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February 27, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln shooting guard Lance Stephenson has narrowed his list of schools.

According to Scout.com’s Dave Telep, Kansas, Maryland and St. John’s are in the mix to land Stephenson.

The five-star prospect sat down for a video interview this week with SNY.tv, which also mentioned Wake Forest as a potential destination. Stephenson discussed the programs on his list, and shot down a rumor involving the Terps.

There has been speculation that Stephenson might consider Maryland because Maryland has a deal with Under Armour, which has also given gear to Lincoln. But Stephenson plays in Nikes and said the sneaker affiliation of the school had no bearing on his choice.

“Ah, no,” he said. “I’m just going in there and see what’s best for me and my family and how do I fit in the program. That’s it.”

Stephenson and his father spoke to TerpCenter.com’s Jeff Ermann recently about where UM stands in Stephenson’s recruitment.

When he saw that Maryland had knocked off North Carolina, Stephenson Sr. picked up his phone and called to congratulate the coaching staff.

"That was a big win for them," he said, adding that the Terps remain very much in the hunt.

• UM power forward recruit Jordan Williams closed in on another milestone this week in an easy win for Torrington (Conn.) High.

Jordan Williams scored 16 of his game-high 45 points in the first quarter and now is just 13 points shy of 2,000 points as Torrington beat host Wolcott, 93-61, Tuesday in the NVL.

• Long Island (N.Y.) Lutheran forward Tobias Harris wrote about his trip to College Park in his most recent diary for Syracuse.com.

My most recent visit was to Maryland on Sunday, and it looks like a picked good date to go. The Terps upset No. 3 North Carolina 88-85 in overtime. The fans were crazy and the atmosphere at Maryland is great. It was a huge win for them (and no, sorry I did not rush the court haha).

• UM junior shooting guard/small forward target Will Barton led Lake Clifton to a 69-30 win over Digital Harbor for the Baltimore City championship .

It's the second straight City title and third overall for the Lakers, who got 21 points from junior Will Barton and a dominating 19 points from senior Cleveland Melvin.

WIVB in Buffalo, N.Y., profiled Terps target Will Regan this week. Regan's drawn comparisons to former Nichols School big man Christian Laettner.

• Maryland women's point guard recruit Dara Taylor spoke to DelawareOnline.com about her selection to the McDonald’s All-American game.

"This is a huge honor," the 5-foot-7 Taylor said Monday afternoon. "When you look at it, only 12 girls made the team, and only 24 [will be at the game]. Twenty-four out of every senior in the whole country?

It's a huge honor."

• UM women’s power forward signee Tianna Hawkins teamed with her younger sister to lead Riverdale Baptist over Arundel this week.

Senior Tianna Hawkins, a University of Maryland recruit, and junior Tierra Hawkins teamed to score 36 points, including 10 during a decisive 12-2 spurt in the fourth quarter, as the Crusaders pulled away from the Wildcats in Gambrills, 65-46.

• Maryland junior forward commitment Alyssa Thomas led Central Dauphin East to a 58-33 win over Carlisle in the Pennsylvania District 3-AAAA girls basketball semifinals.

Thomas paced the Rams with 20 points and 10 rebounds in only three quarters. Bassett tacked on seven rebounds to go with her 10 points. CD outrebounded the Herd 39-21.

Football recruiting

• Terps quarterback recruit C.J. Brown had a big game in Seneca Valley’s 58-52 loss to Peters Township in the semifinals of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League boys basketball tournament.

[Peters Township’s Nick] Wilcox also had 10 rebounds and offset an 18-point, 15-rebound performance from Seneca Valley senior C.J. Brown, who hit two free throws late in regulation, sending the game to overtime.

• Handley, Va., junior cornerback Jeremiah Wilson spoke to NVDaily.com about his recent commitment to Maryland.

"I was really surprised they offered me so soon," said Wilson, who is the third player to commit to Maryland in the Class of 2010. "When they offered it to me I wasn't sure what to say or what to do. I talked it over with my family and decided it would be a good choice for me."

• Manheim, Pa., defensive end Dakota Royer spoke with TerpCenter.com about his recent visit to College Park.

"It was very good ... They are up there right now," said Royer, who has offers from Maryland, Penn State, Colorado, Notre Dame, Illinois, Stanford, UConn, Michigan State, Kentucky and Rutgers.

"Maryland, Pitt, Penn State, Michigan State, Notre Dame -- those are my top [schools]," he said.

The Washington Post’s Josh Barr reports that Good Counsel cornerback Louis Young is back on the market.

Cornerback Louis Young (6-1, 175), previously committed to Stanford but now exploring all options, is getting the most interest, holding additional scholarship offers from Maryland, Virginia Tech, Boston College, North Carolina, N.C. State, Pittsburgh and Kansas State.

• DeMatha offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio was recently offered a scholarship by the Terps, according to Rivals.com.

“I’m starting to like North Carolina,” he said. “Hopefully I can go somewhere like that or Georgia. I could do well in the cold, but I like it when it’s warm.

“I love those programs too. I always watch them and Maryland.”

• Safety Michael Coley is another DeMatha prospect that recently picked up a Maryland offer.

“I got an offer from Maryland about a week ago on Tuesday,” DeMatha safety Michael Coley said. “My coach came and told me. I like the school, it’s a great school, but I’m not trying to make any decision. I’m continuing to stay humble and see how the season goes and what happens from there.”

The Detroit News reports that Pittsburgh cornerback Cullen Christian has Michigan as the leader in his recruitment, but he’s mulling a trip to Maryland.

Knocking Michigan off its perch could be a difficult task for the competition, but it's not impossible. Christian plans to visit a number of campuses in the coming weeks to get a better feel for what each program has to offer. A trip to Michigan is scheduled for March 19. Visit dates to Illinois, Maryland and West Virginia are in the planning stages.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:36 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

February 26, 2009

Baltimore's next great point guard

A smattering of spectators trickled in and out of the Lombard Middle School gym last Saturday for a late-season Baltimore Innovative Athletic Conference boys basketball matchup between host Baltimore Freedom Academy and Coppin Academy.

Most of the 60 or so fans in attendance appeared to be friends or family of players at one of the two city “innovation” charter schools -- a far cry from Sunday’s MIAA A Conference championship at UMBC’s RAC Arena, both in terms of atmosphere and city-wide recognition.

Sophomore Kevin Smith, the No. 2-ranked point guard on the East Coast according to Mid Atlantic Hoops, could’ve easily stood out in Sunday’s game. But instead the 6-foot floor general was wowing the BFA faithful Saturday in East Baltimore.

Smith’s usual theatrics were limited by a recent, minor knee injury. He scored eight first-half points, but really made his mark leading the break and finding the open man. More than a few times Smith surprised his teammates with a pass, turning a should-have-been assist into a bobbled ball.

“Sometimes they don’t even know they’re open, but I can see that they’re open,” Smith said. “They don’t see it themselves. ... So it’s been working out good. We’re getting better day to day.”

BFA jumped to a 44-16 halftime lead. With the game well in hand, Baltimore Freedom Academy coach Joe Connelly let Smith rest his knee on the bench for the entire second half. The team cruised to a 57-24 win, its twelfth straight.

Smith, who averages 27 points and eight assists per game, wasn’t at all bothered by his second half on the bench.

“[Sitting on the bench doesn’t] bother me. I don’t have to be in the whole game, especially since I’m on the injury list now,” Smith said. “It’s [fun] just cheering on my team and having fun with the kids on the bench with me. We were getting them motivated to do what they’ve got to do.”

Smith’s unlikely arrival at BFA is just the latest stop on his basketball journey, which began three and a half hours north of Baltimore 16 years ago and will almost certainly lead to a high-major Division I scholarship two years from now.

New York to Baltimore

Smith was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., growing up in the same neighborhood as Denver Nuggets star and ex-Towson Catholic standout Carmelo Anthony. Smith and Anthony’s fathers were friends, so the current and former Brooklyn-to-Baltimore ballers are close.

Smith honed his game on the New York City playgrounds, taking pointers from Anthony and his cousin, former St. John’s point guard Omar Cook.

“He used to take me to games at St. John’s,” Smith said. “He’s [playing professional basketball] in Spain right now. ... We talk like weekly about what’s going on over there and how his newborn’s doing. It’s family. It’s real cool.”

Smith followed Anthony’s path from Brooklyn to Baltimore before his sixth grade year. He latched on with the Team Melo AAU program, and by the time he was an eighth grader at Mount Royal Middle School, the word on Smith throughout the city’s basketball circles was out. All the major A conference schools came after him. But after Smith and his mother, Julie Torres, weighed the pros and cons, they decided on Baltimore Freedom Academy, a Bronze Medal-ranked high school according to U.S. News & World Report.

Serving grades six through 12, BFA has about 320 high school students, giving students a more personalized education. Plus, the low-profile school gave Smith a chance to work on his game away from the spotlight.

“I was going to go to an A conference school, but me and mother discussed it and … we wanted me to be able to do my own thing. I could start fresh and build up [the program] and see what I can do in my first two years of high school.”

Smith’s enrollment at Baltimore Freedom Academy wasn’t a basketball-based decision. Smith knew of Coach Connelly and Connelly had heard about Smith. But Smith’s enrollment at BFA had much more to do with academics and keeping a lower profile than anything else.

“I started knowing [who] Joe [was] toward the end of my eighth-grade year,” Smith said. “For school, [my mother and I] wanted to be different, so we were just looking at the schools and talking to the coaches. It was funny because I came in my freshman year, probably the second day of school, and he was there. He didn’t know who I was, but he knew of me. So we had tryouts one day and he started talking to me and my mother. He didn’t know it was me. So I came here and hit every shot I took and he was like, ‘OK, that’s what I’ve been looking for.’”

Connelly added: “I think he knew about me, but obviously when you’re recruited by [A conference schools] that are top-notch publicity-wise, it’s sort of humbling to come to a school like our school. But we got together on the basketball court and it’s really been a smooth thing. He’s been a real humble guy and a pleasure to coach. A lot of times [players of Smith’s caliber] have adults gravitate to them based on their basketball skills. They have a tendency to be somewhat of a prima donna. Fortunately for me he hasn’t displayed any of those signs whatsoever.”

It’s been a mutually-beneficial relationship for both parties. Connelly landed a player who’s taken the program to another level, while Smith found a coach with a proven track record in player development.

The coach

Connelly grew up in Baltimore City, the oldest of seven children. He attended Towson Catholic and played for ex-Owls and current City College coach Mike Daniel. Four Connelly brothers currently work in basketball -- Joe with BFA, Tim (assistant director of player personnel) and Pat (advance scout) with the Washington Wizards and Dan (director of basketball operations) at Princeton.

After graduating from Towson Catholic, Joe Connelly moved on to Morgan State, where he earned a bachelor’s degree. He eventually was hired as an assistant at TC, where he stayed for 10 years, tutoring Carmelo Anthony among many others.

Connelly eventually earned a master’s in education from Johns Hopkins and stayed active in the local basketball community, branching out with local AAU programs like Baltimore Blue (where he coached Anthony and ex-North Carolina guard Melvin Scott) and Charm City AAU (which featured future NFL players Tommy Polley and Keion Carpenter).

After teaching stints at Douglass, Edmondson and Dunbar, Connelly found his way to the Baltimore Freedom Academy, where he currently serves as the school’s athletic director in addition to his role as boys basketball coach. His BFA tenure coincided with the rise of his other career -- player development specialist.

Connelly was working out Wizards project Oleksiy Pecherov about two years ago when he noticed Roger Mason Jr. across the gym. Connelly gave Mason a few pointers and a relationship was forged. Two weeks ago, Mason (who’s currently averaging 12 points per game for San Antonio) flew Connelly out to Phoenix for NBA All-Star weekend, where Mason participated in the 3-point shootout. Now Connelly also works with Washington players Andray Blatche, Dominic McGuire and Nick Young.

So just by chance, one of the top sophomore point guards in the country ended up with a high school coach that trains NBA players for a living.

“He just fell into my lap. God works in mysterious ways,” Connelly said. “It was a blessing, but I think for him it was good because [coming to BFA] took him away from a lot of hype. We don’t really have any hangers-on or people that follow the program around. It’s just a really good foundation for him to be successful.”

The benefits

The results of the Smith-Connelly partnership speak for themselves. As a freshman, Smith led BFA to the conference championship, averaging 32 points and six assists per game. Scoring wasn’t ever a problem, but at 6 feet, Smith and Connelly knew that his sophomore season had to be focused on developing into more of a true point guard.

“Guys his size that score a lot generally don’t go very far,” Connelly said. “With his size and quickness, he has very good handles. I think his best asset is his ability to see the floor. But there are other ways to take advantage of your talents over putting the ball in the hoop. I think he enjoys setting his teammates up. I think he’s all about it now. Around New Year’s he really bought in and we’ve been rolling ever since.”

Smith said he’ll watch games with Connelly and try to pattern his game after Chris Paul and Steve Nash. Smith said he’s well aware of how lucky he is to be able to work with a coach who can speak with authority on training NBA players.

“In the offseason or the summer time when I’ve got nothing to do, or like on a Saturday, he’ll take me out there and we’ll work out with some of the NBA players and see what they’re doing and match my skills up to them,” Smith said. “So he lets me play against them and work out with them. That’s a great thing for me to see what I can work on and what I need to do to get to the next level.”

The future

There’s little doubt that in two years, Smith will join the likes of Malcolm Delaney (Virginia Tech), Jack McClinton (Miami), Sean Mosley (Maryland) and a host others as a Baltimore guard playing at the highest level of college basketball. His national profile will surely increase this summer on the AAU circuit with Nike Baltimore Elite. It’s still early, but Smith’s already heard from a nice selection of major programs.

“Virginia Tech was here last week,” Smith said. “Florida State, I’ve been talking to them here and there. They’ve been coming through. Villanova, they’ve been coming around. Maryland, they’re all around. Syracuse and North Carolina [have recruited me] here and there. So it’s a lot. It’s a lot. So we’re just seeing what we have going for my senior year.”

Recently Smith, Torres and Connelly decided it would be best if Smith played his final two years of high school basketball at a prep school. Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., Brewster Academy in New Hampshire and Montverde Academy in Florida have all been discussed as potential destinations.

“In the long run, it’s a better move for him,” Connelly said. “His team will still go on and I think he’ll be in a situation where he can be in the gym and get the most out of his God-given ability. We alternate days of practice in the gym with the girls ... so it’s not the ideal situation for someone of his talent and ability. That’s just me being a realist, as athletic director and coach. Some schools are in the gym seven days a week, which might be a bit of overkill, but it does have some benefits in that regard.”

Smith said he’ll always be thankful for his time at BFA, but understands it makes sense for him to test his game against the top players in the country before moving onto college.

“I’m going to miss [Baltimore] but I’m originally from New York, so I’m good with traveling,” Smith said. “I don’t get homesick, so I’m just ready.”

For now Smith and Connelly are focused on winning a second consecutive Baltimore Innovative Athletic Conference championship. After the season they’ll start getting more serious about choosing a prep school. Connelly's confident Smith will be a success wherever he goes.

“He has some skills that no matter how good a coach or teacher you are, you can’t teach some of the skills he has,” Connelly said. “He’s blessed with a lot of athleticism and innate things like balance. It’s a rare thing ... to have that kind of quickness and lateral movement. He can work on his jump shot and improve his handles, but stuff like that is teachable. He’s just blessed with natural talent that needs to be cultivated.”

The next step in that cultivation process will likely take place away from Baltimore. But thanks to his time at BFA with Connelly, Smith said he's prepared for the next step in his basketball journey.

"I think I’m ready for it."

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:07 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

February 25, 2009

N.Y. tight end discusses Terps pledge

There wasn’t much Terps-related discussion between Sean Fitzpatrick and his father, Dennis, on the plane ride from Rochester, N.Y., to Maryland.

No talk of a potential commitment, no weighing of pros and cons, no breakdown of the depth chart or talk of academic programs. Maryland’s reputation preceded itself, Fitzpatrick said. So in the minds of both father and son, there was a good chance going in that the younger Fitzpatrick would end his recruitment on the trip.

“We both were going into [the visit] knowing [Maryland’s] a great school academically. We both heard positive things about [UM],” Fitzpatrick said. “As soon as we stepped [on campus], there was something special about it. I can’t really explain it, but I knew it was the right place for me.”

Fitzpatrick left College Park as Maryland’s third oral commitment of the 2010 class. The 6-foot-6, 225-pounder chose UM over an offer from Buffalo and interest from Boston College, Pittsburgh and UConn, among others. Fitzpatrick said he received much of his information on UM from former Terps punter Adam Podlesh, a fellow Pittsford, N.Y., native.

As a junior at Pittsford Mendon High School in upstate New York, Fitzpatrick helped the Vikings to a 6-3 finish. The Raiders lost by a field goal in the first round of the playoffs. Mendon coach Keith Molinich started Fitzpatrick at tight end and free safety.

“His work ethic is phenomenal and he’s very versatile,” Molinich said. “He’s done a lot of different things for us. We have a young man who played tight end for us the last two years who’s going to Princeton. A lot of times we’d use Sean as a receiver. He’s pretty quick. In open space he can make kids miss. ... His fastest [40] time is a 4.57 on a stopwatch. He’s probably a legit 4.6 kid. And to be that big and be able to move like he does stands out. And [he has a great] ability to go up and catch the ball. He just goes up and takes it from people.”

While Fitzpatrick’s likely slated for tight end at UM, he’ll move under center as a senior for Mendon. He served as the backup quarterback as a junior but will replace a departed senior in the fall. Fitzpatrick said he’s excited about the move.

“I’m excited because I can use my athleticism and speed, so when a play breaks down, I can make something happen,” Fitzpatrick said. “The game will be on my shoulders, so I can decide whether we win or lose. I want to have that responsibility.”

Fitzpatrick said his weekend visit to College Park was a whirlwind trip that completely lived up to his expectations. But when asked to pinpoint a certain moment when he knew UM was the right fit, Fitzpatrick was stumped.

“I can’t really explain it -- it was just a gut feeling that I knew it was the right place for me,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s in the ACC conference, which you can’t really beat. I’ll be surrounded by great people, great coaches, a supportive student body and you can’t really compete with that. It has everything I’m looking for in a school.”

Click on the video player for Fitzpatrick’s junior highlights.


Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:00 AM | | Comments (2)
        

February 24, 2009

Va. cornerback discusses commitment to UM

It didn't take much convincing for Jeremiah Wilson to commit to Maryland.

The Winchester, Va., running back/defensive back spent the first eight years of his life in Woodlawn, idolizing Juan Dixon and the Maryland basketball team. He later moved to Virginia and became a fan of the Terps football program. When Maryland offered him a scholarship about two weeks ago, it didn’t take long for the 6-foot, 180-pounder to accept.

“Before they offered me, I kept wondering every day if I was going to get offered by anybody,” Wilson said. “As soon as I got the offer, it took a lot of stress and weight off my shoulders. ... I knew if Maryland offered me I was going to take it because I wanted to go there since I was a little kid. Their academics are very good and it just seemed like a good fit for me.”

Wilson pledged to UM on Saturday. He also received interest from Duke, Virginia and Virginia Tech. He said there was no temptation to wait around and see which other schools might eventually offer.

“I talked to my dad and my head coach about waiting a little bit, but I just knew that if anyone else offered me they wouldn’t show me as much interest as Maryland has been showing the past couple of weeks,” Wilson said. “They seemed very interested and well organized in what they want. So there was no need for me to wait.”

Wilson made his debut on the Handley High School varsity team as a freshman, playing running back and cornerback. He’ll likely start out at cornerback for UM. Handley coach Tony Rayburn thinks that’s a good spot for Wilson.

“He’s got good speed, he’s got good instincts, he turns and runs well, he’s a physical kid and he’s been in the weight room since the eighth grade,” Rayburn said. “He can do all of the things [you want in a cornerback]. He can come up and support the run and cover someone deep.”

Wilson said he recorded approximately 80 tackles and four interceptions as a junior, while rushing for about 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns. Handley went 10-2 this season, falling in the regional final to Monticello. Rayburn said Wilson’s breakout junior year wasn’t surprising.

“He’s not concerned with his statistics, he’s just concerned with winning,” Rayburn said. “His first two years we had a pretty good quarterback. We [ran a lot of our offense] from the gun, and he was pretty much a blocking back at 160 pounds. He just did what we asked him to do. He knew his time would come. So you couldn’t ask for a better kid.”

With Winchester less than two hours away from College Park, and several relatives in Randallstown, Wilson expects many visitors when it comes time for him to suit up for the Terps. Until then, he’s just excited to have realized his dream.

“It was like a dream come true,” Wilson said. “Just to grow up watching my favorite team play and having them be my first offer, it was very exciting.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:40 AM | | Comments (0)
        

February 23, 2009

Ex-Lake Clifton guard talks Miami pledge

Antoine Allen was a household name in Baltimore basketball circles last year.

The 6-foot-2, 183-pounder earned Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro honors during his senior year at Lake Clifton. Allen averaged 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals last year, leading the Lakers to a 25-2 record and the Baltimore City championship.

But when it came time to pick a college, Allen wasn’t satisfied with his options or ready to make the transition to a four-year institution. So he held off on choosing a school, played AAU ball for Cecil Kirk last summer, resurfaced at Mississippi Elite Christian Academy for prep school and eventually ended his recruitment. Allen pledged to Miami earlier this month, picking the Hurricanes over Providence (where initially committed late last summer), Florida State, Virginia and Central Florida.

“Basically I just wanted to mature as a person,” Allen said of his decision to delay college a year. “Now I’ll come to college as a freshman and I’ll be ready for all the adversity. I’ll just be a mature young man and take charge as a freshman. I just wanted to have that one year to get responsible.”

Allen picked up an offer from Providence during the summer and committed shortly thereafter. He was originally slated to attend Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., but changed course for Mississippi, where he averaged approximately 20 points, six assists and five rebounds.

“[Miami was] involved with me since the summer time, but I had committed early to Providence,” Allen said. “Then I decommitted from Providence probably two weeks ago, and then basically Miami came back. I told them I opened up my recruitment and finished up my recruitment from there. I just thought it was the best fit for me.”

Anthony Lewis has coached Cecil Kirk for more than 20 years. The AAU coach/recreation & parks director said Allen compares favorably with two former Cecil Kirk standouts -- Illinois point guard Chester Frazier (Lake Clifton) and Miami guard Jack McClinton (Calvert Hall).

“Most recruiters ... have said he’s a cross between Jack McClinton and Chester Frazier, two kids that I had [at Cecil Kirk] before,” Lewis said. “He simply brings it on the defensive side, like Chester does. He brings it on the defensive end and has that kind of up in your face style. At the same time, he plays the offensive game as a young Jack McClinton did. With Jack at Miami, he was a very good shooter coming in. I think he became an even better shooter [in his time there]. I would compare Antoine to a young Jack McClinton, which is a very good shooter.”

Allen said he’s flattered by the comparisons to McClinton, but acknowledges that he has a long way to go to match the All-ACC player’s success in Coral Gables.

“I mean I hear that a lot, people comparing me to Jack McClinton,” Allen said. “Jack McClinton’s a very good player. I’m not up to his level yet, but hopefully if I keep working hard [I can get there]. But Jack’s at the top of his game right now. He’s one of the best players in the country. ... I like the simple fact at how Jack went to Miami to represent Baltimore, [and now I’m] coming to represent Baltimore. I’m just coming in to do my job.”

Click on the YouTube player for senior highlights of Allen at Lake Clifton.


Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:29 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Weekend wrap — Williams dominates again

Maryland power forward recruit Jordan Williams saved one of his best performances of the year for Torrington (Conn.) High’s regular-season home finale.

Williams powered the Raiders to an 87-76 win over Crosby on Friday

Jordan Williams had an even more monster game than usual with 52 points (tying his own single-game school scoring record), 21 rebounds and five blocks.

• Terps shooting guard target Lance Stephenson traveled to Kansas this weekend to see the Jayhawks take on Nebraska. According to KUsports.com, the Kansas student section did their best to make Stephenson feel at home.

One student held up an oversized picture of Stephenson’s face and had Stephenson sign the back of the picture.

What’s more, the fans chanted “Rock Chalk Stephenson” in the final seconds of the game and cheered wildly as he exited with coach Bill Self and KU’s players out of the northwest tunnel following the final horn.

• Terps power forward target Will Regan led the Nichols School (N.Y.) to a 68-38 win over Canisius for the Monsignor Martin regular-season championship on Friday.

Will Regan, who is being recruited by several Division I programs, had a triple-double with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks.

• Terps women’s commitment Alyssa Thomas guided Central Dauphin (Pa.) to a quarterfinal playoff win over CD East on Friday.

Alyssa Thomas had 12 of her game-high 20 points in the second when CD outscored East by 14 on its way to a 50-41 victory.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:29 AM | | Comments (3)
        

February 20, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

Last week Maryland shooting guard target Lance Stephenson was left off the Jordan Brand Classic roster.

This week, the five-star shooting guard from Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln received some retribution by being selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American game.

“I think McDonald’s is more important than anything,” said the 6-5, 200-pound Stephenson, who on Sunday became the all-time leading scorer in New York State history and who will make an official visit this weekend to Kansas. “If I didn’t make the McDonald’s I’d be more mad, but the McDonald’s I’m happy to be in it.”

Earlier this week Stephenson told Rivals.com he was considering visits to UCLA and Wake Forest, but SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria reports that those trips aren’t set in stone.

Stephenson recently told me he had no immediate plans to visit any other schools.

“As of right now, no,” he said. “The list that I gave everybody, I’ll make sure I go to all of them. But right now I’m just worrying about Kansas and my season.”

The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Barker profiled Terps power forward recruit Jordan Williams in today’s paper. The Williams family told Barker that Gary Williams’ job security was an initial concern.

So [Jordan Williams’ parents] went to [Maryland athletic director Deborah] Yow to determine what was going on. "The toughest part [of the rumors] is who is telling you the truth and how to sift through all this," Leron Williams said.

He said Yow told them Gary Williams would remain. To further assure them, Yow said she would put her claims in writing.

Williams’ Torrington (Conn.) squad dropped an 87-71 game to Holy Cross on Tuesday.

… Williams (19 points, 23 rebounds, 3 blocks), averaging 36 points a game, showed Holy Cross more mobility in the first half, coming out to the high post and the wing on offense, lunging for every shot on defense.

But Turina’s bigger hope came from the development of other players since that first game. Sure enough, they came through. By the half, Williams had 11 points, but three other players had significant points toward Torrington’s seven-point lead, 40-33.

• Terps fans in the Baltimore area will be able to see Williams and fellow ‘09 power forward commitment James Padgett in this year’s Charm City Challenge. The Baltimore vs. U.S. All-Star game will be played on Sunday, April 5 at the Towson Center.

The Washington Post’s three-part series on Gary Williams’ recruiting apparently led to a meeting between Williams and D.C. Assault official Curtis Malone.

“Whenever any of my kids are being recruited by Maryland, I can’t say, ‘Oh, Gary is a great guy,’” Malone said. “Because I don’t know Gary. But I would never do anything to push a bad relationship even though I don’t know how it got the way it did. I will show Maryland basketball that Curtis Malone can be a friend of Maryland basketball.”

TampaBay.com reports that St. Frances forward Terrell Vinson is focused on four schools.

Vinson, a 6-foot-7, 210-pound forward rated as the nation's No. 81 overall prospect by Rivals.com, is still considering Massachusetts, Maryland, Cincinnati and USF, according to Mark Karcher, his coach at St. Frances Academy in Maryland.

• The Barton brothers, Will (24 points) and Antonio (15 points), helped Lake Clifton move to 20-0 with an 88-61 win over Walbrook.

"We look at these big games as heavyweight fights," said Will Barton, who played a big role defensively, limiting Walbrook standout Roscoe Smith to 13 points.

• Terps power forward target Will Regan scored 36 points Wednesday night in the Nichols School’s 92-90 loss to St. Joseph’s (N.Y.). According to The Detroit News, Michigan coach John Beilein has made Regan a top priority.

Keeping in mind that adding more size to the roster is a major focus, Beilein is in heavy pursuit of Will Regan, a 6-8, 235-pound center/power forward from Buffalo. Regan has had interest from many programs, but reportedly has the Wolverines high on his list.

• Miller School (Va.) teammates and UM targets Mychal Parker and Hippolyte Tsafack both reached double figures in the Mavericks’ 69-53 win over Blue Ridge.

Parker finished with 14 points and a couple of assists. ... Hippolyte Tsafack poured in 16 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to complete his double-double.

• UM shooting guard target Taran Buie scored 14 points in Bishop Maginn’s 81-60 win over Troy (N.Y.) on Tuesday.

• UM women’s recruit Alyssa Thomas led Central Dauphin (Pa.) to a 20-point win over Harrisburg on Tuesday.

Thomas, who pumped in a game-high 20 points, helped the top-seeded Rams piece together a titanic 19-5 second-half run that induced a 54-34 District 3-AAAA first-round victory Tuesday over Lee's Cougars.

With Central Dauphin nursing a 20-18 lead just seconds after the break, Thomas hauled in 10 of CD's 23 third-quarter points, shocking the Cougars.

Tianna Hawkins’ Riverdale Baptist squad is now the No. 10 girls basketball team in the country, according to MaxPreps.com.

10. Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) 19-2 (2-0) -- Last four of five games the Crusaders have scored between 65-69 including wins of 28 and 21 points last week. Senior post Tianna Hawkins leads the squad with averages of 16.2 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.

• Terps junior point guard commitment Natasha Cloud led Cardinal O’Hara in scoring in its 50-42 loss to Archbishop Carroll in the Philadelphia Catholic League semifinals.

The Shields sisters led the way, with junior guard Erin scoring 15 points and Kerri, a senior bound for Boston College, adding 12. Junior guard Natasha Cloud led the Lions (22-2) with 14 points.

Football recruiting

• Maryland quarterback recruit C.J. Brown is taking care of business on the hardwood for Seneca Valley (Pa.) in the playoffs.

Senior forward C.J. Brown leads the Raiders in scoring and had 18 points and 14 rebounds in a first-round win against Fox Chapel Friday.

• H.D. Woodson (D.C.) quarterback Ricardo Young sports an early offer from the Terps, according to The Washington Post’s Josh Barr.

According to Warriors' assistant Larry Williams, Young already has offers from Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Maryland.

Barr also reports that the Terps have already offered scholarships to four DeMatha juniors.

The State of Columbia, S.C., has a quick update on Terps target and St. John’s C-P defensive end J.R. Ferguson, who is already one of the most heavily recruited prospects in the country.

Defensive lineman Ego Ferguson Jr. (6-3 260) of Frederick, Md., is one of the most heavily recruited prospects on the East Coast with over 30 offers thus far. Those include Clemson, USC, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Penn State, LSU, California, Maryland, N.C. State and Illinois. He went to a junior day at Maryland and might go to one at North Carolina. He also is considering an unofficial visit to Tennessee. He does not claim any favorites.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:07 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

February 19, 2009

Taylor discusses McDonald's selection

Dara Taylor kept her secret for two weeks.

The Maryland point guard recruit received a letter earlier this month notifying her that she was selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American game. But she was instructed to keep the news quiet until yesterday’s announcement.

Kevin Lynch, Taylor’s AAU coach with the Philadelphia Belles, knew of her selection, as did her high school coach at Caravel (Del.) Academy, Kristin Caldwell. The Taylor family and some Caravel teammates were also informed. Terps coach Brenda Frese somehow managed to find out.

But last night at around 6 p.m., Taylor’s secret was out to everyone else. The 5-foot-7, 135-pounder will suit up for the East team at the McDonald’s game on April 1 in Miami.

“It’s a great honor,” Taylor said. “There [are] only 12 girls on each team. That’s only 24 girls out of all the seniors in the country. To be chosen out of all of them this year is a great honor.”

Taylor, who committed to UM in December 2007, said the selection was an unbelievable reward for years of hard work.

“I mean I put it all on staying focused and working hard,” Taylor said. “Coach B, she had a lot of confidence in me. She recruited me when I wasn’t ranked by any of the [recruiting] services. But everything just followed after that. So it’s good to look back and see where I’ve come from to see where I progressed and how I’ve gotten better.”

Taylor’s been a part of the Belles AAU program since she was 10 years old. Lynch has known her since then. He was always impressed with her potential and skill level. But according to Lynch, Taylor has taken her game to another level since committing to the Terps more than a year ago.

“I really think from the time when she was 14 years old, she was a really good player,” Lynch said. “But her last two years, she’s just really turned it on. A lot of it was through her hard work and perseverance, and believing in what she was doing. She’s one of the fastest kids in the country with the basketball. She’s a blur with the basketball. She’s always had that, and now she can do it under control. She has that great athletic ability. She’s really grown as a player in the last two years.”

Lynch was one of the 24 voters for the McDonald’s women’s game. He obviously cast a vote for his long-time point guard, but noted that he couldn’t sway the other 23 voters on his own. They were convinced of Taylor’s McDonald’s worthiness by her summer AAU play with the Belles.

“She [earned her McDonald’s invite] on the summer circuit. She just did a great job,” Lynch said. “... We played all the top teams in the country, all the top players in the country, and she went out there and was just fantastic. We played a team from Dallas-Fort Worth that was undefeated coming into the Nike nationals. People were proclaiming them the No. 1 team ever put together. And we beat them at Nike nationals and Dara was a big reason why we did. She’s the kind of kid that can handle that pressure.”

Taylor’s averaging approximately 17 points, six assists and five steals per game for Caravel. She has two regular season games remaining followed by the state playoffs. After the conclusion of her senior season, Taylor will get a short break before she makes the trip down to Miami.

“I know I can’t play AAU this summer ... but now I can go to Miami and play in the McDonald’s game,” Taylor said. “It’s kind of a nice way to transition from high school to college.”

Taylor said she won’t be shy in advertising the end destination of that high school to college transition.

“I’m definitely going to take as much of my Maryland gear as I can and sport as much of it as possible.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:19 AM | | Comments (1)
        

February 18, 2009

Terps recruit Taylor earns McDonald's invite

Maryland women’s point guard recruit Dara Taylor has been named to the McDonald’s All-American team.

The 5-foot-7, 135-pounder from Caravel (Del.) Academy had a standout summer on the AAU circuit with the Philadelphia Belles.

“She [earned her McDonald’s invite] on the summer circuit. She just did a great job,” said Belles coach Kevin Lynch. “She’s a team player who’s very, very unselfish. She never once complained about the role she was given or how she was being used. She’s just a terrific kid from a terrific family.”

Maryland men’s target Lance Stephenson was also picked to play in the game. Both the men’s and women’s games will be played April 1 in Miami.

Check back with Recruiting Report tomorrow for more on Taylor’s selection.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:30 PM | | Comments (2)
        

Where are they now: Jeremy Robinson

Two years removed from a senior season at Northwestern High School that earned him Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro honors, Jeremy Robinson has made a temporary home for himself down South.

The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder is the starting point guard for Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College (14-13, 3-8). Robinson, the Eagles’ lone returning sophomore, averages 7.5 points, 2.8 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.04 steals per game.

“Jeremy’s a system guy and he’s done pretty well,” TCC coach Eddie Barnes said. “We’ve had to break some habits, like all kids coming out of high school transitioning into college. But he’s a very solid point guard. He has a toughness about him. He has a good work ethic and he’s shooting the ball a little bit better than when he came in. His decision-making is getting better. He’s been very good on and off the court. We’re happy to have him and he’s going to graduate [later this year].”

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According to Barnes, Robinson has received interest from Ball State, Wichita State, Mercer and several Sun Belt Conference schools.

“Jeremy’s kind of one of those Catch 22s because of his size,” Barnes said. “He’s got a big heart, but sometimes his size ... doesn’t allow him to play at the level that is similar to his toughness.”

As a freshman at Tallahassee, Robinson was able to learn from Baltimore native Jermaine Dixon (the younger brother of former Terp Juan Dixon), who now starts for No. 4 Pittsburgh. Barnes said it’s been a big challenge for Robinson to help make up for Dixon’s departure.

“Being the only sophomore returning from last year, it’s been kind of tough because we’ve asked him to do so much as far as being a leader and directing those freshmen,” Barnes said. “As far as trying to fill the shoes of Jermaine, that’s kind of tough. He’s come a long way and I know he’s reaping a lot of benefits from being able to play here. ... Jeremy’s a very stable point guard who handles the ball, gets to the free-throw line, makes good decisions and passes.”

Several Baltimore-area standouts have made the jump from Tallahassee Community College to Division I programs, including Dixon, former St. John’s standouts Marcus Hatten (Mervo) and Bootsy Thornton (Dunbar), and ex-College of Charleston guard Marcus Johnson (Annapolis).

If all goes according to plan, Robinson will be the next.


Credit: Sun photo of Jeremy Robinson by Elizabeth Malby (February 20, 2007). Bio photo of Robinson courtesy of TCC.

Is there a former high school athlete with Maryland ties you’d like to see profiled in a Where are they now segment? If so, e-mail me at mbracken@baltimoresun.com.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:42 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Where are they now?
        

February 17, 2009

Where are they now: Eteyen Edet

Much has changed in the last year for Eteyen Edet.

The former Friendly High School linebacker committed to Maryland last January and signed a letter of intent to play for the Terps on Signing Day 2008.

After missing NCAA qualifying standards, Edet enrolled at Milford Academy last summer. His stint at the prep school in New Berlin, N.Y. was short-lived, however, thanks to Edet joining the team out of shape and clashing with a member of the Milford coaching staff. Edet was rerouted to North Carolina Tech in Charlotte, but his departure from Milford caused Maryland to cut ties with him.

Now, a year after signing with the Terps, Edet’s still looking for another place to play football in college. He had a successful prep season at North Carolina Tech, but still has some business to attend to academically, according to former Friendly assistant Marcus Berry.

“He didn’t sign anywhere this year. Basically, we’re trying to get him qualified,” Berry said. “He needs 30 more points, but he’ll get there. ... He had a really good season. The coaching staff did tell me that. If he wasn’t the best defensive player there, he was one of the top two or three best.”

Berry mentioned four schools that are still monitoring Edet’s progress.

“Ohio University, Akron, Michigan State still has some interest and also North Carolina has interest also,” Berry said. “But like I said, when he qualifies, we’ll just go from there. It’s kind of hard to find a 6-2, 245-pound linebacker with his ability.”

Berry said Edet is back home in Staten Island, N.Y., studying for the SAT and ACT, but he’ll soon return to Maryland to live with his aunt in Fort Washington.

“He told me he’s supposed to come back in the next week or two,” Berry said. “He’ll just work out and do everything here. He’ll have a better opportunity [to concentrate on his studying].”

It’s been a difficult year for Edet, but Berry said he’s putting the past behind him. Edet’s completely focused on getting a qualifying test score and putting himself in position to earn a Division I scholarship.

“He came out gangbusters for us at Friendly. He’s one of the best Mike linebackers we’ve ever had,” Berry said. “He gets off blocks great, he’s a great rusher and blitzer, he runs well. He’s a can’t miss. Whoever gets him is going to be stealing. ... When he gets qualified, we’ll find him a place.”

Click on the YouTube player for highlights of Edet at North Carolina Tech. The music in the clip contains profanity.


Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:53 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Where are they now?
        

February 16, 2009

Weekend wrap -- Born Ready breaks record

Lance Stephenson made history last night.

The five-star shooting guard and Maryland target led Lincoln High to the Brooklyn Borough championship, breaking the New York state scoring record in the process.

When the 6-foot-5 Stephenson scored a layup off the opening tap, it gave him 2,786 points for his career, breaking the old record set by former Lincoln star Sebastian Telfair, now with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Stephenson tallied 24 points and 11 rebounds and now has 2,808 career points. He averaged 40 points in the three Borough games, including a 50-point outburst against FDR.

Stephenson’s teammate, Maryland-bound power forward James Padgett, added 18 points and 16 rebounds.

The Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens watched some of Lincoln’s Friday-night game against St. Patrick’s on ESPN2, and offered a brief scouting report on Padgett.

It's difficult to try to translate 32 minutes worth of work into how a player might fit into a college team. But Padgett was particularly rugged on the offensive glass, so there's certainly some encouragement to be taken from his performance --- especially since that's something Maryland could use at this stage.

• Terps power forward signee Jordan Williams powered Torrington (Conn.) to a 61-54 win over Kennedy on Friday.

Jordan Williams scored a game-high 37 points, grabbed 20 rebonds and tallied five blocks to pace the Raiders. The senior center was 16-for-20 from the field for the game. Desmond Williams added 10 points and five assists while Richie Moran added four points and 5 assists.

• UM junior shooting guard target Taran Buie reached a career milestone for Bishop Maginn (N.Y.) on Friday.

Taran Buie went over the 1,000-point mark for his career to pace Bishop Maginn to an easy 100-64 Big 10 win over La Salle.

Buie finished with 21 points and now has 1,002. The Griffins also got 23 points from Jerel Scott.

• UM junior power forward target Tobias Harris had a big game for Long Island (N.Y.) Lutheran last night.

Tobias Harris had 31 points and 14 rebounds to lead Long Island Lutheran (14-8) in a 72-45 non-league win over St. Anthony's.

• Maryland junior power forward target Will Regan led the Nichols School to a 67-50 win over O’Hara (N.Y.) on Friday.

Will Regan scored a game-high 22 points to help the Vikings improve to 21-1 overall and 12-0 in the MMAA. Brendan Brady had 17 points and Reggie Martin added 14 for O’Hara (4-17, 2-10), which was plagued by a 21-7 third quarter.

• Miller School (Va.) junior Mychal Parker, a UM small forward target, told the Washington (N.C.) Daily News that the Terps are No. 3 on his five-team list.

“I most likely will wait until the summer,” Mychal said. “But as of now my top five schools would be No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Maryland, No. 4 Miami and No. 5 Clemson. If I had to add a sixth, I would say it is Wake Forest.”

• Terps women’s commitment Alyssa Thomas had a double-double in Central Dauphin’s 53-48 win Friday night over Central Dauphin East for the Mid-Penn championship.

Alyssa Thomas led a trio of Rams in double digits with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Sarah Dowhower and Gabby Singer combined for 25 more. Katie Lytle paced all scorers with 16 for the Panthers.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:56 AM | | Comments (4)
        

February 13, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

It was a pretty eventful week for Maryland power forward recruit Jordan Williams.

Williams poured in 47 points for Torrington (Conn.) High School on Tuesday. His last bucket prematurely ended the game with 2:26 remaining. The future Terp shattered the backboard at Naugatuck High.

Torrington resumed its game the following afternoon, with Williams setting a school record for points in a single game.

In a two-handed dunk, putting back a Martin Mitchell shot off the rim with 2:36 left in the game, Williams shattered the Naugatuck backboard. When other options were exhausted, the teams finished the game Wednesday afternoon at Torrington High School in a 92-70 Red Raider win, including five more points by Williams, for a record 52 points.

“When I broke the backboard, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t go up trying to break it,” said Williams, who came away from the explosion with minor glass slivers in his neck, arms and shoulders, but no serious injuries.

• UM power forward signee James Padgett (17 points, 13 rebounds) and Terps shooting guard target Lance Stephenson led Lincoln High to a big win Tuesday night with a noteworthy visitor in the crowd.

... Lance Stephenson dropped a career-high 50 points as Lincoln routed FDR 113-78 in the first round of the Brooklyn Borough Championships.

And he did it with Maryland Coach Gary Williams looking on.

Also on Tuesday, it was announced that Stephenson was left off the roster for the Jordan Brand Classic. SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria speculates on the reason for Stephenson’s exclusion.

I can’t imagine why these guys aren’t in it, but it’s a bad job by the folks at Jordan. If it has something to do with Lance wear-testing Under Armour gear for Lincoln, then shame on the Jordan folks.

“Yes, that’s terrible,” Lincoln coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton wrote in a text message. “I don’t believe that, in New York City at the Garden. He played at their [Nike] camps. He loves Jordan shoes. I know he wanted to play in that game.”

Washington Post reporters Eric Prisbell and Steve Yanda wrote a three-part series on Maryland’s post-national championship recruiting under Gary Williams this week. Part two takes an in-depth look at Williams’ relationship with local AAU coaches.

In recent years, Williams has displayed a "total unwillingness to engage third-party aspects in recruiting, and that eliminates so many kids from consideration," said a recruiting source intimately involved in the AAU scene who considers Williams one of the nation's best coaches. "If the situation looks anything less than high school coach, kid and parent, Gary doesn't even mess with it. It is so commonly known that he doesn't like AAU guys. It is almost impossible to think he can invite one into his office, have a meaningful conversation and repair the relationship."

