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July 31, 2008

Checking in with Stephen Johnson

Last season City College running back Stephen Johnson burst onto the local football scene, rushing for 1,376 yards and nine touchdowns on 134 carries in his first season as a starter.

Morgan State, Bowie State and a host of out-of-area schools have expressed interest in the 5-foot-7, 175-pounder.

Johnson spoke with Recruiting Report recently about his senior expectations, battling back from an injury and his recruitment.
stephenjohnson.jpg
You were injured last year, but played through it. Talk about getting hurt and how you’ve responded.

I did have surgery on my right shoulder. Actually I hurt it during the season -- six games into the season -- and I continued playing through my season. After our last playoff game, against Edmondson, I went to the doctor. The doctor said I had a torn labrum and they were surprised I was able to play through it. They said it would take about 6-8 months [to recover], but it took me four.

Are you healthy now?

I’m 100 percent. Definitely.

What else have you been up to this summer?

This summer I’ve been working very hard. If I’m not in the gym, I’m at home doing pushups, staying active. I’ve been running the track a lot, running hills, working with my personal trainer. He works me out in the gym at school. I’m trying to work on increasing my bench. I wake up at nine o’clock in the morning and go somewhere to stay in shape.

What schools have shown the most interest in you?

Northern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Old Dominion, Towson, Bowling Green, Ohio University.

Do you have any favorites?

I really like Old Dominion and Northern Michigan -- they’re my top right now. I like Old Dominion because they’re not far from home and I like Northern Michigan because of the school and they have a lot to offer me.

What do college coaches want to see from you this season?

It’s basically the same thing. They like the highlight tape, but want to see me this season. ... They like my speed. Every college I send it to, they say my speed makes up for my size. They say I run as if I’m a bigger back. ... They want to see me be consistent. They want to see how I do next year because [some running backs will] just be good for one year and then next year they won’t be as good. So I hope to show them that [I‘m a consistent player].

Do you feel like you’ll have to prove yourself to recruiters as a senior in order to get offers?

I never felt like I’ve proved myself enough. I like going over the edge and proving people wrong. This year I’m going to be better. Last year I had almost 1,400 yards. This year I want to go over 2,000.

Click here for Johnson's junior highlights.

Sun photo of Stephen Johnson by Jerry Jackson / Nov. 10, 2007

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:48 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Checking in with ...
        

July 30, 2008

Five questions: Terps basketball recruiting

Summer's always the busiest time for basketball recruiting analysts, but Evan Daniels was able to take a break from the action and answer 'Five questions' about Maryland basketball recruiting.

Daniels, a national basketball recruiting analyst for Scout.com, responded to questions (via e-mail) about the Terps' presence at last week's Las Vegas AAU tournaments.

1.) The Maryland staff has had a rough year on the recruiting trail, but they were reportedly very active in Las Vegas. What did you see out of the staff? Who were they watching?

With so many tournaments in Las Vegas, it's hard to track every staff and see who they are spending time on. I did, however, see Gary Williams checking out Thomas Robinson on the second day of the event. Robinson was particularly impressive in that contest. I also received word that they were trailing Jordan Williams, a big man out of Torrington (Conn.) High.

2.) What did you see out of Jordan Williams? Does Maryland have a good shot?

Williams is a guy that has really raised his stock over the course of the month of July. Williams has great size at 6-9, moves well and has nice touch around the basket. He's developed some moves on the block and he seems more skilled every time out. Maryland has offered Williams, as has Xavier, St. John's, Rhode Island, Providence, Notre Dame and UMass.

3.) Did anyone help their stock more than Brewster (N.H.) Academy power forward Thomas Robinson? What kind of player is he? Who is Maryland competing with for Robinson?

There have been a number of hot names in July, but Robinson is a guy that nearly every college coach in the country is inquiring about. In Las Vegas, he had nearly a dozen head coaches at a majority of his games. Robinson has developed into a high-major big man because of his athleticism, and ability to score in the paint. He's got a strong frame that will add weight and is a guy that is really emerging as one of the better power forwards in the 2009 class.

As far as Robinson's recruitment goes, it appears to be wide open right now. At the Nike Main Event in Las Vegas, he rattled off a list of Kansas, Duke, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Virginia, South Florida, Providence, Maryland, Louisville, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Kentucky, George Mason, Georgetown, George Washington and Georgia. Word on the street is that Kansas, Texas and Memphis are the early leaders.

4.) One report from Las Vegas suggested that Glendale, Ariz., forward Colin Borchert was close to committing to Maryland. Scout.com later debunked that, saying the recruitment was in its 'infancy.' How interested are the Terps, and what type of player is Borchert? Who's after him?

From what I understand Maryland's staff has done some initial work with Borchert and are still in the evaluation stage. They have not offered him a scholarship and are still scouting him and a number of other guys at that position. Borchert has had a wide array of interest. To go with Maryland, schools like California, USC, Oklahoma State, Nebraska and UNLV have all spent some time recruiting him.

5.) Maryland reportedly has offers out to Williams, Robinson, Montrose Christian forward and Baltimore native Terrell Vinson and Findlay (Nev.) Prep forward Clarence Trent. How are the Terps' chances with each recruit?

Maryland is certainly in the mix with Williams and Vinson. They've spent some time with those two and I know they recently offered Williams, who is really starting to blow up on a national level. Vinson recently indicated to me that he would like to take a trip to Maryland in the near future.

He's also looking at Georgetown, Villanova and Loyola Marymount. He's set to visit LMU this coming weekend. Maryland is certainly recruiting Robinson too, and have made some headway, but I think Kansas, Texas and Memphis seem to be the schools to beat for him at this point. Trent's recruitment has been wide open and honestly tough to get a good feel for. A lot of people think Arkansas is ultimately the school out in front, but Trent never will name favorites and seems to be just taking everything in.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:51 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Five questions
        

July 29, 2008

Notes on Kerr, Hawkins and Ankrah

The defensive line at Fork Union Military Academy will have serious Maryland representation this season.

Quince Orchard defensive tackle Zach Kerr will join Wilde Lake defensive end and fellow Terps signee Cody Blue at FUMA for the upcoming season, QO head coach Dave Mencarini said yesterday.

Mencarini said Kerr, his family and the Maryland coaching staff agreed that a semester at the Virginia prep school would be good for his development.

“Physically, he looks like he can handle [college football], but most 18-year-olds can’t,” Mencarini said. “... He just needs [prep school] to get him ready. The discipline and structured environment [will be good for him].”

Kerr will enroll at College Park during the winter semester, joining the Terps in time for spring practice. He could have some company in Quince Orchard cornerback Travis Hawkins, a rising senior.

“Well Maryland’s his top school. There’s no doubt about that,” Mencarini said. “... It’s no secret how [the Maryland coaching staff feels] about him and how he feels about them. He’s very tight with [Good Counsel running back and Terps commitment] Caleb Porzel. They’ve been friends since they were little kids. Personally, I’d like him to get it done before the season. He’s going to graduate early and be a mid-year guy. He’s in summer school right now and he’s doing really well.”

Mencarini said Hawkins is also considering offers from West Virginia, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Tennessee and Oregon.

The Terps have also offered QO defensive end Jason Ankrah. Mencarini thinks it’ll be awhile before he reaches a decision.

“Jason’s all over the place,” Mencarini said. “He might make a decision later on in the year because I think he wants to take some more visits. Maryland’s definitely in his top seven [along with] Penn State, West Virginia, Tennessee, NC State, Michigan and Virginia Tech.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:35 AM | | Comments (8)
        

July 28, 2008

Garvin talks Mountaineers

Loyola safety Terence Garvin is headed to West Virginia.

Garvin committed to the Mountaineers last week, picking W.Va. over an offer from Maryland. He also had interest from Boston College, Connecticut, North Carolina State, Syracuse and Virginia.

Garvin and his parents visited the West Virginia campus last month. A brief detour helped the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder get acquainted with the small-town, neighborly feel of Morgantown, W.Va.

“I guess we turned down the wrong street,” Garvin said. “We asked this guy how to get [to campus]. He went out of his way and we followed him for probably like 5-10 minutes. He went out of his way and drove us down there ... It seems like the school, all the people -- everywhere we went there was this West Virginia pride. They don’t have a pro team there, so everything is the school. That’s what they love down there. They’re deep into their program. But it’s real nice down there.”

Once the family finally arrived on campus, Garvin was impressed with what he saw.
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“When I went down there, I really liked all the coaches,” Garvin said. “I really liked [defensive coordinator Jeff] Casteel. He seems really intense and that’s a good thing to have. I really like the campus and how it’s all set up. All the people are really supportive of the football team and that’s what I was looking for. The academics are real good, too. They have a plan where you can get your masters in five years. Everything seemed right with West Virginia.”

Casteel has Garvin -- who is considering a major in sports management -- slated for the rover position in his 3-3-5 defense. Garvin described rover as “a safety that blitzes.”

When Garvin suits up for the Mountaineers, he’ll get the chance to square off against a familiar face once a year. Loyola quarterback Leon Kinnard committed to Connecticut in March. With Garvin in Morgantown, W.Va., and Kinnard in Storrs, Conn., the longtime friends will go from Dons teammates to Big East rivals.

“We already talked about that a lot,” Garvin said. “He was excited. He said they were going to beat us. ... I was telling him I’m going to try to sack him a couple times or pick him off. But it won’t be too strange. It’ll be something new for both of us -- going against each other for the first time.

“It’s real cool [that we’ll play against each other]. A lot of people know us around here and now they know we’re going to Big East schools, so hopefully people watch. But from the jump, our goal was to go to big Division I schools. That was our goal from freshman year, and I guess we accomplished it right now. But now we’re trying to play at those schools, so we’ve been working hard in the weight room.”

Garvin said it’s finally setting in that he’s committed to program that has finished in the top 10 the past three seasons, going 33-5 with two BCS bowl wins. He said he’s excited to be a part of that success.

