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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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
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.
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.