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February 4, 2009

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)
        

Comments

Thanks for the thorough commentary Matt. It appears Md. is turning things around after a bit of a slump. There were some great W's last year. Now perhaps they'll become more consistent and pick up the ' shoulda won ' W's. I think the world of the Friedge and his passion for the Terps. I'm hoping we'll soon see Md. consistently in the top 25. What's any better than back to back W's on Sat. and Sun. with the Terps and the Ravens?!!

Another gem by THE MATT BRACKEN

Shame UMD cannot keep top talen in state. Once again, the top player Jalani Jenkins opted to NOT sign with UMD. UMD needs a major upgrade of the stadium. Their stadium ranks down there with Duke and Wake Forest. While it can be very loud in Byrd, its not not enough to make it big time college football. To be like Virginia Tech, Tennessee or Clemson, UMD needs an upper deck on both sides of the stadium, and increase it to about 65-70K capacity.

Not sure where you've been Mr Say Anything but what you described is pretty close to the expansion plan already under way at Byrd. Ultimately it will be 60-65K stadium with the suites this year and expanded upper bowl around the end zone in the future. Eventually a club level. Keep in mind it takes more W's to pay for it. Lets hope this recruiting class helps get us get enough wins to finish the job!

Terps version of thunder and lightning in the backfield may be D.J. Adams and Caleb Porzel.

These 2 guys along with Scott and Meggett should keep the Terps backfield in good shape for the next 4 or 5 years.

I also feel Maryland hit the 'jackpot' with CJ Brown. This kid was terrific. Big, fast, mobile, strong arm - he has it all. Great kid. Can't wait to see him play - and really hope he does well.

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About Matt Bracken

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

High school recruiting database
Area high school commitments -- 2009
Area high school commitments -- 2008
Maryland's 2011 football commitments
Maryland's 2010 football recruiting class
Maryland's 2009 football recruiting class
Maryland's 2008 football recruiting class
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