Former Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin's recruiting mission was clear: build a wall around the state and rely on those local prospects to lead the Terps to championships.
Now that Franklin has left for Vanderbilt, Maryland must try to replace its top recruiter in the Baltimore-Washington area.
Rivals.com recruiting analyst Mike Farrell acknowledged that Ralph Friedgen's staff missed on its fair share of in-state targets, but Franklin did a good job building relationships and earning the trust of high school coaches in the state. At first glance, no one on Randy Edsall's staff seems to possess local roots.
"That's the biggest concern of Maryland fans," Farrell said. "Who's going to establish the relationships at DeMatha, Good Counsel, Gilman and the other big-time programs in state? Who's going to be the local go-to guy who can recruit all those schools? Where's the local flavor on that staff? Who's the guy that can go in and compete with schools coming in? Where's the James Franklin on this coaching staff? Or for that matter, when you've got [Penn State defensive line coach] Larry Johnson coming in, who's going to go against a guy who has local ties and coached high school football in Maryland?"For 2011, the Terps' in-state class will consist of four or five players. Maryland expects to receive letters of intent from Quince Orchard linebacker Alex Twine and DeMatha cornerback Michael Williams on Wednesday. Wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro (Milford Mill) and offensive lineman Nate Clarke (Archbishop Carroll) are Maryland natives who spent the fall semester at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy before enrolling in College Park last month. Bowie cornerback Jeremiah Hendy is a "soft commitment" who is also mulling offers from Iowa, North Carolina State and Virginia.
Tom Lemming, CBS College Sports Network and MaxPreps.com's recruiting expert, said that Terps defensive line coach Greg Gattuso and running backs coach David Walker, both of whom were brought in from Pittsburgh, are strong recruiters, while offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, who came from LSU, is known more for developing quarterbacks than recruiting them.
The other new members of Edsall's staff are linebackers coach Todd Bradford, who had been the defensive coordinator at Southern Mississippi, special teams and outside linebackers coach Lyndon Johnson, the only member of Edsall's former staff at Connecticut to join him, and tight ends coach John Dunn, who played at North Carolina and had been a graduate assistant working under Crowton at LSU.
Edsall rehired defensive coordinator Don Brown, who recruits Florida; wide receivers coach Lee Hull, who was assigned western Pennsylvania under Friedgen; and offensive line coach Tom Brattan, whose recruiting territory included Georgia and Virginia. Given the backgrounds of Gattuso and Walker in the Pittsburgh area, Hull seems to be a likely candidate to shift his recruiting efforts to Maryland. Whoever takes Franklin's spot locally has his work cut out for him.
"You've got to mend fences a little bit," Lemming said. "I think some guys [in Maryland] liked Friedgen, [who was] coming off [ACC] Coach of the Year honors. Maryland had a good year last year. There's talent there. What [Edsall's] really got to do is make sure the coaches at Good Counsel, DeMatha and Gilman are on your side. I'm not sure how many guys on his staff have local ties. I would've recommended he offer one of the super powers [of local high school football] a coaching job, even if they turned it down."
DeMatha coach Bill McGregor said that Edsall has already visited DeMatha once and they had spoken "about five times" since Edsall was introduced as Maryland's coach on Jan. 3. McGregor said Hull "has a great grasp of the area" from his years coaching at Holy Cross and Oregon State.
Bob Lichtenfels, Scout.com's East region recruiting manager and a Pennsylvania resident, witnessed the recruiting prowess of Gattuso and Walker firsthand. He called both former Panthers assistants "very good recruiters," noting that Walker might make sense as Franklin's replacement in Maryland. Ultimately, the success of the Terps in Baltimore and Washington will depend on the man in charge.
"It might take [Maryland] a year or two to develop those inroads there," Lichtenfels said. "But at the end of the day, as long as Randy Edsall himself makes a concerted effort talking to those coaches and reiterates how important they are to the program, it's usually something that can be patched up pretty quickly."
Baltimore Sun reporter Don Markus co-wrote this article.