Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Barker, editor Matt Bracken, and Sun intern/Diamondback co-sports editor Josh Vitale weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
What will the environment be like at Friday night’s Maryland-Duke game in the ACC tournament?
Jeff Barker: First of all, the Terps usually have a pretty decent fan contingent. Their red-clad group was louder than the Wake Forest fans during Maryland’s win Thursday night at Greensboro Coliseum.
Plus, most of the spectators who aren’t Blue Devils fans will cheer pretty passionately for anybody playing Duke. So that’s to Maryland’s advantage.
A couple caveats, though. If you aren’t familiar with the local geography, you should know that Greensboro is about 80 miles away from Raleigh-Durham. It’s easy for Blue Devils students and fans from around the state to make the drive, and plenty will show up.
This was always made Gary Williams sore – the fact that the ACC tournament is so often held within an easy drive of all those North Carolina schools.
Of course, the last time the tournament came north – to Washington’s Verizon Center – Maryland lost in the first round. So there’s that.
It should be noted that the Terps’ support Friday among “neutral” fans – say, those backing UNC – could be minimized by Maryland’s decision to depart the ACC for the Big Ten in 2014.
But if you’re a Carolina fan, you pretty much don’t let anything get in the way of your well-developed Duke hatred.
The Maryland football team held its pro day Wednesday. Which former Terps have the best chance of being picked in April’s NFL Draft?
Josh Vitale: There are a few former Terps who could hear their names called sometime between April 25-27, but don’t get your hopes up for any high-round picks.
Thirteen players took part in Wednesday’s pro day at Byrd Stadium, but only five have received any significant draft buzz, mostly in rounds 4-7.
Four of those five names come from the defensive side of the ball. Defensive linemen A.J. Francis and Joe Vellano are each ranked among the top 35 defensive tackles by multiple NFL Draft websites, and each are projected to go somewhere between rounds five and six. Both worked out fairly well Wednesday, posting 40 times in the 5.1-5.2 second range.
Linebackers Demetrius Hartsfield and Kenneth Tate said Wednesday they hadn’t scheduled any individual workouts with teams yet, but both look as though they could work themselves into a position to get drafted on Day 3. NFL.com gives both a low-round 4-7 grade.
The Terp with the highest draft stock, though, could be a guy who made the least impact of the five seniors last season. Tight end Matt Furstenburg caught just 16 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns in 2012, but his name looks to be the most prominent on the draft board.
He was the only Maryland player to be invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in February, and he didn’t waste the opportunity. His 4.62-second mark in the 40-yard dash ranked third among tight ends, and he also ranked among the top five at the position in the vertical jump, the 20-yard shuttle and the 60-yard shuttle.
Furstenburg said Wednesday that he’s already talked to a few NFL teams—including the Broncos, Eagles, Bears, Packers, Seahawks, Jaguars and Patriots—and he has an individual workout with the Giants scheduled for April 10. He’s projected to go as high as the fourth round next month.
Where does Maryland stand with Dwayne Morgan?
Matt Bracken: In 12 days, Dwayne Morgan plans to reveal his college choice during a news conference at St. Frances. The Panthers junior forward has eliminated Indiana, Missouri, Seton Hall and South Florida from his six-school list, leaving Maryland and UNLV along with recent addition Georgetown.
The Hoyas’ plusses are obvious: they’re the most successful program of the three this season, with a 25-5 record and a shot at the Big East tournament championship. Otto Porter has gone from a late-rising recruit to a Naismith Player of the Year contender and future lottery pick, and he’s done all that playing the position – small forward – that Morgan will play in college. And, of course, D.C. is relatively close to Morgan’s Baltimore home.
Maryland, meanwhile, has been on Morgan from the beginning, prioritizing the No. 13 prospect nationally in a very public way with Mark Turgeon and Bino Ranson scouting him seemingly every time they can. A source told me earlier this week that the Terps have "a great shot" at landing Morgan, who has been to Comcast Center for several games this season.
And then there’s UNLV, which is enjoying a 24-8 season and features two Baltimore natives -- freshman point guard Daquan Cook (St. Frances) and redshirt junior forward Roscoe Smith (Walbrook) -- on the roster. Assistant coach Heath Schroyer – a DeMatha grad – has been a beast on the recruiting trail, playing an instrumental role in the Rebels landing the seventh-best 2012 class nationally according to ESPN.com. Morgan, who took an official visit to UNLV, could very well be the next high-profile Rebels recruit.
In the weeks leading up to Sean Mosley’s announcement five-and-a-half years ago, there was a ton of momentum building toward Maryland. Ditto Nick Faust before he pledged to the Terps. Similar buzz with Morgan and Maryland, right now at least, isn’t necessarily there. Could that change? Absolutely. The Terps won’t give up on Baltimore’s latest high-major prospect, and I do think Morgan and those around him legitimately do like what Maryland has to offer. Will it be enough? We’ll find out for sure in a week-and-a-half.