In his short time as the new football coach at DeMatha High, Elijah Brooks has heard from several dozen college football coaches. The Stags annually send 10 or more seniors to college on football scholarships and have plenty of prospects for the next few years. The team’s annual spring gym workouts attract college recruiters from across the nation.
Which all leaves Brooks puzzled as to why coaches from the school located less than two miles from DeMatha never attended those workouts and have yet to establish a relationship with him.
“We think that Maryland is a great school, we send a lot of kids to Maryland and we want to continue sending many kids to Maryland [like] Kenny Tate and Edwin Williams and Josh Wilson,” Brooks said. “But we’ve reached out and we haven’t yet heard anything. We’re concerned because we want to maintain a relationship or at least establish a relationship with Maryland so our players can [potentially] have a bright future there like past players.
“It’s odd. We have kids there that are successful currently. We’re right down the road from Maryland. I am bewildered that we haven’t established some sort of relationship “
According to Brooks, he has not received any correspondence from Maryland, including the standard motivational posters or schedules that colleges regularly send to high school programs.
The last dealings DeMatha had with Maryland came in May during the last week of the spring recruiting period, when Maryland assistant coach Lee Hull, who recruits the area for the Terps, visited DeMatha and spoke with assistant coach Justin Cunningham. Brooks was not able to be present because he was teaching a class.
“He said he didn’t want to see any kids, that they didn’t have any [DeMatha] players on the radar and that they had offered enough kids,” Cunningham said. “They had offered [rising senior linebacker Sam] Lebbie when Ralph [Friedgen] was there and they pulled the offer, said they were recruiting a different kind of kid.
“We’re here all spring, they have a six-week open period. They come the last week and say point-blank, ‘We don’t want to see any of your kids’? ”
“I understand year in, year out we might not have the type of player they’re looking for in that particular year,” Brooks said. “But the odds are, in the future, we will have players they are interested in. So I am definitely bothered there is no relationship attempted to be made, for future players at the least.”
Brooks said he has not called anyone at Maryland to ask about what he perceives as the lack of contact.
“I know schools have a lot going on,” he said.
Cunningham said it was a confusing situation because during the Terrapins’ spring practice period, he felt like DeMatha’s coaches were welcomed at Maryland. “Maybe [Hull gave] off the wrong impression … because when I met him before at Maryland, he was cool with us,” Cunningham said.
Maryland Coach Randy Edsall said that Hull visited DeMatha twice this spring, once when the evaluation period began (before Brooks was hired) and then on the day when he met with Cunningham.
“It’s our decision to go by, based on the schedules we have,” Edsall said. “We went by two days. The first day out, my coaches were at DeMatha. [The second time] Lee left a message for Elijah to call him and Elijah hasn’t called him. I don’t think there is a problem. We’ve had [DeMatha] coaches up to [our spring] practice, had their kids at camp, kids have been up to our junior days, kids have been to everything.”
Edsall declined to comment further.
There are two DeMatha graduates on the Maryland roster this season: standout linebacker Tate and offensive lineman Pete DeSouza. Two players who were DeMatha seniors last season committed to the Terrapins but will not enroll this fall; defensive back Michael Williams signed a letter-of-intent with Maryland but received a release in the spring to pursue a college track career while running back Delonte Morton is expected to go to a junior college.
Maryland offered a scholarship to rising senior tight end-defensive end Brent Wilkerson, who committed to Penn State.
Why DeMatha’s top athletes often do not matriculate to Maryland has long been a hot topic. During a visit to the high school in January, University of Maryland President Wallace F. Loh asked DeMatha Principal Dan McMahon about the subject as it pertained to basketball players.
“It was just odd,” McMahon said. “He asked a lot of different questions about a lot of things, but that one really stuck out.”
McMahon pointed out that DeMatha’s players were not alone, noting that former All-Met guards Kendall Marshall of O’Connell and Tyler Thornton of Gonzaga at the time were starting for Atlantic Coast Conference rivals North Carolina and Duke, respectively.
Of course, long ago, there was an issue with where DeMatha basketball players would go – or not go – to college as a rift between former coaches John Thompson Jr. of Georgetown and Morgan Wootten of DeMatha led Thompson to not recruit players from the high school.