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Durkin sparks Maryland football recruiting momentum in 'movement'

Durkin sparks Maryland football recruiting momentum in 'movement'
D.J. Durkin speaks at a news conference after being introduced as the new head football coach at the University of Maryland on Dec. 3, 2015, in College Park. Durkin comes from the University of Michigan, where he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. (Patrick Semansky / AP)

Kasim Hill and Ayinde Eley had already decided they were committing to Maryland two weeks ago, but they just had to figure out a clever way to do it.

Hill and Eley brainstormed while they were together in College Park watching the Terps practice on April 9, and since Hill had already announced he was going to announce on the live-streaming app Periscope at 2 p.m., he let Eley "step in" on his broadcast.

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When Hill, who had moments earlier taken off his warmup jacket to reveal a Maryland jersey, turned his camera to show Eley, clad in a Maryland jersey and hat of his own, standing next to him in a suite at Maryland Stadium, it provided the exclamation mark on a significant recruiting weekend for the Terps.

In about 30 hours two weekends ago, Maryland secured commitments from three high-profile players with local ties. A week later, the Terps added another. In doing so, coach DJ Durkin continued to make a mark in local recruiting, continuing the so-called "movement" to get the area's top talent to play in College Park.

Since the beginning of April, Maryland has secured verbal commitments from: Hill, a four-star quarterback who transferred to St. John's (D.C.) from Gilman in January; Eley, a three-star linebacker from Good Counsel; four-star IMG Academy (Fla.) defensive tackle Cam Spence, who is another former Gilman player; three-star Quince Orchard defensive back Fofie Bazzie; and four-star McDonogh offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who committed Saturday.

Three-star Lake Braddock (Va.) tight end Andrew Park was Maryland's first commitment March 3.

"It's going well," Durkin said last week. "Obviously, recruiting's one of those things; you've got to do it every day. It never stops. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Signing day's a long way away."

During former coach Randy Edsall's tenure, Maryland made in-roads in getting some notable local players to stay home. Local five-stars Stefon Diggs and Damian Prince signed with Maryland in 2012 and 2014, respectively. In 2013, the Terps signed four players out of local powerhouse Friendship Collegiate Academy, where they were coached by current defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim.

In his introductory press conference Dec. 3, Durkin said he realized the wealth of talent available in the area — the "DMV" — and that one of his top priorities in recruiting was to keep it home. While five-star Good Counsel linebacker Keandre Jones and four-star Bullis quarterback Dwayne Haskins flipped their commitments to Ohio State in January, Durkin and his staff still pulled in four-star DeMatha guard Terrance Davis and four-star Archbishop Carroll guard Richard Merritt in the Class of 2016.

With six commitments in the Class of 2017, Maryland ranks No. 25 nationally, according to Rivals.com, and No. 26, according to the 247sports.com composite rankings. Five of the six commitments attend school within an hour drive of College Park.

"The thing people are starting to find out about our staff, our program is we're consistent," Durkin said. "What you see is what you get. We're not the used car salesmen trying to get a commit. It's just kind of like, it's who we are. That's who we're going to be tomorrow and a month from now, a year from now, whatever it is. I think that message is starting to get across to guys, and we'll keep it going."

This year's class of in-state recruits boasts some of the nation's top talent. Four-star DeMatha defensive end Chase Young is the top player in Maryland and the No. 52 player nationally, according to 247sports.com. His teammates, four-star running back Anthony McFarland Jr. is the No. 2 player in the state and No. 53 overall.

Currently, Maryland has verbal pledges from three of the state's top 16 players, and those players expect that number to grow.

"We're trying to get the shift going, and we're trying to get a lot of momentum," Hill said after his April 9 commitment. "It was a very exciting weekend. Cam and Ayinde are both friends I've known for a long time, so it was great to be able to do that with them. We're just excited to all be Terps and all be going to college together and get the recruiting thing flowing."

"I think this is the year where people are really starting to buy in," Eley said.

Any concern about a dropoff in local recruiting between Edsall's staff, which featured Mike Locksley, who was regarded as the staff's top local recruiter, and Durkin's staff has been assuaged almost immediately. While the Class of 2016 was faxing in its commitments on National Signing Day back in February, Durkin was doling out another round of offers to players, including Eley.

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While Maryland still faces tough recruiting battles for the top local prospects — Ohio State, Alabama, Penn State and others have plucked locals recently — the Terps appear to be in good position for the future.

"Dumb ? of the day in the DMV: Is the #DMVtoUMD Movement back?" Rivals.com analyst Andrew Friedman tweeted after the commitments of Spence, Hill and Eley. "In the minds of most prospects in the DMV, the Movement was never dead."

As Durkin said, there's still plenty of time for things to change in the nine-and-a-half months between now and National Signing Day. But Maryland appears poised to continue receiving an influx of local talent under Durkin's guidance.

"I would say to everybody, be excited," Hill said. "Be excited about the program, and be excited for some things that are about to come."

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