each a fairly promising prospect, and they've now added another semi-big name on top.

There's C.J. Brown, nominally a senior but potentially able to pick up a second year of eligibility through a hardship waiver; there's junior transfer Ricardo Young, who was one of the first Mike Locksley pied piper recruits; and of course there are Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe, both sophomores and both having shown something in their occasional healthy moments last season.

Naturally, though, none of those guys are sure things, which is why adding a quarterback with a big resumé was a priority for Maryland this class. And they did exactly that, securing the commitment of the best local quarterback prospect in years.

Shane Cockerille

HS / Hometown: Gilman / Baltimore, Md.
Measurables: 6-2 / 205
Maryland Was Better Than: Arkansas, Michigan, Navy, Temple, Wisconsin
Recruited By: Mike Locksley, Randy Edsall
Rankings and Profiles:
---247: , #12 dual-threat QB
---ESPN: , #16 pocket-passer QB
---Rivals: , #16 dual-threat QB
---Scout: , #45 QB
Highlights:


Other videos: [1]

There's a lot you can say about Shane Cockerille, but my favorite quote about him comes from Jordan Palmer, who was one of the coaches during the Elite 11 camp and said of Cockerille, simply: "He's a bad dude." To which I hope someone in the room replied, "Damn straight."

That's the most important thing about Cockerille: he is a bad dude, and the type of leader you want at quarterback. Cockerille has something of a linebackerly way about him all around, not entirely unlike Perry Hills. Physically, he's got a stout build and isn't always pretty mechanically, but his size works to his advantage when he's on the run. And mentally, he's a leader who'll take a game by the scruff of its neck, the type of guy who commands respect in a huddle. The comparison that's always used is Tim Tebow, and while that's played out and cliché, it's also not wrong. He's definitely a dual-threat QB, but not necessarily due to his speed; he's not terribly quick as much as he's just a tank to bring down, plus smart enough to make solid decisions on the read-option. He's a weapon when you need a few yards, and enough of a threat to run the read-option consistently, though probably won't burn too many defenses for big plays. As a passer, he's smart and makes good decisions, and has good timing on the underneath routes that proliferate through Mike Locksley's offense. But he doesn't have a huge arm, and his mechanics - an almost sidearmed delivery - are pretty funky, which makes him erratic with his accuracy at times and limits his ability to drive the ball downfield. But he has time to work on that, and you can bet that he will. He was an Elite 11 quarterback for a reason, after all, and Locksley's scheme is almost perfect for him. He's not a guaranteed star, but he's got a good chance to be a starter in a few years' time.

Running Back

Maryland went into last year with four freshmen running backs and one sophomore, making it easily the youngest and most future-ready position on the team. Three of those freshmen - Albert Reid, Wes Brown, and Brandon Ross - will be sophomores next year, while Joe Riddle will be a redshirt frosh. Justus Pickett, the most experienced head on the depth chart, ended up transferring, meaning this will still be a particularly young but talented spot for Maryland.

That being the case, running back clearly wasn't a priority for the class, and it probably shouldn't have been, especially without any huge talents locally. Brown and Ross are likely to be a one-two combination at running back for at least another two years, potentially three, with Reid likely to grow into his own, too. That means that any running back would be coming in behind quite a log-jam. So the staff appeared to prioritize versatile scat-back types who could contribute in a number of ways, including from the slot. That's a crucial piece to most spread offenses, and something Maryland's roster currently lacks.

Three committed, at various points, but after Richie Anderson bailed for Penn State and Jacquille Veii and Maryland split ways, only a single one is still on the Terps' board.

DeAndre Lane

HS / Hometown: Catonsville / Baltimore, Md.
Measurables: 5-8 / 170
Maryland Was Better Than: n/a - Terps were his first offer and he committed on the spot
Recruited By: Keith Dudzinski
Rankings and Profiles:
---247: , #159 athlete
---ESPN: , #119 cornerback
---Rivals:
---Scout: , #113 running back
Highlights:


Other videos: [1], [2]

Like I mentioned above, Maryland's focus for this class with running backs was on smaller, versatile, quick playmaker types, and Lane fits that template to a tee. His speed is more deceptive than breathtaking, but it's definitely there: while he doesn't have that initial burst or blinding top-end of some elite athletes, he has a quick change-of-pace and gets to his top-gear pretty fast, which lets him erase angles once he makes his cut. It also makes him a tough customer to bring down in the open field, as he can switch directions on a dime and doesn't lose a lot of speed in doing so. He's also surprisingly tough for someone so small, and doesn't appear to have any issues running between the hashmarks or even through arm tackles. He's not going to run over anyone, but he fights through contact well. He played cornerback on defense and looked every bit a ballhawk, which will serve him well on offense: Maryland's going to split him out quite a lot and try to take advantage of his versatility and playmaking ability, so his ability to go up and grab balls, despite his diminutive stature, will be a boon. His physical dimensions are something he's going to have to overcome at the next level, and he may not have the elite explosiveness that you see many successful waterbug-types possess. But he's still shifty and quick, and could be a dangerous situational weapon a few years down the line.

