By Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Sun
9:27 PM EST, February 10, 2012
COLLEGE PARK -- Stefon Diggs was only a sophomore when Maryland verbally offered him a scholarship, his first in a distinguished prep football career that eventually earned him more than 30.
For the next two-plus years, as the local star burnished his blue-chip profile at Good Counsel High School in Olney and the Terps rebuilt their program under a new coach, the courtship endured.
When National Signing Day came and went last week, the No. 2-rated wide receiver in the country was still undecided, not fully convinced any of the national powerhouses or nearby schools recruiting him were right for him. So he waited.
So, too, did a horde of fans clad in Maryland paraphernalia Friday night at Looney’s Pub in College Park, where Diggs was set to announce his college choice at 6 p.m. When he finally did so at 7:30 p.m., ending his drawn-out recruitment by telling the jam-packed crowd, “I want to win championships, I want to win ball games, and where else is a better place to do it then your city?” the ground-shaking eruption said it all: The Terps had landed their most important recruit in years.
“You see they’re there for you, they always support you,” Diggs said afterward, motioning to the group of still-grinning fans on the ground floor behind him. “Everybody’s got haters, but your city’s always behind you. It’s only right to give back.”
And what a gift it is. In Diggs, Maryland coach Randy Edsall has what many believe to be an instant-impact program-changer, a 6-foot, 185-pound five-star playmaker talented enough to be named the consensus All-State Defensive Player of the Year even while most project him to play offense in college. The most sought-after star on a nationally ranked Falcons team, Diggs finished with 770 receiving yards and eight touchdowns while rushing 17 times for 277 yards and three touchdowns last season. He also intercepted four passes, broke up 10 passes and forced three fumbles.
His on-field dominance had coaches interested across the nation, but Maryland, Auburn, Florida and Ohio State made the final cut. In explaining his decision, Diggs lauded Edsall’s structured approach to college football. He also gushed about newly hired offensive coordinator Mike Locksley’s candidness throughout the recruiting process.
But it was Diggs’ family — especially younger brother Trevon, to whom Diggs has become a guiding presence after the death of their father several years ago — that ultimately helped sway him to College Park.
“His brother is so happy,” Diggs’ mother, Stephanie, said. “He asked Trevon, how did he feel about him going to Florida? And Tre was like, ‘It’s OK.’ But he said, ‘Do you prefer me to stay here with you?’ And he said yeah.”
Diggs said he did not know how his commitment would impact the future of Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien, who is expected to decide this weekend whether he will transfer.
“Whatever decision he makes or whatever he wants to do, I’m going to stick by him,” Diggs said, “because I like him as a person and he’s a good guy.”
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