Mark Leoni was beginning to get anxious.
His son, St. Joseph (N.J.) High School linebacker Ryan Donohue, was offered a scholarship by Rutgers in September, but remained uncommitted heading into the summer.
"He was getting nervous because everyone was starting to fill up," Donohue said. "[He'd say], 'If they run out of spots, what's the offer good for?' But I just had the feeling that [Rutgers wasn't the right fit for me] ... there was something missing."
With that in mind, Donohue and his father loaded up the family car and made the drive from New Jersey down to College Park, in hopes of finding that indescribable quality Donohue sought in a program.
At Maryland last week, he found what was missing and committed to the Terps.
Donohue, 6 feet 2, 220 pounds, said he was immediately blown away by Maryland's campus.
"[I was impressed with] just how beautiful everything was, driving around and looking at the campus," Donohue said. "It's what a college is supposed to look like to me. ... [My father] just looked at me one time and was like, 'You're going to commit, aren't you?' And I said, 'Yeah, probably.'"
So before Donohue returned to New Jersey, he and his father had a sit-down with Ralph Friedgen to inform Maryland's coach of his intention to accept UM's offer.
"I went to shake [Friedgen's] hand, and he was like, 'Is that right?' And he was like, 'I hug all my commitments.' And he hugged my dad too, and that's the stuff that makes you feel welcome," Donohue said.
Donohue said he expected an enjoyable visit going in based on conversations with St. Joseph's head coach Tony Karcich, who has known Friedgen for almost 25 years.
"Well we go way back to when he was an assistant coach at Maryland," Karcich said. "I was the head coach at Bergen (N.J.) Catholic. He recruited one of my guys (offensive lineman Bill Hughes) who ended up being a captain in the [mid-1980s] at Maryland. It was a great job of recruiting on Ralph's part. They projected him, redshirted him, and he became at least a two- or three-year starter. I've known Ralph ever since then. He's an upfront guy, so I feel very comfortable sending any of my kids to Ralph."
Karcich said Donohue, who contributed 116 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions for St. Joseph's as a junior, should fit in well at Maryland.
"They recruited him as an inside linebacker. He's got good instincts as an inside linebacker, a good nose for the ball, and he's a physical kid," Karcich said. "He'll hopefully put on a little more size. He's probably about 220. I'm sure they'd like him to be a little bigger. But he runs real well and doesn't have many weaknesses. He takes on blockers, is a great hitter, very physical and also does a good job on pass coverage, so he's a complete package."
Donohue, who's leaning toward studying kinesiology at Maryland, said he -- and his father -- are relieved that his decision is made and he can now concentrate entirely on his senior season. Beyond that, Donohue said he's excited to join a team that already feels like family.
"It was just awesome [at Maryland] -- totally different from all the other colleges I visited," Donohue said. "Just the closeness, I felt like almost family down there. When I went to talk to all the kids and coaches, they welcomed me. All the other schools kind of took [recruiting] like a business. [Maryland] didn't take it like that and that's what I wanted."