Randallstown's Alaeze expected to sign with UM

Defensive end is catch of Terps' recruiting class

College Football

February 02, 2005|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

It's somewhat misleading to say that Maryland's football program merely wanted to sign Randallstown High defensive end Melvin Alaeze this year.

The Terps certainly wanted Alaeze, considered by many to be one of the best high school players in the country this past year. But Maryland also desperately needed to get him after a disappointing 5-6 season in 2004, if for no other reason than to spare itself the embarrassment of losing an elite recruit - in the Terps' backyard, no less - to a rival program.

Alaeze, expected to sign a letter of intent today after orally committing to Maryland in mid-January, didn't make it easy on the Terps' coaching staff, nearly choosing Virginia Tech at the last minute. But assuming he follows through with his commitment today on national signing day, Alaeze will be the crown jewel of the Terps' 2005 class, which is currently ranked No. 14 in the country by Rivals.com.

Terps coach Ralph Friedgen will officially announce the class today at a 3 p.m. news conference in College Park.

"[Alaeze] is really the guy who makes or breaks this recruiting class for Maryland," said Mike Farrell, Rivals' national recruiting analyst.

"If you're Miami or Florida State, and you miss out on one player, there are going to be other guys to fill his spot. But for a program like Maryland, one that's not quite at that level yet, to lose the [fourth-ranked] player in the country to Virginia Tech, especially when his best friend [Randallstown's Jamari McCollough] is already going to Maryland, would have been a disaster."

Signing Alaeze, a 6-foot-2, 277-pound defensive end who was named The Sun's All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year, became even more important as Maryland began to miss out on some of its other top targets.

According to Farrell, the Terps were never seriously in the hunt for Eleanor Roosevelt wide receiver Derrick Williams, whom Rivals considers the top recruit in the country and who has committed to Penn State.

The Terps also failed to land quarterbacks Ike Whitaker (Northwest) and Greg Boone (Oscar Smith, Chesapeake, Va.) when both committed to play for Virginia Tech next season.

Alaeze nearly made a similar choice, according to his father. On Jan. 14, Dinma Alaeze called The Sun to announce that his son had chosen Maryland over Virginia Tech. But an hour later, Dinma Alaeze called back, saying his son had changed his mind and was planning to announce his intention to sign with the Hokies. His father said he was unhappy with the decision, and that he would attempt to persuade his son otherwise.

The next morning, Jan. 15, Randallstown assistant coach Evan Murray called The Sun with the news that Alaeze was going to Maryland.

Besides Alaeze, Maryland is expected to sign several other standout players today. The Terps focused on signing wide receivers this year, and should get an immediate speed upgrade with McDonogh wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Maryland missed out on one California quarterback when Josh Portis signed with Florida after seriously flirting with the Terps, but landed another when Chris Turner (Chaminade High School in West Hills, Calif.) orally committed Jan. 19.

The one pressing issue remaining for the Terps is the status of former Eleanor Roosevelt offensive lineman Jared Gaither, who signed a letter of intent with the Terps in 2003. Gaither, a 6-8, 330-pound prospect, didn't qualify academically last year and spent the past year at Hargrave Military Academy. Gaither has told people he remains committed to Maryland, but he has also gone on recruiting trips to Florida, Georgia, Penn State and Virginia Tech.

"He's supposed to sign with Maryland [today]," Farrell said.

Sun staff writer Lem Satterfield contributed to this article.

Maryland's 2005 recruits

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown/School

Melvin Alaeze DE 6-2 277 Randallstown/Randallstown

Jeff Allen DB 6-1 200 Hyattsville/DeMatha

Nolan Carroll WR 6-1 190 Green Cove Springs, FL/Clay

Jeff Clement LB 6-3 230 Deptford, N.J./Deptford Township

Chris Clinton LB 6-3 240 Lakeland, Fla./Evangel Christian

Phil Costa OL 6-4 285 Delran, N.J./Holy Cross

Jared Gaither OL 6-8 330 Greenbelt/Hargrave Military Academy

Dwight Galt TE 6-4 210 Wheaton/Good Counsel

Tommy Galt DE 6-3 220 Wheaton/Good Counsel

Morgan Green RB 6-0 190 Indian Head/Lackey

Jared Harrell TE 6-6 240 Marion, Mass./Tabor Academy

Barrod Heggs DE 6-3 240 Garden City, Ga../Groves

Darrius Heyward-Bey WR 6-3 195 Owings Mils/McDonogh

Travis Ivey DL 6-4 280 Upper Marlboro/Riverdale Baptist

Zach Marshall OL 6-7 270 Mason, Ohio/William Mason

Jamari McCollough DB 5-10 170 Randallstown/Randallstown

Jeremy Navarre DE 6-4 245 Joppa/Joppatowne

Danny Oquendo DB 6-2 180 Hackensack, N.J./Hackensack

Dave Philistin LB 6-2 220 Manchester, N.H./Manchester Central

Marvin Peoples LB 6-2 225 Orlando, Fla./Evans

Terrell Skinner WR 6-3 195 Gulfport, Fla./Boca Ciega

Chris Turner QB 6-3 195 West Hills, Calif./Chaminade Prep

Isaiah Williams WR 6-2 185 Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic

Anthony Wiseman DB 5-9 173 Hyattsville/DeMatha

SOURCES: Sun staff, Rivals.com, Scout.com

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