Maryland Head Coach D.J. Durkin didn’t shy away from the fact that the Big Ten is one of the toughest college football conferences in the nation.
Even though, the Terps made major strides during the 2016 season, they are still yards away from being a championship caliber team.
“We’re definitely not there yet in terms of where we want to be, from one through 85 or one through 105,” Durkin said at the Big Ten Football Media Day on Monday. “But we’re certainly a lot closer, and I like where we’re at.”
Maryland will enter the 2017 season under the shadows of teams like Ohio State and Michigan, but Durkin believes the Terps are getting closer to being really competitive in the Big Ten.
“Our conference as a whole and obviously in our division, you can definitely make an argument it’s the most competitive there is out there,” Durkin said. “We have some guys on our team, on our campus, on our roster that we’re working really hard, developing and working with, they’re doing a great job.”
One of the reasons Durkin thinks Maryland is heading into the right direction is the team’s recruiting class, which features many talented players from the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area.
“I think we took a great first step with that recruiting class we just put together,” Durkin said. “We’re recruiting at a level that will put us in the position we want to be in, which is we’re here to win championships.”
Being able to recruit in their own backyard has been a major benefit for Durkin, and his staff since the DMV area is known for producing some of the top athletes in the country.
“I really feel like in our backyard there’s a strong group of talent every year, year in and year out,” Durkin said. “If you do well in your backyard you can survive on and win a lot of games, win championships with. I don’t know if that’s the case everywhere.”
Maryland’s location played a big role as recruits from the area are able to visit College Park easier than other schools.
“We have the ability to get guys on campus a bunch just because of geographically where we’re located,” Durkin said. “Within a three-hour radius of our campus is some of the best talent, best players in the country, so when you have those guys there, we can get them on campus frequently and get them there.”
The Terps’ freshmen class includes numerous four-star recruits like quarterback Kasim Hill, running back Anthony McFarland, cornerback Markquese Bell, offensive lineman Marcus Minor and defensive lineman Cam Spence.
Add those players with Maryland’s 14 returning players, the Terps have a roster that can compete with anyone.
“We’re here to compete, to win it. That’s why we’re here, that’s what we’re going to do,” Durkin said. “I think we have a team we can go compete with anyone we play.”