• UM junior forward target Tobias Harris made the play of the game for Long Island (N.Y.) Lutheran on Tuesday.

Tobias Harris blocked a shot with two seconds remaining for Long Island Lutheran to seal a 60-58 win over Jersey City St. Anthony last night in a non-league boys basketball game. Harris sat much of the second half with four fouls but had 11 points and seven rebounds for LIL (12-8).

• Terps shooting guard Taran Buie scored 20 points in Bishop Maginn’s 72-31 win over Amsterdam on Tuesday. According to the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union, Buie and his family are considering a move from upstate New York to Pennsylvania, bringing the family closer to Buie’s half-brother Talor Battle, a standout guard for Penn State.

Buie's mother, Denise Murphy, has roots in Pennsylvania, and said Sunday she's weighing a move back to the state.

"We have been talking about this for six years," [Bishop Maginn coach Rich] Hurley said. "What I have always told Denise is you have to do what you think is best for your family. If you feel it is in your best interest to leave, then you have to go. It is going to be up to Denise. Taran and I have never talked about this. I don't want Taran to go, and it isn't just about basketball."

PennLive.com’s David Jones speculates on what Buie’s potential move could mean for Penn State.

WGRZ.com posted a video feature of Terps power forward target Will Regan. The report said Regan’s down to five schools, but Michigan might be the leader. On the court, Regan led the Nichols School (N.Y.) to a 75-56 win over St. Mary’s on Tuesday.

Nichols went on a 9-0 run to end the third to take an eight-point lead and led throughout the fourth quarter. Will Regan had 32 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks and Conner Vander Griff added 12 points. St. Mary’s got 19 points from Vince Kazmierczak.

• New Jersey small forward Daryus Quarles, who received some interest from the Terps, made an early commitment to St. Joseph’s.

He will arrive on campus in 2010. According to Life Center coach Wilson Arroyo, Quarles' final list also included Syracuse, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Kansas, Duke and Florida also stopped by for a visit.

• Terps women’s forward commitment Alyssa Thomas helped Central Dauphin (Pa.) to a 39-13 win over Mechanicsburg.

Alyssa Thomas scored a game-high 19 points but worked hard running through screens to try to shed defender Ariel Arnold, who played a tough, physical match-up against the all-state player.

Football recruiting

The Diamondback spoke with Maryland defensive end signee DeOnte Arnett and Forestville coach Charles Harley late last week.

"When [Arnett] played Boys and Girls Club, he played for my father and he was a fat, crying kid back then, and now look at him," Harley said. "And then, in time, when he came to Forestville in ninth grade, [he was] still tall and kind of uncoordinated but didn't know what to expect. His sophomore year, we were pretty good, and he was pretty dominant for that team. That's when we realized this kid had the goods to be a great football player."

• UM offensive line recruit Bennett Fulper discussed his decision to go to Maryalnd with WPCVA.com.

"I felt most comfortable at Maryland. They stuck with me the longest, and I really liked the coaches and facility," Fulper said. "Getting up there and playing hard is what I am looking forward to. As far as the ACC goes, it will be a big stage, and I know everyone is watching every move you make, and the competition will be tough."

CollegeFootballNews.com ranked Maryland’s recruiting class No. 4 in the ACC.

What it all means to the real world of college football ... Since taking over the job earlier in the decade, Friedgen has never had much problem bringing top-notch athletes to Maryland. This recruiting cycle is no different. He protected his own backyard, getting a slew of terrific young athletes to work with on offense and defense. Now, he and the staff have to find a way to turn that talent into more wins than the Terps have seen in the last five years.

The Washington Post’s Josh Barr has updates on three in-state Terps targets for the class of 2010: Forestville wide receiver Antonio Belt, Dunbar (D.C.) linebacker Javarie Jackson and Old Mill running back/linebacker Josh Furman.

Maryland offered its in-state talent first. Josh's dad, Tyrone, was a nose tackle for Bobby Ross. Josh also visited LSU's junior day last weekend. The Terrapins and Mountaineers are first in on the second-team All-State junior.

• St. John’s-CP junior defensive end J.R. Ferguson has already developed into a national recruit, according to TerpCenter.com.

Oklahoma, Tennessee, Clemson, LSU, Miami, Nebraska, North Carolina and Penn State are just a few of the schools vying with Maryland for his commitment. Illinois was first to offer last season, while Maryland was also among the first schools in the mix.

"He gets so much mail, it's hard to keep track of it. He had nine or 10 offers at the end of the season, and it seems like every week three or four more offers have come in," [St. John’s-CP coach Jimmy] Ward said.

• According to the Altoona (Pa.) Mirror, the Penn State staff plans on battling Maryland for several in-state recruits once again.

Ego Ferguson and Robby Havenstein: It looks like Lion assistant Larry Johnson will be spending a lot of time in Frederick, Md. in the next few months. Ferguson is a 6-3, 260-pound defensive end, Haverstein a massive (6-7, 330) offensive tackle.

• College Park, Ga., defensive end Henry Anderson visited Maryland for a junior day event last weekend, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“They have a really nice campus and facilities,” said the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Anderson, who has scholarship offers from Central Florida, Maryland, Oklahoma State, Stanford and Wake Forest.

NVDaily.com reports that Maryland is taking a look at Handley (Va.) junior athlete Jeremiah Wilson, who visited College Park for junior day last weekend.

One potential Division I signee for next year is Handley's Jeremiah Wilson. The Handley junior running back/defensive back is already being looked at by several FBS teams.

Rayburn said that Wilson recently went to Maryland for a junior day camp, and both Virginia and Virginia Tech have shown interest in the elusive runner. Last year, Wilson ran for 1,400 yards and scored 19 touchdowns to lead the Judges to the Region II, Division 3 final. Wilson was also standout at defensive back and was named first-team All-Northwestern District.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:48 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

February 12, 2009

Ambrose discusses Towson's 2009 class

Rob Ambrose was introduced as Towson's head football coach Jan. 5.

Less than a month later, the former Connecticut offensive coordinator announced the Tigers' 15-man class. Thirteen of Towson's signees are from Maryland.

Ambrose spoke with Recruiting Report this week about the Tigers' class.

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What’s the first thing you did with regard to recruiting once you were hired?

The first thing I did with regard to recruiting; me and the staff that we had at the time, basically [offensive line coach] John Donatelli and [wide receivers coach] Guilian Gary, we watched film on every kid that we had here. And we watched film on every kid that we were thinking about recruiting. And we watched film on every kid that [the previous staff] had already recruited. We did that in three days. After evaluating all the areas, we figured out what we had, what we needed and what we could get.

Arnold Farmer and Chuck Johnson from Poly were your first two recruits. In landing two Baltimore guys immediately, were they statement recruits?

No. I mean I wasn’t trying to make a statement. I recruited Maryland, D.C. and Northern Virginia when I was at Connecticut. So I had knowledge of a bunch of guys still available, guys who knew me personally [like Farmer and Johnson]. But we do have a philosophy that we’re going to take care of the state of Maryland before we go outside the state.

Both Farmer and Johnson mentioned you recruited them at UConn and said you’d help them find another school if UConn didn’t offer. Is that something you usually do with kids you recruit?

Since I’ve been gone from here [as an assistant], I tried to do my best to take care of the kids in the state of Maryland. If I couldn’t take them at Connecticut, I’d try to find places where they could do well and continue their careers, whether it be at the IAA level or down to Division III. It’s just kind of the way I do it.

Former Towson coach Gordy Combs had already landed several oral commitments before you were hired. Did you have to go back and reevaluate each recruit and then decide whether or not to honor those scholarship offers?

Well we evaluated every one of those kids and figured out how good they were, or how good we thought their potential was and if we thought we could get potentially [better players] in that short period of time. There were certain kids we felt completely solid on, and other kids we didn’t feel completely solid on. We backed off on a couple. It was difficult. It was very difficult.

Tom Chroniger was a guy who had a DI offer to play quarterback (Eastern Michigan) and other DI interest as a safety. What was your approach in recruiting him to Towson?

Well I’ve known him since he was a young buck. He was a starter at DeMatha since he was a sophomore. He’s a great football player. I was recruiting him when I was at Connecticut. The Eastern Michigan thing was unsettled, and I was right back in his boat as soon as [I got the Towson job].

Did you recruit him as a quarterback or a safety?

I recruited him as a quarterback, and if that doesn’t work out he could be something else. [My philosophy is to] go recruit the best football players you can find, and not exactly [to a specific position]. There are a whole bunch of guys on that list [of signees] that can play another spot. Tommy’s a great quarterback and a great leader. He can compete at the quarterback position. And if he doesn’t make it, he can play [another position]. He’s a great leader and person that will represent the program the right way. Your program automatically is better with kids like that.

What do you expect out of Chroniger and Peter Athens as freshmen? Will they figure into the quarterback battle to replace Sean Schaefer?

My goal would be to not have them compete [for the starting quarterback job]. My goal would be to let them get a year stronger, smarter and faster and transition into their freshman year of college. If, worst-case scenario, they’re head and shoulders better than the kids we have, then we’ll [play one of them]. But we’ll try not to do that.

Will any of these recruits be expected to contribute as true freshmen?

I’m going to try to not play any true freshmen. There are guys that have the talent [to play immediately]. The farther away from the ball, the better the opportunity is to play at a younger age, because the physical beating you take away from the trenches is less. But the goal will be to redshirt all these kids.

Thirteen out of Towson’s 15 signees are from Maryland. Is that a trend that will continue with you as head coach?

You go where the players are. I’m not going to say it’s going to be that heavy every year, but we’re going to take care of the state before anything else.

All things considered, with the lack of time you had to put together the class, are you pretty satisfied?

Oh yeah. Skeleton crew, three weeks to get it done and having to hire some guys while I was doing it. Yeah, my staff did a hell of a job.

Credit: Baltimore Sun photo of Rob Ambrose by Karl Merton Ferron / Jan. 6, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:36 AM | | Comments (1)
        

February 11, 2009

Hill-Eley discusses Morgan's 2009 class

Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley announced the signing of nine players in the Bears' recruiting class last week.

The Bears received letters of intent from offensive lineman Antonio Brown (Dunbar), wide receiver Anthony Elliott (Friendship Edison -- Washington, D.C.), running back Collin Bing (Glenn Hills -- Hephzibah, Ga.), linebacker Zachary Harper (Gwynn Park), linebacker Brian Saunders (Northern Iowa Community College), linebacker Lance Simmons (Carmen Ainsworth -- Flint, Mich.), defensive lineman Montique Allen (John Marshall -- Chicago), defensive back Derrick Kinchen (Coral Gables -- Miami) and defensive back Kirkland Davidson (Northern Iowa Community College).

Hill-Eley discussed Morgan's class with Recruiting Report earlier this week.

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Upon first glance at your class, the thing that stands out is that there are just nine members in it. Did you expect this class to be on the small side?

Hill-Eley: We actually were hoping it was a little bigger, but we had some staff turnaround (editor's note: MSU defensive coordinator Alonzo Lee Sr. was named head coach at North Carolina A&T last month) and some of the kids we had started to [identify for] some of the positions, ended up at other schools. That’s all part of change in recruiting. You get guys recruiting kids, recruiting for one job and you end up in another job. You have relationships with those kids. We wanted to sign two quarterbacks and they both ended up at A&T. But that’s all a part of it. We’re just trying to get back to the drawing board in assessing other needs. We’re still happy with the nine that we signed. Those kids will add depth to what we have. We’re fortunate to have a younger team and it’s not as big of an impact losing some of them as it would’ve been a year ago.

How important is it to land a guy like Antonio Brown from a local powerhouse in Dunbar, and what are your expectations of Brown?

Hill-Eley: Well it’s very rare you get an offensive lineman with his size and strength out of the city. He’s made a good commitment in that he’s already eligible, so it isn’t a situation of waiting around for him [to qualify]. To have a kid that’s been a part of three state championships and getting a player from our backyard with his background is really commendable. It’s really good for us to pull in local talent that normally would have left.

With your ties in Florida, was Brian Saunders (a West Palm Beach native) a guy you had your eye on even before he went to junior college?

Hill-Eley: Oh yeah. He was a kid that was sought by everyone coming out of high school. We had a chance to watch him a couple years back. He didn’t make the grade at the time. But you just keep in contact with these kids once they move on to the junior colleges. He remembered the direction [I tried to give him] and he remembered me being positive to him and he accepted our offer.

Is he a guy you’ll count on to contribute immediately?

Hill-Eley: Oh yeah. Anytime you lose a player like [MEAC Defensive Player of the Year] Jarrell Guyton, you need to have some young linebackers who are capable to step in. But being able to get an impact guy that can play inside or outside [like Saunders], we’re looking forward to reaping the benefits from him right away.

Did Saunders tip you off to Kirkland Davidson at Northern Iowa Community College?

Hill-Eley: When you relate to kids well, they tend to spread the word. Brian started talking to Kirkland Davidson about playing together and about what we had to offer at Morgan. They wanted to finish their college career playing together. He’s an exceptional return guy who can also cover. [Having a commitment from Saunders] allowed us to land another kid that was just as good.

Talk about two of the other area guys in the class, Anthony Elliott and Zach Harper. What do you expect from them?

Hill-Eley: Well Anthony Elliott is a big-time receiver. By us having three of his former teammates last year that are on the team, we were able to get him over here. Those kids talk all the time and had a chance to share their experiences with him. He wanted to be a part of the program from what he heard from those guys, so that was good for us. Harper is just as good a track star as he is in football. His mom and dad run a track team in Maryland and he’s probably one of the fastest kids we’ve recruited at linebacker. Anytime you have a chance to keep local talent home, that gives you a competitive edge and that always ... is a win for the program.

Montique Allen was a three-time All-City player in Chicago, an All-State guy as a senior, and he put up good numbers and looks to have solid measureables. Did he really slip under the radar?

Hill-Eley: We have another one of his teammates here, and those guys hang out together. We were in there recruiting him against some very good programs as well. The winning edge was that his teammate, De’Angelo Witlow, he’s been talking to the kid all year. Every time he goes home they’re spending time together. He came on his visit and decided he wanted to play football with his friend. He’s coming into a situation where we could nurture him. His numbers and accolades [are impressive]. I think the kid averaged almost three sacks a game. Four or five years ago, a kid like him never would’ve thought about coming to our program.

Which of these guys will you expect to contribute immediately?

Hill-Eley: I think the ones with the biggest impact will be the junior college transfers with Saunders and Davidson. Those are the only two. The junior college transfers, we’re looking to make an immediate impact. The other guys, we’re looking to nurture them and make sure they get grounded in school and look forward to the next four years of them playing. We don’t have a need for any of these guys to step in right away out of high school, so we’re fortunate about that. It’s just the junior college guys that can step in and take advantage of contributing in the return game (Davidson) and add depth to our linebacker corps (Saunders). We feel they’ll be very competitive.

Overall, are you satisfied with this class?

