BALTIMORE — Melvin Keihn is a leader now, and being a leader means standing here, hunched over before a phalanx of freshmen, barking encouragement to Gilman School football newcomers, some of whom appear particularly nonplussed to be shaking ropes and heaving medicine balls. It’s an overcast Monday morning, the first Greyhounds summer workout, and the 6-foot-3 weak-side defensive end with 17 FBS offers takes the lead.
He patrols around as Gilman’s veterans receive an eight-minute rest between stations, stopping to motivate even the weakest of teammates during pushups and body squats and burpees. “Come on, men. Keep working, baby,” he says, as a steady drizzle turns into a heavy downpour. “You wanted the rain. You don’t want to be hot.”
Gone are the Greyhounds of last season’s MIAA A-conference title team, stalwarts such as quarterback Shane Cockerille (Maryland), defensive lineman Henry Poggi (Michigan) and linebacker Micah Kiser (Virginia). But younger prospects populate Coach Biff Poggi’s program, including the hotly recruited Keihn, who has scholarship offers from nine ACC schools, according to 247sports.com, and ranks among the state’s top 10 players for the class of 2014.
“I learned a lot from these kids over the years,” Keihn said. “I’ve been with them for a long time, so seeing them step up I’m able to ask them questions about how to be a leader on the field. That’s what I’m trying to do, just be the leader on this team.”
Keihn operates deliberately on the field, quick off the snap with 14 sacks and two forced fumbles last fall. At 225 pounds, there’s still room to grow once he arrives in college, but his outside speed (4.5 40-yard dash, according to this report) already separates his profile.
For all his agility, Keihn has remained patient throughout the recruiting process. He hasn’t even chopped the list down yet, though he aims to do so sometime soon. “I was thinking maybe [committing] around August, but I’m trying to get a top 10 or top six schools before August,” Keihn said. “I don’t have that either. Right now, going on visits and stuff, I’m trying to get in touch, and maybe before the season starts I’ll call it a go.”
After Wednesday’s daily workout at Gilman, Keihn will again visit Maryland, the fourth time he’s done so, this time for a full campus tour and to talk academics with the coaching staff. Cockerille used to haul teammates into College Park on Saturdays for games at Byrd Stadium, but with him reporting to Maryland summer school this week, Keihn needs a new chauffeur.
“I’m pretty sure I can just call up his dad, and he’ll pick me up,” Keihn said.
Maryland running backs coach/special teams coordinator Andre Powell has primarily handled Keihn’s recruitment, though he said offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, whose son Kai plays for Gilman, and Coach Randy Edsall frequently contact him, too.
But even with coaches calling, texting, tweeting and sending handwritten letters each day, Keihn isn’t sweating the pressure to commit anytime soon. At least, not without conducting his due diligence first.
“Some kids feel like, when the top players in the country commit, others follow,” he said. “Well you have to do what you want to do, what’s going to be best for you, you can’t rush your decision because others committed. If I’m the last person to commit, then hey, I am. Just make the right decision.”