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Two years ago, Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen announced at his Signing Day news conference that the Terps would no longer focus their recruiting efforts on Florida.

When defensive coordinator Don Brown was hired after the 2008 season, the former UMass head coach put an end to Maryland's Sunshine State hiatus immediately. The decision paid off right away, as the Terps landed three Florida prospects for the 2010 class.

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Maryland has continued its renewed efforts in Florida for the class of 2011. The most recent evidence of that came Friday, when Shaun Ward committed to the Terps.

Ward, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker-defensive end from Boyd Anderson High in Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., is probably the most highly touted of Maryland's recent Florida pledges."It's real simple with this kid. He's got one of the fastest first steps you'll see," said Boyd Anderson coach Mark James. "He runs a 4.5 40. He could have went anywhere he wanted to go. He's got 18 offers. I believe his connection with Maryland might have been that his brother [is a graduate student there]. But he could've went anywhere he wanted to."

Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Florida State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and West Virginia were among the 18 programs that offered, James said. Maryland will face plenty of competition from other schools in the state, but the talent, James said, is worth the effort.

"When you've got schools like Utah and Utah State coming to Florida, it would make sense [for every program] to come to Florida," James said. "We've got a plethora of good guys that can play football at any level -- the SEC, ACC, Big East. Broward County, Dade County and Palm Beach -- if teams want to be successful, these areas should be the main recruiting points."

Ward, who led Broward County with 18 1/2 sacks as a junior, will likely play a hybrid linebacker-defensive end role for the Terps. Boyd Anderson is on spring break this week, which allowed Ward to visit College Park for spring practice, get a glimpse of his future and offer his commitment.

"He's just a great kid," James said. "He's a leader on the team, he has good character, he has decent grades and comes from a strong family background. ... He's definitely a unique kid with his size, speed and agility. Maryland's getting a great player."

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