Former Armwood High School defensive end Byron Cowart talks to the media after announcing he plans to attend Auburn on national signing day in 2015, at Armwood High School in Seffner, Fla. Two years later, Cowart signed with Maryland after leaving Auburn.
Former Armwood High School defensive end Byron Cowart talks to the media after announcing he plans to attend Auburn on national signing day in 2015, at Armwood High School in Seffner, Fla. Two years later, Cowart signed with Maryland after leaving Auburn. (James Borchuck / AP)

National signing day got off to a rousing start at Maryland on Wednesday with the signing of defensive end Byron Cowart, who transferred in after leaving Auburn in September.

Cowart was the No. 1 recruit in the country according to ESPN, coming out of Amwood High School in Florida in 2015, but he struggled to get playing time with the Tigers.

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The Terps football coach doesn't believe the team's 4-8 record in 2017 has hurt recruiting.

After playing sparingly his first two seasons, Cowart left Auburn early in the 2017 season and attended junior college near his Florida home. He will be eligible to play immediately for the Terps in 2018.

The addition of Cowart could give a big boost to a defensive line that struggled after losing rush linebacker Jesse Aniebonam to a season-ending broken ankle in the opening victory at Texas.

The Terps finished this past season with just 16 sacks.

Cowart appeared in 23 games over his first two years at Auburn, finishing with just 12 tackles and no sacks. He played in three more this past season, finishing with three tackles.

Cowart attributed his struggles to the departure of defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who became the head coach at South Carolina in 2016. Cowart was also reportedly dealing with his mother's health problems in Florida.

After record-breaking season, Maryland receiver DJ Moore announces he's turning pro

Maryland wide receiver DJ Moore, who set a single-season school record for receptions in 2017, said hearing that he could be as high as a second-round pick validated his decision.

The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Cowart is one of three transfers who will play for Maryland beginning in 2018.

Rayshad Lewis, the son of former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, is a wide receiver who broke freshman school records at Utah State for receptions and receiving yards in 2016. He will help the Terps after they lost the Big Ten’s top receiver, DJ Moore, who announced Tuesday he was foregoing his senior year to turn pro.

Lewis has three years of eligibility remaining. Marcus Lewis, a cornerback who played two seasons at Florida State, will bolster a secondary that loses JC Jackson. Jackson also announced he will forego his final season of eligibility to try to make the NFL.

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