Hill-Eley: Oh yeah. Like I said, sometimes you look at a list of 22 or a list of 25. We got a list of nine and we believe it’s about the quality, not the quantity. Those nine kids are very quality kids and those kids can help us. The good part about it is that the program isn’t in a situation where you have to go out and sign 27 kids. We’re able to retain our student-athletes and that gives us the ability to have a strong program year in and year out.

Do you plan on adding anyone else to the class?

Hill-Eley: Yeah, I still would like to add another quarterback for depth purposes, and anytime you can find those guys on the O-line and D-line, [that’s something we’d like to do]. We’re still looking back and forth and trying to add to the depth of our program.

Credit: Photo of Donald Hill-Eley by Monica Lopossay / Aug. 14, 2004

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:49 AM | | Comments (2)
        

February 10, 2009

Season recap: Pete White

Pete White wasn’t your average, wide-eyed freshman.

At 6-foot-4, 298 pounds, the massive ninth-grader stepped right into the starting offensive line for St. John’s (D.C.), going to battle to every week with other Washington Catholic Athletic Conference powers.

Freshman year wasn’t without its challenges for White. But according to St. John’s coach Joe Patterson, that season was a sign of things to come.

“He was a freshman starting on a line with four other Division I seniors [Triston Cappel (Delaware State), Drew Luongo (Penn), Mike Ward (Akron), Ryan White (Georgetown)],” Patterson said. “He played guard that year and he did well for us, but certainly he was thrown into the fire there. ... He really loved it, though. He still talks about those guys from his first year. He has a lot of respect because they taught him a lot about tenacity and playing hard every play.”

It was no surprise to Patterson when White developed into one of the most sought-after offensive line prospects in the country, culminating with the now 6-foot-5, 339-pounder signing with Maryland last week. White picked the Terps over offers from Miami and Tennessee.

White helped pave the way for the Cadets’ 7-4 season last fall. St. John’s fell in the WCAC semifinals to DeMatha. Patterson said White was “fantastic” all year long.

“He was named team MVP, named first-team All-Met by The Washington Post, he made the Under Armour All-American game,” Patterson said. “He’s just a standout blocker. The thing that he did really well senior year was pulling. We did a lot of tackle pulls, counters. There were a few times this year where he was able to really deliver blows while moving in space. Those were probably his best-looking highlights.”

Patterson said what separates White from most high school linemen is his size, strength, hips and “use of his hands to deliver a blow.”

White was on the Terps’ radar since that ninth-grade year, but Patterson said his decision really came down to the wire.

“As of [last] Monday, he still didn’t know where he was going,” Patterson said. “I talked with him Monday, talked to his father on Monday and it was clear that the decision had not been made yet. ... I think he certainly had the idea that he wanted to take visits and see what was out there so when he made the decision he’d be making it without any question marks left in his mind about other opportunities. He saw the best that Tennessee had to offer and the best that Miami had to offer.”

White’s mother played basketball for the Terps, his father earned a master’s degree from UM and his sister is a current student. On Signing Day, he went with the hometown school. Patterson thinks it’ll prove to be a good fit.

“I thought [former UM defensive coordinator] Chris Cosh did a great job early in getting to know the family and I think that certainly in this last year, Maryland’s done a great job of communicating their expectations of Pete as well as their plans for Pete. ... [The UM staff does] a good job of not ... making any promises. But certainly the depth chart after the graduation [of several offensive linemen] looks as if some of the newcomers are going to have the opportunity to compete to possibly get on the field early.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

February 9, 2009

Meet Nick Klemm

Nick Klemm didn't want to withdraw his commitment from Boston College.

"I'm a man that likes to stick to my word," said Klemm, an offensive tackle who signed with Maryland last Wednesday.

But when Eagles coach Jeff Jagodzinski was fired after interviewing for the New York Jets job, Klemm had no choice but to consider his options. Ultimately, Jagodzinski's dismissal and the departure of BC offensive line coach Jack Bicknell to the New York Giants, led Klemm to a school he liked even better.

"The coaching turnover led me to go explore other options," Klemm said. "When I saw Maryland, I had something to compare [Boston College] to. The coaching turnover really didn’t have much of an impact. It was more of the comfort level [at UM]."

Here's an introduction to Klemm.

Name: Nick Klemm
Birthdate: April 1, 1991
Birthplace: Marietta, Ga.
Hometown: Marietta, Ga.
Height: 6’7
Weight: 280
Position: Offensive lineman
High School: Wheeler High School
Senior statistics: N/A
Rankings: Rivals.com -- Two stars. Scout.com -- Two stars.
Bench max: 325
40-yard dash: 5.0
Runner-up: Boston College
Other schools considered: Wake Forest, Purdue, Syracuse
Favorite NFL player: Brett Favre
Favorite NFL team: Green Bay Packers
Favorite all-time Terp: Vernon Davis
Favorite music: Alan Jackson
Favorite book: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Favorite movie: Billy Madison
Favorite TV show: My Name is Earl
Favorite food: Steak
Favorite high school class: International business
Favorite thing about College Park: “The campus life.”
Other high school sports: Baseball
Hobbies: Automotives, hunting and fishing
Intended major: Business; finance or accounting
Something that not many people know about you: “Not many people know [my family is all] from Wisconsin. I was born down in Georgia but my parents are from Menomonee Falls, WI. ... We’re probably the only ones [in our family] that don’t live in Wisconsin."
Best football moment: “Beating the No. 1-ranked team in Georgia (Roswell High School) my sophomore year."
Role model: “My father. He’s always giving me good advice about life and how to live it.”
Why Maryland? “Let’s start with the relationships with [offensive line] coach [Tom] Brattan and Coach [Ralph] Friedgen. I got along very well with them. The whole team was very welcoming and I fit in with a bunch of the guys. The campus life and the surrounding area is great. ... The academics and business program [were important]. Overall the academics are very good at Maryland. And that’s all I need."

Click here to read a recap of Klemm's senior season.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:32 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Meet the recruit
        

February 6, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

Lance Stephenson is apparently serious about Maryland.

The five-star shooting guard from Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln added the Terps to his top four, and spoke to SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria this week about his recent visit to College Park.

“Maryland, I had fun,” he said. “We talked about Padge [6-8 Maryland-bound forward James Padgett of Lincoln], how we’re going to get him ready for Maryland,” Stephenson said. “That’s a good look for me and him to go to. I’m just looking at different schools and trying to see where the best fit is.”

He added: “They’re kind of high on my list. I didn’t go and visit all the other schools. I just visited that school. It’s the first official visit. I’m just going to see what the other schools look like and pick by that.”

• Stephenson and UM power forward recruit James Padgett helped Lincoln to an 88-81 win over Thomas Jefferson on Tuesday.

Stephenson led Lincoln (13-8, 11-2 Brooklyn AA) with 21 points and 20 rebounds, Padgett added 18 points and 12 boards and Davon Walls followed with 15 points off the bench.

FiveBoroSports.com named Padgett its athlete of the week.

[Lincoln coach Dwayne] Morton has seen improvements in every part of Padgett’s game – from defense to rebounding to his soft touch around the hoop. He is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds in 13 Brooklyn AA league games – one of the reasons the Railsplitters recently won the regular-season division crown – but Morton has been more impressed with the strides he has made as a leader.

“He’s been more vocal,” the coach said, stressing that when Padgett talks, others listen.

• UM power forward signee Jordan Williams recorded his fifth straight 40-point game earlier this week.

The Torrington boys basketball team (10-4) beat Ansonia (4-10) at home Monday evening by the same 20-point margin, 86-66, as last Thursday’s over Woodland.

But Monday’s effort brought a smile to coach Tony Turina’s face versus Thursday’s frown.

“This was a good team win tonight,” Turina said, who saw just two constants between the games. Jordan Williams had 42 points Monday versus 41 last Thursday. Justin Duksis (12 points Monday versus 9 Thursday) had his second career game in a row.

• UM coach Gary Williams is counting on Padgett and Williams to play a part on what should be an improved Terps team next season.

"Yeah, I we lose Dave Neal off this year's team. We've signed Jordan Williams and James Padgett, and I think we're in a pretty good position. I really believe we can be a top 25 team preseason next year."

Gary Williams was on hand to watch DeMatha and shooting guard Victor Oladipo take on Good Counsel one week ago, according to The Washington Post’s Josh Barr.

Oladipo, a 6-5 high flyer, has a terrific upside and seems to have good court awareness. Grant, who is 6-4, is another son of former NBAer Harvey Grant.

• UM junior shooting guard target Taran Buie reached double figures in Bishop Maginn’s win Tuesday night.

Taran Buie's 23 points helped Bishop Maginn remain undefeated in the Big 10 Conference following a 79-68 win at Bishop Gibbons.

• Maryland junior power forward target Will Regan had a double-double in the Nichols School’s 72-47 win over Canisius (N.Y.) this week.

The pair took advantage of open looks as the Canisius defense concentrated on Will Regan (14 points, 14 rebounds) and guard Ron Canestro (15 points, five assists).

• Terps junior power forward target Tobias Harris filed another entry in his online diary for Syracuse.com.

I have to say the rehab for my ankle went really well. My physical therapist really helped me get through this injury and have me back playing as soon as he thought the time was right. Needless to say, physical therapy was NOT easy, I would leave there with my t-shirt drenched with sweat the therapist wouldn't take it easy on me. Those people are brutal! But I would have to say the worst part about the therapy was the ice bath that I had to put my ankle in afterward. It was just way to COLD for me.

Football recruiting

The State of Columbia, S.C., spoke to Terps defensive end recruit Justin Anderson about the late interest he received from other teams.

Preparing for Wednesday wasn’t easy for Anderson even though his mind was set on Maryland. Other colleges kept calling despite his oral commitment.

“But I brushed them aside because I knew where I wanted to go,” he said.

In another story by The State, Anderson discussed how distance wasn’t really a factor in his decision.

Moving away was not an issue for Anderson, who considered schools in areas where he has family. His stepfather’s family is not far from the Maryland campus.

“When I need to get away from football, I’ll have someone to talk to. I’ll have a life outside of football when I go up there,” Anderson said.

The State ranked UM’s class No. 5 in the ACC.

5. MARYLAND TERRAPINS: Maryland signed five four-star recruits among its 24 signees: DL De'Onte Arnett (Capitol Heights, Md.) DB Travis Hawkins (Gaithersburg, Md.), RB Caleb Porzel (Olney, Md.) and OL Pete White (Washington, D.C.). Scout.com ranked White the No. 5 offensive guard in the nation. Defensive lineman Justin Anderson of Blythewood High signed with Maryland.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also pegged Maryland as having the fifth-best class in the ACC.

> 5. Maryland: Twenty-two of the 26 signings were either three- or four-star recruits, according to Rivals. The pick of the bunch is defensive end DeOnte Arnett.

The Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens took a look at UM quarterback recruits C.J. Brown and Danny O’Brien and broke down their impending battle

With the struggles of [Josh] Portis and [Jeremy] Ricker in particular, Maryland probably needs one of this year's signees to develop into something more than just a competent option.

"I think C.J. Brown has that potential," rivals.com recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said. "He's improved every year under center in high school, but most importantly he's very smart and can learn the offense at Maryland. Guys like Jordan Steffy, Josh Portis and Jeremy Ricker all had great athletic ability and live arms, but none of them had the football smarts of Brown, and in Ralph's system, brains are the most important thing."

• Before Pennsylvania offensive lineman Ryan Schlieper switched his commitment from Maryland to Pittsburgh this week, the 6-foot-5, 270-pounder had to make several difficult phone calls.

"It's a long process," he said. "A lot of (Maryland) coaches wanted to talk to me. I got an earful a couple of times."

Another call went to Seneca Valley quarterback C.J. Brown, a rival of North Allegheny in the Quad North, who committed to Maryland last year and plans to sign with the Terrapins.

"I felt like I let C.J. down, but being the quality type of kid he is, he said, 'No hard feelings.' "

• UM offensive line signee Bennett Fulper received some late interest from an in-state school, according to GoDanRiver.com.

Despite Virginia making a late run, Fulper had already decided on Maryland over James Madison and a handful of other Division I-A and I-AA schools. While playing left tackle this past season, the 6-foot-5, 291-pound lineman also played center in his first three seasons with Gretna, which could be where he winds up at Maryland.

Scout.com’s John Wallpher conducted a Q&A with Terps defensive end recruit David Mackall just days before Signing Day.

Scout.com: You had many offers, why Maryland?

Mackall: Going into the summer of my senior season, Maryland, East Carolina, Eastern Michigan, Clemson and Syracuse offered me first. I committed to Maryland right away. A few other schools showed a lot of interested like like Georgia, Kansas State and Florida, but I committed to Maryland before they could offer.

Note: I spoke to the guys at TerpCenter.com about UM's football recruiting class for the Web site's weekly Maryland podcast. Other guests include Danny O'Brien, C.J. Brown, Dexter McDougle and Adam Zagoria. Click here to listen to the podcast.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:24 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

February 5, 2009

Season recap: Nick Klemm

Nothing came easy for Tom Flugum during his first season as head football coach at Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga.

Flugum was hired by Wheeler in April with the daunting task of turning around a program with just one winning season in the previous 10 years.

Once hired, Flugum took a trip to the Wheeler weight room, where he was delighted to find a 6-foot-7, 280-pound offensive tackle already there working out. The massive, unknown lineman turned out to be Nick Klemm, who signed with Maryland yesterday.

“There was no coach,” Flugum said. “There was a void there before I got hired. [Klemm] was still there. He didn’t just take the fact that, ‘nobody’s watching me. I can take the next four weeks off and not do anything.’ His attitude was, ‘I’m going to go ahead and get to work.’"

Klemm emerged early as a leader for Wheeler, but the pieces weren’t in place for a storybook senior season. The Wildcats suffered through an 0-10 year. But Klemm kept battling throughout the season, Flugum said.

“He came to practice everyday ready to work,” Flugum said. “He always had a positive attitude. He was a team leader. He spoke up at practice, trying to get guys motivated and focused on the task at hand. He never complained, never pointed fingers.”

Klemm, who initially committed to Boston College before switching to Maryland before Signing Day, was rated a two-star prospect by both Rivals.com and Scout.com, neither of which have film on the future Terp. Flugum said UM fans should ignore those rankings.

“He’s got good feet, he runs well for a big man, he can jump well and is explosive,” Flugum said. “He’s got good size, good reach. And he’s smart. ... He’s a good kid, a character kid. He plays well in space and he’s got the size to play in the ACC.”

While Flugum was obviously disappointed about Wheeler’s season and felt bad for his seniors, he said he was thankful for the one season he spent coaching Klemm.

“I obviously wish we had three or four or five [linemen like Klemm],” Flugum said. “But Nick’s got great parents, he’s a hard worker and he’s coachable. I see nothing but the best ahead of him.”

Click here for Q&As, season recaps and commitment stories on each of UM’s 2009 recruits.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:47 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

Local post-Signing Day notes

One shameless plug before highlighting several noteworthy local signings that occurred yesterday. I’ll be appearing on Rob Long’s show on 1370 AM at around 11:30 today to talk Terps recruiting.

