By Zach Phillips.
When the University of Maryland first joined the Big Ten, the powerhouses of Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State loomed tall over the conference. After this recruiting season, they still do. However, Maryland is taking the first steps in shortening the gap with their best recruiting campaign ever.
It seemed like Maryland would need to be patient. After all, the renovations on Cole Field House aren’t complete. Recruits like past success and amenities to attract them to schools. Perhaps Maryland’s plans for Cole Field House and a bowl appearance last year were enough.
Stephen Tonelson, a sophomore environmental science major, said, “That’s [Cole] honestly one of the most historic building in all of American Sports.” Tonelson said he thinks it would be good for football recruiting, but the history of the building is being damaged in the process of it’s renovation.
Freshmen computer science majors Wesley Weidenhamer and Cameron Byrd disagreed. “I think it’s awesome,” said Weidenhamer. “I just think that adds more recruits,” said Byrd.
Byrd is a former high school quarterback who will be attending open tryouts for the football team, and he seemed to think the team is in a good spot moving forward.
According to 247sports, Maryland’s recruiting effort earned them the 18th best spot in the country, with only three Big Ten teams ranking ahead of them. Eight four-star recruits and 20 three-star recruits have enrolled or signed their letters of intent.
“We got some four-star recruits coming in, so hopefully we can keep them,” Weidenhamer said.
“I see good things for the future based on this recruiting class,” said Tonelson, adding that he thought Maryland could be nationally ranked in two years when he is a senior.
Two signings in particular stick out. Deon Jones and Anthony MacFarland Jr. Jones is a 6-foot-1 cornerback from Oxon Hill, Maryland. Jones came to UMD as the 22nd highest ranked cornerback recruit available, with only four cornerbacks ahead of him going to other Big Ten schools (two to Ohio State and one to Michigan and Nebraska each).
MacFarland Jr. is an all-purpose back from Hyattsville who attended DeMatha Catholic High School and signed a letter of intent for UMD. He was the third highest ranked back recruit to commit to UMD, and from the Big Ten, only Ohio State signed a higher ranked back.
“…they got some top prospects coming out, so I’m hoping for better than 6-6,” said Byrd. Tonelson said he thought an eight-win season was not far off.
When asked about competing with the powerhouses of Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State, students remained skeptical.
“Obviously they’re elite teams, I think we’re moving up towards maybe competing with them at home,” said Tonelson. “I think our home atmosphere can become a lot better, because that’s something we are kind of lacking.”
“Bringing in a new head coach brings in new recruits, I think it takes around five to ten years. And once the program turns around it can stay afloat for a while,” added Byrd.
The fact that a good number of recruits are from Maryland bodes well for the future. If Maryland students continue to commit to UMD, the school may see more top ranked players from the surrounding area, leading to more success in the Big Ten.