As Maryland Coach DJ Durkin gushed over his 2018 recruiting class during the inaugural early national signing day in late December, he knew he still had work to do. He had a about month before the traditional National Signing Day — which commenced Wednesday morning — to find a cornerback to help solidify the future of his secondary.
But Durkin had already been recruiting Kenric Montgomery Jr. for months on end, checking in on the talented Tampa prospect whenever he could. “In the end, that’s probably what won out,” Durkin said Wednesday as he celebrated the signing of Montgomery, a four-star cornerback who chose the Terrapins over Nebraska, Louisville and UCLA. “A lot of teams were making a run at him late, but we had built a good relationship. Our coaching staff did a great job. That comfort level, that relationship is what held us up in the end.”
Montgomery’s decision to sign was a key recruiting victory for Durkin, who in January lost a commitment from H.D. Woodson star cornerback Noah Boykin. Boykin pledged to Notre Dame on Wednesday, but Maryland is encouraged by what it is acquiring in Montgomery, a 6-foot-1, 165-pound defensive back who becomes the third player ranked in ESPN’s Top 300 to join the Terrapins’ 2018 class. Maryland’s class, heavy with offensive and defensive line prospects, had only one other defensive back sign in December — Boykin’s H.D. Woodson teammate, Vincent Flythe.
“[Montgomery] is unique in that he has great movement skills, along with length. A lot of the time you look at corners, it’s either one or the other … sometimes you find those unique guys that have both,” Durkin said. “You mix that with his tremendous ball skills … we think we got a great one here.”
Montgomery was the lone Maryland player to sign Wednesday, filling an important need and leaving Durkin with an idea of how he wants to conduct his recruiting in the years to come. He’d rather sign the bulk of his class during the early period and fill one or two holes in his roster each February.
“That would be the blueprint. I don’t know if it would play that way every year. It’s kind of case-by-case based,” Durkin said. “But overall I can feel that probably is how it’s going to go, and I think that’s good.”
Montgomery’s signing bumped Maryland to No. 26 in national recruiting rankings conducted by 247sports.com. It also reflects Durkin’s continued commitment to recruiting the Washington area — of the 23 signees, 15 played at local high schools — and also Florida. The haul includes Byron Cowart, a Tampa native and former No. 1 prospect in 2015 who left Auburn last year, as well as wide receiver Jeshuan Jones and outside linebacker Fa’Najae Gotay, both of whom hail from the Fort Myers area. Those players all signed in December.
More college sports: