The Maryland football program just got a verbal commitment from Joshua Kaindoh, a five-star defensive end originally from Maryland who nowadays plays high school football at the prestigious IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Maybe Kaindoh isn't the best defensive end in America in the 2017 class. If he's not, he's probably No. 2 behind DeMatha Catholic end Chase Young, who happens to go to school a few minutes down Route 1 from Maryland's campus and is seriously considering the Terrapins, too. There's a totally real chance that DJ Durkin, in his first full recruiting cycle as Maryland's head coach, will land the two best defensive ends in the entire country. This is Maryland, folks. Maryland.
Put aside, for a second, the all-out weirdness behind Kaindoh's recruitment. The Terps were the recruiting community's consensus landing spot for him a few weeks ago, before he named a top-four list of schools that didn't include them. When I spoke with one of Kaindoh's IMG teammates just three days ago, asking if there was anything to whispers that Kaindoh might come to Maryland after all, the response came back: "Honestly, no."
Maybe Kaindoh was playing a long con. He wouldn't be the first teenager to troll college football teams and fans, and he wouldn't be the last. There's really nothing wrong with that, certainly not in the long run. Maybe he had a stirring change of heart in the final hours before making his Saturday commitment. We'll get a better sense of that in the days to come, but it doesn't even matter now. What matters is this:
For some reason, one of the best high school football players in the country decided to dramatically spurn a bunch of elite programs to play for Maryland.
Yes, Kaindoh, a Mount Carmel native, has local ties. Yes, he's a teammate of defensive tackle Cam Spence, another Marylander-turned-IMG prospect who committed to the Terps just a few weeks ago. His was still an extraordinarily hard commitment to land, because he's better than great. It's fairly rare, but Maryland has beaten out top teams for recruits before, like Stefon Diggs and Yannick Ngakoue over the past five years. But Kaindoh – who plays a premium position as a weak-side defensive end and has an NFL-like body as a 17-year-old – is a different animal entirely.
Kaindoh could thrive at virtually any school in the country. Unlike Diggs, an all-world talent at wide receiver, it doesn't require great quarterback play or a sound scheme for him to thrive. Kaindoh will wreak havoc wherever Maryland chooses to line him up, sure, but he'd have done that at any school. Maybe Durkin, a defensive specialist by trade, told him he'd make him better. Maybe he told him about Maryland's solid pre-medical academic track, because Kaindoh wants to be a doctor in his post-football life. It's a huge deal, because ...
Durkin's 2017 class is shaping up as Maryland's best ever.
It's maybe worth tempering enthusiasm a little bit, because even with Kaindoh aboard, Maryland's seven-man class is only the seventh-best out of 14 Big Ten teams. The Terps are in a very bad neighborhood.
But, hey, let's not do that today. A fairer way to look at Maryland's class is that it's now 19th in the country out of 128 FBS teams, according to scoring on the 247Sports Composite. That's higher than any of Randy Edsall's five classes Maryland. In fact, it's the highest rating of any Maryland class since consensus recruiting rankings took hold in the early 2000s.
Kaindoh is Maryland's fourth-highest rated recruit ever, unless his ranking rises.
Don't lose sight of just how good Kaindoh is.
He's the fifth consensus five-star commit in Maryland's program history. He is the third-highest-rated defensive commit, only behind linebacker Wesley Jefferson (2003) and end Melvin Alaeze (2005). The 247 Composite, which aggregates recruiting rankins, says he's the No. 22 player nationally. Scout says he's No. 90. Rivals says he's No. 4. Recruiting is an inexact science, but the absolute low-end projection on Kaindoh is that he's in the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent of high school football talent. He's a monster, and he's apparently going to be a Terrapin.
"Apparently," of course, because Kaindoh's recruitment isn't over. Verbal commitments might not be 100 percent worthless, because they do tend to predict where a prospect will attend college. But they're the farthest thing from binding, and every other team still wants Kaindoh. Whatever Durkin's staff did to land Kaindoh will have to keep up, and there's plenty of hard work ahead on that front.
But this should be a day of celebration for Terps fans everywhere. Joshua Kaindoh is the kind of player who isn't supposed to play football for Maryland, but here is is, ready to play football for Maryland. Maybe he'll change things.