National Signing Day 2013: Overviewing Maryland's Commitments, Linemen Edition

The Terrapins finally start adding depth and numbers to their trenches - including perhaps the biggest name of the entire recruiting class.

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've already looked at the offensive skill position commits, but today we look to the trenches.

Offensive Linemen

One of the ultimate downfalls of Ralph Friedgen - and I understand the controversy in saying Friedgen had a downfall at all, given that some will claim he was unceremoniously and undeservedly dumped, but that's a discussion for another day - was his trouble in recruiting offensive linemen. Friedgen and his staff had both ignored the position and suffered extraordinary bad luck, which led to little high-end talent on the line and even less depth in his later years. Makeshift lines have been a mainstay in College Park for years now, and it's a matter that Randy Edsall's struggled with, as well - although in many ways that's his own fault, too, given the transfers of guys like Max Garcia and R.J. Dill.

We saw a similar problem in Edsall's first year, when he took only two offensive line recruits on board, one of which - Nick Brigham - is no longer in the program. Mike Madaras is a promising young prospect, but he and he alone isn't a lot in the way of reinforcements for a spot that needed something of an overhaul. To Edsall's credit, though, he realized that in his second go-around, and those reinforcements have finally arrived, with four incoming linemen. A few will be ready to contribute now. Some might take a little longer. But the strategy of taking on-board a large number of linemen is quite welcome, and if all four stay in the program, Maryland will be much better for it.

Silvano Altamirano

HS / Hometown: Mesa C.C. / San Diego, Ca.
Measurables: 6-4 / 290
Maryland Was Better Than: UConn, New Mexico, SMU, Washington State
Recruited By: Tom Brattan, Lee Hull
Rankings:
---247: , #27 JC OT
---ESPN:
---Rivals:
---Scout:
Highlights: Hudl highlights here

Altamirano's a JuCo addition - he'll be a junior when he arrives in College Park - and the staff took him on because, like most JuCo additions, he'll be able to contribute right away, which the offensive line seriously needs. It's mighty tough to find freshmen ready to play immediately on the line, but a JuCo prospect like Altamirano, who's had two years to bulk up and work on technique, could push for a starting spot and will at the very least provide quality depth. His physical tools are impressive and good enough to play right now, either at guard or tackle, depending on where he's most needed. He's mentally ready, too, as he played with an evident mean streak - he looks like he loves finishing blocks. He's not a flat-track bulldozer in the run game, but he has good leverage at the point of attack and, more importantly for Maryland, pretty solid mobility, able to get to the next level and overpower linebackers. You don't see him pass-block a lot, and when he does it looks like he's coming up against smaller defenders, so that'll be a concern. But he has the size to play guard at this level, which would protect him somewhat from marauding blitzers. His ability to play a few positions will serve him well, and with Maryland's line in a state of flux, he should at least see the field situationally, with a chance to start right away.

Jajuan Dulaney

HS / Hometown: McEachern / Powder Springs, Ga.
Measurables: 6-4 / 275
Maryland Was Better Than: Cincinnati, East Carolina, Marshall, North Carolina
Recruited By: Tom Brattan
Rankings:
---247: , #44 G
---ESPN: , #70 G
---Rivals:
---Scout: , #86 OT
Highlights: Hudl highlights here

Dulaney's been a bit under the radar, but has the makings of a promising lineman project. He seems likely to play guard at Maryland instead of tackle, and if that's the case he'll need to spend a year, maybe even two, bulking up before he sees serious playing time, not to mention making the transition between spots. But that's common with a lot of linemen recruits. What's promising about Dulaney is that he fits the profile of what Maryland is trying to do with their offensive line so well. He's aggressive and plays with a nasty streak, but he's a technician in the trenches, not a brute, which bodes well for him once he's able to bulk up a bit. And he has good mobility and athleticism, getting to the second level very well and showing enough speed to get around well on pull and trap blocks. I wouldn't expect him to see the field immediately, but I'd be a little surprised if he didn't end up a starter in a couple years' time - smart, aggressive, and technically good linemen can usually get there physically.

Derwin Gray

HS / Hometown: Friendship Collegiate / Washington, D.C.
Measurables: 6-5 / 290
Maryland Was Better Than: Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Michigan State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia
Recruited By: Mike Locksley
Rankings:
---247: , #6 OT, #61 overall
---ESPN: , #21 OT
---Rivals: , #9 OT, #126 overall
---Scout: , #7 OT, #81 overall
Highlights: Hudl highlights here

Derwin had offers from virtually every big program under the sun, for one big reason: his physical tools are immense. He's a legitimate 6-5 and 290, maybe even a tad bigger, but he carries his weight particularly well. He has good feet and is particularly mobile for someone pushing 300 pounds, and seems to possess pretty solid strength for someone of that size, too. A big, strong lineman with mobility, balance, and quick, agile feet? That's picture-perfect, chiseled out of marble type of physical tools. The knock on Gray - and I use "knock" loosely - has always been his technique, but even that isn't bad; it's simply not caught up with his physical tools. He has very good footwork and his hand placement, especially as of late, has been lauded; more coaching at this level should work out a few more of his kinks. And once that happens, you have a prospect with absolutely scary potential. Even right now, his physical tools alone are ready to play from Day One, and while Maryland's recruited a lot of technicians in the trenches as of late - guys like Dulaney and Mike Madaras, for instance - Gray is more of a road-grader who'll add some toughness and physicality to the line. Don't be surprised if his freshman season mirrors that of Madaras, a similarly-hyped, if very different, type of player, where he needs time to adjust but sees playing time down the back stretch of the season