“Yeah that kind of hit me the other day,” Garvin said. “There was this show [on ESPN], College Football Live, [that was talking about West Virginia]. And I was like, ‘I’m actually going there.’ It kind of hit me like that. I’ve never really been on a losing team before, so hopefully I’ll still be on a winning team. It should make college even more fun."

Sun photo of Terence Garvin by Lloyd Fox

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:49 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

July 25, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

It’s been a busy week in Las Vegas for Gary Williams and the rest of the Maryland staff.

At the Reebok Summer Championships AAU tournament, the Terps have been hitting the 2009 class hard. Two prospects, in particular, that appear to have piqued UM’s interest are former Riverdale Baptist and current Brewster (N.H.) Academy power forward Thomas Robinson, and Torrington, Conn., power forward Jordan Williams.

Robinson, 6 feet 8, had a standout performance on the second day of the tournament, according to Rivals.com.

A high energy player with a load of athleticism, Robinson racked up a solid double/double of 22 points and 12 rebounds. He pursued balls outside of his area and left little doubt who would come down with the ball when he got his hands on it. Offensively, Robinson wasn't utilized a great deal more than as a rebounder, but he did finish with authority and scored on some powerful drives to the basket.

Head coaches from West Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Virginia, South Florida, Miami, Boston College, Xavier, Pittsburgh and Kansas along with assistants from Texas, Oklahoma and Duke were all in the gym.

Scout.com -- via Zags Blog -- had similarly high praise for Robinson’s play.

“He challenges shots, looks to score in the paint and knows how to use his athleticism,” Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels wrote. “His performance against Illinois Magic had to have made a good impression on the eight head coaches in the building to see him.”

He told Scout he’s considering Kansas, Duke, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Virginia, South Florida, Providence, Seton Hall, Maryland, Louisville, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Kentucky, George Mason, George Washington, Georgetown, Georgia. Duke has not yet offered.

Williams, 6 feet 8, was off-the-radar of many major colleges before Vegas. That’s no longer the case, Williams told Rivals.com.

"I was terrible in the spring. Just terrible," Williams said. "But when I started getting used to the competition and the type of players that you play at this level, I started playing better. I adjusted to it and things have been going pretty good."

Oh yes they have. Williams has been one of the hottest players this month for coaches. He said Georgetown, Maryland, Xavier, Providence, Rhode Island and UMass have offered. John Thompson III, Gary Williams, Sean Miller and Keno Davis were all on hand to see the young 17-year-old score 14 points (12 in the second half).

According to The Republican-American of Waterbury, Conn., the Terps offered Williams before his big week in Vegas.

Playing this summer for ex-Boston Celtics coach John Carroll and the New England Playaz 17-under AAU team, Williams’ game, including a double-digit average in scoring, has caught the eyes of some high-profile college coaches.

Among them is the University of Maryland’s Gary Williams, who offered Jordan a scholarship earlier this week during a tournament stop in South Carolina.

• Maryland women’s basketball recruit Lynetta Kizer has turned in two impressive performances in a pair of wins for the USA Women's U18 National Team in Buenos Aires, Argentina this week. Against Canada, Kizer scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds in just 12 minutes of play. In the opening round against Venezuela, Kizer paced the team with 13 points.

"We can feed off this win, but we have to remember that there are much tougher teams out there," said Kizer. "It feels good to win big, but we have to keep working if we want to win the gold medal. We worked really hard to get here, and we can't afford to lose focus.

Football recruiting

DigitalSports.com’s Lem Satterfield checked in with Edmondson defensive end and Maryland commitment David Mackall for a story and video this week. Mackall discussed the many reasons behind his commitment to UM.

"I had my mind set on Maryland since I was a little boy. As a young man, I used to watch Maryland play all of the time," said Mackall, who was also influenced by Terps' assistant coach Jemal Griffin.

"Coach Griffin, he's a coach up there [at Maryland], and he was my coach at Woodlawn when I was younger. So there's a lot of personal trust going on. I feel really comfortable with this decision," Mackall said.

The Gazette took a look at Maryland’s Montgomery County commitments this week. The paper asked Good Counsel head coach Bob Milloy how running back Caleb Porzel’s commitment to Maryland might affect linebacker Jelani Jenkins’ decision.

He also may not be the last drop in the pipeline. Maryland has made official offers to rising junior cornerback Louis Young and rising senior linebacker Jelani Jenkins, a consensus top-10 national recruit. Jenkins and Porzel are close friends.

‘‘It’s not like they’re definitely going together, but the fact that Caleb’s going to Maryland, that’s going to help Maryland [recruit Jenkins],” Milloy said.

The Post & Courier of Charleston, S.C., has its weekly football recruiting update, and per usual, several players with UM interest are mentioned, including offensive lineman Denzelle Good.

Gaffney OL Denzelle Good (6-5, 315) has offers from Maryland and S.C. State and is drawing some interest from USC, Clemson, N.C. State and North Carolina.

• Former Randallstown standout and one-time Maryland recruit Melvin Alaeze -- who is currently serving an eight-year prison stint on a first-degree assault charge -- is one of several five-star players from the class of 2005 that didn‘t pan out. Mike Huguenin of Rivals.com took a look at those ‘05 recruits that ran into trouble off the field and those who have yet to make an impact on it. Just another reminder to take recruiting rankings with a grain of salt.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:42 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

July 24, 2008

Adams discusses commitment to Maryland

By now, Maryland running back commitment D.J. Adams is a seasoned pro at dealing with the media.

With more than 30 scholarship offers, Adams regularly granted interviews to team sites from the two major recruiting services. He also did the occasional check-in with local media.

While the Norcross, Ga., running back always had an interest in journalism, the recruiting process helped Adams decide on the field as a potential career path -- something that helped Maryland land the three-star prospect.

“[Journalism is] just what always stood out to me, especially with the recruiting process and doing interviews,” Adams said. “[Maryland’s journalism and communications program] was another thing that helped determine my decision. I want to be in journalism or a communication type of major, and to be in the ... Baltimore-D.C. area, that is a great opportunity. That's what I want to do.”

Adams got another first-hand look at his potential future profession at a news conference Monday at Norcross High School. The 5-foot-10, 215-pounder pulled on a Maryland hat to announce his decision, leaving hats from Clemson, LSU and Notre Dame on the table. After his choice was made, Adams granted several interviews. Later that day, one news outlet dubbed him a ‘soft commitment,’ meaning he would take official visits to other schools. Adams said that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

“It's not at all a soft commit,” Adams said. “It’s a solid verbal. I'm done with the recruiting process. Maryland is it. [There will be] no other visits. The University of Maryland -- it’s official. That's it. It's a solid verbal. I held a press conference. That's it. There’s no soft verbal.”

Beyond UM’s academic offerings, Adams said he picked the Terps for his relationship with the coaching staff, particularly offensive line coach Tom Brattan.

“Coach Brattan is the best recruiting coach I talked to during the whole process,” Adams said. “Me and him developed a real good relationship. He’s just a great guy as well as coach [John] Donovan, the running backs coach. I got a chance to get acquainted with those guys and call them frequently. The coaching staff, everybody was great. And it's not like they're going to work every morning. It's more like a brotherhood, and that's what I was looking for. That's definitely a plus.”

Another plus in Adams’ opinion was the opportunity for early playing time. Adams stressed that no promises were made. But the coaches did implore him to stay prepared and be ready to make an early contribution.

“They expect me to come and be ready to play,” Adams said. “They expect me to be ready. Early playing time has been discussed. That we've talked about, but they’re just ready for me to get my senior year taken care of and be ready to play.”

Adams admitted that, days after making his announcement, there’s still excitement in the air. While many high school football followers in the Atlanta area were initially surprised at his choice, the community has started to come around.

“The area's still buzzing,” Adams said. “People weren’t expecting Maryland, with an LSU and Clemson and Notre Dame on the table. They weren’t expecting Maryland, but now they're coming up to me and saying, ‘Maryland did OK last year, they’re expected to do well this year.’ Everybody’s starting to understand, and I'm starting to explain why I picked Maryland. Hopefully two years from now they’ll see why I picked Maryland, for the academic and athletic opportunities.”

Click here for Norcross head coach Keith Maloof’s take on Adams’ commitment.

Click here for more on Maryland’s 2009 recruiting class.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:21 AM | | Comments (8)
        

July 23, 2008

Latest UM commitment had many options

On Monday afternoon, D.J. Adams sat in front of family, friends and media at Norcross (Ga.) High School with four hats -- Notre Dame, Maryland, LSU and Clemson -- laid out on the table in front of him.

Adams, a 5-foot-10, 215-pound running back, claimed more than 30 scholarship offers. But Norcross head coach Keith Maloof wasn’t surprised when Adams pulled on the Terps hat at Monday‘s news conference, becoming Maryland’s 17th verbal commitment for the 2009 class.

“Oh yeah, I knew [he liked Maryland],” Maloof said. “They did a great job recruiting him. He felt at home. [UM offensive line coach Tom] Brattan did a great job with him -- recruited him really good and stayed on top of him. He just did a really good job.”

During his junior season at Norcross, Adams shared the spotlight with seniors Devonta Bolton and Brice Butler. Bolton, a four-star receiver/linebacker, and Butler, a four-star wide receiver, signed with Alabama and Southern Cal, respectively. But according to Maloof, Adams more than held his own in the offense.

“He’s the kind of kid who rushed for 1,500 yards [and 11 touchdowns] last year, but in an offense that had Brice Butler and Devonta Bolton in it also,” Maloof said. “He had his carries, but you had to get the ball to all those guys also. So he wasn’t the primary person on offense, but he still got the numbers he got.”

ESPN.com's Billy Tucker had high praise for Adams after the announcement was made.

“Potentially a top-20 back upon the release of our ESPN 150, we feel the Terps may have showed the power-back the most attention and presumably sold him on the idea of being a featured runner early in his career in College Park."

