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Former Clemson linebacker Shaq Smith transfers to Maryland football

The Baltimore native has graduated and is eligible immediately.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Former Clemson linebacker Shaq Smith is enrolled at Maryland and with the Terps’ football team, with multiple reports Friday confirmed by the program.

Smith graduated this spring after playing two seasons for the Tigers, and will have two years of eligibility remaining in College Park.

Coming out of high school, Smith was a four-star recruit who ranked as the third-best inside linebacker in the Class of 2016, and the 12th-best player from Florida. He spent his senior season at IMG Academy after playing his junior season at St Frances Academy and originally playing for Calvert Hall.

The link between him and Maryland became imminent once the Terps hired defensive backs coach Cory Robinson, who was Smith’s head coach at Calvert Hall. Robinson also spent time at Maryland in 2015 under Randy Edsall as the Director of Player Personnel, and was trying to get Smith to come home in the beginning. Robinson was then hired by Toledo as the Rockets’ defensive backs coach for the 2016 season, but since he joined Mike Locksley’s staff this offseason, his connection with Smith has come back to life.

Despite having a 6’3, 239-pound frame, Smith really flies off of the tape and shows a diverse skill set. Usually lining up in the WILL position, Smith has the speed to rush the backfield on run plays and blitz packages, while also having decent coverage skill in the passing game.

Maryland displayed the development of Chance Campbell and Ayinde Eley throughout this spring, while also adding in fellow local product Keandre Jones from Ohio State. With the Terrapins shifting to a 3-4 defense, Smith will likely slide into the JACK role, which was projected to be held by true sophomore Durell Nchami. This role will allow Smith to focus more on rushing the passer and stopping the run. Assuming Jones can graduate as well, linebacker instantly becomes a key position of depth for the Terrapins heading into the fall.

It is unclear if Maryland is finished going after other potential transfers this summer, but as things shake out, other spots may open up for Locksley to keep building. Bringing back home local talent like Jones and Shaq Smith not only furthers the “football family,” but also creates a foundation of players used to winning and what level of effort it takes to play in a high-level program.