Moise Larose

HS / Hometown: Wilde Lake / Ft. Meade, Md.
Measurables: 6-5 / 285
Maryland Was Better Than: Boston College, Duke, East Carolina, Navy, Rutgers
Recruited By: John Dunn
Rankings:
---247: , #119 OT
---ESPN: , #143 OT
---Rivals:
---Scout: , #68 OT
Highlights: Hudl highlights here

Of the four commitments on the line, Larose is probably the longest-term project. Originally committed to Rutgers, he flipped after Maryland, seemingly a dream school of sorts, offered him in the fall. Physically, there's a heck of a lot to work with. He's a big kid with a really good frame, and he also plays basketball, which will help him when it comes to mobility and athleticism and you can see it when you watch him play. He's 6-6 and looks every inch of it, and he's still filling that frame out. He was a road grader of a run blocker in high school, ragdolling smaller guys and getting to the second level pretty well. He's going to need to work on technique and facing guys who match him for size, plus on filling out his frame more. But he's another potential road-grader type, something Maryland's line still needs in numbers, and a high-quality depth addition for the medium-term, potentially turning into more.

Defensive Linemen

Given that there are only three down linemen positions in Maryland's 3-4 scheme, adding numbers on the defensive line isn't necessarily a huge concern. Teams do build from the trenches, so Maryland has smartly kept adding numbers for the sake of continuity and depth, but given the presence of Keith Bowers, Darius Kilgo, Quinton Jefferson, Andre Monroe, and Nate Clark - all juniors or sophomores - the Terps had plenty of numbers between the three spots in the medium term.

Interestingly, that gave them some wiggle room, adding a few prospects who certainly need some tuning at the next level and were overlooked by some for that, but have interesting tools. Maryland's had success with that type of player in the past (Andre Monroe and Joe Vellano the two primary examples), and the presence of Greg Gattuso on the staff - one of the best defensive line coaches in the country - should give them confidence when it comes to molding young, hungry linemen. With time to do that, it'll be interesting to see the path that the three commitments ultimately take in College Park.

Chandler Burkett

HS / Hometown: Bozeman / Panama City, Fl.
Measurables: 6-4 / 225
Maryland Was Better Than: Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Troy
Recruited By: Lyndon Johnson
Rankings:
---247: , #97 weakside defensive end
---ESPN: , #126 defensive end
---Rivals:
---Scout: , #101 defensive end
Highlights:


Burkett was a particularly interesting take. Linemen recruits were needed, it was late in the class, and Burkett had just decommitted from Florida International, so the staff seemed to really pursue a guy who probably isn't as well-rounded as could be but has a lot of upside. It's clear that the staff likes Burkett quite a bit, technically and athletically; he's a receiver on offense so has some burst and explosiveness, and he seems to read plays well and play with a high motor. Physically, though, is where there's room to grow. His frame is very good for a 3-4 end, but at only 225 right now, he needs to add realistically around 35 pounds before being able to challenge for a spot, at a minimum. Remember that Maryland's ends this year were Joe Vellano (285 pounds) and A.J. Francis (300 pounds), which is necessary given the 3-4 dynamic. Burkett definitely has the frame to fill out to that weight, but it'll take time to get up there without losing his burst. He actually played linebacker as a senior, which may mean Maryland's staff sees his future there instead of in the trenches, though it does appear that he was recruited for end. He actually reminds me a bit of Roman Braglio in the last class: super productive, a lot of right-place-right-time tackles, but is in-between positions at the moment. But given time, his athleticism and smarts will give him a chance.

Malik Jones

HS / Hometown: Dunbar / Baltimore, Md.
Measurables: 6-4 / 235
Maryland Was Better Than: UTEP
Recruited By: Greg Gattuso
Rankings:
---247: , #56 OT
---ESPN: , #153 OT
---Rivals:
---Scout:
Highlights:


Jones, like Burkett, was an interesting take, though this time not because he has work to do physically - he does, but no more than most - but because when Maryland offered him as a defensive end, he was an offensive lineman by trade. (Go ahead and take a look at the video; it's strictly offensive line, and that's because until he was a senior, he played strictly on the offensive line.) Like Burkett, that means he'll need time to adjust before he can be expected to make an impact on the field. But also like Burkett, he clearly intrigued Maryland's staff. He has a great frame for the weakside end spot, even if he'll need to add quite a bit of weight to get there. And even though his video is for the offensive line, you can tell two things: first, he has quick, nimble feet, which can be a rarity in linemen; and second, he has a bit of a nasty streak in him. He's another guy the coaches like and will try to mold over a few seasons.

Kingsley Opara

HS / Hometown: Mandarin / Jacksonville, Fl.
Measurables: 6-4 / 275
Maryland Was Better Than: UConn, Temple, Wake Forest, West Virginia
Recruited By: Lyndon Johnson
Rankings:
---247: , #61 DT
---ESPN: , #85 DT
---Rivals:
---Scout: , #91 DT
Highlights:


Opara has had some controversy around him, given his long-held flirtation with schools other than Maryland. But he finally seems solid now, and is an interesting long-term prospect at nose tackle. He has good bulk as it stands and, while his frame isn't massive, it should easily support even more, which is crucial at the NT spot in Maryland's 3-4 and can be difficult to find in high school. He isn't an explosive, play-making force in the middle, but that's not what Brian Stewart's looking for in this spot anyway; he holds his ground more than anything, which is perfect for the scheme. He's a bit raw, like most linemen are, and will need some polishing. But the nose tackle spot requires resilience, a big personality, a lot of weight, and the ability to hold down the middle, and Opara seems to have each of those qualities in spades. Again, there's a lot of clay to play with here.

Next up: the defense's back seven.

Er, well, I guess that'd be eight. Darn 3-4.

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