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With a top quarterback signed, Maryland's Michael Locksley flexes his recruiting muscle

The Maryland football team had landed perhaps its most important recruit of coach Michael Locksley’s short tenure, meaning the adhesive nameplate could finally join the others. Offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery, celebrating with the Terps’ staff inside their recruiting war room, walked over to a wall with 16 other stickers. The new name would go at the very top.

Lance LeGendre might not be the program’s immediate answer under center, nor is he even the class’ top-rated recruit. But at about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, on the last of two signing days for the Class of 2019, the four-star dual-threat quarterback’s announcement at his New Orleans school that he was signing with Maryland reverberated 1,000 miles away.

Locksley was hired for recruiting victories like this. LeGendre (pronounced Luh-ZHON) didn’t have an offer from Maryland until last month. He hadn’t visited College Park until this past weekend. But he picked the Terps over Florida State nonetheless, a surprise addition to a 17-member class that, with a string of other recent signings, no longer ranks as the Big Ten’s worst.

“Just like what happens to most people, when they get there on this campus, they see the vision, you see the investment that the administration's made with the facilities that we're building, and then the opportunity,” Locksley said Wednesday. “That's the one great thing we had to offer, was an opportunity with the new staff coming in, to have the opportunity to come in and compete.”

In two months, the size of Locksley’s inaugural recruiting class nearly tripled. After signing six players in mid-December, Maryland added commitments from 11 players and lost pledges from three others. Six of the Terps’ nine highest-rated pledges were finalized Wednesday, including outside linebacker Cortez Andrews, a top-500 prospect from Florida, and defensive end Anthony "Tank" Booker, an Ohio standout who chose Maryland over Cincinnati.

The Terps’ class, rated No. 59 in the nation as of Wednesday afternoon by the 247Sports.com Composite rankings, ahead of Rutgers’ and Illinois’, could grow Thursday. DeMatha safety Nick Cross, a Florida State commit, did not sign with the Seminoles on Wednesday and is reportedly also considering Maryland and Penn State. Rated the state's top player and No. 55 overall prospect by 247Sports.com, he'd be the Terps' top incoming recruit, ahead of Wise four-star wide receiver Isaiah Hazel, the state's fifth-best prospect.

“This is an ongoing recruiting process for us,” Locksley said. “We hope we're not done yet.”

They hadn’t even started with LeGendre until two weeks ago. At Alabama, where Locksley served as offensive coordinator last season, the former Kansas commit was “on our board for quite some time.” As a senior at Warren Easton High School, he helped lead the Eagles to the Class 4A state final — the state’s second-biggest classification — and finished with 1,707 passing yards and 27 touchdowns along with 577 rushing yards and seven scores.

Then Locksley got word that he was still available, and his whirlwind recruitment took off. With Kasim Hill coming off his second straight knee injury, Alabama graduate transfer Jalen Hurts picking Oklahoma and Maryland’s staff parting ways with quarterback recruit David Summers, the Terps offered LeGendre on Jan. 26.

Locksley joked that he knew there was mutual interest when LeGendre started texting Locksley while visiting another school. Locksley and Montgomery, also the team’s quarterbacks coach, visited him last week and convinced LeGendre and his mother to come to College Park for an official visit.

“Our whole staff surrounded them,” Locksley said. “We were able to show them what being a Maryland football player, being a part of our Maryland football family, was all about.”

Note: Former St. Frances and current Alabama edge rusher Eyabi Anoma, the No. 4 overall recruit in the nation last year, has exited the NCAA's transfer portal one day after entering it, coach Nick Saban told ESPN on Wednesday. Anoma, whom Locksley recruited to Alabama, played in 13 games as a true freshman, but mostly on special teams.

If Anoma transfers, he would have to sit out a year under NCAA rules. Locksley said the Terps, who already have added Ohio State outside linebacker Keandre Jones and Virginia Tech wide receiver Sean Savoy, are leaving scholarships open for other potential transfers.

“You have to leave yourself a little wiggle room,” said Locksley, who cannot comment on unsigned players. “You always save a little bit of money for a rainy day, so I would say that we'll always try to leave some spaces there because there are opportunities to recruit some pretty good players that have the ability to come in and help you right now. So we definitely took that into account as we have moved forward with our numbers.”

Maryland’s 2019 recruiting class

Late signees:

Three-star CB Deonte Banks (Edgewood)

Three-star DE Anthony “Tank” Booker (Cincinnati)

Three-star LB Kameron Blount (Waldorf)

Three-star CB Erwin Byrd (Powder Springs, Ga.)

Three-star S Treron Collins (Fairburn, Ga.)

Three-star TE Tyler Devera (Oradell, N.J.)

Three-star OT Marcus Finger (Fort Myers, Fla.)

Three-star G Parris Heath (Spring Valley, N.Y.)*

Three-star DE DeShawn Holt (Waldorf)

Four-star QB Lance LeGendre (New Orleans)

Three-star DE Sam Okuayinonu (Virginia, Minn.)*

Early signees:

Three-star DB Lavonte Gater (Washington, D.C.)

Four-star WR Isaiah Hazel (Upper Marlboro)

Three-star TE Malik Jackson (Fort Meade)

Three-star OT Mason Lunsford (Olney)

Three-star WR Dino Tomlin (Pittsburgh)

*Notes junior-college recruit

jshaffer@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jonas_shaffer

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