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Revisiting Maryland's 2008 football recruiting class: The defense

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Four years ago last month I covered my first Maryland football Signing Day for The Baltimore Sun. There wasn't a consensus opinion on the Terps' 2008 recruiting class -- Rivals.com ranked it the No. 38 group in the country, while Scout.com had it listed as the 52nd-best class nationally. So how did Maryland's 2008 group ultimately stack up? Today we’ll revisit my 2008 superlatives for defense and find out. Click here for a look at the offensive players.

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Most wanted: Given to the most heavily recruited Maryland commitment

Who I picked: Masengo Kabongo – Fairfield (Conn.) Prep, defensive tackle

Who it should’ve been: Kabongo

Why: As I wrote two weeks ago, this is a superlative based solely on offers. At the time, Kabongo had the most high-level options, so he remains the pick here. Certainly, Maryland wasn’t the only school that missed the mark on Kabongo, who picked the Terps over Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina State, Syracuse and UConn. After pledging to Maryland in August 2007, several schools continued to recruit the Congo native, including Boston College, Florida, Illinois, Miami, Oregon, Penn State, Purdue and Virginia. A four-star prospect, Kabongo appeared in six games as a redshirt freshman and transferred to Stony Brook before his sophomore season. He played in just three games last fall for the Seawolves, contributing two tackles.

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Most likely to contribute early: Given to the recruit most likely to see the field as a true freshman

Who I picked: Demetrius Hartsfield -- Southeast Raleigh (N.C.) Magnet High School, linebacker

Who it should’ve been: Cameron Chism – Bishop McNamara, cornerback

Why: Chism suited up in nine games as a reserve cornerback during his true freshman season. His seven special-teams tackles in 2008 – all of which came on kickoff return – tied for second on the team. Chism was a fixture in the Terps’ starting lineup over the next three seasons, starting 32 games and appearing in 44. In Maryland’s season opener against Miami on Labor Day 2011, Chism returned a crucial interception for a touchdown that propelled the Terps to victory. By the end of Chism’s senior season, however, he had been supplanted by fellow senior Trenton Hughes. Chism did not appear in the last game of Maryland’s season – a 56-41 loss to North Carolina State. Chism, who finished his Terps career with 191 tackles, 16 pass breakups and seven interceptions, played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and is ranked by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 47 cornerback available in April’s draft.

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Most likely to be a multi-year starter: Self-explanatory -- this recruit has all-conference potential.

Who I picked: Chism

Who it should’ve been: Hartsfield

Why: Ever since his redshirt freshman season, Hartsfield has been a mainstay in Maryland’s starting lineup. A three-star prospect according to Rivals.com, Hartsfield appeared in 10 games in 2009 at the WILL linebacker spot, finishing the year with 64 tackles and 3.5 sacks. One year later, Hartsfield started all 13 games at the WILL, recording 88 tackles for the Military Bowl champions. Despite missing three games as a junior with an injury, Hartsfield led the Terps with 108 tackles, including seven tackles for loss and one sack. For his efforts, Hartsfield was named honorable mention All-ACC. He’ll be expected to lead the Maryland linebacker corps one last time this fall.

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Most likely to overachieve: Given to the overlooked recruit that exceeded expectations during the high school season.

Who I picked: Eteyen Edet -- Fort Washington Friendly, linebacker

Who it should’ve been: Edet?

Why: Since I wrote this as more of a high school-based award, Edet still fits the bill as an athletic but unknown two-star who burst onto the Terps’ recruiting radar after his 110-tackle senior season at Friendly. Of course, Edet never got the chance to overachieve in College Park. After missing NCAA qualifying standards, the linebacker headed to Milford Academy in New York for a prep year. Edet’s stay at Milford lasted less than a month, but soon after he turned up at North Carolina Tech in Charlotte. Maryland quickly cut ties with Edet, who later did a stint at North Carolina A&T. According to his Facebook page, Edet now lives in Los Angeles.

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Most underrated: Given to the recruit with the best chance at making his recruiting ranking look silly four years from now.

Who I picked: Zach Kerr -- Quince Orchard, defensive tackle

Who it should’ve been: A.J. Francis -- Gonzaga (D.C.), defensive tackle

Why: Francis was a two-star prospect and the No. 82 offensive guard according to Scout.com. He redshirted his freshman year and was immediately a factor on the Terps’ defensive line the following fall. A freshman All-ACC selection by The Sporting News, Francis started 10 games his redshirt freshman year and led the Terps defensive linemen with 31 tackles. He started nine games the following year and was second on the Maryland D-line in stops with 44. Francis’ production dropped a bit last fall, with 31 tackles (including two sacks and three TFLs) in 12 games, but he remains an integral part of the Maryland defense heading into his senior year. He has pretty easily proved to be the most underrated prospect among the Terps’ 2008 defensive recruits.

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Early departures

Kabongo

Kerr: A run-stuffing defensive tackle out of Quince Orchard, Kerr couldn’t make the cut academically at Maryland and left before the 2011 season.

Cody Blue: The Wilde Lake grad was one of 12 players to leave College Park after Maryland’s 2-10 season. Blue, a defensive lineman, played in four games last fall, finishing with five tackles. Blue has two seasons of eligibility remaining, provided he transfers down a level.

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Rest of the class

Kenny Tate was recruited to College Park as a wide receiver, but he was almost immediately moved to safety and flourished in that spot. A preseason All-ACC selection heading into the 2011 season, Tate was injured during his senior year and later granted a medical redshirt. He’ll be back at linebacker – where Randy Edsall moved him last year – for his fifth year this fall.

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Overall analysis

Maryland batted .500 with this group. Tate, Francis, Hartsfield and Chism have all been productive ACC players, while Edet, Kabongo, Kerr and Blue all ended up elsewhere. Chism and Tate were considered can’t-miss prospects by the recruiting services, and it’s hard to argue with those assessments in hindsight – although Tate was evaluated as a wide receiver and Chism had a disappointing end to his college career. Hartsfield and Francis were both under-recruited gems and should be the leaders of Maryland’s 2012 defense. Plenty of schools missed on their evaluation of Kabongo, while Edet was the quintessential boom-or-bust prospect (who obviously busted). Overall, this light-on-numbers group probably deserves a C considering it yielded several significant ACC contributors, but also four guys that didn’t do much – if anything – during their time in College Park. What grade would you give this class?

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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