By Matt Bracken
The Baltimore Sun
10:35 AM EST, February 1, 2012
One man's opinion on the potential of Maryland's 2012 football commitments. Post your takes below.
Most wanted: Given to the most heavily recruited Maryland commitments.
Wes Brown – Good Counsel, running back, 6-0, 205 pounds, 4.59 40
Who did the Terps beat out to land Brown? Just Boston College, Cincinnati, Colorado, Florida State, Illinois, Iowa, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia and West Virginia, according to Rivals.com. The consensus four-star prospect had all but eliminated Maryland from consideration. But then Mike Locksley was hired as offensive coordinator, and the rest was history. Brown, who announced his pledge to the Terps during the Under Armour All-America Game on ESPN, is “a very talented running back [who will] come in and help the ground game right away,” said 247Sports.com recruiting analyst J.C. Shurburtt.
Sean Davis – Maret School (D.C.), cornerback, 6-1, 180 pounds, 4.42 40
Playing for a lesser-known Washington private school in Maret, Davis was overlooked throughout most of the recruiting process. But once college coaches discovered the three-star prospect, numerous ACC and Big East schools came forward with offers. Davis eventually picked the Terps over Boston College, Connecticut, Marshall, North Carolina, Virginia, Temple and West Virginia, among others. “Sean Davis is a kid who came out of nowhere and has a lot of athleticism,” said Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell.
Most likely to contribute early: Given to the recruits most likely to see the field as true freshmen
Kenneth Goins Jr. – Gilman, running back, 5-9, 215 pounds, 4.6 40
Brown’s probably the safest bet here, but we’ll spread the superlatives around and highlight Goins instead. The Baltimore Sun’s 2011 All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year spent most of his senior season offensively blocking for the Alabama-bound Cyrus Jones. When Goins did get touches, he made the most of them, rushing for 290 yards and 11 touchdowns. The former Greyhounds star could get short-yardage carries for the Terps next fall, or – more likely – see time on special teams. Gilman coach Biff Poggi once described his fullback as “a block of granite,” so from a physical standpoint, Goins should be able to handle the rigors of college football as a true freshman.
Isaac Goins – Contra Costa (Calif.) College, cornerback, 6-0, 180 pounds, 4.5 40
I’ll let Contra Costa coach Alonzo Carter state my case for Goins seeing time this fall: “You don’t recruit a JUCO guy to redshirt. You recruit a JUCO guy to play.” In Goins – no relation to Kenneth – the Terps landed a cornerback with solid size and speed coming off one of the best junior college seasons of any defensive back in California. Goins, who chose the Terps over Idaho, New Mexico State and San Jose State, should provide depth for a Maryland secondary that lost cornerbacks Cameron Chism and Trenton Hughes to graduation.
Most likely to be a multi-year starter
Mike Madaras – Good Counsel, offensive tackle, 6-5 ½, 280 pounds, 5.0 40
The first commitment of the Terps’ 2012 class could very well end up being its most productive. Madaras had offers from a host of big-time schools, but claims Maryland was so far ahead of the competition that he didn’t even have a true runner-up. The four-star prospect – according to ESPN.com and 247Sports.com – was raised by his father to be an offensive lineman. The Under Armour All-American might even be the atypical true freshman O-lineman that cracks the two-deep. “He needs to get a little bigger, a little stronger,” said Falcons offensive line coach Tom Crowell. “But as far as being ready to play, I think Mike’s one of those rare guys that could step in. I really believe that.”
Abner Logan – Dexter School (Mass.), linebacker, 6-1, 220 pounds, 4.6 40
Maryland had to beat out just North Carolina State and Northwestern for Logan, but several analysts agreed that the four-star prospect was an under-recruited player – probably because he comes from an area (Boston) with hardly any football recruiting tradition. CBS Sports Network recruiting expert Tom Lemming called Logan “the sleeper of all sleepers. … He’s a linebacker who can run. As a junior, I went to Boston and missed him. I got film on him this fall and really liked him. He can run and he can hit. He’ll probably wind up playing strongside or inside linebacker.” Shurburtt, meanwhile, said that if Logan were from Atlanta, he’d have offers from "most of the SEC and probably all of the ACC.”
Most likely to overachieve: Given to the overlooked recruits that exceeded expectations during the high school season.
Caleb Rowe – Greer (S.C.), quarterback, 6-3, 195 pounds, 4.7 40
Maryland’s competition for Rowe was Gardner-Webb, which should sufficiently demonstrate just how off the radar he was when he committed to the Terps in June. The signal-caller proceeded to have an excellent senior season, throwing for 2,722 yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 141-for-220 passing, while also rushing for three touchdowns. Rowe later earned MVP honors at the Offense-Defense Bowl. “Once he gets some strength, he’s certainly got a live arm,” Shurburtt said. “He’s tall and he can run the system. He’s a smart kid.”
