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April 28, 2011

Season recap: Lexie Brown

Bryan Sellers wasn't familiar with Lexie Brown's basketball past when she moved to the Atlanta area from Orlando and enrolled at North Gwinnett (Ga.) High last fall. But after some cursory research, the Bulldogs' girls basketball coach quickly became excited for the Maryland commitment's high school future.

“I knew who her dad was,” Sellers said of former NBA player Dee Brown. “When I found out she was coming, I was talking to some people around the Atlanta area who are in girls basketball. They were filling me in on who she was and what kind of player and what kind of kid she was. Obviously, I was very excited to have her in our program. When she got here, a lot more people found out what kind of kid she was and what kind of student she was, and obviously what kind of basketball player she was.”

The weeks leading up to the official start of Brown’s sophomore season weren’t without a few bumps in the road. Sellers said Brown, a 5-foot-9 sophomore point guard, was “hesitant” in acclimating herself to the team. It was readily apparent that she had talent, but it took some time for the Terps recruit to get completely comfortable in her new surroundings.

“She didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes or anything like that,” Sellers said. “She didn’t want to just come in and say, ‘Hey, this is going to be my team.’ It really showed what kind of player she was. When she was at our first scrimmage, competition started and [she was like], ‘Hey, it’s time to play.’ She turned it on and went up three or four notches from what she had been doing before that. At that point, I was like, ‘Don’t hold back. You play your game and everyone else is going to have to catch up.’”

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April 13, 2011

Season recap: A'lexus Harrison

alexus-harrison.jpg With Asia Logan graduated and off to Pittsburgh, Digital Harbor girls basketball coach Patrick McDonald knew he would need more substantial contributions from A'lexus Harrison this season.

What McDonald couldn’t be sure of was how Harrison – who committed to Maryland last summer – would respond to an expanded role. It didn’t take long for the Rams coach to get his answer.

“I thought she did very well,” McDonald said. “I think the transition from last year to this year was immaculate in the sense that last year we saw a raw 14-year-old with just crazy athleticism. As a ninth-grader she was grabbing the rim. … I think this year we got a chance to see [the results of] her work ethic.”

Harrison, who averaged 11 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman, upped her statistics across the board this year with 16 points, 16 rebounds, three steals, three assists and three blocks per game. The 6-foot-1 forward had more than a few monster games for the Rams this season.

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March 28, 2011

Season recap: Chloe Pavlech

Chloe Pavlech's junior season got off to a rocky start this winter, but the Sycamore High star finished strong.

Pavlech, a 5-foot-9 point guard from Cincinnati who committed to Maryland last June, had her wisdom teeth taken out and had an operation on her eardrum right before the start of her season.

While recovering from those procedures, Pavlech – who was coming off a back injury as a sophomore – got bit by the injury bug again with nagging hip and ankle ailments.

“She was laboring,” said Aviators coach Paula Hayden. “With those nagging injuries, she was missing a ton of practice. The first few weeks of the season, she never put in a full week of practice. She’s the type of kid that stays after practice and works on her shooting. She comes in Sunday to work on shooting. She couldn’t do that.”

Pavlech endured and finally got back to full strength by “the last seven or eight games of the season” – save for a bout of strep throat in Sycamore’s two-point, season-ending loss in the district finals. The future Terp came up big for the Aviators in the sectional finals with a game-winning bucket with 12 seconds remaining.

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March 24, 2011

Season recap: Nick Faust

nick-faust-season-recap.jpg For better or worse, Nick Faust began his senior season at City with "an unbelievable amount of hype."

The 6-foot-6 shooting guard capped an acclaimed run on the AAU circuit with Nike Baltimore Elite by signing with Maryland right before the high school boys basketball season began. Knights coach Mike Daniel worried that Faust was receiving “too much” attention.

“That’s a lot for a kid to handle,” Daniel said. “He’s got to come in academically and do well in school. He’s got to handle that and basketball. And then Nick also has got to handle himself. You know how kids are.”

It didn’t take long for Daniel to realize that Faust was up to the task.

“One thing I found out is that Nick has a lot of guts,” Daniel said. “And you don’t have to tell him to turn it on when he needed to turn it on. So I thought that he did a pretty good job with that, absolutely.”

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February 2, 2011

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.

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January 19, 2011

Season recap: Tyler Cierski

Maryland was one of many schools to offer Tyler Cierski a scholarship based on his junior-season film, even though the 6-foot-1, 255-pound fullback missed four games during his 11th-grade year with a high-ankle sprain.

As a senior, Cierski got a chance to play at full strength and show the Terps that they made a good move in extending him an early offer, which he accepted last April.

“He had a great year,” said Shannon Jarvis, Cierski’s coach at Mill Creek High in Hoschton, Ga. “He ended up as a powerful presence for us to allow us to spread out defenses, and yet maintain a strong running game in the one-back set. … He was just tremendous in the latter half of the season. He always did a great job as a leader in the locker room and the focal point of our offense.”

Facing the top competition in Georgia high school football, Mill Creek finished its regular season at 5-5 to sneak into the playoffs. With Cierski leading the way, the Hawks reeled off wins over No. 7 Etowah and No. 6 South Gwinnett in their first two postseason games.

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January 18, 2011

Season recap: Makinton Dorleant

Fritz Jacques left Lely High in Naples, Fla., in 2004 as a decorated strong safety and neighborhood hero to middle school-aged football players.

When Jacques returned to his hometown after serving as a four-year starter at Kent State, those admiring youth football players were “becoming superstars” in high school. And when Lely coach Dave Miller asked Jacques to return to his alma mater and coach defensive backs this season, the former Golden Flashes standout became reacquainted with Maryland cornerback commitment Makinton Dorleant.

“I used to see him around in the streets, running around,” Jacques said. “When I [came back to Naples], I did hear a lot of negative about him – he doesn’t work hard, stuff like that. When I started talking to him, we just caught a vibe real quick. He was not like how I heard. I think people misunderstand the kid sometimes. But he wasn’t like a negative person; he was not like that at all. He matured a lot more from when he was a little kid, but I think he needed to mature a little more. He’s becoming a man now. I think he needs to mature a little bit more, and I think Maryland is going to help him with that.”

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January 13, 2011

Season recap: Quinton Jefferson

The way Woodland Hills (Pa.) defensive coordinator Bill Morton remembers it, Quinton Jefferson was just your average ninth-grader going out for the football team in the fall of 2007.

“When I first met Quinton he was a little skinny,” Morton recalled. “I used to call him Lollipop because he was so skinny and he had a big head.”

By the end of Jefferson’s high school career, the Maryland-bound defensive end had filled out his 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame to the point where Morton felt compelled to change his nickname to The Stork – an homage to former Baltimore Colts, Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders defensive end Ted Hendricks. Jefferson’s stark transformation from lanky freshman to dominant senior was not exactly something Morton had foreseen.

“He just got confidence in himself and did the things necessary,” Morton said. “He was coming off the edge. He reads [defenses] well. He has extremely great speed for a kid his size. He runs like a 4.59, somewhere in that range. He’s extremely fast for his size. [Wolverines coach George] Novak moved him to tight end this year. He’s a really good athlete.”

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January 12, 2011

Season recap: Mike Williams

Having several talented players at his disposal is something Deno Campbell has grown accustomed to during his 25 years at DeMatha, including the last 15 as the Stags' defensive coordinator.

The 2009 season was no different in that regard, with Michael Coley (Cal), Kyrrel Latimer (Virginia) and Lorenzo Waters (Rutgers) patrolling the secondary. When those three graduated, much of the focus in DeMatha’s defensive backfield for the 2010 season turned to senior cornerback Mike Williams.

“This whole team faced adversity the entire year,” Campbell said. “We just graduated quite a few people and we had to develop some new leadership. He needed to be part of that leadership as a senior. And he stepped up to the plate.”

How did Campbell realize that Williams, who committed to Maryland last month, was up to the challenge?

“Basically, he looked me in the eye during one game, and said, ‘Coach, I got you. I can handle my responsibilities,’ et cetera, et cetera. And he stepped up and played well. He did that,” Campbell said.

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January 11, 2011

Season recap: Larry Mazyck

The job description for Micky Sullivan as head coach of Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy’s high school football program does not include recruiting prospects for his team.

So imagine Sullivan’s delight when Maryland offensive tackle commitment Larry Mazyck showed up at his doorstep late last summer, asking to spend his senior season with the Blue Devils.

“My first impression was, he’s huge. Which he is. Holy mackerel, this guy is big,” Sullivan said. “Then I watched him. He was down here shooting a little basketball. [I thought], ‘Man, does he look really athletic.’ That proved to be the case, too. I’ve been really lucky the past three or four years having some good, big linemen. Larry was another one. Last year we lost Mark Shuman to Virginia Tech, Jacob Ruby to the University of Richmond and Russell Bodine to North Carolina. All three of them played [on the offensive line] here the year before, graduated and went on to college. Getting a guy like Larry, who’s that big and athletic, was a big plus for us.”

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January 6, 2011

Season recap: Jimmy Stewart

Jimmy Stewart spent his senior season at Island Coast High in Cape Coral, Fla., getting a little more on-field action than your typical Division I defensive recruit might expect.

The 6-foot-3½, 215-pound Maryland linebacker commitment played defensive end for the Gators, but opposing offenses didn’t shy away from testing him. The reason for that stood down the line in the form of Aaron Lynch, a Florida State recruit and the 90th-ranked senior prospect in the country according to Rivals.com.

“Jimmy loved it, to be honest with you,” said Island Coast coach Joe Bowen. “It was always entertaining. Lynch would get so mad because Jimmy’s getting all the tackles and sacks. People were more concerned with Lynch – not taking anything away from Jimmy. He’s a heck of a ball player. It was somewhat comical from a coaching standpoint because those two would get after each other. I would enjoy it.”

In addition to enjoying the good-natured competition between his star defensive ends, Bowen especially enjoyed their production. Stewart finished his senior season with about 40 tackles (23 solo) and 13 sacks. The future Terp also caught two touchdown passes at the wide receiver position. Stewart’s versatility paid off for Bowen all year long.

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January 5, 2011

Season recap: Ryan Doyle

In many respects, Ryan Doyle is your typical, no-nonsense high school offensive lineman.

The 6-foot-5, 265-pound senior went to work each day as the starting left tackle for Reggie Lucas’ Wake Forest-Rolesville (N.C.) squad, mauling opponents with Division I-caliber tenacity on the field, and going about his business with a quiet disposition on the sideline and in the locker room.

When Lucas needed Doyle, a team captain, to step outside that comfort zone and be a vocal leader, the future Terp delivered.

“He’s not going to stand up and be a rah-rah guy,” Lucas said. “But I do remember going into the final game of the [regular] season against Leesville Road. We already lost a conference game and needed the win to be co-champions in conference. I gave Ryan the opportunity to speak to the team. And he was very intense, gave a very good, strong speech to the team. That stood out. That will always stand out when I think about Ryan. It fired the team up, and we were able to go out and get a great win.”

The Cougars’ 20-14 victory that day gave them momentum heading into the North Carolina Class 4A playoffs. With Doyle on the left and Wake Forest-bound Dylan Intemann as the bookend right tackle, the Cougars powered their way to four straight wins and claim a spot in the state championship game. Doyle’s career at Wake Forest-Rolesville (14-2) ended with a 44-0 loss to Butler in the title game, but Lucas was impressed all year long with his star lineman’s performance.

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December 30, 2010

Season recap: Lukas Foreman

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

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

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

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

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December 29, 2010

Season recap: Alex Twine

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

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

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

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

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December 28, 2010

Season recap: Tyrek Cheeseboro & Nate Clarke

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

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

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

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

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December 27, 2010

Season recap: Cole Farrand

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

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

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

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

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December 23, 2010

Season recap: Nigel King

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

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

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

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

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December 22, 2010

Season recap: Andrew Zeller

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

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

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

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

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December 14, 2010

Season recap: Evan Mulrooney

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

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

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

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

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December 9, 2010

Season recap: Dontez Tyler

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

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

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

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

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December 8, 2010

Season recap: Delonte Morton

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

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

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

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

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December 7, 2010

Season recap: Stephen Grommer

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

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

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

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

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December 2, 2010

Season recap: Undray Clark

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

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

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

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

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December 1, 2010

Season recap: Jeremiah Hendy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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November 23, 2010

Season recap: Brandon Ross

Every team that faced the Charter School of Wilmington (Del.) had the same objective before each game: stop Brandon Ross.

The Maryland-bound running back, however, made it exceedingly difficult for opponents to accomplish that feat.

“Our offense started and finished with Brandon,” said Force coach Tyran Rice. “He had a very productive season. He kind of had a target on his back. Definitely coming into this year, teams were game-planning on how to stop him. They’d put as many people into the box to try to stop him, and they’d play man-to-man on the outside to try and contain him. … With that being said, he had a very productive season.”

Ross finished his year with 1,172 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns on 181 carries, plus 19 catches for 287 yards and four touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior guided the Force to a 7-3 record – the best mark in Charter’s 10 years of existence.

The highlight of Ross’ senior year came against A.I. du Pont in the fourth game of Charter’s season. Snap after snap, Ross picked apart the Tigers’ defense.

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November 16, 2010

Season recap: Marcus Leak

It's understandably difficult for Nelson Rowell to paint a sunny picture when discussing Parkwood High’s disastrous 2010 football season.

“Well, we had the season from hell,” admitted Rowell, who has served as coach for four years at the Monroe, N.C., school. “We lost 22 players on varsity to injury this year – season-ending injuries. It was tough. So we finished up 1-10. It was pretty bad.”

If there was a silver lining to the Rebels’ season, the performance of Marcus Leak would qualify as such. The Maryland-bound wide receiver suffered a bit of bad luck as well, missing four games with a high-ankle sprain. But when healthy, Leak provided Rowell with whatever he needed.

“He just came to me one day and said, ‘Coach, don’t worry about anything. Whatever you need me to do, I’ll do,’” Rowell recalled. “So he did everything but drive the team bus. Until he hurt his ankle, he was our kick returner, punt returner, he was our punter, a receiver, he played quarterback some, and he was a free safety. He was doing it all.”

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May 13, 2010

Season recap: Ashton Pankey

St. Anthony assistant coach Todd Palmer didn’t see much of Ashton Pankey this season on the Friars’ sideline.

Pankey, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound senior, had good reason for not being around his team that much. The Maryland-bound power forward was busy doing rehab on a stress fracture in his left leg.

“He didn’t have much involvement ... [because] he was getting his rehab done,” Palmer said. “According to him, everything’s going on schedule. He’s supposedly going to be enrolled in summer school [at Maryland]. He’s on track for that.”

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May 11, 2010

Season recap: Pe'Shon Howard

When Pe’Shon Howard makes the jump to college basketball from high school this fall, he might have just a bit of an advantage over other members of the 2010 class.

Howard, who signed with Maryland last month, has spent the past three years facing the best competition high school basketball has to offer. He wrapped up an illustrious career at Oak Hill Academy this spring, becoming just the second three-year starter for Warriors coach Steve Smith in his 26 years at the Mouth of Wilson, Va., school.

Smith brought the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Howard, a Los Angeles native, to Oak Hill as a sophomore to be the backup point guard. When the Warriors’ presumed starter went elsewhere, Howard prematurely assumed that role.

“He got better each year,” Smith said. “He didn't do much scoring [as a sophomore]; he was more of a distributor then. He averaged about six or seven points as a sophomore. Last year, he moved up to about 10 or 11. This year he averaged about 14 for us. And he's a pass-first guy, but I needed him to score a little bit more this year.”

Howard, who also averaged about 5.5 assists and three steals, was a steady double-figure scorer this season with several 20-to-30-point outbursts mixed in. Against Winston-Salem (N.C.) Prep – Oak Hill’s first road game of the season – Howard was unstoppable.

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May 6, 2010

Season recap: Mychal Parker

Scott Willard didn't quite know what to expect from Mychal Parker when he took the Miller School (Va.) coaching job last summer.

Willard moved to Virginia after one season as Wyoming's director of basketball operations and two years as head coach at Division III Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. At the Miller School, he inherited Parker, a Top 60 talent and one of the premier small forwards in the 2010 class.

While Parker's talent was undeniable, Willard heard mixed reviews on his work ethic. Those concerns were quickly alleviated.

"When I took the job I heard that he wasn't taking advantage of his talents and he wasn't working hard enough," Willard said of Parker, who committed to Maryland shortly after he took the job. "To my surprise, he worked his butt off. He gets up a lot of shots and his work ethic is going to help, no question. He's going to need it. ... He can do it all. He can rebound, he can shoot it, he can drive to the basket and he can defend when he wants to. So this year, he was without question one of the most talented players I've ever coached. He needs to play hard on every possession, but I think he got better as the year went on."

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April 14, 2010

Season recap: Haukur Palsson

For better or worse, the end of Haukur Palsson's high school career played out live on national television.

Palsson suited up as the sixth man for top-seeded Montverde (Fla.) Academy -- just as he had all season long -- in the ESPN Rise National High School Invitational at Coppin State's Physical Education Complex. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound small forward from Iceland had been one of Montverde's most consistent performers throughout the year, but at Coppin, the Maryland-bound senior was off his game.

"He struggled with his shot," said Montverde coach Kevin Sutton. "Actually, he tinkered with his shot before the tournament, so his shot was a little bit off. So it wasn't representative of his talent at all. Defensively, yes, but from an offensive standpoint, it wasn't at all. He's a skilled basketball player. He's a young man that's going to be a good player for Maryland. He didn't play as well as he's capable of playing."

The Eagles finished the year at 23-4 with a loss to Findlay (Nev.) Prep in the ESPN Rise championship game. Montverde's apperance in the tournament -- held the first weekend in April -- came nearly two months after its last game. Sutton believes that hiatus also contributed to Palsson's quiet tournament.

Regardless of the reasons for Palsson's play, many Terps fans tuned in to watch the games, and subsequently expressed less-than-enthusiastic reviews on message boards.

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April 7, 2010

Season recap: Alyssa Thomas

Judging a basketball player by his or her statistics is often a risky proposition. In the case of Alyssa Thomas, however, numbers really do tell an accurate story.

Thomas, the Maryland-bound small forward from Central Dauphin High in Harrisburg, Pa., finished her four-year varsity career as the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,291 points. She also recorded 1,390 rebounds, 452 assists and 372 steals over her career, leaving a lasting legacy that Rams coach Bill Wolf will never forget.

"Anytime you have a player of her ability, just the biggest thing I’ve always said about Alyssa is that great players make their teammates better. And that’s going to be the thing I’ll miss most about her," Wolf said. "You have somebody like her on the court that could elevate the play of her teammates. Not only was she a great athlete herself, but she made her teammates better. When you have kids like that, they’re hard to replace."

Four years ago, Thomas stepped right into the Rams' lineup as a wide-eyed freshman. She showed plenty of promise, finishing the year with 278 points, 225 rebounds, 101 assists and 85 steals. As a senior, the 6-foot-1 Thomas had upped those numbers to 777 points, 409 rebounds, 108 assists and 69 steals, good for averages of 24.3 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.2 steals.

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March 30, 2010

Season recap: Natasha Cloud

Natasha Cloud knew going into her senior season that her role would be different.

The Maryland combo guard signee was the lone junior starter on a Cardinal O’Hara (Pa.) team with four Division I-bound seniors last season. This year, Cloud was ready to make the transition from complimentary player to centerpiece.

Right off the bat, however, the Lions faced a spell of bad luck. They lost one potential starter to an ankle injury that required surgery, and another to a stress fracture. Suddenly, Cloud was faced with even more responsibility than initially expected.

