Maryland Coach Randy Edsall Has Right Idea on Local Recruiting

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One of former Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen‘s fatal flaws was not filling the seats at Byrd Stadium, but another was losing top prospects from the talent-rich Maryland-D.C.-Virginia area to nearby football programs.

Now in his third season, Friedgen’s successor, Randy Edsall, is increasing Maryland’s efforts to keep home-grown recruits at home. One of the first steps was hiring Mike Locksley as offensive coordinator last offseason. A native of Washington, D.C. and a Terps assistant from 1997-2002, Locksley has strong recruiting ties with prep schools in the Baltimore and D.C. Metro areas.

Maryland football will get even closer to some of the regions top high schools this spring, when the team holds open scrimmages at Dunbar High School in Baltimore and Middletown High in Frederick County.

“We’re trying to grow our brand by going door to door, so to speak, and reaching out,” Edsall told The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Cowherd.

The university, located between Baltimore and D.C., is surrounded by some of the nation’s most competitive prep schools, but the Maryland football team has struggled to gain traction in a region where the NFL reigns supreme. With the Washington Redskins playing twenty minutes to the south, and the reigning Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens just 35 minutes to the north, the Terps don’t get top billing even in their home market — and three losing seasons out of the last five certainly haven’t helped.

The Terps are doing everything they can (short of winning, but hopefully that’s on the way) to make inroads in their region and get more local players excited about playing college football close to home.

Edsall’s Maryland coaching debut, on Labor Day 2011 against Miami, was also the debut of the widely debated “Maryland Pride” uniforms. Love ’em or hate ’em, the bold uniforms, patterned after the state flag, had everyone talking, and Edsall says variations of the uniform will continue to be rolled out because they’ve been such a big hit with recruits.

The uniforms were created by Under Armour, the company founded by former Maryland football player Kevin Plank. Under Armour also sponsored the new football field at Dunbar High School, where the Terps will hold their first public scrimmage this Saturday.

Coincidentally, Dunbar is also the alma mater of West Virginia receiver/returner Tavon Austina two-time first-team All-American in college and a two-time Maryland high school player of the year.

In three seasons against the Terps, the Baltimore native burned Maryland for 31 receptions, 407 yards, and five touchdowns, setting a new WVU record for career receptions in their 2012 meeting. Think Maryland would’ve like to have him in red and black (or whatever color combination they were wearing that week) the last few seasons?

Edsall’s working to make sure the next Tavon Austin doesn’t skip town to play elsewhere, beginning with scrimmages that bring Maryland football right to potential recruits. It’s the right idea; now it just needs to pay off with recruits and wins.