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Maryland transfers might be sending troubling message

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Does six players leaving the Maryland football team constitute a stampede, or is it merely the expected amount of attrition after the first season under a new coach? That’s the question as three more Terrapins announced they will take their talents elsewhere.

In all likelihood the total will rise to at least seven: Exactly no one would be surprised to see quarterback Danny O’Brien, who saw his life completely change in the past 12 months and not for the better, to depart as well.

Coach Randy Edsall wishes them well. What else can he do? I’m sure he expected a few defections after a 2-10 season. That, coupled with the implementation of a host of new rules that at least some — and perhaps many — players considered draconian, apparently doesn’t engender a real desire to hang around and see what happens.

For the Maryland program, what should be most troubling about these particular departures is that four of them are from this area — right in Maryland’s wheelhouse, so to speak, where recruiting is concerned. Defensive lineman David Mackall, who bid an early farewell, is from Baltimore. The latest trio is all from Maryland as well: Rahsaan Moore (District Heights), Titus Till (Upper Marlboro) and Jeremiah Wilson (Forestville).

The problem is not just that the loss of these four players (in addition to D.J. Adams of Georgia and R.J. Dill of Pennsylvania) leaves holes to be filled, but that the reasons behind the departures might make those holes tougher to fill.

Players know one another. They talk. Social media makes it easier than ever for them to keep in touch with opponents, players they meet at all-star games and camps — and their former teammates who are still in high school. In other words, potential recruits can easily find out exactly who’s leaving a program — and why.

Gossip about the toughness or lack thereof of a school’s coach is certainly not going to be the only factor for any player debating whether to sign a letter-of-intent. But seeing a player willing to walk away from a scholarship and subject himself to the NCAA’s oppressive transfer rules raises some eyebrows, and not just among Maryland fans.

The Terps have been criticized for not being able to keep the state’s best and brightest at home; this news may not help in that effort at a time when they need a good recruiting class to fill some empty seats and change the current story arc in College Park.

Of course, a college scholarship is not to be taken lightly, and Maryland will eventually fill all its holes. It may even fill those holes with outstanding players. God knows there will be opportunities to play immediately. But the Terps need to offer more than a slew of defections and a closet full of mix-and-match outfits.

Edsall and his highly compensated coaching staff will be put to the test. Their off-season performance will need to improve upon their in-season record by leaps and bounds.

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