“Everybody keyed on her all year,” said Cardinal O’Hara coach Linus McGinty. “We struggled a little bit offensively this year. ... [But] I just think her maturity and her leadership and her unselfishness were her main assets.”

Cloud averaged 13 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists, while shooting 72 percent from the foul line and 41 percent from the field. She led the Lions to a 17-8 record and the second round of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAAA tournament. In the first round, Cloud guided Cardinal O’Hara to a 33-23 win over Downingtown East.

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March 18, 2010

Season recap: Laurin Mincy

After tearing her ACL and meniscus in September, Laurin Mincy was resigned to the fact that she would spend her entire senior season at University High in Newark, N.J., relegated to the bench in street clothes.

Mincy, however, wasn’t satisfied with that grim prognosis. The Maryland-bound shooting guard powered through the rehabilitation process and rejoined the active roster midway through the season.

“She had a big, big smile on her face,” University coach Felicia Oliver said of Mincy’s first game back. “Her eyes lit up. She was just so happy and she was having fun. ... I was going to support Laurin whether she played or she didn’t play. My take on it is, I do what makes my players happy. I just support them in any possible endeavor that they would want to do. It wasn’t that our season was based on that. It was just that Laurin was ready to play.”

Oliver says Mincy, a 5-foot-11 senior, is doing well and her leg is back to full strength. Still, the McDonald’s All-American -- who scored 1,843 points in her previous three varsity seasons -- wasn’t completely ready to pick up where she left off. Mincy played the setup role this season for Oliver’s University squad, which finished 18-11 and made it to the championship game of the North Jersey Section 2 Group 1 tournament.

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March 11, 2010

Season recap: Terrell Stoglin

Even before he suited up for Santa Rita's varsity team as a freshman, Terrell Stoglin was no secret to high school basketball followers in Tucson, Ariz.

Stoglin was a middle-school phenom at point guard who many expected to have a special high school career. Just how special, however, would have been difficult to predict.

"He came in as a freshman and it was obvious he was ready for the varsity level," said Santa Rita coach Jim Ferguson. "I wasn't expecting him to have a great year his freshman year. I was expecting that he would have a good year. But he made us very good. Every year he was here, we made it to the state championship game."

For three straight years, Santa Rita came up one game short of a state title. Last month, Stoglin made sure he went out on top in his final high school season. The Maryland-bound senior led the Eagles to the Arizona 4A-II state championship. Along the way, Stoglin broke the Tucson city scoring record, and finished his career as the state's second-leading scorer for big schools behind Atlanta Hawks point guard Mike Bibby. Stoglin averaged 29.4 points, 6.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.6 steals as a senior, and shot 54 percent from the floor.

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March 2, 2010

Season recap: Alicia DeVaughn

Tommie Butts knew exactly what to expect from Alicia DeVaughn this season.

After her first three years at South Broward (Fla.) High, DeVaughn decided to transfer to Blanche Ely in Pompano Beach for her senior year. Butts couldn't help but notice the 6-foot-4 center during her first three years of high school.

When the Maryland-bound DeVaughn suited up for Butts' Ely squad for the first time last fall, expectations were immediately met.

“I thought she did a wonderful job," Butts said. "She showed tremendous leadership, she gave us extra possessions in ball games. She had 20 points and 32 rebounds in the win over Nova in the district semifinals. Then we came back and beat Dillard for the district championship. Then they came back and beat us for the state regional semifinals. But she did a lot of things for us."

DeVaughn led Ely to a 23-4 record. She averaged 19.5 points, 18.7 rebounds and 8.4 blocks. Opposing defenses always made concerted efforts to limit DeVaughn's effectiveness, but those efforts from the opposition never quite worked out.

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January 30, 2010

Season recap: Clarence Murphy

Hollywood Hills (Fla.) coach Scott Barnwell cruised down U.S. 27 last July with football at the forefront of his mind and four of his top linemen along for the ride.

The coach and his players -- which included Maryland defensive end commitment Clarence Murphy -- had just completed a lineman camp at the University of South Florida and were headed back home. On a particularly rural stretch of the highway near Lake Okeechobee, however, Barnwell was forced to make an unscheduled stop.

“We had an incident where a car overturned in a canal,” Barnwell said. “[Murphy] was with me and helped me rescue a baby and two people trapped in the car. There was a 2-year old in the car seat. The door had broken through and the car seat became wedged. On the other side, there was a lady unconscious in the water. It was kind of a nightmare -- I can’t even tell you. But [Murphy] completely ripped the car door right off that was trapped. I don’t know how he did it, but he did it. It’s a wonderful thing that he did. That’s the kind of kid [Maryland is] getting in the program.”

On the field, Maryland is getting a player who recorded 75 tackles and 12 sacks as a senior, helping the Spartans to a 6-4 record and a berth in the Florida state playoffs. Barnwell witnessed significant progress in Murphy’s game over three varsity seasons.

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January 26, 2010

Season recap: Desmond Kearse

When Don Brown was hired as Maryland's defensive coordinator after the 2008 season, a top priority on the recruiting trail for the former UMass coach was reestablishing a Terps presence in Florida.

Last month, Brown was making his rounds throughout the Sunshine State, which included a stop at Dunbar High in Fort Myers, Fla.

“Coach Brown was coming through and making contact,” said Dunbar coach Phil Vogt. “We asked him what [Maryland was] looking for. He said, ‘We want someone to come off the edge and rush the passer.’ And we said, ‘We have just the guy for you.’”

The pass rusher Vogt referred to was defensive end Desmond Kearse, a 6-foot-2, 181-pound senior who had scholarship offers from Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky.

“We watched some film on him,” Vogt said, “and they immediately went full bore on him.” Kearse committed to the Terps on Jan. 19, roughly “a nanosecond” after UM coach Ralph Friedgen offered him a scholarship.

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January 21, 2010

Season recap: Javarie Johnson

The word was out on Dunbar (D.C.) linebacker Javarie Johnson before his senior season.

Other Washington teams were well aware of the 6-foot-4, 208-pounder, who had collected 25 Division I scholarship offers -- from schools like Florida, Maryland, Michigan and others -- before committing to Miami last summer. Knowing about Johnson, however, didn’t help the opposition's attempts to neutralize him.

“A lot of teams didn’t run to his side,” said Dunbar coach Craig Jefferies. “But him being an outside linebacker, he had to go make plays. ... He ended up with 13 sacks, 80 tackles, something like 26 tackles for loss. He knocked down passes and forced fumbles. We went 9-2 and definitely across the board, we were pretty good. We gave up under 100 points all season. He was the leader on the team in terms of his play and his senior leadership that he provided for us.”

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January 19, 2010

Season recap: Tyler Smith

The pressure was on Wilson Area (Pa.) High quarterback Tyler Smith as he entered his senior season.

The 6-foot-5, 198-pounder was a sophomore starter for the Warriors two years ago and followed his promising varsity debut up with a standout junior campaign in 2008. As a senior last fall, the Maryland-bound Smith shook off that pressure and met a lofty set of expectations.

“He just was really, really consistent this year -- consistent with his leadership, with his passes, with his moving of our offense,” said Wilson coach Bret Comp. “He sort of went out and did what most people expected him to do, and sometimes that’s more pressure than anything. People want to be wowed and he simply carried through.”

Smith was 172-for-323 for 3,130 yards, 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He led the Warriors to an 11-1 record and their second straight league championship. Smith was named the first-team quarterback on Pennsylvania’s 3A all-state team.

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January 13, 2010

Season recap: Jake Wheeler

For some time, Jake Wheeler was South Florida's best-kept football recruiting secret.

The 6-foot-8, 250-pound offensive tackle didn’t participate in any offseason camps or combines, so the major recruiting services were largely unaware of his existence.

College football coaches, however, knew all about Wheeler, a senior at American Heritage High in Plantation, Fla., and a recent Maryland commitment.

“[Maryland] has a fairly good recruiting base in South Florida,” said American Heritage coach Byron Walker. “So Jake was known. Whether or not he was known with Rivals [and other recruiting services], he was known around the collegiate ranks. He has been a valuable prospect and he’s a very good basketball player. He actually had two sports to choose from in terms of what he did on the collegiate level. It wasn’t just football out there.”

Wheeler decided to shun several mid-major basketball offers when he committed to the Terps just before Christmas. In landing Wheeler, Maryland got a versatile, athletic prospect who started at left tackle and defensive end for the Patriots, while also seeing time at tight end and outside linebacker.

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January 12, 2010

Season recap: Mario Rowson

Lake Taylor (Va.) football coach Hank Sawyer keeps it simple when discussing Mario Rowson's senior season.

“He was a real good football player,” Sawyer said of the Maryland cornerback commitment. “He made all-region, all-district, all-Tidewater and second-team all-state. He played some special teams, offense and defense. He was a two-way starter.”

Rowson -- who helped Lake Taylor to a 10-3 record -- made plenty of big plays on both sides of the ball. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound cornerback intercepted seven passes and caught eight touchdowns at wide receiver.

One of his best performances of the year came against Hampton in the Virginia Eastern Region Division 5 semifinals. Rowson caught a 26-yard touchdown pass and played lockdown defense in the Titans’ 10-7 win.

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January 7, 2010

Season recap: Jeremiah Wilson

Expectations were understandably high for Jeremiah Wilson in his senior season.

Fresh off a junior campaign in which he rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns and recorded 80 tackles and five interceptions, Wilson was hoping to save his best for last.

A strained ligament in his leg prevented that from happening, as the Maryland commitment missed six games of Handley (Va.) High’s 12-1 season. Wilson’s return to the field, however, reminded everyone just how much potential the 6-foot, 190-pound cornerback possessed.

“He got healthy and he had 120 yards [rushing] in our first playoff game,” said Handley coach Tony Rayburn. “He ran well and he played both ways. He played real big at cornerback. Teams we played liked to run the ball out in the flats and he did a real great job of making a lot of plays, whether it was a quick screen outside or a sweep.”

Wilson finished the season with 20 tackles and one interception, while rushing for 926 yards and 12 touchdowns on 95 carries. The Judges advanced to the semifinals of the Virginia Division III playoffs. Handley had success with Wilson on the injured list, but became a “much better offense” when he returned.

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January 6, 2010

Season recap: Devin Burns

There were plenty of big plays that Carver (Ga.) High quarterback Devin Burns made during his senior season.

But for Tigers coach Dell McGee, one moment involving the Maryland commitment stood out above the rest.

“There was a fourth-and-1 in the first round of the playoffs with the score tied at 21-21,” McGee said. “We called a QB sneak and he picked the right hole and went 72 yards to ice the game. It was a huge play. But he had several big plays. That probably had the biggest impact and meant the most because of the [circumstances].”

Burns guided Carver to an 11-2 record and the third round of the Georgia Class AAA playoffs. On the season, Burns was 123 of 179 for 1,795 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also rushed for 541 yards and five touchdowns on 76 carries.

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December 31, 2009

Season recap: Max Garcia

When discussing Norcross (Ga.) offensive tackle Max Garcia with Blue Devils offensive line coach Dale Farr, one word comes up over and over again:

Dominant.

“He was dominant at times,” Farr said of Garcia, who committed to Maryland earlier this month. “The last game against Collins Hill, he graded out at 90 percent. He was definitely the best player on the line for both teams, without a doubt. He would just take the defensive end and just drive him five or seven yards down the field. Just total domination. He’s just a special young man.”

The Blue Devils finished 5-5 with Garcia grading out at 80 percent in his final high school season. The 6-foot-5, 275-pound left tackle also recorded 50 pancake blocks, “which is phenomenal,” Farr said.

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December 30, 2009

Season recap: Ian Evans

Pete Lancetta remembers the look on Ian Evans' face well.

The longtime Hammonton (N.J.) High football coach had guided his team to the South Jersey Group 3 championship game against Timber Creek, and Evans -- a Maryland commitment and the Blue Devils’ star defensive end -- appeared as if he would only accept one result for his squad.

“When they had the ball and cut it close, he sort of just took over with his pass rushing,” Lancetta said. “I think he showed why he’s a big-time player at that moment. And we needed him. They were closing the gap and then he had a big sack. I just happened to focus on him at that moment in time. It looked like he didn’t want to lose. He wanted that Group 3 title. He looked like he was on a mission.”

Evans accomplished that mission, leading Hammonton to a 23-17 win for the state championship. He finished his senior season with 52 tackles, 17 sacks, seven quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles, while also catching 17 passes for 360 yards and three touchdowns from the tight end position. For Evans’ efforts, the Philadelphia Inquirer named him its Defensive Player of the Year.

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December 29, 2009

Season recap: Darius Kilgo

Justin Hardin had heard about the surprisingly nimble, 6-foot-3, 325-pound defensive tackle when he took the Weddington (N.C.) High coaching job before the 2009 season.

The Warriors were coming off 16 straight losses, and Hardin knew that the play of Darius Kilgo -- the aforementioned monster in the middle -- would be crucial to Weddington’s turnaround. The new coach’s first impressions of the Maryland recruit -- who had dropped 40 pounds -- gave him hope for his first season.

“What I first noticed was how hard he worked in the weight room,” Hardin said. “He was voted one of our team captains before the summer started, because of how hard he worked in the weight room and as a leader. That’s the first thing I recognized.”

With Kilgo starting at defensive tackle and on the offensive line, Weddington rebounded from its two-year slump. The Warriors (5-7) earned a berth in the state playoffs, falling in the first round.

Kilgo finished his senior season with 67 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles. One of those four sacks came in a 22-7 win over Parkwood on Oct. 9.

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December 23, 2009

Season recap: Tyrek Cheeseboro

During the 2008 season, Milford Mill quarterback Kevin Fulton teamed with wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro to form one of the Baltimore area’s most dangerous pass-and-catch duos.

Cheeseboro caught 38 passes for 732 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior, as the Millers finished 9-3. But this season, with Cheeseboro back for his senior year and Fulton a freshman in college, Milford Mill labored through a 4-6 campaign.

“[Cheeseboro] did what could be expected with a freshman quarterback,” said Millers coach Reggie White. “Everything he could do, he did. We couldn’t get the ball to him as much as I wanted. But he was still our biggest decoy. ... He surely was frustrated because he’s used to getting the ball deep and Kevin could find him all over the field. ... But he had a great outlook.”

Despite the growing pains Milford Mill suffered, Cheeseboro managed to put together another strong statistical season. The 6-foot, 180-pound Maryland commitment caught 30 passes for 523 yards and six touchdowns. He also returned two kickoffs (93 yards, 86 yards) for touchdowns.

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December 17, 2009

Season recap: Rahsaan Moore

When Wise football coach DaLawn Parrish needed a big stop on defense, Rahsaan Moore was often the player to step up to the challenge. When the Pumas needed to put points on the board, Moore was usually the player who got the carry.

Whatever situation presented itself for Wise this season, Moore -- a Maryland defensive end / fullback commitment -- frequently provided an answer.

“We leaned on him heavily in the beginning of the year and down the stretch,” Parrish said. “He ended up spraining his ankle. He missed three games with a high ankle sprain. That enabled us to get younger players into the game. But we leaned on him heavily in our big games. When we needed to grind it out to win, we went with Rahsaan. He was able to play through the pain with the ankle sprain. He was still hobbled, but he sucked it up. He just proved that he [has great potential] on both sides of the ball.”

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December 16, 2009

Season recap: Titus Till

Titus Till's senior season at Wise didn't get off to the smoothest of starts.

On the second day of practice last August, the Maryland safety commitment fractured his collarbone. The injury would sideline him for the next five weeks.

“He just wanted to help the team win,” Wise coach DaLawn Parrish said. “It was hard in the beginning when he got hurt, but he supported his teammates and cheered them on from the sidelines. Some kids get hurt and go into the tank and wait for themselves to get better. He never did that. He just kept supporting his team. He wanted to be 100 percent when he came back and he did a tremendous job. I couldn’t ask for anything more from a young man.”

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December 10, 2009

Season recap: Sal Conaboy

For three of Joe Repshis' five seasons as Abington Heights (Pa.) High’s football coach, Sal Conaboy has been there to do whatever has been asked of him.

In 2007, Repshis brought the sophomore tight end up to the varsity squad. The following season, with the Comets needing help on the offensive line, Conaboy made the move to guard without any complaints. This fall, the Maryland commitment returned for his senior year as Abington Heights’ unquestioned leader on the line.

“With another year under his belt, he had a great deal of confidence and had a great year,” Repshis said. “He worked very hard, came back bigger, stronger, faster and he understood offensive line play much better. He had a phenomenal year.”

Abington Heights finished the season 11-2, winning conference and district championships before falling in the first round of the Pennsylvania AAA playoffs. Conaboy was named first-team all-conference and first-team all-region, with other honors likely to follow in the coming weeks. While he may have been more potential than production as a junior who just made the switch to offensive line, Conaboy played like a seasoned veteran this year.

“He’s very athletic, has very good feet and is very quick,” Repshis said. “He can pull and trap very well, he gets to the next level and is very active. He’s going to play until that whistle blows.”

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December 9, 2009

Season recap: Matt Robinson

Kyle Schmitt admits there were nervous moments leading up to his first season as Atholton’s football coach. mattrobinson.jpg

The former Maryland offensive lineman -- just 27 years old -- was tasked with turning around a team fresh off a 3-7 season and a program that lacked an illustrious football tradition.

Thankfully for Schmitt, there were plenty of strong pieces in place, including Terps commitment Matt Robinson.

“We had a good quarterback in Kalvin Seamonson and who I thought was one of the best players in the state in Matt,” Schmitt said. “And we had a lot of kids to go around Matt. I thought as a team, we had a chance. Matt’s a leader, and it’s nice to have your best player also be the leader of your team and one of your top workers on the team. His intangibles are what is going to make him, I think, good in college. His size is solid, his speed is good, his strength is good and it will continue to get better. But the intangibles that Matt brings are what helped us.”

The Raiders were one of the biggest surprises in the state this season, finishing 10-2 and advancing to the Class 3A East regional final. Robinson, 6 feet 4, 210 pounds, was dangerous on both sides of the ball. At wide receiver, he finished with 39 catches for 792 yards and 10 touchdowns. At linebacker, Robinson recorded 75 tackles, four sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery for a touchdown and one blocked punt on special teams.

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December 8, 2009

Season recap: Andre Monroe

Expectations were high for St. John's (D.C.) defensive tackle Andre Monroe heading into his senior season.

The 5-foot-11, 285-pound Maryland commitment was a three-year varsity player for the Cadets and a returning Washington Catholic Athletic Conference first-team selection. Despite being a very well-known commodity, Monroe lived up to the hype as a senior, according to St. John’s coach Joe Patterson.

“Andre was fantastic,” Patterson said. “He started on both sides of the football and almost never came off the field. He anchored out defensive line and was a great playmaker. But he also helped our tailback get eight yards per carry on offense.”

Monroe recorded 61 tackles, including 18 tackles for loss, as a senior, helping St. John’s to a 5-5 record. Patterson called Monroe “the best D-tackle that I’ve coached.”

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December 3, 2009

Season recap: Nate Clarke

Rick Houchens still chuckles when thinking back to his first impression of Nate Clarke.

The first-year Archbishop Carroll (D.C.) football coach saw a 6-foot-5, 290-pound lineman that oozed potential. But Houchens also saw a player that was far from a finished product.

“I told him he had Frankenstein feet,” Houchens said. “He was this big dude and he walked on his heels. He was stiff-legged and could barely bend his knees. And that’s how Nate used to run.”