UPDATED: Dallas Griffiths was the original pick here, but he signed with Liberty so we'll replace him with:
Shawn Petty -- Eleanor Roosevelt, linebacker, 6-2 1/2, 235 pounds, 4.6 40
Petty made his mark on the Prince George's County football scene as a quarterback, but the Terps coaches identified him over the summer as a prime linebacker target. The son of a Howard defensive coach, Petty is a physical linebacker who comes from the same high school as Terps defensive end Isaiah Ross. "He’s willing to do [whatever]," said Raiders coach Tom Green. "He’s a very good tackler, a physical football player. So I think he’ll definitely be a productive player for them.” Petty threw for 1,300 yards, 15 touchdowns and four interceptions, while rushing for 550 yards and 10 scores. At strong-side linebacker, the future Terp recorded 50 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions
Dallas Griffiths – North Florida Christian School, linebacker, 6-2, 225 pounds, 4.48 40
The recruiting services weren’t all that high on Griffiths, with Scout and 247Sports giving the future Terp a two-star ranking. But on the high school level, few players nationally could match Griffiths’ production. He finished his senior season with 190 tackles, helping North Florida Christian to an undefeated, state-championship season. Griffiths was well known in the Sunshine State for “his explosion and his speed,” said NFC coach Robert Craft. “He runs a great 40 time. He really can change directions well. He’s explosive in the weight room. I think he’s an all-around player as far as what Maryland sees. And they like his ability to play the run and also play the pass when you need to.”
Most underrated: Given to the recruits with the best chance at making their recruiting rankings look silly four years from now.
Amba Etta-Tawo – McEachern (Ga.), wide receiver, 6-3, 180 pounds, 4.4 40
Billed as a wide-out with sprinter’s speed and an effortless stride, Etta-Tawo committed to the Terps in July without ever having set foot in College Park. A two-star prospect and No. 189 wide receiver in the country according to Scout.com, Etta-Tawo caught 58 passes for 907 yards and six touchdowns as a senior, despite facing constant double-teams. Etta-Tawo is probably a developmental prospect, but he’s got all the measurables you’d want in a wide receiver. “Amba definitely was the long deep threat,” said McEachern wide receivers coach Ken Hockman. “[We’d say], ‘Go get the ball when it’s in the air.’ He’s a good route runner, too. A strong kid, really amazing with the long body he has.”
Alvin Hill – Luella (Ga.), cornerback, 6-0, 180 pounds, 4.4 40
Hill was a man of mystery when he committed to the Terps in the June. Highlight tape on the Atlanta-area prospect was scarce, and Maryland was his only FBS offer at the time. But Hill – a two-star prospect according to Scout and ESPN – had a standout senior season and began to receive inquiries from other BCS-level schools. “He’s not under the radar now,” said Luella coach Nic Vasilchek. “A lot of bigger schools came and asked about him. But he’s pretty darned committed to what he said originally – ‘Whatever school gives me the first shot is where I’m going to go.’ It’s been Maryland. He’s been fully committed, and it’s a nice relationship.”
The rest of the class
Nick Brigham -- Marist School (Ga.), offensive guard, 6-4, 280 pounds, 4.98 40
In a class filled with prospective engineering and business majors, Brigham might be the dean. A 3.9 student, Brigham picked Maryland for its biology program and overall academic reputation. On the field, Brigham is a punishing run-blocker who earned a four-star ranking from ESPN.com. Marist coach Alan Chadwick said he’ll remember Brigham as a “big body that came off the ball with a vengeance.”
Malcolm Culmer -- Willingboro (N.J.), wide receiver, 6-1, 175 pounds, 4.4 40
When Willingboro's starting quarterback went down with an injury, Culmer moved from wide receiver to running back to get more touches. The results were 537 yards rushing on 68 carries, 38 receptions for 684 yards and 12 total touchdowns, plus three interceptions at free safety. Culmer's a versatile prospect that could play defense as well, but he's dangerous with the ball in his hands. "He’s got decent size and he runs real well," said Willingboro coach Reggie Lawrence. "He makes plays when he gets the ball."
P.J. Gallo -- Council Rock South (Pa.), tight end, 6-4, 235 pounds, 4.8 40
In Council Rock South's triple-option offense, Gallo didn't get many chances to make a play, catching just 14 passes for 185 yards. But at inside linebacker, Gallo was a beast, finishing the year with 144 tackles, seven pass breakups, seven quarterback hurries, six tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three blocked kicks. "It shows just how much versatility he has," said Council Rock South coach Vince Bedesem. "There were multiple positions that he was being recruited for while the process was going on.”
