NCF On The Trail: Maryland Terrapins

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland recruiting coordinator John Dunn has a long list of things he can sell to prospects considering the Terrapins.

He can sell recruits on the school's tremendous academics, a campus just miles from the nation's capital and long list of distinguished alumni like Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, Seinfeld creator Larry David and legendary puppeteer Jim Henson.

But the one thing that's at the top of Dunn's list is Maryland's recent move to the Big Ten.

[+] EnlargeRandy Edsall
Doug Kapustin/MCT/Getty ImagesRandy Edsall has a lot of factors to sell to area recruits.
“I think one of the things that is a draw, is the conference itself in terms of being a national conference," said Dunn, who is in his fourth season with the Terps after previous stops at LSU and North Carolina. “You look at all the TV avenues. Academically, it's one of the best conferences in America. One of the things the Big Ten talks about is being globally respected. It's worldwide."

Dunn said the Terps also uses the conferences' postseason affiliations with bowl games like the Rose Bowl, Citrus One, Outback, Holiday and other games to sell prospects. And then there's just the overall tradition. Combine all of that together and Dunn says it's a strong pitch to a high school junior or senior.

"It's about as attractive as it gets," he said.

Now the key for Dunn and the rest of the Terps coaches is to get the players in their backyard to buy in.

Maryland's recruiting footprint is the Washington D.C.-Baltimore metro area, called the DMV. The area is better known for producing tremendous basketball players -- ever hear of Elgin Baylor or Kevin Durant -- but everybody in the high school community agrees there's been an uptick in football talent in the last 10 years.

And to win at the highest levels in the Big Ten, the Terps know they're going to have to keep some of that talent at home. It's something they've not done just yet in the 2015 class. Maryland's class doesn't rank in the top 40 of the ESPN class rankings, 15 of its 16 commitments are three-star prospects and no player among Maryland's top 15 has decided to spend his future in College Park. The 2014 class was similar as it ranked as the 50th best and included only two ESPN 300 prospects.

But high school coaches in the area believe it's the right move to sell the Big Ten to recruits and it will eventually pay off.

"We have many kids that are playing in the Big Ten, and the pull of the Big Ten is really attractive to kids in this area," said Elijah Brooks, who coaches at Hyattsville (Maryland) DeMatha Catholic, a school that's a must-stop spot for recruiters. "We think of the Big Ten as big-time football. We have kids at Wisconsin and Penn State, so when you go to those games and see 100,000 people that really impresses.

"You see that Maryland had 55,000 for the first Big Ten home game that's something that wows, too. Kids around here can relate to that and can see that Maryland is becoming a part of something special."

Gaithersburg (Maryland) Quince Orchard coach John Kelley agrees.

“I just think recruiting wise when you can sell you're playing Ohio State, playing Michigan, playing Nebraska, playing Penn State; that will sell to the kids in this area," Kelley said. “No offense to Wake Forest and schools like that in the ACC, but on the national scene that just doesn't match up against Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State. I think that plays better to 16, 17 and 18-year-old."

And while it hasn't gone exactly as the Terps have planned so far with the 2015 class, Brooks and Kelly both strongly believe Dunn and the Maryland coaches must continue to sell the lure of the Big Ten on the recruiting trial.

“I think with Maryland, it's more of a wait and see how they perform in the Big Ten before they really jump on board," Brooks said. “They have our starting running back (Lorenzo Harrison) committed, and that's going to start to lead to others in our program. To me, I think it was definitely a good move to join the Big Ten and they're doing a great job of selling it to the kids. It's the No. 1 thing they sell and they're doing a good job of it."
Randy Edsall knows recruiting is the lifeblood of his program, and he is really impressing local coaches with his effort. Plus, don’t be surprised if you see NC State finish with a flurry.

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The DMV (D.C./Maryland/Virginia) has developed into one of the most competitive areas in the country, so what recruiters do the best job in Washington D.C.? Plus, can Minnesota keep one of the top juniors in the country at home?


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Juco recruits to watch: Big Ten 

October, 6, 2014
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Junior college prospects can be an excellent way for programs to fix immediate roster needs. Because the players already have experience outside of college, they typically come to campus well prepared to hit the field early.

RecruitingNation has put together the Juco Watch List for 2015 and there are a few Big Ten targets within the list.

With plenty of holes still out there to fill, Big Ten coaches are hoping to reel in some of these big targets. Below are just a few of the most important JUCO prospects within the conference.


