Maryland has begun its late push in football recruiting that includes a couple of nice local commits, linebacker Nnamdi Egbuaba and cornerback Daniel Ezeagwu. The Terps beat out Virginia for both prospects, so let's call it a parting shot, a little good-bye gift to the 'Hoos on our way out of the ACC. We'll get to Ezeagwu in the coming days, but let's take a closer look on film at Egbuaba, who Patrick Donahue introduced us to when he committed on Saturday, right now.
The Recruit: Nnamdi Egbuaba
School: St. Frances Academy, Baltimore
Position: Outside linebacker
Measurables: 6-foot-2, 220 pounds
247sports composite ratings: Three stars, 96th-best outside linebacker in the nation, 35th-best player in Maryland
Senior season: Egbuaba had 105 tackles as a senior, 17 for loss, along with an impressive 19 sacks. St. Frances was a pedestrian 5-7 but faced the best of the best, including Gilman, FCA, Good Counsel, Eastern Christian and DeMatha, so Egbuaba is no stranger to defending high level athletes. His veteran coach, Messay Hailemariam, gave the highest of praise to Egbuaba likening him to Shawne Merriman and LaVar Arrington in an interview with the Baltimore Sun. Arrington tweeted about it himself:
Offers: Egbuaba chose the Terps over Virginia and UConn, which makes him a nice recruiting win for Randy Edsall's staff against a couple schools Maryland needs to be beating for local kids.
You can see the film here.
On film: Man, oh man! If you aren't really into watching recruit film, please make an exception and watch this one. Egbuaba is not the perfect prospect and he does generate some mild concerns that I'll get to momentarily, but the first thing that should be noted about him is just how destructive, how mean, how nasty his brand of football is. Play after play, Egbuaba bursts off the edge with such venom and attitude that some of the would-be blockers don't seem very interested in engaging him at all. He plays big and strong, his explosion off the ball is impressive and his leg drive into blockers is super. All of these things lead to him turning corners and getting to the football quickly, and in these highlights he's an absolute wrecking ball who blows up one play after the next. It really is a great film compilation that reflects a mean defender with a high motor.
Now, the downside. His upper-body looks a little stiff, especially compared to his lower body. You can actually see the contrast in real time. He covers ground beautifully but then his shoulders are high and his arms stay extended out kind of like a statue. Egbuaba's flexibility and lateral movement will have to get better if he's going to have a future at linebacker. There also isn't film evidence that he can effectively drop into pass coverage, which linebackers have to do sometimes. That's the bad news, but the good news is that Maryland is pretty deep at linebacker, so Egbuaba will have plenty of time to either get more nimble and flexible so he can join the linebacker corps, or else bulk up, move to DL, and play with his hand in the dirt. Either way, based on this film, I'm an Egbuaba fan already. Maryland has a tradition of tornado-style, tackling machine linebackers (Merriman, Jackson, the Hendersons, etc.) and this prospect has an edge about him that makes me very interested in monitoring his progress.
2014 outlook: Egbuaba looks like a redshirt to me, and that's in no way a slight to him. As a pass-rusher, he'll join a unit in which Maryland already had depth and talent, including OLBs Matt Robinson, Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil, Alex Twine, Avery Thompson, Clarence Murphy, Yannick Ngakoue and Cavon Walker, not to mention his new classmate, Tyler Burke. Should he convert to the line, he'd need at least a year to get bigger anyway, and then he'd be in the mix with guys like Quinton Jefferson, Roman Braglio, Kingsley Opara, Malik Jones, Jesse Aniebonam, Chandler Burkett and Brett Kulka. The take-away? There is no reason to rush Nnamdi Egbuaba. He is a luxury, and one with much potential. Maryland can afford to use due diligence with him, get him into the strength & conditioning program, and learn what he does best through practice repetitions. I'd be very surprised to see Egbuaba on the field in 2014.
Longterm outlook: For somebody who is short on football experience, Egbuaba shows a nasty streak as well as natural instincts to get to the football that are very exciting, raw as he may be as a prospect. His longterm outlook rests on his ability to buy into the coaching he receives, the S&C training he receives and to shine brightly outside the spotlight in practice for the next year or two. If he does all those things, you can see the potential there for him to be a great Terrapin who would also be fan-friendly because of his instinctive motor and his hunger to find the ball and blow up plays. Is he going to be like Shawne Merriman, as his coach suggests? Well, there's only one Shawne Merriman, but Nnamdi Egbuaba has the tools -- and the time -- to make his own name in the Terps' front 7.