COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland officially claimed 15 blue chip high school players when the NCAA's national signing period began today.
The group, headed by Randallstown High running back Larry Washington, appears to be Maryland's strongest class of recruits in years. Recruiting gurus rate it among the top 20 in the country.
The signees include:
* Running back Raphael Wall, 5-10, 185, Wilde Lake; fullback/tight end Ricky Budd, 6-2, 215, Fort Hill; quarterback John Kaleo, 6-0, 185, Montgomery College-Rockville; quarterback Scott Milanovich, 6-3, 190, Butler (Pa.); quarterback Greg Lister, 6-3, 205, Admiral Farragut (N.J.); kicker/punter Dave DeArmas, 5-11, 175, DeMatha; running back Larry Washington, 5-11, 198, Randallstown.
* Offensive lineman Madison Bradley, 6-3, 245, Nassau Community College of New York; offensive lineman Sherrod Mack, 6-3, 260, Brooklyn (N.Y.); offensive lineman John Teter, 6-6, 255, DeMatha; defensive lineman Mike Rodgers, 6-3, 220, Haverford (Pa.); defensive lineman Eugene Gray, 6-2, 215, Valley Forge (Pa.);
* Linebacker Ken Green, 6-3, 205, Norfolk (Va.); linebacker Tom Jarome, 6-2, 210, Valley Forge (Pa.); defensive back Lewis Olavarria, 6-2, 188, Haverstraw (N.Y.).
Perhaps as many as five other players who had made oral commitments may be signed later. One of them may be Tom Marchese, who is possibly the best quarterback coming out of Pennsylvania. He would be one of a handful of candidates who would compete for the job left vacant by the departing Scott Zolak.
Kaleo, a junior college transfer and the most experienced of the quarterback group, is expected to hold the starting job for at least next season. He was the 1990 National Junior College Player of the Year at nearly Montgomery-Rockville.
The quality of the prospects suggests that Maryland's coaches did a good selling job. The Terps went head-to-head with Penn State, Tennessee, Clemson and Michigan and held their own.
The chief selling points were the upset of Virginia in the regular season finale and the first winning record (6-5) since 1985, the bid to the Independence Bowl, coach Joe Krivak's new four-year contract and the visible signs that Byrd Stadium is at last being renovated.
Washington, rated one of the top prep running backs in the country, chose Maryland over Michigan, Clemson and Tennessee because he wants to be part of what he perceives as the Terps' new era in football.
The offensive linemen are headed by Teter, DeMatha's 255-pounder. Teter's DeMatha teammate DeArmas, brother of current Maryland kicker Dan, was a prep All-American.