Monday was a big day for the Maryland football program's future. Among others, the Terrapins hosted five of the best prospects in the country, all in the 2017 class and all from the same high school powerhouse – IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
We've gone over IMG around these parts before. It's an athletic incubator for players at the end of their high school careers, and it annually produces a windfall of four- and five-star prospects to be fawned over by the country's best collegiate programs. The players are on a military-like schedule while IMG tries to make them into monsters. Tennessee recently offered scholarships a totally unheard-of 20 IMG players in one day. Maryland hasn't had one in many years (if ever), but Terps coach DJ Durkin visited IMG in his first few days on the job and has pushed hard to make inroads there.
So, for Maryland, this is a pretty big deal:
Left to right in the the big group image, that's: Five-star defensive end Joshua Kaindoh, four-star defensive tackle Cam Spence, three-star cornerback Elvis Hines, four-star center Cesar Ruiz and four-star running back-outside linebacker Jordan Anthony. Not pictured is five-star running back, outside linebacker and football cyborg Dylan Moses, an IMG transfer and either the best or second-best prospect in the whole country, depending on where you look.
Kaindoh is the No. 1 weak-side defensive end in the country, according to the 247Sports Composite. Ruiz is the No. 1 center. Spence is the No. 12 defensive tackle and Anthony the No. 9 outside linebacker. Each will have his choice of nearly any program in the country.
Kaindoh is a potentially transformative recruit for someone. He also seems like a pretty smart kid and wants to be a doctor after football. He told SB Nation a few weeks ago that he plans to go somewhere northern for college, and he mentioned Maryland among his favorite schools. He'd be the Terps' highest-rated commit in history.
Maryland's starting point with most of these recruits is pretty simple: They're previously from the region, and IMG recruits often return somewhere close to home after closing out their high school years in Bradenton. Spence is from Baltimore, Kaindoh from Essex and Anthony from Olney. Ruiz and Hines (who doesn't appear to yet have a Maryland offer) are from New Jersey, where Maryland has also been pushing lately.
Recruits can give verbal commitments whenever they want, but Maryland is a long way from signing, sealing and delivering any of these players. Kaindoh, Ruiz, Spence and Anthony will all be brutally hard to get, and other schools will fall over themselves to also host them as a group.
But they wouldn't be visiting Maryland if they weren't serious about giving the Terps consideration. For Durkin, that's an important place to start.
Oh, and the players also dabbed.