- Jamie Newberg, RecruitingNation
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Beware of the turtle.
Ralph Friedgen and Maryland are off to quite a start with their 2011 recruiting class, having received 12 commitments from six different states and Washington D.C.
The Terrapins have changed their approach to recruiting by being aggressive and putting an emphasis on speed at every position. Friedgen's staff is trusting its evaluations and has not been afraid to be the first to offer a prospect. This approach may be starting to pay dividends.
From Florida to the upper Northeast, Maryland has combed the eastern seaboard, hunting for speed. There is plenty of talent headed their way but the two headliners are wide receiver Marcus Leak and outside linebacker Shaun Ward.
Who the Terrapins have
Leak, a three-star prospect from Parkwood High School (Monroe, N.C.), is a big play threat who can get behind the defense and cause problems by getting yards after the catch. Joining him is another receiver from the Tar Heel state -- Nigel King. King (Wakefield/Raleigh, N.C.) is bigger (6-3/200) and more physical than Leak and great in the air. With receiver being a big need for this offense, Maryland is off to a very good start with this duo.
Being one of the few teams that still uses a fullback, Maryland again helped its offense by landing the nation's No. 2-rated fullback prospect in Tyler Cierski (Mill Creek/Hoschton, Ga.). Cierski is old-school; he can block, run and catch and has good size (6-1/240). This fills a big need because the Terrapins will lose two upper classmen to graduation.
Another need position for the Terrapins is the offensive line. So far Maryland has gotten commitments from a trio of big men in three-star prospects Larry Mazyck (6-6/315), Evan Mulrooney (6-4/285), and Ryan Doyle (6-5/244). Mazyck is long and has great feet. Mulrooney looks versatile; a potential inside and outside guy that's physical and finishes well. Doyle doesn't have the size yet but moves very well.
Ward (Boyd Anderson/Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.), a three-star prospect, leads the defensive prospects. As an outside linebacker/defensive end, Ward is cat quick and speedy off the edge as well as being a terrific pass rusher.
With linebacker being a need, Ward is a good pickup, but keep an eye out for two other commitments -- Cole Farrand (6-2/235) and Delonte Morton (6-1/250). Morton is an inside guy while Farrand is an intriguing prospect because he's long, versatile and athletic.
Maryland has commitments from two potential cornerbacks in Allen Ramsey and athlete Jeremiah Hendy. Ramsey (Dillard/Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) is a big play defensive back that plays the ball well in the air and is physical in run support while, Hendy, a local prospect from Bowie (Md.) High School, could play on either side of the ball at receiver or cornerback but looks like he will first get a shot on defense.
Who the Terrapins still want
With a dozen commitments already in the fold, what's left for Maryland? Look for the Terrapins to continue to look out of state, as it's somewhat of a down year locally. They would love to land four-star athlete Darius Jennings (Gilman/Baltimore), but that could prove to be tough. Four-star cornerback Blake Countess (Good Counsel/Owings Mills, Md.) is another local product and the Terps might have a better shot at landing him.
Wide receiver/tight end Richard Rogers (Shrewsbury, Ma.), speedy athlete Damiere Byrd (Sicklerville, N.J.), offensive tackle Trip Thurman (Dover, De.), tight end Ryan Malleck (Point Pleasant, N.J.), offensive tackle Andrew Zeller (Red Lion, Pa.), defensive end Quenton Jefferson (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and wide receiver Quinta Funderburke (Chesapeake, Va.) are all being heavily courted by the Terrapins.
Sibling ties could also benefit Maryland recruiting in 2011. Talented cornerback Mike Williams (DeMatha Catholic/Hyattsville, Md.) is the brother of former Maryland and current Minnesota Vikings defensive back Madieu Williams. Then there is three-star linebacker Travis Hughes (Virginia Beach, Va.), the younger brother of Maryland defensive back Trenton Hughes. Connor Wujciak (West Orange, N.J.) is a three-star defensive end that could follow his brother (Alex) to Maryland as well.
At this point, it doesn't appear that Maryland will sign a quarterback in this class.
Look for the Terrapins to have a final haul of around 20 prospects, and with the aggressiveness and emphasis on speed, this could turn out to be one of the best classes of the Friedgen era.
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After a disappointing 2009 season, Ralph Friedgen and Maryland have changed their recruiting approach by being aggressive and looking for speed.