• Meade quarterback Raymond Cotton chose Ole Miss over offers from Arkansas, Kansas State and Mississippi State. Cotton, who transferred to Meade from Faith Academy in Mobile, Ala., before his senior year, originally committed to Auburn. He reopened his recruitment after Tigers coach Tommy Tuberville was dismissed.

• Central Michigan signed four Maryland natives yesterday. River Hill defensive back Leron Eaddy, Dunbar running back Davon Muse, River Hill running back Malek Redd and Thomas Johnson defensive back D.J. Scott are all headed to Mount Pleasant, Mich.

• For a look at the eight players from Dunbar who signed Div. 1 scholarships yesterday, click here and here.

Matt Heacock, The Baltimore Sun’s 2008 All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year, signed with Wagner College, an FCS school in Staten Island, N.Y. The Loyola senior led the Dons with 101 tackles last season.

• Heacock was far from the only Don picking a college yesterday. Wide receiver Brandon Floyd (Georgetown), defensive back Terence Garvin, tight end/defensive end Drew Hoppes (Gettysburg), quarterback Leon Kinnard (Connecticut), lineman Matt Lentz (Bryant) and fullback Doug Shaw (Towson) will all play college football.

• Shaw was one of three Baltimore-area players to sign with Towson yesterday. Poly teammates Arnold Farmer, a defensive tackle, and Chuck Johnson, an offensive lineman, both chose the Tigers. Towson’s 15-man class included 13 players from Maryland.

Bubba Harris, a 2008 Loyola graduate and The Baltimore Sun’s 2007 All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year, signed a letter of intent to play at North Carolina Central. Harris, 6 feet 1 and 235 pounds, spent last season at Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy.

• Gilman defensive lineman Brandon Copeland signed with Penn. The 6-foot-2, 267-pounder was dominant on Baltimore’s D-line at the Maryland Crab Bowl. Another MIAA lineman also went Ivy League yesterday. Boys’ Latin offensive tackle John Scheve signed with Dartmouth.

• Rhode Island landed signatures from two local standouts yesterday. City College quarterback Ellis Foster and Meade wide receiver Trevor Turner both signed with the Rams.

• Archbishop Curley kicker/punter Jake Peery inked with Lehigh. Peery, a small school all-state second-team selection, kicked and punted for the Baltimore team in the Maryland Crab Bowl last December.

• Milford Mill quarterback Kevin Fulton, another Crab Bowl standout, signed with North Carolina A&T. Fulton was a member of The Sun’s All-Baltimore County offense.

• Click here for a complete list of local signings. E-mail sports@baltimoresun.com to notify our staff of commitments we’ve missed.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:04 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

February 4, 2009

Notes from Friedgen's news conference

Emptying out my notebook from Ralph Friedgen's news conference this afternoon. Click here for The Baltimore Sun's story on Maryland's 2009 class.

• The Maryland staff was counting on defensive end DeOnte Arnett, defensive tackle Zach Kerr and linebacker Avery Murray to enroll at UM for the winter semester. But linebacker Darin Drakeford and defensive lineman Cody Blue were different stories. Drakeford finished up his senior English requirement ahead of schedule and decided just a couple weeks ago to enroll early. Blue was going to spend the next semester at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, but was able to earn a qualifying SAT score earlier than the Terps initially expected. “Cody did so well at prep school and had his mother’s blessing and he came in,” Friedgen said. Of Maryland’s early enrollees, Friedgen said, “it’s something they’ve got to want to do.” Friedgen said he'll let Arnett, Drakeford and Murray go back to high school for their senior proms.

• “I think linebacker is my biggest concern,” Friedgen said, which explains why UM recruited eight players at that position for the 2009 class. Graduation, players with academic issues and a decommitment in last year’s class has left the Terps perilously thin at LB. Friedgen thinks this 8-man haul will help alleviate some of those concerns. The eight incoming freshmen will compete with Adrian Moten, Demetrius Hartsfield, Ben Pooler and Alex Wujciak in a battle that’s “wide open,” according to Friedgen.

• The departure of defensive coordinator Chris Cosh to Kansas State after the season didn’t end up impacting UM’s class. Cosh was known for having close ties to many Washington Catholic Athletic Conference coaches. Friedgen said UM did a lot of “cross-recruiting” this year, meaning more than one coach teamed up to recruit certain kids. “It worked out pretty well,” Friedgen said. “Kids pick the school, not the coach.” Friedgen also noted that offensive coordinator James Franklin helped a lot in Maryland’s in-state recruiting efforts.

• There were no secrets about Maryland’s desire to recruit two quarterbacks this year. Franklin recruited both C.J. Brown and Danny O’Brien for the Terps. Friedgen said both guys understood that they’d have to compete for the job in 2010, and both are “very, very smart guys.” Brown’s more of a dual-threat passer, but Friedgen insisted that O’Brien’s an athletic runner also, in addition to being a solid dropback quarterback. UM recruiting coordinator Dave Sollazzo said there’s no specific plan to redshirt one quarterback and play another. The quarterback competition is open. “It’s not set in stone,” Sollazzo said. “We’ll have to see what takes place in two-a-days.”

Brief comments from Friedgen on each of UM's 26 recruits:

On D.J. Adams — Friedgen called Adams “bright-eyed” and “very articulate.” It wasn’t easy landing the power running back from Georgia. “We battled a lot of people for him,” Friedgen said.

On Justin Anderson — Anderson will start out at defensive end at Maryland, but there’s a chance he could grow into a tackle. The Blythewood, S.C., product came up to Maryland in the summer and returned twice this fall for visits. “He really wanted to come to Maryland,” Friedgen said. After a standout performance in the Shrine Bowl, the Terps “had to fight a lot of people off,” Friedgen said.

On DeOnte Arnett — Arnett is “a very good student” who wants “to be an engineer,” Friedgen said. The UM staff hopes that Arnett, who is already enrolled at College Park, “can come in and pass rush for us.”

On Cody Blue — Blue used his time at prep school to get in better shape, and earn a qualifying SAT score. He also “really slimmed down,” Friedgen said. Blue checks in at 280 pounds now, down 20 from when he enrolled at Fork Union.

On C.J. Brown — Brown’s a “very, very good student” who saw his recruitment really take off after he committed to the Terps. Friedgen repeatedly cited his intelligence and athleticism. Brown's father was a quarterback at Michigan State.

On Pete deSouza — “If you watch the film on him, he just engulfs people,” Friedgen said. deSouza is one of seven DeMatha players to play for Friedgen at UM.

On Ryan Donohue — Friedgen was tipped off to Donohue by “a guy I went to school with.” Donohue, who came to UM’s summer camp, was mentioned as someone who could compete for playing time at linebacker upon arrival this summer.

On Darin Drakeford — Friedgen said Drakeford was a “very heavily recruited guy” who can “run extremely well.” “You can see he’s very athletic,” Friedgen said. Drakeford, along with Murray, has a good shot at making the two-deep at linebacker during spring practice.

On Nick Ferrera — Friedgen and his staff were “very impressed with not only his placekicking, but his kickoffs. He gets great height” on his kicks. Friedgen noted that Sollazzo was particularly impressed with the Ferrara family’s cooking. Sollazzo “kept asking for more food” on a visit to their home, Friedgen said.

On Eric Franklin — Franklin wasn’t the most heavily recruited Terp, but offering him a scholarship was a no-brainer, Friedgen said. “He’s a big, strong, fast kid with great grades. What else is there?” Franklin’s listed at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, but Friedgen expects he’ll get up to 210.

On Bennett Fulper — “This guy is a wide body,” Friedgen said. Fulper, whose father is a veterinarian, plans on studying engineering. He’ll start out at center for the Terps.

On L.A. Goree — When Friedgen thinks of Goree, he thinks of his highlight film, which featured a lightning bolt coming out of his helmet. “The lightning bolt hit a lot of people,” Friedgen said.

On Avery Graham — Graham, a Baltimore native who was adopted by a family in Clarksburg, was the state 100-meter champion at 10.6, Friedgen said. He also throws the shot put and is passionate about animals. He’d like to be a veterinarian, Friedgen said.

On Travis Hawkins — The Terps started recruiting Hawkins three years ago as a running back. He can play pretty much any position, according to Friedgen, but is listed as a defensive back. “When he’s on the field, [he makes] things happen.”

On Bradley Johnson &mdash Friedgen said Johnson could play either inside or outside linebacker, and will have a chance to compete for playing time as a true freshman when he arrives in College Park this summer. Johnson has an interest in studying business, Friedgen said.

On Zach Kerr — A “big body,” according to Friedgen, UM lists Kerr at 6 feet 3, 325 pounds. “If you believe [he’s 325 pounds], then I’m probably 180,” Friedgen said.

On Nick Klemm — Another prospective business major, Klemm made the last-minute switch to Maryland from Boston College. He’ll either be a right guard or right tackle. Friedgen expects the 6-foot-7, 275-pounder to bulk up to 320 eventually.

On David Mackall — Friedgen called Mackall a “big, fast athlete that will hit you.” Mackall’s slotted for defensive end, and at 6-foot-3, 256 pounds, Friedgen thinks he’s not “done growing.”

On Dexter McDougle — McDougle will start out at cornerback for Maryland, but he could factor in on kick returns with former Stafford (Va.) teammate Torrey Smith. McDougle has “tremendous ball skills,” Friedgen said.

On Avery Murray — “I’m hoping he can be a factor very, very soon in our program,” Friedgen said. Murray and Drakeford will compete for spots in Maryland’s two-deep at linebacker this spring.

On Danny O’Brien — “This guy got into school all by himself,” Friedgen said of O’Brien and his 1,400 SAT score. Friedgen called O’Brien an excellent passer who’s very mobile and very bright. Friedgen also praised O’Brien’s coach, Todd Willert, saying he hopes to recruit more players from East Forsyth (N.C.) High School.

On Caleb Porzel — “When you see this kid, he’s going to take your breath away,” Friedgen said. Porzel reminds Friedgen of former Terps tailback Chris Downs. Porzel is “short but stocky” and “very powerful.” “He’s explosive,” Friedgen said.

On Isaiah Ross — Ross is a versatile guy who could play defensive end or linebacker. Ross can “fill a lot of needs” for Maryland, Friedgen said.

On Dave Stinebaugh — The Terps recruited Stinebaugh as a tight end, and that’s how they listed him on their news release. But Friedgen was impressed with his senior film at safety. A position switch to linebacker might not be out of the question down the road, Friedgen said. “I don’t think he’s come close to what he’s going to be physically,” Friedgen said.

On Marcus Whitfield — Whitfield’s a tall kid with long arms who’s very athletic. “He’s a work in progress,” Friedgen said. Friedgen expects the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder to eventually bulk up to 245.

On Peter White — White’s mother played basketball at Maryland, his father has a master’s degree from the school and his sister is a current student. But Friedgen was “scared to death” that White might not come to UM. When White called with the news of his commitment, Friedgen said he screamed in his car. “He just dominates people,” Friedgen said.

Primary recruiters for Maryland’s commitments

Tom Brattan — Adams, Fulper, Johnson, Klemm, McDougle, White

James Franklin — Arnett, Brown, deSouza, Drakeford, Goree, Mackall, O’Brien, Porzel, Ross, Stinebaugh, White

Lee Hull — Brown

Kevin Lempa — Franklin

Al Seamonson — Anderson, Murray

Dave Sollazzo — Blue, Donohue, Ferrara, Graham, Hawkins, Kerr, Whitfield

Former coaches

Chris Cosh — deSouza, Franklin, Porzel, White

Danny Pearman — O’Brien

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:59 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Signing Day news and notes

Busy day here in Baltimore.

I’ll be heading down to College Park later for Ralph Friedgen’s news conference announcing UM’s class. Until then, you can click here for our UM commitments page. It has bio info and links to Q&As, season recaps and commitment stories on each of Maryland’s recruits.

Click here for my takes on each UM recruit and click here for the opinions of three national recruiting analysts on Maryland’s class.

For Terps fans on the Eastern Shore, I’ll be talking about UM’s class on Delmarva’s ESPN Radio 1240 at around 1:20 p.m. with Shan Shariff.

Here are a few Terps-related Signing Day notes:

• Maryland landed two last-minute offensive line commitments today. Marietta, Ga., offensive tackle Nick Klemm switched his commitment from Boston College to UM, while St. John’s (D.C.) offensive guard Peter White picked the Terps over Miami and Tennessee.

• As many expected, Good Counsel linebacker Jelani Jenkins decided to sign with Florida. The No. 10 prospect in the country, according to Rivals.com, picked the Gators over Penn State, Stanford, Southern Cal, Notre Dame, Maryland, Michigan, Illinois and a host of others.

• Atco, N.J., athlete Ka’Lial Glaud signed with Rutgers, according to Scout.com. He chose the Scarlet Knights over offers from Maryland, Iowa, Louisville, Tennessee and West Virginia.

• Everett, Mass., cornerback Jim Noel visited Maryland last month, but has narrowed his list to Boston College and Penn State. He originally committed to the Eagles in June.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:05 PM | | Comments (2)
        

Peter White picks Maryland

Maryland landed its second Signing Day commitment this morning when St. John’s College (D.C.) offensive lineman Peter White faxed his letter of intent to College Park at 9:14 a.m., according to UMTerps.com.

The 6-foot-5, 340-pounder picked Maryland over offers from Miami and Tennessee. White, a four-star prospect, made official visits to College Park, Knoxville and Coral Gables. UM was White’s first offer, according to The Washington Post.

"It doesn't mean as much to you until you get your own [scholarship offer],” White told the Post. “When I got that first offer on September 1 from Maryland, I was smiling the whole day."

ESPN.com’s scouting report says White’s future is most likely as an offensive guard.

Gives good effort but just can't be a finisher or be effective as a downfield blocker carrying his current weight. Powerful coming off the ball and delivers with his hands an upper body. Can move a base technique defensive lineman off the ball but has trouble if the defender slants or angles.

Check back with Recruiting Report later for more on White.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:08 AM | | Comments (5)
        

Klemm makes switch to UM

Marietta, Ga., offensive tackle Nick Klemm has committed to Maryland.

The 6-foot-6, 280-pounder faxed his letter of intent to College Park at 7:01 a.m., according to UMTerps.com.

Klemm had been committed to Boston College, but the turnover on the Eagles’ coaching staff following head coach Jeff Jagodzinski’s departure to the NFL forced Klemm to reevaluate his choice.

The 6-foot-6, 280-pound Klemm was 100 percent committed to Boston College, but that was before the coaching turnover, including offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. taking a job with the NFL’s New York Giants. Klemm made an official visit Dec. 12.

Klemm is rated a two-star prospect by Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Check back with Recruiting Report later for more on Klemm.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:43 AM | | Comments (0)
        

Superlatives for the Terps' class of 2009

One man's opinion on the potential of Maryland's 2009 football commitments. Post your takes below.

Most wanted: Given to the most heavily recruited Maryland commitments.

