Start with a 2-10 season, add an exodus of players, and then subtract two coordinators. What you would typically get from those undeniably negative ingredients is a football recruiting class ranked among the lowest of any BCS-level program in the country.
Maryland’s 2012 football class, at one point in the recruiting cycle, seemed like it may be headed for such an unfortunate distinction. But during the Terps’ disastrous 2011 campaign, something unique happened to a program that may have appeared to be in turmoil: the committed prospects didn’t back out of their pledges. And then a former assistant returned to College Park and immediately improved the Terps’ recruiting fortunes.
Nobody will confuse Maryland’s 2012 group with classes at Alabama, Florida, Texas or any other Top 10 recruiting program. But considering how poorly things could have gone under those aforementioned circumstances, analysts say it’s a solid group that ranks favorably with all but the top ACC classes.
“If I had to give it a letter grade, it would be a B-,” said Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell. “It’s not a good recruiting year in the ACC this year. Clemson didn’t have the year they had last year. They had a good year. Florida State had the best class and Miami is doing really well. But there’s a big drop-off after Virginia and Virginia Tech. Maryland is No. 6 for us. They’ve got some good players that I think can be contributors. Some of the big guys in the state so far, barring any surprise, [aren’t going to Maryland]. That’s got to be disappointing, but after a 2-10 season, [the class] can’t be any lower than a B-.”
CBS Sports Network recruiting expert Tom Lemming called it “a good, typical Maryland-type class. It’s not loaded with blue-chippers. They don’t have the elite guys yet. But they’re still in on them and everybody’s hoping they land a couple between now and Wednesday. The jury’s still out. Hopefully they get a few.”
Maryland is poised to sign a 23-man group on Signing Day, with two or three more prospects still considering the Terps. That Maryland remains in the mix for some of those players – most notably Good Counsel five-star wide receiver Stefon Diggs – is thanks in large part to first-year offensive coordinator Mike Locksley. The former Terps running backs coach -- who later served assistant coaching posts at Florida and Illinois before a failed stint as New Mexico’s coach -- made his mark on the Terps’ recruiting class almost immediately after he was brought back to College Park. His most notable coup was landing Good Counsel running back Wes Brown, a consensus four-star prospect who committed to the Terps during the Under Armour All-America Game on ESPN earlier this month.
“He is a great player if he stays healthy,” Farrell said of Brown, who also claimed offers from Florida State, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Vanderbilt, among many others. “That’s the big question with Wes. He was injured on and off. He’s a big running back, very physical and has good speed.”
Terps special teams and outside linebackers coach Lyndon Johnson was the lead recruiter for Albert Reid, but Locksley also aided Maryland's efforts with the three-star running back from Friendship Collegiate in Washington. Farrell thinks it’s unlikely Maryland would have landed both local running backs had it not been for Locksley.
“Obviously you’ve got Wes Brown, who was a great boost, and Albert Reid, who was another boost,” Farrell said. “After Locksley started to get in there, they started to get more interest from the in-state kids. It was too late for them to really pull off any miracle with [Friendship Collegiate defensive tackle] Eddie Goldman, [Potomac cornerback] Ronald Darby and [Gilman athlete] Cyrus Jones. But Diggs is still out there and Locksley is going to help with him.”
Outside of Brown, Maryland – depending on the scouting service – has two other four-star prospects: Good Counsel offensive tackle Mike Madaras and linebacker Abner Logan of the Dexter School in Brookline, Mass. Lemming called Logan “the sleeper of all sleepers,” and Farrell lauded the future Terp’s “quick-twitch” instincts and speed. The highest praise for Logan’s game, meanwhile, came from 247Sports.com national recruiting analyst J.C. Shurburtt.