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DeMatha Catholic could be the key to Maryland football's 2017 recruiting class

The Terps struggled to recruit the local football powerhouse for years. But they broke through in 2016, and their Route 1 neighbors could provide an elite bounce in 2017.

DeMatha running back Anthony McFarland runs for a touchdown.
DeMatha running back Anthony McFarland runs for a touchdown.

For years, Maryland has struggled to recruit players from DeMatha Catholic High School, the local football powerhouse located three miles south of Maryland's campus, on Route 1 in Hyattsville.

The Terps didn't have a DeMatha alum on their roster in 2015. They had one in 2014, 2013 and 2012 and two in 2011. The only major DeMatha contributor under Randy Edsall was linebacker-safety Kenny Tate, who last played in 2012. From the outside, it's been a hard-to-explain shortcoming for a program that claims to pride itself on local recruiting.

But the tide might be turning. Before Maryland fired him, Edsall got commitments from four-star receiver Tino Ellis and three-star friends Lorenzo Harrison and DJ Turner. DJ Durkin's staff solidified those pledges on National Signing Day, and the Terps also got four-star guard Terrance Davis – as blue-chip as a guard prospect can get – to join them. (They missed out on four-star defensive end Shane Simmons, who signed with Penn State.)

"What a thrill to get all those DeMatha guys to be a part of this class," Durkin said on Signing Day. "[Head coach] Elijah Brooks and his program there, it doesn't get better than that. I can tell you one thing: We are going back to DeMatha next year too. We are going to try to claim stake there as much as we can."

That sounds like a good idea, because DeMatha has enough talent to give Maryland a huge recruiting jolt all by itself. The Stags have a remarkable collection of high-end skill next year, and Maryland could use to grab a handful of it.

The two best 2017 prospects anywhere in Maryland both play for DeMatha

On the 247Sports Composite, two in-state prospects for 2017 have drastically higher average star ratings than the rest of Maryland's high school football players.

Just about every team in the country wants running back Anthony McFarland Jr. He's rated a high four-star talent on the Composite, which averages out evaluations from the sport's major recruiting agencies. He's very close to a five-star rating, which only three or four running backs anywhere in the country are likely to earn. He's got Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Georgia and a thousand other offers, so he'll be really hard to get. It's easy to see why:

The state's consensus No. 2 prospect after McFarland is four-star defensive DeMatha lineman Chase Young, who's pegged as the No. 4 weak-side defensive end in the country, measuring it right now at 6'5 and 220 pounds.

The translation: He'll be a sack machine in college and terrorize offensive tackles just about as soon as he arrives on some campus. His teams list is similarly intimidating, including Alabama, Florida State, Georgia and a bunch of other recruiting juggernauts. His film is devastating, too.

For good measure, the state's No. 4 prospect also plays for DeMatha: 6'4 offensive tackle Marcus Minor. Davis is one of the most touted linemen to emerge from the greater Washington area in a generation, and Minor is right behind him. He's drawn interest from Miami, Penn State and North Carolina and will certainly get more as the 2017 cycle kicks into gear. He'll probably be hard to get, too, as elite tackle prospects tend to be. Let's roll the tape:

After elite talents McFarland, Young and Minor, the Stags also have receiver Delante Hellams and pro-style quarterback Beau English among the state's top-25-rated players.

Recruiting is a complicated business, and it's still exceptionally early to project where most players will land in 2017. But DeMatha is a critical place to watch because of what it could offer Maryland. McFarland and Young would be two of the Terrapins' best commits in years. More than that, they'd be success stories in Maryland's quest to succeed with the best players in its own "backyard."

The Terps have started on that path in recent years – Stefon Diggs, Davis, Richard Merritt – but have also shown they've got a long way to go – Simmons, Dwayne Haskins, Keandre Jones. If they want to take a step forward in blue-chip local recruiting, there's no place better to start in 2017 than right down the street at DeMatha.