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February 28, 2011

Weekend wrap – Gibbs wills team to title

Sterling Gibbs warmed up for the New Jersey state playoffs this weekend with a dominant performance in the 65th Essex County Tournament championship.

The Maryland-bound point guard scored a game-high 24 points to lead Seton Hall Prep to a 70-52 win over Irvington in the title game.

"Sterling was a senior that was determined to get one today," Irvington coach Eugene Robinson said. "He was the best player on the floor and he willed his team to a victory."

Gibbs did it with a flourish, too, opening his team’s scoring each quarter with a 3-pointer and sank another at a critical point in the second quarter.

• The Washington Post's Josh Barr on Sunday profiled Oakland Mills forward Greg Whittington, who's considering Clemson, DePaul, Georgetown, Maryland and Texas.

It is quite a turn of events for Whittington, who spent his first two years of high school thinking that he might be a standout wide receiver in football.

"I was surprised because I really don't think of myself being that good," said Whittington, adding that he thinks he might still be growing because his knees occasionally bother him. "I just come out to play every night. I was very excited when I heard that all these colleges were calling. It's a dream come true to go play Division I basketball."

• UM center target Desmond Hubert led New Egypt (N.J.) to a 51-38 win over Burlington City on Friday.

Desmond Hubert had a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds, and also blocked five shots.

• Maryland women's commitment Lexie Brown paced North Gwinnett (Ga.) in its 70-44 win over Woodstock on Friday.

Brown put together a stellar night with 21 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds and five steals.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:15 AM | | Comments (6)
        

February 25, 2011

Weekly recruiting roundup

The Maryland men's basketball program got a boost in the frontcourt Thursday when St. John's Northwestern Military Academy forward Martin Breunig committed to the Terps.

Breunig, who joins Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) point guard Sterling Gibbs and City shooting guard Nick Faust in Maryland's 2011 class, picked the Terps over Virginia and several mid-major schools.

Maryland still has one scholarship to give for the 2011 class. So with Breunig's pledge, where does that leave the Terps in their pursuit of Oakland Mills forward Greg Whittington?

Scorpions coach Jon Browne said in a text message Thursday night that Maryland coach Gary Williams visited Oakland Mills for a practice that day. Williams "specifically told me that there is a full scholarship for Greg should he choose to attend Maryland," Browne wrote.

Browne wrote that he had "a great conversation" with Williams about Whittington, who is also considering Clemson, DePaul, Georgetown and Texas.

Whittington on Wednesday powered Oakland Mills to a win in the District V championship game against Broadneck.

The Howard County champions brought more size, quickness and athleticism to the title game, and it was apparent early. Behind a pestering zone trap and a 23-point performance from 6-foot-9 senior Greg Whittington, Oakland Mills scored the game's first 20 points to come away with a 58-24 win over the Bruins.

• Faust led City in scoring Thursday night in the Knights' 75-59 loss to top-ranked Patterson in the Baltimore City Division I championship game.

Patterson sophomore forward Myrek Lee-Fowlkes scored 11 of his 18 points in the first half to help offset City senior guard Nick Faust (25 points) as the game went to halftime tied at 33.

Aquille Carr scored a game-high 32 points -- including 25 in the second half -- to lead the Clippers.

• Gibbs will lead Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) against Irvington for the Essex County Tournament title on Saturday.

Seton Hall Prep claimed its second consecutive American Division crown behind the leadership of senior guard Sterling Gibbs. The Maryland-bound star averaged 22.9 ppg. in 14 divisional contests.

• SB Nation contributor Adam Zagoria wrote this week about the Washington-area's top basketball prospects, including Terps target and DeMatha center BeeJay Anya.

"He's got a DeJuan Blair-type body," one Atlantic 10 assistant said. "He's a big kid. He can really seal you in deep and score without making any post moves."

• Terps women's commitment Tierney Pfirman will miss South Williamsport's postseason run with a stress fracture in her leg.

"As difficult as sitting on the bench may be, I have confidence in my teammates to play to the best of their ability and pull together to hopefully get a win and go as far as they can in the playoffs."

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:36 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

February 24, 2011

'Sky is the limit' for Terps recruit Martin Breunig

martin-breunig-terps.jpg Martin Breunig left his Leverkusen, Germany home last summer for St. John's Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, Wis., with a clearly stated purpose.

“When he first got here, he said ‘I want to play major college basketball’ almost immediately,” St. John’s coach Brian Richert recalled.

On Thursday, Breunig made that dream a reality. The 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward committed to Maryland, picking the Terps over Virginia and several other Division I programs.

“For someone to [go after] his dream, come to a different country and give up his family life and social life to chase a dream, and then accomplish it, I’m just so proud,” Richert said. “It’s something I know he’s always wanted. … Going to Maryland, you’re not going to get much bigger than that. We’re very happy for him.”

The recruitment of Breunig – who joins Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) point guard Sterling Gibbs and City shooting guard Nick Faust in Maryland’s 2011 recruiting class – was a whirlwind process. He came to Wisconsin last summer to play for St. John’s inaugural post-graduate team. After questions about his academic eligibility and amateurism were resolved, a host of mid-major programs – including Green Bay, Maine, San Francisco, St. Louis and UAB – came after the future Terp.

Maryland, meanwhile, offered Breunig last month after Terps assistant Keith Booth saw him play at a tournament in Virginia. Breunig immediately appreciated Maryland’s recruiting approach.

“There were other coaches that called Martin and said, ‘I can make you into an NBA player,'” said Martin Esters, St. John’s player development coach and international scout. “I explained to him that it’s a big selling game. Coaches are trying to sell. But he really felt like Maryland wasn’t trying to sell it too much.”

During Breunig’s official visit to College Park on Sunday and Monday, he had a chance to witness the Terps’ 87-80 win over North Carolina State and check out a practice. Seeing the team in action, Esters said, gave Breunig confidence that he could play in the ACC.

While the Maryland coaches made no promises on playing time to Breunig during his visit, the staff did make clear that Dino Gregory was set to graduate, leaving an open spot in the starting lineup at the 4.

“They’re just saying he brings another dimension,” Richert said. “He’s so athletic and he’s long, so he can play multiple positions. He can go down on the other end and help them defensively. He’s very multi-dimensional. He’s been working very, very hard at getting stronger, bigger and faster. You would think at this level, with all the egos, that everyone is concerned with offense and scoring 20 points a game and making the headlines. But he’s doing it a different route. [He’s said], ‘I really want to get ready on the defensive end for the next level.’ And I think he’s approaching it the right way.”

Esters – who’s also from Germany and played for Richert on St. John’s high school team – struck up a friendship with Breunig nearly three years ago. Then a 6-4 guard for the junior team in his town, Breunig demonstrated plenty of potential to Esters. The St. John’s assistant can’t wait to see how Breunig develops at Maryland.

“He’s not a kid that’s only played four years, but he grew late and kept his guard skills with his body,” Esters said. “He’ll get the right coaching, which is another big aspect for why he chose Maryland. He felt that Coach Booth and [Terps assistant coach Rob] Ehsan will really teach him to play the game and help him get better at it. It’s kind of cliché’, but the sky is the limit with him. He doesn’t just have a great body and is athletic; he’s really skilled and has a high ceiling. That’s the thing about him. He can really be great.”

Photo of Breunig courtesy of St. John's Northwestern Military Academy

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:19 PM | | Comments (6)
        

Martin Breunig commits to Maryland

The third commitment of Maryland's 2011 basketball recruiting class is on the board.

Martin Breunig, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward from St. John's Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, Wis., committed to the Terps this afternoon. The Leverkusen, Germany native took an official visit to College Park over the weekend.

“I saw [the commitment] coming because I spent the last two days with him,” said Martin Esters, the player development coach and international scout at St. John's. “After the visit, he liked everything about it. He didn’t want to commit on the visit; he wanted to talk it over. … But last night he called, he’d been thinking about it, really liked everything about it, and he’s really excited about it.”

Breunig, who averages 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Lancers, also considered Virginia, among others. He joins Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) point guard Sterling Gibbs and City shooting guard Nick Faust in Maryland's 2011 class.

Check back with Recruiting Report later today for more on Breunig's commitment.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:09 PM | | Comments (22)
        

Hard work paying off for Poly's Donovan Riley

donovan-riley-poly-2010.jpg During the first week of January each year, the most promising junior football prospects in the country converge on San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl combine.

The invitation-only event has long served as a springboard to national notoriety. Last year, Owings Mills’ Donovan Smith went from an unknown offensive tackle to one of the most heavily recruited linemen in the country.

This year, it was Poly defensive back Donovan Riley’s time to turn some heads. The 6-foot, 190-pound prospect earned rave reviews from scouts, including one analyst who thought he had an MVP-worthy performance.

“That was a test of all the hard work I had been doing,” Riley said. “There was great talent from across the country, which I eventually competed against. I ran a good 40 time -- a 4.5 -- and I competed well against some of the top receivers in the country in the 1-on-1 [drills]. I was able to meet a lot of the [best] 2012 football players from across the country and make friends. It was definitely a great experience, which I look forward to again.”

A second-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro player in 2010, Riley finished his junior season with 46 tackles and six interceptions, plus 43 receptions for 900 yards and six touchdowns. He also returned two punts for touchdowns. His strong play for the Engineers evidently carried over to his time in Texas.

“When you’re around the guys down there, all the guys you’re competing against give you a thumbs up after the event is over,” Riley said. “They shake your hand and ask where you’re from, compliment your style of play, things like that. It kind of was an exclamation point on what I had already felt. I felt like I really represented all my coaches that had a hand in developing my skills.”

Riley has spent much of his offseason training with several local football prospects, including Dunbar’s DeonTay McManus, Gilman’s Cyrus Jones, Poly’s Jamal Chappell, Calvert Hall’s Da'Quan Davis, Brandon Neverdon and Trevor Williams, and many others. The group works out, competes in 7-on-7 showcases and travels to nearby colleges.

“All of us are kind of sticking together and working out together,” Riley said. “We push each other. We were just at the University of Maryland, a showcase there which was sponsored by Riddell and Rivals. That showcase was very competitive. You had local talent and talent from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey. It was very, very competitive.”

Riley is still waiting on his first scholarship offer, but several schools have been in close contact, including Boston College, Connecticut, Maryland, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Virginia Tech. He’s made unofficial visits to College Park and Charlottesville, and had plans to see Rutgers this month. In March, trips to UConn and Vanderbilt have been planned. Riley said all the schools he’s considering are “great academically,” and have “solid football programs” to match.

“I’m very excited about being on the radar, a lot of college recruiters’ radars,” Riley said. “I enjoy the fact that most of my hard work is paying off to the point where I’m being noticed. I haven’t yet landed my goal, and my goal is to be provided an athletic scholarship. But I’m still working towards it.”

Riley said he hadn’t thought of the similarities between him and Smith, the Penn-State bound lineman from Owings Mills. But Riley, who called Smith “a good friend,” would love to experience a comparable post-combine rise to major college football.

“If I could copy walking that same path and end up where he is, I would be so, so grateful,” Riley said. “I only hope that with my hard work I’m putting in that I have the same results as Donovan Smith, and all the other guys like Marco [Jones] at Boys’ Latin. Those guys work hard. If I could just walk that same path, follow that blueprint and end up where they are, that would be great.”

Update: After this article was published, Riley landed an offer from Virginia Tech, according to Rivals.com.

Baltimore Sun photo of Donovan Riley by Karl Merton Ferron / Nov. 6, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:00 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

February 23, 2011

Derrell Edwards, Stanton Kidd doing well in Texas

edwards-kidd.jpg Steve Green is no stranger to recruiting in Baltimore.

Green, the veteran men’s basketball coach at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, has sent three Baltimore natives to Division I schools in the past seven years, most recently former Douglass guard Itchy Bolden (Morgan State).

Green was back in Baltimore last year when he got word that Dunbar shooting guard Derrell Edwards wasn’t going to end up at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Edmondson forward Stanton Kidd, however, emerged as an unexpected bonus.

“It was more of a coincidence than anything,” Green said. “We knew about [Edwards], visited him and saw the other. He was playing there at the same time. And we just went after both of them then. It wasn’t a ploy from the beginning.”

Edwards and Kidd both signed on to play for the Texans, and are nearing the end of their freshmen seasons. “I think they’re talented guys and good basketball players with good basketball IQ,” Green said. “They’ve been brought up in a pretty tough basketball environment with good competition.”

The 6-foot-2 Edwards averaged 23 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists last year, earning second-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro honors. He was the leading scorer on Dunbar’s Class 1A state championship team.

“Derrell is probably averaging about 10 or 11 points a game,” Green said. “Stanton is probably a little less than that. [But Edwards has] had some games where he’s exceeded 20. I think there’s always a learning curve. The competition in our league is as good as there is in junior college.”

Kidd, 6-7, averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds as a senior, leading Edmondson to its first Baltimore City championship, and earning first-team All-Metro honors for his efforts.

“Stanton’s kind of a tweener, a 3/4,” Green said. “He shoots the mid-range shot, defends the other team’s four man. He’s kind of a mid-range player.”

Green said Edwards and Kidd have transitioned smoothly from Baltimore to rural Texas. Both players show up to class on time, complete their assignments and work hard on the court.

“Somebody along the way has instilled in them a certain amount of discipline and making good choices,” Green said.

It’s been an “inconsistent” season for South Plains, which won the NJCAA national title in 2008. The Texans need a win against New Mexico Junior College on Thursday night for a berth in the Region 5 tournament, where they would be the No. 4 seed from the Western Junior College Athletic Conference.

In South Plains’ win over New Mexico Military Institute last week, Kidd scored 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the field and a 5-for-5 showing from the free-throw line. In a win over Frank Phillips College days before, Edwards scored a game-high 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the floor. There have been ups and downs for both Baltimore players.

