After an absolutely delightful drive down I-95 from Baltimore to College Park today, I sauntered into Gossett Team House roughly 10 minutes into Randy Edsall's first Signing Day press conference as Maryland's coach.
The former UConn coach spoke about his vision for the program, being "upfront and honest" on the field and in the classroom, and focusing future recruiting endeavors within a five- or six-hour radius of campus.
Edsall didn't discuss each recruit individually, as former coach Ralph Friedgen used to do. And he cracked considerably fewer jokes than his predecessor behind the podium. But Edsall did weigh in on a variety of important recruiting-related topics during his roughly 30-minute address. Here are the highlights:
• Woodland Hills (Pa.) defensive end Quinton Jefferson was Edsall's first commitment at Maryland, but Friedgen's staff laid the groundwork there. Edsall credited wide receivers coach Lee Hull for keeping the three-star prospect interested in the Terps. Edsall, Hull and defensive coordinator Don Brown traveled to Pittsburgh for an in-home visit with Jefferson and his family. As the three Terps coaches pulled up to their hotel after the visit, Jefferson called Hull to offer his pledge. • While the Maryland coaching search played out in the media, "a lot of people" tried to make a move on the Terps' commitments. Edsall said he was impressed by "the character" Maryland's recruits demonstrated by honoring their commitments. Edsall said he chose not to pursue any UConn commitments once he got the Terps job. That included Calvert Hall safety Adrian Amos, a former Huskies commitment who signed with Penn State today.
• Our own Jeff Barker asked Edsall to discuss recruits the Terps lost in the coaching transition – either by the staff's choice or the player's. "There were some that decided to move on based on our decisions, and there were some we moved on based on our own decisions." Edsall couldn't mention any recruits that didn't sign by name, but Point Pleasant (N.J.) tight end Ryan Malleck (Virginia Tech) and Island Coast (Fla.) linebacker Jimmy Stewart were two that Maryland wanted to keep. The Terps decided to part ways with Fork Union offensive tackle Larry Mazyck and Hertford County (N.C.) defensive end Dontez Tyler. Mazyck had reportedly committed to Vanderbilt, but didn't sign his letter of intent today and could be headed to prep school. Tyler signed with Old Dominion.
• "Who can help us win an ACC championship?" That's the question Edsall will ask when evaluating each potential recruit. Desire to get a Maryland degree, possessing a work ethic and having "great character" were the three characteristics he listed as necessary requirements for a prospective Terp. No mention of actual football acumen here, but that probably goes without saying. The gist is that Edsall doesn't plan on taking chances on kids with questionable character and/or grades.
• Replacing Dave Sollazzo as Maryland's recruiting coordinator will be tight ends coach John Dunn, who came to College Park after a grad-assistant stint at LSU. Ryan Steinberg, who Edsall said played an important role in keeping the 2011 class together, will stay on as the assistant recruiting coordinator. Edsall envisions a team effort among the assistants in recruiting. "Everybody … will have a role in what we do," he said. Edsall also said he plans to be very "hands on" with recruiting.
• The Terps didn't sign a quarterback in this class, but that was by design, according to Edsall. There are five scholarship quarterbacks – Danny O'Brien, Jamarr Robinson, C.J. Brown, Tyler Smith, Devin Burns – on Maryland's roster. Adding a sixth this year, Edsall said, didn't make sense because "only one quarterback can play at a time." Edsall said he does plan to recruit a quarterback for the 2012 class.
• It's probably safe to say that Edsall doesn't spend his free time scouring Rivals.com and Scout.com to look up the star rankings of Maryland's recruits. "People get caught up too much in these rankings," he said. "The only ranking that really matters is what me and my staff think." Edsall acknowledged that his recruiting classes at UConn were generally lowly ranked by the scouting services, but the Huskies still "went out and won games." The biggest takeaway from this portion of the presser? "You don't win championships in February."
• Edsall was hesitant to discuss the differences in recruiting for Maryland vs. recruiting for UConn. But in general, he does expect to sign a better class in 2012 simply because he will have an entire year to evaluate prospects and build relationships, instead of just a month.
• Nate Clarke, Ryan Doyle, Stephen Grommer, Evan Mulrooney and Andrew Zeller compose Maryland's five-man offensive line class, giving the Terps 16 O-linemen on the roster. That's just about Edsall's ideal number for the position. Seventeen would be the max, he said.
• David Walker's stint as Maryland's running backs coach was a short one. The former Pittsburgh assistant has been hired by the Indianapolis Colts. Edsall joked that former UConn star and current Colts running back Donald Brown might have had something to do with that move. Edsall wished Walker well and thanked him for his recruiting efforts.
• Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for more from Hull and Dunn on their roles in recruiting.
Baltimore Sun photo of Randy Edsall by Karl Merton Ferron / Feb. 2, 2010