"There is no doubt in our eyes Adams can carry the load in the ACC. He is an explosive, thickly-built runner with great initial burst and in-line power. Ideal body-structure and running style to develop into a high-carry, durable workhorse at the next level and wear down a defense by the 4th quarter.”

Maloof concurred with Tucker’s assessment, calling Adams a power back with 4.5 speed.

“He can get the hard yardage, he has great open-field speed and a little open-field wiggle, which are the three things you need in Division I football, especially in the ACC. ... They’re getting a great kid.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:09 AM | | Comments (11)
        

July 22, 2008

Murray discusses commitment to Maryland

Division I college football coaches haven’t made a habit of recruiting West Florence High School in South Carolina.

“It’s traditionally not a type of school that’s put a lot of kids in major colleges,” West Florence head coach Trey Woodberry said.

According to Woodberry, West Florence’s off-the-radar status as a DI prospect-producing program helps explain the case of linebacker Avery Murray, who committed to Maryland last week.

Murray picked the Terps over offers from Buffalo and Middle Tennessee State. But it’s unlikely the UM staff would’ve found the 6-foot, 219-pounder had it not been for a highly-touted teammate.

“We’ve got a defensive end, Malliciah Goodman,” Woodberry said. “He’s committed to Clemson. I think Rivals has him at like 35 [in the country]. He’s the top-ranked kid in South Carolina. [Maryland] came to recruit him during the spring.

“[The UM staff was] just looking at other kids that we had and saw some tape on [Murray]. ... [He went to College Park for a visit and] they offered him pretty soon after that.”

Murray said he was initially a little wary of leaving the south for college. But his relationship with his recruiter and future position coach Al Seamonson alleviated many of those concerns regarding distance.

“He’s a real cool guy,” Murray said. “... He made me feel comfortable. He never put pressure on me to commit and just let me take my time. That’s what made the recruiting process a lot easier.”

Murray, who recorded 98 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions as a junior, is tentatively slated for SAM linebacker, but Woodberry thinks he’s versatile enough to play more than one spot.

“He’s big enough to play inside but he’s fast enough to play outside,” Woodberry said. “He’s very physical, very athletic and he’s also a very smart kid as well. He fits their system very well and fits the typical Maryland linebacker they’ve had the past few years.”

The only question for Murray is when he’ll enroll at College Park. Murray has more than enough credits to graduate early, and the Terps coaches have mentioned the possibility of enrolling in January so he can be with the team for spring practice.

“I’ve thought about it a lot,” Murray said. “Senior year, you only go through it once. But it all depends. If [the Maryland coaches] need me, I can do it. If not, I’ll stay here a little bit longer.”

Murray, who intends to study physical therapy at UM, said whether he enrolls early or waits until next fall doesn’t really matter. He’s just excited to have found a home.

“It feels real good,” Murray said. “There’s no stress whatsoever. I know where I’m going and I don’t have to worry about any other school.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:18 AM | | Comments (2)
        

July 21, 2008

Lange talks Navy's 2008 recruiting class

The Navy men’s basketball team will look a little different this season.

Patriot League Player of the Year Greg Sprink has graduated, but coach Billy Lange is excited to see how his 2008 recruiting class attempts to fill that void.

Johnnie Corrigan, a 6-foot-6 guard from Harrisburg, Pa., Nate Kasper, a 6-foot-8 forward from Wheeler, Ind., and Jordan Sugars, a 6-foot-3 guard from Millbrook, Va., make up Navy’s 2008 class.

The Mids also add point guard O.J. Avworo to their roster. Avworo, a sophomore, sat out last season after transferring from Idaho.

Lange spoke with Recruiting Report recently about Navy’s 2008 basketball recruiting class.
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Give us a quick overview of what this class will bring to Navy.

I’m excited about the overall skill level of this class. It was a priority for us last summer to go out and sign up some guys who could bring a good level of passing and shooting. We knew we were going to add three or four guys to help us become one of the better shooting teams in our conference and the country. We feel like we added three guys that make shots.

Kasper was the fifth-leading scorer in the state of Indiana as a senior. Did he have a lot of recruiting interest?

Not from a Division I level. He really did not. He played with a very good AAU team that was kind of under-the-radar. You think about Indiana high school basketball and there’s a ton of great players there. But this AAU team wasn’t thought of as one of the elite teams in the state. We saw him at a side auxiliary gym in Las Vegas and he just caught my eye with his ability and his skill level inside and out. He looked like a kid who loved to play. He has a very big frame at 6’8, but he’s mobile. He can put the ball in the basket. He’s able to score in a variety of ways.

Who was the main competition for Kasper?

Honest to God, I don’t even remember. It wasn’t anything that was crazy. Some Division II and NAIA schools [offered him]. Some Ohio Valley schools, some MAC schools came around.

How did he fare at prep school last year?

He went to Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio. He did well -- averaged like 16 points a game and seven rebounds. He played well -- really changed his body and got strong. His body kind of went through a metamorphosis.

Will his prep school experience help ease his transition to the Division I level?

I’ve seen it go both ways. I think it should be a positive if the guy has gained some experience. From high school to prep school, the competition gets better every level you move up. But you still have to make an adjustment from moving up -- the adjustment from playing against guys a little bigger and more experienced. But Nate’s experienced. He has a lot of experience. He was also a volleyball player in high school, so he’s not freakishly athletic, but he’s a good athlete.

What kind of player is Sugars?

He’s kind of like a do-it-all guy. He’s very aggressive, he’s got a great body and he’s athletic. He has a good understanding of the game and he’s a phenomenal leader and teammate. He’s got a combination of all the things we look for. He can drive the ball, put it on the floor and one of the best things he does is shooting from the outside. He’s got a lot of intangibles. He’s always in the right place at the right time. He does a great job defensively, really goes after rebounds from the guard positions. He’s been well-coached.

Do you expect him to contribute immediately?

I think so. Obviously, we lose Greg Sprink, but we have a lot of guards returning so there’s a lot of competition. But I think Jordan as a freshman is ready to play at that spot. We do have some older, more experienced guys at the spot. The great thing about Jordan is his ability to adapt to his role because he’s such an unselfish basketball player.

Is Sugars sort of a combo guard? What type of role will he fill?

We play three guards at a time or four guards at a time. He can be our fourth guard out there because he competes, he’s athletic and he can handle the ball. He’s more of a wing than anything else, but he also has that ability to handle the ball. When you say combo, I think of a guy who could play the point. He might be able to do that, but I haven’t seen that out of him yet. But he can dribble. It’s just, can he handle the pressure against the college level? I don’t know that yet.

What do you expect from Corrigan?

We’ve recruited some very good shooters here and he ranks among the best in terms of shooting the basketball. He takes the shots he can make and makes the shots that he takes. He’s very aware -- he doesn’t force bad shots. He’s a very smart, cerebral basketball player. He can shoot off the dribble, and catch-and-shoot. He can really shoot the basketball.

Who was the main competition for Sugars and Corrigan?

Jordan came down to The Citadel, High Point, Navy and some Ivy League schools at the time. John, it’s funny. We got a call on John, saw him work out April of his junior year. We offered to take him and he committed late May or early June, so nobody really got the chance to recruit him. He’d have had 10,12 offers [had he not committed so early]. There’s not a doubt in my mind. He had a team camp at [the Eastern Invitational in Trenton, N.J.] and he was one of the leading scorers in the camp. So he can score, he’s a great rebounder and he very rarely makes mistakes.

How were you able to land Corrigan so early in the recruiting process?

We struck it on our first conversation and had a good relationship, John and I. He had great respect for the tradition and our institution. He comes from a great family. They’re amazing people -- he’s very family-oriented. Then he got the same family feeling on campus and it just struck. We’re very fortunate. He’s a heck of a player.

Talk about Avworo and how he came to Annapolis from Idaho.

We recruited him out of high school. He went to Alief Elsik High School in Houston, Texas. He had scholarship offers from Idaho and Wichita State. ... He was looking to transfer from Idaho and just wanted a different institution for himself. This is the first place he called and we got him up for a visit. He’s all about leadership and challenging himself. Sometimes you’ve got to go away to come back and that’s what he did and we’re happy to have him.

What did you see out of Avworo in practice last year?

He’s probably the first pure point guard that we’ve had here. ... There aren’t many [true point guards today] in terms of what the position is all about -- creating shots for your team and spearheading the defense. He’s kind of a throwback to that position. He’s going to bring us a speed and passing and creating element that we haven’t had. Overall, he’s going to bring a winning attitude and toughness. He’s a very tough kid who’s committed in the classroom and on the basketball court.

Will this recruiting class, collectively, be able to help replace Sprink’s production?

Here’s what I would say. Our program has evolved a lot in four years. I’m going to play the best players. If those freshmen are among those guys, I’m going to play them. To count on that right away, collectively as freshman, I think would be leading those guys down the wrong path. But they can contribute to the team. They’re going to make us a better shooting team, a smarter team, a little bit more versatile. That can help make up for him. Replacing a guy like Greg Sprink is more of a team attitude than an individual or small-group attitude. I think that all three of them are capable of pushing for minutes as freshmen. We’ve basically started some freshmen every year since I’ve been here. Is it going to continue? I don’t know right now.

Has Navy’s recent success made recruiting any easier?

Does it get easier? I don’t know if it gets easier. I think we’ve gotten a little smarter [in recruiting], but these guys are as good as any class we’ve brought in, from a versatility standpoint, intelligence in the game and team toughness. It’s a great rebounding class. There are a lot of things these guys have brought. Our program is further along, so it helps. We’ve got more guys who can lead. Now we’ve got [veteran] guys who’ve played here ... that can bring these [freshmen] along at a more rapid pace. Whether they’re major contributors is yet to be determined, but as far their careers here, I feel very good about them.

Photo of Billy Lange by George Bridges / KRT (Dec. 5, 2005).