“Any freshman I’ve had has been inconsistent,” Green said. “Sophomore year is when they finally have an idea. It’s a world of difference between freshman and sophomore year. It’s incredible. They’re almost different people.”

Recruiting won’t start in earnest for Edwards and Kidd until their sophomore years, but Green said both players are doing what it takes to move on to the next level. Whether they leave South Plains with Division I scholarships depends on “a lot of things.”

“It’s tough to know because now they go back into the pool with high school players coming out,” Green said. “They’re going to be recruited against the next [Derrell and Stanton] coming out of high school. Could [they] end up at a similar place like Corpus? Yeah, they could. But you just never know.”

Baltimore Sun photos of Derrell Edwards (2010) and Stanton Kidd (2009) by Karl Merton Ferron and Colby Ware.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:41 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

February 22, 2011

Greg Whittington has plenty of options

The calls to Jon Browne's cell phone started last summer. At first, it was mostly mid-major Division I programs calling to express interest in Greg Whittington, the Oakland Mills coach's star player.

Then came a trip with HCYP Elite in late July to the AAU Nationals in Orlando, where Whittington powered his rec-center squad to a stunning third-place finish.

“After Orlando, it was just the beginning,” Browne said. The phone “just never stopped ringing.”

Seven months later, the recruitment of Whittington has reached another level. The 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward now has his pick of high-major offers.

“If you haven’t heard of him by now, you haven’t been doing your homework,” Browne said. “He’s national now. Washington, we’ve been in touch a couple times. Texas came to a practice, [and] Texas should be back this week. Maryland, daily contact with them. Georgetown is in daily contact with me. Clemson, daily contact. DePaul is very involved. They come out a lot, talk to me daily. These are teams that really want him. So we’re just waiting until the end of the season to take some trips, get on campus and meet teammates.”

Whittington came to Oakland Mills in the fall of 2007 as a 6-4 guard slotted for the junior varsity. Browne called Whittington up to the varsity for the final six games of the year, and the freshman ended up starting the final four contests of the year, including a first-round playoff loss to Central. While he didn’t score much that year, Whittington impressed Browne with his skill and potential.

“He could do things that other guards couldn’t,” Browne said. “He could shoot, handle the ball. I didn’t know he was going to turn into the freak he is now, but I knew he was going to be special in terms of Howard County. We started to see that as a sophomore. The scoring wasn’t there as a sophomore – not even 200 points all year. But certainly, he started to develop. He was a great rebounder, shot blocker, defender, and he was quick, too. So he did a really good job for us.”

Whittington grew out of the guard position heading into his junior year, but kept those perimeter skills and put them to good use on the block and on the wing. He was a first-team All-Howard County selection, finishing in the Top 10 in the league in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.

Whittington was a “double-double [threat] every night,” Browne said. “He dominated players last year. He just took off in the playoffs. [I thought] ‘Wow, this kid is going to be special next year.’”

All season long, Whittington has proven his coach’s predictions right. Whittington averages 24.5 points, 11 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, 3 steals and 2.8 assists for the the No. 4 Scorpions (22-0), who play in the District V championship game against Broadneck at Mount Hebron on Wednesday night before starting their Class 2A state playoff run at home Monday against the Central-Patuxent winner.

“He can play with anybody,” Browne said. “Some coaches think this kid has more upside than anyone in the country. He can jump out of the gym, he’s long at 6-9, can shoot the 3, he blocks shots, and he runs like a gazelle. There’s nothing he can’t do. He’s got great vision in finding the open guy. It got to the point where Nike came out and looked at him at one of our games. And the Nike scout said he was five stars in all categories.”

Whittington’s emergence as a national recruit has coincided with his improvement in the classroom. Before his senior year, it looked like Whittington could be bound for prep school. Browne had a conversation with Whittington before the school year began, telling the senior that he needed straight Bs in his core courses to meet NCAA qualifying standards.

“And he said, ‘Coach, I can do it. I can get straight Bs,’” Browne said. “And he got all As and one B first quarter, and all As and one B last quarter. He’s getting straight As, which has really changed his numbers. He’s going to hopefully end up with a 2.6 [grade-point average], which puts him, with his SAT score, it makes him eligible right now. That opens the doors. He’s really worked hard as a student this year. It’s a maturation process for him, and he’s come a long way. We at times still struggle with his maturity on the court. But he’s just come so far. I have such a good relationship with him, that at the end of the day, I know he’ll be fine.”

On the recruiting front, Clemson, DePaul, Georgetown, Maryland and Texas have been the most persistent in the pursuit of Whittington. Browne and Whittington have been to games at Maryland and Georgetown, and they intend to visit the other three schools after the conclusion of Oakland Mills’ season. Browne said Maryland has “shown the most love out of everybody.”

“We talk to [Terps assistant] coach Bino [Ranson] more than any coach,” Browne said. “He’s been more proactive in the recruitment than anybody. He’s been to a lot of games, talked to us a lot of times and been with us. I haven’t had any conversations with Gary [Williams], though. I’ve been told that’s not what he does, that it’s his style. I just don’t understand it. We’ve talked to every other head coach.

“[DePaul coach] Oliver Purnell was in our gym last week. [Georgetown coach] John Thompson came and watched our game last week. So I think those schools have a tremendous chance. Clemson was one of the first schools – they were coming up before the season started. We’re definitely going to take an official down there once the season’s over to see if he likes it. They’re very intriguing with the way they play. It was very interesting seeing their statistics on how many shots the big men are getting beyond the arc.”

For now, Whittington is completely focused on leading Oakland Mills to a state championship. After the season, he will turn his attention to picking a school. At the moment, Browne thinks all five schools are on a relatively level playing field in Whittington’s mind. While his senior season is nearing its final stage, Whittington’s recruitment is just getting started.

“The local schools have just as much of a chance as anybody, if not more so,” Browne said. “At the end of the day, Texas is very intriguing, especially right now. … [But] he just turned 18 last week. The wind changes directions [as much as] he changes his mind.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:47 AM | | Comments (42)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

February 21, 2011

Weekend wrap – Big game for Gibbs in win

Sterling Gibbs' Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) squad is still in the hunt for a county championship.

The Maryland bound-point guard guided the Pirates to a 66-55 win over Newark Central on Saturday.

Senior guard Sterling Gibbs connected for 17 of his game-high 27 points and junior guard Dallas Anglin scored all of his 15 in the second half to rally top-seeded and No. 8 Seton Hall Prep from a 27-21 deficit in the Essex County Tournament semifinals at West Orange High.

• St. John's Northwestern Military Academy forward Martin Breunig was at Comcast Center on Sunday to see Maryland's win over North Carolina State.

• A big game from Terps women's commitment Lexie Brown wasn't enough for North Gwinnett (Ga.) in its 59-44 loss to Norcross.

Lexie Brown led a North charge in the fourth quarter but it was too little, too late. Also a top sophomore prospect, she put on a good show for the college coaches with 31 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:33 AM | | Comments (4)
        

February 18, 2011

Weekly recruiting roundup

When Angelo Chol committed to Arizona on Thursday, Desmond Hubert took note.

North Carolina was involved with both 2011 big men, but with Chol now out of the picture for the Tar Heels, their focus could turn to Hubert. ZagsBlog.com spoke to Hubert about how Chol's choice affects him.

Had Chol picked the Tar Heels instead of the Wildcats during his Thursday press conference at San Diego Herbert Hoover High, Hubert might have headed to Maryland by default.

Instead, Hubert is still considering both schools.

Asked what he planned to do now, Hubert said, “I’m not sure. I’m going to see if I can take a visit to UNC.”

• Maryland forward target Greg Whittington powered Oakland Mills to a win over Mount Hebron on Thursday, clinching a perfect regular season for the Scorpions.

Whittington led all scorers with 34 points – nearly outscoring the opposition all by himself. And that allowed the Scorpions to rewrite the history books with their 22nd victory of the season, a 58-38 wire-to-wire win.

• Terps shooting guard signee Nick Faust helped City finish the job Monday night against Edmondson.

Nick Faust finished with 30 points Monday as No. 7 City closed out a 64-52 win over No. 4 Edmondson at Northwestern in a game that was suspended Feb. 4 after a fight broke out in City's stands.

• Baltimore Sports and Life conducted a Terps recruiting Q&A with Rivals.com's Jerry Meyer. The first question for Meyer was about UM point guard signee Sterling Gibbs.

“Gibbs is a nice all around player who can play both the point and the two. He is not the biggest guy nor the most athletic player and that has affected his ranking. But he is smart and skilled and will be a solid contributor at Maryland.”

• The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Menomonee Falls (Wis.) forward J.P. Tokoto has narrowed his list of schools to Marquette, Wisconsin, and six others.

The other six in the mix are Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina and UCLA. Ritchie Davis, Tokoto's club coach with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors, said Tokoto plans to make his final decision soon after the conclusion of the spring grassroots season.

• The Washington Post's Josh Barr caught up this week with BeeJay Anya, a sophomore center from DeMatha who claims offers from Georgetown, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, St. John's and Texas.

"Texas, they're very good with their big men, so is Georgetown, which is known for their big men," Anya said. "And Maryland, I see what they've done with Jordan Williams. He's a very good player. They said I can be somewhat like him, hopefully."

• Maryland women's commitment Lexie Brown was North Gwinnett's second-leading scorer in its win over Meadowcreek (Ga.).

Johnson scored a game-high 24 points, while Brown added 23 and 10 assists as the Bulldogs rolled to an 89-65 win Wednesday afternoon at Mill Creek High School.

Football recruiting

• Gilman athlete Cyrus Jones, a prime Terps target, landed two big offers in recent weeks.

“I got an offer earlier tonight from Miami and then Notre Dame offered last week,” he said. “I’m really excited. I mean, Miami and Notre Dame, who wouldn’t be excited.

• DeMatha linebacker Sam Lebbie is up to five scholarship offers.

“I have received more offers,” said Lebbie. “West Virginia, Illinois and Vanderbilt have offered me.”

These three offers join previous offers from Maryland and Rutgers.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:00 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

February 17, 2011

Martin Breunig to visit Maryland this weekend

When Brian Richert decided to start a post-grad basketball program at St. John's Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, Wis., his primary goal was to place as many of his players in college programs as possible.

Richert won’t have any trouble accomplishing that goal with Martin Breunig, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward from Leverkusen, Germany who will take an official visit to Maryland this weekend.

“He’s got a lot of mid-major” offers, Richert said. “Virginia’s coming after him hard, of course Maryland, St. Louis, Green Bay, Maine, San Francisco, UAB. He’s got many others. Arizona State, they like him. A lot of others are on the board right now.”

Breunig, who’s averaging about 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Lancers (12-10), was discovered by Martin Esters, a former SJMNA player currently serving as Richert’s international scout. Esters went to the FIBA International tournament in Germany last summer, with instructions from Richert to call him if he found “that diamond in the rough.”

“He was out searching for players and saw Martin in some game. He called me right away [and said] ‘I found a 6-9 kid who can do it all.’ I said, ‘Get him here. What are you waiting on?’” Richert recalled with a laugh.

Richert said Breunig “always wanted to play major college basketball” in the U.S., so he eagerly signed on to play for SJMNA’s inaugural post-grad team last summer. In workouts on campus, Breunig impressed the coaching staff right away with his unique skill set and athleticism. It took some time, however, for him to emerge as a Division I recruit – although that had nothing to do with his ability.

“Right away, you get red flags because of amateur issues with international kids,” Richert said. “You’re not going to get offers from the big-time programs until you prove your amateurism. There’s so much that you’ve got to do before you [get cleared]. But it’s all taken place. He’s proven his amateurism – that’s not a question. He’s qualified academically. It took some time. Now that all that is done, now the big boys are starting to come.”

While Richert hopes to improve the Lancers’ schedule in the coming seasons, St. John’s has faced high-profile matchups this season with Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy, South Kent (Conn.) School and Notre Dame Prep (Mass.), among others. As Breunig’s exposure grew, so did his list of scholarship offers. Terps assistant coach Keith Booth saw Breunig at the Virginia Military Postgrad Challenge last month, and shortly thereafter Maryland extended an offer. Richert said Breunig “put on a show” in front of Booth.

“He’s versatile [and] he’s so athletic, being a 6-8, 6-9 wing player who can do a lot of things,” Richert said. “He starts the fast break for us. He does so much for us. He can pick and pop, shoot the mid-range jumper, defend, set ball screens up top. He can do so much more at 6-9 than a lot of kids do at his size. That’s what separates him – the skill level at his size and his athletic ability is something I haven’t seen in a long time.”

Richert said Breunig is a mismatch at the 3, but he can “just as easily defend the post.” He has already added 15 pounds of muscle to his previously lanky frame, and Richert expects that he’ll add 15 more once he spends time in a college strength and conditioning program. Richert said he can “definitely see” Breunig making contributions as a true freshman in college. Whether Maryland is the beneficiary of those contributions remains to be seen.

“He’s very high on them,” Richert said. “Right now, he likes what he sees. But being new to America, everything is going to be new to him. He needs to take it all in, ask questions, and see where he fits. It’s not all about basketball. The academics are going to be a big component. As an international student, he’s going to need some help. He’s a very bright kid, but English-wise, that’s going to play a big part to it. But Maryland is very high on his list. I know that for a fact.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:03 PM | | Comments (8)
        

February 16, 2011

Where are they now? Derrious Gilmore

derrious-gilmore-lake.jpg derrious-gilmore-jcc.jpg Since leading Lake Clifton to the Class 3A state semifinals in 2008, Derrious Gilmore has bounced around a bit.

The 5-foot-9, 165-pound point guard did a prep year at Princeton Day Academy in Lanham. After that came a freshman season at Pensacola State (Fla.) College, but a coaching change meant that Gilmore had to pack his bags again.

Don Skelton, meanwhile, was looking for a point guard to lead his Jones County (Miss.) Junior College squad. Gilmore, who was recommended to Skelton by a former assistant, was just what the Bobcats needed.