OFFENSE

D.J. Adams — Norcross (Ga.), running back

Adams put on a Maryland hat during a news conference at his high school in August to announce his commitment. The remaining hats on the table? LSU, Notre Dame and Clemson. According to Norcross coach Keith Maloof, Adams had more than 30 scholarship offers. Adams, described as a “massive load at tailback ... with legitimate breakaway speed” by ESPN.com, rushed for 1,584 yards and 14 touchdowns on 257 carries as a senior.

DEFENSE

Travis Hawkins — Quince Orchard, cornerback

Hawkins’ offer list reads like a who’s who of past and present college football powers: Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon and West Virginia, among many others, wanted the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder. Hawkins committed to the Terps in October, mulled visits to Florida and West Virginia last month, but ultimately remained with UM. Hawkins is rated the No. 196 player in the country by Rivals.com.

Most likely to contribute early: Given to the recruits most likely to see the field as true freshmen

OFFENSE

Nick Ferrera — St. Anthony’s (N.Y.), kicker

I’m sort of cheating here by naming a specialist over an offensive player, but Ferrara was recruited to replace senior kicker Obi Egekeze. The Long Island native will have to fend off walk-ons David May, Nick Wallace and Mike Barbour (who was St. Anthony’s starting kicker before Ferrara) to claim the job. Ferrara’s kicking coach, former Rutgers standout and DeMatha graduate Lee McDonald, told Recruiting Report in June that Ferrara is up to the task. “The Terps are really making the right move offering a kid this early,” McDonald said. “He’ll be able to step in for Obi. They’re getting a heck of a kicker and punter.”

DEFENSE

DeOnte Arnett — Forestville, defensive end

Jeremy Navarre, Mack Frost and Trey Covington are all gone, opening the door wide open for Arnett to earn early playing time at defensive end. The four-star prospect, who picked UM over offers from Georgia, Ohio State and Tennessee, has already enrolled at College Park, allowing him to participate in spring practice. Arnett, the No. 93 player in the nation, was also named the No. 5 strongest defensive end and No. 3 best against the run DE in the country by Rivals.com.

Most likely to be a multi-year starter: Self-explanatory — these recruits have all-conference potential.

OFFENSE

Caleb Porzel — Good Counsel, running back

Porzel’s reported 4.3ish speed will be difficult to keep off the field. Maryland’s crowded backfield might force the 5-foot-8, 180-pounder to the sideline as a freshman, but it’ll just be a matter of time before he makes an impact. Porzel’s best bet for early playing time might be on kick returns (a Porzel/Torrey Smith combo?). In an interview with Recruiting Report, Scout.com’s Bob Lichtenfels was effusive in his praise for Porzel. “He’s a threat to score anytime he touches the ball,” Lichtenfels said. “I think in the future he’s going to be a hell of a player for them.”

DEFENSE

David Mackall — Edmondson, defensive end

Mackall committed to UM in July as an unknown two-star, but will sign today as a four-star prospect and the No. 15 strongside defensive end in the country, according to Rivals.com. When scouts finally got their hands on his tape, the praise was nearly unanimous. Mackall, who also impressed at the Maryland Crab Bowl in December, plays with a relentless motor, according to Edmondson coach Dante Jones. “He’s a kid that plays with his heart out,” Jones said. “He lays his heart out there every game; he goes all out. He’s an extremely aggressive kid.”

Most likely to overachieve: Given to the overlooked recruits that exceeded expectations during the high school season.

OFFENSE

C.J. Brown — Seneca Valley (Pa.), quarterback

While ‘overlooked’ might not be the right adjective to describe Brown, he definitely fits the bill as someone that exceeded expectations. Brown committed to Maryland last April, with Akron as his only other scholarship offer at the time. He then proceeded to throw for 2,154 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions on 149-of-269 passing, while rushing for 640 yards and 12 touchdowns on 131 carries. Pittsburgh, Boston College and several other programs called Seneca Valley coach Ron Butschle to see if Brown might change his mind about Maryland, but the answer from Brown was a firm "no." Pittsburgh Sports Report recruiting analyst Chris Dokish said in an e-mail that Brown was his “personal favorite [QB] in the entire state and he is highly under recruited. ... [Maryland] hit the jackpot with that kid.”

DEFENSE

Darin Drakeford — Roosevelt (D.C.), linebacker

Drakeford, Rivals.com’s No. 77 outside linebacker, didn’t get much publicity outside of Washington before committing to Maryland in October. Drakeford, D.C.’s Gatorade Player of the Year, put up mind-boggling stats as a senior for the Rough Riders. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder recorded 91 solo tackles, 33 assists and 14 sacks. On offense, Drakeford rushed for 768 yards and 10 touchdowns on 37 carries, and caught 22 passes for 422 yards and four touchdowns. He has already enrolled at UM and will have a decent shot at making a contribution as a true freshman.

Most underrated: Given to the recruits with the best chance at making their recruiting rankings look silly four years from now.

OFFENSE

Pete deSouza — DeMatha, offensive tackle

The mammoth deSouza was a man among boys at the Maryland Crab Bowl in December. Standing 6-7 and weighing in at 320 pounds, deSouza has college-ready size as a senior in high school. He was rated the No. 60 and 69 offensive tackle in the country by Rivals.com and Scout.com, respectively. Like almost every offensive lineman, deSouza will probably redshirt as a freshman. But after that, DeMatha coach Bill McGregor thinks deSouza will become a fixture in the UM lineup. “Like I told Coach Friedgen; with a year in the weight room and another year of learning,” McGregor said, “there’s a possibility of Pete becoming a three-year starter at the University of Maryland.”

DEFENSE

Dexter McDougle — Stafford (Va.), defensive back

The reason for McDougle’s modest rankings (three stars, No. 76 athlete by Rivals.com, three stars, No. 63 safety by Scout.com) is simple. The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder missed the majority of his junior season after breaking both knuckles in a freak practice injury. Once Stafford coach Chad Lewis circulated McDougle’s senior film, it became clear that he was a high-major recruit. McDougle will play defensive back at UM, but he shined on both sides of the ball for Stafford. As a senior, McDougle recorded 97 tackles and six interceptions at free safety, caught 48 passes for 885 yards and 11 touchdowns, and rushed for 457 yards and nine touchdowns on 76 carries.

The rest of the class

OFFENSE

Bennett Fulper — Gretna (Va.), offensive lineman

One of the most under-the-radar recruits in this class, Fulper pledged to the Terps days before Christmas after mulling offers from FCS schools like Liberty and William & Mary. Since recruiters rarely visited Fulper’s Southern Virginia town (population 1,300), Gretna coach Chris Thurman took matters into his own hands, sending highlight tapes of Fulper to several Division I programs, including Maryland. Fulper, 6 feet 5, 295 pounds, might be pegged for center in College Park.

Nick Klemm — Wheeler (Ga.), offensive tackle

Klemm, a two-star prospect, had committed to Boston College, but the turnover on the Eagles’ coaching staff following head coach Jeff Jagodzinski’s departure to the NFL forced Klemm to reevaluate his choice. Klemm visited College Park last month and committed to UM shortly before Signing Day. "He's got good feet and he runs well for a big man," Wheeler coach Tom Flugum told Recruiting Report. "He can jump well and is explosive. He's got good size, good reach, and he’s smart."

Danny O’Brien — East Forsyth (N.C.), quarterback

O’Brien pledged to the Terps in June after considering offers from Duke and East Carolina. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder developed into more of a dual-threat quarterback as a senior, rushing for 780 yards and 11 scores on 160 carries while throwing for 1,640 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions on 117 of 235 passing. East Forsyth coach Todd Willert said O’Brien’s intelligence and leadership will serve him well when he battles C.J. Brown and Jamarr Robinson for the staring QB job in 2010.

Dave Stinebaugh — Perry Hall, tight end

Shortly after running a 4.5 40 at the Nike Sparq combine at M&T Bank Stadium last June, Stinebaugh received a Terps offer and committed just a couple weeks later. A three-sport athlete (football, basketball, lacrosse) at Perry Hall, Stinebaugh caught 45 passes for 632 yards and nine touchdowns at tight end as a senior. He also punted and played linebacker/safety, recording 75 tackles, seven interceptions, seven pass breakups and five fumble recoveries. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder will likely redshirt next season, but he’s expected to be a factor down the road as a pass-catching tight end or H-back.

Peter White — St. John's (D.C.), offensive lineman

White, a four-star prospect, picked Maryland over offers from Miami and Tennessee. The 6-foot-5, 340-pounder's first scholarship offer came from the Terps, according to The Washington Post. White is the No. 1 player in D.C. and the No. 13 offensive guard nationally, according to Rivals.com. ESPN.com says White needs to improve his conditioning, but is "powerful coming off the ball and delivers with his hands and upper body."

DEFENSE

Justin Anderson — Blythewood (S.C.), defensive lineman

The Terps were able to steal Anderson from the South thanks in part to the 6-foot-5, 265-pounder’s questionable academics earlier in his high school career. When Anderson improved in the classroom and put himself in great position to qualify, he rewarded UM for their loyalty with a commitment. ESPN.com Southeast recruiting analyst J.C. Shurburtt thinks Maryland got a steal in Anderson. “He had a very excellent week of work at the Shrine Bowl,” Shurburtt said. “Some coaches think he’ll shift to offensive line eventually, but after seeing him on the defensive line, [guys with his size and athleticism are] just so rare to find.”

Cody Blue — Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, defensive lineman

Blue’s journey to College Park included a detour at Fork Union, where the former Wilde Lake standout attended prep school, met NCAA qualifying standards and played both ways for FUMA. Blue is already enrolled at UM, where he’s listed as a defensive lineman. Fork Union coach John Shuman thinks Blue might have more upside on the offensive line. “He had a very good season at offensive tackle,” Shuman said. “He’s tall, lean, athletic. ... He’s a good, athletic guy, but he looks like an O-lineman.”

Ryan Donohue — St. Joseph’s (N.J.), linebacker

Donohue surprised some New Jersey football followers by picking the Terps over in-state Rutgers in June. Donohue, 6-2, 220 pounds, helped St. Joseph’s to a state championship, recording 135 total tackles, along with one sack and one interception on the year. St. Joseph’s coach Tony Karcich called Donohue a “natural at inside linebacker.” “He’s got a rare nose for the ball,” Karcich said.

Eric Franklin — Archbishop Curley, safety

If there was an award for most well-rounded Terp in the 2009 class, Franklin — a 4.0 student who plays basketball, runs track and is an alto saxophonist in the school jazz band — would be the likely winner. Franklin, who intends to major in civil engineering, recorded 80 tackles and seven interceptions as a senior, according to Curley coach Sean Murphy. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder will most likely redshirt as a freshman. He’s slotted to play free safety.

L.A. Goree — C.H. Flowers, linebacker

Goree picked the Terps over offers from Illinois, West Virginia, Michigan State, Syracuse and others last June. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder helped Flowers to a 10-2 record this fall, recording 90 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. “[Goree’s best attributes are his] speed, his mobility, he’s pretty smart and his toughness,” Flowers coach Mike Mayo said. “Being able to rush the passer as well as drop into coverage [are also strengths].”

Avery Graham — Clarksburg, defensive back

Graham, a Baltimore native who moved to Montgomery County for high school, was Maryland’s first commitment of the 2009 class, pledging to the Terps last March. As a senior, Graham recorded 84 tackles, three sacks and four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), rushed for 620 yards and four touchdowns on 51 carries, and caught nine passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Graham also plans to run track and study animal science at UM.

Bradley Johnson — Dinwiddie (Va.), linebacker

Johnson surprised many Virginia Tech fans last summer by snubbing the in-state Hokies for the Terps. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder has repeatedly mentioned UM’s location and academic programs as major factors in his decision. Johnson, a three-star recruit, helped Dinwiddie to a runner-up finish in the Virginia Group AAA, Division 5 playoffs. He finished his senior season with 124 tackles, five tackles for loss, five pass breakups, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

Zach Kerr — Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, defensive tackle

Kerr, a 2008 Quince Orchard graduate, prepped for a year, got his grades in order and is already enrolled at College Park. There’s a solid chance Kerr will see some playing time as a true freshman. “He needs to get himself in better condition,” Fork Union coach John Shuman told Recruiting Report in December. “Once he does that he’ll be a very good defensive lineman.” Kerr initially picked Maryland over Penn State more than a year ago.

Avery Murray — West Florence (S.C.), linebacker

Murray floated under the radars of most Southern coaches before committing to the Terps over offers from Buffalo and Middle Tennessee State last summer. After collecting 105 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions as a senior, Murray earned an invitation to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, where he impressed yet again. “He played extremely well in the Shrine Bowl, which is the 45 best players in [South Carolina] against the 45 best in North Carolina,” West Florence coach Trey Woodbury said. “He started at linebacker and played extremely well. His confidence level against better competition was so much better than last year.” Murray has already enrolled at UM.

Isaiah Ross — Eleanor Roosevelt, defensive end

Ross probably wins the award for most entertaining UM commitment off the field, but he was all business on the field as a senior. A Washington Post All-Met selection, Ross recorded 80 tackles and 12.5 sacks as a senior for Eleanor Roosevelt, standing out as a pass-rushing defensive end. “He has a strong lower body, good leverage and great balance,” Roosevelt coach Tom Green said. “Those are the things he brings. And he’s a smart football player. He makes very good adjustments on the field.”

Marcus Whitfield — Northwest, linebacker

Whitfield was a standout tight end as a junior for Northwest, but the Terps offered the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder as a linebacker – a position he had never played before. Whitfield earned his offer at UM’s summer camp. According to Northwest coach Andrew Fields, Whitfield’s transition to defense was fairly seamless. “It was the first year he played defense,” Fields said, “and he ended up a dominant defensive player. He made huge strides each week. By Week 10 and 11, he was really just a very confident guy flying around the football field.”

Click here to read three national recruiting analysts' opinions on UM's class.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:08 AM | | Comments (6)
        

February 3, 2009

Recruiting analysts weigh in on Terps' 2009 class

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen took pride in the Terps’ in-state representation when announcing UM’s 2008 recruiting class last year.

Expect Friedgen to express similar satisfaction Wednesday when Maryland’s 2009 class is unveiled.

Fourteen local players (13 from Maryland, one from Washington) currently compose the Terps' ’09 class. Four players (Forestville defensive end DeOnte Arnett, ex-Wilde Lake defensive lineman Cody Blue, Roosevelt (D.C.) linebacker Darin Drakeford and former Quince Orchard defensive tackle Zach Kerr) have already enrolled in College Park. The remaining 10 area prospects (DeMatha offensive tackle Pete deSouza, Archbishop Curley safety Eric Franklin, C.H. Flowers linebacker L.A. Goree, Clarksburg defensive back Avery Graham, Quince Orchard cornerback Travis Hawkins, Edmondson defensive end David Mackall, Good Counsel running back Caleb Porzel, Eleanor Roosevelt defensive end Isaiah Ross, Perry Hall tight end Dave Stinebaugh and Northwest linebacker Marcus Whitfield) are expected to sign letters of intent on signing day.

