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December 31, 2010

Weekly recruiting roundup

Three Maryland football recruits suited up for the North squad Thursday night at the inaugural Chesapeake Bowl at Towson's Johnny Unitas Stadium. The statuses of their commitments, however, vary.

Red Lion (Pa.) offensive lineman Andrew Zeller said that while it was “a shame” to see Ralph Friedgen let go, he’s still on board with the Terps.

“Right now I’m currently committed. I’m going to stay committed,” Zeller said. I need to reevaluate the coaching situation and the whole new staff that’s going to be brought in. They said that a coach should be named by Jan. 4, so that’s just a couple days away. We’re going to see what happens, go down there and check things out and possibly take some more official visits.”

Zeller said the other schools that he’ll consider are Miami, Michigan State and Oregon.

Salesianum (Del.) School center Evan Mulrooney plans to visit another ACC school next month, but like Zeller, he remains committed to Maryland.

“Well with [Maryland offensive line] coach [Tom] Brattan, I still don’t really know what he’s doing,” Mulrooney said. “At this point, it’s still really get hired again or retire. So I’m still committed and everything, but I’m taking my official to N.C. State just for a backup plan and everything. … We’ll see what happens.”

Mulrooney said he bonded with Zeller and Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.) tight end Ryan Malleck in the days leading up to the Chesapeake Bowl, in addition to staying in touch with Charter School of Wilmington (Del.) running back Brandon Ross and Pope John (N.J.) linebacker Cole Farrand. The Terps commitments have discussed the coaching search and their plans for next year. Mulrooney said he’d be intrigued if former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach were hired.

“I know the spread is real quick with a lot of passes and everything,” Mulrooney said. “It would be great to work with someone like him. He just has a real potent offense, he’s just an offensive guru. It would be really cool to be under him. I’m sure whoever he would bring in for O-line is a good guy because they put a lot of numbers up back when he was at Texas Tech.”

Malleck, meanwhile, told InsideMDSports' Seth Hoffman that he could take visits to Miami, Nebraska, Rutgers and Vanderbilt.

“As of right now I’m still committed,” Malleck said. “I just want to talk to the new coach that comes in. I did open my recruiting again, I’m looking at a few other schools. I’ll probably take my four official visits before it’s all said and done.”

• The Boston Herald reported that Milford Academy (N.Y.) defensive back Rodman Noel still plans to head to College Park.

As for Rodman Noel, he told the Herald that he still plans on playing football at Maryland, despite the recent firing of Ralph Friedgen (the reigning ACC Coach of the Year).

• Boyd Anderson (Fla.) cornerback Corey Tindal, a one-time Terps target, has reportedly committed to Florida International.

Basketball recruiting

• Adam Zagoria spoke last week to Eugene McCrory -- a New Jersey prep school forward from Prince George's County -- about his recent interest from the hometown Terps.

A 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward who was once committed to Seton Hall, McCrory also lists Virginia, Colorado, Indiana, Wagner, Clemson and Hofstra. He hopes to decide by January or February.

• Oakland Mills forward Greg Whittington scored 31 points in the Scorpions' 64-32 win over Western Tech on Tuesday and had a double double in a 61-50 win over Parkville on Wednesday.

In fact, the Scorpions only basket during the final seven minutes of the second quarter was a put-back dunk by Greg Whittington (14 points, 12 rebounds) with 1:54 on the clock.

• Maryland women's basketball commitment A'lexus Harrison was named The Baltimore Sun Girls Athlete of the Week.

The 6-foot-1 sophomore helped the No. 5 Rams to two victories last week, including a hard-fought 42-35 victory over National Christian Academy in which she had 19 points and 17 rebounds. Harrison, a point forward, also scored 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in a 68-19 win over Edmondson. Harrison, who averages 19 points and 17 rebounds for the 5-2 Rams, already has made an oral commitment to play for Maryland.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:03 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

Gilman's Darius Jennings focused on three

darius-jennings-chesapeake-bowl.jpg A preview of how Gilman quarterback Darius Jennings could be used in college was on display Thursday night at the inaugural Chesapeake Bowl at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.

With Greyhounds coach Biff Poggi manning the sideline for the South roster, Jennings took handoffs, threw the ball and split wide at receiver en route to a 150-yard day. The four-star prospect completed passes of 20 and 49 yards, in addition to scoring on a 10-yard run to propel the South to a 30-27 win over the North.

After the game, Jennings spoke about the three college programs still in the mix for his services.

“Ohio State, Virginia, Wake Forest,” said Jennings, who trimmed Maryland, UCLA and Virginia Tech from his list. “I take my official to Wake Forest on Jan. 14. I’ve already been to Virginia and Ohio State. Sometime after Jan. 14, I’ll make my decision.”

Jennings has apparent ties to all three programs. Greyhounds offensive lineman Hunter Goodwin -- who also participated in the Chesapeake Bowl -- committed to the Demon Deacons in April. The Cavaliers’ 2011 recruiting class already includes six players from Maryland, including Boys’ Latin defensive end Marco Jones -- another Chesapeake Bowl participant. And Gilman defensive coordinator Stan White was an All-American linebacker for the Buckeyes before starring for the Baltimore Colts.

“[It’s] kind of an even playing field,” Jennings said. “I’m going to wait until my official to Wake Forest, compare all three and then I’ll go from there.”

Jennings, The Baltimore Sun’s All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year, finished his senior season with 1,592 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns on 165 carries, five kickoff returns for 220 yards and two touchdowns, and 29-for-50 passing for 425 yards and three touchdowns. He is scheduled to play in the Under Armour All-America game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Jan. 5, but said he doesn’t have any concrete plans for announcing his decision.

“I’m kind of a low-key guy,” he said. “Just when I feel is right, that’s when I’ll do it.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Darius Jennings by Gene Sweeney Jr. / Dec. 30, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:35 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

December 30, 2010

Season recap: Lukas Foreman

In Sam Dollar's 12 seasons as defensive coordinator at Naples (Fla.) High, few players have made a more memorable first impression than Lukas Foreman.

When the Maryland-bound safety joined the Golden Eagles’ program three years ago, Dollar and his staff couldn’t help but notice the lanky freshman’s stature and apparent potential.

“He came in at about 6-1 as a freshman football player and we thought, ‘Man, he’s going to be tall and we hope he can run well and hope he has good agility.’ And sure enough he developed all of that,” Dollar said. “By the time he hit 10th grade [he was starting]. It is very, very rare that we have a 10th-grader starting on varsity. In my 12 years, it’s only happened a few times. And he did it at safety. We ended up only losing to the eventual state champion that year. He was definitely a good football player for us.”

The finale to Foreman’s Naples career was a good one, with the 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior safety helping the Golden Eagles to an 11-1 record. Foreman finished the season with 59 tackles (45 solo), two interceptions and one forced fumble. He also punted 25 times for a 40.07-yard average, including a long punt of 60 yards and nine kicks inside the 20.

“Anytime we played great competition, he would always rise,” Dollar said. “You could easily see he was a great player on defense. When we had a great running back to face, he played extremely well for us. He’s a fierce tackler that likes to get to the football, and he can cover really well.”

Dollar ran a 4-3 defense that required Foreman to be versatile. Naples’ defensive package sometimes called for Foreman to drop back in man coverage, and other times to provide run support. Whatever the task assigned by Dollar, Foreman was up for the challenge.

“Basically for all 11 guys out there, there’s no room to hide,” Dollar said. “You had to be a hard hitter, physical and stop the run. And then the [defensive backs] also had to be able to play man coverage. … I put him against [Ohio State tight end commitment Jeff Heuerman], had him cover him and be in run support. He’d come up and take him on and fill his gaps. So he would definitely be more of a strong safety, but he could’ve easily sat back there at free safety. The bottom line is that in our formation, he had to be able to do both.”

In Naples’ season-ending 28-21 loss to South Fort Myers in the Florida Class 3A playoffs, Foreman ran step-for-step with an opposing wide receiver and picked off a pass inside the 10 at a crucial point in the game. For Dollar, that play was emblematic of Foreman’s high school career – nobody would outwork the future Terp.

“I’ll definitely remember him most for just having the greatest desire of anybody I’ve ever seen,” Dollar said. “A lot of times you’ll have DI guys that just kind of coast. But his desire to play the game and really be successful was unbelievable. I just love the effort that he gave and the desire that he had to be successful every week. In my 12 years, I’ve never seen anybody with his kind of skill play that hard.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:49 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

Future Terps highlight first Chesapeake Bowl

Maryland fans will have a chance to see three future Terps in action tonight in the inaugural Chesapeake Bowl at Towson’s Johnny Unitas Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

The North roster, composed of players from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, features Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.) tight end Ryan Malleck, Salesianum School (Del.) offensive lineman Evan Mulrooney and Red Lion (Pa.) offensive lineman Andrew Zeller – each of whom has committed to Maryland.

The South roster includes players from D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Baltimore-area players to watch include Calvert Hall offensive lineman Ben Curtis, Gilman offensive lineman Hunter Goodwin (Wake Forest), Gilman athlete Darius Jennings and Boys’ Latin defensive end Marco Jones (Virginia).

Jennings, The Baltimore Sun’s 2010 All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year, has reportedly narrowed his list of schools to Ohio State, Virginia and Wake Forest. Rivals.com reports that Curtis is considering offers from Bryant, Marshall, Navy, New Mexico and Towson.

Bowie defensive back Jeremiah Hendy, a one-time Maryland commitment, is also scheduled to appear for the South. The Chesapeake Bowl website says the three-star prospect is looking at Iowa, Michigan State, North Carolina State and Virginia.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:51 AM | | Comments (0)
        

December 29, 2010

Season recap: Alex Twine

There was very little fanfare surrounding Alex Twine as he began his senior season.

The Quince Orchard linebacker started five games as a junior and had no scholarship offers entering fall camp. Cougars defensive coordinator John Kelley, however, expected that to change in a hurry after he saw Twine take the practice field in August.

“He just developed physically and really worked hard in the offseason doing what he needed to,” Kelley said. “He came into camp at about 205, 210, somewhere in that range. … He made plays all through camp. Our first scrimmage, he made plays. He was making plays that a lot of guys can’t make. He’s smart. His football intelligence as well as athletic ability, when you put them together you get a successful combination.”