Clarke, who committed to Maryland in July, went through Houchens’ intense offseason training program -- something the former Eleanor Roosevelt coach implemented as soon as he took over the Lions’ moribund program. Thanks to that rigorous training regimen, Houchens saw a transformation in Clarke’s game this season.

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November 25, 2009

Season recap: Jeremiah Johnson

Last winter, Suitland coach Nick Lynch was killed in a car accident, leaving the Rams searching for leadership as they dealt with tragedy.

Jeremiah Johnson, a Maryland cornerback commitment, was up to the challenge.

“We lost our head coach last year,” said Ed Shields, who was elevated from defensive backs coach to head coach after Lynch’s passing, “and Jeremiah really took over team leadership. We didn’t go as far as we would have liked to go during the season, but to come back from that type of stuff [was impressive]. ... It was a time where you needed people to stand up and he was one of the people who stood up. Every time you go out on the field, at least in the beginning, you started to think about our coach. He was a big presence and he had a big affect on their lives. So anybody that helps you get through that transition period ... is a big deal. He really helped pull everyone together and helped keep the kids focused.”

Continue reading "Season recap: Jeremiah Johnson" »

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April 22, 2009

Season recap: James Padgett

James Padgett has always been a man of few words.

The Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln power forward famously told one Maryland recruiting site that his official visit to College Park was “fair,” just days before committing to UM.

But Padgett took his strong-and-silent persona to another level last December, according to Lincoln head coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton.

“The most important part of his senior year was when he got injured,” Morton said. “He sprained his ankle ... [when he] went up for a dunk and came down awkwardly before the game started. ... We were playing Duncanville (Texas) on TV and he didn’t even tell anybody [he sprained his ankle]. But he kept working, kept playing and didn’t quit.”

The Railsplitters suffered a 77-57 loss that day, but Morton said what stood out most about the game was Padgett’s toughness.

The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder was slowed by the ankle injury for much of his senior year, but he played through the pain. Lincoln hit its stride once his health improved. While Maryland target and five-star shooting guard Lance Stephenson drew all the accolades for turning in 30-point performances on a nightly basis, Padgett did the oft-overlooked dirty work in the post.

“He did a great job,” Morton said. “He had a great end to his senior year. He probably averaged 18 [points] and 12 [rebounds] in the playoffs. He made a couple All-City first teams and we won our fourth city championship in a row. ... He brought a lot of leadership. He always kind of led quietly by example.”

After the season, Padgett faced a minor dilemma. NCAA rules permit student-athletes to participate in no more than two postseason all-star games. Earlier this year, Padgett was picked to play in the Jordan Brand Classic Regional All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden. The event was Padgett's last chance to play on his hometown’s biggest stage.

But when Padgett was invited to play in the Charm City Challenge at the Towson Center and the Capital Classic at American University’s Bender Arena, the decision was simple.

“When I heard about [those all-star games], I thought it was a great situation for Padgett,” Morton said. “I know he wants to get used to playing in front of the Maryland fans and they’re not used to seeing him. So I was kind of happy he got used to playing down there.”

At Charm City, Padgett earned MVP honors, scoring 22 points on 11-for-13 shooting. Four days later in Washington, Padgett contributed four points and a team-high seven rebounds.

Both all-star game performances ramped up expectations for Padgett among Maryland fans, but Morton said that’s fine. He expects Padgett to go about his business as usual upon arrival in College Park.

“He just has to play to his potential,” Morton said. “I don’t think they’re going to push him too hard, expecting too much from him. They love his potential, which I’m happy about. ... I think once he gets down there and gets his strength together, he’s going to be OK.”

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April 14, 2009

Season recap: Tianna Hawkins

Senior year couldn't have been much better for Tianna Hawkins.

The Maryland-bound power forward averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game, leading Riverdale Baptist to a 26-3 record and the No. 11 ranking in the country by USA Today.

But for all of Hawkins’ successes this year, even Riverdale Baptist coach Gina Miller was taken aback when the 6-foot-3 post player was named Gatorade Player of the Year in Maryland.

“We were both surprised,” Miller said. “I mean I think she had 16 straight games with a double-double, but I don’t even know who’s on the panel that voted for that award. So we were surprised and elated.”

According to Miller, the honor was well deserved. Hawkins stepped up for the Crusaders when it mattered most and made a variety of improvements to her game.

“Defensively she showed a lot of improvement and she took on more of a leadership approach on the court,” Miller said. “She worked really hard for us this year. ... There were a couple moments this year when I went up to her to see where [her mind] was at, and she'd just say, ‘I’m ready, Coach. I’m focused.’”

Aaron Kinchen was in his first year as an assistant coach with Riverdale Baptist after serving as the defensive line coach for the Bowie State football team. Kinchen saw Hawkins once during a tournament at Prince George’s Community College last year. According to Kinchen, a transformation took place in Hawkins between then and now.

“She was decent then, but I didn’t know too much about her,” Kinchen said. “But when I got to Riverdale, she was a totally different girl. Athletically, she toned up and was in great shape. I’m not saying she wasn’t in shape then, but I know she’s in great shape now.

“She was the team captain. We really leaned on her this year. When we needed that one bucket to go ahead, she was the one we called on. We called her number on many occasions. She gave it to us each time.”

Miller and Kinchen both mentioned Riverdale’s 65-46 win over Arundel in February as a highlight of Hawkins' senior season. The Wildcats featured three seniors committed to Division I programs, plus a 6-foot-5 junior with a DI future. Hawkins scored 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in the win. That game was typical of Hawkins’ senior year.

Hawkins will probably be expected to contribute immediately to the Terps. With Drey Mingo’s transfer, it’s possible Hawkins will be one of UM’s first post players off the bench. Miller said it won’t be an easy transition from high school to college, but Hawkins is up for the challenge.

“She’s got to be able to defend in the post,” Miller said. “That’s what they recruited her to do. So she’ll just have to be ready to come in and be in shape, attack the boards and attack on offense and keep her head in the game. It’s going to be a big jump for her. A big step up. ... But she’s going to be leaving big shoes to fill for us next year.”

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April 1, 2009

Season recap: Natasha Cloud

Maryland combo guard commitment Natasha Cloud saved her best for last this season.

In the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAAA championship game against Mount Lebanon, Cardinal O’Hara senior Steph Holzer collided with a teammate early in the third quarter, sending the Vanderbilt-bound center to the bench. In Holzer’s absence, Cloud emerged.

“We lost Holzer two minutes into the third quarter,” Cardinal O’Hara head coach Linus McGinty said. “We struggled to get some possessions and [Cloud] really picked us up. We were down 11 and brought it back to three a couple of times.”

The Lions ultimately fell to Mount Lebanon, 67-58, but Cloud, 6 feet, kept them in the game. She led Cardinal O’Hara with 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting and dished out six assists. Cloud was 5-for-7 from 3-point range.

O’Hara finished its season 27-3, checking in at No. 15 in USA Today’s national rankings. Cloud averaged 7.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.5 steals per game. She also routinely drew the toughest defensive assignment each game.

“Basically she guarded every type of player, from a small point guard to a 6-2 post player,” McGinty said. “She’s just a kid that wants to win. No ego as far as stats.”

Cloud was the lone junior starter for McGinty. The Lions lose four players to graduation who will play in Division I: Holzer, Alysha Womack (Monmouth), Danielle Callahan (La Salle) and Alicia Manning (Lafayette). In their absence, McGinty expects Cloud to shoulder more of the scoring load.

“I think next year she’ll be one of the players we really depend on,” McGinty said. “I’d like to see her develop a pull-up jump shot in the lane. She’s so good at getting to the basket. ... She’d rather pass the ball to you than score herself. She’s just a great kid to have on your team.”

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March 26, 2009

Season recap: Essence Townsend

Opponents of Paterson (N.J.) Catholic's girls basketball team adopted an interesting strategy this season to deal with Maryland center recruit Essence Townsend.

“They went right at her,” Paterson Catholic coach Dave Andre said. “They tried to get her in quick foul trouble, but she was prepared because other teams tried it as well. She held her own. ... They decided it’s easier just to go right at a shotblocker. She managed to block a ton of shots and stay out of foul trouble. [Then teams would do some] other thing in the second half after realizing that getting inside was going to be a big challenge.”

Townsend, 6 feet 6, averaged 10 points, nine rebounds and eight blocks per game. The Cougars finished the year 29-3, winning the New Jersey non-public B championship.

Paterson Catholic earned the No. 6-seed in the state Tournament of Champions. In the quarterfinals against third-seeded Bloomfield Tech, Townsend just missed a triple-double, scoring eight points, grabbing 14 rebounds and setting a TOC record with 10 blocked shots.

Townsend’s high school career ended in the TOC semifinals. St. John Vianney, the eventual champions, employed the ‘attack Townsend’ strategy to near perfection, limiting the future Terp to just eight minutes due to foul trouble.

While Townsend’s season ended on a rough note, Andre said her senior campaign will be remembered for dominant defensive performances and an improved offensive game.

“I guess the best way to describe it is, she’s definitely transformed [her game],” Andre said. “Her overall aggressiveness [improved dramatically]. Once she’s aggressive from the start, it’s probably going to continue the whole game, and that was a big adjustment for her -- realizing it was up to her to be aggressive and get involved. Once she decided to make things happen on her own, the snowball started to roll.”

Andre acknowledges that Townsend will have to get stronger before making a contribution in College Park. Improving her strength and conditioning will definitely be on the agenda for the summer. Andre, who coached Townsend for three years at Paterson Catholic, said he’s excited to watch her take the next steps in her development.

“It’s really exciting for us and her,” Andre said. “Maryland’s probably the hottest team in the country other than UConn. ... So she’s very excited. It’s unfortunate that obviously Kristi [Toliver] and Marissa [Coleman] are going to graduate. But there will be a ton of great players with her. ... [Essence] is excited following the results [of the NCAA tournament]. She’ll text me with the results during the games, so she’s very excited.”

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March 25, 2009

Season recap: Alyssa Thomas

Alyssa Thomas quickly discovered this season that her reputation preceded her.

The junior small forward from Central Dauphin High School in Harrisburg, Pa., was an all-state first-team selection as a sophomore, entertained offers from many of the top women’s college basketball programs in the country, and committed to Maryland shortly before the beginning of her junior season.

So when Thomas suited up for the first time this year, it was immediately evident that she’d be a target in every game she played.

“It was getting really crazy, to be quite honest,” Central Dauphin head coach Bill Wolf said. “She put up these numbers against box-and-ones, triangle-and-twos, man defenses where they just completely face-guarded her and didn’t let her get the basketball. They’d double-team her when she got the ball. You name it, she saw it. To still put up the type of numbers that she did when, in every game there was a different strategy used against her, was pretty amazing.”

Thomas, 6-1, averaged nearly 20 points and 13 rebounds per game. She shot 50 percent from the field, including 43 percent from three-point range. Central Dauphin finished its season 29-2. The Rams’ only losses were against Christ the King, a traditional New York powerhouse, and Downington West in a second-round upset in the Pennsylvania Class AAAA girls basketball tournament. Wolf said there were a couple notable improvements in Thomas’ game.

“She’s getting stronger and that’s one thing we’ve been working on with her," Wolf said. "The big improvement now that I’ve seen this year is just her shooting range, as well as her strength. Those are going to be two things that are going to be very important as she goes to the next level.”

Wolf said Thomas has taken all her success in stride. In the coming weeks she’ll likely be named first-team all-state for the second consecutive season. She’ll enter her senior season as arguably the best player in Pennsylvania. But Wolf said Thomas hasn’t changed a bit off the court or on it.

“We had our basketball banquet [Monday] night,” Wolf said. “She was selected by her teammates and our coaching staff ... as the best teammate and the person you would most want to play with in terms of having a good attitude and just making everyone better. She shares the ball. She’s basically what the program stands for in terms of good attitude. If somebody falls down on the court, she’ll pick them up. It just goes to show you that as good as she is and in picking Maryland early, she hasn’t let it go to her head. It’s not like she thinks she’s better than her teammates. She’s just a level-headed kid.”

Maryland coach Brenda Frese, and assistants Erica Floyd and Tina Langley, all made trips to Central Dauphin at different times this season. The Terps coaching staff hoped Thomas’ squad would meet UM combo guard commitment Natasha Cloud’s Cardinal O’Hara team for the state championship. The Rams’ second-round loss prevented the future Terp vs. future Terp matchup from happening, but there’s always next year.

“[Frese] wishes [Alyssa] could come on campus this coming year,” Wolf said. “They’re going to have to wait a year for her, but they’re really excited.”

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March 17, 2009

Season recap: Dara Taylor

Kristin Caldwell remembers the first time she met Maryland recruit Dara Taylor like it was yesterday.

Then an assistant varsity coach at Caravel Academy in Bear, Del., Caldwell recalled speaking with the freshman point guard at a girls basketball team meeting before the start of the 2005-06 season.

“I just remember this skinny little girl that didn’t say a word. She was so, so quiet,” Caldwell said.

Needless to say, much has changed since that autumn gathering more than three years ago. Taylor spent four years on the Caravel varsity, three with Caldwell as head coach. The 5-foot-7 floor general became the Terps’ first oral commitment of the 2009 class early in her junior season. She drew national praise last summer for her AAU play with the Philadelphia Belles. And her senior-season efforts earned her Gatorade Delaware Girls Basketball Player of the Year honors.

“She was unbelievable,” Caldwell said. “She was consistently great in every game. I think she improved in a lot of areas. Defensively she improved. She improved her strength. She improved her three-point shooting. ... She was really an extension of me on the floor. It just felt like the two of us were on the same page this season. It made my job a lot easier this season with her being more vocal and such an outstanding leader. I couldn’t have asked for more.”

Taylor led Caravel to a 14-11 record, averaging 17.8 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 steals per game. Perhaps the finest moment of her senior season came during Caravel’s second-round matchup with St. Mark’s earlier this month.

“We were down 10 with 17 seconds left in the first half. Nothing was going right for us,” Caldwell said. “In 17 seconds, she got three steals and made three layups. So we went into halftime down four instead of 10. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. ... [After halftime] you could just see the other kids’ confidence was through the ceiling. Everyone was fired up.”

Taylor finished with 21 points, leading Caravel to a 43-37 win over St. Mark’s. The Buccaneers’ Delaware High School Girls Basketball Tournament run came to an end days later with a one-point loss in the quarterfinals to Caesar Rodney.

While her high school career is complete, Taylor has one notable game remaining on her itinerary before she heads to College Park. Last month Taylor became just the third Delaware girls basketball player to be selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American game, which is scheduled for April 1 in Miami.

With Kristi Toliver’s impending graduation, Caldwell said Taylor’s well aware that she’ll be counted on immediately in College Park. If Caldwell’s learned anything from her four years coaching Taylor, it’s that she’ll do whatever it takes to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

“I really think [the Maryland staff is] expecting Dara to come in and be ready to play,” Caldwell said. “I don’t think they’re necessarily going to look at her as a freshman point guard coming in. I think they’re looking at her as a point guard, take the ‘freshman’ out of it.

“I just think she’s very mentally tough and she’s ready. I think at that level, maybe the mental aspect of it is sometimes the toughest part. But she’s just so ready to go there and put in the work and that’s what it’s all about. If you can stay mentally tough and put in the work to be good, then you’re going to be successful. I think she has the right mindset for that. She’ll come in and be ready to go.”

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February 10, 2009

Season recap: Pete White

Pete White wasn’t your average, wide-eyed freshman.

At 6-foot-4, 298 pounds, the massive ninth-grader stepped right into the starting offensive line for St. John’s (D.C.), going to battle to every week with other Washington Catholic Athletic Conference powers.

Freshman year wasn’t without its challenges for White. But according to St. John’s coach Joe Patterson, that season was a sign of things to come.

“He was a freshman starting on a line with four other Division I seniors [Triston Cappel (Delaware State), Drew Luongo (Penn), Mike Ward (Akron), Ryan White (Georgetown)],” Patterson said. “He played guard that year and he did well for us, but certainly he was thrown into the fire there. ... He really loved it, though. He still talks about those guys from his first year. He has a lot of respect because they taught him a lot about tenacity and playing hard every play.”

It was no surprise to Patterson when White developed into one of the most sought-after offensive line prospects in the country, culminating with the now 6-foot-5, 339-pounder signing with Maryland last week. White picked the Terps over offers from Miami and Tennessee.

White helped pave the way for the Cadets’ 7-4 season last fall. St. John’s fell in the WCAC semifinals to DeMatha. Patterson said White was “fantastic” all year long.

“He was named team MVP, named first-team All-Met by The Washington Post, he made the Under Armour All-American game,” Patterson said. “He’s just a standout blocker. The thing that he did really well senior year was pulling. We did a lot of tackle pulls, counters. There were a few times this year where he was able to really deliver blows while moving in space. Those were probably his best-looking highlights.”

Patterson said what separates White from most high school linemen is his size, strength, hips and “use of his hands to deliver a blow.”

White was on the Terps’ radar since that ninth-grade year, but Patterson said his decision really came down to the wire.

“As of [last] Monday, he still didn’t know where he was going,” Patterson said. “I talked with him Monday, talked to his father on Monday and it was clear that the decision had not been made yet. ... I think he certainly had the idea that he wanted to take visits and see what was out there so when he made the decision he’d be making it without any question marks left in his mind about other opportunities. He saw the best that Tennessee had to offer and the best that Miami had to offer.”

White’s mother played basketball for the Terps, his father earned a master’s degree from UM and his sister is a current student. On Signing Day, he went with the hometown school. Patterson thinks it’ll prove to be a good fit.

“I thought [former UM defensive coordinator] Chris Cosh did a great job early in getting to know the family and I think that certainly in this last year, Maryland’s done a great job of communicating their expectations of Pete as well as their plans for Pete. ... [The UM staff does] a good job of not ... making any promises. But certainly the depth chart after the graduation [of several offensive linemen] looks as if some of the newcomers are going to have the opportunity to compete to possibly get on the field early.”

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February 5, 2009

Season recap: Nick Klemm

Nothing came easy for Tom Flugum during his first season as head football coach at Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga.

Flugum was hired by Wheeler in April with the daunting task of turning around a program with just one winning season in the previous 10 years.

Once hired, Flugum took a trip to the Wheeler weight room, where he was delighted to find a 6-foot-7, 280-pound offensive tackle already there working out. The massive, unknown lineman turned out to be Nick Klemm, who signed with Maryland yesterday.

“There was no coach,” Flugum said. “There was a void there before I got hired. [Klemm] was still there. He didn’t just take the fact that, ‘nobody’s watching me. I can take the next four weeks off and not do anything.’ His attitude was, ‘I’m going to go ahead and get to work.’"

Klemm emerged early as a leader for Wheeler, but the pieces weren’t in place for a storybook senior season. The Wildcats suffered through an 0-10 year. But Klemm kept battling throughout the season, Flugum said.

“He came to practice everyday ready to work,” Flugum said. “He always had a positive attitude. He was a team leader. He spoke up at practice, trying to get guys motivated and focused on the task at hand. He never complained, never pointed fingers.”

Klemm, who initially committed to Boston College before switching to Maryland before Signing Day, was rated a two-star prospect by both Rivals.com and Scout.com, neither of which have film on the future Terp. Flugum said UM fans should ignore those rankings.

“He’s got good feet, he runs well for a big man, he can jump well and is explosive,” Flugum said. “He’s got good size, good reach. And he’s smart. ... He’s a good kid, a character kid. He plays well in space and he’s got the size to play in the ACC.”

While Flugum was obviously disappointed about Wheeler’s season and felt bad for his seniors, he said he was thankful for the one season he spent coaching Klemm.

