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National Signing Day 2017: 4 ways DJ Durkin’s first full recruiting class at Maryland was successful

And one way it wasn’t.

maryland football spring game practice Alexander Jonesi

Maryland football’s 2017 recruiting class is set.

Unless the program announces the signing of one unexpected verbal commit, DJ Durkin’s first full class as the Terrapins’ head coach stands at 28 players. It’s the No. 18 class in the country by 247Sports’ Composite rankings, the first time Maryland’s been ranked that high since 2004. And the players in this 2017 class are ranked five percentage points higher on average than the ones who signed in 2004.

Wednesday’s National Signing Day is one Durkin and fans alike can celebrate. Here’s why:

Top-level talent from local powerhouses.

Maryland signed eight blue-chip recruits, more than the program has in any recruiting class since the internet started recording those things. In fact, the Terps signed eight blue-chip recruits in the previous there years COMBINED.

A lot of this talent was local (I’ll have more on that in the morning), and it came from top high schools. Anthony McFarland and Marcus Minor from DeMatha in Maryland. Kasim Hill and Cam Spence from St. John’s in D.C. Tahj Capehart and the Gaddy twins from Bishop Sullivan in Virginia. The Terps hit all the hot spots, and are setting themselves up to go back and do even better next year.

Reinforcements at (almost) every position

This 28-player class brings someone from everywhere. We’ll have updates on how this affects each position unit in the coming days, but suffice to say the Terps have taken a big step in restocking the barren cupboards Randy Edsall left behind. This class brings in two four-star defensive backs, five defensive line recruits, at least one four-star running back (more on that later) and a highly touted quarterback. The Terps’ kicker recruit flipped to Notre Dame on Monday, but that’s a position the team can try for again next cycle. From a depth standpoint, this class was exactly what Maryland needed.

A flip went in Maryland’s favor.

Tahj Capehart, who committed to Virginia Tech in August, decided to take an official visit to Maryland the weekend before Signing Day. Offensive coordinator Walt Bell and receivers coach Chris Beatty were able to convince him to change his commitment, which he announced on Twitter not long before the team announced it had received his National Letter of Intent. He’s a playmaker who could contend for a starting job as a true freshman.

An out-of-nowhere commitment brought some more attention to the program.

Four-star Tennessee running back Cordarrian Richardson committed to Maryland in a surprising announcement. However, nothing about him was ever announced by the school. It appears he could have a tough road to qualify and attend school at Maryland, but it was still a cool moment for the program.

The Terps just missed making this National Signing Day as good as it could have been.

Kofi Wardlow, an edge rusher who committed to the Terps back in December, flipped to Notre Dame on Signing Day. The move wasn’t out of the blue, as analysts had begun predicting the move a few days ago. Maryland still has B’Amad Miller and Lawtez Rogers committed at defensive end, though Wardlow looked like high-upside prospect.

Four-star cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields announced his commitment at 2 p.m., and he went with Penn State instead of Maryland. The Terps appeared to convince him to delay his decision last week, when it looked all but certain he’d commit to the Nittany Lions. His destination was less obvious this time around, as there was no consensus opinion among experts leading up to the announcement.

Still, this was a momentous occasion for Maryland’s program. After a 6-6 season that had its fair share of highs and lows, this is a big step on the long path to making the Terps Big Ten contenders.