National signing day eventful for Maryland

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy,Terps,University of Maryland

Three more join class that ranks 31st overall

National signing day is usually a routine exercise as football players who already have committed send their signatures to the school of their choice.

But at Maryland, Wednesday was far from ordinary as the Terrapins finished the day with three additional players. The big prize was Yannick Ngakoue, a linebacker and four-star prospect who selected the Terps over South Carolina and Florida State. Earlier in the day, three-star wide receiver Taivon Jacobs flipped his commitment from Ohio State to Maryland, joining his brother, Levern, who played for the Terps last year. Completing the 22-player class of newcomers was two-star running back Jacquille Veii, who opted for the Terps over Iowa and Nebraska.

"We felt good about all three going into it, but you never know," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "To go 3-for-3 on signing day makes a big statement about what we're doing here and the direction we're heading."

It was a perfect scenario for Edsall, who secured his second straight strong recruiting class, ranking 31st in the nation and fifth in the ACC, according to Rivals.com. Last year the Terps ranked 35th overall.

Ngakoue, a 6-foot-2, 228-pounder, was one of four players from D.C. public school Friendship Collegiate, including three-star linebackers Cavon Walker (6-2, 210) and Jermaine Carter (6-2, 220). The other player from Friendship is offensive tackle Derwin Gray (6-5, 290). The four players were rated among the top seven prospects in the District as Edsall recruited the area strongly. Fourteen players are from Maryland and D.C.

"I just know that there's an opportunity here in Maryland because of where we're located to get a lot of good players and get a lot of skilled athletes that have speed and ability," Edsall said. "We're gonna get kids from this area that will make us better, and we're gonna go to Florida and go to Georgia and some other places and get other kids."

Jacobs was an interesting case. Even after he made his verbal commitment last summer to Ohio State, Maryland continued to do its "due diligence," Edsall said of the Terps' continued recruitment. Several factors swung Jacobs' decision. His brother is a sophomore wide receiver for the Terps. Ohio State became a less attractive option after coach Urban Meyer received commitments within the last week from two four-star wide receivers. In addition, Jacobs is a Suitland product and has a 1-year-old daughter who lives in the area.

"He's a special young man. That was very important to him -- being a father," Edsall said. "He had his priorities right."

Edsall told an amusing story about the recruitment of William Likely, a four-star defensive back from a poor area in Palm Beach County, Fla., known for its poverty, sugar cane fields and football talent. On a recruiting visit, Edsall and assistant coach Brian Stewart were chased out of town by two men in trucks.

Players from the area are reputed to chase rabbits to develop their speed.

"The only question I asked Will was, 'When you chased the rabbit, did you catch it?'?" Edsall said. "He told me yeah, so I offered him a scholarship."

On Wednesday, Edsall pulled more than one rabbit out of his hat.

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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