There was a point last month when Damian Prince felt ready to commit to one of the nearly 40 Division I football programs that have offered him scholarships. The process had started to wear on the highly touted senior offensive lineman from McNamara, as fan messages, address requests, check-in calls and even death threats flooding his phone and social media.
But after a talk with McNamara Coach Keith Goganious and a bit of self-reflection, Prince realized that his college decision was one he needed to make on his own terms. Prince’s plan is to now take a gradual approach, one that began recently with him snipping his laundry list of schools down to 10.
On Monday, Prince revealed that list consists of Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Maryland, Ohio State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Prince will next cut the list to six before stopping all communication with college coaches on August 8 to focus on his senior campaign with the Mustangs.
“I try to prioritize as much as possible because the process can be a lot,” said Prince, who declined to name the school he almost committed to in June. “I didn’t want to take any visits while I was committed somewhere, so I’m going to take my time, definitely wait until Signing Day and do the whole hat thing.
“But my high school season is more important than college right now, so starting on August 8, I’m focusing on achieving my goals here,” Prince continued. “I won’t be done with recruiting; I just won’t be talking to coaches until after the season when I start setting up official visits in December.”
Out of those 10 schools, Prince said that Maryland has recruited him the hardest, especially of late. Estimating that he’s been on the College Park campus “about seven times” since school closed and with another unofficial visit planned this weekend, Prince has gotten to know a lot of the players and coaches well. In turn, the coaches have opened up opportunities for Prince to see team workouts and meetings to get a better grasp of the program.
“In the past, I hadn’t really seen a big effort from Maryland, but starting about a month ago, they didn’t just pick it up; they turned it all the way out,” Prince said. “Them being the hometown school, they have that advantage where I can just get on the train without transferring lines and be there.”
Ranked as the No. 10 overall recruit by Rivals, No. 18 overall by ESPN and within the top three nationally at his position by both services, Prince has been sought after for his imposing size, quickness and power on the offensive line. Since the end of last season, the six-foot-six Prince has dropped more than 30 pounds, trimming down to a more nimble weight of about 295 pounds thanks to a healthier diet. (Check back next week for more on Prince’s transformation and training in the fifth installment of our summer workout series).
While Maryland has pursued the All-Met lineman the hardest, it pales in comparison to what he’s encountered with some fans. As is often the case with top recruits, Prince has been inundated with tweets and Facebook posts, most of which claim to be from his “number one fan” while clamoring for him to come to their favorite school. But others have taken a more disturbing approach, with one mysteriously obtaining his phone number and sending death threats.
“They were like ‘If you don’t come to our school, we’ll kill you and your family’ and ‘we know where you live,” Prince recalled. “Somehow they got my number and FaceTimed me, flashing guns and saying stuff. But they didn’t block their number or anything, so they weren’t too smart.
“Obviously, it can get very, very, very crazy,” Prince said. “It bothered me at first, but I just brushed it off and once I kept declining the number, it just faded away. You just have to keep your circle small and prioritize, but I’m not going to lie; it’s hard sometimes.”
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