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How Maryland football is recruiting Virginia Beach more effectively than ever

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Three Bishop Sullivan prospects are coming in 2017, with more on the way.

@CoachSteveDBU/Twitter

Maryland football has traditionally struggled recruiting the talent-rich Virginia Beach area, but thanks to the recruiting savvy of DJ Durkin and associate head coach Chris Beatty, the Terps are making inroads in the area.

Four-star defensive tackle Breyon Gaddy, his twin brother Brandon, a three-star defensive tackle, and three-star receiver Tahj Capehart signed with Maryland on Feb. 1. The trio will arrive in College Park in June, but where they’re coming from may be just as important.

Bishop Sullivan produces top-level talent year after year, but upon their arrival, the Gaddy twins and Capehart will be the only Crusader alumni on the roster. That’s due partially to Virginia and Virginia Tech sweeping up whatever talent blue-blood programs leave and partially to Maryland’s historical ineffectiveness in recruiting the area.

Not only will the trio be the first Bishop Sullivan alumni on the roster, but they’d be only the seventh, eighth and ninth players from the entire state of Virginia in Terrapin football uniforms. For a program that prides itself on keeping players home and focusing on athletes in the DMV, having only nine out of 104 players from a neighboring state is underwhelming.

Thanks to one hire in particular, that number is rapidly increasing and doesn’t show any signs of tapering off any time soon.

Beatty, a Virginia native, first coached at Landstown High School in Virginia Beach where he led the Eagles to a 40-2 record and a state championship in 2004. Since then, he’s made stops at West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Illinois, Wisconsin and Virginia while coaching future NFL players Percy Harvin, Tavon Austin, Jordan Matthews and Jared Abbrederis. That’s quite a résumé, and when he returns to recruit Virginia for the Terps, recruits take notice. Durkin has taken notice too, promoting Beatty to associate head coach in the offseason; that came with an extension and a nice pay raise too.

When the Gaddy twins decommitted from Tennessee in late November, Breyon reached out to Beatty and Durkin about taking a visit.

“They came to our school the next day,” Brandon told Testudo Times. “Coach Beatty, he recruited us hard.

“On our official visit, it just felt like home. I just loved the stadium and all the coaches. Coach Durkin was the main part for me. We committed to Maryland because I loved his vibe and all that stuff. I just thought, ‘I could play for him.’”

That hard-nosed, active recruiting is what helps a program land three of the top 20 recruits in Virginia. Breyon took note of Beatty’s grind, too.

“Our relationship is good. I’ve known him for two years now,” Breyon said. “And he’s a coach from down here, so it’s better that I have a coach from my area coaching me up there.”

While familiarity with the coaching staff and comfort with the program is paramount, the reality is that once recruits are on campus, they’ll be spending most of their time with other football players. That’s why Maryland — and many other schools — have current players host prospective teammates when they come visit the school. Adam McLean, Darnell Savage, D.J. Moore and Elisha and Elijah Daniels all played a role in hosting the Gaddy twins on their visits to campus.

“The players recruited me and I liked that too,” Breyon said. “It’s good when the players want you to come up there more than the coaches do.”

As much as the Gaddy twins say they enjoyed being recruited by players already on the team, they didn’t do much recruiting of Capehart or 2018 Maryland quarterback commit Tyler DeSue, who also attends Bishop Sullivan.

“I tried to keep the decision really to myself,” DeSue said. “Me and Tahj have known each other since we were younger so I really talked to him more about it than anything, so he knew where I was going before anybody else knew. I didn’t really ask [the twins] too much about it; I didn’t really give hints. I just wanted to make sure that I would make the right decision for me, and not make the decision because they went there.”

But just because his teammates didn’t recruit him, though, doesn’t mean that he won’t be trying to bring teammates and friends with him to College Park. In fact, it’ll be quite the opposite. DeSue said he wants to bring “everybody” he can with him because of the deep talent pool in the Virginia Beach area.

“There’s some real talented players down here,” DeSue said. “With me playing here, I know the real ones, I know the ones that are really really hyped up and I really wanna go after the guys like “Tank” Tayvion Land, Sheridan [Jones] and Darryl Jones. All those guys are real dudes that I think are gonna produce in college and be big-time guys.”

Maryland’s already offered all three. Nobody is sure exactly where any of them will end up yet, but one thing is certain: Chris Beatty will be involved. With the Class of 2017 signed and ready to arrive over the summer and DeSue on board for 2018, in addition to Beatty’s status in the area, the future of Maryland recruiting in Virginia Beach looks brighter than ever.

In other news

There haven’t been any visits we know about since coaches are out on the recruiting trail right now, but here are the offers we can find since last Thursday.

Maryland offers

Player Position 247Sports Composite Ranking Class Date offered
Player Position 247Sports Composite Ranking Class Date offered
Chris Mayo Offensive tackle N/A 2020 5/3
Quendarius Jefferson Receiver N/A 2019 4/27
Ahmad Craig DE/OLB N/A 2019 5/2
Aaron McLaughlin Quarterback N/A 2021 5/1
Thurman Geathers Defensive end 0.8463 2018 5/1
Steven Gilmore Cornerback 0.8322 2018 4/28
Osman Savage RB/OLB N/A 2020 4/28