"...All four of the incoming freshmen in 2016 could start. In 2017, we could have four of those kids start. To me, that's the really good news for the program. The other side of that is that nothing is promised. I told them that coming in. Every year it's a competition...I never think it's fair to have to rely on your freshmen to have success but I think that's what's going to happen over the next few years. We're going to have to have the incoming kids play a really significant role."
Aird told me that when I interviewed him about the upcoming 2015-2016 season. He could not be more excited about these incoming classes. You need talent to win and Aird is getting talented kids to flock to College Park.
PrepVolleyball.com just released their list of the top 100 seniors in the country and two of them will be suiting up for the Terps next season.
Gia Milana - OH - Romeo, Michigan
Milana is ranked as the 15th best player in the country and will make a huge splash in the Big Ten as a freshman when she arrives next year. She is an offensive force and can beat you from all three zones. She led her high school in Michigan to its first-ever state title and spent time with the USA Youth National Training Team.
Adding Milana is significant to this program not just because of her outrageous talent and the kills that she'll rack up on the court. It is significant because she had offers from some of the top programs in the country and she chose to come to Maryland.
Katie Myers - MB - Westerville, Ohio
Myers is ranked as the 62nd best player in the class but she might end up as one of the best when it is all said and done because Aird and his staff have a sterling track record of player development.
Myers is a dominant force anywhere on the court. She can beat you from the net and the service line. She can play at any tempo and in any system. The early reports on her are that she is a match-up nightmare. She is a point-scoring machine and a tremendous blocker who eats up space at the net and makes life very difficult on opposing attackers. She plays with an edge and intensity that her teammates will feed off of.
Taylor Smith - S - Fort Wayne, Indiana
Smith is a six-foot setter from Indiana and while she wasn't included in the top-100, she was included in the top-250, akin to the ESPN 300 rankings. Aird first recruited Smith when he was Penn State so the two of them have a long relationship. She is versatile as a server and a stout defender. Smith was Aird's second commitment that he received as the head coach at Maryland. The first was one of this year's impressive freshmen, Angel Gaskin.
The setter position is critical in volleyball since that is the quarterback, so to speak, of the team on the floor.
Nell Drummey - DS - Kensington, Maryland
If there was a DMV to UMD movement for volleyball, Drummey would be the one carrying the flag, much like Stefon Diggs tried to do for Maryland football. She has already been instrumental in helping Aird attain commitments from two other top DMV recruits in future classes.
The top libero in the region for the class of 2016, she is talented enough to succeed Amy Dion at libero despite being a freshman. She is a tough and scrappy kid and from what I have been told, a vocal leader on the floor. Her presence, talent, and ambassadorship of the Maryland program for top DMV talent cannot be understated.
What Does It All Mean?
The talent pool at Maryland will be increasing exponentially as Aird recruits his own kids. There are a couple of positions that will be interesting to look at starting next year.
Maryland is going to have to figure out what they are going to do with all of their setters. They have three of them right now and none are going to be graduating. Taylor Smith, a top-250 setter from Indiana, is part of Aird's 2016 class and might be talented enough to start. Abby Bentz continues to see action as a freshman so there is no reason to think that Smith can't as well. Two of the setters, Oggioni and Craigo, will be seniors next season so the glut of four setters won't be cleared until 2017.
Outside hitters Adreene` Elliott and Emily Fraik will be done after this season. The Terps will be thin with only Milana, Liz Twilley and Angel Gaskin at the outside hitter position. The middle blocker position will probably be the strength of the team next season with Hailey Murray, Ashlyn MacGregor, and Myers coming in.
The Terps are off to an 8-0 start, their best start to the season in a decade. Commitments from top prep stars like Milana, Myers, Smith, and Drummey are part of a sea change that will see Maryland climb into the top-25 and become a perennial NCAA Tournament team. That change isn't here quite yet but make no mistake, it gets closer when these four freshmen arrive.