Shortly after he began a news conference to trumpet one of the best recruiting classes in Maryland football history on Wednesday, Terrapins Coach DJ Durkin had a confession to make. “It’s hard to wipe this smile off my face,” he said, grinning ear to ear as he looked out across the auditorium at Gossett Team House. Over the next 45 minutes, as Durkin made his statements, Maryland lost out on two prospective local signings as St. John’s linebacker Kofi Wardlow reneged on his pledge to the Terrapins and signed with Notre Dame, while Riverdale Baptist defensive back Tariq Castro-Fields inked with Penn State over Maryland and Alabama.

But even those misses couldn’t suppress a genuine joy from the ultra-intense Durkin. That Maryland remained ranked among the top 20 national classes across all the major recruiting services without Wardlow and Castro-Fields only accentuated the quality and depth of the 28 signees introduced on Wednesday. The collection included 11 four-star prospects and five players ranked in the ESPN 300 – the most ever in one recruiting cycle for the Terrapins – and the foundation of the class was built on Durkin’s promise to lure homegrown talent to his rebuilding program. The class includes 17 players from the Washington area, eight of those from the prestigious Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. There are nine of the top 20 players from Maryland, and three of the District’s top nine players, according to the recruiting service Rivals.

“There’s no secret about it. That’s our formula. We’re going to take care of our backyard, we’re going to win here in the DMV. And build our team with that being our foundation,” Durkin said.

It will likely not be known for several seasons if this class lives up to the hype, but Wednesday was Durkin’s next step in setting a standard of stellar recruiting at Maryland. The day began with a surprise – Virginia Tech wide receiver commit Tahj Capeheart reneged on his commitment to the Hokies and signed with the Terrapins shortly before 8 a.m. – and Maryland moved the needle more a couple hours later by receiving a surprise commitment from Cordarrian Richardson, a four-star prospect from the Memphis area. The former Clemson commit, who is ranked as the seventh-best running back in the country by 247sports.com, also considered Ole Miss, Michigan State and Oklahoma before announcing his decision in a Bleacher Report video on Wednesday morning.

It remains unclear when Richardson might sign his national letter-of-intent, but Maryland’s class was already headlined with the signing of four-star DeMatha running back Anthony McFarland Jr. on Wednesday. The sheer size of the class was by design – Durkin planned to reshape his roster with as many as 30 signees, and he made room by enrolling seven players last month, including four defensive backs who are expected to contribute immediately to a thin secondary. Among the signees are eight linemen, including local four-star DeMatha offensive guard Marcus Minor; six wide receivers; three running backs; and a potential answer at quarterback in four-star St. John’s prospect Kasim Hill.

“He can make all the throws, he can run with the ball. He’s 230 pounds. I mean the guy is a freak of nature,” Durkin said. “He was a huge a huge part of putting this class together, because he has that leadership quality about him.”

The early enrollees included four-star safety Markquese Bell, a highly touted New Jersey prospect whom Durkin said on Wednesday “looks like an NFL safety,” as well as four-star defensive back Deon Jones, who hails from Potomac High School in Maryland and helped recruit local players himself after committing last July. The local crop has stuck together and has committed to Durkin’s future, he said, hoping to set a standard for a local movement that gained considerable credibility on Wednesday.

“Guys pushed me to come. Our class is very strong. I feel as though our class knows each other really well. We all talk, we all follow each other,” Jones said. “We were pretty much recruiting each other, and we pretty much said as a whole, this is something that we want to do. This is something that we’re willing to do.”

Maryland Class of 2017 Signees
(Does not include early enrollees, who can be found here)

Tahj Capeheart
Position: Wide receiver
High School: Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach)
Height, weight: 5-10, 178
Rank: Three stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Capeheart here

Anthony McFarland Jr.
Position: Running back
High School: DeMatha
Height, weight: 5-9, 203
Rank: Four stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of McFarland here

Marcus Minor
Position: Offensive guard
High School: DeMatha
Height, weight: 6-5, 290
Rank: Four stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Minor here

Kasim Hill
Position: Quarterback
High School: St. John’s
Height, weight: 6-3, 215
Rank: Four stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Hill here

Johnny Jordan
Position: Center
High School: Gonzaga
Height, weight: 6-2, 290
Rank: Three stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Jordan here

Andrew Park
Position: Tight end
High School: Lake Braddock
Height, weight: 6-5, 245
Rank: Three stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Park here

Cam Spence
Position: Defensive tackle
High School: St. John’s
Height, weight: 6-3, 315
Rank: Four stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Spence here

Ayinde Eley
Position: Outside linebacker
High School: Good Counsel
Height, weight: 6-5, 205
Rank: Three stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Eley here

Jalen Browder
Position: Athlete
High School: East Paulding (Dallas, Ga.)
Height, weight: 6-3, 185
Rank: Three stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Browder here

B’Ahmad Miller
Position: Defensive end
High School: St. Frances Academy (Baltimore)
Height, weight: 6-3, 235
Rank: Three stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Miller here

MJ Jarrell
Position: Wide receiver
High School: Timber Creek (Orlando)
Height, weight: 6-2, 183
Rank: Three stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Jarrell here

Jayden Comma
Position: Wide receiver
High School: Roswell (Roswell, Ga.)
Height, weight: 6-2, 205
Rank: Three stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Comma here

Breyon Gaddy
Position: Defensive tackle
High School: Bishop Catholic (Virginia Beach)
Height, weight: 6-5, 335
Rank: Four stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Gaddy here.

Brandon Gaddy
Position: Defensive tackle
High School: Bishop Catholic (Virginia Beach)
Height, weight: 6-5, 289
Rank: Three stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Gaddy here

Javon Leake
Position: Running back
High School: Page (Greensboro, N.C)
Height, weight: 6-1, 195
Rank: Three stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Leake here

Carlos Carriere
Position: Wide receiver
High School: Alpharetta (Alpharetta, Ga.)
Height, weight: 6-5, 170
Rank: Three stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Carriere here

Tayon Fleet-Davis
Position: Running back
High School: Potomac (Md.)
Height, weight: 6-0, 210
Rank: Three stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Fleet-Davis here

Jordan McNair
Position: Offensive tackle
High School: McDonogh School
Height, weight: 6-5, 290
Rank: Four stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of McNair here

https://twitter.com/TerpsFootball/status/826839364579770368

Lawtez Rogers
Position: Defensive end
High School: Eleanor Roosevelt
Height, weight: 6-4, 235
Rank: Three stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Rogers here

Kenny Bennett
Position: Defensive back
High School: Simon Gratz (Philadelphia)
Height, weight: 6-2, 195
Rank: Three stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Bennett here

Sean Nelson
Position: Wide receiver
High School: Langston Hughes (Fairburn, Ga.)
Height, weight: 6-2, 180
Rank: Three stars by 247Sports.com
Video highlights of Nelson here