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:12 AM | | Comments (1)
        

July 19, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

Maryland can cross Petersburg, Va., power forward Cadarian Raines off the 2009 wish list. On Friday, Raines committed to Virginia Tech over offers from the Terps, George Mason, James Madison, Virginia Commonwealth and several others.

Earlier in the day, Tech had gotten an oral commitment from Cadarian Raines, a 6-8, 233-pound post player who averaged 14.2 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks for Petersburg High School this past season.

The Diamondback’s Aaron Kraut sat down with UM head coach Gary Williams recently to discuss Maryland’s tumultuous offseason. The topic of one-time commitment Tyree Evans was one of many issues discussed in this wide-ranging interview.

Evans, a junior-college transfer and shooting guard from Richmond, Va., with a history of legal troubles, was expected to contribute immediately this season after averaging 21.2 points per game at Motlow State Community College in Tennessee last year. He signed a letter of intent with the Terps in April, but after media outlets, including The (Baltimore) Sun and SI.com, published stories detailing Evans' criminal record, Evans eventually asked out of his commitment.

"You could see it coming in the distance," Williams said. "There's no way he could have been a normal student on this campus. It wouldn't be right to him. If he got a parking ticket, he would have been in trouble."

• The stock of 2010 Terps target Roscoe Smith continues to rise. Cincinnati.com checked in with the Walbrook standout last week, who said he’s listening to all suitors.

"I am very wide open right now," Smith said last week at the LeBron James Skills Academy. "I don't really have a top-20 or a top-15 or a top-five. I just want to look all around and see what is the best fit for me. I want to see how many come after me."

Smith reeled off a list that included IU, UK and U of L plus North Carolina, Duke, Maryland, Texas, Temple, Xavier, Kansas, Memphis, Florida, Florida State, Connecticut, USC, Georgetown and Texas A&M.

Football recruiting

• Maryland’s 2009 recruiting class now contains five linebackers. West Florence, S.C., prospect Avery Murray committed to UM over an offer from Buffalo, according to Rivals.com. Murray’s commitment actually took place last week, according to WPDE.com.

Also on Tuesday, West Florence LB Avery Murray gave his verbal commitment to play for Ralph Friedgen and the Maryland Terrapins. Murray was the Knights leading tackler in 2007 and had two defensive touchdowns.

• Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith linebacker Jerod Askew is one of many uncommitted Virginia prospects with a Maryland offer. Askew checks in at No. 3 on The Roanoke Times' list of the best remaining recruits in the Old Dominion State.

There hasn’t been a big buzz about Askew in these parts, but, in addition to Virginia Tech, he reportedly has offers from Oklahoma, Tennessee, West Virginia, Clemson, Maryland and N.C. State. I’ve seen stats that show Askew and teammate Perry Jones, a UVa commit, with 24 tackles for loss apiece. And, Askew had 14 sacks and Jones had 13. Did anybody else make a stop?

Ka’Lial Glaud, an athlete recruit from New Jersey, told Yahoo! Sports this week that Maryland and West Virginia are recruiting him the hardest. The Terps and Mountaineers are both among Glaud’s favorites.

“I would probably say they would be West Virginia, Maryland, Boston College, North Carolina, Tennessee, Rutgers and Iowa,” he said.

• Maryland reportedly offered Fayetteville, N.C., prospect Everett Proctor as an athlete recruit. Earlier this week, Proctor decided instead to take N.C. State’s offer to play quarterback .

Proctor chose N.C. State over scholarship offers from East Carolina, Illinois, Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and runner-up Georgia Tech. Both the Wolfpack and Yellow Jackets wanted the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder as a quarterback. But Georgia Tech is expected to run an option-based offense under new head coach Paul Johnson this fall, while N.C. State runs a more traditional pro attack.

WashingtonPost.com’s latest Recruiting Spotlight video looks at Gwynn Park lineman Raynard Randolph, who sports offers from Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Tennessee and West Virginia. Click here to watch the video.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:09 AM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

July 18, 2008

Edmondson’s Mackall discusses commitment to Maryland

Edmondson defensive end David Mackall has a theory about Maryland’s recruiting class.

The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder believes the more in-state recruits Maryland lands, the better off the program will be in the long run.

“It’s a big thing because for one, when I used to go up to Maryland for the games, the home crowd was into it,” Mackall said. “And I feel like if more players come from the same place, it’s going to be a better [atmosphere] than if players come from [other areas]. But we’re [all coming from the same place, which helps] because I feel you all have to have that friendship and trust.”

Earlier this week, Mackall became the ninth Maryland resident to commit to the Terps. Mackall picked UM over offers from East Carolina and Eastern Michigan. Georgia, Penn State and Syracuse, among others, recently expressed interest in Mackall.

Mackall, who began his high school career at Woodlawn before joining the Red Storm last season, is already friends with one UM commitment and one prominent target.

“They have a lot of players that I’ve played with that have committed,” Mackall said. “[Archbishop Curley safety] Eric Franklin [and I] played rec football at Hamilton. I think they’re recruiting a lot of good players -- a lot of players that I can’t wait to go up against. ...

“[Dunbar running back] Tavon Austin, me and him went to middle school together [at Lemmel]. ... I talked to him a couple days ago about how he felt about committing to Maryland. I don’t really think [he’s ready to make a decision]. I guess he just wants to wait it out.”

Edmondson head coach Dante Jones said Mackall, who recorded 147 tackles and 13 sacks as a junior, is a “quality kid” who will bring toughness to Maryland’s defense.

“He’s a big, strong, tough kid that’s very physical, very aggressive ... and [he plays with great] passion. He makes plays,” Jones said. “Maryland expects him to play a defensive end/outside linebacker position called LEO.”

Mackall said playing that position was a major factor in his decision.

“I really didn’t know what I wanted to play, linebacker or defensive end, because I love both positions," Mackall said. "Maryland’s system is the only system that had a defensive position like that. ... That’s what I like doing -- rushing the quarterback, sticking running backs, dropping into coverage. And I like to hit.”

Training, working at a clothing store and dealing with recruiting has kept Mackall plenty busy this summer. He said he’s happy to drop the latter activity from his summer routine.

“I’m really excited,” Mackall said. “I’m happy to get this process over with and I just can’t wait to get up there. It’s been really exciting.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:11 AM | | Comments (6)
        

July 17, 2008

Porzel discusses his commitment to Maryland

Caleb Porzel wanted to be more deliberate the second time around.

The Good Counsel running back verbally committed to Virginia on a visit to Charlottesville in March, but reopened his recruitment soon after. Porzel, who was looking primarily at Maryland, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Illinois and Oregon, made sure he was certain College Park was the best fit for him before committing to the Terps earlier this week.

“Well I wanted to take everything slowly instead of rushing into it like with Virginia, and actually take time to visit the schools and actually take a tour of the schools and feel comfortable with it,” Porzel said. “I didn't really take the time to get to know everything about the school like I did with Maryland.”

Porzel called Terps offensive coordinator James Franklin on Monday morning to commit. Franklin asked the 5-foot-8, 180-pounder to inform UM head coach Ralph Friedgen of his decision to make things official. Reaching Friedgen proved a little more difficult than anticipated.

“I tried him a few times and left a message, but I couldn’t really seem to get him,” Porzel said. “But I got Mrs. Friedgen’s number and she said he was out fishing [while on vacation in South Carolina]. She just said to call around five [on Tuesday] and he was waiting for my call. But yeah, I was kind of wondering if he'd get my call, but it's all good.”

Porzel, who rushed for 976 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior, said he expects to redshirt his first year and compete for playing time the following season. Porzel said he feels good about Maryland’s depth chart and the fact that he’s the first running back commitment to the Terps for the class of 2009.

“I saw that other running backs were committing and I was looking into West Virginia a lot, and they have two running backs to the class of 2009 committed already,” Porzel said. “I didn't want to be the third guy to commit there. I was just looking at my other options, which were all good options, and I just wanted to be the first guy to commit as a running back to a school. Maryland's home and I like Maryland. I just felt really good about it and the people there. And I have a good chance of playing early.”

Porzel will join a Maryland team that has three Good Counsel graduates on scholarship (Deege Galt, Tommy Galt, Drew Gloster). Porzel said that familiarity made his commitment to Maryland an easy choice.

“That was definitely a factor because I would already know people there, instead of starting off brand new in a new place,” Porzel said. “I'm comfortable knowing where everything is, having former teammates that are going to be my teammates there. They'll help me get acclimated there. So it's a good situation for me.”

Click here for Good Counsel head coach Bob Milloy’s take on Porzel’s commitment.

Click on the YouTube player for Porzel’s junior-season highlights.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:32 AM | | Comments (8)
        

July 16, 2008

Terps LB signee Edet finds a prep school

Eteyen Edet has found a home for the next several months.

The Maryland linebacker signee will spend the fall semester at Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y. Edet, who played his senior season at Friendly High School in Fort Washington, will report to Milford next month.

A pair of Friendly assistant coaches, Marcus Berry and Ray Thorpe, guided Edet through the process of choosing a prep school.

“[Attending Milford for prep school is] going to give him the best situation because he’s not that far away [from qualifying] at all,” Berry said. “He really worked his ass off and got close. ... He’s going to get it.”

Edet and his coaches were, at one point, leaning toward a school in North Carolina. Ultimately Edet felt Milford would be better for his concentration.

“The [prep school] in North Carolina, I know a lot of people down there and I just want to stay focused and be where I don’t know anybody so I can stay focused,” Edet said. “I’m not there to meet people and have friends. I’m there to get a job done.”

Edet grew up in Staten Island, N.Y., but spent his junior year of high school at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. Due to financial constraints, Edet left FUMA and moved in with his aunt in Fort Washington to attend Friendly as a senior. When looking for a prep school, Edet and his coaches had to find an affordable program.

“Finances were the deal,” Berry said. “If Milford hadn’t come with a great package, then he wouldn’t have been able to do it. But they came with a really good package and a really good deal.”