Twine went from an unrated and unknown SAM linebacker prospect to a Washington Post first-team All-Met selection. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior committed to Maryland earlier this month after recording 52 tackles (including 18 for loss), forcing four fumbles and intercepting three passes for the Cougars.

“He didn’t come into the season as a three- or four-star recruit,” Kelley said. “He didn’t have all this pressure to make plays. He had the ability to make plays and not worry about, ‘if I miss this tackle, I’m not going to get this scholarship.’ We told him the whole time that once he got his first offer – I think it was UMass – once that comes, that’s when they all come. If you get one offer, the dominoes start to fall. He didn’t play with that pressure.”

Twine thrived this season under the tutelage of Kelley, a standout linebacker-defensive end at Seneca Valley who played collegiately at Towson. After Kelley graduated, a succession of coaching jobs followed. He spent one year as Wesley College’s linebackers coach, two years as a graduate assistant at Maryland and two years as the defensive line coach at North Carolina Central.

After landing the Quince Orchard defensive coordinator job two years ago, Kelley immediately went to work installing a package with the sophistication of a college program. It was a system that Twine seemed built for.

“He allowed us to use multiple fronts,” Kelley said. “If that’s what you’re trying to do, you’re only going to have a lot of success defensively if … [you have] a linebacker that can line up the right way, with the ability to [succeed whether] you’re playing a spread team or a power football team. If they try to run the ball, he has to be in the game all the time. [Some defenses] would substitute someone at linebacker playing against a spread team. But we don’t have to do that. We can stay in multiple fronts because of his ability to play in coverage successfully and play the run successfully. That’s a big advantage there. He can be physical in the run game and does a great job in pass coverage.”

Twine’s versatility was on display throughout the Cougars’ 9-3 season, which ended with a 33-14 loss to Damascus in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs. Against the Hornets, Twine was charged with a variety of challenging assignments.

“There was a play where his responsibility was to cover the No. 2 receiver all over the field,” Kelley said. “If [the receiver] runs straight on a vertical route, [Twine] has to shade him the whole way down the field. Keep in mind that Alex is 6-1, 210, and the kid that he was lined up on was 5-8, 165 and could run pretty fast. The kid runs a vertical route, the quarterback makes the throw and Alex extends his whole body, lays out and deflects the pass. If he hadn’t deflected the pass, it’s a touchdown. That’s a guy 210 pounds running 40 yards down the field with a little scatback and making a great play on the ball.”

Kelley said Twine was disappointed about Ralph Friedgen’s dismissal from Maryland, but said the linebacker will “make the best” of the coaching situation. No matter who leads the Terps next season, Kelley expects the new coach to be pleased with Twine’s potential.

“I think he has a big upside,” Kelley said. “He just turned 17 years old. Most kids aren’t going to mature until they hit that growth spurt, and at 18 or 19 they gain more strength in the weight room. For him, he just played the whole year at 16. Most guys that are 16 are sophomores, maybe juniors. His best football is without question ahead of him.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

December 28, 2010

Season recap: Tyrek Cheeseboro & Nate Clarke

Like Cody Blue, Lorne Goree, Zach Kerr and David Mackall before them, Tyrek Cheeseboro and Nate Clarke took a semester-long detour to Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy before beginning their respective college careers.

Cheeseboro, a standout wide receiver at Milford Mill, and Clarke, a versatile lineman from Archbishop Carroll in Washington, will follow the paths of Blue, Goree, Kerr and Mackall to College Park starting in January, giving them a jump on their fellow Terps freshmen.

Fork Union coach John Shuman said Cheeseboro and Clarke – like their Maryland predecessors – fared well with the Blue Devils (7-2).

“They’ve got their eligibility and they’re rolling,” Shuman said. “They were main cogs in our seven-game win streak, most definitely.”

The 6-foot, 180-pound Cheeseboro quickly emerged as Fork Union’s big-play threat at receiver. A three-star prospect and the No. 18 prep school prospect nationally according to Rivals.com, Cheeseboro impressed Shuman with his speed and his work ethic.

“He probably had 28 receptions,” Shuman said. “He did well catching the ball, stretching the field. He was also our jet sweep guy. We put him in motion and gave him the ball. He was a very pleasant guy to work with, always excited about practice, always wanted to get better. We really, really think he’s a fine prospect.”

Cheeseboro worked this fall with former Virginia Tech standout Josh Hyman, in his first season as Fork Union’s wide receivers coach. Hyman had a brief stint with the St. Louis Rams and spent some time in the Indoor Football League. Shuman said Cheeseboro flourished under Hyman’s tutelage, and demonstrated excellent potential for the next level.

“We think he’s an outside guy because he’s got that vertical threat. He can get off,” Shuman said. “We were fortunate enough to have a receivers coach that just got out of the pros. He taught him a lot – how to get off the press, get down the field and he knows how to find the open areas to sit in. I think he’s going to be a nice outside guy, a nice Z type guy.”

Clarke, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive tackle, started slow for FUMA. Shuman admitted that it took some time for Clarke -- a four-star prospect and Rivals.com’s No. 4 prep school prospect -- to mature and get used to the military-school experience.

“Once his mind caught up with his tools, you could see a great prospect,” Shuman said. “He was used to being a big man on campus up there at Archbishop Carroll. He was a little immature out of high school. Once he got into the structure here, that certainly helped him. It’s either stop playing around and get serious or sit on the bench. He got some maturity here, grew up a little bit. Once he got that out of the way, he was ready to go. He’s ready to rock and roll.”

Shuman said he was “sad” to hear of Ralph Friedgen’s dismissal from Maryland, noting that he enjoyed a good relationship with the veteran Terps coach. He hopes that Cheeseboro and Clarke won’t be the last Maryland commitments that prepare for college with a post-grad season at Fork Union.

“Most of our kids that we get from Maryland are ahead of the game a little bit,” Shuman said. “[Cheeseboro and Clarke] are mature players. They’re ahead of schedule. Their work here has kept them ahead of schedule. Now they’re going into spring ball and learning a new system. It’s going to be great.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:35 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Season recaps
        

December 27, 2010

Season recap: Cole Farrand

Players on the Pope John XXIII football team in Sparta, N.J., always knew where they stood with Cole Farrand.

Throughout his career with the Lions, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker was never shy about voicing his opinions on the field and off.

“He’s a true leader,” said Pope John coach Vic Paternostro. “He’s not a silent leader. He is verbal. And he gets his point across.”

Paternostro had plenty of examples of the Maryland-bound linebacker demonstrating his leadership skills during his senior season. But one game, against cross-town rival Sparta, stands out.

“We had a tough ball game playing our archrival,” Paternostro said. “Things just weren’t going right, and at halftime, he just laid into the team and really got them awakened and got them going. We came out fired up.”

The Lions trailed 9-0 at halftime, but after Farrand’s speech, they rallied for a 19-9 victory over Sparta. With Farrand patrolling the middle of Pope John’s defense at linebacker, and providing a dynamic offensive threat at tight end, the Lions finished the 2010 season with a 10-1 record. Farrand’s senior year came to an earlier-than-expected end with a 34-27 loss to Holy Spirit of Atlantic City in the semifinal round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Non-Public, Group 3 tournament.

“It wasn’t easy,” Paternostro said. “It wasn’t easy for any of them. We had 14 seniors who played their last game. You make a three-hour trip down there, then play our hearts out, then lose in the last 22 seconds. It’s kind of hard to take.”

Farrand, a three-year starter at linebacker, finished the season with 78 tackles, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception returned for a touchdown. He also caught three touchdown passes, impressing his coach with his versatility.

“One thing he has is decisive speed on offense,” Paternostro said. “He has very good hands and he’s quick defensively. The way he gets to the ball, you don’t know how he did it, but he just gets there. His ability to read and diagnose plays is impressive.”

Paternostro called Farrand a “darkhorse at tight end” in college, but Maryland’s plans call for him to play defense upon his arrival in College Park. Paternostro said he thinks Farrand has the potential to contribute on special teams as a true freshman. Based on Farrand’s success at Pope John, nothing would surprise Paternostro.

“When you have a sophomore linebacker starting for us, it’s very, very unusual,” Paternostro said. “To see him come up and step up sophomore year, you knew we had something special. He had an outstanding junior year as far as his reading ability and everything else. … [And] he had a fantastic [senior] season. He’s constantly improving every single day.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:23 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

December 24, 2010

Weekly recruiting roundup

No matter whom Maryland names as its next football coach, at least two of the Terps' commitments from Florida are planning to be in College Park come fall.

The Naples (Fla.) Daily News spoke this week to cornerback Makinton Dorleant and safety Lukas Foreman, both of whom committed to the Terps this month before the coaching change was announced. Both players told their hometown paper that their commitments stand.

“Mike Leach is a great coach and will bring a high-powered offense,” said Dorleant, who has ran a 4.37 seconds in the 40 yard dash. “Coach [Don] Brown told me he’s staying, and if he’s there, I’m there. If he were to go, I’m sure Coach Leach or whomever they hire would come talk to me. I’d see what he has to say.

“The ACC is where I want to be.”

... “I’m committed to Maryland,” Foreman said. “I’m sad Coach Friedgen is gone, but I’m looking forward to playing safety for them.”

• Bowie cornerback Jeremiah Hendy may be back on the market, according to ESPN.com.

Defensive back Jeremiah Hendy (Bowie, Md./Bowie) committed to Maryland in late April, but recently opened his recruitment back up when Terrapins offensive coordinator James Franklin was named head coach at Vanderbilt.

Hendy was in Iowa City over the weekend on an official visit with the Iowa Hawkeyes.

• Miramar (Fla.) safety Steven Montgomery discussed his two favorites with Rivals.com last week.

“Right now my top two are Maryland and West Virginia,” Montgomery said. “Those are the main two visits that I know I am going to take. The other two are kind of wide open right now. I might take one to Western Michigan because they have been showing me a lot of love and attention. The other one, I don’t know what I am going to do with that one.”

• Kempsville (Va.) linebacker Travis Hughes committed last weekend to North Carolina.

Hughes' brother, Trenton, is a defensive back for Maryland, so the Terrapins worked hard to continue the family tradition. Many in-state fans were also pressuring Hughes to remain at home and play for the ACC champion Hokies.

But UNC won out in the end, picking up an athlete who has been timed at 4.48 in the 40-yard dash.

