With the regular season over and likely another week left until a postseason invitation is extended, the Maryland football team can bask in its best season under Coach Randy Edsall, enjoying several days off before easing back into the grind.
As their coaching staff hits the road recruiting, the Terrapins players will take this week off, save a weightlifting session on Wednesday and open weight room hours on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, Edsall said on his weekly conference call. Three straight practices starting Friday will mark Maryland’s return to the field, but with at least three weeks left until a bowl game there is little need to hurry back.
“That’ll be a situation where we won’t get into anything other than working on fundamentals, all of us working against each other, really like the first day of spring practice, but not all the full pads or anything,” Edsall said.
The Terps emerged from their 41-21 win over North Carolina State perfectly healthy and plan to return several pieces for the bowl game, barring setback. Cornerback Jeremiah Johnson made his first appearance since fracturing his toe against Florida International on Aug. 31, taking several snaps as a backup. The training staff upgraded Johnson to questionable this week, and by all accounts the junior should be ready to play in the bowl game.
“He came out of the game fine, no soreness or anything along those lines,” Edsall said. “It’s having him take more volume during practice, see how he holds up with that volume and go from there.”
Edsall also said freshman tackle Moise Larose, who suffered a mid-foot sprain several weeks ago that caused the Terps to entirely reshuffle their starting offensive line, is healthy but that new-look group has performed well enough to justify keeping Larose on the second string.
“He’s healthy, but I just feel like this is our five best guys that we have to go with,” Edsall said. “That’s the way I decided to go and that’s the way we’ll continue to go right now. Unless there’s somebody, all of a sudden, steps up, but nobody else has stepped up. That’s why it’s good to get these extra practices. Moise shouldn’t be playing this year anyhow. He should be redshirted, but we weren’t afforded that opportunity anyhow. It’s not on Moise.”
Maryland now enters a key recruiting period, seeking to hammer down more commitments for its class of 2014. DeMatha tackle Brock Ruble, for instance, took his official visit to College Park on Nov. 22 and was on hand this weekend at Carter-Finley Stadium for the Terps’ win over the host Wolfpack.
Securing more offensive linemen remains a top priority – Ruble, Bishop McNamara’s Damian Prince and Florida three-star Marcus Applefield are three undecided recruits with Terps offers – and 247sports.com recently reported interest in New York tackle Sean Christie, whose only known offer is from Albany. Edsall has already received oral commitments from four offensive linemen, counting former Under Armour all-American Derwin Gray, who delayed his arrival to attend Fork Union Military Academy for academic reasons.
With seven wins, including two of three to close the season, and Edsall’s first bowl appearance at Maryland secured, the third-year coach didn’t mince words about the affect this success can have on recruiting.
“I think it’ll give us a bump,” he said. “We’ll find out as we go out more now. The good thing is, no one’s going to be using the things they’ve been using, all the negativity our competitors have been throwing out there about a lot of different things is no longer there. I think that’ll aid us more than anything … I don’t know what they can use from a negativity standpoint.”