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Maryland Football Recruiting: Terps Land Two, Recruit Reactions

Patrick McDermott

Long breath. This post is not related to realignment.

Kidding! It totally is.

But we don't get to that point just yet.

First off, over the past few days we've been so focused on the whole B1G stuff that we've glanced over a surprising amount of movement on the football recruiting front. On Saturday the Terps landed a commitment from one of their biggest remaining targets (literally and metaphorically) in Demetri McGill, a Virginia Beach defensive tackle. McGill, at pushing nearly 300 pounds, is a great choice to be an understudy to Darius Kilgo at the nose tackle spot moving forward, and chose the Terrapins over Cincinnati, UConn, Charlotte, Ohio, and others.

Not only is McGill an interesting player himself, but he provides some cover for the always-only-just-committed Kingsley Opara, who's been on the brink of decommitting ever since choosing the Terps in the first place. As Maryland's only Floridian, he was always the most likely to be negatively influenced by the B1G move, and that might've pushed him over the edge. No worries; Kilgo and Nate Clarke will both be at nose next season, with McGill a competent understudy.

And then just today the Terps landed a commitment from Broadneck kicker Adam Greene. They absolutely needed to add another specialist after seeing some of Brad Craddock's problems, and Greene - a local kid who'll start out as a preferred walk-on (which means, should he win the job, he'll probably be added on scholarship at some point) - will add some quality depth. He started kicking off the ground this year instead of a block like many high school kickers, which has hurt his stats somewhat, but he's been automatic from 40 in. And he clearly has a leg, hitting from 55 and 50 last season.

That gives the Terrapins four specialists, in not only Greene and Craddock but also Brendan Magistro and Nathan Renfro. Of those, you feel pretty confident that two should emerge at some point. And hey, the Terps haven't had a Maryland-based specialist since Dan Ennis - a walk-on who turned out okay himself.

But, as per usual, realignment is still dominating the headlines, with recruit reactions being the newest obsession. "Will basketball recruits be upset about moving? Will football recruits worry about the travel?" And so on.

For the most part, reactions are exactly what you'd expect: basketball recruits are pretty "meh", football recruits pretty excited, those from Florida and Georgia not psyched. IMS has a pretty good roundup of some guys at the Sun, with Romelo Trimble and Phil Booth both making good points: the sell is Maryland. Maybe Turgeon sold the ACC as a tertiary or even secondary point, but his first, primary sell was always the same: Maryland. They still like Maryland, and Maryland is still their biggest factor. The changes are at the margin.

And Andrew Ford, who's probably my second-favorite quarterback prospect in 2014 and a Pennsylvania native, noted that for him the travel is actually lessened. Which is obvious, but just another reminder that Maryland needs to start going hard after western Pa. guys right now, especially before PSU gets back to full strength.

Our very own Bud Elliot over at SBN Mothership has another perspective: Maryland trades the South with the Midwest, which isn't a good tradeoff, while it offers Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke more of a foothold into the DMV. None of which is wrong (though I'd say the foothold factor is negligible, given that we're at a point now where kids who grow up in the area dream of playing in the Big Ten to start with), but it will make it tougher to recruit the South - ceteris paribus, at least - as Kingsley Opara's worries have probably shown.

That said, all things are not staying equal in this equation. Maryland is moving farther away, but they're moving into a much stronger conference in football with more exposure and a better perceived chance at making the League. Plenty of Florida kids go Big Ten every year to begin with, and while now the Big Ten guys have more of an in around the DMV, Maryland's also now selling a better affiliation.

I've always been of the opinion that, save maybe wrasslin' and soccer, the recruiting impact won't be as big as anyone fears. Maybe one or two basketball recruits who weren't going to Maryland anyway will cite that they preferred the ACC when they pick UNC or Duke; maybe a football recruit who was going to Maryland anyway will say he wanted to play Ohio State and Michigan more. But, save for extra-long travels - like in Florida, which is far from a Maryland hotbed these days - the product being sold is virtually the same.

Long-term, the bigger difference will be in whether or not the extra money trumps the added competition and makes Maryland a better team on the gridiron and on the hardwood. If it does, the move will be a recruiting "success" - if not, it'll be a "failure." But Maryland still holds the cards.