“I obviously wish we had three or four or five [linemen like Klemm],” Flugum said. “But Nick’s got great parents, he’s a hard worker and he’s coachable. I see nothing but the best ahead of him.”

Click here for Q&As, season recaps and commitment stories on each of UM’s 2009 recruits.

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February 2, 2009

Season recap: Travis Hawkins

Travis Hawkins' future at Maryland will be as a cornerback.

But during his senior season at Quince Orchard High School in Montgomery Co., the Terps commitment had plenty of opportunities to make an impact on offense.

“Offensively, we tried to use him in a variety of different roles,” QO coach Dave Mencarini said. “We really needed him on defense and tried to make that his primary focus, but when you’ve got a great talent like that [you have to use him on offense, too]. He played quarterback, running back, receiver. In the seventh game of the year, our quarterback broke his collarbone and Travis stepped in. Then he got injured with a high ankle sprain. In the 10th game of the year, he [came back] and set a record for total yards in a game. ... Every time he touched the ball, he made a big play.”

Hawkins, 5 feet 10, 180 pounds, still performed well as a defensive back, Mencarini said. He just didn’t see many opportunities to make plays at cornerback.

“Because he’s such a great athlete and player, not a lot of action went his way," Mencarini said. "Statistically you’d look at his numbers and say, ‘this kid didn’t have a good senior year.’ But the reality is that our other corner was team MVP. Our little 5-9 MVP on the other side [made a lot of plays] because they never threw [Hawkins’] way. Teams would try to test him, but he kind of shut down a half of the field, which is nice.”

Hawkins recorded 19 tackles and one interception on the year. According to The Washington Post, he also accounted for nine touchdowns on offense (four passing, four receptions, one rushing). QO finished the season 10-2, falling to Sherwood in the 4A West finals.

Hawkins committed to the Terps in October, announcing his decision at a news conference at Quince Orchard. But between then and now, there were some tenuous moments where Hawkins faced slight doubts about his commitment.

After returning from the Under Armour All-American game in Orlando (and witnessing other top recruits go back-and-forth with their decisions), Hawkins thought about taking a couple official visits, with West Virginia and Florida mentioned frequently as potential destinations.

But in the end, Hawkins decided against taking other trips. Mencarini said location played a role, as did UM’s pitch in billing Hawkins as a headliner in its class.

“I think that’s kind of how Maryland recruited him,” Mencarini said. “‘Hey, we’ve had national recruits before. We had Kenny Tate, who’s off to a great career.’ They see Travis very similar to that. I think he handled it well, but any 17-year old kid being courted by the top programs in the country goes through a little bit [of uncertainty], and I think that’s what you saw the last couple of weeks. I think it just showed that the kid is human. Ultimately, that didn’t happen. He kind of thought about what’s important to him. The process is tough and it wears on kids. It’s not easy, but I think in the end, he handled it fairly well, all things considered.”

Mencarini brought Hawkins up to the QO varsity as a freshman. He remained there for the next three years. While Mencarini has sent many players to Division I schools during his tenure at Quince Orchard, Hawkins stands out.

“He’s the most explosive player that I’ve ever coached, and the most explosive player I’ve ever seen in my career as a coach,” Mencarini said. “I think the thing that stands out about his career is his knack for making big plays on offense, defense and special teams. Instincts are something you really can’t teach or coach, so that gives him a chance to have a great college career.

“So he’s a great kid. To be honest with you, he’s had to overcome a lot of things on and off the field. For him to be in this position is a credit to his maturity. There’s good and bad days with any kid, but he’s really handled the last four years of his life with a lot of class and dignity.”

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January 20, 2009

Season recap: Dexter McDougle

Stafford (Va.) High School football coach Chad Lewis knew he had something special in senior athlete Dexter McDougle. It just took some time for college programs to figure it out.

McDougle, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound defensive back/running back/wide receiver, was derailed early in his junior season after suffering a freak injury in practice that left him with two broken knuckles.

But according to Lewis, the Maryland-bound McDougle quickly made up for lost time as a senior for Stafford, which started the season 0-4 but rebounded to finish 5-5.

“He had a phenomenal season,” Lewis said. “He’s one of those players that’s just extremely explosive. He’s a very electrifying player that can make a play at any given time, whether it’s on offense, defense or special teams. ... I'll tell you what, Dexter just really went on a roll the last four games. He was just amazing. He had a heck of a season, but the last four games he was just really hitting full stride.”

McDougle, who will likely play cornerback at Maryland, recorded 97 tackles and six interceptions at free safety. Offensively, he caught 48 passes for 885 yards and 11 touchdowns, and rushed for 457 yards and nine touchdowns on 76 carries. McDougle also returned one punt and two kickoffs for scores. He earned all-area and all-district honors for his efforts, in addition to being named honorable mention All-Met by The Washington Post.

Because McDougle missed the majority of his junior season, his recruiting picture was close to nonexistent when it came to Division I. Six games into McDougle’s senior year, Lewis hurriedly compiled a highlight tape and sent it out to several programs.

Maryland, Virginia Tech and South Carolina, among others, all responded to McDougle’s film with scholarship offers. Lewis said McDougle had an immediate interest in UM, thanks in some part to a current Terp two years removed from Stafford High.

“You don’t get any better than [Terps wide receiver and kick returner] Torrey Smith,” Lewis said. “He came to a couple of our games this year. He serves, obviously, as a big role model to our kids. ... He had very positive things to say about the University of Maryland, but at the same time ... the only person who can make the decision really is that student-athlete. But I think Torrey may have had something to do [with McDougle’s commitment] because he’s been there [and excelled] there.”

Lewis said McDougle does most of his damage with the ball in his hands. He’s slotted for the Maryland secondary, but Lewis also thinks he’s capable of making significant contributions on special teams, and offense if the need arises.

“Dexter is going to compete,” Lewis said. “He’s got that driving force in that he wants to do the best he can do. He’s going to do some exciting things, obviously on the defensive side of the ball and [hopefully on] special teams. I think he’s going to have a bright future there.”

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January 14, 2009

Season recap: L.A. Goree

When asked if one particular play made by Maryland linebacker recruit L.A. Goree stood out among the rest this fall, C.H. Flowers coach Mike Mayo drew a blank.

It wasn’t for lack of options to choose from, Mayo said. It was just difficult to isolate one moment in a season full of big games.

“He’s pretty steady in every game,” Mayo said. “He’s the one kid I didn’t have to worry about. You can always count on him making plays. He showed up every game. Even in games we lost, he would still be outstanding at that spot. A lot of teams ran away from him. They were well aware of him. They would go the other way, or they’d try him and he’d shut it down.”

Goree, a two-year starter at outside linebacker for the Jaguars, recorded 90 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries (one of which he returned for a touchdown) as a senior. Offensively, Goree caught six passes for 140 yards and two scores. Flowers went 10-2 with a runner-up finish in the Maryland 4A South region.

Goree, a second-team All-Met selection by The Washington Post, really came on as a player midway through his junior season, according to Mayo. That’s when the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder started displaying the traits that led to Maryland offering a scholarship.

“[Goree’s best attributes are his] speed, his mobility, he’s pretty smart and his toughness,” Mayo said. “Being able to rush the passer as well as drop into coverage [are also strengths]. ... He’s very athletic and has good hands. He’s a playmaker.”

Mayo said it might take a little time, but eventually Goree will make an impact for the Terps.

“I just hope it works out for [Goree and Maryland],” Mayo said. “I think he could go in there and help them a lot. I know they were losing quite a few linebackers. How soon that will come, I don’t know. He may sit for a year or two and develop, I don’t know. But I know if he stays there and does what he’s supposed to do, he’ll be a player for them.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:41 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

January 13, 2009

Season recap: Bennett Fulper

College football coaches haven't routinely made a habit of recruiting Gretna (Va.) High School.

Gretna, a town of approximately 1,300 people, has regularly turned out powerhouse football teams in one of Virginia’s smallest classifications. But that hasn’t translated to recruiters making the trip to Gretna.

“We’re out here in the southern part of the state between Lynchburg and Danville,” Gretna coach Chris Thurman said. “It’s not the biggest metropolis. ... [College coaches came] to Lynchburg to see [Virginia Tech tight end commitment] Logan Thomas and bypassed us to go to Danville and see [Virginia Tech running back recruit David Wilson]. So [our area is not] really the hotbed like Northern Virginia or the beach (Hampton Roads). When guys come out here to look at one of our kids, he’s gotta be special.”

In Thurman’s opinion, Maryland offensive line commitment Bennett Fulper fits that bill. The 6-foot-5, 295-pounder pledged to the Terps a few days before Christmas. The Maryland coaches offered Fulper a scholarship in November after seeing his highlight tape.

As a senior, Fulper started for the Hawks at offensive and defensive tackle. During his previous three seasons on varsity, Fulper was Gretna’s starting center.

Fulper paved the way for Gretna’s 13-1 season, which culminated with a win over Floyd County in the Virginia Group A Division 2 state championship game.

Thurman said winning a second-straight state title was a fitting end to Fulper’s high school career.

“That kid has played for four years. In that time here, we went 47-4,” Thurman said. “That kid plays his butt off in every football game. He started off that way as a freshman. There are very few times you can take a freshman and he gets after people. In that first year I was hoping he could hold his own and he did more than that as a freshman.”

In Gretna’s spread offense, Fulper, as a right tackle, was charged with making a lot of audibles at the line. Thurman thinks that intelligence, in addition to Fulper’s strength and versatility, make him a good fit for center at UM.

“I think they’re going to move him back to center,” Thurman said. “They really needed some guys to add depth at the center position. They liked to see him move outside; they saw he had the feet to move outside, and the fact that he [has already] played center.”

Thurman thinks Fulper (who sports a 4.2 grade point average, according to the coach) will prove to be a great fit at Maryland.

“He’s a kid that will represent the University well,” Thurman said. “He’s a church-going kid. He’s going to be third in his class. He’ll be [an asset] to the University as an athlete and as a person.”

• Click here for Fulper's commitment story.

• Click here for a Roanoke Times story on Fulper and Gretna.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:52 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

January 6, 2009

Season recap: Avery Murray

Avery Murray committed to Maryland in July with very little fanfare.

The little-known linebacker from West Florence, S.C., chose the Terps over offers from Buffalo and Middle Tennessee State, then slipped back into relative anonymity -- until he strapped on the pads for his senior season.

“He just played with an unbelievable [level of] confidence,” West Florence coach Trey Woodbury said. “Once he finally committed and got it all out of the way, he just relaxed and his confidence went up. He played extremely well in the Shrine Bowl, which is the 45 best players in [South Carolina] against the 45 best in North Carolina. He started at linebacker and played extremely well. His confidence level against better competition was so much better than last year.”

Murray finished his senior season with 105 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions. As West Florence’s short-yardage back, Murray rushed for 12 touchdowns and approximately 334 yards. The Knights went 7-5 with a first-round loss in the playoffs to South Pointe, the eventual South Carolina Class 5A-II state champions.

Based on Murray’s senior season and Shrine Bowl performance, it wouldn’t surprise Woodbury if plenty of schools were kicking themselves for not discovering the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder before Maryland got involved and landed his commitment.

“Avery’s kind of a laidback guy. He wasn’t big about going to camps, combines and all those other things,” Woodbury said. “He likes to just be Avery, I guess. He’s a good kid, a very smart kid, really worries about his grades, those types of things. So he didn’t do all the combines that a lot of the high-profile athletes do. He was probably a kid a lot of people overlooked. He’s a big kid, a strong kid and a fast kid and he’s going to be a very good player for Maryland.”

Murray is all set to enroll at Maryland later this month, joining the Terps in time for spring practice. Woodbury thinks that will give Murray -- who’s “big enough for inside linebacker and fast enough to play outside” -- an edge over his fellow classmates in terms of competing for playing time as a true freshman.

Regardless of whether or not Murray makes an early contribution in College Park, Woodbury is confident he’ll be a valuable asset to the team from the start.

“He’s just a good kid,” Woodbury said. “He’s an unbelievable athlete with a great work ethic. Not many kids with that type of character have the kind of athletic ability that he has. ... He’s just a big team player. Whatever it takes for the team [to succeed], he’s going to do.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:59 AM | | Comments (2)
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January 1, 2009

Season recap: Dave Stinebaugh

Nothing came easy for Perry Hall tight end Dave Stinebaugh this season.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder was well known throughout the area after earning Baltimore County player of the year honors as a junior and then making a commitment to Maryland over the summer.

“We got into games and right from the first snap, it was evident that he was going to be double-teamed,” Perry Hall coach Keith Robinson said. “Teams were going to try to take him away and make us go somewhere else. Our first play was specifically designed to figure out how they were going to defend him. So he didn’t sneak up on anyone this year.”

Despite all the extra attention from opposing defenses, Stinebaugh caught 45 passes for 632 yards and nine touchdowns at tight end. Playing linebacker and free safety on defense, Stinebaugh recorded 75 tackles, seven interceptions, seven pass breakups and five fumble recoveries. He returned two fumbles for touchdowns and one interception for a score. Stinebaugh was also “easily the best punter in the county,” Robinson said.

The Gators were 9-3 with a runner-up finish in the 4A North region. Stinebaugh, a team captain, essentially never left the field, according to Robinson. The future Terp showed off his nose for the ball on game days and in practice.

“He’d make one-handed catches in practice and just make things look so easy,” Robinson said. “The running joke on the team amongst the players was that he had magnets that he stashed in his gloves. In games whenever there was a fumble, he just always seemed to be around the ball. ... He had five fumble recoveries and seven interceptions. That’s 12 turnovers. In high school, that’s a pretty astounding number. He’s just in the right place at the right time. It just seemed to work out that way.”

Robinson said Stinebaugh, who also plays basketball and lacrosse for Perry Hall, will need some time in the weight room before making an impact for the Terrapins.

“Everybody’s in agreement that he’s going to have to put on some size. I expect he’ll be redshirted for that purpose,” Robinson said. “But according to what [the UM staff has said], he fits in nicely to their H-back or their tight end that usually goes in motion. They have two special types of tight ends -- a big blocking tight end and a receiving tight end and Dave is slotted for [the latter] position. Their offensive coordinator, after watching some of our film, was very impressed that he played on the defensive side as well. They’ve got big plans for him.”

Robinson said the Perry Hall community is excited to see Stinebaugh’s career in College Park unfold over the next five years.

“We’re all anxious here to kind of fast forward a couple years and see him out on the field and see him grow into a very good college football player,” Robinson said. “He’s a great kid, he’s smart, works hard, isn’t out for himself. He just plays to win. I think the people down there will be happy with what they’ve got.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:37 AM | | Comments (0)
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December 30, 2008

Season recap: Ryan Donohue

Maryland linebacker commitment Ryan Donohue started and ended his senior season at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, N.J., with a flourish.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder was “a warrior” all year long, according to Green Knights coach Tony Karcich. It began with St. Joseph’s Week 1 game at Giants Stadium against St. Peter’s Prep, the No. 2-ranked team in New Jersey.

“They have a running back committed to Notre Dame (Nyshier Oliver) and we just shut the kid down totally. Ryan was a big part of that,” Karcich said. “The play that I remember was in the second half. It was a tight game and Ryan blitzed, but it was an audible blitz because in this formation ... we knew they liked to run the draw and Ryan saw it and called it.

“As soon as the kid touched the ball, he absolutely lit him up. It was a high tackle that decleated the kid. It was just a punctuation mark on the game. Final score, 14-0. That’s it; it’s over. I think because it was the first game of the year, you needed him to step up. That sort of stands out. Truthfully, I could go to every game and there was probably something he did that was a big play.”

The Green Knights’ Donohue-led defense stifled opposing offenses throughout the remainder of the season. St. Joseph suffered a Week 8 loss to Don Bosco Prep, but rebounded with three straight wins to earn a spot in the state championship game.

“The final game of the year he had 20 tackles in Rutgers Stadium against Immaculata. We secured our 11th state championship in the last 14 years,” Karcich said. “They had an outstanding tailback who’s also going to Notre Dame (Theo Riddick). In the big games, the kid stepped up.”

Donohue recorded a team-high 135 total tackles, along with one sack and one interception. He also rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries, in addition to catching six passes for 53 yards and one score.

Donohue started his St. Joseph’s career as a sophomore running back on varsity. As a junior, he moved to fullback and started at inside linebacker. He played the same positions as a senior, before making the move on offense to tight end. Karcich said Donohue volunteered to play offensive guard later in the season when the need arose. He ultimately didn’t have to make that move to the line, but Karcich expects Donohue will have a similar attitude of doing whatever the coaches ask of him at Maryland.

“I think he’s a natural at inside linebacker,” Karcich said. “But because of his ability to run, I can see if they had a need they could have him as an outside linebacker. I could see him do that, too. The truth is, they may need a tight end or they may need a fullback. They recruited him as an inside linebacker, I believe, so that’s probably where he’ll go. But because of his athleticism and versatility, he could be utilized in various ways.”

Karcich said Donohue made major improvements throughout his career at St. Joseph. He wouldn’t be surprised if Donohue makes similar strides in College Park.

“He’s got a rare nose for the ball,” Karcich said. “What he did probably better [as a senior] was take on blockers better. I think because he got a little bigger and stronger, he was able to do that. Also, he’s a very disciplined type of kid that understands the game extremely well. ... The kid always steps up and that’s the sign of a great football player. In the big games and key situations, they step up.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:26 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Season recaps
        

December 29, 2008

Season recap: Nick Ferrara

Maryland commitment Nick Ferrara isn't your average kicker.

At FriarSports.com, a Web site covering St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) High School football, Ferrara leads an online poll asking for the team’s MVP with 35 percent of the vote.

So there’s little if any exaggeration when St. Anthony’s coach Rich Reichert discusses his standout specialist.

“Oh, he was the best kicker we’ve ever had, and we’ve had some good kickers,” Reichert said. “There were a couple games where he was definitely the difference.”

His absence in the first game of St. Anthony’s season was a good example of the impact Ferrara had on his team.

“Against St. Joseph’s down in Philly, he had hurt his foot and didn’t play for us,” Reichert said. “We missed an extra point and didn’t have the field position that we got the rest of the season [with Ferrara kicking].”

The Friars lost, 7-6. Ferrara, 6 feet 1, 195 pounds, returned to the lineup the following week and stayed there for the rest of the season. He helped lead St. Anthony’s to a 9-3 record and a runner-up finish in the New York Catholic High School Football League.

On the season, Ferrara converted 14 of 16 field-goal attempts (including a 47-yarder) and 46 of 48 extra points. He set a St. Anthony’s record with 88 points and set a Long Island record with 14 field goals. Ferrara was named to Newsday's All-Long Island team.

According to Reichert, Ferrara’s impressive senior season went beyond his kicking statistics.

“On kickoffs, probably about 75 or 80 percent went into the end zone. He was really invaluable for us when it came to field position,” Reichert said. “There were so many games where he had such an influence. He had a perfect onside kick in one game, three field goals in another, pinning people inside the 20 [on punts]. He was really accepted by the whole team because he is a good athlete.”

Ferrara, who also served as St. Anthony’s scout team quarterback, made major improvements as the Friars’ punter.

“I thought his punting has gotten a lot better; [especially] his directional punting,” Reichert said. “He started working on all the little things. We always knew he had a great leg. He came up as a junior and did some directional punting and onside kicks. That’s what he really worked on between [his] junior and senior year.”

From what Reichert has heard, Ferrara could challenge for the punting job later in his Maryland career. But as a true freshman, Ferrara has a good chance to take over for Obi Egekeze as the Terps’ placekicker.

