Maryland sophomore Terrance Davis lined up with his fellow offensive linemen against Minnesota in the Big Ten opener on Sept. 30. Davis, who stands at 6-foot-2 and 285-pounds, attempted to hold off the Golden Gophers defense while running back Lorenzo Harrison used his speed to move the offense down the field. This was a sight familiar to people, who watched Harrison and Davis play together at DeMatha Catholic High School. For Maryland fans, it’s something they are getting use to.
To see a more than one former DeMatha football player on the Terps’ roster was hard to come by as the football program struggled to reel in players from the high school powerhouse located in Hyattsville, Md., which is less than 10 minutes away from the University of Maryland campus.
From 1999 to 2015, Maryland received six recruits from DeMatha. Kenny Tate, and Anthony Wiseman were the only recruits that were ranked four-stars by 247sports. During this time span, Maryland saw 10 recruiting classes that didn’t feature a single DeMatha football player.
The Terps’ lack of DeMatha players on their roster was hard to understand since the two schools were close to one another. Most of DeMatha’s top prospects were heavily looked at by the Terps, but their mindset was on life outside their hometown.
“I know Maryland has good traditions, but I want to get away from home,” Former DeMatha cornerback/safety Tyler Green said in 2014. “A lot of DeMatha guys don’t go to Maryland because it’s five minutes away from home. Most guys want to get away and experience new things.”
Green graduated from DeMatha in 2015. He was the 19th best safety in the country, according to 247sports. Green held offers from Ohio State, West Virginia and Maryland before taking his talents to Indiana.
“Personally, it was too close to home,” Former DeMatha cornerback Jordan Lomax said. “I felt it was best for me to leave home and grow up.”
Lomax, who graduated in 2010, was another player that was recruited by Maryland. He ended up going to Iowa before making a brief stint with the Los Angeles Rams.
The tide changed in 2014 when Harrison, who was rated a four-star, committed to Maryland and joined its 2016 recruiting class.
“Lorenzo is a big influence to the school and the team,” Former DeMatha wide receiver Tino Ellis said after Harrison’s commitment. “His commitment may bring future DeMatha football players to Maryland.”
That’s exactly what happened. Harrison’s decision to play for Maryland sparked his fellow DeMatha brothers to do the same thing. Ellis, Davis, and wide receiver D.J. Turner joined Harrison in Maryland’s recruiting class. It was the most DeMatha players the Terps had in any recruiting class.
“I think since we committed, we started a pipeline from DeMatha to here [Maryland],” Davis said. “We want to keep that going.”
Maryland saw four-star running back Anthony McFarland, and offensive lineman Marcus Minor be apart of a 2017 recruiting class that was one of the best in the Big Ten. Maryland’s upcoming recruiting class currently has two DeMatha commits in Austin Fontaine and Evan Gregory.
When D.J. Durkin became the head coach of the Terps in 2016, one of his goals was to aggressively recruit DeMatha and other local talent.
“We work tirelessly as a staff to make sure that we are engaged with the area,” Durkin said. “That’ll be our focus every year-recruiting, in particular with emphasis here in this area. I think when you take the talent from this area every year, we can build a team that can compete with anyone. And that’s what we expect to do.”
Maryland is known for its high-profile football players as the state has produced the fifth most Division I athletes in the country, according to research done by the NCAA.
“I really feel like our backyard there’s a strong group of talent every year,” Durkin said. “If you do well in your backyard, you can win a lot of games.”
The DeMatha players on Maryland’s roster have made their presence felt over the last two seasons. Davis has found a spot in the Terps’ starting offensive line, and Harrison alongside junior running back Ty Johnson have led Maryland’s rushing attack, which is one of the best in the conference.
“That guy [Harrison] is one of the hardest playing guys in college football. He competes in everything he does whether you see him out there on special teams or on offense, even when he’s not carrying the ball,” Durkin said. “There’s plays where he’s picking up a blitz, then running down the field trying to get another block down the field. Just amazing effort plays.”
Ellis had to make a major adjustment when he came to Maryland as he became an everyday defensive back after spending his high school career as a wide receiver.
Ellis has adjusted well to his new role this season as he has started in all of Maryland’s games, while recording 24 total tackles, 18 solo tackles and three pass deflections.
“He [Ellis] is definitely one of the better eleven on our football team, and he’s done a great job growing in our system,” Durkin said. “I think every game, and every year, that he’s in our program you’re going to see a better and better guy.”
McFarland, who suffered a season ending injury during his senior year at DeMatha, is still getting back into the swing of things, which is why he hasn’t seen the field. Durkin has confidence that he will be a player to watch when he is at full strength.
“Anthony McFarland is not 100 percent yet. He did not play a snap of football all last year,” Durkin said. “That guy grinds at practice and he will be a great All-American type player one day. Right now he is not 100 percent healthy.”
Ellis, Davis, McFarland, Harrison and other ex-DeMatha football players on Maryland are not used to losing. They helped the Stags win multiple championships and defeat some of the top teams in the nation.
They are determined to bring that winning culture back to Maryland, and help them compete against the heavyweights of the Big Ten.
“We enjoy winning,” Davis said. “We don’t like losing so we want to bring that tradition we started in high school.”