Thorpe said he was happy to help Edet in his search for the right school. He expects big things from the 6-foot-2, 245-pounder.

“He’s a great kid, and he’s a student of the game, but he’s probably the best linebacker I’ve ever seen come through our high school in 10, 11 years,” Thorpe said. “He’s better than Shawne Merriman coming out of high school. He’s a man playing against boys. I hate to put it that way, but it’s basically what it is. He’s very instinctive and you can’t teach instincts.”

Edet has overcome his initial disappointment of not qualifying, and is now focused entirely on the task at hand.

“I was upset at first when I had to go to prep school, but everything happens for a reason,” Edet said. “Maybe prep school’s going to help me be a better linebacker. So I’m going to do what I have to do, report to Maryland in January and tear it up.”

• Former Maryland quarterback signee Tyler Bass has enrolled at Memphis and will be eligible for the upcoming season.

According to The Memphis Commercial Appeal, Bass decided to ask out of his scholarship to Maryland after the Terps’ coaching staff requested he delay his enrollment until January.

''He has worked extremely hard,'' said [Bass’s high school coach Steve] Collins, who accepted the coaching job at nearby Union Grove High in McDonough, Ga., after the season. "Maryland wanted to bring him in later, in January, but he wanted to play now. I guess he saw the business side of it. He just didn't want to sit out until January."

Click here for an extensive breakdown of Maryland’s future quarterback situation, courtesy of The Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:23 AM | | Comments (9)
        

July 15, 2008

Caleb Porzel

Maryland's in-state recruiting haul for 2009 got a little bit better yesterday when Good Counsel running back Caleb Porzel pledged to the Terps.

"He committed over the phone to [offensive coordinator] James Franklin at Maryland," said Good Counsel head coach Bob Milloy, who did say that the commitment would be 'official' once Porzel made contact with Ralph Friedgen.

Milloy said Porzel, a former Virginia commitment, chose the Terps over the Cavaliers, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and West Virginia among others.

"I think Maryland’s proximity, I think the Fridge’s insistence on academics and study halls and support systems, I think that really influenced [Caleb’s] mom," Milloy said. "We’ve already got three kids [from Good Counsel] on scholarship there (Deege Galt, Tommy Galt, Drew Gloster), and [Maryland has] two more offers out (to Good Counsel linebacker Jelani Jenkins and rising junior cornerback Louis Young)."

Milloy said the Terps are getting a player with electrifying speed in Porzel. Porzel’s size (5 feet 8, 180 pounds) and speed (4.3 40) have drawn comparisons to West Virginia running back Noel Devine, Milloy said.

"Well he’s a tailback and he’s quite fast," Milloy said. "He is a legitimate 4.3 kind of guy. He’s short, about 5’8, but he’s put together pretty well, and I think Maryland is very interested in his speed. Last year he scored 16 touchdowns rushing -- and one as a receiver, one as a punt returner and one as a kick returner. He’s very versatile and scored a lot of points, but he scored them in four different ways. So he’s a return guy and he’s very fast."

Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:21 PM | | Comments (8)
        

Dargan finds a home

Former Terps defensive tackle commitment Teddy Dargan is headed west.

The Milford Mill graduate and four-star prospect will begin his college football career at Arizona Western College, Millers head coach Reggie White said yesterday.

“When he didn’t qualify and didn’t sign with Maryland on Signing Day, my phone blew up,” White said. “I got calls from everywhere. I’m talking about California, Kansas, Texas, New York, Mississippi. I got calls from everywhere. [Arizona Western’s] just the one he felt comfortable with.”

AWC, a junior college located in Yuma, Ariz., had 16 players sign with four-year schools last year, including Arizona State, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico State, Oregon State and Temple.

Dargan will leave Baltimore for Yuma in early August. White said the goal is for Dargan to get his academics in order and sign with a school out west after his two years of junior college.

“My goal was to get him away -- as far away as we could,” White said. “He’s actually comfortable with it. He’s excited about it. He’s going out there with a clean slate. Nobody really knows him so he can go and get some work done. He’s anxious about it and they’re excited about him.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:57 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Taylor commits to Pitt

Maryland’s 2009 basketball recruiting class won’t include National Christian Academy’s Dante Taylor.

The five-star power forward verbally committed to Pittsburgh yesterday, choosing the Panthers over offers from UM, Connecticut, Kansas, Syracuse and many others.

"He's a Big East player," National Christian coach Trevor Brown told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "He's rugged. He plays hard. He's athletic, and he doesn't mind playing around the basket. I think he will fit in well in the Big East."

Some of Maryland’s top remaining ‘09 targets include Montrose Christian forward and Baltimore native Terrell Vinson, Brewster Academy (N.H.) power forward Thomas Robinson and Petersburg, Va., center Cadarian Raines.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:35 AM | | Comments (11)
        

July 14, 2008

Where they're headed: Baltimore Select's '08 prospects

Three recently graduated Baltimore Select players will continue their basketball careers next season.

Scott Bowden, the AAU program’s director and founder, said today that point guard Omar Strong (Douglass) is headed to Cecil College and guard Dwayne Wheeler (Mount Carmel) will prep for a year at Princeton Day Academy in Lanham. Center Jakub Kusmieruk (John Carroll) signed with Central Florida last fall.

Strong, who averaged 22 points per game as a senior and was named to The Sun‘s All-Metro first team, is a “definite high mid-major, mid-major DI ballplayer,” according to Bowden.

“[Strong] wanted to stay home,” Bowden said. “He had many JUCO offers from some of the major ones in Texas and Utah and Kansas, but he really wanted to be as close to home as possible. He’s a Baltimore City guy."

Wheeler will become the second recent Select alum to attend prep school at Princeton Day Academy. Shooting guard Beloved Rogers starred for the first-year Christian prep school before signing with Oral Roberts in the spring.

“[Wheeler] was not too far off from meeting Division I requirements,” Bowden said. “Basically, he just needs to increase his SAT score and at the same time, he did think he could get a better look with one more year. He had some interest from High Point and Bethune Cookman, but he thought he could maybe go a little better with one more year and an increased SAT.”

Two of Select’s 2008 players will play football in college. Gerrard Sheppard (McDonogh) will suit up for Connecticut as a wide receiver, while James Carmon (City) plans on attending Lackawanna College, a junior college in Scranton, Pa., Bowden said.

Looking ahead to 2010, DeMatha point guard and Select member Josh Selby was recently rated the No. 5 player in the country for 2010 by Rivals.com .

“Selby’s off the charts right now,” Bowden said. “His mom and I are kind of keeping that one quiet. Basically, it’s between [schools in] the ACC, Big East and SEC. We don’t want to leave anyone out [by naming schools].”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:50 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

July 11, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

For several months now it’s been written that Maryland had little to no chance of landing any of the Montrose Christian Three -- Isaiah Armwood (who committed to Villanova last week), Tristan Spurlock and Terrell Vinson.

At the Reebok All-American Camp in Philadelphia this past week, however, Scout.com‘s Dave Telep noted Maryland’s serious pursuit of Vinson.

Looks like the Terps are turning up the heat on Terrell Vinson. Gary Williams had his coffee in hand and was out early trailing the forward.

The Bulletin of Philadelphia checked in with Vinson this week as well. The Baltimore native gave the newspaper his list of schools, sans Maryland.

In addition to Villanova and Georgetown, Vinson mentioned Duke, Memphis and Loyola-Marymount as being in the mix.

• The list of schools involved with National Christian Academy power forward Dante Taylor keeps growing, but the Terps are still under consideration, according to Kentucky.com.

Taylor, who will be a high school junior next season, said he had received “a lot of mail” from UK and U of L.

He also listed Georgetown, Maryland, UConn, Memphis, Kansas, Pittsburgh and Villanova.

• Former Riverdale Baptist power forward Thomas Robinson, a four-star player according to Rivals.com, has picked up recent offers from Maryland and several other major Div. I schools. According to SLAM Online, Robinson’s stock continued to rise at the Reebok camp this week.

Thomas Robinson, 6-8 combo forward, Brewster (NH), 2009: A DC native who is headed to prep school, Robinson’s versatility–he can post up, handle the ball well for his size and hit the occasional outside J–but his motor, athleticism and toughness on the inside made him one of the top post prospects in attendance early on.

SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria profiled Dix Hills, N.Y., forward Tobias Harris, a 2010 prospect who is receiving interest from just about everybody.

Harris, who holds a 3.5 GPA and likes to play Nintendo Wii when he's not on the court, is still growing into his body and could top out at 6-10 or so. He already holds scholarship offers from Louisville, Texas, Rutgers, UConn, Indiana, Maryland, Arizona, Marquette, Baylor, St. John's, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, Virginia, Delaware and Hofstra.

• Zagoria also got top-three school lists from several players at the Reebok camp. The Terps cracked the top three for three prospects, including Plainfield, N.J., point guard Isaiah Epps, a 2010 recruit.

The Washington Post checked in with Maryland women’s signee Lynetta Kizer this week. The center from Woodbridge, Va., has embraced the Terps’ training program and has seen dramatic results.

So in late December, Kizer called Maryland Coach Brenda Frese and asked for a meal and training outline. Since then, with Potomac assistant basketball coach Kelly Brown by her side, Kizer has run countless wind sprints, climbed the bleachers almost daily and lifted weights. She has shunned fatty foods in favor of bland sandwiches and baked chicken. She has shed nearly 30 pounds.

"She basically did this on her own," said Kizer's mother, Yvonne. "She didn't want to wait until she got to Maryland to get in shape. She wanted to do it now."

Football recruiting

The Sun‘s Stefen Lovelace caught up with Dunbar running back Tavon Austin for the latest installment of Recruiting Tavon Austin. In Austin’s latest diary entry, he discusses summer football camps, his latest offer and how a team’s offense will play into his decision.

