Out-of-state players highlight Terps' recruiting class

Georgia offensive lineman Garcia, Pennsylvania QB Smith among standouts

February 03, 2010|By Jeff Barker and Matt Bracken | jeff.barker@baltsun.com and mbracken@baltimoresun.com

COLLEGE PARK — Maryland announced a 21-member football signing class Wednesday with a handful of prominent out-of-state recruits, including a Pennsylvania quarterback with "swagger" and a Georgia player hoping to fill the school's need for offensive linemen.

Eleven members of the class are from out of state. Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said the most competitive battle was over Max Garcia, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound offensive lineman from Norcross, Ga.

"We were in a very, very hard-fought battle for Max," Friedgen said. "I think Alabama was very strong with him early. [But] it really came to us and Clemson."

Maryland's inexperienced and often-injured offensive line was a trouble spot last season for the 2-10 Terps. "Our biggest issue we had to solve -- and it's not a quick fix -- is the offensive line," offensive coordinator James Franklin said.

Friedgen said his biggest recruiting disappointment this year was losing Brandon Coleman, a wide receiver from Maryland's Bishop McNamara. He committed to Rutgers.

In recent years, Friedgen has been seeking to keep local talent away from Penn State and other schools that have plucked players from Maryland in the past. While Maryland obtained a number of out-of-state players this year -- including three from Florida and two each from Pennsylvania, Virginia and Georgia -- the school has increasingly focused its efforts on players within a five-hour drive radius of campus.

Franklin, who is under contract to succeed Friedgen by January 2012, said Wednesday that there will come a time when Maryland doesn't lose in-state players to other schools. "Coming soon," Franklin predicted.

Other notables in Maryland's class included Javarie Johnson, a linebacker from Dunbar (D.C.) High who was the top player in Washington, according to Rivals.com. Johnson "had committed early to Miami and decided to stay close to home," Friedgen said.

At quarterback, Maryland signed Tyler Smith, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound player from Easton, Pa. "He has that confidence, he has that swagger to him," Franklin said. Maryland also signed dual-threat quarterback Devin Burns of Columbus, Ga.

Friedgen and Franklin said Maryland is intent on restoring the school's tradition of having top quarterbacks such as Boomer Esiason, Frank Reich and Stan Gelbaugh. Each played in the 1980s.

"For whatever reason, historically we have had a hard time signing quarterbacks" since, Franklin said. "My plan is to create the most competitive quarterback position in the country."

Maryland will now have a half-dozen quarterbacks on the roster, with redshirt junior Jamarr Robinson the returning starter.

Scout.com recruiting analyst Matt Alkire said Maryland fared well in recruiting despite last season's disappointing record.

"You go 2-10, you have to be a very strong program in terms of tradition to be a top pick in terms of recruiting," Alkire said. "You really have to recruit the heck out of your state. Maryland is a solid state but not a hotbed of talent. I guess the crazy thing to me is that the better players Maryland recruits actually weren't from Maryland. I was surprised they had this good of a class."

Not counted in the class is Will Yeatman, a surprise "recruit" who is already enrolled at Maryland and plays attack on the lacrosse team. Yeatman, 6 feet 6, 260 pounds, is a transfer from Notre Dame, where he played tight end. "He's kind of like a recruit from our own campus," Friedgen said.

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