Superlatives for the Terps' class of 2010
One man's opinion on the potential of Maryland's 2010 football commitments. Post your takes below.
Most wanted: Given to the most heavily recruited Maryland commitments.
Max Garcia — Norcross (Ga.), offensive lineman
One year after pulling Norcross (Ga.) running back D.J. Adams out of the south, the Terps struck gold again at the suburban Atlanta school by picking up a pledge from Garcia. Florida State, Michigan State, North Carolina State, South Carolina and Wake Forest all reportedly offered, but Maryland, Clemson and Vanderbilt eventually emerged as Garcia's final three. Tigers tight ends coach Danny Pearman, a former Maryland assistant, gave Garcia the hard sell, but the 6-foot-5, 280-pound offensive tackle couldn't pass up the opportunity to reunite with Adams and major in broadcast journalism at Maryland.
Javarie Johnson — Dunbar (D.C.), linebacker
It was always going to be a challenge for Maryland to land Johnson, Washington's top-ranked player according to Rivals.com. The Terps were seriously in the mix from the beginning, but Johnson also claimed offers from Florida, Illinois, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and West Virginia, among others. Johnson committed to the Hurricanes last summer, but pulled a stunner last month when he switched his commitment to Maryland and enrolled in classes. An early start for Johnson -- one of UM's top-ranked pledges -- will most likely lead to immediate playing time.
Most likely to contribute early: Given to the recruits most likely to see the field as true freshmen
Rahsaan Moore — Wise, fullback
Maryland's class is light on offense with just two quarterbacks, three offensive lineman, one wide receiver, and Moore, a fullback. The quarterbacks and linemen are obvious redshirt candidates, and the Terps return all of their top wide receivers. That leaves Moore, who will try to fill the void left by standout fullback Cory Jackson. A two-way starter for the Pumas, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Moore is big enough to compete for playing time right away, and he possesses the mental makeup required of a fullback. "He’s a young man that will do everything you ask him to do," said Wise coach DaLawn Parrish.
David Mackall — Fork Union (Va.), defensive end
"I've never been around Shawne Merriman, but to us, he seems to be a Shawne Merriman type of player," Fork Union coach John Shuman said of Mackall, who graduated from Edmondson last spring and signed with Maryland one year ago. "He led our team in sacks and tackles for loss. ... He's big, fast, physical and just an intense guy. He played every snap and got all our guys ready to compete." Shuman said Michigan, Purdue and Rutgers "tried to jump in" and get Mackall to switch his commitment, but the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder has already enrolled in classes at College Park.
Most likely to be a multi-year starter: Self-explanatory — these recruits have all-conference potential.
Tyler Smith — Wilson Area (Pa.), quarterback
A first-team all-state player as a senior, Smith spent three seasons rewriting Wilson's history books and earning his place as one of Pennsylvania's most effective quarterbacks of all time. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder earned a four-star ranking from Scout.com and ESPN.com. He has the size and arm strength of a prototypical dropback passer, but his 4.9 speed allows for a measure of escapeability. "He’s a leader, and the thing I think I like most about him is that most high school passers are dink and dunk," said Scout.com recruiting analyst Matt Alkire. "Tyler’s offense is really predicated on making the vertical pass, stretching the field, hitting the seam routes and deep outs, having him read a defense and look off the safety. Tyler, in games, has really performed that well."
Titus Till — Wise, safety
Till pledged to Maryland before Signing Day 2009, becoming the Terps' first commitment of the 2010 class. It didn't take long for the recruiting services to see what the Maryland staff liked about the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder. Rivals.com ranks him a four-star prospect, the No. 3 player in Maryland, the No. 11 safety nationally and the No. 158 player in the country. "Once he understands the speed of the game on that level -- and as all freshmen, gets comfortable -- he should be tremendous for the system that they run," Wise coach DaLawn Parrish.
Most likely to overachieve: Given to the overlooked recruits that exceeded expectations during the high school season.
Devin Burns — Carver (Ga.), quarterback
Several recruiting services have Burns pegged for wide receiver or defensive back in college (including ESPN.com, which rates him the No. 69 athlete in the country). But as a senior, Burns did his best to prove his future is at quarterback, going 123-for-179 for 1,795 yards with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions, and rushing for 541 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 76 carries. It was a season good enough to make Georgia -- which pulled his scholarship offer shortly before he committed to Maryland -- extend an offer once again last fall. Burns will get a head start in College Park, having already enrolled in classes. Burns will get his shot at quarterback, and if that doesn't work out, the Terps will have a versatile, athletic leader at their disposal.
Matt Robinson — Atholton, safety
Maryland was Robinson's only FBS offer when he committed to the Terps last June. At the time, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound athlete had offers from Fordham, James Madison, Massachusetts, Old Dominion and Stony Brook. The early offer to Robinson raised eyebrows for some Maryland recruiting followers, but an All-Metro senior season for the Raiders removed any lingering concerns about his ability fans may have had. Robinson led Atholton to a 10-2 record, catching 39 passes for 792 yards and 10 touchdowns, and recording 75 tackles, four sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery for a touchdown and one blocked punt on special teams.
Most underrated: Given to the recruits with the best chance at making their recruiting rankings look silly four years from now.
Jake Wheeler — American Heritage (Fla.), offensive tackle
Wheeler's late-December commitment to Maryland came before many of the national recruiting services even had a profile for the 6-foot-8, 250-pounder. The explanation for Wheeler's anonymity was simple -- he didn't participate in summer camps and combines. His off-the-radar status helps explain a two-star rating from Rivals.com. Scout.com and ESPN.com have yet to evaluate Wheeler, who also earned several Division I offers for basketball. While Wheeler will be a long-term project for the Terps, his size and athleticism make him one to watch on the offensive line a couple years from now.