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Best of the visits: Big Ten

October, 5, 2014
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The slate of games this weekend churned out some exciting -- and in some cases, unexpected -- results for the Big Ten. Rutgers won its first conference game, Northwestern upset Wisconsin and Michigan State made a push toward the College Football Playoff.

A few of those teams had excellent opportunities to impress visiting prospects as well, so here is a look at some of the best recruit reactions via social media.

Michigan vs. Rutgers:

Rutgers won its first Big Ten conference game Saturday against Michigan in what turned out to be an exciting game. A blocked field goal and some explosive offensive plays gave the Scarlet Knights the win in front of several big recruiting targets.

Wide receiver Lawrence Cager is still considering Rutgers and picked a good game to visit for. The recruits could sense this was going to be an exciting game beforehand, as Michigan was in town and it was a night game.

 
Cager enjoyed himself, but there is still some steep competition for the 2015 receiver as he is also considering Ohio State, Notre Dame and Alabama, among others. Either way, this was an excellent opportunity for Rutgers to get him on campus.

 
While the game itself was exciting, there was also some pre-game excitement for the Rutgers coaching staff. Linebacker Jonathan Pollock decided to commit to the Scarlet Knights while on his visit and tweeted a picture moments after.

 
Cager and Pollock were also joined by 2015 defensive end Shareef Miller, among other prospects.

 
The reaction from the recruits so far has been positive, and all have said there is some excitement around the Rutgers program right now.

Michigan State vs. Nebraska:

This was the marquee matchup in the Big Ten this week, as both teams were ranked in the Top 25.

Nebraska made the game close late in the fourth quarter, but the Spartans dominated most of the game. The win for Michigan State helped solidify what prospects think about the program right now and the direction the Spartans are headed.

One of the bigger visitors on campus was 2015 linebacker Cassius Peat, who flew in from Arizona for his official visit.

 
Peat had plenty of other recruits around him, and that included 2016 Michigan State commitment Cameron Chambers, who was trying to recruit for his future team.

 
If Michigan State can close out its season strong and make it into the College Football Playoff, there's no telling what that could do for the future of Spartans recruiting. For now, a home win against a Top 25 team will do just fine.

Maryland vs. Ohio State:

The outcome wasn’t what Maryland had hoped for in front of a sold-out crowd, but the atmosphere and opportunity was still positive.

A few local prospects made the trip, including Maryland commitment E.J. Donahue.

 
Donahue had a good opportunity to help the coaching staff recruit, as there was a good list of uncommitted 2015 and 2016 prospects in attendance. In fact, there were even a few 2017 recruits, including Keyshwan Johnson Jr.

 
The California receiver made the trip with his dad, and there might have been a few reasons to pick this game as the younger Johnson's cousin, Michael Thomas, plays for the Buckeyes.

Big Ten's top recruiting visits 

October, 3, 2014
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Maryland, Rutgers and Michigan State are all hosting big in-conference opponents, which means they will all have important recruiting visitors on campus. The three programs have the biggest games within the conference and not coincidentally, they have also have the biggest visitor lists.

Here is a look at the top recruits visiting this weekend.

Michigan State vs. Nebraska


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Alabama, FSU, UF, Maryland and Oregon fans are going to have to wait on five-star DE Byron Cowart. Plus, Oregon State has made recruiting in LA a priority, so that’s why a good showing against the Trojans on Saturday is important.


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Best of the visits: Big Ten

September, 14, 2014
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Rutgers and Penn State played in what turned out to be an exciting game, right down to the wire. There were a few other big home games for Big Ten teams, which means there were important recruits on campus as well.

Here is a look through social media as to how those visits went.

Rutgers vs. Penn State:

It was a packed house and an exciting atmosphere for Rutgers first Big Ten game. There were a ton of local prospects including No. 5 ranked 2016 target Kareem Walker.


He and the other visiting prospects had good seats to take in the contest, and fellow ESPN Jr. 300 tight end Naseir Upshur gave the fans a look at their view.

This was a big game for both teams, as Penn State heavily recruits the East Coast and New Jersey. The targets for both teams said they are watching closely as to how the programs compete with a new coach at Penn State and a new conference for the Scarlet Knights.

Going into the visit a lot of the recruits said they were hoping to see an exciting game and they got just that.
Maryland vs. West Virginia:

Rutgers wasn’t the only Big Ten team hosting important prospects. Maryland had a handful of big time recruits for the game against the Mountaineers.

