Do Terps' losses also include recruits?

Some see Friedgen's gains taking a hit in 3-4 season

College Football

October 26, 2004|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

There has been plenty of ink spilled over the past three years discussing how much football recruiting has improved under Ralph Friedgen at Maryland, and with good reason. When Friedgen arrived as coach in 2001, the Terps couldn't even get some of the region's best players on the phone. Three years later, Maryland had become a major player in recruiting, and had landed two straight classes that were ranked in the top 15.

But recruiting is often a game of momentum. The more success a program has, the better its chances are of landing the best high school players. Though Maryland capitalized on the momentum of three straight seasons with 10 or more wins, Friedgen acknowledged this week that with the Terps mired in a three-game losing streak, they will need to work extra hard in the coming months to keep that momentum going.

"I'm hoping things are a two-way street, the kids that are committed to us," Friedgen said. "We've had some kids that have gotten injured and we've stayed with them, so I would hope they stay with us. I'm sure there are some teams pounding us. You know, it's a brutal business. But I also think there's even more of an opportunity for kids to come here because at certain positions there is clearly going to be an opportunity to play right away."

The Terps (3-4) have 18 oral commitments for next year, but the players aren't bound to attend Maryland until they sign a letter of intent in February.

Mike Farrell, a recruiting analyst for and for ESPNews, says that he has Maryland's recruiting class -- which includes highly regarded players like McDonogh wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, DeMatha defensive back Anthony Wiseman and Lackey running back Morgan Green -- rated the eighth best in the country. He also said the Terps' on-the-field struggles probably won't hurt them -- at least this year.

"A good thing for Maryland was that they got a lot of commitments early," Farrell said. "Their season isn't going to affect the kids they were interested in back in the spring. And the kids they're recruiting hard who haven't made a commitment yet, like Nyan Boateng [a wide receiver from New York City] and Jason Kacinko [a lineman from Harrison City, Pa.] are very close to committing."

One of Maryland's biggest targets, Randallstown defensive end Melvin Alaeze, said two weeks ago that he's still leaning toward Maryland, but that he had not yet made up his mind. has Alaeze rated as the top defensive end in the country. The other player the Terps are desperate to land is quarterback Ike Whitaker of Northwest High in Germantown. Whitaker is also being recruited hard by Virginia Tech.

"I think [Whitaker] was worried about the quarterback situation at Maryland, because when they got Jordan Steffy in there, everyone saw [Steffy] as a three- or four-year starter," Farrell said. "But Ike's gotten to see Joel Statham and Steffy, and he may think he has a chance to go in there and play."

Farrell said that the idea that Maryland's struggles this year mean recruiting has declined under Friedgen is without merit.

"Recruiting takes about five years to get to a high level," Farrell said. "Maryland is much faster and more athletic than they were [under former coach Ron Vanderlinden]. But they're not at the level of a Florida State or a Miami yet, where you have enough depth to reload."

Next for Maryland

Matchup: No. 5 Florida State (6-1, 4-1) vs. Maryland (3-4, 1-3)

Site: Byrd Stadium, College Park

When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 2, 7/WBAL (1090 AM)

Line: Florida State by 10 1/2

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