COLLEGE PARK, MD. (AP) — Maryland coach Randy Edsall said Wednesday that his 22-man recruiting class reflects the belief the players have in the program’s future.
“It shows that it’s about relationships and people believing in what we’re doing here,” Edsall said. “We told these kids, `Here’s the plan, here’s the vision, here’s what we’re going to accomplish.’ I wish some of the fans and media had as much faith as these young players.”
Everyone associated with the program had their faith tested last season.
The Terrapins closed the 2011 campaign with seven straight losses to finish with a disappointing 2-10 record. Edsall either dismissed or granted releases to 20 players along the way then fired both his offensive and defensive coordinators during the offseason.
But despite the tumult, Maryland managed to put together a solid recruiting class that, according to various recruiting services, contained three prospects rated four stars out of a possible five.
A majority of those recruits committed to the Terrapins during the summer or early fall and held firm despite the program’s struggles and attempts by rival schools to lure them away.
Levern Jacobs, a wide receiver who graduated from nearby Suitland High then spent a prep school year at Milford Academy in New York, said he did not listen to the negative recruiting from other schools.
“It’s not about last season. It’s about the future, and I was sold about what coach Edsall was doing to rebuild the program,” said Jacobs, who has already enrolled at Maryland and thus was available for interviews at the team’s National Signing Day press conference.
One of Edsall’s stated goals upon being hired at Maryland last January was to control its home territory and recruit well within a three-hour radius. This year’s class contains 10 players from the Maryland-D.C. region and another six from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
“We are well in the path of keeping the top talent here in Maryland and are making inroads in the other areas we need to be strong in,” Edsall said.
The coach said the fact 20 of the 22 signees earned All-State accolades spoke to the overall “productivity” of the class and the fact 20 of them served as team captains for their respective high schools highlighted the “leadership” of the group.
Tailback Wes Brown, a consensus All-American and four-star recruit, is the prized catch of the class. Brown, ranked as the nation’s No. 11 tailback by Scout.com, had more than 30 scholarship offers and chose Maryland over the likes of Miami and Oklahoma.
Edsall was thrilled the Good Counsel product announced the decision on national television during the Under Armour All-American Bowl.
“That’s great publicity. You’d have to spend a lot of money to get that type of exposure,” Edsall said. “That shows kids all
over the country that Maryland is a player.”
Brown is one of two four-star recruits from Good Counsel, located about a half hour from the College Park campus in Olney, Md. Mike Madaras, a hulking 6-foot-5, 293-pound offensive lineman, was the first Class of 2012 member to give Edsall a verbal pledge.
Gilman in Baltimore, like Good Counsel, is a perennial prep powerhouse that annually produces more than a dozen seniors that go on to programs in Bowl Championship Series conferences. Edsall was proud the Terrapins signed a player from Gilman, fullback Kenneth Goins, for the first time since 1980.
“It’s important to get into Gilman and Good Counsel because history shows us those schools have good players, BCS-caliber players, every year,” Edsall said. “Now we need guys like (Goins) and (Madaras) to start recruiting those juniors at Good Counsel and Gilman that we are looking at. Sometimes it only takes one player to get the ball rolling.”
Fourteen of the 22 recruits attended Maryland’s camp and Edsall said that was not by accident. He said the staff prefers to offer scholarships to prospects it can evaluate in-person. Quarterback signees Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe both fit that category. Neither player had a major college offer before camping in College Park and earning scholarships from Edsall.
Both signal-callers saw their stock rise during the season and had other Football Bowl Subdivision schools try to get involved.
Hills starred in the Chesapeake Bowl regional all-star game while Rowe was named Most Valuable Player of the Offense-Defense national contest.
“I’m a firm believe that quarterback is such an important position that you really need to see them in-person,” Edsall said. “We were very impressed by the way Perry and Caleb conducted themselves and the skills they displayed. You’re talking about two players that maybe weren’t highly rated, but when given an opportunity to go to all-star games, they both shined.”
Maryland lost a close battle that went down to the wire when Greensboro (N.C.) Grimsley defensive lineman D.J. Reader chose Clemson. Reader (6-3, 306) plans to play both football and baseball in college and had narrowed his choices to the two Atlantic Coast Conference schools.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)