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January 31, 2011

Analysts weigh in on Terps' 2011 recruiting class

One year ago the Maryland football program weathered a tumultuous 2-10 season and a seemingly unstable coaching situation by landing a recruiting class ranked in the upper half of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

This year, it appears that the Terps’ past has caught up to them. The dismal 2009 campaign and the uncertainty that followed, combined with the departure of ace recruiter James Franklin to Vanderbilt and the unexpected firing of coach Ralph Friedgen, have led to what most analysts think is a solid yet unspectacular first recruiting class for Randy Edsall's Maryland program.

“I think overall it’s an average or below average class for Maryland this year,” said Mike Farrell, national football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “I think a lot of that has to do with the instability with the coaching situation even before this year. … When they started winning [in 2010], it was too late. Most of the kids from the state of Maryland were looking elsewhere and had already established relationships with other programs. Then you have a coaching transition on top of it, and there’s absolutely no way that this class would finish in the top of the ACC.”

Tom Lemming, CBS College Sports Network and MaxPreps.com’s football recruiting expert, called the Terps’ 2011 class “not bad, not great.”

“The coaching change hurt, but the old staff had done a decent job with the players,” Lemming said. “This staff is just trying to kind of rally, circle the wagons and make sure they have quality athletes coming in. It’s not going to be a great class, and you won’t know how good the staff is [in recruiting] until next year. In the conference, they’ll be near the bottom, but that’s to be expected with the coaching change.”

Maryland is poised to sign a 19-man class -- give or take a recruit or two -- Wednesday on National Signing Day. Rivals.com currently rates the Terps’ group as the No. 44 class nationally and the ninth-best class in the ACC. The majority of Maryland’s class was assembled prior to Friedgen’s dismissal, leaving Edsall the challenging task of keeping those commitments solid while also trying to get involved late with a few other key targets.

“All the other schools had an 11-month head start on you,” said J.C. Shurburtt, national recruiting analyst for 247Sports.com. “We all know recruiting is about relationships. It’s tough to establish good relationships in a short period of time. What [Edsall] did a good job of was holding on to the majority of guys that were in the class that had already committed to Maryland. … It’s tough to put together a top, top class when you have a coaching change, but there are some guys in this class that I really like.”

While the vast majority of Maryland’s class has stayed intact since the coaching change, the Terps have parted ways with three Friedgen recruits: Fork Union (Va.) offensive tackle Larry Mazyck (Vanderbilt), Milford Academy (N.Y.) safety Rodman Noel (North Carolina State), and Hertford County (N.C.) defensive end Dontez Tyler (Old Dominion). DeMatha running back Delonte Morton – who committed to the Terps last March – is expected to miss the cut academically and not be a part of Maryland’s class.

Ryan Malleck, a three-star tight end recruit from Point Pleasant Borough High in New Jersey, switched his commitment from Maryland to Virginia Tech last week. The biggest question mark heading into Signing Day is whether the Terps will land Bowie cornerback Jeremiah Hendy, a three-star prospect and the No. 8 player in Maryland according to Rivals.com. Hendy, who was recruited by Franklin and committed last spring, is reportedly also considering Iowa, North Carolina State and Virginia.

“I really like the Hendy kid because he’s got such a great upside,” Farrell said. “He’s tall and he can run, he’s lanky and long. And he’s the type of kid that I think can be a special player for them.”

Said Shurburtt: “I think if they did get Jeremiah Hendy back in the fold, which they have a shot at doing, that would be very important. He’s an excellent player.”

While Edsall focused much of his energy on solidifying commitments, he also hit the trail to nab two of the Terps’ more promising prospects of the class. Keith Bowers, a 6-foot-1, 265-pound defensive tackle, committed to the Terps last week. The three-star prospect is one of five players in Maryland’s class from Florida – which is recruited by defensive coordinator Don Brown. The other Edsall pledge came from Quinton Jefferson, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive end from Pittsburgh-area powerhouse Woodland Hills.

“I like him a lot,” said Scout.com recruiting analyst Matt Alkire. “He’s got a big frame. ... I still think he’s getting taller. He doesn’t have a whole lot of [bulk] on him. He’s got a lot of growing to do. He could get up into that 265-range. He’s an athletic kid, he’s rangy, he’s got a quick burst off the line. I think he’s a kid that Randy Edsall probably hasn’t had in the past in terms of talent, and he will really be able to develop him into a nice player. I do like Quinton a lot.”

Bob Lichtenfels, Scout.com’s East regional recruiting manager, had a similar assessment of Jefferson’s game.

“The difference in that kid between his junior year and his senior year was phenomenal,” Lichtenfels said. “I think he had 15 sacks this year. Woodland Hills plays [4A] football, the biggest in the state, advanced to [Pittsburgh’s] championship game. Physically, he’s nowhere near where he’s going to be. He has a chance to be a pretty special kid. Once he gets in the strength and conditioning program, if he redshirts and is able to build up his body, I think he has a very high ceiling.”

The consensus take on Maryland’s class is that it’s high on sleepers and short on instant-impact players. Shurburtt thinks Makinton Dorleant, a three-star cornerback from Lely High in Naples, Fla., will eventually be a “big contributor” for the Terps. Lichtenfels likes the potential of wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro, a Milford Mill grad who spent the fall at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia and has already enrolled in College Park. Farrell sees Nate Clarke, a teammate of Cheeseboro’s at Fork Union, as an intriguing offensive line prospect with upside. And Alkire expects big things from Cole Farrand, a two-star linebacker from Green Pond, N.J.