“I never saw Derrious play until he came onto our campus,” Skelton said. “But coming in, [he was] just a guy that plays with a lot of energy. We play an up-tempo style, and he fits that bill. He pushes the ball as a point guard and really pushes our offense.”

At Jones County, Skelton is allowed just three out-of-state players on his roster. So Gilmore – and almost every non-Mississippi player for the Bobcats – was expected to step into the starting lineup right away. Gilmore was immediately up to the task.

“I needed a kid who knew the junior college level already,” Skelton said. “Playing in the Panhandle League [for Pensacola, I knew that he would] be ready to step in and play. … You don’t have to worry about Derrious bringing energy or playing hard. You’re going to see that every time out. He takes basketball very seriously. It means a lot to him. I know he’s working really hard at it.”

Gilmore is third on the Bobcats in scoring (13 points per game), first in assists (6.4 per game) and first in steals (two per game). He’s 23rd in the nation in assists, and his unselfishness has been instrumental in Jones County’s success this season. The Bobcats are 12-10 overall with a 7-4 record in the 14-team Mississippi Junior College Association. Gilmore has guided his team to eight wins in the past 11 games.

Jones County is preparing for its regular-season finale Thursday, and then Skelton’s attention will turn to the state playoffs. Once the postseason begins, recruiting tends to pick up for junior college players. Gilmore is still waiting on his first Division I offer, but there has already been plenty of attention.

“Nebraska showed a little interest early,” said Skelton, who was initially referred to Gilmore by Cornhuskers assistant coach Wes Flanigan. “West Virginia came down here last week, Rhode Island called last week, a lot of guys back up on the East Coast, [plus] South Alabama [and] a lot of others. … He’s getting a lot of interest, especially picking up here the last couple of weeks. [We’re getting] numerous calls in here about him.”

Skelton called Gilmore “a great personality” who has worked hard in the classroom to get qualified. The Jones County coach doesn’t think location will be a major factor in Gilmore’s decision, and the former Lakers star is “wide open” when it comes to recruiting. Skelton is confident that by the beginning of next season, Gilmore will have found a Division I home.

“Derrious isn’t a big kid,” Skelton said, “but he makes up for it with toughness and desire. He’s fought it his whole life.”

Photo 1 of Derrious Gilmore courtesy of Jones County Junior College. / Photo 2 of Derrious Gilmore by Lloyd Fox / Jan. 2, 2008.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:50 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Where are they now?
        

February 15, 2011

McManus highlights Next Level Nation event

When Cory Robinson finished his football career at Central Connecticut State, the former Cardinal Gibbons defensive back headed home to Baltimore with hopes of giving back to his community.

Now a counselor at Bluford Drew Jemison Academy and Calvert Hall’s secondary coach, Robinson has accomplished just that. The 23-year-old has teamed with fellow Cardinal Gibbons grad Devin Redd to start Next Level Nation -- a nonprofit organization that holds football combines and showcases, taking a “hands-on approach to the development of student-athletes.”

Next Level Nation is “creating a fraternity of elite athletes that have a respect for one another, but are also chasing the same dream and have the same goals,” Robinson said. “We’re putting it in their hands and helping in anyway. If they commit themselves to what we’re teaching, [we’ll show them] what it takes to get to the next level.”

Among Next Level Nation’s success stories of the 2011 class were Calvert Hall safety Adrian Amos (Penn State), DeMatha defensive lineman Kendall Patterson (Buffalo), Owings Mills offensive tackle Donovan Smith (Penn State) and Calvert Hall defensive tackle Dan Yarborough (Shepherd). Several Next Level Nation alumni were in attendance Saturday in Landover at an All-Nation Showcase Series event.

Robinson spoke to Recruiting Report about some of the Baltimore area’s top 2012 talents that participated in the event.

• Dunbar wide receiver DeonTay MacManus earned Showcase MVP honors, demonstrating to Robinson why he has earned almost 20 Division I scholarship offers already. “On the field, he’s just a mismatch for anybody,” Robinson said. “If a corner comes up on him, he’s probably not big enough. A safety is probably not fast enough. It can’t be a linebacker, because he’s not quick enough. There’s really no way to contain the kid.” The 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior was a Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection at safety.

• Calvert Hall wide receiver Trevor Williams is still waiting for his first offer, but Robinson said “Penn State loves him” and he’s on the radar of “every school on the East Coast. … He’s probably the best pure route runner in the state of Maryland at that position. I would put him in that top three category with DeonTay and [Good Counsel’s] Stefon Diggs. I think he’s right there with those guys. … What schools are going to get with him is an awesome prospect, and an awesome kid who’s going to come in and work hard every day.” Robinson said the 6-foot, 170-pound Williams reminds him of former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison.

Charles Tapper took time out of his busy schedule with City’s basketball team to strap on the pads. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound defensive end/tight end was a standout performer at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Junior Combine in San Antonio last month, and he impressed again on Saturday. “Most Baltimore kids have that passion, whenever they’re in competition, whenever someone challenges them, to not back down,” Robinson said. “That’s the part about Tapper. Even though he’s raw, when people called him out at the Army Combine, he just destroyed them. He’s got the talent.”

• Robinson had all fall to work with Calvert Hall cornerback Da'Quan Davis. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior followed up his 11th-grade season with strong performances at the U.S. Army combine, and in Landover on Saturday. “At the Army Combine, this kid was possessed,” Robinson said. “The way he works in the weight room is just impressive.” Robinson said Davis matched up against McManus on Saturday, and held his own throughout the day.

• Poly wide receiver Jamal Chappell “can give people nightmares at the slot position,” Robinson said. The Engineers junior has a similar skill set to former Dunbar star and current West Virginia slot receiver Tavon Austin. … Calvert Hall quarterback Thomas Stuart “stood out,” picking up right where he left off after his first-team All-Metro season for the MIAA A Conference-champion Cardinals. … Robinson also was impressed with athlete Josh McPhearson, a Howard County resident who transferred from DeMatha to Riverdale Baptist, and Dunbar linebacker Lavar Highsmith.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

February 14, 2011

Weekend wrap – Gibbs, Faust star in wins

Sterling Gibbs saved his best for last on Saturday.

The Maryland-bound point guard guided Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) to a big win over East Orange.

Maryland-bound senior guard Sterling Gibbs tossed in 10 of his 20 points to fuel a 28-21 fourth quarter for top-seeded and No. 7 Seton Hall Prep in the Essex County Tournament quarterfinals in West Orange. The Prep will battle fourth-seeded Central in the semifinals Saturday at West Orange High.

• Terps shooting guard signee Nick Faust scored 16 points Friday in City's 54-50 overtime win over Dunbar.

Faust had three key rebounds in the extra time and an emphatic dunk in the final seconds to close the game out.

• UM center target Desmond Hubert propelled New Egypt to a 57-37 win over Bordentown (N.J.) on Friday.

Desmond Hubert led the Warriors with 15 points, while adding eight rebounds and five blocks.

• Thanks in part to the strong play from Terps women's commitment Lexie Brown, North Gwinnett has claimed the No. 1 ranking in Georgia's Class AAAAA division.

North Gwinnett returned three starters from its 19-10 team that lost in the first round last season. The team was bolstered by a transfer from Florida, guard Lexie Brown, a sophomore who has committed to Maryland. Brown, the daughter of former NBA player Dee Brown, is averaging 16 points, five assists and five steals.


An earlier version of this blog had the wrong link for the Gibbs item. It has been corrected.
Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:50 PM | | Comments (5)
        

February 11, 2011

Tierney Pfirman talks Terps commitment

Long before Tierney Pfirman suited up for the South Williamsport (Pa.) varsity basketball team as a freshman, Mike Allison knew she was a future Division I player.

Just when exactly did the Mountaineers coach start believing that Pfirman would play high-major basketball one day?

“Probably since fourth grade, her coming up through the elementary program,” Allison said. “Even then, as an elementary player, you knew that she had the skill level compared to other kids that were coming through. At least in junior high she put a little more into the sport than some other kids. That development was already there, and then the talent, just her different skill level was something that was very noticeable. I remember some other coaches in junior high, and they would say, ‘When is she going to be playing for you?’ And I kept saying, ‘She’s still in elementary school or junior high. I don’t get her until she’s a freshman.’”

When Allison welcomed Pfirman to South Williamsport’s roster as a freshman, he immediately inserted her into the Mountaineers’ starting lineup – a spot the 6-foot-1 junior never relinquished. Throughout Pfirman’s three high school seasons, she consistently lived up to the elementary-school hype. And on Sunday, Pfirman proved Allison correct on his high-major prediction by committing to Maryland. Her pledge came after an unofficial visit last weekend to College Park.

“We got back home, [and I said], ‘Mom, I think I want to commit.’ I wanted to stay close to home, which was a big factor in the decision,” Pfirman said. “All the other schools where nine-plus hours away, and Maryland’s only 3.5 hours away from where we live. Family and friends can watch me play, [and I can] get home on the weekends if we have an early Saturday practice. It’s just the right time because to me, nothing else was going to change my mind. I’m 100 percent sure this was what I wanted to do.”

Pfirman picked the Terps over offers from Florida, Iowa State, North Carolina State, Northwestern and Vanderbilt. She is averaging around 30 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals for the 17-3 Mountaineers.

While Pfirman was well known locally dating back to her elementary-school days, she didn’t emerge as a big-time recruit until last summer – thanks in large part to AAU.

“I started playing for the Philadelphia Running Rebels,” Pfirman said. “A whole new world opened, knowing what was out there with top competition. … Then throughout the [recruiting] process, I just got really close with [the Maryland coaches] and had a great relationship with them. They’re just great people.”

Pfirman said Terps coach Brenda Frese wrote her a handwritten note early in the process, which made a big impression. Putting the full-court press -- so to speak -- on Pfirman was a good move in Allison’s opinion. He counts on her to lead South Williamsport to championships, and he thinks she has the ability to do the same for Frese.

“As far as her role at the college level in talking to some of the Maryland coaches, just being able to use her” size as an advantage in her position is important, Allison said. “She’s been a point guard for us at the junior-high level and most of the time here for me at the high-school level, but [I’d like] to get her to work on being an off-guard or a small forward and being able to develop some of those roles on the basketball court in the team aspect of the game.”

Ending the recruiting process just a few months after it started surprised Pfirman, but the future Terp said she was happy to find a school that fits her so well.

“I can’t believe that it’s over and done with,” Pfirman said. “I just started the process September 1, and I already have a college I’m going to go to. I have two years of high school left, but I’m relieved right now because I know where I’m going. I don’t have to take time [for recruiting] anymore. Now I’m just focused on Maryland.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:19 PM | | Comments (2)
        

Weekly recruiting roundup

The Maryland men's basketball program has stepped up its pursuit of one 2011 post target.

Martin Breunig, a 6-foot-9 forward from Germany, was offered a scholarship this week by the Terps, according to EuropeanProspects.com.

The University of Maryland has offered a scholarship to the German Martin Breunig who is currently playing at SJNMA in Wisconsin. Breunig came to St. Johns Northwestern during the last summer in order to prepare physically and educationally to play Division 1 College Basketball.

Click here for video highlights of Breunig at St. John's Northwestern.

EuropeanProspects.com also reported that another German forward, Patrick Heckmann, is "getting some interest" from Maryland, Michigan and San Diego.

Greg Whittington powered Oakland Mills to a 57-53 win over Glenelg on Thursday to move the Scorpions to 20-0 on the season.

Things did indeed start opening up for Whittington as the game went on. He ended up finishing with a game-high 20 points to go along with 13 rebounds.

• Terps center target Desmond Hubert helped New Egypt (N.J.) to a 48-23 win over Palmyra.

Behind 7 points and 14 rebounds from Desmond Hubert, New Egypt clinched at least a tie for the BCSL Freedom division on senior night.

Eugene McCrory, a post-grad power forward from Riverdale who drew some Terps interest, committed to Wagner on Thursday.

McCrory, a former Seton Hall commit, chose Wagner over Hofstra and Northeastern in part because of his relationships with Hurley and assistant coach Luke Murray.

• UM women's commitment Lexie Brown starred for North Gwinnett (Ga.) in its 66-44 win over Meadowcreek.

Leading North was Lexie Brown with 22 points, nine steals, eight assists and six rebounds. Ariel Johnson had 20 points, while Peyton Whitted added 11 points.

• Terps pledge Chloe Pavlech reached double figures in Sycamore's 61-22 win over Oak Hills (Ohio).

Alexis Newbolt scored 17 points and Chloe Pavlech added 14 points and six assists for the Aviators.

Football recruiting

• The Washington Post caught up with several Terps football recruits for their reactions to Don Brown's departure for Connecticut.

"I wish, if he knew earlier, that he would have done it before signing day," [Lukas] Foreman said. "I was so mad when I found out, but then I called [Maryland assistant recruiting coordinator Ryan Steinberg] and he told me what happened and everything. [Brown] did it to be with his family. You can't be mad at that."

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:30 AM | | Comments (3)
        

February 10, 2011

Q&A with Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley

For Morgan State football coach Donald Hill-Eley, the 2011 recruiting class was all about toughening the Bears defensively and adding guys who are ready to play.

Morgan's class includes 12 defensive prospects and eight junior-college players.

