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.”