• Gateway (Pa.) defensive back Dondi Kirby has pledged to Illinois.

Kirby's final five came down to Iowa, Illinois, Southern Cal, Maryland and Florida.

Basketball recruiting

• Terps center target Desmond Hubert has gotten off to a solid start in his senior season at New Egypt High in New Jersey.

The Warriors were led by [Mark] Pryzbylkowski with 18 points in the opening 69-32 win over Maple Shade. Hubert added eight points and eight rebounds. In a 58-20 win over Highland Park on Monday, Hubert had 12 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Warriors.

The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer's Dan Wiederer took a look this week at Hubert's evolving recruiting picture.

One recruit to keep an eye on: 6-9 big man Desmond Hubert from New Egypt (N.J.) High School. Ranked 131st in the 2011 class by Rivals.com, Hubert has four ACC programs on his short list of five schools with Maryland, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and North Carolina all in the running.

• Oakland Mills forward Greg Whittington powered the Scorpions to a big win over Atholton on Wednesday.

But Whittington appeared to be at full strength Wednesday as he torched Atholton for 30 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks to carry the Scorpions past the Raiders, 63-43.

• Maryland shooting guard signee Nick Faust scored 13 points Tuesday night in City's 79-68 loss to Patterson.

While the Knights were showing a surprising lack of poise down the stretch — Maryland-bound senior forward Nick Faust missed four straight free throws during one possession while they had a 62-58 lead with 4:48 to play — [Aquille] Carr and the Clippers cranked up the tempo to win going away.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:49 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

December 23, 2010

Season recap: Nigel King

Otis Yelverton's Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy team prided itself on playing "smash-mouth football."

But the Cadets' run-oriented offense and physical style of play didn’t stop Maryland-bound wide receiver Nigel King from having a big year.

“He did great. He led the team in receptions,” Yelverton said. “… [During one game] we ran a slant and go and the quarterback threw the ball a little behind him. And he just went up over the DB, caught the ball, still came down with it and scored the touchdown. That was probably the play I’ll remember the most about this season.”

Yelverton said the Cadets threw the ball about 12 times a game, spreading the ball around to King, a receiver headed to Wisconsin and an Oregon State commitment. King, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior, finished the year with 38 receptions for about 732 yards and eight touchdowns, helping Oak Ridge to an 11-0 record.

“I’d say a lot of [our success was because of] our great defense. We averaged 42 points a game,” Yelverton said. “We run a West Coast offense. So basically, we used him pretty much the same way that the 49ers used Jerry Rice. We did a lot of slants, a lot of hitches, so matching him up against smaller DBs, which created havoc. He’s so strong, so that’s how we used him.”

Yelverton said King transferred to Oak Ridge from Wakefield High in Raleigh, N.C. for his senior year to shore up his academics and graduate early. Yelverton said the future Terp took care of business in the classroom and is ready to start college in January.

“If [former Texas Tech coach] Mike Leach does get the [Maryland] job, there will be more vertical routes,” Yelverton said. “When you look at what [Ralph] Friedgen did, there were more slants, hitches and digs. It’s a totally different offense, so I really don’t know. I think the biggest thing is, Nigel’s just kind of sitting back and waiting around to see who’s the coach.”

King’s size and speed reminds Yelverton of former Red Raiders and current 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree. While King needs to improve his route running, Yelverton thinks he’s a college-ready prospect. He'll be sorely missed in Oak Ridge’s lineup next year.

“He’s a good practice kid, he doesn’t give you a hard time, he doesn’t talk back, he’s not disrespectful and he’s not arrogant or cocky,” Yelverton said.” You have receivers that are prima donnas, but he’s not that way at all. … It’s going to be harder to replace him because it’s hard to replace a kid that’s 6-3, 200 pounds that does some of the things he does. That’s the biggest thing we did, but we’ll try to replace him.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

December 22, 2010

Season recap: Andrew Zeller

When Pat Conrad needed a game-changing play, the Red Lion (Pa.) football coach often turned to a seemingly unlikely source – his offensive and defensive lines.

Conrad zeroed in on right offensive guard and defensive tackle, where Maryland-bound lineman Andrew Zeller manned both starting positions for the Lions.

“He was a huge part of our success on both sides of the ball,” Conrad said. “Offensively, being able to run the football and provide pass protection. And defensively, he was a force on the defensive line. I think he had seven sacks, 67 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, something like that. He just came through. He came through with big plays when we needed them.”

Zeller, a 6-foot-6, 290-pound senior, was a force all season long, helping the Lions to a 10-4 record and an appearance in the Pennsylvania 4A quarterfinals. For Conrad, one of Zeller’s most memorable senior moments came against Lancaster McCaskey in a district matchup.

“He blocked an extra point, which was the difference in the football game,” Conrad said of the Lions’ 14-13 win. “Even in that game, he ended up with a fumble recovery on their last play in order for us to gain possession and run out the clock. Other games, in the Dallastown game the second time, he was in on 17 different plays with either a sack, a deflected pass, a tackle for loss or just a regular tackle. There was a huge fourth-and-1 situation there. He came in with the big stop.”

While his high school season is done, Zeller still has a couple more games on tap before he enrolls in college. He’ll play in the Chesapeake Bowl on Dec. 30 at Towson’s Johnny Unitas Stadium, and in the Big 33 Classic this summer – an all-star game pitting Pennsylvania’s best against the top players from Ohio.

Conrad wasn’t surprised at all by the attention his star lineman received for his senior-year success.

“I said it when he was coming into his sophomore year that he would have this opportunity,” Conrad said. “He was 6-2, 210 pounds as a sophomore. And now he’s 6-6, 290. He’s a lean, mean, fighting machine. But he’s only 17 years old. He just turned 17 in October. He doesn’t turn 18 until October of his freshman year.”

Conrad said Zeller has emerged as a “leader of his recruiting class” at Maryland, demonstrating “levelheadedness and maturity” throughout the coaching upheaval. It remains to be seen which side of the ball Zeller ends up on in college, but the program he’ll suit up for has never been in question.

“He had offers from other schools on the defensive line,” Conrad said. “In fact, Oregon had offered him on the defensive line, but I guess it depends on the system and where coaches want to put him. He’s open to either side of the ball. He just wants to go play football at the University of Maryland.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:02 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Season recaps
        

December 21, 2010

On Ralph Friedgen, the recruiter

ralph-friedgen-photo.jpg A business decision has been made, sending Ralph Friedgen to an early retirement and the Maryland football program into uncharted waters.

While others have chronicled the steps that led to his dismissal, this is a look at Friedgen on the recruiting trail, and how he was perceived by players and coaches.

An old-school coach who -- as Kevin Van Valkenburg noted in this excellent tribute -- was not at all comfortable with sucking up to prospective recruits, Friedgen was a favorite of many high school coaches. In countless interviews I’ve conducted over the past three-and-a-half years, coaches would praise Friedgen for his no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is approach with players – a stark contrast from many sweet-talking college football salesmen.

“I’ve been very lucky to meet a lot of head coaches because of the great players we have,” said Quince Orchard coach Dave Mencarini, whose former players Travis Hawkins and Zach Kerr were signed by Friedgen. “Not a lot of them take his approach. They like to play the recruiting game. It takes a special kid to see through that, to look at what’s important. To me, Ralph is who he says he is. It’s not about the stadium, the uniforms and the weight room. It’s about where you’re going to be in five years when you leave.”

The knock on Friedgen the Recruiter was that he wasn’t as active locally as some area coaches might have liked him to be. James Franklin, however, filled many of those gaps. While Friedgen didn’t hit the road nearly as much as his well-traveled assistants, he was a closer on campus and in homes. His message to recruits was clear.

“What Coach Friedgen talked about mainly was academics and the type of people they want to recruit to Maryland. And I think Darius fits that role of the type of person Coach Friedgen wants to have at Maryland.”

That was a quote last year from Weddington (N.C.) High’s Justin Hardin, who coached Terps freshman defensive tackle Darius Kilgo. Here’s DeMatha coach Bill McGregor last week, speaking about cornerback Michael Williams’ commitment to the Terps.

“No. 1, you get a great education. No. 2, you have a football coach who really cares about his players and makes sure they get their degree...”

Strong academics and numerous internship and job opportunities within driving distance to College Park were popular refrains cited by recruits when asked why they chose Maryland. Friedgen and his staff preached football as a means to a free education more than anything else.

After the Military Bowl, Maryland will bring in a new coach who will be tasked with filling Byrd Stadium and bringing the Terps the kind of success they experienced under Friedgen in his first few years on the job. On the recruiting trail, Maryland football’s new leader will follow someone who countless other coaches trusted, respected and admired.

“He wants to focus on the kid and help him become successful in life,” Mencarini said. “The way he goes about it, the proof is in hundreds of examples of players he’s coached. I think that underneath, it takes a while to realize what’s inside of him as a person. I’ve seen the emotional side, I’ve seen the compassionate side and I’ve also seen the tough side. But I just feel very comfortable with my players that have had the opportunity to play for him because they are better men because of him.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Ralph Friedgen by Kenneth K. Lam / August 30, 2001

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:44 PM | | Comments (8)
        

December 20, 2010

Weekend wrap – Gibbs, Faust in action

Maryland's two commitments for the 2011 basketball recruiting class were both in action over the weekend.

Point guard Sterling Gibbs was Seton Hall Prep's leading scorer in its 66-56 loss to Columbia (N.J.) Sunday night.

Senior guard Sterling Gibbs scored 21 points for Seton Hall, including four straight off steals early in the fourth period to open a 48-44 lead.

Terps shooting guard signee Nick Faust led City in scoring Saturday, but couldn't lead the Knights to a win. The Sun's top-ranked team suffered a 78-66 loss to No. 2 St. Frances.

City got a team-high 22 points from senior forward Nick Faust, with senior guard Mike Cheatham adding 17.

• Potential Terps forward target Greg Whittington led Oakland Mills to a 61-58 comeback win over Centennial.

“It was like ‘wow’ for a minute,” said Oakland Mills forward Greg Whittington (14 points, 10 rebounds). “But all we had to do was slow it down and work it around to get open shots against their 2-3 (zone). We just had to step it up and work harder.”

• Terps women's commitment Chloe Pavlech helped Sycamore (Ohio) to a 52-38 win over Mason.