NamePositionHometownHigh School / Community College
Damarco BisbeeDLLansing, Mich.J.W. Sexton HS
Calvin FullerLBAiken, S.C.Georgia Military
Moses SkillonQBHollywood, Fla.Hallandale HS
Jamil LawsonDTNorfolk, Va.Booker T. Washington HS
Anthony DraytonWRFort Lauderdale, Fla.Stranahan HS
Seth HigginsQBEdgewoodEdgewood HS
Tierney YatesLBLos Angeles, Calif.Baskerville CC
Tyrell OkoroOLOzone Park, N.Y.Bayside High HS
Cordell RobinsonLBLos Angeles, Calif.Pasadena CC
Kris WestphalTEGaithersburgGaithersburg HS
Lakendrick RossDE/DTPortsmouth, Va.IC Norcum HS
Denzel StanbackTEWashington D.C.Friendship HS
Thomas PerryLBColerain, N.C.Bertie HS
Jeffrey PerryCBMirmar, Fla.Miramar HS
Joseph WilsonOTChicago, Ill.College of Dupage
Kyle BellDE/DTVisalia, Calif.College of Sequoias
Randon KeyDTNewport News, Va.Fork Union Military
Earvin GonzalezKVisalia, Calif.College of Sequoias
Tony MackCBLadson, S.C.Feather River CC

Hill-Eley spoke to Recruiting Report this week about Morgan State's 2011 class.

donald-hill-eley-2011.jpg Overall, how do you feel about this 2011 class?

"Well I think we addressed our needs. We wanted to get bigger as a team. I thought we were kind of small in some places, so we definitely wanted to get bigger. We addressed some defensive needs at linebacker, and we always want to get front-seven guys on the D-line, and [add guys on] the O-line. We were able to [add players to] those lines, and a couple of good quarterbacks in there."

You touched on this a little bit, but the defensive side of the ball was a clear priority. Talk about the emphasis you put there in recruiting.

"Well, we went the JC route as well because we needed some quick fixes and some high-caliber guys on that side. We focused on the defensive side … because we were No. 1 in the country three years ago, and last year we were around No. 40 or something. So when we looked back at our scheme, we wanted to beef up the defensive side. When you look at kids like Jamil Lawson, a 6-5, 340-pound defensive tackle, Damarco Bisbee, who’s 6-3, 280, we wanted to put some beef up front. And kids like Chris Outten at linebacker can come in and be impact players, as well as Cordell Robinson. We’ll be able to put some guys in that position that could really change the tempo of the game for us."

You’re bringing in two quarterbacks in Edgewood’s Seth Higgins and Moses Skillon from Hollywood, Fla. What do you like about them?

"Well, we’re hoping that they all come in with the intention of just getting better, learning the system and adding some range. To get a 6-4 guy from right here [in Higgins] who throws the ball well, makes great decisions with the football and is also a good runner [was important]. Moses is a 6-5, 200-some pound kid out of Florida who can make all the throws. He threw for 28 touchdowns, 2,000 yards last year. ... When you look at the quarterbacks, we feel confident that Delonte Williams can get it done for us. Another [guy we like at QB] is Josh Council. It could go either way at that position. ... So we definitely needed, as a program, to add some athletic players [to our QB group]. We’ll be a lot better."

Locally, you signed Higgins and Kris Westphal, a tight end from Gaithersburg, and Denzel Stanback, a tight end from Washington. How did you feel about in-state recruiting this year?

"It’s a little down from what we normally get locally, but it all goes to the spirit of the time with everything that’s going on. You have a lot of situations now when the pitch of ‘stay close to home’ doesn’t really work with kids because they want to get away from home because things are so bad. So it’s been tough keeping those high-level student-athletes at home. We’re getting the same type of student-athletes, but they’re coming here from other areas for the same reason – they want to get away from home as well. Budget-wise, it puts some constraints on us to make sure we spread the money evenly [to travel for recruiting] to get them. But I’m sure as the program increases, we’ll be able to improve and get back to getting more local guys."

Is Earvin Gonzalez the heir apparent to Kemarr Scarlett at kicker?

"We got Gonzalez because he can punt as well as kick. We have Nick Adams, who was our punter last year, and he has done a good job for us. But at every level for every position, you need competition. We also have Abraham Mercado, who did the backup kicking for us last year. We’re just bringing Gonzalez in to compete and see which one of those guys wins out. But Abraham has been here, waited his turn, and if his consistency stays up, he’ll be in there."

You’re adding eight junior college guys in this class. Will most of them contribute this year?

"With junior college guys, you normally don’t recruit any of them to sit. You look at [Chris] Outten and [Cordell] Robinson, those linebacker guys. Those are the types of guys that we’re looking at to take the field right away. Then [Randon] Key and Tony Mack, the cornerback, [plus] Kyle Bell, another D-tackle/D-end. Those guys, you bring them in from the junior-college level to step in and help you out right away."

Who are the early impact guys among the freshmen?

"The only freshmen that we probably will have do something right away will end up being Jamil Lawson or Lakendrick Ross – some of those defensive guys who clearly have proven to be strong – or [Damarco] Bisbee. Guys who are strong enough to play at our level right away."

Was there any need you didn’t fill?

"We were able to get all the positions filled. We’re exhausted right now with money. But it seems like the positions we put on the board as needs in the beginning, we ended up filling."

Heading in to spring, are you happy with where your team is at? What are your major concerns right now?

"Well, we’ve got to get better offensively. We have to find a way to become more explosive and get into the end zone. Just getting better offensively will help us overall as a team. We were down defensively, but [that could] probably [be due to] playing more reps on the defensive side of the ball because of turnovers and three-and-outs. As we get better offensively, I think the whole team gets better. It comes down to [limiting the] amount of time the defense is on the field, which also gets us the opportunity to put some points on the board."

Baltimore Sun photo of Donald Hill-Eley by Kim Hairston / Sept. 26, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:20 AM | | Comments (0)
        

February 9, 2011

Meet Justus Pickett

This is part of a series of Maryland football commitment Q&As for the Terps' 2011 recruiting class. All answers are provided by the featured player.

Name: Justus Pickett
Birthdate: Aug. 2, 1993
Birthplace: Charlotte, N.C.
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Height: 5-11
Weight: 183
Position: Running back
Nickname: J-Pick
High School: Ardrey Kell High
Senior statistics: 2,429 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns

Rankings: Rivals.com -- Three stars, No. 10 all-purpose back, No. 19 player in North Carolina. Scout.com -- Three stars, No. 70 running back. ESPN.com -- Three stars, No. 26 running back. 24-7 Sports -- Three stars, 86 rating.
Bench max: 315
40-yard dash: 4.32
Runner-up: Arkansas, West Virginia, Wake Forest
Favorite all-time NFL player: Barry Sanders
Favorite NFL team: Carolina Panthers
Favorite all-time Terp: Da’Rel Scott
Favorite music: Lil Wayne, Drake, Rick Ross
Favorite book: The “Harry Potter” books
Favorite movie: “All About the Benjamins”
Favorite TV show: "Jersey Shore"
Favorite food: Crab legs
Favorite high school class: Math
Favorite thing about College Park: “The campus is real nice.”
Other high school sports: Basketball, track
Hobbies: “Chilling with friends, working out.”
Intended major: Business
Something that not many people know about you: “Probably that I take yoga classes sometimes.”
Best football moment: “I think when I scored my first high school touchdown on varsity my freshman year.”
Role model: “I’d probably say my dad because he has the biggest influence on my life.”
Why Maryland? “I knew it was a great academic school, and after meeting with the coaches, I thought the football program was a great fit for me and I thought I could come in and play.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 5:29 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Meet the recruit
        

N.C. RB Justus Pickett could be 'a gem' for Terps

On a Signing Day that seemingly broke records in media coverage, broken commitments and unwarranted hype, Justus Pickett purposefully avoided the spotlight.

A three-star running back from Ardrey Kell High in Charlotte, N.C., Pickett wasn’t lacking for scholarship offers or attention. Arkansas, Wake Forest and West Virginia were among the many Division I schools that wanted him. But Pickett simply wasn’t ready last week to make his choice.

“I don’t think you can decide until you’re 100 percent sure,” Pickett said. “Once you make a decision, that’s it.”

Pickett’s patience with the process paid off for the Terps this week, when the 5-foot-11, 183-pound senior signed his national letter of intent to attend Maryland. His decision came soon after he completed an official visit to College Park.

“Everybody was pretty much trying to pressure me into signing, and I just knew that was not what I wanted to do at the time,” Pickett said. “I just knew what was good for me, and that’s what I did. … [The visit] went real well. I loved the school. The campus was really nice. And it just felt like the place that was for me.”

Ardrey Kell coach Adam Hastings served as the Knights’ offensive coordinator in 2007, when Pickett was a freshman starter. Hastings said he knew right from the start that Pickett “was special.”

“I knew that just his attitude, it wasn’t typical for a freshman,” Hastings said. “A lot of freshmen in the spotlight are not quite prepared to compete, but he understood from the second he stepped on campus what he was there to do.”

After Pickett’s ninth-grade year, Hastings took the offensive coordinator job at nearby Providence Day School only to return to Ardrey Kell two seasons later as its head coach. Hastings watched film on Pickett from his sophomore and junior seasons, and was unsurprised at what he saw.

“He’s what I thought he would be,” Hastings said. “We do a lot offensively, [and] I asked him to line up [in the backfield and] at receiver. … He allowed me to take the team farther through his ability. That’s why he had the productivity he had. [He excelled with] the physical part and the mental part, preparing and knowing football and knowing the things that put him in position to help a team make plays.”

Pickett finished his senior season with 2,429 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns, helping the Knights to an 8-5 record and the second round of the North Carolina 4AA playoffs. The future Terp was named Offensive Player of the Year in the Southwestern 4A Conference.

Maryland wide receivers coach Lee Hull first expressed interest in Pickett as a sophomore, but it wasn’t until recently that the Terps ramped up their pursuit of him. When Randy Edsall was named coach, Pickett said the Maryland coaching staff identified him as a top remaining target on their recruiting board. Pickett quickly worked to set up his post-Signing Day official visit, which got “better and better” as he toured the campus, helping him decide that Maryland was the best fit.

“This whole process, we knew he was going to wait for the right opportunity. He just didn’t have the opportunity yet,” Hastings said. “He had a lot of offers, he was taking visits, [but] he was just waiting on the right opportunity. Maryland was just a great fit for him. Coach Edsall and those guys have proven they can win. I think he’s going to do great things at Maryland. I think the offense they’re going to transition to will be perfect for Justus.”

In College Park, Pickett will join a Terps squad looking to replace the production of departed starter Da’Rel Scott. Davin Meggett, D.J. Adams and Gary Douglas all return, while Pickett and fellow freshman Brandon Ross will join the competition. With his 4.32 speed, Pickett hopes to add an element of quickness to Maryland’s backfield.

“They said they’re going to kind of run a spread offense and they need some backs with versatility that can be used in the passing game as well,” Pickett said. “They really didn’t have [much] depth at the position.”

Transitioning from high school to college shouldn’t be a major issue for Pickett, whom Hastings called “the strongest kid in school” and someone who picks up the intricacies of football without difficulty.

“His future is bright,” Hastings said. “Looking at him, I always thought that whoever picks this kid up, two years from now is going to realize the gem that they have.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:00 PM | | Comments (6)
        

February 8, 2011

Video: Edsall's first Signing Day with Terps

Ever wonder what goes on during Signing Day at Maryland?

Here's a little taste of what last Wednesday was like for Terps coach Randy Edsall, assistant recruiting coordinator Ryan Steinberg and wide receivers coach Lee Hull.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:20 PM | | Comments (1)
        

Q&A with Towson coach Rob Ambrose

It's hard for Rob Ambrose to hide his excitement when discussing Towson's 2011 recruiting class.

The Tigers coach last week announced the signing of a 20-man class, which is highlighted by six Maryland natives and a running back transfer from Boston College.

NamePositionHigh SchoolHometown
Olatungie CokerDELargo H.S.Largo
Jared DangerfieldWRRoyal Palm Beach H.S.Royal Palm Beach, Fla.
Jon DesirDTSt. Anthony's H.S.Westbury, N.Y.
Walter DunstonDBWest Windsor Plainsboro NorthWest Windsor, N.J.
Jarred EvansQBWest Philadelphia CatholicJamaica, N.Y.
Connor FrazierQBDamascus H.S.Gaithersburg
Jalil GordonDBCarroll H.S.South Lake, Texas
Syd HoltDESayreville War Memorial H.S.South Amboy, N.J.
Stefan JanikDECalvert Hall H.S.Sparks
Dreon JohnsonFBMayde Creek H.S.Houston, Texas
Kelly LindenLSBishop Moore Catholic H.S.Windermere, Fla.
Price LittonQBProvidence Day SchoolMatthews, N.C.
Joe McCargoLBOld Mill H.S.Severn
Sean MooneyTEMalvern PrepChester Springs, Pa.
Sterlin Phifer*RBLandstown H.S.Virginia Beach, Va.
Mac SandersWRProvidence Day SchoolCharlotte, N.C.
Jake SchunkeOTWayne Hills H.S.Wayne, N.J.
Tyreek SmithCBWakefield H.S.Raleigh, N.C.
Spencer SuttonOLCalvert Hall H.S.Westminster
Terrance WestRBNorthwestern H.S.Baltimore

* transfer from Boston College

Ambrose spoke with Recruiting Report last week about Towson's 2011 class.

rob-ambrose-towson-2011.jpg Last year's class was light on in-state recruits, but that's definitely not the case this year. With six guys from Maryland coming in, how pleased are you with this in-state haul?

"Well this is something we have always done: I don’t let my guys recruit anywhere outside the state of Maryland until they have evaluated every in-state student-athlete. I can’t promise we’re going to take them all, but I made a promise to the Maryland State Coaches Association that we would evaluate every kid, we would be in every school, and we would take care of our state above all else. And we have to. It’s a balancing act. There are some previous negative connotations of our football team in the last 15 years. Since we’ve been Division I, we’ve been scholarship, non-scholarship, need-based aid, and we haven’t really kept a strong foundation from which to work. That’s negatively affected our perception. So we have to find the kid who wants to be here, while doing a thorough evaluation of everyone who is in the state."

The first name that jumped out to me was Terrance West, the running back from Northwestern who has been off the radar for the past couple years. How did that recruitment materialize?

