After disastrous year, Terps turn to recruiting class

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Edsall's incoming group impresses analysts

Even after surviving a once-promising season that devolved into tragicomedy, Maryland football coach Randy Edsall is set to ink another solid recruiting class, which could become even better with a little luck on National Signing Day.

Sixteen players are expected to sign with the Terrapins on Wednesday, including two rated as four-star prospects by Rivals.com. Derwin Gray, a rapidly-rising 6-foot-4, 291-pound offensive tackle from Friendship Collegiate in the District, and Andrew Isaacs, a 6-3, 230-pound tight end from Manchester, Conn., are the top prospects who have verbally committed.

They join incoming junior college standouts Deon Long, a five-star wide receiver from the District who played last year for Iowa Western Community College, and Will Likely, a four-star defensive back from Glades Central (Fla.), who have already signed and are enrolled for the spring semester.

Another four-star prospect that the Terps are holding out hope for is Yannick Ngakoue, a 6-3, 240-pound linebacker from Friendship Collegiate, who is deciding among Maryland, South Carolina and Florida State. Ngakoue will announce his decision at school Wednesday morning.

Another local who the Terps hope to land is three-star running back Jacquille Veii of the Avalon School in Germantown. The speedster will choose among Maryland, Iowa and Nebraska.

Ngakoue and Veii are among the players who will make their plans known Wednesday. Many of them will do so on national television as ESPNU will broadcast 11 hours of coverage, starting at 7:30 a.m. with the announcement of the nation's No. 1 prospect, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche of Loganville, Ga., who will decide among Florida, LSU and Mississippi.

Amid the excitement, especially in serious college football outposts in the southeast, ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill encourages restraint.

"We can talk all we want about the rankings," Luginbill said. "But the reality is we won't know for two to three years just how good classes are, how good players are. There are so many variables that go into those factors that ultimately determine the success or failure of these young men going forward."

Maryland will celebrate the signings at Stamp Student Union with coaches introducing recruits with video clips, a silent auction, upscale food and a cash bar. The recruiting class is worthy of celebration considering the bizarre 4-8 season the Terps had fall, losing four quarterbacks to season-ending injuries and playing their last four games with freshman linebacker Shawn Petty behind center.

"I don't know of any team from a coaching perspective in recent history that has gone through what Randy Edsall and Maryland went through on the field. I don't know how he was able to maintain competitiveness. I think it was simply remarkable," Luginbill said. "For them to be in the situation they are in right now with guys like Deon Long, a Washington, D.C., area kid, Derwin Gray, who has tremendous upside at the offensive tackle position, ... I'm impressed with this class. I'm impressed with what their staff was able to do because I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to recruit with that type of season."

With the help of offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who has deep ties to the Washington area, Edsall has become a recruiting force locally. Among the three-star players from the area who will sign with Maryland are quarterback Shane Cockerille (Gilman), offensive tackle Moise Larose (Wilde Lake), athlete Milan Collins (McNamara) and a pair of linebackers from Friendship Collegiate, Cavon Walker and Jermaine Carter.

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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Kevin Dunleavy

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner