Trey Rucker and Jordan Houston, teammates at Flint Hill School in Virginia, both committed last week to play college football at Maryland. Rucker announced his decision on Sunday, and Houston let his loose on Twitter the day after.
Watching both, already informed of their decisions, was Steve Willoby. The Flint Hill assistant coach and Rucker’s stepfather was a big part of why the two recruits took the specific path they did to becoming FBS football recruits.
It started when Trey Rucker was in youth football. After hearing numerous times from his wife that his stepson had some serious talent, Willoby sat Rucker down.
“You serious about this, man?” Willoby recalled telling his stepson in an interview with Testudo Times. “Because I can get you where you want to be.”
Rucker and Houston are both from Maryland, but Willoby convinced them to cross state lines for high school ball.
Willoby, a former Howard running back, didn’t coach Rucker officially until the three-star safety followed him to Flint Hill. The sales pitch to get his stepson and a few friends, including Houston, was this:
“They’re a high-academic school. The competition was not that great, but we did have a couple tough teams on our schedule,” Willoby said. “One thing I didn’t want to do was to get Trey beat up in high school playing against DeMatha and Gonzaga, which he had an opportunity to attend. I was like no, we’re gonna go this route.”
So Willoby rented out his house in Waldorf, Maryland, and started renting a house in Virginia so Rucker wouldn’t have to commute. Houston stayed with his family in Waldorf, and got up at 5 a.m. every day to make it to the bus 35 minutes away at the National Harbor that would get him him to Flint Hill in Oakton, Virginia, by 7:30.
The plan worked out, and colleges came calling quick. Flint Hill went from 7-3 in their freshman and sophomore seasons to 11-0 by Houston and Rucker’s junior year. Rucker was all-state as a sophomore. Houston, after breaking his leg as a sophomore, was the lone junior on The Washington Post’s All-Met first team last year. The mail from colleges came after freshman year.
“I just got more and more mail,” Houston said.
Houston says that while he and Rucker both ended up at Maryland, they went about their recruitment pretty separately.
Rucker made his decision and informed the coaches of his commitment weeks before Houston did, the running back says. The Terps eventually secured Houston’s commitment over Virginia Tech and Michigan State with their pitch that he’d play early and get to stay home.
“I was considering other schools because I felt like I could play wherever, but it was mostly that I wanted to help Maryland and stay home,” Houston said. “They made me a priority, and the situation I’m in is pretty good, because they didn’t take a running back last year and right now I’m the only running back they’re taking for 2019.”
Here’s what Maryland is getting in each recruit, according to their coach:
Willoby’s quick scouting report on Houston:
“That boy just lives in the weight room. He’s put together, and with the right weight room, he’s gonna be a good 5’10, 200-pound running back, and he’s gonna dominate with the speed he has.”
“His knowledge to read cuts, to get to the second level and then turn on the burners. He really gets it.”
And on Rucker:
“The coaches were blown away with his IQ. The coaches explain something to him and he’ll pick it up. What you’re gonna get with Trey is a guy who can play inside-out. He can go check the 6’4 receiver as well as cover the 5’9, quick, 4.3 guy using his skills and technique.”
He also touted Rucker’s run-stopping ability.
“I’m not speaking as a dad, I’m speaking as a coach,” Willoby said. “If you watch his film and you’re able to look at down and distance, there’s quite a few plays where he’s making those tackles from the safety position. That is special. That is really, really special.”
Other Maryland football recruiting news and notes
Down here, we’ll round up headlines from the past week of Maryland football recruiting news, as well as any new offers the staff has sent out. I’ll do my best to keep track of offers, but if there’s one I missed, let me know in the comments and I’ll add it.
OT Kaleb Boateng says Pitt is his No. 1 right now if he had to pick a school, but that Purdue and Maryland are in contention too. He’ll take an official visit to Maryland for homecoming on Oct. 13 against Rutgers.
CB Jayden Curry says Maryland, Rutgers, Georgia Tech and Auburn are the schools he likes the most right now, and he broke down what he likes about each.
Safety Osita Smith, who has Maryland, West Virginia and Indiana in pursuit, will announce his commitment on Aug. 30.
Last week, we introduced the Testudo Times football recruiting big board. We’ll try to update this with the latest news whenever we can, so I hope you like it.
Kendron Wayman, Class of 2020 DE from Ridgely, Md.
Laderrick Despenza, 2019 DL from Mississippi.
In Hamilton, where defensive lineman Laderrick Despenza just received his first official D1 offer from Maryland. Despenza says he's also receiving interest from Ole Miss and Louisiana. pic.twitter.com/62jpptfFVH— Andy Lee (@AndyLeeWTVA) August 6, 2018
Kuony Deng, a DE/LB from Independence Community College in Kansas.