"Well, we knew where he was. We were checking out the prep school (Fork Union Military Academy), too. I know he had a good career there, and had a storied history here. And when there was interest by him, there was certainly interest by us in trying to find a way to keep the local guy. Getting him to come back home is very exciting."

Will he factor in to the running back competition?

"He’s certainly going to compete for the position. He’s a little bit older, a little bit stronger, and a little bit wiser. So it’s possible [that he’ll be a factor] despite the fact that he’s really a first-semester freshman right now. It’s a possibility he would be in the mix with his skill set. He runs with speed and power, and he has the potential to be the complete back."

Janik and Sutton played big roles for the MIAA A Conference champions. How significant was it to land those two Calvert Hall guys?

"Well, I think [Cardinals coach] Donald Davis does a tremendous job at Calvert Hall. He turned that place around. His won-loss record speaks for itself, and if you ask people in the Towson area, [the Turkey Bowl] means everything. He’s clearly done a really good job of bringing [positive] attention to Calvert Hall. His kids are a byproduct of their improvement. [Janik and Sutton] are good players from a good program that play hard, care about football and care about their team. That’s certainly a big thing for us. We’re just excited that these local guys are staying home."

McCargo from Old Mill is another local guy. What do you like best about him?

"He's a multi-talented, extremely fast kid. He’s got a big upside. He hasn’t even filled out into his own bones. He is, without a doubt, a guy that I can see becoming a captain in the future. Certain people walk into a room and there is this aura of leadership about them. That is Joe McCargo. ... He is probably one of the five most competitive kids that I’ve ever met. He’s competitive in everything he does. He does it in how he breathes – he’s that competitive. Everyone who follows high school football knows that if the kid was 6-4, he would be at any college in America."

A lot of people thought Connor Frazier from Damascus was one of the best quarterbacks in the state this year. Did you think all along that you'd land or him, or did you worry about FBS schools swooping in there?

"He was a highly touted quarterback, comes from a great program, his brother is a tremendous quarterback. He really was a wait and see. Like everyone else, he [wanted to see] how high he could go and how far he could go. We have a strong family feeling with Damascus and Montgomery County football in general, and [with] his family. We’ve always been there, he’s always been there, and as we got to the end, it was just a match. We wanted to do it right."

Phifer comes from Boston College, where he made a contribution. What are your expectations of him?

"He’s a guy who has some college experience – some positive college experience – at the running back position. Across the board, there’s only one football. [At Boston College, the question became], how can you play a bunch of good running backs at once? It’s a tough gig. But he’s from the Virginia Beach area, which I recruited a little bit when I was at UConn. He liked the fact that I've had some success with running backs previously moving on to the next level. He saw an opportunity to come in and make a difference."

Will Phifer factor in to the running back competition?

"If he doesn’t, I’ll be very disappointed."

You’ve always said you’re big on family and trying to create a family atmosphere at Towson. How big was it to land Jared Dangerfield, whose older brother Jordan is on the team and had to obviously recommend the experience to him?

"Bloodlines are bloodlines, families are families. We try and create one here and find people to be part of it. If you talk to every member of this recruiting class, the one thing that all of these kids have in common is that every one of these kids wants to be here above anywhere else. It’s not like there weren’t other schools that wanted them. These kids wanted to be a part of our future. They see things as they will be, not as they are. That’s one thing that made them different. They’re willing to see the past as the past, and see what the future can hold. You take a kid like Jared, and he’s a highly recruited student-athlete coming out of the state of Florida. To go get him out of Florida, I’m glad we had the family ties to help close that deal."

Do you feel like this class adequately addresses any needs you had?

"Across the board, you definitely look at the kids you got and see who’s going to graduate and try to plan for at least two years to fill out those positions. Basically, it’s all about reestablishing quality depth so you’re reloading – you’re never rebuilding. You don’t want to ever graduate a monster senior class and say, ‘well, you’ve got three more years before you compete and do well again.’ You want guys to fill in and step up. This class really fills any holes we might have had here in the future."

Are there any guys you’re counting on to make an immediate impact?

"Truth be told, I would hope that none of those guys are impact guys as freshmen, because that doesn’t speak as well to them as it speaks poorly to the guys ahead of them who have been here. That says they didn’t work hard enough. I can tell you that we have quality players for our future, but that’s only based on potential."

What does the quarterback battle look like heading into spring practice?

"Well, we’ve got some guys on campus and are bringing some more in this summer. Brian Potts and Peter Athens both have experience here. They’ll be competing this spring. And there’s a guy named Jarred Evans, a first-year player [that has enrolled early]. We’ll let them battle and get the best out of that position. By the time we get to Week 1, I’ll probably be as confident or more confident than I’ve ever been at the quarterback position since I’ve been here."

Looking back at your first two seasons at Towson, has there been anything that's really surprised you about the job?

"I actually had the advantage of being a graduate of Towson. When you know this place as well as I do, there’s not a lot of surprises for me. I knew what I was getting in to, what the plan would be and how hard we’re going to have to work. I’m excited for it. We're exactly where I thought we'd be, and I'm definitely pleased with our progress."

Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd Fox / Oct. 9, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:39 PM | | Comments (7)
        

February 7, 2011

Justus Pickett signs with Maryland

Maryland has added a post-Signing Day commitment to its 2011 recruiting class.

Justus Pickett, a 5-foot-10, 173-pound running back from Ardrey Kell High in Charlotte, N.C., signed a letter of intent with the Terps on Monday.

A three-star prospect and Rivals.com's No. 10 all-purpose back in the country, Pickett picked Maryland over Arkansas and West Virginia. He rushed for 2,429 yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:29 PM | | Comments (3)
        

Kiero Small takes long road to Arkansas

kiero-small-arkansas.jpg When playing college football wasn't an option, Kiero Small turned to the family business.

At The T-Spot – Johnny Stith’s T-shirt shop near Lexington Market on Saratoga – Small helped his father with whatever he needed, getting a crash course in the daily grind of the retail-clothing trade.

It was a long way from where Small had hoped to be as a senior running back and linebacker at Cardinal Gibbons. A Baltimore Sun first-team All City selection in 2006, Small missed NCAA Division I qualifying standards coming out of high school, and then again following a prep-school season.

While living at home and working for his father, Small was initially content, and not “really thinking about [playing college football]. I was like, ‘It just didn’t work out.’”

Said Stith: “It was pretty much a crossroads in his young life – the direction as to which way he wanted to go. Had it been 9-to-5-ing it, had it been school, if he wanted to retire the cleats in general, personally, to me, it wouldn’t have made a difference. … Once he made [his] decision, I backed him fully, 100 percent.”

The choice that Small, 21, made more than two years ago was the first step in his unlikely journey – four years after the completion of his senior season at Gibbons – to major college football. Small, now a 5-foot-10, 255-pound sophomore fullback at Hartnell College in Salinas, Calif., signed a letter of intent to Arkansas on Signing Day last Wednesday.

Making his commitment to the Razorbacks “didn’t sink in until I got into the plane on my way back,” said Small, who pledged to Arkansas on his official visit to Fayetteville in late January. “It really didn’t sink in until I got on the plane and really got a chance to take it in. All the hard work paid off. I called my family, and everyone was excited.”

A peewee sensation for Northwood Pop Warner’s 2000 national championship squad, Small started his high school career at Mervo before transferring to Cardinal Gibbons for his sophomore season. Donald Davis, the Crusaders’ coach from 2003 to 2006, recruited Small to the now-defunct MIAA school.

“We’ve got to get this kid,” Davis recalled thinking. “I never imagined he would be what he ended up being. When he was young, he was still fast. I figured he would be a 5-10, 5-11, 175-pound, 180-pound kid. Then he got into eighth grade and he ballooned. He didn’t get taller, but he got real thick. So he turned into a body type that was much different, except that he kept his footwork and his ability to change direction. He was doing it at 180, then 200, then 215, then 225. He still had his feet and great ability to change speeds and all the stuff you need to have.”

Football came easy to Small, whom Davis called “the best linebacker I’ve ever coached.” Academics were a different story. The transition from Baltimore City Public Schools to a private school was a drastic one. Davis said Small played catch-up in the classroom from the minute he walked through Gibbons’ doors.

“The kid never got in trouble, ever,” Davis said. “Just academically, he had to fight like mad to get through because he ended up not being a high-GPA kid. He would’ve had to pop a high score to qualify.”

When Small’s SAT score came up short, he packed his bags for Pennsylvania, enrolling at Valley Forge Military Academy for a post-grad season. Once again, football came easy. And once again, Small’s test score fell short.

“By me not being able to clear the [score], it was the same thing in high school,” Small said. “It was disappointing, but I took it as I did it.”

For the next year and a half, Small was back at his family’s Northeast Baltimore home, working with his father at The T-Spot and giving very little thought – at least initially – to playing football again and going to college.

Stith put his son to work in a jack-of-all-trades role. Small opened and closed the store, worked the cash register, handled inventory, made sales and supervised other employees. When Stith had to run errands, Small ran the store.

“The main thing I was looking for as a parent, knowing that he was in a transitional period, was to see which direction he was going to go in,” Stith said. “That was my focus level when he came back from Valley Forge. When he came back from Valley Forge, [I said], ‘OK, now you have to do what I taught you, which is how to be the man that I raised.’ So in other words, you have to go to work. He never had a problem with it. He took it for what it was. He did what he had to do.”

Davis, meanwhile, had left Gibbons for Calvert Hall, but stayed in contact with Small. He invited his former star player to work out at the Towson school, and encouraged him to explore football opportunities at nearby Division II and III schools.

“My thing is, I wanted him to go to school,” Davis said. “If a kid’s in Baltimore City long enough, he’s not doing anything. If he’s not productive, he’s going to find something unproductive to do. That was one of my biggest fears – that he was going to do some stuff he had no business doing. But he didn’t, he stuck with it, and he’s a kid with great character.”

Small enjoyed working with his father, but the more he worked at the store, the more he “needed to get back to school.” He took Davis up on his offer to work out at Calvert Hall occasionally, while also spending plenty of time at the local YMCA to get back into football shape. Soon after, Small settled on the place where he intended to start his college career.

At Hartnell, a two-year college near the picturesque Monterey Bay, former Mervo standout Tim Smith was preparing for his sophomore year after spending his freshman season at Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College. Smith called on Small, his cousin, to join him on the West Coast. After passing his highlight film from Gibbons on to Hartnell coach Matt Collins -- who eagerly offered up a roster spot -- it was time for Small to tender his resignation at The T-Spot.

“[My father] let me make my decisions, but pushed me to go,” Small said. “Once I said that I wanted to go play football, he was pushing it again. He was always for it.”

Collins had coached two former Baltimore football stars as an assistant at Santa Rosa in Smith and Parkville grad Brandon Driver, now a starting cornerback at San Jose State. Collins was impressed by Small’s highlight tape and his “respectful, easy-going” manner.

“I knew that he would be successful playing for us, [but] I could see why he slipped through the cracks,” Collins said. “Most coaches are trying to find that kid who looks like the Jolly Green Giant – the chiseled body, runs fast, strong in the weight room. It’s basically someone who fits a lot of those criteria for the eye-ball test. He didn’t come across that way, but when he strapped on the pads and you put him in the game, it was apparent that he had the tools to be successful on the field.”

Small immediately claimed a starting linebacker spot for Collins’ team, while also seeing time at fullback for the Panthers as a freshman. He earned All-California and all-conference honors in 2009, leading Hartnell with 109 tackles in addition to rushing for five touchdowns. Small followed that up with an All-American season last fall, which included 120 tackles (including 21 for loss) and one rushing score. Most importantly, Small excelled in the classroom, earning a 3.5 GPA.

“As far as the field, it was like I had never stopped,” Small said of his time at Hartnell. “I’m doing what I know how to do. It was like I never took any time off. Academically, before I came to Salinas, that wouldn’t be where I would focus. But now I feel as though football comes and goes, [and] I’ve just got to focus in the classroom.”

Small said BYU, Cal, Nevada, North Texas, Oregon State and Washington State expressed varying degrees of interest in his game. But when Arkansas – fresh off a 10-3 season that ended with a Sugar Bowl loss to Ohio State – entered the picture, Small had a clear-cut favorite in his recruitment. His official visit to Fayetteville – which took place in January shortly after Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino saw his film – couldn’t have gone much better.

“It was crazy,” Small said. “It’s football country down there. The fans were going crazy, things of that sort. The facilities are nice. The school’s nice. They have my major there. Everything there is just a great fit.”

Petrino said during his Signing Day news conference that he had searched for a fullback for the past three years. In Small, Arkansas’ coach finally found his man.

"He was a high school tailback and when you watch his high school video, it's pretty amazing to see a big guy like him run and change direction as good as he does," Petrino told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. "When we go to two-back sets, he'll be the first legitimate fullback we've had here."

Small will head to Arkansas this summer after finishing his associate’s degree at Hartnell. After changing high schools, handling a semester of military school, twice coming up short academically, and going to junior college, Small is confident he can handle any adversity that comes his way.

“I’m a tough guy,” Small said. “I’m willing to do what I have to do to take care of business in the classroom and on the field.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Kiero Small by Gene Sweeney Jr. / Nov. 10, 2006

Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:40 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Weekend wrap – Whittington stars again

Another Friday night in Howard County, another huge performance from Oakland Mills' Greg Whittington.

The senior forward and potential Terps target showed off his versatility in the Scorpions' 61-45 win over Hammond.

In front of a sold-out crowd, Whittington hit four 3-pointers, poured in a game-high 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to help Oakland Mills break open a close game in the fourth quarter and remain undefeated.

• The News Leader of Staunton, Va., reported that Keith Booth was at the Virginia Military Postgrad Challenge on Friday. The Maryland assistant coach was there, presumably, to check out Martin Breunig of St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, Wis. Testudo Times broke down Breunig's situation.

He played with the German U18 team in last season's European Championships, averaging about 9 points and 5 boards. His standout performance was a 15-point, 9-rebound performance against Bulgaria, which is nice, but then again, it's Bulgaria.