“Obviously he’s got to be able to handle the pressure,” Reichert said. “But I don’t see him having a problem with that. I think he’s as good as a lot of guys I see on TV right now.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:40 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Season recaps
        

December 28, 2008

Season recap: Cody Blue and Zach Kerr

Future Maryland linemen Cody Blue and Zach Kerr were able to see a sneak preview of their lives in College Park two months ago.

Blue and Kerr, both of whom signed with UM last February, traveled up to Maryland with their Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy football team to face the Terps’ junior varsity squad on Oct. 27.

According to Fork Union head coach John Shuman, both acquitted themselves well in the team’s 16-7 loss.

“They went up and competed pretty well and handled those guys pretty well,” Shuman said. “I think Kerr had four tackles for losses. Cody got in and batted down a few passes, had a sack. ... They’re going to be better [for their prep school experience] and their talent rose to the occasion against [Maryland].”

Blue, a Wilde Lake graduate, played both ways for FUMA.

“It wouldn’t shock me if he ended up being a great offensive lineman,” Shuman said. “He had a very good season at offensive tackle. ... He’s tall, lean, athletic. He reminds me of a guy we sent to Boston College a few years ago, Anthony Castonzo. He kind of looks like [Terps offensive tackle] Bruce Campbell. ... He’s a good, athletic guy, but he looks like an O-lineman.”

Kerr, who graduated from Quince Orchard last spring, was disruptive on the defensive line throughout Fork Union’s 5-4 season.

“He’ll be a nose guard,” Shuman said. “He needs to get himself in better condition. Once he does that he’ll be a very good defensive lineman.”

Shuman said both Blue and Kerr did well in acclimating themselves to Fork Union’s rigorous military academy lifestyle. Shuman expects this prep year to greatly benefit both future Terps.

“I think they’ll be way ahead,” Shuman said. “[They’ll] definitely [be] ahead of the incoming freshmen, just knowing what they went through. They’re way ahead. Everybody should do a prep year.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:27 AM | | Comments (0)
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December 24, 2008

Season recap: Bradley Johnson

Maryland linebacker commitment Bradley Johnson has always been a lead-by-example football player.

So when Johnson spoke, his teammates listened, Dinwiddie (Va.) head coach Billy Mills said.

The opportunity to be more vocal presented itself during Dinwiddie’s Week 6 game against Dale (Va.) High School, with the Generals down 29-24 in the fourth quarter.

“Bradley’s a real quiet kid; he rarely ever talks,” Mills said. “In that moment, we were kind of looking at a loss. But the defense stepped up. ... It wasn’t a bunch of rah-rah stuff. Bradley just grabbed them and said, ‘Look, this [is] what we’re going to do.’ He had so much respect for the rest of the players and they just fed off of him. It wasn’t a bunch of screaming and yelling. He just told them that was enough. That’s not who they are. Lets start playing Dinwiddie football.”

After Johnson’s motivational stand, the Generals defense held strong, forced a turnover that led to a score and an eventual 32-29 win.

On the season, Johnson recorded 124 tackles, five tackles for loss, five pass breakups, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He helped Dinwiddie to a runner-up finish in the Virginia Group AAA, Division 5 playoffs.

According to Mills, Johnson was instrumental in transforming Dinwiddie into a renowned defensive power in Virginia.

“When I first came here in 2005, we had guys saying they want to play offensive line. Defense was unheard of here at this school,” Mills said. “That was hard to turn around the first couple of years. We didn’t stop anybody. But when Bradley started to emerge as a player, that was the difference.”

Johnson finished his Dinwiddie career with 299 total tackles. The Generals improved in each of his three years on the varsity, going from 3-7 to 9-2 to 12-2 as a senior.

Mills thinks Johnson has the size, experience and talent to potentially contribute to the Terps as a true freshman.

“Physically, he’s not going to need a redshirt year,” Mills said. “He’s strong enough, fast enough and big enough to go out there and play next year. I don’t know what they have ahead of him [in terms of] depth. I haven’t been looking into it a whole lot. But he’s somebody who can come in and play right away if they need him to.”

Mills said Johnson decided early for Maryland and never thought twice about the decision. The choice went beyond football, Mills said. He expects Terps fans will appreciate that commitment to school and sport.

“Bradley was in the bag early. He knew what he wanted to do,” Mills said. “It was pretty heated among Maryland and Virginia Tech and West Virginia, but once Bradley made up his mind, it was over. Bradley didn’t want another letter. He just told me to throw them in the can. He’s solid in that. He knew where he wanted to go and I’m proud of him.

“Bradley’s not a kid going to Maryland just to play football. That’s not his only reason. He wanted to go for other reasons as well. He chose Maryland because of the academics and how [UM will set him up] after school and how Coach Friedgen was interested in him as a player and a person. Those kinds of things. That’s who Bradley is.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:07 AM | | Comments (0)
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December 23, 2008

Season recap: D.J. Adams

When Norcross, Ga., running back D.J. Adams committed to Maryland in July, he did so after considering offers from approximately 50 other schools.

So Adams’ successful senior season came as no surprise to Norcross head coach Keith Maloof.

“He did an outstanding job,” Maloof said. “He led us to the second round of the playoffs and was the running back of the year for a system that had 18 high schools in it. He’s playing in the North-South All-Star game. ... And that’s why he had over 50 offers; because he can do things at a different level than other kids. He did some great things throughout the whole year.”

Adams rushed for 1,584 yards and 14 touchdowns on 257 carries. He helped Norcross to an 8-4 record.

Maloof said opposing defenses keyed on Adams, but rarely proved successful in stopping him.

“I just think over the course of the year, when you’re a top-notch player and you step on the field and the whole defense is watching you, to be able to still give what you give and still rush for over 1,500 yards and score 14 touchdowns is pretty amazing.”

Maloof thinks Adams’ 5-foot-10, 215-pound frame and power running style makes him well prepared to handle the jump from high school to college.

“He can handle the pounding that a lot of kids can’t handle,” Maloof said. “With his physical [stature], weighing 215 and being as strong as he is, the biggest thing right off the bat is to be ready. ... He’s going to have a chance to play right when he walks in the doors. I think that’s what excited him about Maryland.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:22 AM | | Comments (2)
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December 22, 2008

Season recap: Marcus Whitfield

Marcus Whitfield had proved he was a Division I recruit at tight end as a junior at Northwest High School in Germantown.

But when the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder committed to Maryland last summer as a linebacker -- a position he hadn’t played before -- Whitfield had to go out and prove himself all over again.

According to Northwest head coach Andrew Fields, Whitfield accomplished that mission, in addition to raising his profile offensively.

“Marcus performed exactly how we thought he would offensively,” Fields said. “He was our leading receiver and did a great job keeping the defense focused on him. ... It was the first year he played defense ... and he ended up a dominant defensive player. He made huge strides each week. By Week 10 and 11, he was really just a very confident guy flying around the football field.”

Whitfield helped get Northwest (7-4) to the first round of the playoffs. On the season, he recorded 39 tackles, including nine tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Offensively, he caught 25 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing four times for 97 yards. Whitfield also punted 16 times for a 28.5-yard average.

Fields said Whitfield’s closing speed really stood out at outside linebacker.

“People would run a sweep or toss outside, maybe gain a step on him to the edge,” Fields said. “But on four or five occasions, you could see exactly why he’s a major Division I prospect. He would literally close on the ball carrier as if they were standing still. I would just think, ‘wow, I can’t believe he just made that tackle.’ It’s not that it’s a highlight-film type of tackle or hit. But just the recovery speed from being on the block, getting off the block and chasing the ball-carrier across the field amazingly quickly [stood out].”

Even though Whitfield’s played linebacker for just one season, the Maryland coaches have told Fields there’s a possibility that he could earn some immediate playing time.

“Well they’ve stated to me, and maybe it’s the company line because everybody says it, but he’ll have a chance to play as a freshman,” Fields said. “They lose a lot of guys to graduation. He’s already got the size at 220 pounds, and the speed -- he’s a legitimate 4.5 guy -- to step in and get some repetitions and have a chance at playing. They’re very excited about him and he’s very [excited about Maryland].”

Fields said he has no concerns whatsoever about Whitfield fitting in at College Park. He expects Whitfield to make a positive impact on and off the field.

“I would say expect a guy that’s going to be, first and foremost, a great kid and a great citizen,” Fields said. “He’s not going to be the guy that’s going to make [negative] headlines off the football field. He has his head on straight and makes good decisions. He’s a kid that’s going to come and punch in every day and work hard to get better. Ultimately, he’ll take every step he possibly can to make sure he and his teammates are prepared on Saturday afternoons.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:49 AM | | Comments (0)
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December 18, 2008

Season recap: Caleb Porzel

It took Good Counsel head coach Bob Milloy a matter of seconds to name the highlight of Maryland running back commitment Caleb Porzel's senior season.

“Well he scored three touchdowns in the first quarter of the DeMatha game on ESPN national TV,” Milloy said.

Porzel rushed for 139 yards on 15 carries, while also catching three passes for 47 yards that Thursday night in early October, leading the Falcons to 42-21 win over the Stags.

The 5-foot-8, 180-pounder, who was selected to The Washington Post’s All-Met team this week, finished his senior season with 1,152 yards and 16 touchdowns on 121 carries, nine catches for 81 yards and one score and two punt returns for touchdowns. He helped lead Good Counsel to an 11-1 record and a runner-up finish in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

Milloy wasn’t the least bit surprised by Porzel’s success.

“He did the same thing last year,” Milloy said. “He’s the real deal. He did everything we asked him to do. He really did.”

In Milloy’s opinion, it’s pretty simple what sets Porzel apart from other running backs.

“It’s his unbelievable speed,” Milloy said. “He was good from the first day. He’s just a very fast, hard-working kid. He had a very good career.”

Porzel will suit up for the D.C. team in Saturday’s Maryland Crab Bowl, a Washington vs. Baltimore All-Star game at Towson University’s Johnny Unitas Stadium. He’ll then focus on getting ready for his time in College Park. Milloy said he’ll be well received by the UM fans.

“He’s a very down-to-earth, friendly guy,” Milloy said. “He’s very popular. He’s always smiling. We’re going to miss him. He’s a wonderful, wonderful guy.”

Click here for video of Porzel.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:34 AM | | Comments (0)
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December 16, 2008

Season recap: Danny O'Brien

The night before East Forsyth's game against Winston-Salem (N.C.) Reynolds last August, head coach Todd Willert was admittedly nervous.

It was the second game of the season, and East Forsyth’s starting tailback, Christian Smith, was out with an ankle injury. Before Willert was able to fall asleep, however, he received a comforting text message from Eagles quarterback and Maryland commitment Danny O’Brien.

“I’m up worrying about the game,” Willert said. “At about 11 o’clock that night, [O’Brien] texted me and said, ‘Coach, just give me the ball and I’ll run.’ He knew we needed to man up. So I slept a lot better after that.”

O’Brien delivered on his text-message proclamation, rushing for 148 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries. He also threw for 71 yards and two scores on 4-of-9 passing, leading the Eagles to a 37-16 road win over Reynolds.

“At Reynolds, he really showed me a lot,” Willert said. “He gave the kids a lot of confidence.”

O’Brien, Rivals.com’s No. 37 pro-style quarterback, continued to be a dual threat throughout his senior season. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder completed 117 of 235 passes for 1,640 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions, while rushing for 780 yards and 11 scores on 160 carries.

“He did very well,” Willert said. “We went 12-2, made the third round of the playoffs and won a conference title. You can’t do that unless you have a real good quarterback. Like all football teams, the quarterback is usually the leader and Danny was great in the leadership role.”

Part of that leadership role was making up for Smith’s early-season absence by becoming East Forsyth’s top running threat. Willert said O’Brien embraced his role as a running quarterback.

“He’s more of a football-speed guy. He doesn’t have blazing speed at all; he’s maybe a 4.7 kid,” Willert said. “But he is an athletic quarterback. A lot of people thought he was a straight dropback passer, but we surprised a lot of people by running him. ... And he didn’t have any problem [with running the ball]. He just wanted to win. ... Once again, it was just a sign of leadership. He didn’t care how he did it. He just wanted to win.”

O’Brien’s success running the football complemented his improvement as a passer. Willert was impressed by O’Brien’s football IQ.

“He could read the defenses a lot better,” Willert said. “Having been in the offense another year, he knows the offense probably as good as me, if not better. It was like having another coach out there.”

Willert said O’Brien is looking forward to his arrival in College Park, where he’ll likely compete with Jamarr Robinson and classmate C.J. Brown for the starting quarterback job in 2010.

“Danny just wants to go up there and win. That’s one of the reasons he picked Maryland,” Willert said. “He felt he could go up there and win. And he likes the idea of competition. It’s something that will work very well for him.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:12 PM | | Comments (2)
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December 15, 2008

Season recap: David Mackall

The senior season of Edmondson defensive end and Maryland commitment David Mackall wasn't without complication.

According to Edmondson head coach Dante Jones, Mackall battled through an injury throughout the majority of his season.

“He sprained his wrist probably Week 3, and he played through the whole season with the wrist the way it was,” Jones said. “... He was in excruciating pain, but he wanted it. He’s the type of kid that wants it. He wanted to play that bad.”

Mackall battled through the pain to record 91 tackles, six sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, helping Edmondson to an 8-4 record. The Red Storm fell to Eastern Tech in the Class 2A North Regional championship game.

Jones thinks Mackall’s game and the emotion with which he plays makes him tailor-made for Maryland’s LEO position, a combination linebacker-defensive end.

“He’s a kid that plays with his heart out. He lays his heart out there every game; he goes all out,” Jones said. “He’s an extremely aggressive kid. The position that Maryland will have him play is the LEO position and it’s the perfect position for him. It fits him so well. He can put his hand down and come off the edge or stand up and read plays [and react].”

With the graduation of Trey Covington, there’s the possibility of early playing time for Mackall next season.

“He has an opportunity to come in and play, depending on how ready he is,” Jones said. “The ball actually lies in his court and he has to come in and perform. We tell the kids that redshirting is not a bad thing. At the same time, you want to put the pressure on the coaches to make the decision. Don’t make the decision for him. [So David’s] going to let the chips fall where they may.”

Mackall was only recently elevated to three-star status by Rivals.com, which also ranked him the country’s No. 25 strongside defensive end. Still, Jones said Mackall’s gotten used to playing under the radar, something he’ll continue to use to his advantage in College Park.

“He’ll do well at the next level,” Jones said. “In life sometimes you just have to prove some people wrong. You might not have as many stars behind you [compared with others], but each time you get on the field you can prove people wrong. That’s exactly what David does.”

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December 11, 2008

Season recap: Ryan Schlieper

Maryland offensive line commitment Ryan Schlieper had his work cut out for him as a senior.

Schlieper, a 6-foot-5, 278-pound left tackle, was expected to play a major role for North Allegheny (Pa.) this season. But that role was expanded in a hurry, according to Tigers head coach Art Walker.

“We had an injury to our right tackle in the first week,” Walker said. “So for the next three weeks, we [ran to the left side the majority of the time]. People knew we were going that way and Ryan still got the job done. If we needed someone to pull, week in and week out, he rose to the occasion and got it done. Whenever we were down a guy and limited running the ball effectively, he responded completely.”

Schlieper, a captain, helped North Allegheny (6-5) to the second round of the playoffs. For his efforts, Schlieper was named to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Fabulous 22, a list honoring the top high school football players in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League and Pittsburgh City League.

“He was fantastic,” Walker said. “He did a good job as a junior, but he really had a great year this year. His pass blocking improved, his run blocking improved. He had a great year.”

Walker thinks Schlieper will be an asset to future Maryland offensive lines thanks to his versatility. While he played tackle in high school, there’s a chance Schlieper could fill any O-line role in college.

“They’re bringing him in as an offensive lineman,” Walker said. “They’re looking at him first as a tackle. But, if need be, they can move him to the guard position.

“He’s a big kid with the frame to put on weight. He’s very marketable from a standpoint that he’s athletic for his size. ... He could probably play any spot up front on the offensive line.”

Walker said Schlieper is a tireless worker who will likely spend the majority of his remaining high school days in the weight room. Walker said there’s no doubt in his mind that Schlieper will arrive in College Park ready for the challenge.

“He’s a smart, hard worker who puts the time in. He’ll be prepared,” Walker said. “He’s a lineman, so he’s not one of those guys that looks for accolades or needs to hear his name called. He’s more worried about the team and doing his part to make sure the ultimate goal -- winning the game -- is accomplished.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:42 AM | | Comments (0)
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December 9, 2008

Season recap: Pete deSouza

Maryland offensive tackle commitment Pete deSouza and his DeMatha football team found themselves in an unfamiliar position earlier this fall.

The powerhouse Stags were routed by Good Counsel, 42-21, before 5,000-plus fans and an ESPN2 audience on Oct. 2.

“We were basically embarrassed in that ballgame on national TV,” DeMatha head coach Bill McGregor said. “We gave up 28 points in the first quarter. In all my years at DeMatha, that had never happened to us. We had to go back and look at that going through the season. We all just made a total commitment to come out and do whatever we could to right the ship. Pete, without a doubt, was instrumental in righting the ship. He was a leader; a vocal leader at times. He led by example and he was very positive in terms of what we did.”

What DeMatha did, according to McGregor, was run approximately 70 percent of its offense behind deSouza at right tackle. The Stags reeled off six straight wins, setting up a rematch with Good Counsel for the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship.

This time around, deSouza and the Stags were ready, claiming their sixth consecutive conference crown with a 34-7 win over Good Counsel. McGregor said deSouza was instrumental in the team’s title win.

“We had the ball on Good Counsel’s 35-yard line,” McGregor said. “We ran an outside zone play and Pete just literally dominated his guy, took him totally off the ball and buried him. What happened was our tailback -- instead of taking it outside -- there was such a gash on Pete’s side that he just cut it back inside and went 32 yards for the touchdown to give us a 21-7 lead. It was a total domination type of block. From 14-7 to 21-7, that play changed the whole complexion of the game. ... I know without Pete, we’re not where we are right now as WCAC football champions.”

McGregor said deSouza got better every week throughout his senior season. deSouza’s work ethic is arguably his strongest asset, McGregor said.

“Pete just goes out and works. He would work hard in practice and he would work hard in the weight room during the offseason,” McGregor said. “He’s a good kid and just basically does whatever we ask him to do. ... Football means a lot to him. He was a co-captain every week of the season and he wants to excel. Like I told Coach Friedgen; with a year in the weight room and another year of learning, there’s a possibility of Pete becoming a three-year starter at the University of Maryland.”

If all goes according to plan, McGregor thinks deSouza’s Maryland career could play out like another former DeMatha lineman.

“I think he’s going to be a whole lot like [UM senior center] Edwin Williams,” McGregor said. “Edwin’s had a great career at the University of Maryland. He was just named All-ACC. He always did what he was supposed to do, and I think Pete will be the same exact type of player. He’s very coachable and humble. He’ll work to be successful. He’ll do all the little things to make things good for himself and the football team. He’s a total team player.”

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December 8, 2008

Season recap: Darin Drakeford

There weren't many restful moments on the football field this fall for Maryland linebacker commitment Darin Drakeford.

The 6-foot, 220-pounder did it all for Theodore Roosevelt (D.C.) this season, starting at linebacker, returning kicks and punts, and rotating between running back, wide receiver and tight end on offense.

“He was the consummate athlete,” Roosevelt head coach Daryl Tilghman said. “He’s very coachable. You didn’t have to tell him more than once how to do things. He was quick to understand what we were trying to do. He understood our concepts offensively and defensively very well. Maryland will have a good time working with him.”

