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October 21, 2008

D.C. linebacker commits to Maryland

Six and a half years ago, Darin Drakeford watched with awe as the Maryland men’s basketball team won its first national championship.

The Washington D.C. native had visions of joining the Terps basketball program once he reached college.

“I mean when I was growing up I always followed the basketball team,” Drakeford said. “It turned out [I’ll go there for a] different sport.”

Drakeford, a 6-foot, 217-pound linebacker, committed to the Maryland football program yesterday, picking the Terps over offers from Illinois, Pittsburgh and Duke.

Drakeford averaged 12 points and nine rebounds per game as a junior at Theodore Roosevelt High School in D.C. On the football field, he’s led the Rough Riders (3-5) with 62 tackles, 17 assists and seven sacks this season. He has rushed for 296 yards and five touchdowns on 13 carries, and caught eight passes for 203 yards and two scores.

Roosevelt head coach Daryl Tilghman said Drakeford has been dangerous on offense, and occasionally scary on defense.

“In the last couple games, I really saw his closing speed,” Tilghman said. “I could see him go from 10 yards to 10 feet in just a matter of seconds. ... We were playing Coolidge and I can still vividly remember; he exploded into this guy and he ended up on the track. I was like ‘wow!’ That’s when I saw what everyone else could see [about his potential at linebacker].”

Tilghman said that particular play against Coolidge best exemplifies Drakeford’s game.

“His ability to close on the ball carrier and that explosiveness he brings as he gets there are probably his plusses,” Tilghman said. “I think he’s a good student of the game and recognizes things very quickly. I think those are probably his biggest attributes in playing middle linebacker.”

Drakeford admitted that Maryland was the leader in his recruitment for a long time. Those sentiments were reinforced after taking unofficial visits to Illinois and Pittsburgh.

“When I was at Pittsburgh, I liked the school a lot but I didn’t really like the city,” Drakeford said. “When I was at Illinois, [I liked the school] but it’s a really small city. ... [Maryland] was always my first choice. ... It’s close to home, and close to D.C., where I’m from. [It was important] staying home.”

Drakeford said he hopes to play for the Terps as a true freshman and carry on UM’s tradition at linebacker.

“There’s a lot of great linebackers that came through there and I can be another one.”

Click here for WashingtonPost.com's Recruiting Spotlight video feature on Drakeford.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:34 PM | | Comments (9)
        

Comments

6'0", 217# - does he really think he's big enough to play MLB at a top D1 school, especially as a true freshman? If so, then I like his moxie. Granted, he could still grow some but I have a feeling he'll more likely get moved to CB if he has that kind of speed and is able to cover receivers.

I just did the quickest check, seems he's a 2-star recruit, and not really fast enough to be a top corner. Welcome to Maryland, Darin. There are worse things than taking a redshirt year to learn how things are done in the ACC. I hope you have the toughness, determination, and perseverance to prove wrong everyone who says you're too small and too slow to be a player in the ACC.

He is still growing. some sites list him at 6'1 and he wears a size 14 shoe... so he still has some growing to do.. "The Experts" feel he will be a 3 star once ists all said and done.

I would not worry too much about his size and speed. Erin Henderson was only 210# when he was a high school senior and he turned out fine. Drakeford is probably more athletic than most of the Terp's LB recruits in the past several years. Forget the 2 star rating, he has only played football for 2 years and his school isn't well known in the recruiting world. Redshirt him and teach him how to play OLB.

this is a great signing, D is a freak of nature he will be 6-1 240 with 4.5 speed and 41 inch vert by the time he s a redshirt sophmore hs is in the same athletic class of jelani Jenkins.

I hope all you guys who added more info about Darin are right - and you probably all know a whole lot more about him and his potential than I do. I certainly meant no disrespect to him and hope he turns out to be another stud LB for the Terps. The star rankings are rather subjective and somewhat political, for sure. Fans tend to pay more attention to them than the coaches do. And they don't measure heart, only raw athletic ability.

Again I say, welcome to College Park, Darin. Keep on wanting to make an impact, and don't be disappointed if the coaches feel it's in your (and the team's) best interest to redshirt a year and/or move to the outside. They have a track record for linebackers and DBs playing in the NFL.

Thanks to everyone for all the additional info. I'll add that Drakeford plays in the middle now, but will probably shift to the outside at Maryland. I could definitely see him contributing as a true freshman on special teams.

I AM A HAPPY FATHER.I'M LOOKING TO SEE MY SON PLAY AT MARYLAND U.I REALLY THINK HE CAN MAKE IT,BECAUSE HE'S HAS WANNA WIN SOUL LIKE MIKE JODEN HAD!!!

I'm not really worried about his athletecism at all based on the picture I'm linking here...also I've heard nothing but extreme praise for him as a "freak" athlete.

http://www.dcsportsfan.com/Assets/Images/200879_182250_djump.jpg

Darin is an incredible prospect who's only been playing football for a couple of years!!! Maryland is very lucky to be getting a talent like him!!

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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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