• Maryland-bound shooting guard Nick Faust played well in City's game Friday against Edmondson, which was suspended with less than six minutes to play when a fight broke out in the stands.

Before the altercation, City fans had plenty to cheer for. Trailing 27-21 at halftime, the Maryland-bound Faust took the game over for the Knights. He scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the third quarter after not making a field goal in the first half.

• UM point guard signee Sterling Gibbs helped Seton Hall Prep to an 81-51 win over Barringer (N.J.).

Sterling Gibbs collected 14 points and [Stephon] Mosley pulled down 12 rebounds as the Prep, ranked No. 7, stretched its winning streak to 14 games.

• Terps small forward target Justin Anderson tipped in a shot at the buzzer to give Montrose Christian a 44-42 win over T.C. Williams on Sunday.

"It was fooling with me a little bit when I saw it was rolling around the rim," Anderson said. "I was like: 'Get in there, baby. Get in there.' It fell and we got the game."

• ESPN Radio Williamsport reported Sunday that the Maryland women's program landed a commitment from Tierney Pfirman, a 6-foot-2 junior wing from South Williamsport (Pa.).

Pfirman made a visit to the Maryland campus this weekend and made her commitment during that visit.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:20 AM | | Comments (3)
        

February 4, 2011

Coach: Clark 'disappointed,' but still loves Terps

A member of the Maryland coaching staff reached Matt Dixon by phone before the Felix Varela (Fla.) football coach heard the news of defensive coordinator Don Brown's departure from Maryland to Connecticut.

Dixon’s star cornerback, Undray Clark, was recruited by Brown and signed with the Terps on Wednesday.

“We let Undray know soon after,” the phone call, Dixon said. “He was shocked, a little disappointed, but he loved Maryland, loved the program. So it’s not going to affect anything he does. He was very disappointed. Coach Brown and he were really close.”

Dixon said the Maryland representative wanted Clark to hear the news from someone on the Terps staff and “not somebody else. It was very professional of them to call and let us know.”

Dixon said he and Clark were “definitely shocked” by the news of Brown’s decision to leave College Park just two days after Signing Day. The former UMass coach played “a big part” in Clark’s interest in the Terps.

“Coach Brown came down and talked to him during a practice, they communicated during the summer, and that’s what intrigued him,” Dixon said. “We went through the whole process in December when Coach Brown was in limbo, didn’t know what was going on. But Undray still wanted to go to Maryland no matter what. He visited the school, and it was a place where he felt really comfortable.”

A three-star prospect, Clark committed to the Terps in July. He picked Maryland over Duke, Minnesota and Wake Forest, citing his bond with Brown as a major reason for his commitment.

“I mean it’s disappointing, no question,” Dixon said. “There’s definitely some disappointment because Coach Brown was going to be his position coach, too. So there was definitely some disappointment, but did it stop him from [wanting to] go there or make him question his decision? No, I don’t think so. Not from the conversation I had with him.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:09 PM | | Comments (7)
        

Foreman 'shocked' about Don Brown news

The news of defensive coordinator Don Brown leaving Maryland to take the same position at Connecticut reached Lukas Foreman by text message.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound safety “had no idea” what to think when he saw the message from fellow Terps signee and Naples, Fla., native Makinton Dorleant.

“I’m shocked right now,” Foreman said. “I don’t even know what to do.”

Foreman said he has good relationships with other assistant coaches on Maryland’s staff, but Brown was the point man in his recruitment.

“He was one of the main reasons why I signed there,” Foreman said. “… This sucks. I don’t know. He’s been recruiting me since I was a sophomore. He’s real good friends with our coach. So I don’t know.”

Foreman said Brown told him that he had a three-year contract with Maryland. That security made Foreman’s decision to sign with the Terps an easy one. Now the three-star prospect is unsure of his next move.

“He was the big one,” Foreman said. “But it was academics, [and College Park was] a good place -- a nice place I wanted to be, and he just made it better. I don’t know. I don’t even know what I’m going to do right now.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:59 PM | | Comments (12)
        

Dorleant 'stunned' about Don Brown's departure

Two days ago, Makinton Dorleant faxed his letter of intent to the Maryland football offices.

Today, the senior cornerback from Lely High in Naples, Fla., found out that Don Brown, the Terps’ defensive coordinator and his primary recruiter, was leaving College Park to take the same position at Connecticut. The news left Dorleant “really stunned.”

“He was the biggest reason I was going to go and play there,” Dorleant said. “If he made the decision a week before Signing Day, I definitely wouldn’t be going to Maryland. And I mean, there’s nothing I can really do now.”

Dorleant was one of four Florida players recruited by Brown that signed with Maryland on Wednesday. Dwyer defensive tackle Keith Bowers, Felix Varela safety Undray Clark and Naples safety Lukas Foreman were the others.

Brown was the first college coach who communicated with Dorleant when the three-star prospect withdrew his commitment to Wisconsin in December. Dorleant cited Brown in a January interview as the primary reason he committed to the Terps. He liked the former UMass coach’s personality and defensive scheme.

“The school and everything was a big part [of my commitment], too,” Dorleant said. “I really liked his defensive scheme. He knew everything about me and my style of play. Me going and competing, it made me feel like I had a good chance to play early. Now somebody else is going to come in that I don’t know, and I most likely won’t know. It’s going to be a big change. But I’m just going to keep competing harder and harder.”

Dorleant said he wasn’t sure of his next step, noting that “there’s no more decommitting -- the paper is faxed and everything.” The immediate reaction for Dorleant was disappointment and confusion over Brown's decision.

“I guess it’s probably more [about] business, doing what he has to do,” Dorleant said. “I would never see that happening. Coach Brown and Coach [Randy] Edsall basically switched – it’s kind of weird. But I’m a young student athlete, and I’ve always dreamed of playing college football. Yeah, it’s a big change, it’s a big surprise. But I’m still going to perform and do what I want to accomplish. He’d probably wish me the best of luck and I wish him the best of luck.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:31 PM | | Comments (2)
        

Weekly recruiting roundup

The grades and rankings for the Maryland football program's 2011 recruiting class have begun to roll in.

Rivals.com ranked the Terps' group as the ninth-best class in the ACC.

Even before the coaching transition from Ralph Friedgen to Randy Edsall, the Terrapins were not having a great recruiting year in-state. The coaching change definitely did not help that matter however, and they ended up with only one player ranked in the state's top ten. That one player is defensive back Jeremiah Hendy, who re-opened his recruitment after the coaching change, but re-confirmed back to Maryland on signing day. Joining Clarke from Fork Union will be Tyrek Cheeseboro, who also originally signed with Maryland last year but needed a prep year.

ESPN gave Maryland a C+ for its recruiting class.

Analysis: It was a solid class for first-year coach Randy Edsall, but nothing flashy. Maryland loaded up on offensive tackles, and finished with a good mix of skill players. It’s an unheralded class with three two-star recruits and three unranked players who we’ll find out more about once they see some playing time.

• Pope John (N.J.) linebacker Cole Farrand received interest from Miami, Rutgers and Temple after Maryland's coaching change, but the future Terp wasn't swayed by those pitches.

"Cole knew Edsall's style and everything else," Paternostro said. "But the biggest thing was he was sold on Maryland itself. The coaching change wasn't going to affect him at all. The other thing is Maryland was a very, very young team. He is coming in right on the ground floor. Now to have a new coaching staff, it works out well for him."

• The Naples Daily News was on hand to see Lukas Foreman sign his letter of intent to Maryland. The three-star safety discussed his relationship with fellow Terps signee and Naples native Makinton Dorleant.

Foreman and Dorleant have been friends since they were freshmen, and hope to room together in college and play side-by-side in the Terps' defensive backfield.

“We're really good friends,” Foreman said. “We talked about (recruiting) a lot. We were pretty much planning on going to the same school.”

• The News-Press of Fort Myers, Fla., had notes on former UM commitment Jimmy Stewart signing with Vanderbilit, and Dorleant signing with the Terps.

"I feel like having a big sigh of relief right now," Dorleant said. "I feel like there's no more pressure on my shoulders anymore. Really, a lot of my decision was made as soon as I went on that first visit to Maryland. My visits stopped right after that."

• GoUpstate.com spoke to UM offensive line signee Stephen Grommer about how he dealt with the coaching change.

"I kind of had some second thoughts, but after my recent visit I knew 100 percent I'd go there," Grommer said. "The new coaches coming in didn't affect me at all. (Edsall) is great and all his assistants are really clicking together just right on the direction they want to go. All the players are really excited about it."

• Maryland is scheduled to host Justus Pickett, a senior running back from Ardrey Kell High in North Carolina, on an official visit this weekend.

"He's still trying to figure it out," [Ardrey Kell coach Adam] Hastings said. "We have until April 2 but I think this time next week he'll have an idea of where he's at."

Hastings said Pickett will choose between Maryland, Arkansas, Ball State and West Virginia.

Basketball recruiting

Wally Judge, a former D.C. Assault forward, is leaving Kansas State. Soon after he announced his transfer, rumors of Maryland as a potential destination began to pop up. The Diamondback's Jeremy Schneider broke down the situation.

Judge was a five star prospect and a McDonald’s All-American in high school. But he has been enigmatic in Manhattan, averaging 3.3 points and 3 rebounds per game as a freshman and not fairing much better in limited duty this year.

• Terps center target Desmond Hubert was reportedly at the Maryland-Duke game on Wednesday.

• Maryland women's signee Brene Moseley will miss her entire senior season.

According to Paint Branch Coach Dan Feher, Moseley hasn't yet regained full strength in her right knee, in which she suffered a torn ACL last spring. Initially, Moseley had hoped to return after the winter break, and had begun participating in drills with the Panthers. She had not yet been cleared to scrimmage with the team.

• UM women's commitment Chloe Pavlech helped Sycamore to a 61-22 win over Oak Hills (Ohio).

Alexis Newbolt scored 17 points and Chloe Pavlech added 14 points and six assists for the Aviators.

• Terps point guard pledge Lexie Brown guided North Gwinnett (Ga.) to a 61-36 win over Mountain View.

Lexie Brown scored 11 to lead North (16-5 overall), while Annie Wheeler grabbed 12 rebounds to go along with eight points.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:20 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

February 3, 2011

Chat wrap: Terps football, hoops recruiting

> Click here to view the chat on a mobile device

Posted by Baltimore Sun sports at 7:40 AM | | Comments (0)
        

February 2, 2011

Notes from Randy Edsall's Signing Day presser

randy-edsall-recruiting-201.jpg After an absolutely delightful drive down I-95 from Baltimore to College Park today, I sauntered into Gossett Team House roughly 10 minutes into Randy Edsall's first Signing Day press conference as Maryland's coach.

The former UConn coach spoke about his vision for the program, being “upfront and honest” on the field and in the classroom, and focusing future recruiting endeavors within a five- or six-hour radius of campus.

Edsall didn’t discuss each recruit individually, as former coach Ralph Friedgen used to do. And he cracked considerably fewer jokes than his predecessor behind the podium. But Edsall did weigh in on a variety of important recruiting-related topics during his roughly 30-minute address. Here are the highlights:

• Woodland Hills (Pa.) defensive end Quinton Jefferson was Edsall’s first commitment at Maryland, but Friedgen’s staff laid the groundwork there. Edsall credited wide receivers coach Lee Hull for keeping the three-star prospect interested in the Terps. Edsall, Hull and defensive coordinator Don Brown traveled to Pittsburgh for an in-home visit with Jefferson and his family. As the three Terps coaches pulled up to their hotel after the visit, Jefferson called Hull to offer his pledge.

• While the Maryland coaching search played out in the media, “a lot of people” tried to make a move on the Terps’ commitments. Edsall said he was impressed by “the character” Maryland’s recruits demonstrated by honoring their commitments. Edsall said he chose not to pursue any UConn commitments once he got the Terps job. That included Calvert Hall safety Adrian Amos, a former Huskies commitment who signed with Penn State today.

• Our own Jeff Barker asked Edsall to discuss recruits the Terps lost in the coaching transition – either by the staff’s choice or the player’s. “There were some that decided to move on based on our decisions, and there were some we moved on based on our own decisions.” Edsall couldn't mention any recruits that didn't sign by name, but Point Pleasant (N.J.) tight end Ryan Malleck (Virginia Tech) and Island Coast (Fla.) linebacker Jimmy Stewart were two that Maryland wanted to keep. The Terps decided to part ways with Fork Union offensive tackle Larry Mazyck and Hertford County (N.C.) defensive end Dontez Tyler. Mazyck had reportedly committed to Vanderbilt, but didn’t sign his letter of intent today and could be headed to prep school. Tyler signed with Old Dominion.

• “Who can help us win an ACC championship?” That’s the question Edsall will ask when evaluating each potential recruit. Desire to get a Maryland degree, possessing a work ethic and having “great character” were the three characteristics he listed as necessary requirements for a prospective Terp. No mention of actual football acumen here, but that probably goes without saying. The gist is that Edsall doesn’t plan on taking chances on kids with questionable character and/or grades.

• Replacing Dave Sollazzo as Maryland’s recruiting coordinator will be tight ends coach John Dunn, who came to College Park after a grad-assistant stint at LSU. Ryan Steinberg, who Edsall said played an important role in keeping the 2011 class together, will stay on as the assistant recruiting coordinator. Edsall envisions a team effort among the assistants in recruiting. “Everybody … will have a role in what we do,” he said. Edsall also said he plans to be very “hands on” with recruiting.

• The Terps didn’t sign a quarterback in this class, but that was by design, according to Edsall. There are five scholarship quarterbacks – Danny O’Brien, Jamarr Robinson, C.J. Brown, Tyler Smith, Devin Burns – on Maryland’s roster. Adding a sixth this year, Edsall said, didn’t make sense because “only one quarterback can play at a time.” Edsall said he does plan to recruit a quarterback for the 2012 class.

