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National recruiting expert discusses importance of Terps' Florida trips

National recruiting expert discusses importance of Terps' Florida trips
D.J. Durkin with Florida in January 2015. (Butch Dill / AP)

Mike Farrell, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, said that this two-game Florida swing for Maryland could help the Terps' recruiting there in the future.

"You're not going to win the big battles [in Florida] too often, with the big three [Florida, Florida State and Miami] or the SEC unless you're Ohio State or Michigan, but you can find a lot of talent down there," Farrell said. "If you do well playing those Florida teams, and show kids you're a good option for them if they don't have Big Three offers, I think it's important."

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Farrell said Durkin's ties to the state as a former assistant at Florida under both Urban Meyer and Will Muschamp, where Durkin was once dubbed as the nation's top recruiter, should help him in his new job at Maryland.

"You're starting from a different place, but you already have relationships set," Farrell said. "He knows the [high school] coaches in the state of Florida, and guys since he left Florida that have been promoted from assistant coaches to head coaches.

"If you already have a good comfort level with the landscape and you know people – high school coaches, the 7-on-7 [camp] guys, it helps. You're not going to consistently get 4- and 5-star kids like you did when you were recruiting for the Gators."

Farrell points to Will Likely, who was a four-star prospect as a senior at Glades Central in Belle Glade, Fla., as an example of a coaching staff willing to spend time recruiting a player that many figured would either stay in state or wind up at places like Alabama or Stanford, which also recruited him.

"You have to have a resolve, you have to be willing to take chances, you have to be able to stay in battles even though the likely outcome – no pun intended – is not good, because that's the way you break through," Farrell said.

"It's also important to get a 3-star from a school that produces 4 and 5-star because kids are going to look at your school because they're friends with that kid [a school recruited]," Farrell said. "They'll wonder why he went there and they're going to be more curious why he picked your school."

Farrell said Durkin is making a good move concentrating on getting the best in-state players from Maryland and the Washington, D.C. area to remain close to home.

"Even Urban Meyer focuses first and foremost on Ohio and then he goes into the Southeast, or Texas," Farrell said. "Nick Saban does the same thing. If those two guys focus on their home state first and then go out, obviously have to do that."

Farrell said that Durkin's staff has far more ties to the local area than the assistants and support staff Randy Edsall chose for his initial staff in College Park in 2011.

"He hired a staff that had very little knowledge of in-state prospects and had very few relationships [with local coaches]," Farrell said of Edsall. "His mistake was bringing together a coaching staff that couldn't recruit in-state. They tried, but it didn't work. When [Mike] Locksley arrived, things changed for them a bit.

"What DJ Durkin's done, he's surrounding himself with guys like Aazaar [Abdul-Rahim, the team's secondary coach and former Washington high school coach at Friendship Collegiate] and [former Virginia coach] Mike London that have recruited that area for a very long time that has established relationships in the state."

Farrell said that Durkin has hired others with local ties as members of his support staff, including Marcus Berry, the team's director of recruiting, and Brawley Evans, who is a quality control assistant for the offense. Berry coached for 11 years at Friendly High in Fort Washington, and Evans coached at Good Counsel.

"There are guys like that you don't hear about, they're extremely important," Farrell said. "There are a lot of things behind the scenes that are extremely important, so when a kid comes on campus he's shown around by guys like Marcus Berry and Brawley Evans that know that landscape as well as anybody and have as many relationships as anybody."

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