Nick Cross of DeMatha, the top-ranked football recruit in the state of Maryland for the Class of 2019, has signed to play at the University of Maryland, the program announced Tuesday.
Cross, a defensive back rated as a four-star recruit, is the first No. 1-ranked player from Maryland to sign to play in College Park since Damian Prince in 2014. Terrapins Coach Michael Locksley, in separate stints as Maryland’s offensive coordinator and now head coach, was the primary recruiter for both players.
Cross had been committed to Florida State since September and had described the program as his “dream school” on multiple occasions. But once the 6-foot, 206-pound defensive back did not sign with the Seminoles during the early signing period in December, the race began for other programs to flip Cross.
Cross, the nation’s No. 4 safety in the Class of 2019 according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, started getting recruited heavily by Penn State, Maryland, Georgia and LSU in the past few months. Cross took an official visit to Penn State and an unofficial visit to Georgia in the week leading up to National Signing Day on Feb. 6.
However, Cross decided he would not make an announcement on signing day, instead opting further mulling his decision between Florida State, Penn State and Maryland.
“It’s a great opportunity for Nick,” said DeMatha defensive coordinator Josh Wilson, a former Maryland cornerback. “He now has a home.”
Maryland has a lot of local ties for Cross, with his high school coach, Elijah Brooks, becoming Maryland’s running backs coach under Locksley in December. The high school has sent multiple players to Maryland, with their campuses separated by fewer than three miles.
Cross plans to participate in both football and track and field while in college.
Cross represents a significant victory for Locksley at Maryland. Recruiting had mostly stagnated last season, which was overwhelmed by controversy and staff uncertainty in the wake of the June death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair and the suspension, reinstatement and firing of head coach DJ Durkin.
Maryland hired Locksley on Dec. 4, but his recruiting efforts were limited by the slow process of hiring his staff and his commitment to finish last season as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. During the December early signing period, when most top programs finalize nearly their entire recruiting classes, Maryland brought in just six signees. Only one of those players, wide receiver Isaiah Hazel, was a four-star recruit.
When Locksley became Maryland’s head football coach, he inherited a 2019 signing class ranked last in the Big Ten, and the Terrapins did not improve their ranking until last week, when Locksley and his staff signed 11 players, highlighted by Lance LeGendre, a four-star quarterback from New Orleans.
Cross was viewed as perhaps the top recruit in Florida State’s signing class, and now ranks at the top of Locksley’s.
Emily Giambalvo contributed to this report.