I'm looking into each school's offense. I don't have a preference, but the differences are clear. Schools such as Michigan, West Virginia and Illinois use more of a spread offense, while Penn State, Maryland and others use more of the I-set. My choice depends in part on which system I want to be in, but I'm just looking for an offense that can free me up.

• Dartmouth, Mass., tight end Arthur Fontaine has trimmed his list to four schools and Maryland made the cut, according to Scout.com.

“Honestly I have no idea where I want to go right now, but I did take visits to Florida, Georgia, Boston College, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Virginia,” Fontaine stated. “After visiting those schools I feel like I have a legitimate list of my final four schools and those are Virginia, Georgia, Maryland and Boston College. I may visit North Carolina again, but they would be on the outside looking in right now.”

• Quince Orchard defensive end Jason Ankrah spoke with Yahoo Sports about his recruitment this week. There’s no mention of the Terps in the story, but Ankrah said he’s just beginning to formulate his list.

The visit [to West Virginia] impressed, but Ankrah maintains there are no leaders.

“I’m planning to narrow my list down in the next couple of weeks. I’m going to get it to five or six schools.”

WashingtonPost.com‘s latest Recruiting Spotlight video looks at Eleanor Roosevelt defensive end Isaiah Ross, who claims offers from Maryland, Illinois and Buffalo. Click here to watch the video.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:40 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

July 10, 2008

Terps signee Blue headed to prep school

Former Wilde Lake defensive lineman Cody Blue will take a detour before enrolling at Maryland.

The 6-foot-5, 270-pounder will spend the fall semester at Fork Union Military Academy in Fork Union, Va. Blue will play on the prep school’s post graduate football team and work on his academic status.

“[I have to raise] the test score just a bit, so I won’t be there very long,” said Blue, who intends to enroll at UM in January. “Just a semester and then I’ll get out of there.”

Blue, who will start at Fork Union in mid-August, said he’ll make the best out of his prep school stint.

“I mean if I had my way I’d probably go to Maryland first, but it’s all for the best,” Blue said. “Going to prep school, I get a chance to get a little more practice, get my grades up and get prepared for College Park.”

Click here for a Q&A with Blue and here for a recap of his senior season.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:20 AM | | Comments (0)
        

July 9, 2008

Mosley makes the grade

Here’s some extremely good news for Terps basketball fans -- St. Frances shooting guard Sean Mosley has been accepted to the University of Maryland "based on a review of his newly improved transcript," according to TurtleSportsReport.com.

TSR’s Jeff Ermann spoke to Mosley about the news.

“It’s a really good feeling for me because a lot of guys thought that I couldn’t make it. I just proved people [wrong] who were saying that I couldn’t make it,” said Mosley, a 6-foot-4 guard from St. Frances Academy in Baltimore who is rated the No. 41 player in the national Class of 2008.

“I just looked around, and you see who your friends are, really,” Mosley said. “It was motivation for me to go out and do what it took to get the job done, but at the same time, there’s nothing that I have to prove to anyone except myself and my family and my coaches. Gary Williams and Keith [Booth], they knew I could do it. They were the motivation for me.”

Mosley still must pass through the NCAA clearinghouse, but as Kathleen Worthington, Maryland's senior associate athletic director, told The Sun’s Don Markus last week, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Click here to read TSR’s story.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 5:06 PM | | Comments (5)
        

Checking in with Courtney Bridget

Just when you thought the Dunbar football team couldn’t get any more talented, the defending 1A state champs picked up a high-profile transfer.

Free safety Courtney Bridget decided earlier this summer that he would spend his senior year at Dunbar, transferring from Calvert Hall.

Bridget, who recorded 66 tackles, 13 pass breakups and three forced fumbles as a junior at Calvert Hall, joins his cousin, quarterback Jonathan Perry, on the Poets’ roster. Bridget and the rest of his new teammates have already had an extremely busy summer.

“It’s been kind of hectic the past couple of weeks,” said Bridget, who has camped at Delaware, Maryland, Rutgers, Temple and West Virginia, in addition to participating in 7-on-7 tournaments with Dunbar.

Bridget, 6 feet 3, 185 pounds, spoke with Recruiting Report recently about his transfer and recruitment.

What prompted your transfer from Calvert Hall to Dunbar?

I just felt like I needed a change in scenery. I needed to play against better competition and play with better competition. My father said in order to beat the best, you have to play the best. I felt comfortable with [Dunbar head coach Lawrence] Smith and [assistant] coach Travis [Blackston]. ... I just thought I needed a change of scenery. Hopefully it’s a change for the better. Right now it looks like it is.

Do you have any offers?

I have an offer from Liberty University down in Lynchburg, Virginia. Back in March, Oregon said they were going to offer. They wanted to see my grades and make sure I could qualify. I just sent in my NCAA clearinghouse [materials three days ago], so it’s just a wait-and-see for my grades with the schools. I expect everything [to be OK]. I’ve been on top of my grades and everything. ... I’m in summer school class just getting credits right now. I don’t know if it’s possible -- I just have to talk to coach Smith [and the administrators at Dunbar] -- but I could graduate early. I don’t know where that’s going to go. My plan is to try and graduate early and get into college for January.

Talk about your visit to Rutgers for camp last month.

Going up to Rutgers was really exciting to me. To me, that was the best camp I’ve been to. The best talent was there, it was well constructed, and just a real, real live atmosphere. Everyone was jawing back and forth -- it wasn’t to the point of getting into a physical confrontation, but everyone was competing real hard. The thing that really stuck out was [Rutgers head coach Greg] Schiano was actually on the field helping with the drills. Normally the coaches just walk around, but coach Schiano pulled me over several times, just to help me out, show me how I can disguise my coverages a little bit. It was the elite tips he was giving me. He wasn’t overseeing everything -- he was working, trying to get us better while evaluating talent.

What has been your best camp performance?

I felt I performed my best at the Temple camp. I ran real well, tested real well. … I ran my fastest 40 of the summer, which is 4.48. After the camp I stuck around and worked out actually at receiver. The receivers coach was looking at me possibly as a receiver, but they said they’re not going to keep me there -- they just wanted to see my hips. ... It was a real nice setup there. I enjoyed myself. [The coaches said they were] going to e-mail me soon, so [I’m hoping] to get an offer sometime this week. I basically solidified myself running that 40. They wanted to see if I could move well. Running that 40 basically solidified it.

Are you getting anxious to get more offers?

Yeah, I’m anxious to get offers, but I’m enjoying myself. I’m not saying I like the attention, but it’s fun going around to different colleges, going in and out of state and seeing what the schools have to offer. It does get tiring because you hear the same thing as far as [coaches] getting back to you. But there are a million other guys in the same position as me and I’m hearing the same thing. They only have [85] scholarships, so they have to make the right decision. But I’m enjoying myself, meeting different people and coaches. So I can’t say that I’m not mad, but I’m a little anxious to see what happens in the next couple weeks.

Click on the YouTube player for junior-season highlights of Bridget.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:20 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Checking in with ...
        

July 8, 2008

Niumatalolo talks Navy's 2008 recruiting class

Navy‘s first-year head football coach, Ken Niumatalolo, announced the Mids’ 58-member recruiting class for 2008 last week.

The group is a mix of recent high school graduates and players who spent last season at Navy’s prep school in Newport, R.I.

Niumatalolo spoke with Recruiting Report last week about the class.
Niumatalolo.jpg
How does it feel to have your first class completed and how would you rate the group?

Well we’re very excited about the group. It‘s a pretty athletic group. I feel like it filled a lot of needs, but I’ve learned here in my 11th season to wait on judgment because there’s still so much these young men have to go through. I’m excited first of all that everyone showed up [for Induction Day last week], so I’m excited about the class.

I’ve always looked at it as our team. I think it’s a great cross section as far as geography and their positions. A great mix of all-around players. I’ve always looked at it as our class and our team. I don’t look at it as my class.

How much of the class was in place before Paul Johnson left for Georgia Tech?

We had our [Naval Academy Preparatory] School kids, who were part of coach Johnson’s class. But the majority of the guys who were seniors in high school were pretty much recruited after [Johnson left Navy]. That’s pretty much how you recruit around here. The ball starts rolling a little bit later at military schools. Some of the weeding out process starts a little later. ... Nowadays schools start getting commitments from juniors, so it’s a little bit later at an academy due to the application process and screening process being a little bit harder.

You have five quarterbacks listed in the class. Was that a position of emphasis for you, and what can you tell us about the guys you brought in?

No, that’s always been a way that we recruit here. We’ve always recruited a lot of quarterbacks due to the fact that we’re an option team. We’ll always play the best guy, but we feel that if the guy’s not the best [quarterback], we can play him at slot back, receiver, [defensive back]. Jeremy McGown, he started for us for four years at [defensive back], but he was a recruited quarterback. So it’s kind of been our policy to recruit several athletic quarterbacks. From a physical standout they have what you’re looking for, and also from a mental standpoint. [A high school quarterback will have] a good grasp of the game schematically. So that’s kind of our philosophy in [quarterback] recruiting.

Talk about what you expect from the in-state guys in the class -- offensive lineman Alex Boddiford (Loyola), slot back Jarren Brown (C.H. Flowers) and linebacker Jonathan Hill (River Hill).

Well we’re excited about all of them. We feel that they’re good football players that are going to make an impact in our program. So we’re excited about all of them. They’re guys that definitely have a chance to compete early on. It remains to be seen how fast they pick up the offense or defense and adjust to plebe summer. But they’re great young men from great families and they’re good football players.

What types of schools did Navy recruit against this year?

It’s pretty much a wide range of schools. Obviously, the other two service academies, the Ivy League schools, I-AA schools. Every now and then we might go against a lower tier Division I team. But we don’t go against BCS schools or major conferences schools at all in recruiting. ... We’re looking for good football players that a BCS school passed on for whatever reasons. Someone like [former Midshipmen slot back] Reggie Campbell, who was maybe an inch or two too short [for the BCS schools]. For some reason these players didn’t meet the measuring stick for the BCS schools. Those are the guys we’re trying to get.