The Aviators improved to 7-0 with the help of Chloe Pavlech's 14 points.

Football recruiting

• After playing in the Shrine Bowl this weekend, Terps offensive line commitment Stephen Grommer spoke to the Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald about Maryland's coaching situation.

"I really want to talk to the coaches before I say anything and I'm not either way about it right now," Grommer said. "I've been just trying to concentrate on the Shrine Bowl and have fun and then I'll worry about that later.

• Terps linebacker pledge Alex Twine played in the Maryland Crab Bowl on Saturday and spoke to Patch.com about the UM coaching situation after the game.

"As of right now, I'm still committed to Maryland," Twine said Saturday, after Team Baltimore beat Team Washington, 21-17, in the Crab Bowl. "I haven't heard anything different."

Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
        

December 19, 2010

St. Frances' R.J. Williams to stay home for college

rj-williams-loyola.jpg R.J. Williams started his weekend by leading St. Frances to a huge win over No. 1 City on Saturday. The Panthers’ senior point guard ended it by finalizing his plans for college.

After scoring a game-high 26 points in St. Frances’ 78-66 win over the Knights, Williams was offered a scholarship by Loyola on Sunday. He committed to the Greyhounds later that day.

“It feels great – a big win and then finding a team that fits me and a place that I can play at and possibly start,” Williams said. “I can bring a good part to this team, and [hopefully] be a big piece they’re missing. I think I can fill that and help them out a lot next year.”

Williams, a 5-foot-8, 150-pound senior, was also recruited by St. Francis (Pa.) and Stony Brook. The Panthers’ leader has averaged 20 points and nine assists this season in leading St. Frances to a 6-0 record. ESPN.com ranks him the No. 142 senior point guard in the country.

“He’s clearly the best point guard in the area,” said Nick Myles, St. Frances’ athletic director and an assistant boys basketball coach. “He’s doing what you want a point guard to do. He’s scoring at a high level, getting his assists and just pushing our guys to become better players.”

Myles said Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos and Greyhounds assistant Luke D’Alessio did “a wonderful job” recruiting Williams. Patsos was on hand for St. Frances’ 72-50 rout of Digital Harbor earlier this month. In that game, Williams controlled the tempo and stifled the Rams, finishing with 13 points, eight assists and two steals.

The Greyhounds coaches “really liked his skill set and think he brings something different to Loyola basketball than they've had in a while,” Myles said.

Williams’ commitment to Loyola makes it the second straight year the Greyhounds have landed one of the Baltimore Catholic League’s best players. Former Cardinal Gibbons guard Dylon Cormier, a Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection last spring, is a freshman at Loyola. Williams and Cormier were teammates with the Mount Royal youth program in middle school.

“I always wanted to play with him again, but never got a chance because we played for two different schools and two different AAU teams,” Williams said. “But me and my parents and my brother talked about if they made the offer, what would my answer be. And I’d really love to go to the school, so I just took the chance and took the offer.”

Baltimore Sun photo of R.J. Williams by Karl Merton Ferron / Dec. 10, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:00 PM | | Comments (1)
        

December 18, 2010

Blake Countess discusses Michigan commitment

When it became clear to Blake Countess that he would play football in college, the Good Counsel cornerback kick-started the recruiting process by formulating a short list of schools.

The main criterion for the four-star prospect and Reisterstown resident was simple.

“I was looking for a school with a degree that meant something,” Countess said Saturday. “Michigan was always on my list. [Wolverines wide receivers] coach [Tony] Dews told me he was going to keep pushing for me to get an offer from the coaching staff. It finally came midseason. They wanted to see some senior tape. But it finally came around midseason, and that's all she wrote.”

Countess, a second-team Washington Post All-Met selection, committed to Michigan on Thursday, picking the Wolverines over offers from Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Maryland and North Carolina State, among others.

After a few elementary-school years spent participating in karate and gymnastics, Countess joined a local football team at age 10 and quickly became a recreation-league sensation. He moved on to Gilman for eighth grade and suited up for the Greyhounds' varsity squad as a 10th-grader.

Countess became a national recruit after transferring to Good Counsel for his junior season. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound defensive back helped the Falcons win back-to-back Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships. Rivals.com ranked him the No. 2 senior in Maryland and the No. 156 overall player in the country.

Countess visited Ann Arbor the first weekend of December, with former Old Mill star and Wolverines freshman safety Josh Furman serving as his host. Countess said he bonded with many of his future teammates and was blown away by a trip to Michigan Stadium.

“The Big House, I knew about it but hadn't really seen it at all,” Countess said. “When I went there, it was just unbelievable. I really fell in love with the school, the atmosphere and Ann Arbor.”

While Countess acknowledged that Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is “on the hot seat,” his commitment to the Big Ten program went beyond his comfort level with the Wolverines' staff.

“Nobody really knows if [Rodriguez is] going to be there next year or not,” Countess said. “But going into this process, [I knew] college football coaches come and go. That's just how it works. My dad told me whenever I got a new offer that I should pick a school based on where I'd want to be if I wasn't playing football. [He said], ‘That's where you're going to be happiest.' With Michigan, I'm hoping Coach Rod is going to be there. If not, I picked a school that I like no matter what.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:27 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

December 17, 2010

What Franklin's departure means for recruiting

When it looked like the biggest news of the day would be James Franklin leaving College Park for Vanderbilt, I called on two area coaches and a recruiting analyst for their take on how the offensive coordinator's departure would affect Maryland's recruiting.

And then Terps athletic director Kevin Anderson was noncommittal about Ralph Friedgen's return in 2011 and other media outlets reported that a buyout was in the works, rendering much of that reporting moot.

Here's what I wrote about Franklin before the uncertainty about Friedgen's future came to light:

Rivals.com has listed Franklin as one of the country’s Top 25 recruiters for each of the past two years. In spite of the Terps’ recent on-field struggles — most notably the 2-10 campaign in 2009 — they managed to land recruiting classes ranked in the upper-half of the ACC. The 2011 recruiting class has 23 known commitments, including four that committed this week. Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell said that group could stay intact, but Franklin’s loss will be felt long term.

“I think it’s going to have a big impact,” Farrell said. “You may not see a whole bunch of kids deserting this year because it is late. There are going to be some guys targeted that are looking around a bit. … But he was the guy who was really the key for them for in-state recruiting. Remember, when he left for the NFL, things sort of fell apart in-state. That’s when Penn State started raiding [Maryland] and stealing all the guys. When he got back, obviously they did a better job in-state. I think moving forward, in-state recruiting efforts will suffer a bit. They’ve been telling kids, and truthfully so, ‘OK, this is going to be our new head coach down the line. When Ralph isn’t here, James is going to be.’ I think a lot of players’ parents like that sort of feeling. They’re comfortable with that feeling. If there’s one guy they didn’t want to lose, it was him. Period.”

Franklin quickly endeared himself to local high school coaches when he returned to College Park in December 2007 after spending 2005 as the Green Bay Packers’ wide receivers coach and the 2006 and 2007 seasons as Kansas State’s offensive coordinator. Franklin was charged with recruiting the state’s most talent-rich areas, including Baltimore and Prince George’s County.

“One thing he did, he went to every school in PG County,” Forestville coach Charles Harley said. “I’m not sure about other [areas in Maryland]. But he went to Central [High], which hasn’t had a Division I kid in a decade. He went to Fairmont Heights. He just went to every school, even if they didn’t traditionally have Division I kids. He still took his time to hit everything, and that goes a long way.”

Three of Harley’s former players — redshirt freshman offensive lineman De’Onte Arnett, sophomore tight end Devonte Campbell and sophomore wide receiver Kevin Dorsey — are on scholarship at Maryland, while another Forestville player will be a preferred walk-on next fall and a former Knights team manager also works with the Terps’ football program. Harley appreciated Franklin’s honesty, and said Maryland would be wise to find a “finisher” to replace him on staff.

“Maryland’s been good to me with Coach Franklin and hopefully will be going forward,” Harley said. “Coach Franklin was so good because he’s young and energetic and he relates to the kids. That goes a long way, not just locally but everywhere.”

Milford Mill coach Reggie White has a relationship with Friedgen dating back to the early 1990s, when he was a rookie defensive tackle with the San Diego Chargers and the Terps coach was an offensive assistant. Over the past several years, White said he forged a strong bond with Franklin as well.

Former Milford Mill wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro — who’s finishing a post-grad year at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia — has committed to Maryland. Cheeseboro has limited cell phone access at the military school, and White hadn't spoken to him about Franklin taking the Vanderbilt job. But the Millers coach did say that his former star wide receiver picked the Terps for more than just Franklin.

“I know [Cheeseboro] not only fell in love with Franklin, but he fell in love with the university and the rest of the coaching staff,” White said. “They have a strong coaching staff now. Maybe one or two [recruits] jump ship, but I think the word on the street is that Maryland wants Maryland kids to stay home, and they’re going to do what they need to do to get them.”

One final blog-related note for the night. I had planned on attending the Maryland Crab Bowl at Bowie State and blogging on the game, but this Friedgen story will keep me in the office Saturday instead. Check back with baltimoresun.com for Todd Karpovich's game story on the event.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:25 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Weekly recruiting roundup

What had been rumored for nearly a week became official Friday morning when Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin was named Vanderbilt's new football coach.

While there was plenty of uncertainty regarding Maryland's head-coach-in-waiting, it didn't stop the Terps' staff from continuing to plug away at the 2011 recruiting class. Maryland landed four commitments over the past week: Lely (Fla.) cornerback Makinton Dorleant, Quince Orchard linebacker Alex Twine, Naples (Fla.) safety Lukas Foreman and DeMatha cornerback Michael Williams.

Patch's Aaron Kraut wrote about Twine's season to remember.

"He was a hell of a lot more consistent this year than he was last year," [QO coach Dave] Mencarini said. "He just started making plays from the very first practice all the way through the last game of the year. I mean, the plays that he was making are plays Division I players make."

Franklin's departure hasn't led to any defections from the Terps' 2011 class just yet. Bowie defensive back Jeremiah Hendy dispelled rumors that he backed out of his pledge in a premium article for Scout.com.

The three-star defensive back says that he is still committed to Maryland.

• The Terps will find out this weekend if Travis Hughes plans to follow older brother Trenton to College Park.

