In third grade, Jordan Noil built a leprechaun trap. His teacher assigned the class a construction project, so he brainstormed the idea himself and erected a two-story house from spare cardboard. Walk up the staircase, into a room with the tantalizing pot of gold at the center. Approach the shimmering pot, stuffed with chocolate coins wrapped in foil, hands trembling for the prize, when the floor collapses. A cage plummets from above and – boom – you’ve caught yourself a leprechaun.
“It was the best one of them all,” the future Maryland safety said, because the teacher awarded him an “A” and afterwards he ate the gold.
Juxtapose this with how Noil’s light recruitment ended last weekend, without much fanfare or recognition, with an oral commitment to the Terrapins. It happened silently on Saturday night, with a simple call to Coach Randy Edsall before dinner.
Maryland provided Noil’s first Division I offer, and Kansas State was the only other Football Bowl Subdivision school to follow. Others like Georgia State, Appalachian State, Buffalo and Charlotte also offered scholarships, but none were more enticing than the Terrapins. And so analysts have labeled Noil either “underrated,” “overlooked” or sometimes both, a two-star safety from Norcross (Ga.) High School in whom Edsall saw something others didn’t.
“I got what I got,” Noil said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “I’m happy for what I’ve got. I don’t really think of myself as underrated. I’m definitely up there, not trying to be cocky or anything. But they may think I’m underrated, when they see me out there, there’s people who know I’m good, but they don’t realize it until I get out there.”
Noil officially visited Maryland during its 37-0 rout of West Virginia on Sept. 21, and toured the campus with his host, starting safety Anthony Nixon. Unsurprisingly, Noil wants to major in architecture or engineering, though he also likes learning about injuries, so maybe sports medicine, too.
A two-way weapon for the 3-2, run-first Blue Devils, Noil plans to focus exclusively on defense in College Park, and that’s where Edsall will have him. He becomes the program’s 13th commitment for its class of 2014, the fourth defensive player and the first defensive back.
On his visit, Noil wanted the hard truth with no sugarcoating, and Nixon gave it.
“He was a good host,” Noil said. “He took me out, showed me around, helped me meet some people. He was a good guy, nice, he was just one of those good players. He was pretty good.
“He was basically telling me how he wasn’t trying to juice it all up or anything. He was telling me the realities about what goes on and everything, how it’s really going to be when I get there so I don’t have my hopes up, everything out there, and be like this isn’t what they told me.”
Noil had planned to announce his commitment this coming weekend, on his own terms. But the news leaked out this Tuesday afternoon, three days after he called Edsall after sunset. Relieved that the decision was behind him, he celebrated at dinner with his mother, because he’s not the type to demand attention.
Except maybe the leprechaun trap. He was proud of that cardboard thing.