- Dave Hooker, Reporter, RecruitingNation
Looking for big plays? Look to Melvin Keihn
The outside linebacker recorded 12 sacks, 51 tackles, recovered three fumbles, returning one for a touchdown and caught a pass for a touchdown last fall.
Making those numbers even more impressive is the fact that Keihn is just a sophomore who muscled his way onto the field for talent-rich Baltimore Gilman, where snaps can be extremely hard to come by for underclassmen.
Keihn already has five scholarship offers -- Maryland, West Virginia, Wake Forest, Virginia and Rutgers – and is hearing from many other programs as well. He visited College Park, Md., to check out the Terrapins recently.
“It went well,” Keihn said of his second visit to the Terps' campus. “The place is nice. I talked to some of the coaches. It was cool.”
Keihn's first visit to Maryland was for the season-opening upset win against Miami last fall. Since then, the Terps lost 10 of their next 11 games and winning this season would affect the way local prospects perceive the nearby school.
“Every single play will be important,” Keihn said. “I think if they win more games this year, that would be really, really good. I guess every school goes through a year like they had before.”
Keihn is a prime target for Maryland. He said he spoke to three different coaches while on campus, including head coach Randy Edsall. Landing local prospects like receiver Stefon Diggs and Wes Brown from Olney (Md.) Good Counsel and Gilman tailback/linebacker Kenneth Goins should help Maryland land nearby prospects like Keihn in the future.
“I think that's a good move for them,” Keihn said. “I think Diggs and Brown, plus also our running back Kenny Goins, going there next year, I think that's a really good move for them. I think they're going to OK.
“Next year. I think they're settling down and getting things under control and able to recruit players. It's a pretty neat thing.”
With a transition year behind them, the Terps' coaches told Keihn they now have a hard-working group ready to improve. While that's alluring, there will be a ton of competition for the Terps to land what could become one of the top prospects in the East if not beyond.
Aside from the five offers he has, Keihn is hearing from several other schools. Virginia Tech and Boston College seem to be the closest to offering him his next scholarship. Keihn said he currently has no visits planned.
“They're all pretty wide open,” he said of his prospective schools.
It's hard for young players to stand out at Gilman, a school that regularly produces a handful of BCS-level signees each year. Yet Keihn has done so.
“A great kid who refuses to be out worked and has a ton of God-given ability,” said assistant coach Henry Russell said.
Russell even goes so far to say that Keihn, with some more polish, could reach the same level of success as Gilman's former great prospects, such as 2012 Alabama signee Cyrus Jones, 2011 Virginia signee Darius Jennings and Watch List prospect Henry Poggi.
Keihn is watching his upperclassmen teammates, like Poggi, to see how to best handle the recruiting process. He traveled to College Park with quarterback/safety prospect Shane Cockerille last weekend.
“I try to learn from them and see what they're doing,” Keihn said.
The only thing that compares to receiving scholarship offers, Keihn said, is simply playing football with his teammates. Those are two of his primary joys in life.
“It's amazing,” he said. “It's one of the best thing to happen in my life. … I can't wait to get into the whole process and make a decision.”
In reality, he's already there.
Recruiters think Keihn will play outside linebacker or defensive end in college but with his athleticism, receiver is a slight possibility if he continues to develop on offense.
“Most people think I'm going to play defense and that's what I think I'm going to play is defense,” he said. “Wherever the coaches decide to put me in college it would work out either way. … I would prefer to play defense because that where I feel like I can help out the most people.”
One piece of advice. Put Keihn wherever a big play is needed.