After failing to attract some of the area’s top high school football talent in recent years, Maryland has made strides locally — especially at one high school that has gained notoriety thanks to its recent success and enjoyed an influx of talent.
When Maryland coaches offered Friendship Collegiate linebacker Jermaine Clark this week, he became the fifth player on the Knights roster with an offer from the school. Junior lineman Derwin Gray, sophomore Jalen Tabor, a highly touted defensive back, junior linebacker Yannick Ngakoue and junior linebacker Cavon Walker all have scholarship offers from Maryland.
“They have got to get some of these locals like they did with [Good Counsel top recruit] Stefon [Diggs] last year,” Friendship Collegiate Coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim said. “They want to keep that pattern going. There’s too much talent in this area.”
It’s not just that Maryland has offered five of Friendship Collegiate’s best players, but the Terps are likely finalists for them. Maryland is in good standing with Tabor, whose long list of suitors includes Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.
“I know they’re going to be in consideration for sure,” Abdul-Rahim said. “If he had a top five or 10, Maryland would be in.”
After its most successful season in school history last fall, Friendship Collegiate, a public charter school in Northeast, enjoyed a new crop of transfers. Gray, a massive 6-foot-5, 260-pound lineman who missed his junior year at Dunbar except for one game because of poor grades, transferred to Friendship Collegiate this winter. Walker transferred from Dunbar earlier this school year.
(Abdul-Rahim has said his current players recruited incoming ones.)
The former Dunbar players were joined by Ngakoue and Clark, who transferred after their junior seasons at Carroll last fall. Ngakoue, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound linebacker-defensive end hybrid, exploded as a recruit since his junior season in which he recorded 72 tackles and eight sacks. He has also has a long list of offers: Auburn, Georgia Tech, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Tennessee and Virginia, among others. Clark, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker, has offers from Boston College, Colorado, Hawaii, Old Dominion and Syracuse.
Maryland is also close to offering sophomore Jonathan Haden (who transferred from Carroll) and sophomore Daejuan Funderburk (who transferred from Northwood), Abdul-Rahim said. Haden, a 5-foot-8, 190-pound running back, has offers from North Carolina and Ohio State. Funderburk, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound running back, has offers from Georgia Tech and Tennessee.
Maryland’s heralded 2012 recruiting class, which includes Diggs, the All-Met Defensive Player of the Year, Friendship All-Met running back Albert Reid, Good Counsel All-Met lineman Michael Madaras, Eleanor Roosevelt All-Met linebacker Shawn Petty and Good Counsel standout running back Wes Brown. The Terrapins benefitted from the addition of offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, a Ballou graduate with strong local ties to area high school coaches.
Having College Park so close is also a benefit because top local players can make an easy trip to the school and build a relationship with assistant coaches, Abdul-Rahim said. . . .
After playing a schedule against out-of-area teams, Friendship Collegiate will do much of the same this upcoming fall. The Knights are scheduled to face only two local teams: opening the season against host St. John’s on Aug. 25 and against North Point, for the second straight year, later in the season, Abdul-Rahim said. They will also again play Bergen Catholic, a tough New Jersey private school, and Eastern Christian Academy, whose top players were previously at Red Lion, on Sept. 8 as part of the 2012 Patriot Classic at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.