• It’s probably safe to say that Edsall doesn’t spend his free time scouring Rivals.com and Scout.com to look up the star rankings of Maryland’s recruits. “People get caught up too much in these rankings,” he said. “The only ranking that really matters is what me and my staff think.” Edsall acknowledged that his recruiting classes at UConn were generally lowly ranked by the scouting services, but the Huskies still “went out and won games.” The biggest takeaway from this portion of the presser? “You don’t win championships in February.”

• Edsall was hesitant to discuss the differences in recruiting for Maryland vs. recruiting for UConn. But in general, he does expect to sign a better class in 2012 simply because he will have an entire year to evaluate prospects and build relationships, instead of just a month.

Nate Clarke, Ryan Doyle, Stephen Grommer, Evan Mulrooney and Andrew Zeller compose Maryland’s five-man offensive line class, giving the Terps 16 O-linemen on the roster. That’s just about Edsall’s ideal number for the position. Seventeen would be the max, he said.

David Walker’s stint as Maryland’s running backs coach was a short one. The former Pittsburgh assistant has been hired by the Indianapolis Colts. Edsall joked that former UConn star and current Colts running back Donald Brown might have had something to do with that move. Edsall wished Walker well and thanked him for his recruiting efforts.

• Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for more from Hull and Dunn on their roles in recruiting.

Baltimore Sun photo of Randy Edsall by Karl Merton Ferron / Feb. 2, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:00 PM | | Comments (8)
        

Video: Adrian Amos commits to Penn State

Calvert Hall safety Adrian Amos signed with Penn State on Wednesday, picking the Nittany Lions over Connecticut and West Virginia. Click on the video player below for his announcement:

 

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:19 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Punting coach weighs in on Terps signee Renfro

Nathan Renfro faced a bit of a dilemma as Signing Day approached.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound punter from Brentwood Academy in Nashville had preferred walk-on offers from Florida State and Maryland, plus a smattering of non-BCS-level scholarships. Late last month, Renfro told the Seminoles coaches he would accept their invitation. But on Tuesday, the Terps’ staff complicated matters a bit by offering a full scholarship.

Renfro immediately sought the advice of Chris Sailer, a former All-American punter and kicker at UCLA who runs a professional kicking instruction service. Sailer’s advice to Renfro was simple.

“He actually just said, ‘They offered me. What do you think? I told Florida State I would be a preferred walk-on.’ And in my opinion, it’s a no-brainer,” Sailer said Wednesday. “A scholarship is worth so much to you, obviously financially but also with the opportunity you’re given. Once you have a scholarship, it’s your job to lose. He was really excited, and it’s an overwhelming process that these young men go through. You have to be patient. … But he was ecstatic.”

Renfro faxed his letter of intent into the Maryland football offices today, giving the Terps an heir apparent to four-year starter Travis Baltz.

Sailer first met Renfro last June during a kicking camp in Tennessee. The former Bruins star was immediately struck by Renfro’s “extremely strong leg.” While Renfro’s consistency was lacking a bit, Sailer gave him several tips and went on his way. When the two met up again later that summer, the improvements in Renfro’s punting were noticeable.

“Between the first time I saw him and the second, you could just tell he worked extremely hard on his skill set,” Sailer said. “He came in and punted really consistently. With the improved consistency and the potential that he had, I really did see him as being a Division I scholarship punter. He had other things come up – footwork, get-off time, things like that. But now he was punting with the hang time, with the distance and with the consistency. That’s what you need in order to be a Division I scholarship punter.”

Sailer, who has also trained former Maryland kicker Obi Egekeze, wasn’t too familiar with Baltz or the Terps’ punting situation heading into the fall. Renfro still has to improve his “get-off” time and his footwork, but Sailer said he could see the future Terp compete for the starting job as a true freshman.

“I think that it’s difficult for any true freshman to play right away with the pressures of Division I football,” Sailer said. “But again, talent-wise, yes. He’s strong enough. His ball is no doubt a Division I ball when he hits one. It’s really the small things that you need to work on. The speed of the game is so much different than what he’s used to. Any freshman might struggle with the consistency [that goes along with that]. But I think Nathan is a guy that’s athletic enough and has the mental capacity to step in and punt for Maryland and do a good job. He could develop into an all-conference type of player, but with a true freshman, it takes time. He’s definitely one of a handful of [kickers and punters] today [across the country] that has a chance to sign and do a good job.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:10 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Looking at local football signings

We've known for some time that Gilman offensive lineman Hunter Goodwin (Wake Forest), Boys' Latin defensive end Marco Jones (Virginia) and Owings Mills offensive tackle Donovan Smith (Penn State) would sign with Football Bowl Subdivision schools today.

We also found out today that Gilman athlete Darius Jennings was bound for Virginia. At around 2:45 p.m., Calvert Hall safety Adrian Amos will become the fifth Baltimore-area player that signs with an FBS school, when he decides on either Connecticut, Penn State or West Virginia.

But those five weren't the only local football players to land college scholarships. Here's a list of the expected signees from the area:

PlayerHigh SchoolCollege
Gabriel Ali-ElPolyValparaiso
Brian AnthonyAtholtonMaine
Joseph BlackwellArundelGeorgetown
Ryan CarusoHowardBryant
Charlie ClarkNorth CarrollLafayette
David CoffinSouth RiverMonmouth
Ben CurtisCalvert HallDelaware
Demitri DennisReservoirMonmouth
Hunter GoodwinGilmanWake Forest
Ed HuntArundelMonmouth
Stefan JanikCalvert HallTowson
Darius JenningsGilmanVirginia
Marco JonesBoys' LatinVirginia
Joe McCargoOld MillTowson
Dan McManusEastern TechBucknell
Phil RhodenLong ReachShepherd
Donovan SmithOwings MillsPenn State
Brandon SoderstromCenturyBryant
Spencer SuttonCalvert HallTowson
Isaiah TaylorHerefordFairmont State
Paul TaylorPolyBryant
Edwin ThomasonChesapeake-BCBryant
Dan YarboroughCalvert HallShepherd

There are three other local players headed to Navy, while five more have committed to Ivy League schools. Commitments to service academies and the Ivies do not sign letters of intent.

Glenelg running back Colin Osborne switched to the Mids from James Madison last month. He'll be joined in Annapolis by Old Mill running back Demond Brown and Archbishop Spalding defensive back Shelley White.

Future Ivy Leaguers from the area are: Poly’s Dexter Davis (Penn), McDonogh’s E.J. Conway (Yale), Boys’ Latin’s Michael Turner (Cornell), South River’s Blane Kleinrichert (Brown) and Lutheran’s Jay Davis (Brown).

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:47 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Gilman's Darius Jennings picks Virginia

Gilman quarterback Darius Jennings has committed to Virginia, picking the Cavaliers over Ohio State and Wake Forest.

The Baltimore Sun's All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year had also considered Maryland, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Connecticut before trimming his list to three.

The Baltimore Sun's Katherine Dunn will have more on Jennings' commitment later today.

 

The next local player to watch is Calvert Hall safety Adrian Amos, a first-team All-Metro selection. A three-star prospect, Amos has narrowed his list to Penn State, West Virginia and Connecticut -- where he originally committed. Amos' announcement is scheduled for 2:45 p.m.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:55 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Terps receive LOI from Nashville punter

The Maryland football program has found its heir apparent to Travis Baltz.

Nathan Renfro, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound punter from Brentwood Academy in Nashville, Tenn., faxed his letter of intent into the Maryland football offices today.

According to Rivals.com, Renfro also had offers from Central Michigan, Harvard and Northwestern.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:22 AM | | Comments (1)
        

Season recap: Keith Bowers

Singling out just one memorable play that Keith Bowers made during his senior season at Dwyer High in West Palm Beach, Fla., was nearly impossible for Panthers defensive coordinator Bobby Sifrit to do.

What did immediately pop into Sifrit’s head when thinking about Bowers’ final high school year was how the three-star prospect handled the aftermath of Dwyer’s controversial loss to Cleveland powerhouse Glenville in a nationally televised season opener.

“Keith stood up and gave a speech. That probably sticks out in my mind,” Sifrit said. “After the Glenville game, it was almost like a [Tim] Tebow-type speech. [He said] ‘We’re going to work harder than anybody and we’re not going to get beat again.’ That kind of sticks out in my mind. He’s just a leader. That’s the kind of kid he is. Maryland got a great player.”

Bowers, a 6-foot-1, 260-pound defensive tackle, committed to the Terps last month over offers from Illinois, Kansas and Northern Illinois. A three-year varsity player, Bowers immediately demonstrated to Sifrit that he was a “natural-born leader” that was “extremely aggressive.” He also earned a reputation around Dwyer as a weight-room warrior.

“I think the biggest development [in three years] was he was in the weight room a lot, just getting bigger and stronger,” Sifrit said. “It wasn’t that he wasn’t aggressive before, but he was so tough and he just kept getting bigger and stronger, and that made him even more dominating.”

Playing on a defensive line that included Daevonte Barnett (Division I interest), Shubert Bastien (Middle Tennessee State), Curt Maggitt (Tennessee) and Nick O’Leary (Florida State), Bowers always managed to stand out thanks to his strength.

“He was probably the strongest out of all of them,” Sifrit said. “I think [he was] just overpowering at this level, the high school level. There was not one player that could block him one on one. He was always making plays. I think what distinguishes him is that he’s so much stronger.”

Bowers recorded 74 tackles and 15 sacks as a senior, earning first-team Palm Beach Post all-area honors for his efforts. The future Terp helped the Panthers to the Florida 4A state semifinals, where they dropped a heartbreaking 22-20 game to Tampa Armwood. Despite being so productive for one of the most high-profile programs in Florida, Bowers’ recruitment managed to stay under the radar.

“The only thing I could think of is you have these schools that get it in their mind that if a kid’s not 6-3 or 6-4, they won’t recruit them,” Sifrit said. “Keith is probably 6-1, 6-1½, I’m not exactly sure. That’s the one thing I can think of, because if they watched any film, they should have been recruiting him. And shame on them, because they missed out on a great kid.”

Bowers will be one of at least eight Dwyer seniors to sign a Division I letter of intent today. While Maryland probably won’t need to burn his redshirt as a freshman, Sifrit thinks he would be up to the task if the Terps needed him.

“We’ve had a lot of great players,” Sifrit said. “He would have been at the top of the list that could go to the next level and physically be able to handle himself with no problem. He would probably be the No. 1 guy.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

Superlatives for Maryland's 2011 football class

One man's opinion on the potential of Maryland's 2011 football commitments. Post your takes below.

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

OFFENSE

Nigel King — Oak Ridge Military Academy (N.C.), wide receiver

King appeared bound for Baton Rouge even before Signing Day last winter. The 6-foot-4, 201-pound wide receiver almost pledged to LSU in December of 2009, but held off from making a commitment when Tigers wide receivers coach D.J. McCarthy resigned. Colorado, East Carolina, Louisville, North Carolina, North Carolina State and South Carolina took advantage of that opening by coming after King, but the three-star prospect committed to the Terps in April. King, who graduated from high school in December and enrolled at Maryland last month, had 732 yards receiving and eight touchdowns last fall.

DEFENSE

Quinton Jefferson — Woodland Hills (Pa.), defensive end

Randy Edsall’s first recruit at Maryland picked the Terps over Cincinnati and Iowa. A 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive end, Jefferson also held offers from Boston College, Illinois, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia and Wisconsin, according to Rivals.com. “Physically, he’s nowhere near where he’s going to be,” said Bob Lichtenfels, Scout.com’s East region recruiting analyst. “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.”

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

OFFENSE

Tyrek Cheeseboro — Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, wide receiver

Praise doesn’t come easy from John Shuman, but the Fork Union coach was exceedingly complimentary when describing Cheeseboro’s play this fall. “He did well catching the ball, stretching the field,” Shuman said in December. “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.” With a post-grad season under his belt and the departures of four scholarship wide receivers – including Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon -- Cheeseboro should find himself in the mix for early action.

DEFENSE

Keith Bowers — Dwyer (Fla.), defensive tackle

The Terps stayed involved with Bowers throughout the coaching transition, with defensive coordinator Don Brown serving as the point man for the three-star prospect’s recruitment. Bowers is undersized at 6-1, but more than makes up for his size deficiency with a non-stop motor and impressive footwork. Bowers, who played for one of the premier high school programs in Florida, is an emotional player who “plays with the good kind of rage,” according to the Palm Beach Post’s Matt Porter. While the Terps have decent defensive depth across the board and probably won’t be forced to burn any redshirts, Bowers is mature enough physically to see time if Maryland needs him.

Most likely to be a multi-year starter

OFFENSE

Tyler Cierski — Mill Creek (Ga.), fullback

ESPN.com’s No. 2 fullback in the country could give the Terps an offensive threat at the position that they’ve lacked since the graduation of Cory Jackson. Known for his size (6-1, 255 pounds) and strength (605 squat, 345 clean lift, 315 bench max), Cierski is a punishing blocker and surprisingly nimble runner. The three-star prospect proved last fall that he was more than just a blocking back, rushing for 755 yards and 11 touchdowns on 143 carries, while also catching 16 passes for 187 yards and two scores. A ready-made college prospect, Cierski said Edsall told him he has a chance to compete for playing time immediately.

DEFENSE

Makinton Dorleant — Lely (Fla.), cornerback

When Dorleant decided to withdraw his commitment to Wisconsin, Don Brown was the first coach he called. With the three-star prospect’s pledge, Maryland landed a lockdown corner who Lely coach Dave Miller always felt confident in matching up against the opposition’s No. 1 receiver. J.C. Shurburtt, national recruiting analyst for 247Sports.com, called Dorleant “the steal” of Maryland’s 2011 class. “He’s sort of a sleeper cornerback prospect that I think could end up being a big contributor,” Shurburtt said.

