Maryland head coach DJ Durkin walked into his press conference with a huge smile on his face after receiving a Top 25 recruiting class during the inaugural early National Signing Day period on Wednesday.
“Creating depth is how you build your program,” Durkin said. “We made a point of doing this the right way all along. We are going to build it with guys who are going to be here and sustain the competition.”
The Terps’ 2018 class, which featured five four-star players and two recruits, who are in the ESPN 300, is ranked No. 21 by ESPN, No. 19 by Scout and No. 18 by 247sports. It’s the second straight year where Maryland had a Top 25 recruiting class.
— Maryland Football (@TerpsFootball) December 20, 2017
Durkin and his staff continued to have success recruiting local players as 15 of Maryland’s 22 signees are from the DMV area. Nine players received All-Met honors by the Washing Post.
“There are 15 guys from the DMV,” Durkin said cheerfully. “There’s 15 guys right here in our own backyard. There’s no secret about that. That’s going to be the lifeblood of our program.”
Durkin understands how important it is to recruit players locally as the area is known for its high level talent.
“We have tremendous football players and coaches in our area,” Durkin said. “I would throw our area up against anyone in the country when it comes to the level of talent that comes out of here every year.”
Maryland added depth to the offensive line with Spencer Anderson (Bishop McNamara), Jaelyn Duncan (St. Frances Academy), junior college transfer TJ Bradley and Evan Gregory (DeMatha).
“We really addressed the line of scrimmage,” Durkin said. “You look at the offensive linemen we signed-there’s not a better four in the country in terms of a full class of offensive linemen.”
Gregory and defensive lineman Austin Fontaine are the only players from DeMatha. Gregory will be following Maryland sophomore Terrance Davis and freshman Marcus Minor as linemen, who came from the high school football powerhouse.
“Coach [Elijah] Brooks and their big offensive line coach [who] goes by “Juice” know what they are doing,” Durkin said. “It is hard to come into a place as a true freshman and play on the offensive line. Terrance Davis did that his freshman year and we think Marcus Minor is going to be an all-conference player.”
In addition to the offensive line, the Terps brought in more depth to the wide receiver position. Three-star Jeshaun Jones is one of four wide receivers Durkin thinks can play an important role in the offense.
“We really helped ourselves in that spot,” Durkin said. “We are trying to improve our size across the board and our speed.”
Jones recorded 359 receiving yards and three touchdowns during his senior season at South Fort Myers High School in Fort Myers, Fla.
“Jeshaun Jones is very fluid,” Maryland’s associate head/wide receiver coach Chris Beatty said in a release. “He has tremendous ball skills, but is also great with the ball in his hand. He has the potential to play every spot at receiver.”
Eleanor Roosevelt (Md.) defensive back Raymond Boone is a player Maryland’s coaching staff raved about. Boone is rated a three-star and picked the Terps over Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and NC State.
“Raymond is someone that can mentally come in and play with a great deal of confidence,” Terps’ defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim said. “He’s a super athlete. He has tremendous ball skills, can take the ball out of the air and create turnovers.”
Boone, who is ranked the 16th best player in Maryland by Rivals, has shown the capability to play both sides of the ball. Boone caught five touchdowns and three interceptions in rout to a First Team All-Met selection this season.
“Raymond is a great player and could play on either side of the ball,” Durkin said. “We are bringing him in to play defensive back or safety, but he could do a lot of things.”
As Durkin was ecstatic over Maryland’s recruiting class, he expressed his opinion on players signing early and how it’s good for college football.
“I love it,” Durkin said. “I think it is great for us and great for college football. Doing this right now, 90 percent of the guys already know where they want to go so you eliminate the opportunity for another whole month of recruiting and meeting with coaches telling you different things.”
Maryland will continue to build its recruiting class since the next signing day period is in February. The Terps plan to sign more cornerbacks and attempt to get the best players available with the remaining spots they have.
“The biggest area would be corner,” Durkin said. “We are going to sign one or two more corners. Other than that, it’s going to be best available. There are some great players out there and we are going to swing for the fences.”