The local recruits are the backbone of UM’s class, according to CBS College Sports Network recruiting expert Tom Lemming. Lemming currently has UM’s class ranked “between 20 and 30” nationally.

“I thought the class was very good,” Lemming said. “It’s a real solid, athletic class. It could be better if they got ... blue-chippers like [Good Counsel linebacker] Jelani Jenkins or [Dunbar running back and West Virginia commitment] Tavon Austin, but for the most part they seem to get whoever they want in state, unless Penn State butts in. I always rank Maryland, along with N.C. State, as the best evaluators in the country. They do an excellent job of evaluating their own state better than most schools evaluate their own state.”

Lemming cited Blue, Porzel and Stinebaugh as underrated recruits he expects to stand out at Maryland. Lemming thinks Terps fans should appreciate the in-state recruits they have, while cautioning against unrealistic expectations to land every top recruit in Maryland.

“[Some recruits are] really just looking farther away. The grass is always greener on the other side,” Lemming said. “For the most part, they’re able to keep most of the local kids at home. But Georgia loses players from Georgia. Florida loses players from Florida. ... But [Maryland does] a great job of getting on the kids early, finding out who [the top prospects] are and coming after them early.”

Bob Lichtenfels, Scout.com’s North regional football recruiting director, also rates Maryland’s class in the No. 25-30 range nationally, but stopped short of calling UM’s local haul better than usual. The sheer amount of talent in the state dictated the Terps having a heavily-local class, Lichtenfels said.

“I don’t know if it’s better [than previous in-state classes],” Lichtenfels said. “There were so many kids. That Maryland-D.C. area was packed. It was loaded. So they were going to get some of them. I think it’s still alarming that they’re not getting the top guys. But who’s to say Caleb Porzel’s not going to end up better than Tavon Austin, because Porzel is pretty special. But they were never really in the game for Jelani Jenkins. And if you’re going to compete [for championships, they need to land the top guys]. You can look at it either way. They got a high number of good local guys, but they’re still seeing quite a few leave.”

The Western Pennsylvania-based Lichtenfels has Maryland in the middle of the ACC, bunched together with Clemson and N.C. State. But Lichtenfels had plenty of praise for several future Terps.

“I love Caleb Porzel. I think people obviously are down on him because of his size, but regardless, he’s a playmaker,” Lichtenfels said. “He’s a threat to score anytime he touches the ball. I think in the future he’s going to be a hell of a player for them. ... Travis Hawkins is a fantastic athlete. He can play offense or defense there, it doesn’t really matter. I think the sleeper of the class is David Mackall from Edmondson-Westside, and [defensive back Dexter McDougle, who] they just picked up at the end of December from [Stafford] Virginia. Those two are kids that people aren’t talking a lot about now, but they might turn out to be the best kids in this class.”

While Maryland did most of its recruiting locally, plenty of time was spent down south. JC Shurburtt, who covers Southeast recruiting for ESPN.com, thinks the UM staff has a knack for unearthing gems that SEC and southern ACC programs overlook.

“They really do a nice job of finding guys that everybody else misses,” Shurburtt said. “These [southern] schools can’t recruit everybody and they miss on guys for whatever reason. There are enough good players in the South, in South Carolina, in Georgia and in Florida, too. I know Maryland’s backed off Florida, but it’s not a bad idea to start again because there are daggone good football players who don’t go to the in-state schools because they don’t have the opportunity.”

Shurburtt lives in Columbia, S.C., and is well-acquainted with the Terps' two Palmetto State recruits -- Blythewood defensive end Justin Anderson and West Florence linebacker Avery Murray. While neither Anderson nor Murray had many other Division I offers, both impressed (and surprised) scouts at the Shrine Bowl, a South Carolina vs. North Carolina All-Star game last December.

“I’ve seen a lot of Justin Anderson," Shurburtt said. "If I’d have only seen him once, I’d still have thought very highly of him because he’s so tall and athletic. He had a very excellent week of work at the Shrine Bowl. Some coaches think he’ll shift to offensive line eventually, but after seeing him on the defensive line, [guys with his size and athleticism are] just so rare to find.

“Avery’s a Mike linebacker or middle linebacker in college. He’s a physical, smart player who plays the game with a lot of intellect. ... You combine his physical nature and a player with his intelligence and instincts, and you have the makings of a good middle linebacker.”

Shurburtt also cited East Forsyth, N.C., quarterback Danny O’Brien (“tall, dropback passer with a good arm”) and Norcross, Ga., running back D.J. Adams (“compact guy, good speed and vision”) as future Terps from the South with good potential. But Shurburtt reserved his highest praise for McDougle.

“Dexter McDougle is a kid from Virginia that I think is a fantastic football player,” Shurburtt said. “He emerged late in the process after having a great senior year. He was hurt his junior year. Credit Maryland with going down and finding him before anybody else did and getting him to commit. I think that kid is the one to watch.”

Shurburtt expects the Terps to continue picking off a few kids from the Southeast each year, but the vast majority of their future classes will continue to be comprised of Maryland players. According to Lemming, that’s a good thing for UM now and in the future.

“You know what? Maryland’s an underrated state,” Lemming said. “It’s a very good state for talent. Probably one of the more underrated states that you’ll find. And I think Maryland would like to keep it that way, but [defensive line coach] Larry Johnson at Penn State has other ideas, and other schools like Michigan and Florida will come in if there’s a superstar. ... But I think [the talent in Maryland] next year is going to be even better.”

Click here to read Q&As, season recaps and commitment stories on each of UM’s 2009 recruits.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:13 AM | | Comments (6)
        

February 2, 2009

Terps lose OL commitment

With just two days left before Signing Day, Maryland has suffered its first decommitment of the 2009 football recruiting class.

North Allegheny (Pa.) offensive lineman Ryan Schlieper was offered a scholarship by Pittsburgh late last week, took a visit to campus over the weekend and pledged to the Panthers tonight.

“The reason why I decommitted from Maryland and committed to Pitt is because [playing at] Pitt was a long-time, childhood dream of mine,” Schlieper said. “I always wanted to play for Pitt. I’ve grown up watching Pitt and rooting for Pitt.”

Schlieper, whose high school is less than 30 minutes away from Pitt’s campus, insisted he had nothing against the Maryland program. He just couldn’t turn down the opportunity to play for his hometown team.

“I was completely happy with Maryland and thought it was the greatest thing ever,” Schlieper said. “I was done with everything in recruiting. Then all of a sudden I get a call from Pittsburgh. And I thought to myself, ‘this is your school, this is where you wanted to be and what you’ve wanted to do all your life.’”

Schlieper initially picked Maryland in August after considering offers from Connecticut, West Virginia, Central Florida, Florida International, Miami (OH) and Temple.

• Maryland lost out on the battle for Hoboken (N.J.) defensive tackle Isaac Holmes tonight when the 6-foot-3, 295-pounder committed to Rutgers. UM and Pittsburgh were Holmes’ other finalists.

"His last visit was to Rutgers and the Rutgers coaches were able to get him to flip," Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell told NJ.com. "It's huge because he's a four-star in-state player and he's a defensive tackle -- and good defensive tackles are hard to find."

Click here to read Q&As, season recaps and commitment stories on each of UM’s 2009 recruits.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:09 PM | | Comments (3)
        

Season recap: Travis Hawkins

Travis Hawkins' future at Maryland will be as a cornerback.

But during his senior season at Quince Orchard High School in Montgomery Co., the Terps commitment had plenty of opportunities to make an impact on offense.

“Offensively, we tried to use him in a variety of different roles,” QO coach Dave Mencarini said. “We really needed him on defense and tried to make that his primary focus, but when you’ve got a great talent like that [you have to use him on offense, too]. He played quarterback, running back, receiver. In the seventh game of the year, our quarterback broke his collarbone and Travis stepped in. Then he got injured with a high ankle sprain. In the 10th game of the year, he [came back] and set a record for total yards in a game. ... Every time he touched the ball, he made a big play.”

Hawkins, 5 feet 10, 180 pounds, still performed well as a defensive back, Mencarini said. He just didn’t see many opportunities to make plays at cornerback.

“Because he’s such a great athlete and player, not a lot of action went his way," Mencarini said. "Statistically you’d look at his numbers and say, ‘this kid didn’t have a good senior year.’ But the reality is that our other corner was team MVP. Our little 5-9 MVP on the other side [made a lot of plays] because they never threw [Hawkins’] way. Teams would try to test him, but he kind of shut down a half of the field, which is nice.”

Hawkins recorded 19 tackles and one interception on the year. According to The Washington Post, he also accounted for nine touchdowns on offense (four passing, four receptions, one rushing). QO finished the season 10-2, falling to Sherwood in the 4A West finals.

Hawkins committed to the Terps in October, announcing his decision at a news conference at Quince Orchard. But between then and now, there were some tenuous moments where Hawkins faced slight doubts about his commitment.

After returning from the Under Armour All-American game in Orlando (and witnessing other top recruits go back-and-forth with their decisions), Hawkins thought about taking a couple official visits, with West Virginia and Florida mentioned frequently as potential destinations.

But in the end, Hawkins decided against taking other trips. Mencarini said location played a role, as did UM’s pitch in billing Hawkins as a headliner in its class.

“I think that’s kind of how Maryland recruited him,” Mencarini said. “‘Hey, we’ve had national recruits before. We had Kenny Tate, who’s off to a great career.’ They see Travis very similar to that. I think he handled it well, but any 17-year old kid being courted by the top programs in the country goes through a little bit [of uncertainty], and I think that’s what you saw the last couple of weeks. I think it just showed that the kid is human. Ultimately, that didn’t happen. He kind of thought about what’s important to him. The process is tough and it wears on kids. It’s not easy, but I think in the end, he handled it fairly well, all things considered.”

Mencarini brought Hawkins up to the QO varsity as a freshman. He remained there for the next three years. While Mencarini has sent many players to Division I schools during his tenure at Quince Orchard, Hawkins stands out.

“He’s the most explosive player that I’ve ever coached, and the most explosive player I’ve ever seen in my career as a coach,” Mencarini said. “I think the thing that stands out about his career is his knack for making big plays on offense, defense and special teams. Instincts are something you really can’t teach or coach, so that gives him a chance to have a great college career.

“So he’s a great kid. To be honest with you, he’s had to overcome a lot of things on and off the field. For him to be in this position is a credit to his maturity. There’s good and bad days with any kid, but he’s really handled the last four years of his life with a lot of class and dignity.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:02 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Season recaps
        

Two Poets headed to Louisville

Dunbar linebacker Horace Miller was all set to join teammate Courtney Bridget at UNLV. Poets wide receiver Sean Farr was deciding between offers from Akron and Toledo.

Then last week Louisville suddenly entered the picture. The Cardinals sent secondary coach Larry Slade to Dunbar, and the former Tennessee assistant left Baltimore with commitments from Miller and Farr.

horacemiller.jpg

“It was like two days after coach Slade got hired [that we were offered],” Miller said. “He was previously working at Tennessee, he got hired at Louisville and he went straight to recruiting. … We kept in touch for a long time while he was at Tennessee. He kept telling me he wanted me, but Tennessee didn’t really want me. ... I believe it was a great situation for coach Slade and myself. It just seemed right for both for us.”

Miller, who made his official visit to Louisville two weekends ago, had previously committed to UNLV. When the Cardinals entered the picture, though, Miller weighed both schools’ location and overall atmosphere. Miller preferred the idea of living in Louisville over Las Vegas for the next four years. It wasn't easy telling Bridget of his decision.

“He’s a great person,” Miller said of Bridget. “He called me a couple times ... and was just saying, ‘don’t come to UNLV just because I’m here.’ ... He never pressured me to go to UNLV. He just wished me well where I go. And I made the decision for me.”

sfarr.jpg

It didn’t take much convincing for Farr to commit. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder, who took his official visit to Louisville last weekend, was extremely familiar with the Cardinals’ offensive reputation.

“I already knew they liked to throw the ball,” Farr said. “I saw their quarterback before, [current Green Bay Packers backup] Brian Brohm. So I know they pass a lot. The coaches are looking at me to come in there and make plays.”

Farr, who was falsely rumored to be an Akron commitment, said he was happy he took a deliberate approach with his recruitment.

“I was just weighing my options, making sure I was making the right decision for me and my family,” Farr said. “It feels great.”

Six Dunbar seniors have now made oral commitments to Div. 1 schools. Running back Tavon Austin is headed to West Virginia, Bridget is going to UNLV, running back Davon Muse pledged to Central Michigan and linebacker Gary Onuekwusi will play for Temple. Offensive lineman Antonio Brown has accepted an offer from Morgan State, a Football Championship Subdivision program. Miller said he’s happy to be playing with Farr, but wishes he could take his other teammates along for the ride.

“I love these guys. I want to be playing with all of them together,” Miller said. “I wish we could make a college team with just Dunbar. I think we could win a national championship with them. But in the Big East, Tavon is going to West Virginia. Me and Sean will be on the same team. And I know Courtney’s going to do good out there. ... I can’t wait to be in the Big East.”

Credits: Baltimore Sun photos by Kenneth K. Lam (Miller) and Algerina Perna (Farr).

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:32 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

February 1, 2009

Born Ready in College Park

Maryland had a special visitor on hand for last night’s 73-68 win over Miami.

Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln shooting guard Lance Stephenson, aka Born Ready, made a surprise trip to Comcast Center. The five-star prospect, a teammate of UM-bound power forward James Padgett, was greeted with chants of “We want Lance” by the Maryland student section.

The Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell noted that Maryland’s potential courtship of Stephenson seems a little familiar.

If Stephenson ever wound up at Maryland, it could serve as a quick fix for a program that has struggled mightily on the national recruiting scene. But according to recruiting sources, the recruitment also reeks of desperation by a program likely destined to miss the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in five seasons.

After spending the past week discussing the 2008 recruitments of two talented yet controversial players -- Gus Gilchrist and Tyree Evans -- Maryland Coach Gary Williams has now set his sights on another talented player with a checkered past.

For Maryland to have a chance at landing Stephenson, something will have to change on UM's roster. The Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens explains that the Terps presently have all 13 scholarships tied up for next season.

Maryland loses one scholarship player (Neal) after this season and has two signed for next year (Jordan Williams and James Padgett). That puts the Terps at the NCAA-maximum 13, yet star swingman Lance Stephenson made a visit to College Park last night.

Clearly, Maryland is still looking at available players for next season. But someone would have to go to make it happen, either via a transfer or an early departure for the pros (with Greivis Vasquez the only logical possibility for that route).

Even though Stephenson made the trip from New York to Maryland, SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria thinks it’s still uncertain where the Terps stand in his recruitment.

It’s unclear if Stephenson has added Maryland to his list, but apparently he’s checking it out. Maryland coach Gary Williams is under pressure because his team has struggled this year, and landing Stephenson would be seen as a step in the right direction by some, a quick-fix by others.

Click on the YouTube player for highlights of Stephenson.


Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:06 PM | | Comments (16)
        
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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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