Maryland Coach Randy Edsall unveiled a 24-man recruiting class Wednesday afternoon, highlighting what he considered the group’s depth and the athleticism and character of the players.
Edsall said the Terrapins are making inroads in the region, which includes Maryland, Virginia, Washington and Pennsylvania. He emphasized that 11 players hail from Maryland or Washington, five from Pennsylvania and one from Virginia.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the class was not ranked among the nation’s top 50, according to Rivals.com’s rankings of the top 50 recruiting classes. In the ACC, Rivals.com ranks the class seventh out of 12 teams.
“The only evaluation that matters is our evaluation,” Edsall said during a 36-minute news conference inside the Gossett Team House. “All these other evaluations on the outside really don’t mean anything to me, to our staff.”
The most touted signees, of course, include two Good Counsel High players, offensive lineman Mike Madaras and running back Wes Brown. Albert Reid, the D.C. Gatorade Player of the Year, is another highly regarded running back that will enable the Terrapins to have options at a position that lacked depth just a few weeks ago.
“I still remember the day last summer in Byrd Stadium at our passing camp,” Edsall said. “Wes was here with his team from Good Counsel competing that day. You could see the things on tape that you really liked, but on one particular play he came out of the backfield and went down the seam and caught the ball, just snagged it right out of the air, accelerated and took off. He is a big back, powerful, a guy who can catch the ball out of the backfield. He can run by people, he can run over people. He possesses a lot of qualities you really like in a running back.
“Albert is a little bit more shifty. He gives you a little bit more outside and he can make people miss. And he can catch the ball out of the backfield. Both those guys, they compete. They are great competitors.”
With the additions of Kenneth Goins and Joe Riddle, as well, Maryland had the second-best running back class in the nation, according to Scout.com.
Goins, who Edall said is expected to play fullback, is also a significant signee because Maryland has struggled to recruit players from the Gilman School the past three decades.
The class of 24 includes 12 defensive and 12 offensive players. Maryland included in the class defensive back Zach Dancel, a native of Ellicott City who will sit out next season after transferring from New Mexico, and defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson, who signed with the Terrapins last year but did not enroll until last month because of a medical condition that he declined to disclose to reporters Wednesday.
During the fall semester, Jefferson said, he worked from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. carrying heavy boxes at Best Buy. He put on weight and spoke to reporters Wednesday saying he weighed 250 pounds.
“It really humbled me,” Jefferson said of the delay to his college career.
If there is a weakness to the class, perhaps it is the absence of a defensive tackle.
Overall, the class could still get a significant boost if it secures a commitment from Stefon Diggs, a wide receiver from Good Counsel who is ranked among the top 10 players in the nation. Diggs is strongly considering Maryland and Florida.
Maryland needed to add more quarterbacks to its roster — which includes Danny O’Brien and C.J. Brown — and did so with the signing of Caleb Rowe of Landrum, S.C. and Perry Hills of Pittsburgh.
The tandem gave Maryland the 10th-best class of quarterback in the nation, according to Scout.com. Rowe was ranked the 26th-best pro-style quarterback in the nation, while Hills was ranked the 29th-best quarterback in the nation.
Edsall spoke a lot about the leadership qualities of the players signed. He said 21 of 24 were team captains and that most came from winning high school programs.
He said about 15 were at Maryland during a visit in December and they already displayed impressive camaraderie while being around one another.
“You want players who want to make a difference,” Edsall said. “These guys want to make a difference.”