In addition to [Stephone] Anthony, [Virginia] Tech is waiting to hear from linebacker Travis Hughes (Kempsville High in Virginia Beach; making decision Saturday between Tech, UNC, Maryland and Clemson) ...

• UM offensive line commitment Stephen Grommer is going through Shrine Bowl practices on his home field at Spartanburg (S.C.) High.

"A change of scenery would have been nice," the Maryland commitment said. "It's not really an advantage to me here. A practice field is a practice field."

• Terps wide receiver pledge Marcus Leak will play for the North Carolina squad in the Shrine Bowl.

• Owings Mills offensive tackle Donovan Smith has narrowed his list of schools to North Carolina State, Penn State and UCLA.

He plans to announce his decision after playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 8 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The senior offensive tackle, who is 6 feet 6 and 260 pounds, had whittled his list from about 20 offers to seven, but has since dropped Maryland, Michigan State, Syracuse and Connecticut.

Basketball recruiting

• The Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger's Matthew Stanmyre this week wrote a must-read piece about Terps center target Desmond Hubert and his relationship with his uncle.

Mr. Blue Chip Recruit (Hubert) changes oil filters. He sweeps the floor. And, yes, he pumps gas in the rain and freezing weather. When he’s home, Hubert also vacuums, takes out the trash and mows the lawn.

Henry Jackson, the man who made a promise to his dying sister, wouldn’t have it any other way.

• Adam Zagoria reported this week that the Terps have expressed interest in former Seton Hall commitment Eugene McCrory, who went to high school in Washington.

[McCrory's prep school coach] said he has also received calls from Marquette, Maryland,Indiana, Clemson, Colorado and Quinnipiac. Maryland has invited him to a game in the coming weeks.

• Oakland Mills forward Greg Whittington had a monster game Wednesday in the Scorpions' win over Hammond.

The 6-foot-9 swing forward - who has received interest Maryland, Clemson, DePaul, Texas, La Salle and George Mason, among others - finished with 28 points on Wednesday night, overcoming some minor early frustration to lead Oakland Mills to a 79-44 home win over defending Howard County champion Hammond.

• Maryland women's commitment Chloe Pavlech guided Sycamore (Ohio) to a 62-50 win over Fairfield on Wednesday.

The Aves Chloe Pavlech led the way scoring a team-high 18 points.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:11 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

Crab Bowl, City-St. Frances on tap for Saturday

It'll be a busy Saturday for many local sports fans and one Baltimore Sun recruiting blogger.

The third annual Maryland Crab Bowl football all-star game is set to kick off at noon at Bowie State. Seven hours later, two of Baltimore’s best high school basketball teams will battle.

The Crab Bowl is once again loaded with Division I talent. The Baltimore roster features Calvert Hall safety Adrian Amos (UConn), Boys’ Latin defensive end Marco Jones (Virginia) and Gilman offensive lineman Hunter Goodwin (Wake Forest). Washington’s roster includes new Maryland commitment Alex Twine, a linebacker from Quince Orchard.

At 7 p.m. at St. Frances, the No. 2 Panthers host No. 1 City in the most highly anticipated matchup of this young basketball season. The Knights are led by Maryland-bound shooting guard Nick Faust, in addition to a strong supporting cast that includes guard Mike Cheatham and power forward Charles Tapper – both Division I prospects.

Senior center Greg Lewis, who has signed with Rutgers, had a monster game last Friday in St. Frances’ big win over Digital Harbor. Senior point guard R.J. Williams and senior wing Eddie Tarver are two savvy veterans that also starred against the Rams last week, and will be counted on to do the same against City.

Check back with Recruiting Report on Saturday for more on the Crab Bowl, and baltimoresun.com/sports for Glenn Graham’s game story on City-St. Frances.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:55 AM | | Comments (0)
        

December 16, 2010

DeMatha's Michael Williams follows path to UM

Maryland didn't really recruit Madieu Williams coming out of high school. Michael Williams, however, is a different story.

The Terps landed the elder Williams brother – now a veteran safety with the Minnesota Vikings – as a transfer from Towson. Michael Williams, meanwhile, was identified by the Maryland staff well before his senior year this fall at DeMatha. It was just a matter of time before he decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps.

“He went up there this weekend on a visit and committed,” said Stags coach Bill McGregor. “… When [Maryland coach] Ralph [Friedgen] met Mike a couple years ago, he said he looked exactly like Madieu coming out of high school.”

Williams, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound cornerback, picked up his offer from Maryland last spring, but wasn’t in any rush to make his decision. McGregor said the three-star prospect also considered scholarships from Illinois, Miami (Ohio), New Mexico and Toledo before deciding on the Terps.

“I think he just wanted to look around and see. Then all of a sudden you realize you can’t go wrong with the University of Maryland,” McGregor said. “No. 1, you get a great education. No. 2, you have a football coach who really cares about his players and makes sure they get their degree. No. 3, it’s a great football team. And No. 4, his brother played there and he’s a legacy. It’s almost like a no-brainer. You know how kids are sometimes – they like to look around. But all along, Maryland was the No. 1 choice – no doubt about it.”

Williams began his DeMatha career in the fall of 2007 on the Stags’ freshman team. He earned a spot on McGregor’s varsity squad the following year, even starting a few games as a sophomore. Through all of Michael's successes at DeMatha, Madieu has been there to offer advice and encouragement.

“They’re incredibly close,” McGregor said. “Michael and Madieu talk all the time. Madieu will come to his track meets – you’ll see Madieu during the spring. It’s kind of hard for him [to see Michael’s football games] with football season up in Minnesota, but yeah, they’re incredibly close.”

McGregor said Madieu encouraged his younger brother to run track. The results speak for themselves, with Michael running the fastest 400-meter time in Washington last season, according to McGregor. The DeMatha coach said Williams’ track speed and accomplished football career with the Stags make him a promising recruit for the Terps.

“He can run, he’s very athletic [and he’s] very quick,” McGregor said. “With the track kids, they run like there’s a little spring in their step. They bounce a little bit. That’s the type of kid he is. He’s very athletic [and] he can catch the ball very well. I think he’ll do fine at the University of Maryland.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:38 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Fla. safety Lukas Foreman on Terps commitment

Two springs ago Don Brown made his yearly recruiting rounds in Florida as Maryland's newly hired defensive coordinator.

Naples (Fla.) High was one of Brown’s regular stops during his time as Massachusetts’ head coach, so he booked another trip to check out Bill Kramer’s program in 2009.

Lukas Foreman, meanwhile, was a lanky linebacker who saw action for Kramer’s Golden Eagles as a sophomore. Brown saw enough potential in Foreman during that visit to offer the 10th-grader a scholarship.

“I was freaking out,” Foreman said Wednesday. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play college football. [The opportunity] just happened as a sophomore.”

While the excitement over Foreman’s first scholarship offer lingered, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound linebacker decided to take his time with the recruiting process. A three-star prospect according to Rivals.com, Foreman eventually landed offers from Cincinnati, Kansas, Middle Tennessee State and West Virginia. But earlier this week, Foreman decided to go with the program that offered him first.

“He committed [to Maryland Tuesday] night at home,” Kramer said. “Don Brown was in [Tuesday]. He did a really good job recruiting him. I’ve had a good relationship with Don Brown for a long time. I sent kids to UMass when he was there and felt really good about Lukas going to Maryland.”

Foreman said the Terps were always on his mind as he progressed through high school, though he did give serious consideration to his other suitors. Maryland’s academics, Foreman said, were ultimately what put the Terps ahead of the competition. He also enjoyed his official visit to College Park for the Terps’ Oct. 2 win over Duke.

“The atmosphere was crazy because they hate Duke,” Foreman said. “It was fun. They brought me in, met all the coaches, had a pre-game meal with all the players, went to the game and then I was hanging out with my host that night. It was fun. And after that, I got to talk to Coach [Ralph] Friedgen for a little bit.”

A star hurdler and workout warrior, Foreman will be shifted from linebacker in high school to safety in college. Kramer said he thinks Foreman has an ideal frame for the position at the collegiate level.

“Well certainly he has tremendous length and has all the stuff you want physically. His genetics are really good,” Kramer said. “He can run really well and has exceptional hips. He hits guys and they go in the other direction all the time. … Certainly he can get more strength and speed, but he’s worked really hard on all of that.”

Kramer said he knew Foreman was a “no-brainer” Division I prospect from the moment he met him. Brown and the rest of the Maryland coaching staff, evidently, agreed. Next fall in College Park, it’ll be up to Foreman to prove them right.

“I don’t really know what they expect from me,” Foreman said, “but I’m going to go up there and continue to do what I do. And that’s just hit people and be an athlete.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
        

December 15, 2010

Fla. CB Makinton Dorleant discusses UM pledge

At around the midway point of Makinton Dorleant's sophomore season, Dave Miller had seen enough.

The head football coach at Lely High in Naples, Fla., thought Dorleant had the potential to earn a Division I scholarship. But Miller knew that wouldn’t happen unless his promising young cornerback started “doing things the right way all the time.”

“I became lazy – lazy in the classroom,” Dorleant said Tuesday. “And Coach Miller, who’s like a father to me, he came into my life. … He came in and changed it around. He made me sit in a room, [and we] had a talk. … He just laid everything out. He said, ‘You can go [play college football] somewhere.’ I went home and told my mom, ‘I can go somewhere’ and not just be working at McDonald’s for the next four years. That wouldn’t be a benefit to my mom at all.”

After that talk, academics became a priority, and Dorleant’s off-the-field preparation for football improved dramatically as well. That turning point in Dorleant’s high-school career eventually led to scholarship offers from Florida International, Iowa State, Maryland, Middle Tennessee State, Texas Tech, West Virginia and Wisconsin. After a weekend visit to College Park, Dorleant decided on the Terps.

“I love that place,” said Dorleant, who was hosted on his official visit by freshman defensive back Mario Rowson. “It’s the guys, the teammates I’m going to play with the next four or five years. Those guys, they treated me like I’m their little brother. They were taking me out, showing me stuff. It felt like a home away from home.”

Dorleant committed to Wisconsin in late July but had a “mutual” parting of ways with the Big Ten program earlier this month. Several BCS-level programs immediately reached out to the 5-foot-11 ½, 170-pound senior, but the first call he made was to Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown.

