Thanks to the new early signing period, Maryland football was able to officially welcome 22 new student-athletes in December. Starting this semester, 11 of them are already on campus and enrolled in the university.
Enrolling early is an increasingly popular option for high school recruits, as it allows them to participate in winter and spring workouts just like any other member of the team would. Incoming freshmen who wait until June to enroll are able to have as much communication as they’d like with the coaching staff and may attend practice and meetings as spectators, but they aren’t allowed to participate. As a separate, long-term benefit, early enrollees get a head start on their academics and can graduate earlier if they opt to graduate and transfer later in their careers to avoid having to sit out a year of eligibility.
With a program like Maryland, where the best players, regardless of age, earn playing time, enrolling early gives freshmen a leg up on their classmates who wait until June. It’s more complicated than just choosing to enroll early, though. Private schools often have more rigid academic requirements for graduation than public schools, making it rare that one of their students enrolls early. All 11 of Maryland’s mid-year enrollees are from public schools or are transfers from other colleges.
Here’s the list of early enrollees.
|Tyler DeSue||QB||0.8676||Bishop Sullivan Catholic^ (Virginia Beach, VA)|
|Jeshaun Jones||WR||0.8709||South Fort Myers (Fort Myers, FLA)|
|Chigoziem Okonkwo||TE||0.8763||Hillgrove (Powder Springs, GA)|
|T.J. Bradley||OT||0.8838*||Lackawanna CC (Leesburg, VA)|
|Byron Cowart||DE||0.88*||Hillsborough CC/Auburn (Seffner, FLA)|
|Jalen Alexander||DT||0.873||Western Branch (Chesapeake, VA)|
|Durell Nchami||BUCK||0.8593||Paint Branch (Burtonsville, MD)|
|Jordan Mosley||LB||0.849||Haverford (Havertown, PA)|
|Nihym Anderson||LB||0.8539||Vineland South (Vineland, NJ)|
|Tré Watson||LB||0.8228**||Tampa Catholic/Illinois (Tampa, FLA)|
|Vincent Flythe||CB||0.8667||H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.)|
Tyler DeSue, three-star quarterback
DeSue is the second quarterback from the DMV to sign with Maryland in as many years. His presence in the quarterback room puts the Terps in the best position they’ve been in in years. That said, both Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill are coming off season-ending ACL injuries, Caleb Henderson seems to be a non-factor and Max Bortenschlager was only so serviceable last season. With any luck, Maryland will be able to redshirt DeSue while Pigrome and/or Hill hold it down (but since when does Maryland have any luck with quarterbacks?).
DeSue transferred from Bishop Sullivan to a local public high school after football season was over so he could finish his graduation requirements and enroll early.
Jeshaun Jones, three-star receiver
Jones is still the most recent high school prospect to choose Maryland in this cycle. His commitment on signing day gave the Terps their fourth receiver in the Class of 2018. He joins three-stars Brian Cobbs, Dontay Demus and four-star Darryl Jones. With D.J. Moore off to the draft, Jones and his classmates, along with the five-man Class of 2017, will look to collectively replace his record-breaking production.
Chigoziem Okonkwo, three-star tight end
Okonkwo was the only Maryland commit to have attended Nike’s The Opening finals in Oregon this cycle. At 6’2, 225 pounds, he’s a mismatch virtually anywhere on the field; he’s too fast for linebackers, but could body smaller defensive backs outside the numbers. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s used in Matt Canada’s offense, especially since Maryland’s tight ends did not catch a single pass last season.
T.J. Bradley, three-star offensive tackle
Bradley’s 2017 season was his first on the gridiron since he was a freshman at Tuscarora High School in Leesburg, Virginia. The 6’7, 285-pound offensive tackle is a raw talent, but has a prototypical frame. He’ll have three years to use his remaining three seasons of eligibility. Bradley joins Maryland’s highest-rated commit, Jaelyn Duncan, and three-stars Evan Gregory and Spencer Anderson on the offensive line.
Byron Cowart, three-star defensive tackle
Cowart was formerly the No. 3 overall recruit in the Class of 2015. He originally signed with and spent two-plus years at Auburn before transferring to Hillsborough Community College a few games into the 2017 season. He didn’t play football this past season, and will be available in 2018 with two years of eligibility remaining. With the addition of Cowart, Jesse Aniebonam returning for his final season and the Class of 2017 ready to contribute, the defensive line could see drastic improvement in 2018.
Jalen Alexander, three-star defensive tackle
Alexander spent the entire spring and summer on Maryland’s radar before finally pulling the trigger in mid-October. His 6’4, 295-pound frame will allow him to be a versatile option on the Terps’ defensive line. He could stick at defensive tackle or slide to strong-side defensive end. It’s hardest to come in and make an immediate impact as a freshman on the offensive and defensive lines, but Alexander’s positional flexibility could make him a viable option sooner rather than later.
Durell Nchami, three-star BUCK
One of six incoming linebackers, Nchami is the longest-tenured member of the Class of 2018. The Paint Branch product was a low three-star commit when he committed in March 2017, but thanks to an outstanding performance at The Opening: D.C. and a solid senior season, his stock has risen significantly since then.
Here's 2018 commit Durell Nchami with a tip-drill interception. Great coverage. Maybe a steal for the Terps. Bonus points for not hitting me pic.twitter.com/AhyLolNNBO— Jared Goldstein (@_jgoldy17) April 23, 2017
In College Park, he’ll be a BUCK, meaning he’ll be a hybrid pass rusher/outside linebacker. In Year One, he’ll be behind Aniebonam, but should compete for playing time on special teams and as a rotational player.
Jordan Mosley, three-star linebacker
In DJ Durkin’s 4-2-5 defense, there aren’t many spots to go around at once for linebackers, but each newcomer brings a different skill set to the field. Mosley can fill that hybrid outside linebacker/safety position that’s becoming more popular in today’s game. He, along with his classmates, will help to fill the void Jermaine Carter Jr., Shane Cockerille and Jalen Brooks left when they graduated after last season.
Nihym Anderson, three star linebacker
Anderson was Maryland’s third commit in the Class of 2018, hopping on board just one day after DeSue did. His closing speed and violent playing style should eventually make him a hard-to-take-off-the-field linebacker on first and second down.
Tré Watson, three-star linebacker
Watson was initially a three-star recruit out of Tampa, Florida in Illinois’ Class of 2014. As Lovie Smith took over in the middle of Watson’s Illini career, there was a concerted effort to integrate new blood into the program, and Watson’s best option was to seek playing time elsewhere. Enter Maryland, which needed to replace three senior linebackers, didn’t have a ton of young depth and could offer immediate playing time. Watson can be a solid one-year rental as a veteran linebacker to bride the gap between last year’s seniors and the rising stars of the future.
Vincent Flythe, three-star cornerback
One of five H.D. Woodson targets in this cycle, Flythe will, in all likelihood, end up the only Terp of the bunch. Flythe was part of a flurry that turned into a blizzard of commits in the middle of the summer as Maryland filled up almost all of its spots before the season started in September. At 6’0, he’s long enough to be a true cover cornerback, and under the tutelage of Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, he could develop into a lockdown corner before he leaves College Park.