Here's hoping every Terrapin out there had a merry Christmas and got everything they wanted. For Randy Edsall, though? Well, his wishlist isn't going to be resolved until February.
See, for the second season in a row, Edsall is coming down the football recruiting home stretch with a chance to overachieve, compared to what his program showed on the field. Just over two months lay between Edsall now and National Signing Day on February 6, and over that period he and his staff will be tirelessly working on a handful of remaining targets that would be capable of taking Maryland's current class potentially to another level.
Last year, it was the the addition of Mike Locksley late that reinvigorated the Terps' recruiting efforts, adding both quality and depth down the stretch in the form of Stefon Diggs, Wes Brown, Albert Reid, Abner Logan, and Levern Jacobs. That late haul turned Edsall's first class from okay to outstanding, and it changed how many viewed his potential for a future in College Park.
This season, the situation is somewhat different. They have a better base to begin with, for starters, and even if they strike out on their big remaining targets, Edsall and his staff will still have a pretty decent bunch coming to College Park next year. And unlike last season, this group doesn't have a play-making or difference-making Diggs-type out there. Instead, Maryland finds themselves in good position with a variety of the type of high-level, foundational prospects they need to add ahead of their move to the Big Ten.
With Friday's commitment of Will Likely in the rearview mirror, Maryland's set themselves up with a top-40 class: not spectacular, sure, but decidedly impressive given their lack of success on the field. Likely himself is one of the class's headliners, but there are numbers at the top end: Derwin Gray, the local cornerstone tackle, Shane Cockerille, the Elite 11 quarterback, and Deon Long, the JuCo superstar - and newly-crowned five-star - all join Likely on the marquee, and provide a pretty classy nucleus to build around.
But Maryland has the potential to add to that nucleus in a big way in the closing weeks. They have, by my count, 63 scholarships committed to current players on their roster, which gives them room to add 22 and stay under the NCAA's 85 scholarship limit. Most schools, of course, sign well over that and pare down in the spring, usually through natural attrition: players transferring, not qualifying, getting injured, and so on. There's room to add another five players or so without stretching resources, which gives the staff a lot of flexibility in the closing days.
Who might those scholarships get spent on? Glad you asked. Here's a quick look at the names still on Randy Edsall's wishlist:
Na'Ty Rodgers / OT / Pomfret, Md.
The competition: South Carolina, Washington
Arguably the biggest name still on Maryland's board, Rodgers is a consensus four-star tackle and would combine with fellow local Derwin Gray to form one of the better line partnerships in the class. Maryland has neglected its line in recent years, a habit it suffered for in Ralph Friedgen's later years and continued early under Randy Edsall. (Only two linemen were brought in for Edsall's first class; only one of those two remains in the program.) With Gray already onboard along with Jajuan Dulaney and JuCo transfer Silvano Altamirano, there's already a pretty solid base of players; Rodgers, who has elite physical tools, could join with them to end up as either a top-notch tackle or guard at this level. With Mike Madaras and prototypical tackle Gray already in the program, that versatility is a bonus.
South Carolina has long been considered a favorite, but Maryland's right in his top group along with Washington, both of which visited within the past month. Pulling him away from the Gamecocks might be a tall task, but he is a local kid and may be swayed by momentum if the Terps can make a pull or two before he commits.
Yannick Ngakoue / OLB / Washington, D.C.
The competition: Miami, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia
Ngakoue committed with Derwin Gray in one of the better days for Maryland football in recent history (clearly outdone by Stefonnukah but little else), but rescinded his commitment after Maryland's 2-2 start. He cited his unfamiliarity with both Maryland and their competitors as his primary reasoning, and while sometimes that's a cop-out, there's a good chance it's legit here: he committed very early in the process, when most considered him a wait-until Signing Day type of recruit. Not much has changed with his recruitment since he decommitted, except perhaps Tennessee falling away slightly after they fired Derek Dooley, and no clear leaders have yet emerged. That's perhaps good news for Maryland.
If he does end up in College Park, it'll be a big deal: if Brian Stewart proves to be a long-term answer at defensive coordinator, Ngakoue is tailor-made for his scheme. There needs to be a havoc-wreaking pass rusher at outside linebacker, a role filled last year by Darin Drakeford, and that's Ngakoue to a tee. He's an athletic monster, has great size, and natural instincts; technique is raw, but the way the scheme is built he can just be unleashed and told to go get the quarterback. Without a clear Drakeford heir, Ngakoue would have a good chance at early PT.
Matt Finnin / OT / Crete, Il.
The competition: Marshall, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma
Maryland's already added one JuCo offensive lineman and appears to have their sights set on at least one more. Finnin would be one of the better options on that mark: he's absolutely massive at 6-8 and 330 pounds, and has a host of impressive offers. Finnin visited Maryland and called off a few of his others, saying he was ready to commit; he's since rescinded that sentiment and his commitment date is uncertain, but Maryland's firmly in the top five.
Chongo Kondolo / OT / Fresno, Ca.
The competition: BYU, Fresno St., Illinois, Nevada, Syracuse
If not Finnin, it may be Kondolo who ends up as the Terps' other big JuCo lineman able to contribute immediately. Like Finnin, he received his offer a little later than would've been ideal, but Maryland's become an instant player late. At 6-4 and 290 he lacks Finnin's enormous size, but has a bit more versatility and perhaps lighter feet, as well, which might actually fit Maryland better. (Just ask Peter White.)
Jaylen Miller / DE / Gaffney, S.C.
The competition: Georgia Tech, North Carolina, N.C. State, Tennessee, Wake Forest
Another prospect Maryland started to recruit a little late, Miller's a great fit for the Terps' 3-4 scheme. At 6-2 and 260, he's considered a 'tweener for most 4-3 schemes, not quite big enough to be a tackle but not exactly quick or athletic enough to really be an end. That's good news for Brian Stewart, given that he prefers bigger, almost tackle-ish ends - like Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis, for instance. Miller got something of a late start on his recruitment and doesn't appear to have any insurmountable favorites; he's planning a visit to Maryland in January, or at least so says his 247 timeline.
T.J. Johnson / RB / Cape Coral, Fl.
The competition: Arizona, West Virginia
Maryland seems to be in Johnson's top group, another later offer and likely visit. With Richie Anderson decommitting not too long ago, Maryland's left without a true running back in the class, which means there may yet be a spot for Johnson, if he wants it. Johnson's undersized at only 5-8 and 165 pounds, but he's lightning quick and elusive. For an offense that wants to move in that dynamic direction, Maryland lacks dynamic athletes like Johnson, and that could be a reason for the late attraction. Sounds like he wants to get on campus.
There are, of course, other candidates to flip, like Micah Kiser and Taivon Jacobs. But they, at least at present, seem unlikely. The biggest names that are known to be on Maryland's radar are above, and adding even a few between now and Feb. 6 would be counted as a success. The addition of a Rodgers or Ngakoue would boost the class, especially if joined by one of the JuCo linemen; if both ended up in College Park, which is the obvious dream scenario, this is perhaps a top-25 group.
The excitement of Stefonnukah won't be there over the next few months this time. But it's still well worth paying attention to Edsall and his staff's efforts.