A year after setting a new school record with 22 sacks at defensive end, Drakeford moved to linebacker and led the Rough Riders (5-6) with 91 solo tackles, 33 assists and 14 sacks. On offense, Drakeford rushed for 768 yards and 10 touchdowns on 37 carries. He also caught 22 passes for 422 yards and four touchdowns.

For his efforts, Drakeford last week was named Washington D.C.’s Gatorade Player of the Year. Tilghman was most impressed by Drakeford’s speed and explosion this season.

“He was probably one of the fastest guys in the conference,” Tilghman said. “You very rarely saw him get caught from behind, and if he did [get caught] ... nine out of 10 times it was due to fatigue from playing all the different positions.”

Drakeford was ranked as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com before the season. Tilghman believes there’s an explanation for the low rating.

“I think they didn’t have any video of him,” Tilghman said. “We sent them some [recently], so I guess that’ll probably push him up [in the rankings]. We went to a couple of camps, but didn’t go to enough of them. ... I think he played exceptionally well [this season]. He had a lot of postseason accolades.”

Tilghman said Drakeford hopes to add at least 10 pounds to his 220-pound frame before moving on to College Park. If that happens, Tilghman thinks there’s a possibility Drakeford could see the field as a true freshman.

“I think he’ll bring a little electricity to the Maryland football program,” Tilghman said. “He’s a playmaker a lot of schools would love to have. He’s a kid that, once you tell him ‘you’re on your own and you need to carry yourself in this manner,’ he’s someone you won’t have to think or worry about twice. ... He’s a kid everybody would love to have.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:34 AM | | Comments (1)
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December 3, 2008

Season recap: Avery Graham

Clarksburg head coach Larry Hurd knew he could count on Avery Graham when the Coyotes needed a big play.

Never was this more evident than during Clarksburg’s Week 4 showdown with Wootton, when Graham, a Maryland defensive back recruit, had arguably the best game of his senior season.

“We came into playing Wootton High School at a time when they were the real talk of the state,” Hurd said. “They had just played Quince Orchard extremely close. We got the ball to start the game and they kicked it through the end zone. We start at the 20 and Avery took a very simple dive, got through the line of scrimmage and went 80 yards untouched to the end zone with explosion. He had 260 yards that game ... and I believe 13 tackles. He’s just that type of player. He’s capable of making explosive plays at any time.”

Clarksburg put together an undefeated regular season before falling to Middletown in the first round of the 2A state playoffs. Graham rushed for a 57-yard touchdown in the Coyotes’ 21-7 loss.

On defense, Graham recorded 84 tackles, three sacks and four interceptions. He returned one pick for a touchdown. At running back, Graham rushed for 620 yards and four touchdowns on 51 carries. He also caught nine passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns.

Hurd said Graham excelled as a senior despite playing with a large target on his back. It was common knowledge that Graham was Maryland’s first verbal commitment for the 2009 recruiting class.

“I think it was something that he had to live with on a daily basis,” Hurd said. “Everybody’s asking, ‘Who is this guy? What is Maryland getting?’ Well Maryland’s getting, if not the fastest kid in the state, they’re getting a tremendously great athlete.”

Graham did much of his damage on offense for the Coyotes, but he’ll suit up on defense for the Terps. Hurd said Graham will probably start out at cornerback for Maryland.

“We played him at linebacker and running back,” Hurd said. "[Maryland’s] going to be moving him to defensive back, so that’s going to be an adjustment. He’ll be learning the basics of everything with [UM defensive backs coach Kevin] Lempa. But I don’t think Maryland is too concerned with that because they’ll work with him and teach him. He’s got the speed to run with anybody in the nation. I think Maryland got a steal.”

Graham enrolled at Clarksburg in 2006, the school’s first year of existence. He joined Hurd’s Coyotes for his junior and senior seasons, and helped put the fledgling football program on the Montgomery County map. For that, Hurd will always be grateful.

“I’m always going to have a special spot for Avery,” Hurd said. “He’s a very good young man. He’s worked very hard. He’s done a lot of great things for our program. He’s going to be the first [Clarksburg football player] that went to a major BCS school. We’re real excited about that. We hope that we get some more players [that will play DI football]. I don’t know if we’re going to have athletes as good as Avery. But maybe some will follow in his footsteps.”

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December 2, 2008

Season recap: DeOnte Arnett

With Forestville's playoff hopes hanging in the balance, Maryland defensive end commitment DeOnte Arnett had his best game of the year.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder helped the Knights to a 14-0 win over Crossland on Nov. 1, keeping Forestville in playoff contention.

“It was a game we needed late in the year,” Forestville head coach Charles Harley said. “He had four sacks alone in that game, three tackles behind the line of scrimmage and he caused [a couple] fumbles. He had a real killer game.”

Forestville won the following week against Fairmont Heights to qualify for the postseason. The Knights were defeated in the first round by Dunbar.

Arnett recorded approximately 59 tackles, 13 sacks, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries for 5-6 Forestville, according to Harley.

“He was double-teamed, triple-teamed; teams were running away from him the whole year,” Harley said. “It was frustrating for him [getting avoided] but he still had a pretty good year.”

Harley said Arnett, who projects as a rush end on the weak side in college, has one of the quickest first steps he’s ever seen.

“His explosiveness [is a major asset],” Harley said. “He gets off the ball faster than 99 percent of the players he played against.”

Arnett plans on graduating from Forestville in December and enrolling at Maryland in January. He’ll join former Forestville standouts Kevin Dorsey and Devonte Campbell -- both mid-year enrollees from last year -- in College Park.

“It wasn’t an easy transition for Dorsey, but he made things work out,” Harley said. “Knowing that he’s there will make it a lot easier for DeOnte.”

Harley said he expects Arnett to endear himself to Maryland fans pretty soon upon his arrival.

“He’s a hard-working young man who goes to class and who won’t get caught up in dumb things,” Harley said. “He plays hard every play.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:29 AM | | Comments (3)
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December 1, 2008

Season recap: Justin Anderson

Maryland defensive line commitment Justin Anderson wasn’t accustomed to losing during his high school career at Blythewood (S.C.).

The Bengals compiled a 24-game winning streak dating back to Anderson’s sophomore season. So when Blythewood started the 2008 season 0-2, Anderson did his best to lead the Bengals out of that unfamiliar territory.

“We started off losing to Fairfield Central and Crestwood. They were bad games for leadership, but Justin stepped up to lead,” said Blythewood head coach Geremy Saitz. “Then we were playing Richland Northeast. They have about three or four [Division 1 recruits] every year. It’s a good, strong, traditional football program.

“We were up 12-7 and they were driving at the end of the game. On about fourth-and-2, Justin just broke through the offensive line and tackled [the running back] for a 3-yard loss. We won the next four games after that. That just turned the tables for us in the season. Justin put a lot on his shoulders. He got to man up enough to carry us.”

Blythewood, which lost 10 offensive starters from the 2007 team, finished 5-5 this year. Anderson, 6 feet 5, 265 pounds, recorded 34 solo tackles, 17 assists, two sacks, nine quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one blocked kick. According to Saitz, Blythewood’s Anderson-led defense kept the team in games.

“He’s always been a hard worker. He really controls the line of scrimmage,” Saitz said. “His reach with his height and how he uses his hands to separate from offensive blockers have been his best assets on the defensive line. He works really hard and he’s been a beast in the weight room. He’s always getting stronger.”

Anderson picked the Terps over interest from Kentucky and Marshall, among others. According to Saitz, some schools were wary of recruiting Anderson due to shaky academics, but those concerns have since been alleviated thanks to a much-improved effort in the classroom.

Saitz said a recent incident involving Anderson, some of teammates and an academic advisor exemplified Anderson’s maturity.

“We had a couple seniors [that showed a] lack of leadership, and they were being disrespectful to her (the academic advisor),” Saitz said. “Justin’s always been a silent leader, but this was a time he just told them, ‘ya’ll aren’t acting right.’ He stood up and just jumped all over these guys, just talking. He let them know it wasn’t right to treat someone that way. That just shows his character. He’s a top-notch character guy.”

Click here for Anderson's commitment story.

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November 25, 2008

Season recap: Isaiah Ross

When Tom Green took the head coaching job at Eleanor Roosevelt last winter after seven seasons at Surrattsville, he had some initial, minor concerns about his new team buying into his system.

But according to Green, Maryland commitment Isaiah Ross helped erase those concerns immediately.

“He was absolutely [a leader],” Green said. “He wasn’t the most verbal guy; he’s more show by example. But being here and working hard, showing a lot of respect to the coaches he really didn’t know -- that helped the other kids follow. He just works hard and leads by example.”

Ross recorded 70 tackles, 12.5 sacks and two interceptions during the regular season, while also catching two passes for 15 yards on offense. Green said Ross made a habit of terrorizing opposing offensive lines throughout the Raiders’ 10-1 season.

“The thing is, you had to double-team him to stop him from making big plays,” Green said. “If you double-team him, our ‘backers were free, so he dominated offensive linemen this year. We had a few close games and on fourth-and-short he made big plays in the backfield on a few occasions. When it’s third-and-1 or fourth-and-1, he made plays behind the line of scrimmage.”

Green said he thinks Ross was the best defensive lineman in Prince George’s County this season. At Maryland, the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Ross will probably play the Leo position -- a hybrid linebacker/defensive end. Green thinks Ross’ skill-set could result in early playing time in College Park.

“He has a strong lower body, good leverage and great balance,” Green said. “Those are the things he brings. And he’s a smart football player. He makes very good adjustments on the field. Sometimes teams run a different formation and he can kind of adjust on the fly.

“[The Maryland coaches] see his size and ability right now and his feet are so quick, he could possibly come in and contribute right away. ... We’ve talked to [the Terps coaches] several times throughout the season. We’ve both gone up to games. They’re really looking forward to having him and I think it’ll be a great fit.”

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November 20, 2008

Season recap: C.J. Brown

When Seneca Valley (Pa.) football coach Ron Butschle thinks back on quarterback C.J. Brown’s senior season, his mind drifts to the Raiders’ Week 2 game against Erie McDowell.

Playing before a raucous home crowd and regional television audience, Brown, a Maryland commitment, led the Raiders to a 38-33 win. He went 25-of-37 for 305 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while also rushing for 80 yards and three scores on 19 carries.

“[It was a] Thursday night game on Fox Sports Net, their game of the week on TV,” Butschle said. “We had lost our first game by a field goal. We didn’t play very well in our first game. [The game against Erie McDowell] was a high-scoring game. C.J. just kind of took us on his back. We were up and we were down. Every time they would score, we would score. ... The Erie McDowell game was probably his best game. It was the first game where he really came out as a leader.”

Seneca Valley finished 4-5 on the year. Butschle said the defense, which replaced 10 starters from a year ago, had a tough time stopping more physical teams. But Brown kept the team competitive by leading a dynamic Raiders offense.

Brown, 6-3, 200 pounds, completed 149 passes on 269 attempts, throwing for 2,154 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran for 640 yards and 12 touchdowns on 131 carries. Brown accounted for all but seven of Seneca Valley’s touchdowns on the season.

“When teams looked at our offense, they had to prepare for C.J.,” Butschle said. “He was just head and shoulders above everybody else on the field athletically. The way he handled pressure, escaping pressure; he took some shots this year. He’s an awfully tough kid. He didn’t miss a down. He got his bell rung, but he didn’t miss one play. He ran the ball an awful lot, too. He was our leading rusher. ... I believe during the spring he ran a 4.5 down at Maryland. C.J. is football fast, although he’d probably be track fast, too. There were a couple times he just kicked to another gear and just pulled away from people.”

Brown received a lot of attention from the local media during the early parts of the season. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called Brown one of Western Pennsylvania’s next great quarterbacks. But Butschle said the press didn’t faze Brown.

“C.J. handles pressure very, very well,” Butschle said. “The college game is obviously a completely different animal. I think there are some kids built, physically and mentally, for that transition. I definitely think C.J. is built for that. He doesn’t get real wide-eyed. He gets excited about playing. But he was never a kid coming off the sidelines hyperventilating or pissed off. He’s very level headed, very coachable in practice and during the games. He responded well to adjustments made at halftime or on the fly. His demeanor and ability are two things that are going to translate into success at Maryland.”

When Brown committed to Maryland in April, Akron was his only other scholarship offer. Right after the start of Brown’s big senior season, other schools began to inquire, namely Pittsburgh and Boston College. But Brown never thought about considering other options, Butschle said.

“C.J. made it very clear to people when he committed to Maryland that he was really committed,” Butschle said. “I think once schools really understood that, [they backed off]. I haven’t gotten very many calls about C.J. lately. I think a lot of schools really respected that C.J. said, ‘I’m happy with my decision, I’m going to Maryland.’ [Colleges have said], ‘Tell him if he changes his mind, we’d love to talk to him.’ I had spoken to C.J. and his dad. Not that they minded other schools calling, but they wanted me to be somewhat of a buffer. With their permission, I told a lot of these schools that C.J. had committed and he was happy.”

Butschle said Brown’s excited about his future at Maryland and looks forward to working with offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach James Franklin. Butschle said Franklin will have an eager student in Brown.

“He’s very mature on the field and very mature in the classroom; a guy they can really be proud of to represent Maryland,” Butschle said. “I really can’t say enough things about his personality and character. He’s a great student. Once he learns the system -- and I’m sure his body is going to mature even more in their strength and conditioning program -- I see him being an impact player. I really do.”

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November 18, 2008

Season recap: Eric Franklin

It was the day of the Archbishop Curley-Archbishop Spalding game, and Friars coach Sean Murphy was forced to do some last-minute scrambling.

Curley assistant Warren Schwartz had to miss the game to be with his ailing mother, leaving Murphy without a defensive coordinator.

In Schwartz’s absence, Murphy turned to his captain, Maryland safety commitment Eric Franklin.

“The day of the game, we had gotten word that Coach [Schwartz] wasn’t going to be there, as she was passing,” Murphy said. “I had talked to Eric probably at about one o’clock; just a few hours before kickoff. He got together with one of our defensive assistants and kind of went through a game plan, just making adjustments and [deciding] how they would handle things. He made a lot of the calls on the field, with coverages and getting our defense in certain formations.”

Curley fell to Spalding, 27-20 in two overtimes, that day. But Franklin did his part, picking off one pass and leading the defense on the field.

“He’s always trying to find ways to pick kids up, and they respect him,” Murphy said. “They know he’s not only an outstanding football player, but he’s also very smart. He knows the defense as well as any of the coaches and gets our kids in the right position.

“I think he was a little more of a leader by example this year. He was much more vocal, made sure his presence was felt. Kids were more aware of him ... I think he stepped up and knew his role, knew when it was important to take more control of the team. He assumed his leadership role really well.”

As a senior, Franklin recorded approximately 80 tackles and seven interceptions, helping Curley to an 8-3 record. He also caught 13 passes and three touchdowns from the tight end position. Murphy said he thinks Franklin, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound prospect, projects as a free safety in college.

“I think [Maryland is] looking at him as a free safety,” Murphy said. “They also want to see how much weight he puts on. He might be a linebacker, but right now his best position is free safety. He has good field awareness and excellent hands. Not many people are going to get past him running the football. He’s a very good open-field tackler.”

Murphy said Franklin, a 4.0 student who also plays basketball and runs track, needs more time in the weight room before contributing on the field for the Terps. But Murphy is confident Franklin will make a positive impact off the field as soon as he arrives in College Park.

“As I told [the Maryland] coaches, those guys will be able to sleep at night,” Murphy said. “They’re not going to worry about him not doing well academically or partying. He keeps it all in perspective. He’s a good role model and he’s going to do some great things down there.”

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April 23, 2008

Season recap: Tyree Evans

Bobby Steinburg knew exactly what he was getting when he recruited Tyree Evans to Motlow State (Tenn.) Community College.

Evans, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound shooting guard, had just parted ways with Butler (Kan.) Community College after a season in which he averaged 19 points per game. Thanks to Evans’ well-documented troubled past, more than a few eyebrows were probably raised at Steinburg’s new addition to the Bucks’ roster.

But Steinburg, who had just completed his first season as Motlow’s head coach, was confident that Evans’ troubles were behind him.

“I think that he was confident that all that stuff was behind him and he came in and acted like a grown man,” Steinburg said. “I didn't have any worries about him when I brought him in. ... It wasn't like he was trying to brown-nose to make me believe that he was going to be a good kid.”

Steinburg was also positive that Evans would make a major impact on the court.

“I knew what I was getting and that's exactly what I got -- a guy that can score the ball and lead his team to victory,” Steinburg said. “I knew how good he was so it wasn't like he came in and exceeded expectations.”

Evans, who signed with Maryland last week, averaged 21.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists for Motlow, which finished 28-5. He also shot 45 percent from the field, and 44 percent from three-point range.

“He could've scored 40 (points per game) if he wanted to,” Steinburg said. “We had other guys on this team. We had a lot of double-digit scorers. ... Tyree was obviously our primary scorer, but it wasn't like he had to score 40 points a night. We had other options.”

According to Steinburg, Maryland initially expressed interest in Evans during his freshman season at Butler. When Evans moved on to Motlow, the Terps already had an in -- when Steinburg was an assistant at UC Davis, UM assistant Robert Ehsan was one of his players. Steinburg also had a good relationship with Terps assistant Chuck Driesell.

Steinburg said choosing Maryland wasn’t a tough decision for Evans. With two years of junior college experience and available playing time, Evans is expected to contribute immediately as a junior in College Park. Steinburg thinks he’s ready to “be a scoring threat in the ACC.”

“He’s just a scorer, a big-time shooter with unlimited range,” Steinburg said. “He’s strong, understands the game. He understands how to get to the basket. He’s got a good first step. He just has a unique ability to put the ball in the basket. He’s a good on ball defender as well.”

While Steinburg was confident that Evans’ off-the-court problems were behind him once he enrolled at Motlow, he’s aware that some Maryland fans might have some reservations. Steinburg said he thinks Evans will quickly alleviate those concerns.

“You can't believe everything you read and he's a good kid,” Steinburg said. “He’s got a big heart and I think that the people in the community and administration will enjoy having him there. I know they will.”

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April 8, 2008

Season recap: Bobby Maze

Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College point guard Bobby Maze started his lone season at the junior college level with a fairly prominent target on his back.

Having left Oklahoma after his freshman season and resurfacing at Hutch as a sophomore, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Suitland native was well-known among JuCo players, coaches and fans before he ever suited up for the Blue Dragons.

But according to Hutchinson head coach Ryan Swanson, Maze not only embraced that spotlight -- he thrived in it.

“Bobby started the year at an extremely high level,” Swanson said. “He had some 30-point games for us early, he had some 12- and 13-assist games early, and he never got tired. He never fell off. I would say he might’ve gotten a little bit better at deciding when he needed to score and when he needed to get his teammates more involved. Bobby is a pass-first guy, but he knew we needed him to score.

“By the end of the year he got really good at reading what the defense was giving him. Some teams would box-and-one him, or do anything they could to not let him get 30 points, but then he’d get a bunch of assists. So he was a very good teammate in that regard.”

When Maze verbally committed to Maryland in December, his already high profile was elevated to another degree.

“Oh yeah, a lot was made of [Maze’s commitment to Maryland], especially when he had so many good games early,” Swanson said. “After we started out of conference after Christmas -- and that was about the time he committed to Maryland -- that was another bit of bulletin board material for another team. Hutch is one of only three junior colleges in the country with 1,500 wins. There’s a lot of tradition here and a lot of championships. As a team, we’re used to getting everybody’s best shot anyway, just like Bobby was individually getting everybody’s best shot.”