Perry Hills -- Pittsburgh Central Catholic, quarterback, 6-3, 205, 4.57 40
Between Hills and Rowe, Farrell said Maryland has its quarterback of the future. Hills, an all-state wrestler, is a pro-style quarterback and also a game-breaking runner. Toughness will not be issue with this future Terp. “They think his upside is tremendous,” said PCC coach Terry Totten. “He’s going to be about a 6-2, 240-pounder who can run. He is getting better and better. I think his potential is off the charts. I think they got themselves a good quarterback who for four years will help that program.”
Levern Jacobs -- Milford Academy (N.Y.), wide receiver, 5-11, 172 pounds, 4.4 40
The Suitland High grad went to Milford Academy for a post-grad year as a Marshall commitment, but switched his pledge to Maryland when the Terps extended an offer in January. Farrell identified Jacobs as one of the Terps' recruits with the most potential. "He’s a fifth-year kid, and [Milford] coach [Bill] Chaplick raves about him. He was skinny as heck the last time I saw him. He just needs to get stronger and faster. But he could be a very good recruit for them."
Albert Reid -- Friendship Collegiate (D.C.), running back, 5-10 1/2, 190 pounds, 4.5 40
A one-time West Virginia commitment, Reid committed to the Terps this month thanks in large part to the reputation of Maryland's mechanical engineering program. A four-star prospect according to Scout and ESPN, Reid had 225 carries for 1,705 yards, six catches for 39 yards and 17 total touchdowns as a senior. “He has a very unique running style," said Friendship running backs coach Minoso Rodgers. "He runs very physical with explosion. He has very good explosiveness. When he sees it, he runs.”
Joe Riddle -- Linganore, running back, 6-2, 200 pounds, 4.4
Riddle could potentially be a factor on either side of the ball, but he'll start out as a running back and return specialist. In an injury-shortened senior season, Riddle rushed for 917 yards and nine touchdowns on 111 carries, plus two catches for 46 yards and one TD. “He's self-motivated and brings an incredible talent level," said Linganore coach Rick Conner. "He's one of the best we've ever had. The best football is ahead of him.”
Roman Braglio -- McDonogh, defensive end, 6-4, 240 pounds, 4.65 40
A Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection, Braglio was Maryland's second commitment of the 2012 class. He had a monster senior season for the Eagles, finishing the year with 83 tackles and 16 sacks. Braglio was best known for his impressive speed -- especially for someone of his size. “I just think his general toughness and ability to play hard both ways … is really tough to do, especially when you're a lineman," said McDonogh coach Dom Damico. "You're playing 130 snaps a game against really good competition."
Brock Dean -- Bishop McDevitt (Pa.), linebacker, 6-1, 217 pounds, 4.6 40
Dean was a leader on the field and off for McDevitt, a perennial national power. The three-star prospect, who picked Maryland over Pittsburgh and Temple, accumulated 92 tackles (42 solo), seven sacks, two fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, one pass breakup and one interception. "Sometimes as a college coach, all they see from a high school linebacker is plugging the run, plugging the run, plugging the run," said Bishop McDevitt coach Jeff Weachter. "With Brock you’ll see he’s really moving in space and doing a lot of things defensively. He’s going to be able to move and do a lot of things defensively there.”
Stefan Houston -- Clarksburg, linebacker, 6-2, 200 pounds
A standout linebacker and wide receiver, Houston comes from the same school as Terps linebacker Avery Graham. The versatile athlete finished his senior year with 38 catches for 698 yards and 10 touchdowns and 59 carries for 283 yards and five touchdowns. Defensively, Houston recorded 85 total tackles, eight sacks and three interceptions. “His speed is his No. 1 thing,” said Clarksburg coach Larry Hurd. “He’s tough. He gets to spots. He hits you. He makes people adjust their offense. If he’s on one side of the field, a lot of teams are going the opposite way.”
Anthony Nixon -- Pittsburgh Central Catholic, safety, 6-1, 202 pounds, 4.5 40
Nixon spent his senior season as one Hills' top pass-catching threats, and one of PCC's toughest defensive backs. Nixon finished his senior year with 30 catches for 11 touchdowns, 45 tackles (30 solo), seven pass breakups and three interceptions. Farrell said Nixon was "impressive" at the Chesapeake Bowl in December. “He's very athletic, he's very fast, he's a hitter, a good tackler, and he knows where he's supposed to be,” said PCC coach Terry Totten. “He's very competitive. He's the whole deal.”
Avery Thompson -- Grassfield (Va.), linebacker, 6-2, 205 pounds, 4.5 40
The son of a colonel in the U.S. Army, Thompson missed a crucial football recruiting period last spring to be with his family in South Korea, where his father was stationed. After about six months overseas, Thompson returned to Virginia and earned his first scholarship offer from Maryland, which he accepted soon after. As a senior, Thompson made 75 tackles (35 solo), including five sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. He also contributed two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. "He’s an extremely solid competitor," said Grassfield coach Martin Asprey. "He doesn’t like to fail. ... He’s got great range, he can run very fast and he’s got the height, too."
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