When Maryland hired DJ Durkin to be its 36th head football coach in program history in December 2015, the program was rejuvenated.
His passion for the game and high intensity brought a jolt of energy to a program coming off a disappointing season. Maryland doubled its win total from the previous season under Durkin en route to its 27th bowl game appearance.
The future of the program looks bright. And with the renovations to Cole Field House making it one of the premier football facilities in the country, the program is certainly preparing to take a leap forward. Furthering that look to the future, here are five predictions for the next five years of Maryland football:
1. Maryland will continue to recruit well.
Coming on the heels of a bowl game appearance, Durkin flexed his recruiting muscles, signing the No. 18 recruiting class in the country. As Rivals’ 2012 Recruiter of the Year, Durkin clearly understands the importance of establishing relationships with recruits early on and getting the best players possible on board come National Signing Day. His staff is assembled with ace recruiters with ties to areas ripe with talent — mainly local — that Maryland will look to lock down to form its base. The DMV is typically a talent-rich area, so the Terps can sustain themselves with local talent.
2. Those recruits will help continue to change the program’s culture.
Maryland hasn’t exactly been great at football for quite some time now. The program’s last nine-win season came in 2010, and the Terps haven’t bested seven wins in any season since. That being said, the Terps also haven’t recruited at the level at which we’re seeing them recruit now. They’ve already got two blue-chip recruits on board in Evan Gregory and Austin Fontaine for the Class of 2018. Perhaps more importantly, the staff appears to have built great relationships with local powerhouse schools like DeMatha, Bishop Sullivan and St. John’s, among others. What we may see over the next half-decade is a lot of the top players in the area staying home to build a very good football program.
3. Maryland will finish third or better in the Big Ten East at least once.
Yes, this would require Maryland to finish ahead of at least one of Ohio State, Penn State or Michigan, but we’re talking about the next five years, not just next year, so bear with me. Maryland signed the No. 18 class last year and looks to be well on its way to bringing an equally talented, albeit smaller, Class of 2018. Once those guys arrive, all it takes is one season where great coaching and a couple bounces go the right way. A 9-3 season with a win over one of those three probably means a top-three finish.
4. Maryland will win at least nine games in one season.
Even if you don’t think Maryland will be able to beat Michigan, Ohio State or Penn State in the next five years, winning nine games is attainable without doing that. A 12-game regular season means the Terps can get there with a clean sheet against the rest of the schedule, or they could finish 8-4 and win a bowl game.
5. Durkin will still be here.
Before his arrival at Maryland, Durkin was regarded as one of the brightest young minds in college football. That hasn’t changed. And if he turns these first four predictions into reality, he’ll be a hot commodity. That said, the Maryland coaching job has to be an attractive one right now. It’s located right near the nation’s capital and on one of the biggest recruiting hotbeds in the country, there’s the opportunity to play some of the top teams in college football and the team has the support of the athletic department (see Cole Field House).
If Durkin were to leave Maryland, it would probably only be for a bigger Power 5 job. That said, it’s possible that no job that’s more attractive than the one he currently holds opens up for him in the next five years.
What do you think? Give us your hottest takes in the comments section below.