In foot­ball re­cruit­ing sweep­stakes, Mary­land falls short of the rest

Cecil Whig - - NFL DRAFT - By TROY JEF­FER­SON

Cap­i­tal News Ser­vice

— The state of Mary­land has been a hot­bed for col­lege foot­ball re­cruit­ing as top pro­grams like Alabama and Ohio State have feasted on lo­cal prospects. How­ever, the team that has been left out to dry has been the University of Mary­land.

Cap­i­tal News Ser­vice data anal­y­sis over the last five years showed that Mary­land as a state only re­tains on av­er­age 20 per­cent of its four- and five-star prospects. Alabama, home to pre­miere pro­grams like the University of Alabama and Auburn University, on the other hand, keeps 76 per­cent of home­grown tal­ent.

Mis­sis­sippi (83 per­cent) and Michi­gan (74 per­cent) also rank near the top in re­tain­ing lo­cal prospects, de­spite split­ting their re­spec­tive states be­tween two Di­vi­sion 1 Foot­ball Sub­di­vi­sion schools.

The University of Mary­land is the only Di­vi­sion 1 FBS school in the state but strug­gles to keep its own blue-chip prospects.

“When schools like Ohio State and Florida State, with the suc­cess they have had on the field and with as much ef­fort as they put on re­cruit­ing in the DMV, it’s tough for Mary­land to beat those schools out for kids,” said Steve Wilt­fong, the Na-

COL­LEGE PARK

tional Re­cruit­ing Di­rec­tor at 247sports, a CBS Sports sub­sidiary re­cruit­ing site.

The Ter­rap­ins were 22-33 un­der Randy Ed­sall, who was fired in Oc­to­ber af­ter four and a half sea­sons.

Ohio State and Florida State have both won na­tional cham­pi­onships over the past few sea­sons and have pro­duced a com­bined five firstround draft picks in the last two years. In the same time frame, Mary­land had a to­tal of three play­ers drafted.

As Mary­land has strug­gled to win on the field, it isn’t send­ing play­ers to the NFL ei­ther, which makes selling the pro­gram to high school­ers dif­fi­cult.

Dwayne Hask­ins Jr., a quar­ter­back for the Bullis School in Po­tomac, is ranked third among high school quar­ter­backs in Mary­land, ac­cord­ing to ESPN. And his story is just one ex­am­ple of Mary­land’s in­abil­ity to re­cruit its own.

Hask­ins orig­i­nally com­mit­ted to Mary­land last May and started a move­ment to get other lo­cal tal­ent to join him in Col­lege Park. How­ever, af­ter head coach Ed­sall was fired, Hask­ins spurned the Terps and com­mit­ted to Ohio State.

“If they were win­ning 12 games a year, it would cer­tainly be eas­ier to keep guys home,” Wilt­fong said.

New head coach D.J. Durkin will have his hands full try­ing to bring in tal­ent to a team that won one game in the Big Ten and three over­all last sea­son.

“There were some tough de­ci­sions made and those are things we had to work through. It’s part of the process and ev­ery­one is better off be­cause of it,” Durkin said dur­ing the sign­ing day press con­fer­ence on Feb 3. “There were some that went other ways and I think that’s great. The guys here know what they are get­ting into and they want to be a part of this thing.”

Durkin knows the first or­der of busi­ness is try­ing to keep Mary­land tal­ent in Mary­land.

“We are go­ing to build this pro­gram with guys in their own back­yard,” Durkin said.

Foot­ball pow­er­house DeMatha Catholic High School, lo­cated in Hy­attsville, is a short drive away from Mary­land’s cam­pus and has a rich tra­di­tion of pro­duc­ing can’tmiss prospects.

DeMatha four-star wide re­ceiver Tino El­lis, along with three of his team­mates, de­cided to stay at home and play for the Ter­rap­ins next year.

“What a thrill to get all those DeMatha guys to be a part of this class,” Durkin said. “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.”

Durkin feels the new crop of tal­ent as a whole pro­vides a solid foun­da­tion for the fu­ture.

“The re­cruit­ing staff and coach­ing staff re­ally put to­gether a class that is just tre­men­dous,” Durkin said. “The guys we brought in are about great things, about what we’re build­ing here, and they are def­i­nitely go­ing to help us achieve great things.”

All in all, Mary­land’s 2016 class is com­prised of 19 re­cruits, eight of which are from Mary­land.

“They got some guys that can be dif­fer­ence-mak­ers at the skill po­si­tions, which they needed,” Wilt­fong said. “(Mary­land) cer­tainly does win some…It’s not like they’ve seen ev­ery great player from the DMV leave.”

Mary­land also added a few other Wash­ing­ton Catholic Ath­letic Con­fer­ence prospects for its 2017 class: St. John’s Col­lege High School quar­ter­back (Wash­ing­ton, D.C.) Kasim Hill and Our Lady of Good Coun­sel High School (Ol­ney) line­backer Ayinde Eley.

Hill, who re­jected Big Ten pow­er­houses Michi­gan and Michi­gan State, is ranked as the 13th-best pro-style quar­ter­back in the coun­try. Eley is ranked as the 10thbest player in the state and turned down of­fers from Ohio State and Penn State.

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