Maze responded to ‘everybody’s best shot’ by averaging 20.7 points, 6.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. He also shot 50.5 percent from the field, leading Hutchinson to a 23-9 record. For his efforts, Maze was named Most Valuable Player for the Jayhawk Conference Western Division.

Swanson said Maze’s play probably helped him immediately ascend to the role of team leader. But beyond that, Maze’s attitude and work ethic was embraced by his teammates and the coaching staff.

“Bobby was clearly our best player, but I think the guys also respected Bobby because he was also our hardest worker,” Swanson said. “He always stayed after practice to work on his game and encouraged others to do the same. So it was an easy transition for him. The thing that I appreciated about Bobby was that he didn’t come in thinking that junior college was beneath him like a lot of guys who transfer from Division I do.”

Swanson thinks Maze’s experience at Oklahoma and Hutchinson will help make his transition to Maryland rather seamless.

“I would think that he would have a lot easier time than most junior college players for two reasons; one is because he’s extremely talented, and two because he’s already been at the high-major level and been productive at that level,” Swanson said. “The talent level of the opponents, even though it’s going to go up drastically, is not something he’s never seen before. This is a kid who guarded [Kansas point guard] Sherron Collins and people like that. By no means will he be intimidated.”

Maze is currently finishing up his associate’s degree requirements. After that task is complete, Maze will enroll at College Park, completing a circuitous path which took him from Suitland to Patterson Prep (N.C.) to Oklahoma to Hutchinson. Swanson thinks Maze is finally ready to return to his home state.

“Right now he’s just focusing on trying to finish up academically strong,” Swanson said. “And he’s excited. It’s a chance to go back to playing in one of the best conferences in the country and a chance to go home to play. I think he’s extremely excited to go home and play.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:44 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

April 1, 2008

Season recap: Dee Liles

Maryland women’s basketball commitment Dee Liles will suit up for the Terps next season with an already impressive resume.

During her sophomore season, Liles helped lead Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College to the National Junior College Athletic Association championship. She earned MVP honors at the NJCAA tournament. And Liles was named Junior College Player of the Year.

Liles, a 6-foot forward, averaged 11.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game during Gulf Coast’s regular season. But according to Commodores head coach Roonie Scovel, those numbers were a little deceiving.

“You would have to look beyond the numbers because she was one of five kids averaging double-figures,” Scovel said. “What made her so special was her presence on the court. We probably wouldn't have been as successful without her. She had to guard so many positions. Her athleticism is what separates her -- that's the bottom line. She's a phenomenal athlete and I don't know if there’s a better athlete than her on the college level.”

Liles saved her best performances of the year for the NJCAA tournament. The Suitland native averaged 12.8 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals during the four-game tournament. Scovel said those four games were the culmination of her two years at Gulf Coast.

“I thought she was the most consistent that I've seen her in two years -- the most consistent production and effort in two years,” Scovel said. “... She seemed to be real focused on that task at hand.”

There’s been some debate about what Liles’ best position at the next level would be. At 6-foot, maybe 6-foot-1, she’s a touch undersized for forward. But while initially Scovel thought size would be a concern, she’s now changed her tune.

“We were concerned her freshman year that she’d have to improve [her outside game] to play on the perimeter, but I've changed my thoughts on that,” Scovel said. “Even though she's undersized, her athleticism makes her play much bigger. I think she'll be able to work in the post and in the perimeter some. She hit some really nice perimeter shots. All of our [NJCAA tournament] games were close, and she hit baseline jumpers, shots from the free throw line. She's very, very quick, and has an unbelievable ability to jump.”

On the defensive end, Liles’ size shouldn’t be a concern at all, according to Scovel.

“The athleticism, the ability to get rebounds off the rim and defend -- she's such a tremendous defender,” Scovel said. “Taking charges seems to be a lost art, but she's very good at that. She can take away the lane and block shots. She’s a tremendous shot-blocker, and we’re going to miss the athleticism. You don't get players to come along that often that have that type of athleticism.”

Scovel said she’ll miss Liles’ basketball IQ and athleticism next year. But she thinks Liles is ready to take that next step.

“I think she’s going to do fine,” Scovel said. “She trained with Team USA, made it to training camp there, so she's played with the best of the best. She was one of the finalists [to make the team], so she’s obviously shown that she's a top athlete that can play at the next level. She's going to have to consistently do it on a day-to-day basis to keep with the success [Maryland’s] having.

“She's going to a place that's got tremendous basketball players, but she's coming from one well-diversified team and going to another,” Scovel said. “Of course I think they’re losing some of that, so I'm sure they'll expect her to give them quality minutes. She's not going to have to change the things she does, but she’ll step it up to play in the ACC.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:25 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Season recaps
        

March 26, 2008

Season recap: Jin Soo Kim

Jin Soo Kim’s junior season at South Kent (Conn.) School was a pretty eventful one.

In October, the 6-foot-8 small forward committed to Maryland, becoming the Terps’ first commitment of the 2009 class.

Then in mid-January, South Kent head coach Raphael Chillious took a job with Nike’s grassroots basketball division. Chillious left South Kent, handing the reigns to the Cardinals program to longtime assistant and school athletic director Owen Finberg.

Those events were two pretty substantial moments for Kim, a native of Korea who came to the United States for school about four years ago. But according to Finberg, Kim handled this year of transition well.

“Jin Soo really took a big step forward this year,” Finberg said. “In the past, he’s had trouble adjusting to the strength and the speed of the game and he caught up with all that this year. He was ready to play on a nightly basis -- he really came in with an attitude that he was going to make a mark on this team every game out. I think the areas that he improved in the most were his rebounding, certainly. That was probably his biggest improvement. And he improved defensively as well. On the defensive side, he still has a long way to go and a lot of that is due to his lack of strength at this point.”

Kim averaged 12.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and one block per game for South Kent, which finished 17-17.

On a team that featured multiple future Division I players, including Washington-bound point guard Isaiah Thomas and Virginia signee Assane Sene, Kim more than held his own.

“He stepped into the role where he’s more of an impact player, starting 80 or 90 percent of our games,” Finberg said. “He handles that pretty well. Obviously, he’d like to get more shots. Isaiah kind of dominated the offense this year, being our point guard and best offensive player. But [Kim] adjusted well.”

Whether Kim was starting or coming off the bench, Finberg could always count on the future Terp to showcase his shooting ability.

“That’s what he does best. His stroke is pure,” Finberg said. “He shot the ball very well. He can really flat-out shoot. One of the other things he improved upon was his confidence -- being ready to go in and make an impact in the game. When he came with that mindset, he really did a nice job shooting the ball for us.”

Right now Kim’s plans for the summer are “a little bit up in the air,” according to Finberg. While South Kent has just resumed its semester following spring break, Kim remains in Korea, where he’s enrolled in a SAT prep class. He'll be back in Connecticut soon, but according to Finberg, Kim’s exploring his options for next year.

“He’s considering the option of being at Maryland next year if that’s possible to do,” Finberg said. “It’s kind of a long shot, but he’s one of the players that’s had the most trouble with the [coaching] transition [at South Kent]. Coach Chillious brought him in, and I think [Jin Soo] really kind of felt left hanging by the whole deal, even though he didn’t express it that way. So he’s looking at that option to really see what he can do.”

Finberg acknowledged that Maryland’s scholarship situation makes Kim enrolling early at College Park an especially unlikely scenario, but it’s not completely out of the question. Finberg ultimately expects Kim to suit up for the Albany (N.Y.) City Rocks AAU team this summer, and be back for his senior year at South Kent in the fall. In the past, Kim has returned to Korea during the summer, but Finberg expects he’ll stay in Connecticut, play AAU ball and participate in a few camps.

Between now and senior year, Finberg expects Kim to continue putting in long hours at the South Kent weight room and in the gym. But as far as Kim’s development is concerned, Finberg says he’s on the right track.

“Most of all, I’m just happy he’s continued his improvement and maturation,” Finberg said. “If he continues on that pace, he’s certainly got a very good chance to be a pro. I just look for him to continue to improve, and I think Maryland’s going to be a great place for him to do that.”

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

March 6, 2008

Season recap: Lynetta Kizer

It wasn’t the ideal ending to Maryland women’s basketball commitment Lynetta Kizer’s career.

Kizer’s Potomac (Va.) squad dropped a 60-41 decision to George Washington-Danville in a Northwest Region semifinal playoff.

Kizer, who contributed 17 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and three assists in the effort, was ejected in the waning minutes of Potomac’s loss after receiving her second technical of the game.

According to Potomac head coach Mike Wilson, who was also ejected from the game, Kizer might have been a bit overzealous in her career finale, but the passion she exhibited was just an example of her competitive nature.

“I’m sure it was a frustrating situation on her part as well as mine,” Wilson said. “… But I think she’s the kind of girl that can get you up for a game. She’s got a lot of energy, a lot of passion for the game and that’s what makes her the player that she is. She loves basketball.”

The 6-foot-3 Kizer, ranked as HoopGurlz.com’s No. 5 player in the country for the class of 2008, averaged 20.6 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, 2.5 assists and 2 steals per game as a senior. Her play propelled Potomac to a 15-10 record and a postseason appearance in the Virginia Group AAA Northwest Region Tournament.

In Wilson’s three years as head coach of Potomac, he’s seen the team’s play improve as Kizer has matured. The evidence of this can be found in the Panthers’ Cardinal District finishes during Kizer’s final three high school seasons.

“Each year we improved as a team,” Wilson said. “We went from last place [in Kizer’s sophomore year], to third place [her junior year] to second place [this year]. We played in the postseason [this year]. In the past two years, we really didn’t beat any good teams. This year we beat good teams and had the opportunity to play against some of the better teams in the Washington area and it was because of her. She kept us in every game by playing hard and doing the things we asked her to do.”

Potomac held its end-of-the-year banquet this week, celebrating the Panthers’ successes and Kizer’s career. For Wilson, the event was bittersweet because he was saying goodbye to his star player, but the event was an appropriate send-off/celebration that nearly choked him up.

“It’s the same girl I saw when I first entered Potomac -- just very excited,” Wilson said. “She was our most valuable player, so I mentioned all her accolades. Just when I was getting started, the crowd starting to clap. I had goose bumps because it was a situation where I was very proud of her, and just trying to give her her due as one of the top players in the nation.”

Kizer’s played most of her Potomac career with a target placed squarely on her back. Her commitment to Maryland enhanced that, as did her top-five ranking. But according to Wilson, Kizer never let the hype affect her.

“I think she’s real humble,” Wilson said. “And that’s the thing -- we know that she’s one of the top five players in the country, but that rarely comes up in conversations. And when we deal with the team, it rarely comes up. To us, she’s just Lynetta. We don’t really pay attention to all that kind of stuff.”

Wilson and Kizer have, however, paid close attention to Maryland’s on-court successes this season. Kizer has been a frequent Comcast Center visitor as a high school senior. Once Kizer adjusts to the speed of the college game, Wilson expects his star to make a significant impact in College Park.

“Well the first thing I expect her to do is get down there in the summer and work her butt off,” Wilson said. “I expect her to be a big contributor. With [Crystal] Langhorne and [Laura] Harper leaving, she can step in right away and contribute.

“I just hope she goes there and just tears things up just like she did here at Potomac. I hope she has a lot of success because she deserves it. And I hope she gets the accolades she deserves as a player and a person. She is our MVP. I was proud and happy to have her as a player and as a student-athlete at Potomac.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:37 AM | | Comments (0)
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March 4, 2008

Season recap: Dara Taylor

Before this season, Caravel (Del.) Academy girls basketball coach Kristin Caldwell had multiple discussions with junior point guard Dara Taylor about her role on the team.

Caldwell wanted Taylor, who committed to Maryland in December, to take on more of a leadership role. Up until her junior year, Taylor had let her play do the talking, often deferring to her older teammates. That wasn’t the case this year.

“I think she used to be the type of kid as a freshman and a sophomore who’d get really frustrated with her own mistakes to the point where she couldn’t help other players because she was frustrated with herself,” Caldwell said. “But this year, she was perfect as a leader. Even if she made a mistake, she was mature enough to know the team needed her to be more vocal, talk to kids and explain things. Sometimes it’s better for her to explain things to the kids [on the court] rather than me taking the timeout. The kids really respond to her and they really respect her.”

Taylor, 5 feet 6, averaged 16 points, 6.5 assists and 5 steals this season for Caravel, which finished 10-11 playing an exceedingly challenging schedule that included out-of-state matchups with powerhouse programs such as Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro), Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.) and St. Michael Academy (New York City).

Taylor’s junior year came to an end last Thursday with a 54-52 loss to Middletown in the second round of the Delaware High School Girls Basketball Tournament. Taylor led Caravel with 22 points, eight assists and five steals in the loss.

Despite the disappointing end to Caravel's season, Caldwell was extremely pleased with Taylor’s play. During those preseason sit-downs with Taylor, Caldwell asked her point guard to be more than just a vocal leader. She also asked Taylor to develop into a scoring point guard – something the pass-first Taylor wasn’t accustomed to.

“I think in AAU, her team (the Philadelphia Belles) is loaded,” Caldwell said. “So she was kind of used to being a ball distributor. They had good kids inside, great kids who can shoot it. And even in my program there were always a few other kids -- she could make plays for them. But [this year] we needed her to score … she became our No. 1 scoring option. Probably our last eight games she scored 20 or more points and really did a great job with that role. Her decision making improved a ton. It proved to her that she is a scoring point guard and that’s what she needed to be.”

For the offseason, Taylor will suit up again for the Philadelphia Belles. Last summer she worked on her offensive game and developing into more of a leader. This year, Caldwell’s got a couple more tasks on the player-development agenda.

“I would really like to see her … work really hard in the weight room,” Caldwell said. “I think, anticipating for her after next year when she gets to Maryland, I’d like to see her get stronger. I’d like to see her keep focusing on improving her three-point shot. I think she hit way more threes this year than the last two. Her pull-up game is really good. But if she improves [her outside shooting] she’ll be even more dangerous on offense.”

Taylor and Caldwell have closely followed Maryland’s season, and the future Terp has made a few visits to College Park for games. But Taylor still has her senior year at Caravel ahead of her, which brings a smile to Caldwell’s face.

“That’s the best thing,” Caldwell said. “I have her for a whole ‘nother year.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:54 PM | | Comments (0)
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December 28, 2007

Season recap: Justin Gilbert

As a 6-foot-2, 215-pound sophomore, the odds of Richmond (Va.) Monacan offensive lineman Justin Gilbert becoming a Division I player at that position were essentially nonexistent.

Two years, four inches and 65 pounds later, Gilbert is the happy beneficiary of a startling growth spurt that allowed him to beat those odds.

According to Danny Parsons, Gilbert’s coach at Monacan, the 6-foot-6, 280-pound Terps offensive tackle commitment is still adapting to that unforeseen body transformation.

“I think he’s still getting used to carrying that weight,” Parsons said. “He got so big so fast. Heck, he might even grow another inch. He might even get to 6-7. ... He’s never been a fat kid or muscled up -- just a tall thinner guy who just kept on growing, got bigger and bigger. He’s never been a big overweight guy or anything like that. You look at him and you can tell he’ll be able to, with [Maryland’s] weight program, that he’ll be able to put on an easy 20-25 pounds.”

During his senior season, Gilbert played both ways for Monacan, accumulating 22 tackles, one quarterback hurry and one forced fumble, despite missing three and a half games on defense due to an ankle injury.

A Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch All-Metro selection, Gilbert helped guide Monacan to a 6-5 record and the program’s first playoff berth since the 2000 season. According to Parsons, Monacan has had several recent players go from prep school or junior college to the Division I level, but Gilbert -- to Parsons’ knowledge -- is the first direct high school to DI Monacan player.

Parsons said Monacan’s on-field success was due in some part to Gilbert’s individual improvement.

“He’s gotten more aggressive,” Parsons said, “and his technique has gotten so much better. He’s always gone to a lot of camps and always worked on his individual techniques as well as hand placement. He also worked on strength in the weight room and he’s gotten quicker in the feet. That’s what [coaches] really look for. He can run a 5.0 40, so he runs pretty well for a kid that size. He’s got some athletic ability.”

Maryland wasn’t the first school to recognize that athletic ability (and size), but the Terps were one of the biggest. Army, East Carolina, Marshall, Richmond and James Madison were some of the schools recruiting Gilbert, and Virginia Tech also came forward with a grayshirt offer.

According to Parsons, the Terps weren’t all that interested in Gilbert based on his tape. But when he came up to College Park for Maryland’s summer camp, the coaches were sold on his potential. One factor that ultimately sold Gilbert on Maryland over Virginia Tech was the business program.

“I know his grades are very good,” Parsons said. “He’s got a GPA higher than a 3.5. He’s a good kid, well liked by teachers, stuff like that. That’s what I told [Maryland offensive line] coach [Tom] Brattan -- he’s a typical offensive lineman. You never hear about an offensive lineman getting in trouble ... so he’s one of those guys. He’s a little bit of a country type kid -- likes to hunt, stuff like that.”

As for football, Parsons has high expectations for his star left tackle when he arrives in College Park, but notes that Gilbert’s development will take some time.

“I talked to coach Brattan, [and Justin's] going to be a redshirt,” Parsons said. “They’ll beef him up, let him learn the systems. As a redshirt freshman, he’s probably not going to crack the lineup then, but as a redshirt sophomore, he’ll crack the two-deep.

“He’s smart, runs well and has good feet. So he has all that going for him. Now he really looks the part. ... I know [Maryland puts] out some good linemen. He’s got that build and I think he’s got the work ethic. Maybe he can even go to the next level. I don’t know if that’s possible, but hey, there’s always a shot.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:26 AM | | Comments (0)
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December 18, 2007

Season recap: Davin Meggett

Before the high school football season, Surrattsville running back and 2008 Maryland football commitment Davin Meggett was known more for his famous father, former New York Giants running back Dave Meggett, than anything else.

But after a season in which Meggett gained 1,784 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns on 169 carries, while also catching nine passes for 410 yards and six touchdowns, it’s probably safe to say he’s made a name for himself.

While Division I schools – save for Maryland – were slow to recognize Meggett’s potential, Surrattsville head coach Tom Green was unsurprised with his star running back’s breakout senior year.

“I was expecting it,” Green said. “But this summer I saw him in person and saw the times he was running. If they didn’t offer, it was like, ‘well, what are you looking for?’ That’s what I was curious about -- the schools that didn’t offer him. Doing the things he was doing, I was a little baffled. But [his season] was expected for me. I knew the kind of talent he had.”

Green said that Meggett has always been fast, noting that he clocked multiple hand-timed 10.8 times in the 100 over the summer. But for some reason, that undefined ‘football speed’ eluded Meggett, particularly on his junior year film.

For whatever reason, that changed prior to Meggett’s senior year.

“I think the game, just playing more football … the game just slowed down for him,” Green said. “Once you know what’s going on and what’s going to happen, you can read the blocks. He made better decisions and trusted where he should go with the ball.”

With Meggett leading a potent Hornets offense, Surrattsville secured its first playoff berth in school history. The team finished with a 10-2 record, falling in the 1A south regional final against eventual state champion Dunbar.

Green describes Meggett as an every-down power back with great speed that can catch the ball out of the backfield. Meggett, a 3.2 student, impressed Green this year beyond the football field as well.

“A lot of his leadership abilities are doing the right things in school, in the hallways and in the classrooms,” Green said. “Helping kids in study hall, tutoring other kids and helping them bring their grades up. A lot of his leadership abilities off the field were probably just as important as what he did on the field.”

While Meggett’s senior year was much better than most expected, Green thinks that flying under the radar suited the future Terp well.