While the outcome on the field wasn’t what Maryland was hoping for, getting ESPN 300 athlete Ryan Davis and No. 2 ranked Byron Cowart is a huge win for the program.
Michigan vs Miami (Ohio):

The Wolverines came away with a win on Saturday, and while it wasn’t a huge visit weekend, Michigan did still have visitors on campus.

A few of the commits, including Tyree Kinnel, Darrin Kirkland Jr. and Alex Malzone were able to reconnect on the visit and spend some time at their future home.

Malzone took some video of the trip and gave the fans a look at what it’s like to walk out of Michigan’s tunnel as a recruit on game day.
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To win at the highest level in the SEC, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze knows he has to recruit well in Memphis, Tennessee, and Charlie Strong's job of returning Texas to the top just got more difficult after the loss to BYU this past weekend.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting news across the country. Today’s offerings: Missouri made national headlines when it signed a five-star local prospect in the 2012 class. Now the question facing the Tigers is whether they can do it again with Class of 2015 five-star Terry Beckner Jr. Plus, Nebraska has had good luck with junior-college prospects under Bo Pelini, and the Huskers hope to continue that trend. We also continue our tour of the top recruiting happenings on social media.

[+] EnlargeTerry Beckner
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTerry Beckner Jr. is a vital in-state target for Mizzou.
1. Over the last four classes two of the nation's elite players have come from prospects in Missouri's backyard. In 2012, the state produced No. 3-ranked Dorial Green-Beckham, and he signed with Mizzou before running into off-the-field issues this past offseason that led to his departure. The Tigers are hoping they can replicate the recruiting success -- without the off-field complications -- with No. 4-ranked Beckner. The five-star defensive end is about as must-get of a recruit as there has been for Gary Pinkel in his time in CoMo. To win in the SEC, you have to have beasts on the defensive line, and Beckner is definitely talented. The good news is Missouri looks to be in good shape and will receive an unofficial visit on Oct. 11 for the Georgia game.

2. Without a doubt, “The Maryland Way” will be something that helps the Terps on the recruiting trail. Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson announced Tuesday the implementation of "The Maryland Way Guarantee,” which gives athletes a “lifetime” guarantee on their scholarship even if they can’t compete because of injury. As the Terps move into the B1G, they’re fighting for every advantage they can to keep top talent in the DMV at home and away from conference rivals, and this development will give Randy Edsall some additional recruiting ammo to work with.

3. Nebraska has never been one to go heavy after junior college prospects, but over the years the Huskers have managed to strike gold with a number of two-year prospects. Defensive back DeJon Gomes, linebacker Lavonte David and most recently defensive end Randy Gregory are great examples of juco players recruited by Bo Pelini that have panned out. Defensive back Justin Martin out of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M could be next in line. The Huskers recently offered Martin, and while he doesn’t have favorites listed at this point, he was quite excited about picking up the NU offer. Another factor that could help the Huskers is that his coach, Ryan Held, played at Nebraska.

#WednesdayWisdom
Pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 11.5.1, only coaches who have been certified may contact or evaluate prospective student-athletes off-campus. To become certified, coaches must answer 80 percent of the questions on the NCAA Coaches Certification Test correctly. Here are a few examples of the types of questions coaches must answer correctly:

True or False: An institution's coach may produce a computer recruiting presentation and show it to a prospective student-athlete at the prospective student-athlete's high school.

The answer: True

True or False: It is permissible for a football coach at an institution located in the state of Pennsylvania to conduct several institutional camps in Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri in order to attract more prospective student-athletes from the Midwest.

The answer: False

Social Studies
Marquise Doherty is not only one of the top running backs in the country he’s also one of the top baseball prospects around. So when Doherty tweeted out Tuesday his top five schools -- a list that consisted of Iowa, Oregon, Missouri, Kansas State and Louisville -- he indicated all the schools have talked to him about playing both sports in college. Some have pegged Iowa as the team to beat because his former high school teammate Aaron Mends is a freshman with the Hawkeyes, but Doherty says official visits will be key for him.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting news across the country. Today’s offerings: Michigan fans have had to stomach some serious ups and downs with the 2015 recruiting cycle, but Wolverine fans looking for positive news can look at the job they've done locally. Plus, Oklahoma is looking to load up at running back and our daily tour of the top recruiting happenings on social media.

