Until Friday, Maryland's first commitment in the Class of 2014 seemed like the last candidate to leave for somewhere else.
But McDonogh three-star offensive lineman Jared Cohen on Saturday confirmed a TerrapinTimes.com report that said he had reopened his recruitment. Cohen, who helped the No. 1 Eagles win the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title this season, will visit Penn State next month.
Cohen did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment. But on Twitter, Cohen addressed his decision.
"Since the news is already out, I want to confirm that I did decommit from UMD," Cohen wrote. He then elaborated on his decision in an image attachment.
"I know the news may come as a shock to most of you," he said. "When I first began my recruitment, Penn State was my top school. Recently, they told me they wanted to offer me. I told the Maryland coaches that I wanted to go up there for an official visit, but they said the only way that I could go was if I decommitted. I didn't want to, but I was given no other choice.
"I need to this for myself so I can know in my heart which is the right decision for me for the next 4 or 5 years."
Cohen said the Terps' offer was still on the table and that he could ultimately recommit to Maryland.
Cohen committed to the Terps last February, only weeks after national signing day. In the 10 months since then, there was no indication that he would not be a part of the Terps' official class this February. His Eagles teammate, Josh Woods, committed to the Terps last month, and former teammate Roman Braglio played in 10 games this season as a Terps redshirt freshman.
If Maryland were to lose Cohen, it would be devastating for reasons practical and personal. The 6-foot-3, 275-pound prospect bulwarked the MIAA A Conference champions' offensive line this season, even attaining four-star status on Rivals.com this fall. Along with Derwin Gray, Larry Mazyck and perhaps Damian Prince, the Terps were assembling the kind of offensive line talent the program had long coveted.
To beat teams like Penn State, coach Randy Edsall knows, the Terps will have to compete with them in recruiting. In recent months, that has been a losing battle. In October, three-star running back Johnathan Thomas — incidentally enough, then also in the midst of a standout senior season — reneged on his committment to Maryland to pledge to the Nittany Lions.
This week, three-star defensive back target Shawn Boone cut Maryland from a list of top schools that now includes only North Carolina State and ... Penn State. And now Cohen is set to take an official visit to State College on Jan. 24.
Either way, it seems Cohen will end up in the Big Ten Conference next season.
"I really hope that it turns out to be a really good legacy of the first person to commit … [to] the first [Maryland] class that’s going to be in the Big Ten," he told The Baltimore Sun's Matt Bracken after his initial commitment. "It’s a little overwhelming to think about the expectations, but I’m excited to see what’s going to happen.”