Terps Still On Right Track
The Maryland Terrapins have finally wrapped up their brutal three-game stretch which featured matchups against Michigan, Ohio State, and Nebraska. They were unable to score a touchdown during this stretch until the final quarter of this afternoon’s game against the Cornhuskers. While it’s easy for fans to get discouraged by the blowouts that the team has suffered over the course of the last three weeks, it’s important to realize that the program as a whole is still on the right track, and is trending in the right direction.
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Closing Out 2016
While they are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, the Terrapins still have a good chance to achieve bowl eligibility with a win at home next weekend against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have won just two games so far this season, and will face off against #9 Penn State at home this weekend. A postseason berth would be a big accomplishment for this team, who would benefit mightily from the extra month of practice. While a bowl berth never seemed out of reach this season given the relatively weak schedule, it would be nonetheless impressive for a team who only won three games last season.
From the moment that DJ Durkin was hired as Maryland’s head coach, the program’s recruiting has skyrocketed. While he had just a few months at the helm before National Signing Day this year, he and his staff of excellent recruiters put together a solid class. However, the real story comes when you look at what they’ve put together for 2017.
Maryland currently holds the 15th-best recruiting class in the country, according to 247Sports. They have received commitments from one 5-star recruit and five 4-star recruits. Their class ranks ahead of Florida, Oregon, Washington, and Arkansas. It ranks just behind USC, Auburn, Texas A&M, and Miami (FL). This class is good for the 3rd-best ranking in the Big Ten Conference, ahead of Penn State, Nebraska, and Michigan State. Ohio State and Michigan are the only programs with a better 2017 recruiting class than the Terrapins.
The class is anchored by a number of local blue-chip recruits, but the star of the group is 5-star DE Joshua Kaindoh, a product of the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. 247Sports ranks him as the second-best strong-side defensive end in the country, and the 6th-best player from the state of Florida.
Durkin and his staff have placed a clear emphasis on improving their team’s line play, with four of the team’s six blue-chip recruits being either offensive or defensive linemen. Expect this emphasis to continue, as the team’s struggles this season have pointed to subpar line play on both sides of the ball. In order to compete in the Big Ten Conference, you must have studs on the lines.
Joining Kaindoh on the defensive line will be 4-star DT Cam Spence from St. John’s College High School in Washington, DC. The offensive line will feature 4-star OT Jordan McNair from the McDonough School in Owings Mills, MD and 4-star OG Marcus Minor from DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, MD. In addition to these freshmen, the Terrapins will also have the opportunity to build around linemen like Damian Prince, Derwin Gray, Quarvez Boulware, Terrance Davis, and Richard Merritt on the offensive side of the ball. The defensive line is a bit thinner, meaning that players like Kaindoh and Spence will likely be expected to contribute immediately. Building your program’s offensive and defensive lines is the most difficult job for a head coach, but Durkin and his staff are doing an excellent job of it through their recruiting.
The two blue-chippers who are not linemen are 4-star QB Kasim Hill and 4-star CB Deon Jones. Hill is a teammate of Spence’s at St. John’s College High School, and has the chance to be Maryland’s quarterback of the future. 247Sports currently ranks him as the 11th-best pro-style quarterback in the country, and the 2nd-best player in the District of Columbia. Jones is a product of Potomac High School in Oxon Hill, MD and is ranked as the 4th-best player in the state.
Almost one year ago, the University of Maryland began the renovation of Cole Field House into a state-of-the-art facility that will feature the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Center for Sports Medicine, Health, and Human Performance, and the Terrapin Performance Center. The latter will feature a full-size indoor practice field, two outdoor practice fields, and strength and flexibility training facilities. In all, this project will cost upwards of $150 million and is expected to open in time for spring practice in 2019.
The impact of these facilities have already been felt in recruiting, with recruits citing the ability to use them towards the end of their time at Maryland as playing a large role in their commitment. Cole Field House will be one of the crown jewels of this football program for decades to come, and will play a role in every part of each player’s time as a student-athlete. With just over two years to go before its completion, we likely haven’t seen the full force of the impact that it will have on Durkin’s ability to continue to build this program.
Speaking of Durkin, his presence at the helm of Maryland’s football team certainly ought to give fans plenty of reasons for optimism. In just a few months, he has completely changed the energy and the attitude surrounding the program. He has filled his staff with top-notch coaches and recruiters, and has a unique ability as a motivator of young men. He himself is an excellent recruiter, and has won awards for his recruiting prowess when he was an assistant coach.
As a whole, the Maryland football program is on the right track. Despite this rough stretch, with recruiting on the rise, Cole Field House under construction, and Durkin’s energetic presence, the Terrapins are being set up for success in the near future.