Andre Monroe — St. John's (D.C.), defensive tackle
Monroe has the requisite girth (280) and strength (bench max of 365 pounds) of a BCS-level defensive tackle recruit. But his height (a shade under 6 feet) had some recruiting services -- most notably Rivals.com and its two-star rating -- questioning his potential. “If he had been a couple of inches taller, I’m sure he would’ve been a national recruit," St. John's coach Joe Patterson told Recruiting Report in July. Monroe did his best as a senior to show that prototypical size has nothing to do with production, earning Washington Post All-Met first team honors for his efforts.
The rest of the class
Tyrek Cheeseboro — Milford Mill, wide receiver
Cheeseboro picked up scholarship offers from most of the ACC and Big East schools by the middle of last summer. Staying close to home and having a chance to play the Darrius Heyward-Bey role were two factors that worked in Maryland's favor. With his 4.3 speed, Cheeseboro could be one to watch in the Terps' kick-return game in a couple years.
Sal Conaboy — Abington Heights (Pa.), offensive guard
A former tight end, Conaboy spent his senior season earning just about every honor given to offensive linemen in Pennsylvania. "He might only be a three-star player, but I think a special player is Sal Conaboy, the offensive guard from Pennsylvania,” Scout.com recruiting analyst Bob Lichtenfels said. “I think he’s a very intriguing player. Maybe he won’t [make an impact] in the next one or two years, but over his career, I think people are going to be excited about him."
Nate Clarke — Archbishop Carroll (D.C.), defensive tackle
The biggest question for Clarke is whether he'll end up on Maryland's offensive or defensive line. The personal preference for Clarke, a four-star prospect according to Rivals.com, was defensive tackle. "I think the majority of people -- because he has such good feet and was mobile -- liked him more on the offensive side," said Archbishop Carroll coach Rick Houchens. "Maryland, North Carolina, Illinois, Kansas State and a bunch of other schools had more interest in him offensively vs. defensively. He likes playing defense. But he was very open-minded about it.”
Ian Evans — Hammonton (N.J.), defensive end
Evans closed out his high school career as a state champion, leading the Blue Devils to the South Jersey Group 3 title. For recording 52 tackles, 17 sacks, seven quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles, and serving as the linchpin of Hammonton's defense, the Philadelphia Inquirer named Evans its Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder picked Maryland over offers from Rutgers, Syracuse and Temple.
L.A. Goree — Fork Union (Va.), linebacker
"He's a sideline-to-sideline linebacker," said Shuman, the Fork Union coach. "He's a little bit smaller [than Mackall], but he's faster and smoother. He's not as physical, but he brought it. He's quiet off the field but pretty animated on the field. ... It's a good move for him to get there second semester just to fill him out more, upgrade his size and physicalness. Once they catch him up on his size, he's going to be a good player."
Jeremiah Johnson — Suitland, cornerback
A three-star prospect and the No. 20 player in Maryland according to Rivals.com, Johnson's first scholarship offer came from the Terps. "We sat down in the coach’s office and they explained to me that they were offering [a scholarship],” Johnson told Recruiting Report last July. “I guess about five minutes later, I accepted the offer." As a senior, Johnson recorded 99 tackles and four interceptions from the free safety spot. "He will come at you with everything he’s got," said Suitland coach Ed Shields. "He’s a cover corner who can hit."
Desmond Kearse — Dunbar (Fla.), safety
A cousin of Tennessee Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse, this future Terp was one of Maryland's most off-the-radar commitments. Kearse -- who recorded 46 sacks in his last two varsity seasons -- sported offers from Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky. Once Maryland offered a scholarship last month, Kearse committed about "a nanosecond" later, according to Dunbar coach Phil Vogt. A couple years in Maryland's strength-and-conditioning program would serve the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Kearse well.
Darius Kilgo — Weddington (N.C.), defensive tackle
As a junior, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Kilgo showed enough potential to earn scholarship offers from Maryland, Tennessee, South Carolina, Michigan State and several others. After dropping 30 pounds before his senior year, Kilgo showed just how serious he was about realizing that potential. His intense offseason training program paid off, as the sleeker Kilgo recorded 67 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles as a senior. "He was voted one of our team captains before the summer started, because of how hard he worked in the weight room and as a leader," said Weddington coach Justin Hardin.
Clarence Murphy — Hollywood Hills (Fla.), defensive end
Another Don Brown recruit from Florida, Murphy earned his Terps offer last spring and committed last month. "He has a chance to put on 20-30 pounds and he could be really tough to deal with," said CBS College Sports Network analyst Tom Lemming. "He could be one of their difference-maker types. He needs to add more strength and weight." Murphy, a three-star prospect according to Rivals, Scout and ESPN, picked the Terps over Michigan.
Mario Rowson — Lake Taylor (Va.), cornerback
At 6-foot-3 1/2 and 190 pounds, Rowson possesses rare size and ideal speed (4.4 40) for a cornerback. A two-way starter for the Titans, Rowson earned all-region, all-district, all-Tidewater and second-team all-state honors. "He’s a three-star kid that’s tall and lanky and needs to fill out," said Rivals.com's Mike Farrell. "But he’s a really athletic kid." Maryland was the first school to offer Rowson a scholarship.
Jeremiah Wilson — Handley (Va.), cornerback
Wilson was born in Baltimore, spent the first eight years of his life in Woodlawn and became a lifelong fan of the Terps early in his childhood. Maryland offered the 5-foot-10, 185-pound cornerback a scholarship shortly after Signing Day 2009, and he accepted just two weeks later. "He’s a strong kid and a physical player," Handley coach Tony Rayburn said of Wilson, who was a four-year varsity player. "I don’t know what they have and those things, but I know he’s very capable of going in and helping out right away.”