Has Navy’s success made it easier to recruit nationwide? Are you finding more kids seeking out the program?

Oh yes. Their interest level has definitely picked up. Kids know -- the military is always a factor -- but the kids know that with the academy you’re going to get a great education. At the Naval Academy, you’re going to play good football and have the chance to compete at a very high level. That intrigues guys. You get to play Notre Dame, play in a bowl game and visit the White House. The academics and career opportunities are always going to be here and they’re always going to be factors. And right now our football program is doing OK and hopefully we can keep it going.

Which of the freshmen do you see making immediate impacts?

There’s a couple kids, but like I said, I kind of try to get away from anointing someone that will come in and play. We’ve got our preconceptions of things. We evaluate these guys throughout [the recruiting process] and have an opinion of who we think might help us, but sometimes that backfires. You think a guy will be better, but then you get here [and it might not work out]. We just kind of let things play out. We feel like we have a pretty good idea, but I’ve kind of got away from saying this guy is going to do this or that, and just roll out the ball and evaluate when they get here.

Sun photo of Ken Niumatalolo by Doug Kapustin / November 23, 2007

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:15 PM | | Comments (0)
        

July 7, 2008

River Hill's Eaddy talks Central Michigan commitment

Leron Eaddy was more than ready to end his recruitment.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound linebacker/strong safety from River Hill was tiring of summer football camps, driving up and down the East Coast and into the Midwest to impress coaches in hopes of earning scholarship offers.

“My recruiting process was a pain,” Eaddy said. “So I was waiting for the right offer.”

Eaddy got his first offer, from Bowling Green, last month and Central Michigan followed suit soon after. Last week, Eaddy decided the scholarship from Central was the right offer and committed to the Chippewas.

Eaddy, who recorded 113 tackles, two forced fumbles and two interceptions during his junior season, joins River Hill running back Malek Redd as part of CMU’s 2009 recruiting class.

While the Central Michigan coaches discovered Redd at Michigan’s camp, Eaddy was spotted at the rival Big 10 school.

“I started getting looked at by them at the Ohio State camp because there were a whole bunch of coaches,” Eaddy said. “There the coach told me to come and work out individually [at Central] and that’s when I got the offer. ... I ran a 40, did broad jump and agility. Then [defensive coordinator Tim] Banks had me do defensive back drills, test my hips and do some one-on-one drills.”

Eaddy was also introduced to the intensity of CMU head coach Butch Jones during his workout, something that stuck out in his mind while wrestling with his decision.

“I was working out and he was out on the field with me,” Eaddy said. “He wasn’t out and about. He was watching me and that made me feel real good. ... He’s just a great guy. I know that he loves his players. He’s real down-to-earth, just a guy you can talk to about anything.”

On Eaddy and Redd's visit to the Mount Pleasant, Mich., campus in late June, Eaddy was offered by the Chippewas and Redd committed. While Eaddy was immediately intrigued with the offer, he wasn’t ready to commit on the spot.

“Probably right after I got the offer [I knew I would commit],” Eaddy said. “Again, I wanted to get the recruiting process over as soon as I could, so I just decided to wait like a week, but I was set on Central Michigan the day after I got the offer.”

Over the course of that week between getting the offer and committing, Redd stepped up as CMU’s primary recruiter.

“He was just in my ear,” Eaddy said. “Just the chance to play with him [was a factor in my decision].”

Eaddy and Redd both plan to major in sports management and will likely room together. Eaddy, Redd and River Hill running back Michael Campanaro (a Wake Forest commitment), have been best friends throughout high school. Eaddy said he’s excited to share his college experience with one of his best friends, and he's hopeful that the pair can contribute to the back-to-back MAC champions’ continued success.

“It’s definitely a big thing to go to a school that’s a winning program and also have the chance to play early at a winning program.”

Click on the YouTube player for Eaddy’s junior-season highlights.


Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

July 4, 2008

Steve Goins and the weekly roundup

The big story of the past week comes from TurtleSportsReport.com, which broke the news of Chicago center Steve Goins“semi-official” commitment to Maryland. From TSR’s article:

“They’ve been consistent [in their attention]. They’ve been calling a lot. I talked to coach Williams a bunch of times. They’ve been helping me get qualified. I’ll qualify next week and then it will be official and I’ll be all set,” Goins said. “I always hear about Maryland and they’re in a great conference. I visited last month and saw they also offer a lot in terms of academics and their art program, which is what I want to major in.

I e-mailed Roy and Harv Schmidt, the editors and publishers of Illinois Prep Bulls-eye, for their take on Goins’ situation. The Schmidts, who also blog about Illinois high school basketball for the Chicago Sun-Times, said an academic hurdle must be jumped before the commitment becomes official.

Our understanding is that while Goins would very much like to attend Maryland, the commitment is not etched in stone as of yet. Apparently the problem seems to be with awaiting for the results of his grades from the summer school classes that he recently finished taking. These will be essential with respect to him being able to meet the minimum g.p.a. that will be needed in order for the commitment to go through. Provided he gets the necessary grades, then we expect everything to hold up.

• The other major piece of news in Terps basketball recruiting this week comes from The Sun‘s Don Markus. Markus spoke with Kathleen Worthington, Maryland's senior associate athletic director, about the academic status of St. Frances shooting guard Sean Mosley. Worthington told Markus that Maryland is “confident that [Mosley] is going to qualify.”

There was some doubt this spring whether Mosley would qualify, but according to Worthington, he raised his test scores enough and is waiting for his transcript to be sent to the NCAA Clearinghouse after retaking a high school English class this summer.

If he is approved by the NCAA, Mosley would have his scores and transcript reviewed by the university's admissions office.

If Mosley and Goins both qualify, and Jin Soo Kim reclassifies from 2009 to 2008, Maryland will have 12 scholarship players on its roster for the 2008-09 season.

Football recruiting

• The Terps landed one four-star defensive lineman yesterday when Forestville’s DeOnte Arnett committed. Now it appears they’re in good shape with another -- Hoboken, N.J., defensive tackle Isaac Holmes, who told Yahoo! Sports that Maryland and Rutgers are “neck and neck.”

“I went to Maryland last Monday and I’m heading back there with my team on Thursday,” he stated. “Actually, I love it at Maryland. They have been recruiting me since my freshman year in high school. I love it there, my cousin plays there and the coaching staff shows me a lot of love. Maryland is a big school in the race.

“Plus, I’m looking at criminal justice and they are right next to Washington D.C. That’s the main place for all that stuff. I also believe I have a real good chance of playing early as a true freshman.”

• Maryland was a finalist for Pennsburg, Pa., cornerback Abdul Smith, but earlier this week he committed to Rutgers.

The 6-0, 182-pound Smith chose Rutgers over 22 other schools. He said the finalists were Maryland, Pittsburgh and the Scarlet Knights.

"They laid out everything, how things would be for me and the rest of the team," Smith said. "I also liked that my position coach (Chris Hewitt) would be a guy who played in the NFL. That was a big thing for me."

• Jefferson Hills, Pa., offensive lineman Pat Eger pledged to West Virginia one week ago.

The 6-foot-6, 265-pound senior picked the Mountaineers over Buffalo, Marshall, Maryland and Miami (Ohio).

"They're a top-10 school every year," Eger said of West Virginia. "The coaches, players, the school, the facilities, I just fell in love with everything about it."

• Dartmouth, Mass., tight end Arthur Fontaine is no longer a Boston College commitment, but he’s still considering the Eagles, and several other schools.

Even though Fontaine de-committed to Boston College, there is a good chance he still could end up there because of its closeness to his home. In addition to Florida, Fontaine also checked out Georgia, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia and Maryland. Boston College, Georgia and North Carolina appear to be his top three choices.

• Maryland linebacker commitment Bradley Johnson was profiled in The [Petersburg, Va.] Progress-Index this week. He told the local paper that his relationship with Terps head coach Ralph Friedgen was a deciding factor.

“I liked the campus and facilities and the area around Maryland,” he explained. “The main reason for me was when I talked to Coach Friedgen. I sat down with him both times and he talked about my future and after I finish college. He talked about my career goals and how he can help me in that process. He went into detail about all the ways he can help me.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:45 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

Forestville's Arnett on his commitment to Maryland

Earlier this week, Forestville defensive end DeOnte Arnett ran into a couple of old friends in College Park.

Arnett was visiting Maryland’s campus when he happened upon Terps freshmen tight end Devonte Campbell and wide receiver Kevin Dorsey. The trio starred on Forestville’s 2005 team, when Campbell was a senior, Dorsey a junior and Arnett a sophomore.

“I hope you commit. When you going to commit? When you going to commit?” Arnett recalled Campbell and Dorsey asking at the time.

Arnett answered those queries “two or three days ago” by verbally committing to Maryland, picking the Terps over offers from Cincinnati, Georgia, Ohio State and Tennessee. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder made his commitment public yesterday.

“It feels very good,” Arnett said. “[It] feels like there’s a lot of pressure lifted off my shoulders as far as a lot of expectations from a lot of coaches. Now I can just focus on where I want to be.”

Arnett, a four-star player and the No. 11 strongside defensive end in the country according to Rivals.com, didn’t always imagine College Park as the place he wanted to be. In fact, he initially considered leaving the state for college.

“Actually I didn’t want to stay close to home surprisingly,” Arnett said. “At the beginning I didn’t want to really be near home. But when I just looked at everything, Maryland just ended up being the place for me.”

Over time, Maryland’s positives began adding up in Arnett’s mind. He wanted to study either engineering or architecture, and Maryland had strong programs in both. Arnett felt increasingly comfortable at UM with each visit. And it didn’t hurt having Campbell and Dorsey already on campus, plus two younger siblings that wanted to see their older brother play.

Plus, Maryland was in the picture from the very beginning.