“He was there from Day One with my first offer,” Dorleant said. “He’s my position coach as well. There’s always been a bond. I know there’s a bond with me and Coach Brown. He stuck with me through everything. I really liked him and that [helped make] my decision final and firm.”

Miller said Dorleant has “grown into a mature young man” off the field, and developed into a shutdown corner on it. A three-star prospect and the No. 60 cornerback prospect nationally according to Rivals.com, Dorleant possesses most of the tools college programs look for in a defensive back.

“He’s very athletic, very quick and can make the spectacular play,” Miller said. “I think he’ll probably end up being a corner at the University of Maryland. He’s almost a lockdown guy, very athletic, and he can go against the No. 1 receiver. I don’t know if he’ll go in and compete [for playing time at cornerback] right away, but he can play special teams. He just has a knack for football.”

Since Dorleant’s conversation with Miller two years ago, his report cards have been filled with Bs and the occasional A. He’s considering a major in business once he arrives next fall in College Park, equipped with a much-improved work ethic that led to this opportunity at Maryland.

“The hard work started to pay off. Now I thank God every day that he’s blessed me,” Dorleant said. “I thank my mom, thank Coach Miller, and thank Coach Brown for giving me a chance in life. I’m very humbled about that. … Now I can’t wait until Signing Day to make it official and I’ll be happy to be a Terp next fall.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:28 PM | | Comments (0)
        

December 14, 2010

Quince Orchard's Alex Twine talks Terps pledge

Alex Twine's status as a second-string linebacker for the Quince Orchard varsity football team didn't seem at the time to be a great predictor of future success.

In the fall of 2009, the 6-foot, 200-pound junior had no reason to believe his football-playing days would extend beyond his senior year.

“I don’t really know [if] I was lacking confidence, but just the whole thing wasn’t real to me,” Twine said Tuesday. “I didn’t think I could play football in college. But this year, after a couple of games, I started realizing that I’m pretty good. I had one goal in mind, and now I’m going to a really good school to play Division I football.”

That aforementioned Division I school is Maryland. Twine committed to the Terps on Tuesday after picking up a scholarship offer from UM – his first from a Football Bowl Subdivision program – last week.

Quince Orchard coach Dave Mencarini inserted Twine into the Cougars’ starting lineup for the last five games of the 2009 season. Twine responded well to the move, and his development as a prospect took off from there.

“The kid was a junior and had so much potential, and it was just getting him to believe and have confidence in his abilities,” Mencarini said. “It wasn’t until this offseason where he grew physically. It was a pretty big turnaround in the offseason in terms of his growth. From Day One, fall camp until the last game of the year, he’s been one of the best football players in the state. If he had done this well from the start, he would’ve had a dozen [FBS] offers. We’re happy that Maryland saw what we all saw in him, and are obviously very excited that he’ll be a Terp.”

Mencarini updated Terps defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Dave Sollazzo on Twine’s progress throughout the fall, sending film to College Park after QO’s third game. At the SAM linebacker position, Twine proved to be a disruptive force for the Cougars, earning Washington Post first-team All-Met honors and being named Montgomery County’s 3A Defensive Player of the Year.

As Twine continued to produce on the field, Maryland’s interest in the unranked prospect rose. Twine visited Byrd Stadium for the Wake Forest and Florida State games, and took his official trip to Maryland last weekend, where he was officially offered the scholarship. It was a moment Twine didn’t expect to happen – until he experienced some senior-season success.

“Once I got my first offer from UMass, I felt there was more to come,” Twine said. “Once I got one, I [thought I] can’t just take it easy. I wanted to keep pushing. I wanted the offers that were out there. … It was Coach [Mencarini] that made me believe.”

Twine came to Mencarini’s program as a “tall, lanky corner that grew” into the linebacker he is today. Even while Twine served time as a backup, Mencarini saw that the potential for big things was there.

“He’s got that ability where he hits you, and you just know he’s a Division I football player,” Mencarini said. “He knows how to use leverage and use his hips when he tackles. And he can run. He just turned 17 years old last Thursday. He’s 210 pounds, a hair under 6-1, so he’s maybe a little undersized for a linebacker. But athletically speaking, his best days of football are definitely ahead.”

Next fall Twine will become the third former Quince Orchard star to suit up for Maryland, joining defensive back Travis Hawkins and defensive tackle Zachariah Kerr. Twine said he’s relieved to have made his commitment and is excited to team up with his fellow Cougars in College Park.

“This is one of my dreams – to play Division I football, especially in my home state,” Twine said. “I’m going to work hard and there’s nothing that can stop me from being what everyone wants me to be and thinks I can be. Coach [Mencarini] told me that I can’t just prove it to people one season. Just because I have one big season, that’s not what I’m about. I’m going to excel from here, work to get better and better every season.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:04 PM | | Comments (3)
        

Season recap: Evan Mulrooney

Bill DiNardo doesn't keep track of pancake blocks or how his offensive linemen grade out over the course of a game.

The head football coach of the Salesianum School in Wilmington, Del., need only look to the scoreboard to judge Maryland-bound offensive tackle Evan Mulrooney and the rest of his teammates on the line.

“As an offensive team we averaged over 300 yards a game and averaged over 30 points a game, and a big part of that was over the top of Evan,” DiNardo said. “He had a great year and was recognized as one of the better offensive linemen in the state.”

A first-team All-State and All-Catholic League selection, Mulrooney paved the way for the Sallies’ quarterback and top two running backs to each rush for more than seven yards per carry. A dominant rushing attack helped Salesianum to a 9-3 record and a state semifinal appearance.

DiNardo said Mulrooney, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound senior, made the Sallies’ explosive run-oriented offense go.

“He’s not our only good lineman, but he was our most dominant lineman,” DiNardo said. “He’s the guy we were running over most of the time. … He does a lot of … straight-on blocking, also iso stuff, blocking out, kicking straight ahead. He gets outside [to that second] level and flattens the defender. And we do some passing – not a whole lot. But he does a very good job in zone blocking, pass-blocking scheme.”

Mulrooney joined DiNardo’s program three years ago as a nondescript freshman without a position. As a senior, Mulrooney barely left the field as the Sallies’ starting left tackle, nose guard and long snapper.

“He started off for us at tight end," DiNardo said. "We just felt that he wasn’t going to get on the field at tight end. He didn’t have good enough hands. But he’s made leaps and bounds for us as an offensive lineman, and also as a leader, too. He’s a really big-time leader.”

DiNardo called Mulrooney “a mauler” with excellent footwork. The Terps coaches plan to use to Mulrooney on the interior of the line – possibly at center. DiNardo, meanwhile, will miss his most consistent tackle.

“He’s a pleasure to coach, a hard worker and a big-time performer,” DiNardo said. “The kid’s got a mean streak in him. But he’s very coachable. I told some scouts, and that includes Maryland coaches, that he plays offense like it’s defense. He’s a very aggressive player.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:41 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Season recaps
        

December 13, 2010

Weekend wrap – Grading Terps' hoops class

The Maryland men's basketball program's two-man recruiting class for 2011 ranks in the upper half of the ACC, according to one veteran analyst.

ACCSports.com's Brick Oettinger graded the 12 conference schools' hoops classes for the early signing period, giving the Terps a B.

We expect [Nick] Faust to become an all-conference contender by his junior season at Maryland, while [Sterling] Gibbs isn’t a great scorer but can skillfully run the show for a team that has plenty of other options on offense.

• An ESPN Insider article touches on Desmond Hubert and the recent interest in him from North Carolina.

Hubert said on Wednesday night that the Tar Heels were at New Egypt High School to watch practice a day earlier and that he may be interested in expanding his once finalized list.

Devin Langford, a 6-foot-5 forward from Huntsville, Ala., who drew some Maryland interest, plans to play his college ball at Illinois.

"I just think it's a good place for me," said Langford, who had nine points, 13 rebounds and three blocks at Assembly Hall on Saturday. "I fit in really good. I had it in my mind that this was the place I wanted to go to. I just feel now is a good time."

Football recruiting

• Two Maryland commitments were named to Delaware's 2010 All-State football team. Salesianum offensive lineman Evan Mulrooney was a first-team selection, and Charter School of Wilmington running back Brandon Ross was picked for the second team.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:16 AM | | Comments (1)
        

December 10, 2010

Weekly recruiting roundup

With the news this week of Adjehi Baru's signing with College of Charleston, the spotlight for Maryland's 2011 post recruiting shines brighter on Desmond Hubert.

A three-star center from New Egypt, N.J., Hubert heard this week from the North Carolina coaching staff. Testudo Times offered its analysis on the Tar Heels' interest and how it affects Maryland.

North Carolina was a big player with Adjehi Baru and needed a top-flight big. Now they'll be as empty-handed as Maryland if they don't land Angelo Chol, and that's not gonna fly in a down-trodden (for the moment) Chapel Hill. Hubert happens to be one of about two or three legitimate top-150 bigs left on the board, so it's no surprise that Roy Williams would see it as a smart move to get involved.

Busting the Bracket caught up with Hubert, who said Baru's decision wouldn't affect his choice.

“No, not really,” Hubert said Monday.

Hubert has taken official visits to Maryland and Wake Forest, and has also seen Princeton and Villanova. As of now, he does not have plans to make any more official visits.

For another look at the recruitment of Baru, check out this blog post from Scout.com's Evan Daniels.

During the Fall Signing Period, [Baru's guardian's] son -- Pat Branin -- held an impromptu photo opp at Steward High School, signing his College of Charleston Letter of Intent, according to a source. No media was notified and the photographer was the only one there to document it.

Fast forward to Saturday. I received word from a pair of sources that Baru was [sic] head to the College of Charleston. But that same day, Baru denied a commitment to ESPN analyst Dave Telep.

• Oakland Mills forward Greg Whittington, a 6-foot-8 senior who piqued the Maryland staff's interest over the summer with HCYP Elite, had a big first game of the season

Greg Whittington scored a game-high 25 points to go along with 14 rebounds to lead the Scorpions to a 77-62 opening-night victory that avenged a one-point loss to Woodlawn at the beginning of last year.

• Terps women's commitment Chloe Pavlech struggled Wednesday night but still helped Sycamore (Ohio) to a 51-37 victory over Lakota East.

Sycamore's leading scorer Chloe Pavlech was held to six points on 2-of-10 shooting, but they got 12 points from junior center Keri Kleist and a game-high 18 from Ashley Schaefer.

