Patrick McGlinchey heard "great things" about Derrick Hayward before the young linebacker/defensive end ever set foot in the Wicomico weight room as a freshman.
Just minutes into the first meeting between player and coach, McGlinchey could sense that reports of Hayward's potential were not exaggerated.
"I could tell he was going to be a great athlete with his work ethic in the weight room," said McGlinchey, who has served as a varsity assistant and JV head coach at Wicomico. "He was really tall and skinny, couldn't lift much weight. But he came in every day. The first couple of days playing football were awesome."
Hayward's progression over the next three years elevated him to a status that few Eastern Shore football players ever reach: Division I recruit. On Saturday, Hayward decided to continue his development at Maryland, picking the Terps over offers from Boston College, Navy and Rutgers.
"I'm still excited," Hayward said Monday night. "I'm just thankful for the opportunity to go to Maryland. I'm very excited about it. I like the coaches. [Tight ends] coach [John] Dunn, he was a coach that was recruiting me. I really like him."
The Terps were the first program to offer Hayward. While McGlinchey told Hayward when he was a freshman that he'd likely be a Division I prospect, the newest Maryland pledge was still taken aback by offer No. 1.
"I wasn't really expecting my first offer until summer when I went to camp," Hayward said. "But when I got the call, I think like a month ago, I was excited. It was a great feeling, a great opportunity.
At 6 feet 5, 200 pounds, Hayward plays strongside defensive end and outside linebacker for the Indians, and will likely settle in at OLB in Maryland's 3-4 defense. While McGlinchey expects the future Terp to get up to 240 or 250 pounds in Maryland's strength and conditioning program, the weight gain Hayward has already undergone is somewhat staggering.
"Sophomore year he was about 170 pounds," McGlinchey said. "For our conference, he was first-team all-defense. But last year he put on the weight, got up to about 190 all year. We saw that he was actually putting on weight, [with] big shoulders and a real athletic body. His core got real thick."
While Hayward can certainly be characterized as a developing prospect, his athleticism put him squarely on the DI radar. Maryland was among the first schools to seriously pursue the coveted three-star prospect – a rare rating for an Eastern Shore player.
"This area really doesn't produce Division I athletes every year," McGlinchey said. "I would say it's real hit or miss. More cold than hot. The thing that surprised me was his height. I wasn't sure about his height to be playing the position he's playing. But that's kind of the thing in the 3-4 defense. Everyone's looking for his type of player – a person 6-4 or higher that can play the rush defensive end, stand up and cover the flats."
Said Hayward: "It's just great to be the first person from the Eastern Shore to go play at Maryland and be one of the few people from the Eastern Shore to make it to Division I. It's just a great feeling. Hopefully I'll bring attention to the Eastern Shore so more people can get noticed."
McGlinchey said Hayward, a 3.8 student who takes AP classes, wants to major in kinesiology. Maryland's strong academic program – combined with College Park's proximity to Salisbury – made Hayward's decision an easy one.
"I'm just thankful, just grateful to get the chance to be able to pick my own school," Hayward said. "Hopefully [I'll be able to] help Maryland win some championships."