“They offered me January 15, 2008,” Arnett said. “That was my first offer, that’s why I remember the day. I was just happy because then I knew for sure that I wouldn’t have to pay for college at all and [I’d get to] play football, which a lot of people dream of but they don’t get that chance too often.”

Forestville head coach Charles Harley said Arnett, who recorded 72 tackles and 15 sacks as a junior, has talent worthy of the hype.

“His upside is huge right now,” Harley said. “He’s 6’4, 250 – he could be an interior player or a rush defensive end. ... At [the high school] level he’s relentless -- a motor that don’t stop. He’s got those long arms and a wingspan of someone 7 feet tall. He can keep people off his body, bat down passes and deflect passes, too.”

Arnett said he enjoyed recruiting initially, but tired of the process over time. He’s now taking summer classes, working out and readying for his senior year with the knowledge that he’s headed to the best place for him.

“I just ended up falling in love with Maryland.”

Click here for The Washington Post’s Recruiting Spotlight video feature on Arnett.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:04 AM | | Comments (2)
        

July 3, 2008

Armwood discusses commitment to Villanova

At Isaiah Armwood’s lowest basketball-playing moment, the Villanova coaching staff was there for him.

In a January matchup between Armwood’s Montrose Christian squad and Jericho Christian, Armwood elevated to the hoop but was undercut on the way down. He landed awkwardly and could barely walk. The 6-foot-9, 195-pounder and Woodlawn native was rushed to the hospital where he received his diagnosis -- a sprained MCL.

“I was in the hospital just waiting for my results and [the Villanova coaches] actually called my phone and asked if I was OK,” Armwood said. “It was my first serious injury and I really didn’t know what to do. ... They just let me know they were there for me. [They said], ‘Keep your head up and everything. We’re here for you if you need it.’”

Armwood admitted the Wildcats were “the leaders from day one,” but the Villanova staff’s support during that difficult time stood out. He rewarded Villanova head coach Jay Wright with a verbal commitment Tuesday, picking the Wildcats over Syracuse and Texas.

“I got to know [the coaches] really well,” Armwood said. “When I was injured, they were really concerned, and I knew I could really depend on them if anything went wrong. I knew I could turn to them.”

Armwood, a four-star player and the No. 43 prospect in the class of 2009 according to Rivals.com, said he appreciated the honesty of Wright throughout his recruitment.

“He’s a good guy, a cool dude,” Armwood said. “I can relate to him on a lot of levels. If you ask him something, you might not like it, but he’s going to tell you. He’s not going to feed you a bunch of crap.”

Another attraction for Armwood was the style of play at Villanova and in the Big East, a conference he’s grown up favoring.

“I’ve always liked the Big East because they’re tough and get after it,” Armwood said. “And at Villanova they really get after it. ... They have a lot of guys leaving at the forward and guard positions. They’re going to have me everywhere on the court, the way they run their offense. I’ll be doing a little bit of everything.”

Armwood’s not playing much AAU ball this summer. He opted out of USA Basketball’s U-18 trials to focus on summer school. But he says he’s healed from his injury and ready to come back strong for Montrose Christian come fall.

“[Recruiting] was just overwhelming because I never expected my basketball would take me this far ...” Armwood said. “[Committing to Villanova means] it’s just one less thing I’ve got to worry about going into my senior year.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:14 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

July 2, 2008

Whitfield talks Terps commitment

Plenty of programs were convinced Marcus Whitfield would make a good tight end in college.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder had a solid junior season at tight end for Northwest High School in Germantown, reeling in approximately 20 passes for 500 yards, according to TerrapinTimes.com. His production, potential, size and speed (4.53 40) convinced West Virginia, Akron, Army, Buffalo, East Carolina, Temple, James Madison and Richmond to offer scholarships.

But Maryland, which landed a commitment from Whitfield last weekend, projected him at outside linebacker -- a position he didn’t play at all as a junior. According to Whitfield, the Northwest coaching staff didn’t want their players going both ways.

Still, Maryland saw potential in Whitfield on defense.

“[Maryland defensive line coach Dave] Sollazzo would come up to the school a few times and I talked to him on the phone a few times,” Whitfield said. “He wanted me to come up to the camp and get a better evaluation of me. [He said], ‘we’ll evaluate you individually going through one-on-ones and through drills.’”

Two weekends ago, Whitfield and his parents made the 45-minute drive from his Montgomery County home to College Park for Maryland’s camp. At camp, Whitfield was charged with convincing the Terps’ staff that he could play outside linebacker at the next level.

Whitfield went about his business as a regular camper for most of the day, save for a half hour when he had the undivided attention of a group of Maryland coaches.

“They ran me through individual drills by myself, which showed my hips and my athleticism,” Whitfield said. “[I worked out for them for] 30 minutes while other people were doing drills around us. ... [They tested my] lateral movements and backpedaling, different hip movements and change of directions.”

After the camp, Sollazzo hinted at an offer. Sure enough, Whitfield received a call from the Terps the following morning, offering a scholarship. The offer, Whitfield said, immediately shot Maryland up his list. But he was still mulling a visit to West Virginia.

Whitfield wrestled with his decision throughout the week, but decided to cancel his trip to Morgantown, W.Va., and commit to Maryland last weekend.

“When it really cleared up was probably Friday,” Whitfield said. “I saw ... the advantages Maryland had in being between two major cities, Baltimore and D.C. -- basically the life after football and how I want my life to be. [Going to Maryland would] put [me] in the best position to be successful. The academics and ... internship opportunities [at Maryland were important]. It’s big for the academics.”

For his senior year, Whitfield will play tight end again, but he’ll also contribute at outside linebacker. He’s excited to prove himself at the position he’ll play in college.

“[I was] surprised when [Maryland] said I’d be a better outside linebacker,” Whitfield said. “But I just went with the flow because all I want to do is go to college and play football. It doesn’t matter what side it is. ... I’m excited to go and play the defensive side of the ball. I’m looking forward to playing both sides of the ball this upcoming season, but mostly defense now.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:32 AM | | Comments (0)
        

July 1, 2008

Ferrara discusses commitment to Maryland

The Maryland coaches took it easy on Nick Ferrara at the beginning.

First Ferrara, a placekicker from St. Anthony’s High School in Melville, N.Y., started off with three extra points -- one from the left hash, one from the right and one in the middle.

Ferrara was the only kicker at camp that day, but the full attention from Maryland’s coaches didn’t faze the 6-foot-1, 202-pounder. Ferrara steadily worked his way farther away from the goal posts, converting one kick after another.

By the time he reached 55 yards, Ferrara was 17-for-18. The Terps coaches gave him two bonus kicks. He promptly nailed the first, a 50-yarder, but then came up “just short” on a 58-yard attempt.

“I was kind of hyped up on adrenaline,” Ferrara said. “They were very pleased with my performance. When I missed they didn’t turn away, they patted me on the back and said, ‘Nick, it’s alright.’ That gave me motivation and showed they supported me when I was there.”

Maryland’s coaches worked out another group of kickers the following day, but were pleased enough with Ferrara’s performance last week to offer him a scholarship. He accepted the same day.

Ferrara, who has made three visits to College Park, spent much of his most recent trip to campus with the player he’ll likely succeed at UM -- senior Obi Egekeze.

“[Egekeze] told me that it’s a great place to be,” Ferrara said. “During game days there’s nothing like it. It doesn’t hold as many fans as some stadiums, like Michigan or Penn State, but it gets louder in there. I saw how many fans came out for the spring game and saw how many fans support Maryland. It was amazing. And he told me about the business department and academics. He told me it was amazing.”

As a junior at St. Anthony’s, Ferrara was 3-for-3 on field goals with a long of 43 yards. He was perfect on extra points, sent 95 percent of his kickoffs for touchbacks and had a punting average of 45 yards. Ferrara’s predecessor at St. Anthony’s was former Terps walk-on Mike Barbour.

Part of Ferrara’s kicking regiment includes training with former Rutgers kicker Lee McDonald, a DeMatha grad who owns and operates Special Teams Solutions, a training service for kickers, punters and long snappers. In his six years on the job, McDonald has sent kickers he’s worked with to schools such as Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia Tech. But Ferrara, McDonald said, is “really the best kid” he’s trained.

“Well, first of all, he’s gifted,” McDonald said. “He’s got a great leg, great size, everything you look for physically in a kicker. Hands down, he’s one of the top ten kids in the country, period. But at the same time, he’s worked very hard. He trains year round. Whatever sort of outing he has, a camp or combine, anything else in a game, it’s never quite good enough. So he’s a perfectionist. This commitment to Maryland is something that, A, he deserves and B, is a huge commitment for [Maryland] because they’re not going to find a kid better than him coming out of high school.”

McDonald said he thinks Ferrara will be ready to contribute for Maryland immediately.

“Nick really has it all,” McDonald said. “There are no flaws as to where he’s at right now. And he can do all three (placekicking, kickoffs and punting) very well. I think the Maryland guys are really looking at him to come in right away and do kickoffs and placekicking. The punter will be a junior. He’ll not have the pressure of doing all three, but Nick can do it certainly. ... The Terps are really making the right move offering a kid this early. He’ll be able to step in for Obi. They’re getting a heck of a kicker and punter. Maryland fans should be pretty excited.”

With a limited amount of Division I scholarships going to kickers each year, Ferrara said he’s incredibly thankful for the opportunity. And he’s excited the opportunity comes from a school that already makes him “feel at home.”

“It was just a great emotional experience,” Ferrara said of earning the scholarship and committing. “It’s every kid’s dream to get a scholarship to a DI school and I finally completed that. Now I can hopefully perform well in my senior season and then go onto Maryland and perform well there.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:17 PM | | Comments (8)
        
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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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Area high school commitments -- 2009
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Maryland's 2011 football recruiting class
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Maryland's 2009 football recruiting class
Maryland's 2008 football recruiting class
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