“Cole wasn’t highly productive in high school, but he was all over the field,” Alkire said. “He’s a very active player with a great nose for the ball. He’s kind of that field general type of kid. Not a whole lot of people at Maryland are even talking about him. He’s probably the unsung player in the class, but I think he could be a real nice player for them.”

Most analysts felt Maryland did a solid job addressing needs at key positions. At wide receiver, the Terps are bringing in three three-star prospects in Cheeseboro, Parkwood (N.C.) High’s Marcus Leak and Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy’s Nigel King, who has enrolled early and will participate in spring practice along with Cheeseboro and Clarke. Offensive line and the secondary were also clear points of emphasis for the Maryland staff.

“I think they always need help on the offensive line, and I think they have some guys down the road that can help,” Shurburtt said. “Nathaniel Clarke is certainly a guy that can help, [along with Stephen] Grommer [of South Carolina and] Evan Mulrooney from Delaware. Ryan Doyle from North Carolina and Andrew Zeller from Pennsylvania are two tackles that are pretty good players. I like the defensive backs as well, certainly if they get Hendy back in. Combine him with Makinton Dorleant and Undray Clark from Florida and Lukas Foreman, a very physical safety [from Naples, Fla.], and [DeMatha’s] Michael Williams, a solid corner, and those DBs are a good group. The offensive line is a good group, the DBs are good and the wide receivers” are solid.

While Maryland’s class may be short on star power, Lemming said this group addresses needs and builds quality depth for the future. With the bulk of a 9-4 team coming back this fall, the Terps won’t have to rely on any true freshmen contributors. A team that seems built to win immediately can afford one less-than-stellar recruiting class. The next year, however, is crucial for Edsall and the Terps.

“They are all good, solid players. But there are no marquee difference makers in this class right now,” Lemming said. “It’s the middle to lower part of the conference when it’s all said and done. … They’ve got good, solid athletes, but next year they need to bring in the impact players. They have some on the team already. They can get by on one year without them. But they have to make sure 2012 is their year.”


Click here for Q&As, season recaps and commitment stories on each player in Maryland's 2011 class. Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for more Signing Day coverage.

• Check out Farrell’s Signing Day coverage at Rivals.com.

• Visit Scout.com for more from Lichtenfels and Alkire.

• For more from Shurburtt, go to 247Sports.com.

• Tune in to CBS College Sports Network on Wednesday, where Lemming and former Michigan and West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez headline seven hours of Signing Day coverage. First up is a three-hour block from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by four hours from 3-7 p.m.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:00 PM | | Comments (12)
        

Comments

I don't think these numbers add up.

"Rivals.com currently rates the Terps’ group as the No. 44 class nationally and the ninth-best class in the ACC."


So of the top 44 classes 9 are in the ACC and the rest of the country only have 35 better classes?
We have the SEC, Big Ten, Pac 10, Big East, Big 12, etc.
I highly doubt the ACC is bringing in that kind of talent. Last year their best team was VaTech who got destroyed by the only ranked team they played (ranking based on final polls) outside of the ACC.

Great stuff Matt I love reading stuff about Maryland football. were can I vote five stars for stuff like this. Love the stories, check this football blog out by Desmond Connor I use to follow this it was great check it out get some ideas courant.com/sports/uconn-football. Any thing going to be put up on sighning day.

rich (arizona) -- Here's the link to Rivals' rankings. The Terps have moved to 46 since I wrote the article. Here are the ACC rankings.

Trevor -- Thanks a lot. Much appreciated.

Id say its a pretty decent class given all the drama that idiot AD caused. I expected the Terps to lose a lot more recruits then they did.. so good job to the new staff for finding a way to hold it together. Gonna have to wait till next year though to see how good they are at building a class themselves.

Thanks Matt for the update - good stuff!

I'm still not convinced about "ace recruiter James Franklin"...seems Don Brown did more with the 2011 class than Franklin.

Coach Edsall seems to be very committed to recruiting and hit the ground running...lets see what kind of class we can bring in in 2012. Hopefully we find a way to land some difference makers and keep more good local talent at home.

Bottom line is that we have kids that despite all the drama and our 2009 record - want to be in CP.

Welcome gentlemen! GO TERPS!!

Mediocre class. Mediocre team. Mediocre coach. Below mediocre stadium. So what's new?

Thanks Matt for another great report. I note that Franklin is poaching several of our commitments. Are we picking up anyone who was previously commited to our new coaches' schools (UConn, LSU, etc)?

Wow great article. With so much coaching instability the last couple of years, its understandable this years class isnt that great. Sadly, I think Kevin Anderson made the right call by moving on and bringing in a new coach who will be around for a while.

DickOB -- Maryland hasn't poached any commitments to my knowledge. I think the Terps are somewhat constrained by their scholarship count.

Bound to be a dropoff after 2-10 and Fridge exit. Need to give the new coach a chance to bring in his players. Good news: MD has a good core nucleus back

As a parent of a UMD recruit and signee tomorrow... Coach Edsall is a class act. He has put together a class act staff, as well.
JF's used car salesman's approach was a turn off from the get go. We are looking forward to good things from the Maryland football program.

Matt: Great analysis with no fluff. I think Edsall will be a big winner for Maryland. He is gaining national respect on a weekly basis. I respect Tom Coughlin and he is very complimentary of Edsall. A mediocre 2011 class is all Edsall needs right now, especially given what he is accustomed to. He's well on his way to good success I believe.

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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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