Terps weighed Big Ten move during recruitment process

February 7, 2013

Barring some sort of roadblock, this incoming Terrapins football recruiting class will be the last ever to compete in both the ACC and Big Ten. Of course, the 2013 season represents Maryland’s last gasp before bolting for greener, more Midwestern pastures.

The impending move put Coach Randy Edsall and his staff in a precarious position. At the earliest, coaches weren’t notified by administration of the impending move until November, due to the nondisclosure agreement signed between the Big Ten and Maryland. The recruiting cycle would continue for months, right up until Wednesday’s National Signing Day, but far too late to shift gears into Big Ten territory.

And so Maryland’s 22-person recruiting class, including three early enrollees, wound up looking like this:

Markers represent home towns. The Terps got two recruits from Georgia, three from Florida, one from Connecticut, one from Delaware and one from California (junior college transfer Silvano Altamirano). Otherwise, 14 came from Maryland and Washington, so Edsall clearly had no struggles locking down homegrown talent. But there’s also a clear departure from traditional territory. Maryland had nine players from Pennsylvania on its roster last season, seven from North Carolina, five from Georgia, five from Florida and three from South Carolina. The Terps scored some solid recruits from Florida and Georgia, but where shut out in those other regions.

Edsall has spoken publicly about pulling recruiters from Florida and other southern areas, while focusing more on Midwestern hotbeds like Chicago.

“We’re going to have a philosophy in terms of where we want to be and what we’re going to have to do to be successful,” Edsall said Wednesday. “My concern is yeah, we have to play the ACC this year for one more year, and we’ll focus and concentrate on that, but then we’ll get into the Big Ten. We have a plan and a formula that we want to go into the Big Ten with, in terms of what we think we’re able to do. We’re gearing towards that this year, and we’ll continue to go more in that direction moving forward.”

Maryland’s last-minute surge shot the Terps up multiple national class rankings, finishing 30th according to Rivals.com. They pulled in the fifth-best class in the ACC, according to Rivals, but would have the fourth-best class if you put them in the Big Ten.

“I’m just finding that out because you’re telling me,” Edsall said after being informed of Maryland’s potential Big Ten ranking. “I really don’t concern myself with that. Because I know what we need here in order to be successful. You can take a look at the different organizations that do rank kids, and there’s so much disparity between that. I just know that there’s an opportunity here at Maryland, because of where we’re located, to get a lot of good players and a lot of skilled athletes that have speed and ability.

“What we’re going to go is get the kids from this area we feel can make us better, then we’ll go to Florida, we’ll go to Georgia and some other places. We’ll go out to the Midwest and get other kids who can come in and help us. One of the things we feel like we can do here, we feel like we can really do ourselves well by getting really, really skilled athletes. We have the ability to do that because of the kids who are here.”

But make no mistake. Edsall and his staff sold the Big Ten. They sold the appeal of playing in multiple conferences, of competing in some of the nation’s most historic stadiums, in a league ripe with tradition.

“All the kids we recruited, they were very excited about the opportunity to play in the Big Ten and what that would bring,” Edsall said. “It’s something that we sold, it was something that was enticing to a lot of them and they wanted to partake in the challenge we’re going to have, going to that conference.”

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · February 7, 2013

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