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Edsall hire a 'home run,' recruiting analyst says

The similarities between new Maryland football coach Randy Edsall and his predecessor, Ralph Friedgen, are obvious to Matt Alkire.

The Scout.com recruiting analyst sees both coaches as men who care about academics and instill discipline in their players. He also sees Maryland's decision to swap Friedgen for Edsall as an intriguing – and likely successful – move.

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"He really is just a great coach in every aspect. Maryland really hit a home run there," Alkire said Monday. "He does his own thing. The mistake people make is – and I'm going to go against Scout.com and Rivals here – but people rely on these star rankings. But Randy goes out and identifies kids that fit his program. And he's tremendous at developing players. I have seen that time and time again. I can go through his roster and just pick out his entire starting lineup, his entire starting defense, and just player after player after player that came out ranked as a two-star."

Those two-star players helped Edsall turn Connecticut from a Football Bowl Subdivision newcomer to Big East champion, culminating with the Huskies' 48-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl on Sunday night.

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"Obviously, they got smoked in that game, but when UConn goes up against Oklahoma, quite frankly I don't expect Connecticut to win that game," Alkire said. "But if he's getting talent from schools in Maryland, which is talent rich, and schools in Virginia, which is talent rich, then it might be a different story three or four years from now. I thought it was an excellent hire. I was surprised that Randy took the job. I thought he was going to be a lifer up at Connecticut. But he has done a tremendous job."Alkire expects Edsall to hit the ground running on the recruiting trail, introducing himself to local coaches and scouring the East Coast for hidden gems. Alkire recalled UConn's recruitment of Sio Moore, a backup fullback at Apex High in North Carolina who "barely touched the ball" in high school. Alkire noted that Moore was a "great kid," but at the time was completely befuddled as to why Edsall was recruiting him. This season, however, it became clear why.

"In a game [against West Virginia] the kid has a 15-tackle performance and has been one of their standout linebackers," Alkire said. "That's why I'm talking about it in terms of development. This guy has an eye for talent that is amazing. If he can do that with Sio Moore, what would he have done with Shawne Merriman? What could he have done with a Vontae Davis? What would he have done with Tavon Austin, considering what he did with Jordan Todman? It's going to be really interesting to see what he can do at Maryland. He is really kind of like an Italian grandmother that goes in the kitchen with a ton of ingredients, and everything's just a mixed up bag of stuff, then she makes this great meal out of nowhere. And that's Randy Edsall. Now he's going down there to a ton of talent that he can make into something great."

Alkire thought Maryland's recruiting suffered the past few years because of perceived uncertainty regarding Friedgen's job status. That uncertainty, Alkire said, 'played a big part' in the Terps missing out on several key in-state recruits. With Edsall on board as Maryland's coach for the foreseeable future, Alkire expects the Terps' fortunes in state to change.

"I do think you'll see Maryland put more on lockdown now, and that's not taking anything away from Ralph Friedgen," Alkire said. "… The scary thing about Randy Edsall going to Maryland is that now he has the talent pool down in that [D.C., Maryland and Virginia] area to where he has the opportunity to actually pick up some bigger-name kids if he'd like to. The talent level of the player coming for him to develop [means] the ceiling is going to be higher. What he's starting with is higher. I always compared him to Kirk Ferentz at Iowa. No. 1, he's a great recruiter in the sense that Randy finds kids who fit his style, and No. 2, he just develops his guys so well that he gets every last bit of talent out of them. That's something that Maryland could definitely use."

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