[+] EnlargeMike Weber
Tom Hauck for Student SportsRunning back Mike Weber was a big in-state commitment for Michigan.
1. Michigan fans have had to endure an up-and-down recruiting cycle so far in 2015. Early on it looked like the Wolverines were in position to pass Ohio State as the best class in the B1G. But when elite prospects such as running back Damien Harris and athlete George Campbell decommitted, Michigan slid to around the No. 20 range in the class rankings. There’s a chance Michigan could stay there if things don’t go well on the field this season, but if you’re looking for a positive spin on things, take a look at how the Wolverines have done in state in 2015. When ESPN 300 running back Mike Weber committed late last week, it gave Michigan pledges from three of the top four players in-state. Included in that list is Michigan’s top-ranked player, ESPN 300 athlete Brian Cole.

2. Few schools can match the running back tradition Oklahoma has, and with the question marks surrounding Joe Mixon’s future in Norman, the Sooners have made landing multiple running backs a priority in the 2015 class. The good news is that ESPN 300 rusher Rodney Anderson is already on board, and he should fit the Sooners' offense well with his ability to make big plays in the passing game and on the ground. But also keep an eye on OU with ESPN 300 running backs Tyreik Gray and Soso Jamabo. Both are expected to take official visits and could be excellent complements to Anderson in the class.

3. One of the best prospects in the 2016 class has made a commitment to play in the Under Armour All-America Game. Quarterback Malik Henry, the No. 2 player in the ESPN Junior 300 and the top-passer in the 2016 class, announced via Twitter he’s playing in the annual all-star game. Henry recently listed a final four of Notre Dame, UCLA, Ohio State and Florida State.

#FlashbackFriday
Ten years ago today, highly coveted receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey out of Silver Springs (Maryland) McDonogh went public with his commitment to Maryland. The Terps beat out Alabama and North Carolina for his commitment, and even back then in high school he was known as a speedster. He was timed by his high school coach at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash. At Maryland, he improved his speed -- including a school-reported 4.23-second time in the 40 -- and become one of the ACC's best receivers. He finished his career second in school history in career receiving yards, third in receptions and tied for third in touchdown catches. After running a 4.3 40-time at the NFL combine, Heyward-Bey was selected by the Oakland Raiders as the seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft. He spent four years with the Raiders, one year with the Indianapolis Colts and is now with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Social Studies
Social media continues to be one of the most amazing windows into how a school recruits. More and more of those involved with the recruiting process are posting the mailings they receive from schools for the entire world to see. And the mailing from Florida State that was posted on Facebook by Butler (Kansas) Community College coach Troy Morrell caught my attention. For all of the success the Noles have had with high school targets, it’s easy to forget they’ve had plenty of success with two-year prospects also. This mailer highlights some of those success stories, including Tank Carradine and Markus White, who played for Morrell at Butler.

 
ESPN 300 safety Cameron Ordway surprised some observers when he tweeted Thursday he was going to stretch the recruiting process out some. In July, he tweeted he was going to announce his decision in mid-August between Tennessee, Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State. The Vols are still projected as the team to beat with Ordway.
Maryland and Rutgers are entering their first season as members of the Big Ten Conference, and there are plenty of challenges ahead of both programs on the field. Joining the conference also means there will be new roadblocks on the recruiting trail.

Both programs have dealt with Big Ten schools invading their home states, but now that they are conference foes it becomes imperative they land their in-state recruiting targets.

Being able to fight off the competition means knowing who the competition is and the landscape for both programs. Here is a look at what Maryland and Rutgers are up against.


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Notebook: IMG 7v7 Championship 

June, 23, 2014
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- The IMG 7v7 National Championship held at IMG Academy over the weekend featured some of the top 7-on-7 teams from all over the country and even a few teams from Canada. The event, which included 12 prospects ranked in the top 50 of the ESPN 300, showcased some of the best talent you will find in a single tournament. Led by Alabama verbal commits Calvin Ridley and Shawn Burgess-Becker, the Florida Fire from South Florida defeated Tampa’s Unsigned Preps 20-18 in the championship game to take home the title.

Quarterbacks shine

There were several high-profile quarterbacks in attendance, and they lived up to the hype for the most part. Deondre Francois, who recently transferred to IMG Academy, made numerous impressive throws. The 6-foot-2, 188-pound signal-caller has a top three of Oregon, Auburn and Florida State and is planning to make his decision at the end of July.


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Top Big Ten recruiters 

June, 9, 2014
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Want to dominate on the recruiting trail in Big Ten territory? You better be long in experience because the conference’s best have lengthy track records that often stretch for more than a decade. These rankings are dominated by three Ohio State assistants, which might explain why the Buckeyes always manage to reel in plenty of ESPN 300 prospects.


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