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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 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)

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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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