Wide Receivers / Tight Ends

If there's any area Maryland's truly set at, it's receiver. Regardless of the incoming recruits, the Terps already had Stefon Diggs, Nigel King, and Marcus Leak, all either juniors or sophomores and all looking like good bets to be capable ACC starters. Then there's sophomores Tyrek Cheeseboro and Levern Jacobs, plus freshmen Malcolm Culmer and Amba Etta-Tawo, which gave Maryland four palatable options to fill the bottom one or two regular receiver spots, with Jacobs in particular looking like a potentially very good receiver, given time.

That meant that, much like at running back, adding numbers wasn't important; what mattered was adding quality. The Terps heavily pursued three big time receivers, each local; Taivon Jacobs ended up at Ohio State, and Paul Harris at Tennessee, but the crown jewel - Deon Long - will suit up in College Park next year, giving Maryland as good a receiver set as there'll be in the conference.

Tight end, though, was trickier. With Matt Furstenburg and Devonte Campbell both graduating, the position was left in a vacuum: the only scholarship options on the roster were Dave Stinebaugh, an injury-riddled junior who's played only a handful of games, Daniel Adams, a converted receiver transfer from New Mexico with minimal experience, and P.J. Gallo, a redshirt freshman-to-be. Given that Mike Locksley's spread doesn't utilize tight ends much, numbers weren't important, but the Terps had to land at least tight end in this class, preferably a good one. And once again, mission accomplished.

Andrew Isaacs

HS / Hometown: Manchester / Manchester, Ct.
Measurables: 6-3 / 230
Maryland Was Better Than: Boston College, UConn
Recruited By: Keith Dudzinski, John Dunn
Rankings and Profiles:
---247: , #15 TE
---ESPN: , #39 TE
---Rivals: , #9 TE
---Scout: , #36 TE
Highlights:


(better - but unembedable - video here)

First thing you notice about Isaacs is his frame: he has great size for the position already, fairly tall at 6-3 and looking a bit bigger than his listed 230 pounds. He looks a bit like a receiving tight end right now, which isn't a bad thing in Maryland's scheme; he has good hands and looks natural running routes, catching the ball, and turning upfield. He isn't Vernon Davis after the catch, but he's athletic and dynamic enough to outrun a linebacker or run over a safety on occasion. He has the physical tools to be an elite blocker, too, and that alone will let him overpower a lot of opponents at the point of attack. Like most young tight ends, he'll need schooling on the finer points of technique there, but that's to be expected. With more experienced options available at tight end right away, Isaacs may not see too terribly much immediate playing time. But a year or two down the line, he has the potential to be a very good pass-catching tight end in a spread scheme like Maryland's. And if he adapts quickly, there's no reason he can't see

Deon Long

HS / Hometown: Iowa Western Community College, by way of New Mexico, by way of West Virginia, by way of Hargrave, by way of Dunbar / Washington, D.C.
Measurables: 6-1 / 205
Maryland Was Better Than: Florida, Illinois, Nebraska
Recruited By: Mike Locksley
Rankings and Profiles:
---247: , #2 JC WR, #7 JC nationally
---ESPN:
---Rivals: , #1 JC WR, #1 JC nationally
---Scout:
Highlights:


Have you watched that video? No? Go watch it.

Have you watched it now? Good. Now watch it again.

All that footage? That was six games.

That's big-boy JuCo football, if you're wondering, and Long (and his IWCC teammates) just tore it to shreds. He set all kinds of records en route to an undefeated national-championship season, despite largely playing a maximum of three quarters in most games, and sometimes not even that. There's very little on a football field he can't do: he has great hands that go up and snatch the ball out of the air; he can outrun all but the fastest of corners, and he can usually outmuscle those guys, too; and whereas he used to be all power and speed, he's added some canniness after the catch, making moves in the open field and things happen once he has the ball in his hands. He's a more physical type of player than Stefon Diggs, more of a possession receiver and more well-built, but don't take that to mean he's not dynamic. He may not be Diggs, but he's got some explosiveness in him, and that makes a combination of both him and Diggs absolutely terrifying. Throw in Marcus Leak's speed on bubble screens and deep balls? It's more than most secondaries will be able to handle.

But what interests me most about Long is how he got to College Park. From Dunbar. Had to go to Hargrave. Committed to West Virginia. Backed out, ended up transferring to New Mexico. Mike Locksley leaves, so he leaves too. Ends up at some po-dunk town in the middle of Iowa, playing for Iowa Western Community College. You want to talk about a winding path, Long's taken it. And now that's he finally arrived? You can bet he has a massive chip on his shoulder and plenty of points to prove, with the added maturity that his trek has given him. The determination between himself and Diggs will give the offense one hell of a personality.

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