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

OFFENSE

Andrew Zeller — Red Lion (Pa.), offensive lineman

With scholarships from Duke, Maryland, Oregon and Rutgers offered before the fall, it would be inaccurate to say Zeller was overlooked by colleges. But while expectations were high for Zeller entering his senior season, the three-star prospect did his best last fall to exceed even the most optimistic predictions for his year. At offensive guard, Zeller paved the way for a dominant Red Lion rushing attack. At defensive tackle, he was an unblockable force that finished the season with 67 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks. "Andrew Zeller is a kid that has a really big frame and can really run block," said Scout.com recruiting analyst Matt Alkire. "He’s an enormous kid. [The Terps have] got a big, big, big body in him, and he’ll be another kid they use. Randy [Edsall] loves to run the ball."

DEFENSE

Cole Farrand — Pope John XXIII (N.J.), linebacker

Maryland was the first school to offer Farrand a scholarship, which the two-star prospect promptly accepted last April. A fiery leader and physical player, Farrand helped Pope John to a 10-1 record with 78 tackles, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception returned for a touchdown, plus three touchdown receptions at tight end. "He’s kind of that field general type of kid," Alkire said. "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 underrated: Given to the recruits with the best chance at making their recruiting rankings look silly four years from now.

OFFENSE

Evan Mulrooney — Salesianum School (Del.), offensive lineman

Rated a two-star prospect by Rivals.com, Mulrooney will probably play center in college, but he also has experience playing both guard spots and right tackle. That versatility should serve him well with the Terps after he spends a couple of years in the weight room. "He’s a really good player, a hard worker, has a great attitude and is a leader on the field," Alkire said. "He’s got a little bit of work to do on the field. All these kids do – all linemen do coming out of high school. He played for a very competitive program and championship team in Delaware. I had him in an All-Star game against 30 or 40 FBS players, and he really held his own."

DEFENSE

Alex Twine — Quince Orchard, linebacker

Twine was completely off the Football Bowl Subdivision recruiting radar entering his senior year, mostly because he was just an occasional starter for the Cougars as a junior. The two-star prospect responded to the full-time starting job at SAM linebacker last fall with a Washington Post first-team All-Met season that included 52 tackles (18 for loss), four forced fumbles and three interceptions. “I think he has a big upside,” said Quince Orchard defensive coordinator John Kelley. “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.”

The rest of the class

OFFENSE

Nate Clarke – Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, offensive lineman

A 2010 signee out of Archbishop Carroll in Washington, Clarke shored up his academics at FUMA during the fall before enrolling at Maryland last month. The Terps' lone four-star prospect, Clarke battled nagging injuries at prep school but finished strong, according to Fork Union coach John Shuman. Rivals.com recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said "Clarke is probably the highest-rated kid and has the most upside [in Maryland's class] because he can play offensive or defensive line for you."

Ryan Doyle – Wake Forest-Rolesville (N.C.), offensive lineman

Doyle specialized in run blocking at the high school level thanks to the Cougars' Wing-T offense. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound left tackle teamed with Wake Forest commitment Dylan Intemann -- who played right tackle -- to form one of the most dominant lines in North Carolina. "I think Ryan was just consistent," said Cougars coach Reggie Lucas. "He’s been pretty consistent the last two seasons for us.”

Stephen Grommer – Spartanburg (S.C.), offensive guard

A 4.0 student who also considered Harvard, Grommer was a three-year starter on the Spartanburg offensive line. He graded out in the mid-to-high 90s on his blocks as a senior. Shurburtt was impressed by Grommer at the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas Game. "He’s probably going to need a redshirt, but he could be a three- or four-year starter. He has great potential," Shurburtt said.

Marcus Leak – Parkwood (N.C.), wide receiver

Leak missed four games last fall with a high-ankle sprain, but still managed 305 rushing yards and two touchdowns, 200 yards receiving and another score, plus 30 tackles defensively in his jack-of-all-trades role. Parkwood coach Nelson Rowell compared Leak to New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.

Brandon Ross – Charter School of Wilmington (Del.), running back

The Force's offensive game plans started and ended with Ross, who rushed for 1,172 yards and 12 touchdowns on 181 carries, in addition to catching 19 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns. A strong student who had aspirations of attending Maryland even without football in the equation, Ross committed to the Terps in June over offers from Army and Delaware State.

DEFENSE

Undray Clark – Felix Varela (Fla.), cornerback

Clark opened his senior year with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on Varela's first play of the season. A speedy defensive back and special-teams standout for the Vipers, Clark finished the fall with 72 tackles, five interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) and two kickoff returns for touchdowns. The three-star prospect (according to Rivals.com) picked the Terps over offers from Duke, Louisville and Minnesota.

Lukas Foreman – Naples (Fla.), safety

Foreman landed his Maryland offer as a sophomore, but considered scholarships from Cincinnati, Kansas, Middle Tennessee State and West Virginia before pledging to the Terps in December. A three-star prospect who Shurburtt called "a very physical safety," Foreman finished his senior season with 59 tackles (45 solo), two interceptions and one forced fumble. He also punted for a 40.07-yard average.

Jeremiah Hendy – Bowie, cornerback

The Terps received huge news on Signing Day Eve when Hendy reaffirmed his commitment to Maryland. The three-star prospect and Rivals.com's No. 8 prospect in Maryland also considered offers from Iowa, North Carolina State and Virginia. Hendy, who was also a candidate for the "Most wanted" and "Most likely to be a multi-year starter" superlatives, might have the highest upside of any recruit in Maryland's class. "He’s tall and he can run, he’s lanky and long," Farrell said. "And he’s the type of kid that I think can be a special player for them."

Michael Williams – DeMatha, cornerback

The younger brother of Terps great and Minnesota Vikings safety Madieu Williams committed to Maryland in December over offers from Illinois, Miami (Ohio), New Mexico and Toledo. Williams has sprinter's speed and has played against top competition during his three years on the Stags' varsity. Priority No. 1 for Williams in college will be adding muscle to his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:00 AM | | Comments (29)
        

February 1, 2011

Reports: Jeremiah Hendy sticking with Terps

Jeremiah Hendy is back on board with Maryland.

The three-star cornerback prospect from Bowie reopened his recruitment after Ralph Friedgen was dismissed in December. Hendy considered offers from Iowa, North Carolina State and Virginia, but on Tuesday night, he reaffirmed his pledge to the Terps.

"It was like 1A and 1B," Hendy said. "It was a tough decision. I just felt more at home at Maryland. I had maybe a better connection with some of the players already at Maryland than I did at Iowa. It was close, but I felt like Maryland was the place for me."

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Hendy recorded 30 tackles and five interceptions -- including three returned for touchdowns -- as a senior. He also caught 33 passes for 592 yards and seven touchdowns.

Hendy is one of five in-state recruits in Maryland's 2011 class. Wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro and offensive lineman Nate Clarke are already enrolled at Maryland after spending the fall at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy. Hendy, linebacker Alex Twine (Quince Orchard) and cornerback Michael Williams (DeMatha) are expected to sign their letters of intent Wednesday.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:21 PM | | Comments (2)
        

Who will lead Terps' in-state recruiting efforts?

Former Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin's recruiting mission was clear: build a wall around the state and rely on those local prospects to lead the Terps to championships.

Now that Franklin has left for Vanderbilt, Maryland must try to replace its top recruiter in the Baltimore-Washington area.

Rivals.com recruiting analyst Mike Farrell acknowledged that Ralph Friedgen’s staff missed on its fair share of in-state targets, but Franklin did a good job building relationships and earning the trust of high school coaches in the state. At first glance, no one on Randy Edsall’s staff seems to possess local roots.

“That’s the biggest concern of Maryland fans,” Farrell said. “Who’s going to establish the relationships at DeMatha, Good Counsel, Gilman and the other big-time programs in state? Who’s going to be the local go-to guy who can recruit all those schools? Where’s the local flavor on that staff? Who’s the guy that can go in and compete with schools coming in? Where’s the James Franklin on this coaching staff? Or for that matter, when you’ve got [Penn State defensive line coach] Larry Johnson coming in, who’s going to go against a guy who has local ties and coached high school football in Maryland?”

For 2011, the Terps’ in-state class will consist of four or five players. Maryland expects to receive letters of intent from Quince Orchard linebacker Alex Twine and DeMatha cornerback Michael Williams on Wednesday. Wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro (Milford Mill) and offensive lineman Nate Clarke (Archbishop Carroll) are Maryland natives who spent the fall semester at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy before enrolling in College Park last month. Bowie cornerback Jeremiah Hendy is a “soft commitment” who is also mulling offers from Iowa, North Carolina State and Virginia.

Tom Lemming, CBS College Sports Network and MaxPreps.com’s recruiting expert, said that Terps defensive line coach Greg Gattuso and running backs coach David Walker, both of whom were brought in from Pittsburgh, are strong recruiters, while offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, who came from LSU, is known more for developing quarterbacks than recruiting them.

The other new members of Edsall’s staff are linebackers coach Todd Bradford, who had been the defensive coordinator at Southern Mississippi, special teams and outside linebackers coach Lyndon Johnson, the only member of Edsall’s former staff at Connecticut to join him, and tight ends coach John Dunn, who played at North Carolina and had been a graduate assistant working under Crowton at LSU.

Edsall rehired defensive coordinator Don Brown, who recruits Florida; wide receivers coach Lee Hull, who was assigned western Pennsylvania under Friedgen; and offensive line coach Tom Brattan, whose recruiting territory included Georgia and Virginia. Given the backgrounds of Gattuso and Walker in the Pittsburgh area, Hull seems to be a likely candidate to shift his recruiting efforts to Maryland. Whoever takes Franklin’s spot locally has his work cut out for him.

“You’ve got to mend fences a little bit,” Lemming said. “I think some guys [in Maryland] liked Friedgen, [who was] coming off [ACC] Coach of the Year honors. Maryland had a good year last year. There’s talent there. What [Edsall’s] really got to do is make sure the coaches at Good Counsel, DeMatha and Gilman are on your side. I’m not sure how many guys on his staff have local ties. I would’ve recommended he offer one of the super powers [of local high school football] a coaching job, even if they turned it down.”

DeMatha coach Bill McGregor said that Edsall has already visited DeMatha once and they had spoken “about five times” since Edsall was introduced as Maryland’s coach on Jan. 3. McGregor said Hull “has a great grasp of the area” from his years coaching at Holy Cross and Oregon State.

Bob Lichtenfels, Scout.com’s East region recruiting manager and a Pennsylvania resident, witnessed the recruiting prowess of Gattuso and Walker firsthand. He called both former Panthers assistants “very good recruiters,” noting that Walker might make sense as Franklin’s replacement in Maryland. Ultimately, the success of the Terps in Baltimore and Washington will depend on the man in charge.

“It might take [Maryland] a year or two to develop those inroads there,” Lichtenfels said. “But at the end of the day, as long as Randy Edsall himself makes a concerted effort talking to those coaches and reiterates how important they are to the program, it’s usually something that can be patched up pretty quickly.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Don Markus co-wrote this article.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:11 PM | | Comments (10)
        

Reports: Jimmy Stewart headed to SEC

Last week Maryland parted ways with Fork Union (Va.) offensive tackle Larry Mazyck, who promptly committed to former Terps offensive coordinator James Franklin at Vanderbilt.

On Monday, Island Coast (Fla.) linebacker Jimmy Stewart reportedly did the same, switching his pledge from the Terps to the Commodores.

“I’m very happy with the switch,” said Stewart, who had 10.5 sacks for Island Coast in 2010. “Playing in the SEC, that’s a big plus too.”

Stewart, a 6-foot-3 1/2, 210-pound senior, committed to the Terps in October over offers from Colorado State, Kansas, Memphis and Middle Tennessee State. He was rated a two-star prospect by Rivals.com and Scout.com, and a three-star player by ESPN.com and 247Sports.com.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:26 AM | | Comments (3)
        

Meet Quinton Jefferson

This is part of a series of 2011 Maryland football commitment Q&As leading up to Signing Day on Feb. 2. All answers are provided by the featured player.

Name: Quinton Jefferson
Birthdate: March 31, 1993
Birthplace: Pittsburgh
Hometown: Pittsburgh
Height: 6-4
Weight: 240
Position: Defensive end
Nicknames: Q, Q-Jeff, Slim
High School: Woodland Hills
Rankings: Rivals.com -- Three stars, No. 25 player in Pennsylvania. Scout.com -- Three stars, No. 47 defensive end. ESPN.com -- Three stars, No. 40 defensive end, 78 rating. 24-7 Sports -- Three stars, 85 rating.

Bench max: 280
40-yard dash: 4.5
Runner-up: Cincinnati, Iowa
Other schools considered: Pittsburgh
Favorite NFL player: Julius Peppers
Favorite NFL team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Favorite all-time Terp: LaMont Jordan
Favorite music: Kanye West, Jay-Z, Wale, J. Cole
Favorite book: "I like the comic book, 'The Wolverine.' (laughs)
Favorite movie: "Major Payne"
Favorite TV show: "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and "The George Lopez Show"
Favorite food: Taco salad
Favorite high school class: Lunch
Favorite thing about College Park: "It's a beautiful campus, and the players."
Other high school sports: Played basketball in the ninth grade
Hobbies: "Drawing, listening to music and hanging out with my friends."
Intended major: Undecided
Something that not many people know about you: “People don’t really know that I can draw.”
Best football moment: "When we played Steubenville (Ohio) in the valley. I jumped up to bat down this pass, and when I jumped, I did this helicopter flip and landed on my back. It was crazy."
Role model: “My granddad. I look up to him. He's always been giving me speeches and feeding me information."
Why Maryland? "I felt like it just fit me all around -- academically, on the field, and the whole culture. It's a very diverse place, and the campus is vibrant. It has everything I need in a college."

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:50 AM | | Comments (2)
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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 2011 football recruiting class
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