Football recruiting

Ryan Doyle's Wake Forest Rolesville team will battle Butler High of Charlotte on Saturday for the North Carolina 4AA state championship.

Ryan Doyle, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound lineman who has committed to Maryland, and Dylan Intemann, a 6-foot-5, 295-pound Wake Forest commitment, give Rolesville one of the top tackle tandems in the state. The Cougars are known for clock-killing drives.

• Gilman quarterback Darius Jennings this week was named The Baltimore Sun's All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year.

Jennings, rated the No. 2 recruit in the nation in the athlete category by Scout.com, has narrowed his college list from 35 offers to six: Maryland, Ohio State, UCLA, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. He plans to take his official visits in the next few months and make his decision by Signing Day on Feb. 2.

• The Washington Post's Josh Barr reports that Quince Orchard linebacker Alex Twine has picked up a Maryland offer.

Quince Orchard Coach Dave Mencarini reports that [Ralph] Friedgen offered his standout player a scholarship. Twine had 52 tackles this past season (18 for loss), forced four fumbles and intercepted three passes as the Cougars advanced to the Maryland 3A West Region final.

• Maryland offensive line commitment Andrew Zeller will compete in the inaugural Chesapeake Bowl.

The contest is set for Thursday, Dec. 30, at Towson University. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:39 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

December 9, 2010

Season recap: Dontez Tyler

Scott Privott knew right away that he wasn't getting Dontez Tyler's best.

The Hertford County (N.C.) coach had witnessed the Maryland-bound defensive end’s development from a lanky basketball player to a Division I football recruit over the course of the previous three seasons. Naturally, Privott expected big things from Tyler this fall, but was underwhelmed early on.

“He got off to a slow start,” Privott said. “A lot of times when you commit, you get off to a slow start. … Some kids commit early and are playing not to get hurt. But he just had to go out there every day and play his best.”

Convincing Tyler that he needed to perform at a higher level wasn’t a tall order for Privott. Player and coach had a “man-to-man talk.” Meeting the “lofty expectations” saddled to an ACC-bound player that every opponent targeted was something Privott and Tyler discussed at length.

“He understood,” Privott said. “He was very, very receptive. He was receptive to what we talked about. We watched some film, and he knew where we were coming from. … He came on and played better toward the end of the year. He turned it on for us at the end of the year. I was very pleased with the results he gave us this year.”

Tyler, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound senior, finished the season with 50 tackles and eight sacks. At wide receiver and tight end, the future Terp caught eight passes for 129 yards and three touchdowns, helping Hertford County to an 8-4 record and a berth in the North Carolina 3A state playoffs. The Bears suffered a 35-19 loss to Southern Wayne in the first round, but Tyler finished strong and showed why he was coveted by Arkansas, East Carolina and Virginia, among others.

“I think his speed and athleticism really helps him out,” Privott said. “He’s a 4.7 guy, about 225 pounds. He’s strong as well as he is fast. That’s what sets him apart from another kid who’s playing the same position.”

Tyler is an obvious redshirt candidate for the Terps as a freshman. Privott said Tyler’s main goal freshmen year will be to add bulk to his 225-pound frame. A 30-pound weight gain is doable, in Privott’s opinion. Once he adds that strength and size, Tyler has a straightforward assignment from the Maryland coaching staff.

“They just want him to make plays,” Privott said. “They want him to rush the passer. He’s probably going to play on the weakside. They like the way he gets off the ball. That’s really what they want to see.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:09 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Season recaps
        

December 8, 2010

Season recap: Delonte Morton

The first test of Delonte Morton's return to the football field couldn't have gone much better.

The 6-foot-1, 250-pound running back had missed his junior season at DeMatha with a torn ACL, but reclaimed his spot in the Stags’ backfield for their season-opening win against Loyola in the I-95 Kickoff Classic at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.

“He played great that entire ballgame,” said DeMatha coach Bill McGregor. “He was a difference-maker. He rushed for [157 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries]. He ran hard, ran fast [and] broke a couple of runs.”

Morton, who committed to Maryland last spring, was on track for another big game the following week against Friendship Collegiate (D.C.), rushing for 45 yards and one touchdown on eight carries in less than a half of play. And then, on a second-quarter carry, bad luck struck Morton again.

“It was just a sideline tackle and he got twisted and couldn’t go,” McGregor said. “It was a bad high-ankle sprain. Those high ankles are a son of a gun. And he’s so big, it just took forever for him to get back on it.”

The rest of Morton’s senior season was a maddening routine of trying to practice but being relegated to the sideline with an injury that just wouldn’t go away.

“He was dying to get back from Day One,” McGregor said. “But there was nothing he could do. He’d come out, practice, run and try to practice, but it just wasn’t right. He was hobbling.”

Through all the frustrations and disappointment, McGregor said Morton stayed positive and supported the team. Finally, on Nov. 5 against Bishop McNamara, Morton was ready to return to the lineup. In limited action, the future Terp carried the ball five times for 35 yards. Against St. John’s the next week, Morton rushed for 14 yards and two touchdowns on four carries. And in DeMatha’s 42-3 loss to Good Counsel in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title game, Morton picked up 47 yards on seven carries.

The final tally for Morton on the year was 40 carries for 298 yards and five touchdowns. DeMatha finished 9-3, leaving McGregor to wonder what might have been had Morton been at full strength for the entire season.

While Morton wasn’t 100 percent during the Stags’ last three games, he’s pretty much back to normal. Now the question becomes where he’ll fit in on the Terps’ roster next season.

“I think he’ll be a big back,” McGregor said. “If he doesn’t make it on offense, he’ll be a linebacker or a defensive end. He’s just a football player. You can tell with college coaches that they’ll bring him in and he can play either side of the ball. … He’s big, strong, athletic and everything you want in a football player. He just has a great upside.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

December 7, 2010

Season recap: Stephen Grommer

Like most freshmen offensive linemen, Stephen Grommer will likely redshirt his first year of college to get stronger and become more physical.

The mental part of the game, however, shouldn’t be as big of an issue for Grommer, a Maryland-bound offensive guard from Spartanburg, S.C.

A 3.9 student who picked the Terps over an offer from Harvard, Grommer spent his senior season showcasing his mental prowess in a variety of blocking schemes.

“He had a great year,” said Spartanburg coach Freddie Brown, a former Wofford College player and assistant coach. “We asked him to do a whole bunch of stuff, and he graded in the mid-to-high 90s. He knows our stuff very well. He’s the kind of kid that picks up things very quickly. So we were able to do all of our outside zone game, inside zone game, power game, screens where he would go out and block that guy. He made it all go for us up front. We’re going to miss him.”

The Vikings, who lost four starters to ACL injuries, finished 5-7 with a first-round loss in the South Carolina Class AAAA Division I playoffs. Grommer, a right tackle at the varsity level, faced high-profile matchups against several Division I-bound players, including South Pointe defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, a five-star prospect and Rivals.com’s No. 1 player nationally for the 2011 class.

Brown said Grommer fared well in each test. The one play that stands out came in Spartanburg’s season-ending loss to Irmo.

“There was a screen pass in the playoff game, and we asked him to go kick out in the flat,” Brown said. “And he just backs up in his stance, flattens the lineman, hits the first guy and does it one better – he gets out to the second level and kind of hooks the guy outside the pad. The back had a clear path to the end zone. So he can do a little bit of everything.”

A three-year starter on the offensive line, Grommer spent previous seasons playing defense as well. As a senior, however, Grommer was able to focus solely on offense. Spartanburg’s blocking schemes varied on a game-to-game basis, but Brown made sure Grommer was exposed to as many different formations and calls as possible.

“For him, he’s in a wing-T offense but he has power blocked,” Brown said. “We ran a bunch of zone concepts and schemes, so he’ll be very familiar with what Maryland is already doing. He’s done those blocks. … Some [opponents] we were bigger than and we’d just load them up. He’s a great drive blocker, so he can drive them off the ball and just dominate there. But he was able to really get out and run, get outside and hook the outside pad. He was able to do that because of his athleticism. It was based on our opponent. But he could do whatever we needed for that game. That was great to have.”

Brown expects Grommer to have a smooth transition to college. His work ethic, exposure to several different blocking schemes and experience against high-level competition should serve him well in College Park.

“He’s passionate about his future, whether it’s football or academics,” Brown said. “He’s a leader in the locker room and he’s a kid that’s going to do things the right way. Maryland’s building an ACC championship resume again, and they’re recruiting the right kind of kid. With how they’re playing, it looks like they’re loading up again. … Because the college game is all about recruiting, you have to have the right kids – not so much the biggest and fastest and strongest. But you need to have the right kids. And he’s one of those right kids.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:19 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

December 6, 2010

Terps lose out on Adjehi Baru

One of Maryland's top post targets for the 2011 recruiting class is off the board -- and has been for quite some time.

ESPN.com's Dave Telep reported Monday that Adjehi Baru, a four-star center prospect from the Steward School in Richmond, Va., has signed with College of Charleston.

Baru, a native of the Ivory Coast, inked his letter during the November signing period but wanted to keep his announcement quiet. He also held offers from Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

Shooting guard Patrick Branin, whose family reportedly hosts Baru in their Virginia home, also signed with College of Charleston.

“We are delighted to have Adjehi Baru and Patrick Branin join our program,” College of Charleston head coach Bobby Cremins said. “Adjehi is from the Ivory Coast and is very fortunate to have the Branins as his extended family. He is a very bright young man and is continuing to learn how to play the game. He has all of the tools to develop into a very fine player. Patrick is a good shooter with a great work ethic.

New Egypt (N.J.) center Desmond Hubert, a three-star recruit, remains on the Terps' wish list.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:02 PM | | Comments (19)
        

Weekend wrap – Zeller's team falls short

Andrew Zeller's bid for a state championship came to an end Saturday night.

Neutralizing the Maryland-bound offensive lineman was a major focus for Cumberland Valley in its 35-7 win over Zeller's Red Lion squad in the Pennsylvania District 3-AAAA title game

One of the key matchups Saturday night was how well CV's offensive line matched up with a Red Lion front four that was playing with a ton of confidence in the first three rounds of the District 3 playoffs. Particularly, senior defensive tackle and Maryland recruit Andrew Zeller had been a headache for opposing offenses.

