COLLEGE PARK - Maryland yesterday announced a 2009 recruiting class that is heavy on linebackers and includes a highly touted offensive lineman who committed late and a running back compared by coaches to former 1,000-yard Terrapins rusher Chris Downs.
Maryland's class was rated 26th nationally by Rivals.com and Scout.com - the highest such rating for the Terrapins in recent years.
"We're very happy with this class. I feel it met a lot of our needs," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said.
It's a large signing class - 24 were announced yesterday and two enrolled in 2008. Last year, 18 were in the signing-day group. The difference is that Maryland lost 30 players from last season's 8-5 team, Friedgen's largest-ever senior class.
Among the most pressing needs was linebacker, where Maryland lost standouts Moise Fokou and Dave Philistin.
Linebacker Alex Wujciak, the team's leading tackler, returns, as does Adrian Moten. But Wujciak is on crutches after undergoing knee surgery and will miss spring practice.
"That's the reason we recruited so many linebackers - because we lost so many," Friedgen said. "I think linebacker is my biggest concern."
Eight of the 24 players signed are linebackers. The group includes Baltimore's David Mackall (Edmondson), who can play linebacker and defensive line. "I think he'll end up growing into a defensive end," Friedgen said.
It also includes Avery Murray from Florence, S.C., who Friedgen said could be ready to play immediately at the "mike," a middle linebacker. "I'm hoping he can be a factor very, very soon in our program," the coach said.
In recent years, Friedgen has been seeking to keep local talent away from Penn State and other schools that have plucked players from Maryland in the past. Maryland has increasingly focused its efforts on players within a five-hour radius of campus.
Maryland got some good news late - and it was about an area player.
Pete White, an offensive lineman from Washington, "made my day and called me last night and said he's going to be a Terp," Friedgen said. "He took it right to the end."
White, 6 feet 5, 340 pounds, is rated No. 5 nationally among guards by Scout.com.
Another area recruit is 5-9, 185-pound running back Caleb Porzel, from Good Counsel in Montgomery County. Friedgen compared him to Downs, who topped 1,000 yards for the Terrapins in 2002.
"When you see this kid, he's going to take your breath away. He's explosive," Friedgen said.
Porzel joins established backs Da'Rel Scott, who topped 1,000 yards last season, and Davin Meggett.
Among the highest-profile class members is defensive end De'Onte Arnett from Capitol Heights. He was rated four stars by Rivals.com. "I just think this guy is going to be something special, I really do," said Maryland recruiting coordinator Dave Sollazzo.
Arnett has already enrolled along with some other recruits and will be eligible for spring practice.
The class includes two quarterbacks - C.J. Brown from Pennsylvania and Danny O'Brien from North Carolina. One is likely to redshirt.
Maryland said no recruits were lost because former defensive coordinator Chris Cosh left in December for a similar post at Kansas State. Maryland was quick to hire a replacement - University of Massachusetts head coach Don Brown.
List of Maryland, state college recruits PG 4