Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and editor Matt Bracken weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
Who could be some of the surprise players to emerge from spring practice for the Terps?
Don Markus: Listening to Randy Edsall talk about his team at a news conference Monday, there are several potential candidates.
I think one of the most interesting stories headed into the team’s first practice Saturday is freshman cornerback and return specialist Will Likely, who enrolled a semester early after graduating from high school.
Likely comes from Belle Glade, Fla., a place that has produced a lot of Division I talent. He grew up a Florida State fan and you have to think the biggest reason he isn’t playing down there is the fact that he’s 5-7, but Edsall talks about how competitive he is and how he should be able to compete for time at cornerback even as a true freshman.
There are a number of players who redshirted last season as freshmen who could find their way onto the two- or three-deep roster come fall.
Roman Braglio, a 6-3, 250-pound defensive end from McDonogh, could battle for a spot on a defensive line depleted by graduation. Tailback Joe Riddle, who was recruited by a number of ACC schools as well as West Virginia and Pittsburgh until an injury at Linganore High ended his senior year, could see some time. The Terps have depth there, but with Wes Brown sitting out the spring, Riddle should get some reps.
It was surprising to hear Edsall mention Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil among a group of transfers who are eligible this spring. I have to think the former Towson High standout, who played his first two years at Division II Seton Hill University, has done something to merit such praise.
The 6-2, 245-pound linebacker was a team captain as a sophomore at Seton Hill, where he blocked six kicks (including two in a game), so you know that if he doesn’t make the two or three deep on defense, he might have an impact on special teams. But typically when players transfer up to Division I, somebody has told them to take the shot.
One of Edsall’s biggest pitches in recruiting is the opportunity to play early – in part a byproduct of not winning a lot of games the past two years – but you have to think that as Maryland upgrades its talent, some of these younger players or transfers could emerge as key performers come the fall.
Maryland is finishing the regular season with an abundance of road games. What is your favorite Atlantic Coast Conference venue?
Jeff Barker: Can I whisper it to you? It’s Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. I’m reluctant to say it because Duke clearly knows what a gem Cameron is. And it knows that we know. So, yes, there can be a certain smugness about the place.
But it’s a great place to watch a game. It’s Palestra-sized (about 9,300 capacity), which is perfect for college hoops. Not to go all George Will on you, but the wood inside gives it a cathedral feeling.
For the media, Cameron gets extra points because press row continues to be courtside. Many ACC arenas these days (Georgia Tech, Virginia, Wake Forest) position reporters well off the floor. That’s fine – we can still do our jobs – but you don’t have the same perspective or hear some of the comments from coaches, players and officials that allow you to gain extra insight for your reports.
Maryland used to have some media seats near midcourt -- we’re behind the baseline now -- and I used to love to listen to the banter between Greivis Vasquez and and the student section.
The other thing about Cameron is that it’s relatively easy to get to by car, and is convenient to Raleigh-Durham airport.
Access is important. Consider Virginia Tech. I like the Hokie Stone-themed campus. I like the football tradition of the team coming onto the field to “Enter Sandman,” the Metallica song.
But traveling to Blacksburg? Not my favorite trip. Just ask Maryland’s men’s basketball team, which got stuck behind a semi truck accident getting back to the Roanoke airport last month and sat on the interstate for a few hours in the middle of the night. Coming in to Blacksburg on I-81 in the winter can make you feel like you’re in an episode of “Ice Road Truckers.”
What’s the latest with Maryland basketball recruit Melo Trimble?
Matt Bracken: It was a big week for the Terps’ lone 2014 commitment. Trimble, a 6-foot-2 combo guard, scored 33 points Tuesday night to lead Bishop O’Connell to a 58-53 win over St. John’s (D.C.) in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship game. The next day, Trimble scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in O’Connell’s 89-54 win over the Miller School, according to the Washington Post.
On the season, Trimble put up 20.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, drawing praise from scouts for his outside shooting and overall scoring ability.
Just how much do analysts like Trimble and respect what he’s done this year? Scout.com’s Evan Daniels – who ranks Trimble a four-star prospect and the No. 11 shooting guard in the country – lists Maryland’s one-man class as the No. 10 group for 2014 nationally. Granted, it’s early for 2014, and four other one-man classes are ranked in the Top 10. But Daniels sees Trimble as a great building block for the Terps in 2014.
“Mark Turgeon has recruited well since landing at Maryland and he's off to a great start in 2014 with a top 60 pick up in Trimble,” Daniels wrote.
For a closer look at Trimble, check out video highlights from the WCAC championship game, courtesy of DMVElite.com, below.