But this Cumberland Valley team is unlike anyone else the Lions (10-4) have gone up against in the York-Adams League.

The Eagles had the size and the tenacity to neutralize Zeller and they did so on several key plays early in this one.

Basketball recruiting

• Terps target J.P. Tokoto's Menomonee Falls (Wis.) squad dropped a 95-85 game to Milwaukee Washington on Saturday.

Facing a 23-point hole at halftime, Falls junior standout J.P Tokoto put the Indians (0-2) on his back. He scored every way in the third quarter to trim the lead to only 10 points entering the fourth. Tokoto scored 14 of his 23 points in the third, including a pair of thunderous dunks.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:12 AM | | Comments (0)
        

December 3, 2010

Weekly recruiting roundup

Andrew Zeller has a shot Saturday night at ending his high school football career with a championship.

The Maryland-bound offensive lineman will lead Red Lion against Cumberland Valley for the Pennsylvania District 3 Class AAAA title. Zeller has been dominant on the offensive and defensive lines for the Lions throughout their playoff run.

He's recorded 68 tackles and 61/2 sacks, caused four fumbles, recovered two fumbles and broken up numerous passes.

Zeller and his defensive mates haven't allowed a point in the last seven quarters.

• ESPN.com's Jamie Newberg recently wrote an ACC recruiting overview, which included thoughts on Maryland's wish list for the 2011 recruiting class.

After being eliminated by five-star offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha), the Terps are still in the hunt for Under Armour All-American athlete Darius Jennings (Baltimore, Md./Gilman School). He would be a great get for this class. Secondary is still a need and Maryland is after Corey Tindal (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Boyd Anderson), Dondi Kirby (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway), Blake Countess (Baltimore, Md./Our Lady of Good Countess) and Steven Montgomery (Hollywood, Fla./McArthur).

• Countess, the Good Counsel cornerback, will visit Michigan this weekend before taking trips to two ACC schools.

The 5-10, 171-pound Countess received an offer from Michigan after an impressive senior season. He is ranked as the nation’s No. 156 overall prospect by Rivals.com. He will follow his Michigan official visit with official visits to Georgia Tech and Maryland the following two weekends and could announce a decision at the U.S. Army Bowl on Jan. 8.

• Gilman quarterback and Terps target Darius Jennings has been named the Gatorade Maryland Football Player of the Year.

Jennings is undecided on college, but has narrowed his list to Ohio State, UCLA, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

“I’m amazed at what Jennings is able to do,” DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor said in a news release. “We’ve played him two years in a row and ‘held’ him to about 550 yards rushing. There’s nothing you can do to stop him, and we worked very hard to try and find a way.”

• UM offensive line commitment Ryan Doyle will lead Wake Forest-Rolesville against Panther Creek on Friday night in a North Carolina 4-AA semifinal game.

The Cougars have a veteran offensive line with four seniors. [Dylan] Intemann, a right tackle, is 6 foot 5 and 300 pounds. The other tackle, Ryan Doyle, is 6-6 and 270. WF-R has the best collection of backs in the Triangle.

• Maryland athlete pledge Jimmy Stewart will play in a Florida Class 2B state semifinal Friday when his Island Coast squad meets University High of Fort Lauderdale.

"We call them the OG - Original Gators," said Bowen.

The OG group includes defensive ends Aaron Lynch and Jimmy Stewart, quarterback Nelson Candelario, linemen Scott and Bryan Bosworth and Quinn Jackson.

• DeMatha kicker Michael Branthover, who reportedly picked up a late Terps offer, has committed to Virginia Tech.

Branthover will sign with Tech in February but won't be on scholarship until January of 2012. He will pay his own way at Tech next fall and compete for the starting punter position. Virginia Tech now has 14 verbal commitments in its 2011 football recruiting class.

Basketball recruiting

• In his Weekly Whispers mailbag, Rivals.com's Jerry Meyer weighs in on the recruitment of Terps center target Adjehi Baru.

A number of sources surrounding Baru's recruitment feel that the College of Charleston is the team to beat in his recruitment. Maryland has also been pursuing Baru heavily.

• Terps shooting guard recruit Nick Faust was profiled this week in The Sun's winter sports preview.

Faust is focused on building on the past year's breakthrough. He's looking forward to the challenge of stepping up as the team leader in his final high school season and is confident the Knights have the goods to capture another championship.

From there, he's ready to further elevate his game at Maryland, which [ESPN.com's Dave] Telep believes is an ideal fit. "If you look at this from an evaluation standpoint, he is willing to play for a coach [ Gary Williams] that maxes out the potential of everybody on his roster and I think Nick has the desire to get there," Telep said.

• Maryland women's commitment Chloe Pavlech reached double figures in Sycamore (Ohio) High's 42-28 win over St. Ursula.

Junior Chloe Pavlech scored a game-high 16 points for the Aviators. Sycamore coach Paula Hayden described her offense as a work in progress.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:42 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

December 2, 2010

Season recap: Undray Clark

Undray Clark took his familiar spot near the Varela (Fla.) end zone, fielded the kickoff and promptly sprinted 95 yards for a touchdown.

With that electric kickoff return against South Miami, the Vipers’ 2010 campaign and Clark’s senior year were officially under way.

“It was literally the first play of the season,” said Varela coach Matt Dixon. “That pretty much set the tone for him for the rest of the year.”

The Maryland-bound Clark dislocated his finger early in the season, preventing him from seeing much time at slot receiver. But the 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior remained a force in the secondary and a playmaker on special teams. Clark finished the year with 72 tackles and five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. He also returned two kickoffs for scores, giving him eight for his varsity career.

“Eventually on special teams, they started [squibbing] it every time” to avoid kicking to Clark, Dixon said. “It helped us in that situation [for field position].”

Defensively, Nixon said not many teams tested Clark or the corner opposite him in the Vipers’ secondary. Varela – which finished 5-6 with a loss in the first round of the Florida Class 6A playoffs – would routinely stack eight or nine guys in the box, leaving Clark to play on an island.

“His coverage skills got a lot better,” Dixon said. “We didn’t really have to worry about his side. He got a lot better.”

Dixon said Clark also bettered his leadership skills. Football has been therapeutic for the future Terp, who suffers from a stuttering problem.

“The field is kind of like his haven,” Dixon said. “He stutters when he’s nervous. He’s nervous when he meets new people. But on the field, he’s making calls, making checks, and it doesn’t affect him at all.”

Dixon said he thinks Clark could contribute on special teams as a true freshman next fall, but could also benefit from a redshirt year. While Clark played cornerback for Varela, safety is probably the most likely spot for him in college. Dixon expects his versatility and intelligence for the game to serve him well at Maryland.

“He told me he’s excited,” Dixon said. “He wears his Terps stuff all over the campus. He’s kept up with their season. He’s excited to wear their colors. [Other programs] were trying to jump through that back door with him [and recruit him]. Schools were saying the coaching staff at Maryland was going to get fired after the season. That was the big thing going around – everyone thought it was [Ralph] Friedgen’s last year. So he’s excited now that the staff is going to be around and he’s excited about the turnaround.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

December 1, 2010

Season recap: Jeremiah Hendy

On Sept. 25 at Bowie High, Jeremiah Hendy caught a five-yard touchdown pass in the Bulldogs' 44-6 rout of Oxon Hill.

The same day, less than 25 miles away, 29-year-old Darrel Hendy was shot and killed outside a Southeast Washington apartment building.

“It was one of his older brothers,” said Bowie coach Lionel Macklin. “I heard it through the grapevine and a little bit through one of the other players. Immediately I talked to him. He told me that’s what happened. I just told him [to let me know] if there was anything I could do, and explained that there are certain things you have control over, and certain things you don’t. I just wanted to make sure I was there for him.”

Macklin told Hendy he could take as much time off from the team as he needed, but the Maryland-bound defensive back missed just a "couple days of practice" before returning to the field.

“He felt at the time that being with the guys would be better for him,” Macklin said. “But I expected it to be a rough few weeks for him.”

Hendy suited up for the Bulldogs the following Saturday and caught five passes for 31 yards in Bowie’s 21-7 loss to Suitland. It took some time for Hendy to return to form on the field, but Macklin said he couldn’t have been more proud of how his star player handled such a tragic situation.

Hendy finished the season with 30 tackles and five interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns. At wide receiver, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior caught 33 passes for 592 yards and seven touchdowns. Hendy also returned three punts for scores. Macklin expected that kind of season from his versatile captain.

“I wasn’t surprised [by his success],” Macklin said. “When he was a junior, you could see the upside. When he was a senior, I knew he was going to make big plays. We threw him a hitch pass that he took 80 yards at Flowers, and that was when you knew he was a big-time player. He just took it down the sideline. And I thought that was a next-level play.”

While Hendy proved to be a playmaker on both sides of the ball, the Bulldogs faced their fair share of struggles – including injuries – throughout their 4-6 season. Missing the playoffs was tough for Hendy to take, but Macklin made it clear that he did everything that was expected of him and more.

“Everything got pushed on him a lot,” Macklin said. “All you can do is your part, but you need 22 people to actually help you win. He took it hard at first, but later he felt a little better. He was carrying everything on his shoulder. I told him he can’t feel that way. … He barely came off the field. When you’ve got a ballplayer like that, sometimes he shows you so much. If you’re not a coach, you go in thinking that he can do it every game. But realistically, he’s not going to be able to get you two touchdowns and two interceptions every game.”

Macklin said Hendy – who remains committed to Maryland but may still take other college visits – has impressive speed and jumping ability that make him a natural fit for either cornerback or safety at the next level. Macklin likes the idea of Hendy “roaming around” at the free safety spot, but can also envision him developing into a shutdown corner. Where Hendy ends up in the Maryland secondary should be determined shortly after he arrives on campus this summer.

“They’re hoping he can make an impact right away,” Macklin said. “They know he’s got a lot of upside once he gets in the program. Since it’s the next level, he’ll probably get a lot stronger and learn a lot more things. But they said he’s got the talent where he can make an impact right away. A freshman is a freshman, so you know how that goes. But I’m pretty sure he’ll get some playing time.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:15 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        
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About Matt Bracken

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

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Maryland's 2010 football recruiting class
Maryland's 2009 football recruiting class
Maryland's 2008 football recruiting class
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