IMS: Wiltfong's Weekly Buzz:
And there will soon be a fifth team in this league ready to go toe to toe with anyone.
The Maryland Terrapins.
No coach spent more time talking recruiting at the podium of Big Ten media day than Terrapins coach D.J. Durkin, who just plain gets it when it comes to program-building. Having the experience of working for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford – and then again as his defensive coordinator at Michigan – Durkin helped mold two different programs into a contender. Then there was the time spent working under Meyer in Gainesville, where Durkin certainly saw the time and energy needed to be put into recruiting.
Coaches talk all the time about recruiting being the lifeblood of their program but for many it’s just coach speak. Durkin is living it in College Park, with a staff full of grinders too.
“We make no mistake about it, in our program we work on recruiting every single day,” Durkin said. “There's not a day where we're not doing something to help recruiting in some aspect.
“I mean that's what it's all about. If you want to win at a high level, you've got to have great players. That's who wins the games, the players do.”
Last year was Durkin and company’s first full year on the recruiting trail and they ended up signing 247Sports’s No. 18 class. They’re pushing for a second-straight top 25 class this cycle, currently sitting at No. 20. Durkin doubled the win total last fall in his first season (6-7) in leading his program to a bowl game. A tough schedule this fall could see the Terps take a slight step back, but two years from now, as the new staff’s players and culture continue to be ingrained in the program, this will be a team that will have the size, length and speed to be a perennial top-25 squad.
Aiding in the recruiting efforts are the new Cole Field House, roughly a 150-million dollar project currently being built as the Terrapins facilities will soon be on par with the college football heavyweights along with things like the close relationship with Under Amour. But at the end of the day recruiting still comes down to the good, old fashion hard work of evaluating and then courting the top targets.
“So all those things together I think really allows us, puts us in a really good spot to recruit at a very high level, which is what I think is great about and unique about this job,” Durkin said. “That's where I feel we can really put ourselves on the map with anyone.”
Perhaps most importantly, Durkin has his staff and players on the same page when it comes to recruiting.
“Our players are a big part of it,” Durkin said. “When guys come and they're hosting them, and that's a really big part of that visit, that a recruit feels comfortable with the team and gets along with the guys. And our guys, we talked about that and teach them and really work at it, because that's a big part of it.”