Randy Edsall loves to recruit converted wrestlers. That became clear at the outset of Perry Hills’s tenure as the Maryland football team’s starting quarterback, when almost every press conference came tagged with some rave reviews about his toughness, grit or other intangible born on the mat.
So it’s no surprise to see Shane Cockerille, a former state-champion wrestler from Gilman School, become the newest wrestler/quarterback to sign with the Terrapins. In fact, Cockerille is the only signal-caller in Maryland’s class of 2013, officially announced Wednesday on National Signing Day. Edsall and his staff planned to sign just one quarterback, and they got their man.
A speedy quarterback capable at running the read option, Cockerille will fit neatly into offensive coordinator Mike Locksley’s zone-read scheme. As a senior, Cockerille rushed for 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns. Many scouts, which consistently ranked Cockerille as a four-star prospect, viewed him as a run-first quarterback, simply because that’s what Gilman needed from him. But Edsall saw passing potential as well in the lifelong Terps fan, who’s served as an ambassador of sorts to his younger teammates receiving looks from Maryland.
“Shane will fit in well with what we’re doing offensively,” Edsall said. “He’s a guy who can throw the ball. I think Shane’s a much better thrower than what people would ever give him credit for. At Gilman, they ran the ball quite a bit with him, but he can make every throw that you want him to make. The more he works, the more he’s involved, he’ll even get that much better. He’s a much better passer than what people think he’d be, given what he had to do before he came here.”
With Hills, C.J. Brown, Caleb Rowe returning under center and Ricardo Young joining the active roster after transferring into the program (not to mention defensive back Milan Collins, himself a high school quarterback), the Terps certainly have no shortage of options. Yet unless ACLs start ripping like paper again, Cockerille likely will learn the offense from the sideline, taking a redshirt year behind Brown and Co. But Edsall seems very high on his potential.
“We targeted one quarterback,” Edsall said. “We got the one that we targeted. I think he’s an outstanding quarterback. I think that he proved himself in the things he was involved with. Biff Poggi, the head coach at Gilman, does the things he needs to do to help his team win football games. But Shane is a guy who can throw the ball. We’re blessed that we were able to get him.”
>> Maryland entered this recruiting period with clear positional goals, and fared extremely well. The Terps secured a commitment from their top tight end target in Andrew Isaacs, and snagged three wide receivers as well. According to Edsall, Maryland will play Deon Long at the “X” receiver position, DeAndre Lane in the slot and Taivon Jacobs at the “Z.”
>> The Terps scored commitments from four players at Friendship Collegiate Academy – offensive lineman Derwin Gray, linebacker Yannick Ngakoue, defensive end Cavon Walker and linebacker Jermaine Carter. All four transferred into Friendship at one point as Edsall noted, but it’s still quite the score for Maryland. Over the past five years, Friendship has seen 80 players receive college scholarships.
“That’s a tremendous coup for us to be able to get four of those kids,” Edsall said.
>> Some quick quotes from Edsall on a couple of prospects.
Safety Elvis Dennah, who played defensive end in high school:
We were talking about that yesterday, when we were watching the highlight film of all these guys. It surprises me that he wasn’t more heavily recruited when you watch him play. We had the opportunity to see Elvis in camp. We were able to watch him perform firsthand. All of a sudden you don’t see him playing the position you project him to on film. It was our fortune that he was here at camp, we got a chance to see him. He played the position that Kenny needed him to play for his team.
Elvis has a unique story. He really has a unique story. There’s a guy who’s going to school, working, doing those things he needs to do to help his family. Very, very special young man. But he’s got a unique story. Glad to have him here.
Defensive lineman Kingsley Opara, who was a self-proclaimed “soft commitment” for some time:
Kingsley had everyone on edge other than the coaches, people following him on Twitter and those sorts of things. We never worry as coaches. Believe that and I’ll sell you some waterfront property in Arizona too.
He plays a lot better than what he is. He’s a guy who can be a return guy for us, and just glad that we got him. Glad that he’s here. He’s going to be a young man who will have a tremendous impact on our team.