The Maryland Football Movement
The University of Maryland Football program is not known for having a rich history or prestige despite being in one of the most underrated hotbeds for football recruits. Pro football stars like Navarro Bowman, Tavon Austin, Todd Gurley, Jelani Jenkins, and Joe Haden all were perennial recruits coming out of the state of Maryland; and all went to schools out of the Maryland borders.
Terps fans have been clamoring for the program to keep the talent in-state. After a successful signing day, the future of Terps football looks bright on the home front.
Last season, a group of young ball players began "The Movement"; calling for all big-time recruits in Maryland to stay home. Tino Ellis, Lorenzo Harrison, Terrance Davis, and Jake Funk were the poster boys of "The Movement", all of whom seen the field in their freshman seasons. Dwayne Haskins and Keandre Jones were also a part of Maryland's 2016 class, but after the two All-Americans flipped to Ohio State on signing day, it left Maryland lacking the extra star power it needed to get fans excited.
Maryland's 2017 class will put the excitement back into Terps Nations. D.J. Durkin managed to bring in five players that are listed in ESPN Top 300 players, the most for Maryland in over a decade. Two players, in particular, Tajh Capehart and Anthony McFarland are the headliners of this class. Capehart originally committed to Virginia Tech but decided to flip to Maryland on signing day. McFarland, who many consider being one of the best running backs in the country, committed to Maryland a week before signing day, choosing the Terps over Miami and Alabama. Capehart is a very talented wide receiver that can turn anything into a big play. The Terps haven't had a player with his type of playmaking abilities since Stefon Diggs. It wouldn't be a shock to see him on the field early in his freshman season.
McFarland was a surprise to many, mainly because he could have picked some of the biggest programs in the country. McFarland was teammates with Ellis, Davis, and Harrison at DeMatha last season, which probably played a part in him joining them at College Park. He is known throughout the country as a versatile back that can do it all. He suffered an ACL injury to begin his senior season at DeMatha, which could limit how much time he sees in his freshman campaign. Eventually, he will be a big part of Maryland success.
The most important player of the class has to be quarterback Kasim Hill. The quarterback position has been a nightmare for the Terps and it became a bigger nightmare after Haskins flipped to Ohio State but Hill is coming in at the right time. An All-American is his own regards, Hill could be the starter as soon as he touches steps on campus. Hill is a skilled quarterback that will bring a different dynamic to the Terps offense, not only with his athleticism but his patience and poise. Hill is no stranger to a winning culture and has been a leader in it, a part of two winning programs in his high school career. He spent his junior season at Gilman School in Baltimore under coach Biff Poggi, going 10-1 as a starter; a team coach Poggi considers to be his best in his 18-years at Gilman. Hill transferred to St. Johns in Washington DC and led them to their first national ranking in years. A quarterback with that type of tutelage will help UMD a contender in the Big Ten.
It will be a couple years before we can judge how good this class is, but for now, it gives Maryland fans a sign of good things to come under Coach Durkin. This class could open the door to more Maryland-born players heading to College Park, while still creating foundations in neighboring states like Virginia and Pennsylvania, and in the perfect world, sneaking into Ohio. While it is great to showcase how good of a recruiter he is, coach Durkin will need to win games and soon. The Terps have not been to a major New Year Bowl since the 2002 Orange Bowl and before that the 1977 Cotton Bowl.