“I’m kind of happy that he was underrated because that made him work hard,” Green said. “He was okay with it. The fact that he did get the offer from Maryland, he knows his work is being recognized.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:03 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Season recaps
        

December 13, 2007

Season recap: Cody Blue

Maryland defensive tackle commitment Cody Blue was a marked man all season long.

Word traveled fast throughout the Howard County high school football scene when Blue, a 6-foot-5, 275-pounder at Wilde Lake, committed to the Terps last May.

So when Blue suited up for the Wildecats this fall, high school football observers might have expected to see a dominating force, something that was neither fair or realistic according to Wilde Lake head coach Doug DuVall.

“It’s always hard because [fans] don’t quite realize that often times big linemen signed to Division I schools are signed for their ability growth-wise, strength-wise,” DuVall said. “So you might find better high school players, but because they’re 5’10 and 195, [they might not play DI]. But they may be a better player at this point.

“[People will think], ‘a kid that big, he just ought to take the whole game over by himself.’ Well he takes his section over, but linemen just don’t [take games over]. ... The really good high school linemen [colleges are] looking for, it’s almost like in race horses. [They’re] looking for the pedigree, the build. That’s what they’re looking for in a lineman. Kids that are going to be big, carry 300 pounds and can run.”

In DuVall’s opinion, that description fits Blue perfectly. He’s got the size with the room to add some weight, and he ran a 4.9 40-yard dash at Maryland’s summer football camp.

But all the potential/productivity discussion is not to say that Blue had a down year -- quite the contrary. A co-captain, Blue recorded 38 tackles and 4 sacks on the season, helping Wilde Lake to a 10-3 season and a 3A semifinal appearance.

And perhaps most importantly, Blue got better with each game.

“Against North Harford in our quarterfinal he really had a great game,” DuVall said. “He sacked the quarterback and shut the option down. As the season went on he got better and better. In all the playoff games he played really well.”

DuVall likens Blue’s potential to another former Wilde Lake standout, current Terps offensive lineman Dane Randolph. While they play on different sides of the ball, Blue possesses the same size and strength as Randolph, in addition to having slightly better speed.

Blue, a Maryland fan since middle school, has really been working since that time toward becoming a Terp. Add that desire to his measureables and consistent improvement, and DuVall thinks Maryland is getting a great prospect.

“I think he’ll be fine,” DuVall said. “He’s one of those kids that by the time he’s a senior, he could be an all-ACC player because he’s big and he can run and he’s athletic. ... He’s got great lateral speed, playing up and down the line of scrimmage. He can get to that corner in a hurry and that’s important at the collegiate level because the game's so wide open. That’s a big plus that he can run sideways. ... Cody’s going to be a good player.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:51 AM | | Comments (0)
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December 12, 2007

Season recap: Masengo Kabongo

The senior season of Maryland defensive tackle commitment Masengo Kabongo was not without its fair share of adversity.

Fairfield (Conn.) Prep was 3-1 heading in to an Oct. 12 date with Cheshire, but the Jesuits suffered a humbling 42-7 loss that day. According to Fairfield Prep head coach Rich Magdon, the entire team played “terrible” -- Kabongo included. But Magdon’s star defensive tackle, a 3.3 student, may have been distracted thanks to an academic issue at school.

“I’ll tell you what; he got in a jam in school that day,” Magdon said. “He had a real big test the last period of the day. He said he wasn’t prepared for it, he went into the teacher’s classroom two periods before and said he didn’t feel good.”

But Kabongo felt just fine, and somehow the teacher got wind of his excuse. That revelation earned Kabongo a trip to the Dean of Students office.

“He got ripped,” Magdon said. “That might have deflated him on that given day.”

That didn’t excuse his poor play that day, said Magdon, but for an academically-conscious kid like Kabongo, it was certainly something that weighed on his mind.

Kabongo and Fairfield regrouped and rallied following the Cheshire loss, winning their last five games to finish the season at 8-2. While it wasn’t enough to earn a playoff berth, Magdon felt the Cheshire loss was a turning point for his team, and Kabongo.

“Well he responded by playing with more enthusiasm and more intensity,” Magdon said. “He had a good season. Against the run he was very, very tough. A lot of teams would try him and then just go the other way. Very few people would run at him with a lot of success and they wouldn’t even try it. They’d test him early and then go away from him. He didn’t have as many sacks as last season, but they ran away from him.”

Kabongo recorded 47 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 8 quarterback knockdowns and 3 forced fumbles on the season.

While his statistics were down from his junior season, Kabongo’s performance and potential has kept other schools to continue courting the future Terp. Magdon still receives mail inquiring about Kabongo from Miami, Oregon, Penn State, Purdue and Virginia, while still fielding the occasional phone call from Boston College, Florida and Illinois.

“People are still bugging him from other places,” Magdon said. “His head’s on right and he’s serious about Maryland and that’s where he really wants to go and I think he’ll do very well.

“There’s no worry in my mind [of Kabongo switching commitments]. He really got along well with the Illinois coaches and thinks they’re going to be a real national power, but I think he’s set with Maryland. He likes [Director of Character of Education] Kevin [Glover] and he likes [defensive line coach] Dave [Sollazzo] and he likes Coach Fridge. And the big thing is he knows Maryland is an excellent academic school. Believe it or not, that means a lot to him.”

Magdon thinks Kabongo will ultimately be a starter for the Terps, noting that Sollazzo sees him as more than a situational player. It’ll be a challenge for the young defensive tackle, but Magdon feels Kabongo will mature and ultimately flourish in College Park.

“He’s a jovial kid,” Magdon said. “He’s a real likeable kid. He’s always in a pretty good mood, he’s very congenial and very jovial. But he’s a kid. Maska hasn’t turned 17 yet -- he’ll turn 17 in May, so he’s still a pup in a lot of ways. Even that day with the exam, you get mad at him, but you shrug it off. He’s like a big Saint Bernard.

“Is it going to be a challenge? Sure it’s going to be a challenge. He’s going from high school to the Atlantic Coast Conference. He’s going to be a small fish in big pond, but if he keeps his head on and doesn’t get distracted he’ll be fine -- both in the classroom and on the football field.”

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December 5, 2007

Season recap: R.J. Dill

The height and weight dimensions of 6-foot-8, 280-pound R.J. Dill don’t necessarily scream out ‘basketball star,’ but that’s what the Maryland offensive tackle commitment initially envisioned for himself during his early high school years.

Toward the end of his junior season of football, however, the switch flipped for the Camp Hill, Pa. native. Dill began to realize that his athletic potential was on the football field, not the hardwood. According to Trinity head coach Jeff Boger, that realization was the right one in terms of potential. But Dill’s affinity for hoops was still important for his development as an offensive lineman.

“He’s not bad,” Boger said of Dill’s basketball-playing abilities. “For 6’8, 280 he can get up and down the court pretty good. He takes up space. He gives them height when they need it and he can score it at times. He’s not going to set the world on fire, even though he might tell you differently. But I mean he’s a good basketball player and it definitely helps him being a lineman because it just helps him with his feet. If you can move up and down the basketball court, you have the ability to be a good lineman.”

His nimble footwork and a revitalized focus on football – thanks in part to calls from dozens of college recruiters – set the stage for Dill to flourish as a senior. Defensively, he contributed 26 tackles, two forced fumbles and four quarterback hurries.

At the right tackle position, Dill paved the way for a Trinity rushing attack that accumulated 3,244 yards and 37 touchdowns. The Shamrocks averaged 5.7 yards per attempt throughout their 12-1 season, which ended in the district finals.

“I don’t know for sure, but I’d say the majority of those yards came because we were going to the right, which was the side he was on,” Boger said. “And I would say the same for the touchdowns. I would say the majority came from the right side.”

If there’s a knock on Dill’s play, it’s that he didn’t get much of an opportunity to develop his pass blocking skills thanks to Trinity’s Wing-T offense.

Still, Boger feels the potential is there, and when the Shamrocks did drop back, Dill held his own.

“We don’t pass that much,” Boger said, “but for what we did, he did fine. He’s going to see a lot of different stuff in college. But when he went to the combines for the colleges, [pass blocking is] what they really looked at. From my understanding, from the coaches that came through, he really showed some good pass blocking ability. It’s there -- it just needs to be harnessed more.”

Boger, who has coached Dill for three years on the Trinity varsity, cautions that his star offensive tackle is still ‘a young pup.’ In fact, Dill will still be 17 when he enrolls at College Park.

But according to Boger, the Terps are getting a hardworking player on the field, and an entertaining personality off it.

“They’re going to get a kid that is going to work hard and I think they’re going to enjoy him,” Boger said. “He’s silly at times, he has a good sense of humor and he’ll sweat a lot. He’ll do stuff and he sweats up a storm really quickly. It’s actually pretty funny.

“I’m sad to see him go, but four or five years from now, Maryland will be sad to see him go. We all have times when you have to go to the next level. But I look forward to seeing what he can do.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:05 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Season recaps
        

December 4, 2007

Season recap: Teddy Dargan

Teddy Dargan’s senior season got off to a rough start.

The Maryland commitment and Milford Mill defensive tackle broke a bone in his leg in June, putting his final year of high school football in question. But in early September, Dargan got some good news on the injury front.

“He got cleared a week before the first game,” said Milford Mill head coach Reggie White. “He was cleared to practice light ... but he wasn’t completely ready. Teams were double-teaming him and he was very apprehensive about his leg ... I knew he was a tough kid. He was like, ‘I’m going to get through this regardless.’”

As the season progressed, Dargan became more comfortable on his leg. He rebounded from his slow start to record 57 tackles, five sacks and two forced fumbles.

But during the week of the Franklin game -- the third to last game of the year -- Dargan came down with a nasty flu bug. The illness sidelined Dargan for the rest of year, which included single-digit Milford Mill losses to Franklin and Perry Hall.

“He makes us win [those games],” White said. “We lost one by seven (Franklin) and one by three (Perry Hall). We were on the goal line vs. Perry Hall and we would’ve run behind him because he plays offensive tackle as well.”

While it wasn’t the ideal senior year, White was pleased with Dargan’s ability to play through adversity and grasp some of the nuances of the defensive tackle position.

“He’s got to get faster, stronger, meaner,” White said. “[But] like I said, he’s a fast learner. He learned a lot of stuff real quick and was able to adapt to some of my teaching. He took a lot of stuff to the field. He learned to play at a lower level.”

Following a standout career at North Carolina A&T, White moved on to a five-year NFL career, starting with the San Diego Chargers in 1992. White’s tenure with the Chargers coincided with Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen joining San Diego’s staff.

Having played under Friedgen and developing "a lot of respect for the entire staff" over the years, White believes the Maryland coaches will do their best to keep Dargan motivated and continue his learning curve and overall development.

“Well I’ll tell you what, I think Maryland’s a great fit for him,” White said. “He’s going to be shocked to realize these guys are bigger and faster and stronger than him. He’s going to have to play and use the leverage tools [we’ve worked on]. But he’ll get adjusted. He’ll get his butt whipped, but then he’ll get adjusted. ... Everybody needs a good swift kick some time.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:01 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Season recaps
        

November 28, 2007

Season recap: Cameron Chism

Statistics don’t always present an accurate portrayal of a player’s talents, but in the case of 2008 Maryland cornerback commit Cameron Chism, the stats probably don’t lie.

During Bishop McNamara’s 6-5 season, Chism registered 81 tackles, five interceptions and returned one fumble recovery for a touchdown. Offensively, the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder caught 41 passes for 750 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 157 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries.

“He played very solid,” said Bishop McNamara head coach Bryce Bevill. “He stepped up in big games, against Gonzaga particularly. He blocked an extra point, scored on a 61-yard touchdown reception, had a pick that set up another score. As a DI player, you look at his stats, and I firmly believe he should be an All-Met (D.C.) guy. He scored touchdowns receiving, rushing and on a recovered fumble.”

In college, Chism is pegged for cornerback (although Bevill believes he’s a DI-caliber receiver, as well). But the two-way versatility Chism showcased during his junior and senior seasons, plus his special teams experience, could translate to early contributions for the Terps.

“I think he has a chance as a freshman to go in and play on the defensive side of the ball and I think that’s what he’s mostly excited about,” Bevill said. “You can use him as a kick returner, punt returner. The unique thing about him is that he’s long snapped for us the past two years. He understands the importance of special teams and that’s the quickest way to get on the field in college.”

Bevill played, and later coached, at DeMatha before taking the Bishop McNamara post in 2004. One notable DeMatha standout that Bevill tutored was former Maryland and current Seattle Seahawks cornerback Josh Wilson.

According to Bevill, there are some definite similarities between Wilson and Chism.

“Honestly, they’re very, very similar,” Bevill said. “[Josh] was a very physical player with great speed. He wasn’t as tall or big as Cameron. ... Josh was also a very quality receiver in high school. They have great speed. The difference between them is the size difference.

“One thing Josh did exceptionally well was he improved every year as a corner at the University of Maryland. I know Cam has that work ethic. ... He’s got what a lot of people are looking for, he has size and speed. He’s a rangy guy with great ball skills.”

Bevill thought Chism met the high expectations set for him during his senior year -- both offensively and defensively. In this case, the statistics back up Chism’s talents.

“He was balanced and consistent in everything he did,” Bevill said. “I’ve always said he could go to the next level and play on either side of the ball, but he has a liking to defense. It was pleasure to coach him for three years. I look forward to seeing him do good things on Saturdays as a Maryland Terrapin.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:53 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

November 27, 2007

Hartsfield an on-field leader

It’s no secret that 2008 Terps linebacker commit Demetrius Hartsfield possesses the physical talents required of a DI linebacker prospect. His performance at Maryland’s summer camp proved as much.

But according to Daniel Finn, the head coach at Southeast Raleigh (N.C.) High School, Hartsfield’s senior year showed him to be more than just a physical specimen.

“He knows how to make the adjustments out there,” Finn said. “He gets everybody lined up. It’s basically like having another coach out there. He spent a lot of time learning the signals. He’s very football smart.”

That football intelligence paid off for Hartsfield from a statistical standpoint. During Southeast Raleigh’s 8-4 season, Hartsfield recorded 124 tackles, 10 sacks and two fumble recoveries from the inside linebacker position. At tight end, Hartsfield hauled in four passes, including one touchdown.

Finn wasn’t surprised that Hartsfield had such great success as a senior. But his senior year went beyond the numbers, according to Finn.

“[His performance was] exactly what I expected,” Finn said. “He was a good leader for us. He kind of led our whole team. He played hard and basically shut down the middle of the offense. He forced everything outside. We weren’t worried about people running inside on us. He did really well this year.”

Hartsfield’s individual achievements can be attributed to the labor put in throughout the summer, and really since the end of his junior year. Finn and the SRHS coaching staff worked Hartsfield hard, and he responded in a big way.

“We worked on his speed and flexibility,” Finn said. “We didn’t think we moved very well in space so we concentrated on that. We got his 40 time down to about a 4.67, it used to be 4.8 or 4.9. He got his weight up. He was 205, now he’s weighing about 225. He really put time in the weight room and got physically ready to play.”

Hartsfield plans to enroll at College Park for the winter semester, joining the Terps in time for spring practice. Finn thinks the head start will benefit Hartsfield in learning the defensive system.

“I expect once he learns the system and the terminology that he’ll fit in pretty well,” Finn said. “Our defensive coordinator played college football and he helped [Demetrius] learn his terminology. I think once he starts feeling comfortable with the terminology, he’ll be fine. I think mentally and physically he can handle it.”

Hartsfield committed to the Terps in June, really before his recruiting process took off. In Finn’s opinion, the early commitment was a great move, and ultimately the perfect fit for his star linebacker.

“I know Maryland’s sending linebackers to the NFL and that’s one of the things Demetrius was looking at,” Finn said. “He’s got family up there and I think that’ll help him being away from his mom. It’s not that far a drive from Raleigh. I think Maryland’s getting ready to come back on the upswing. I think they’re going to be really, really good these next couple of years.

“I really think he’s ready to go. I think he’s going to fit right in up there. Once he learns everything he’s going to be fine. He’s got good support from his family. I think he’s going to jump right in and have a heck of a career.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Season recaps
        

November 20, 2007

Urban had breakout senior season

Terps defensive end commitment Tyler Urban had two years of starting experience under his belt when he entered his senior season at Norwin High School in North Huntingdon, Pa.

Urban had already performed at a high level, but throughout his final year, the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder stepped his game up a notch.

“We knew he had some potential as a sophomore,” said Norwin head coach Dan Conwell. “He showed bits and pieces. Last year as a junior, he made a name for himself. This year he was the most consistent player on the team. It was the culmination of three years. I can’t say enough about the young man. I think Maryland’s getting a heck of a football player and a great young man.”

During his senior season, Urban registered 61 tackles, 5.5 sacks, six quarterback pressures, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery from the inside linebacker position.

As Norwin’s starting fullback, Urban carried 80 times for 510 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 38 yards and one touchdown.

“Well, he was without a doubt the cornerstone of not only our defense, but our offense,” Conwell said. “He was our MVP and I mean that in all phases of our team. He never came off the field. He started as our punter, all special teams and he kicked off. He was really the driving force behind the season we had.”

Norwin finished 7-4, ending its season with an overtime loss to McKeesport Nov. 9 in the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals.

According to Conwell, Urban’s play stood out in the ultra-competitive Pittsburgh-area high school football scene.

“I think that Tyler can hold his own against anybody in this area,” Conwell said. “We are sorely going to miss him next year. He’s definitely one of the top prospects to come out of this area. He will be a tremendous asset to Maryland.”

Conwell thinks Urban has the potential to contribute immediately in College Park, but if he doesn’t make an impact right away, it’ll just be a matter of time before he does.

“I’m not exactly sure what coach [Ralph Friedgen] has returning,” Conwell said. “I think he may have an opportunity to see the field on special teams with the size he has, but I think he’ll be an impact player. I’m not exactly sure when that will occur, but I think you’ll be hearing about Tyler Urban for many years to come.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:46 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

November 6, 2007

UM commit Francis improved each week

A.J. Francis saved his best for last.

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound defensive lineman from Gonzaga (D.C.) College recorded four solo tackles and two assists in the Eagles’ 20-13 season-ending loss to St. John’s on Friday.

“He was in on more tackles than he had been throughout the season,” said Gonzaga head coach Joe Reyda. “He was filling holes, he was getting pressure on the quarterback and he did a lot of good things. ... He just came to play on defense, which was good. We really needed it. And he did a good job.”

Gonzaga finished its season at 4-5, but Reyda said Francis and the rest of the team steadily improved each week. The improvement culminated in what Reyda called Francis’ best game of the year.

Francis played on the offensive and defensive lines for Gonzaga all year, earning first-team all-conference honors on defense. He recorded 20 solo tackles, nine assists and two sacks on the year.

Reyda was pleased with Francis’ play on offense and defense, but thinks he’s probably best suited as a nose guard in a 4-3 defense. His work on the O-Line should benefit him in college.

“He’s big, he’s strong and for his size he moves very well,” Reyda said. “He’s got good footwork. I think with him, getting in a program and just concentrating on getting bigger and stronger and faster [will be the key].”

Francis has some work to do before heading to College Park, but Reyda is confident he’ll put in the effort and be able to make an impact.

“I think he needs to lift a little more and just get defined,” Reyda said. “He’s going to get stronger, but he’s got to keep running, which I know he will do. Like I said, he’s got good footwork. As long as he just continues to lift and run and do agility work, he’s going to be fine...

“A.J.’s got a good head on his shoulders. He’s likable kid and has a great personality. He’s going to do what you ask of him and I think he’ll do very well at Maryland.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        
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About Matt Bracken

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

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