Fans had come as early as noon to watch the five-star recruit, the All-Met Defensive Player of the Year, announce his decision to play for Maryland. By 5 p.m. it was standing room only in the main room of the bar, located just a 40-yard dash away from campus.
Diggs snuck into the place almost unnoticed wearing a beige sweater and tie, with black-rimmed glasses. He meandered in front of the stage before dashing out the side door – he forgot the hats he would use to make the choice – and then re-entered.
Then, the man of the hour, who had waited nine days after national signing day to make the choice, picked up the mic and started the show. After a false start — “hold on,” he said — Diggs lined up a Florida and Ohio State hat on the table and thanked those who had helped him make the decision.
“It’s time to make that big decision,” Diggs said. “I feel good about my decision, I feel 100 percent sure. I want to win a championship. I want to win bowl games. Where else is a better place to do it than your city?”
Diggs reached under the table and pulled out a Maryland hat as the crowd at the bar broke into a frenzy. Later, Diggs would bounce on stage in time with the fans who bounced before him and chanted.
After the announcement Diggs talked about why he decided to stay at Maryland. He touched on offensive coordinator Mike Locksley’s influence – “I talked to him on numerous occasions, he’s a great guy.” – and a desire to keep other recruits in the area. He also said staying close to home was a major factor.
“Why Maryland? This is where I’m from,” Diggs said. “This is where the most people support me, this is where everybody can come see me play. Most of all I wanted to see my brother progress. He’s going into high school, and I just want to see him grow up. … I wanted to be the one to watch my little brother progress.”
Diggs’s brother, Trevon, 13, is expected to reclassify next year but hopes to eventually play at either Landon or Gonzaga.
Diggs also said he felt he would have no problem fitting into Maryland Coach Randy Edsall’s structured environment. When asked what he thought about Edsall, Diggs came back with nothing but praise.
“He’s a good guy. He’s a very stand-up guy,” Diggs said. “I believe in his plan for succeeding in the classroom academically, and that’s one of the important reasons I chose Maryland cause I feel like I’ll succeed. He accepts nothing but your best. Some people have a problem with it but it’s nothing wrong with structure.”
After much of the crowd had cleared out, Diggs stayed at the restaurant. He posed for pictures with fans on stage and off before finally sitting down and eating dinner with his friends and teammates, including five-star junior Kendall Fuller. Many Terps fans at Looney’s had already called Fuller’s name out earlier in the night, saying, “Kendall! You’re next!”
Check back next February on that one, Friday night, that Maryland hat never left Stefon Diggs’s head.