COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The first few weeks as head coach at Maryland were a whirlwind for Randy Edsall. He was hired on Jan. 2, leaving him about a month to cobble together his first recruiting class.
In the end, Edsall lured in what amounted to a three-star class -- no ESPNU 150 members, no elite prospects, and only three players from the state of Maryland.
It was a typical Maryland class, and it’s unlikely Edsall’s recruiting philosophy is going to change anytime soon. While at Connecticut, Edsall developed a reputation for winning with unheralded talent. He brought in solid, coachable players who didn’t have egos and took them to a BCS bowl last year. His staff will take a similar approach at Maryland, but the question is whether or not it will work against the likes of Clemson and Florida State, both of which brought in top 10 recruiting classes this year. The competition for in-state players will also present different challenges than what Edsall faced at Connecticut. With Penn State, Virginia and Virginia Tech all recruiting in the Terps’ backyard, Maryland hasn’t always been able to keep the top talent at home.
If Maryland is going to become a consistent top 25 team under Edsall, as athletic director Kevin Anderson is expecting, the staff will have to recruit talent good enough and fast enough to keep up with the rest of the Atlantic Division.
“We’re not going to recruit from a star system based on someone else,” said John Dunn, the Terps’ recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach. “We’ll recruit from our own system. We have obviously our own system in place with how we want to evaluate. We have certain criteria we’re looking for, and obviously a big part of that is, can a guy help us win an ACC championship? But also is he a good student? Is he a good person? We’re interested in the entire person, not just a single aspect of it.”
That’s not to say the new staff won’t go after elite talent.
“We’re certainly going after the best players and people in America,” Dunn said. “There’s no settling on anything. This is one of the top schools in America. We’re going to go after the top players in America. There’s no question. We feel like that’s what we should be doing.”
It’s a Catch 22, though -- it’s hard to win without the best players, and it’s tough to recruit the best players without winning. It’s not like Maryland has continuously struck out on the recruiting trail. The previous staff brought in quarterback Danny O'Brien, the ACC’s Rookie of the Year in 2010, and there is enough talent remaining on the roster for the new staff to start out on the winning end.
Until then, Dunn has his sales pitch down.
“We don’t have to reach down to find something,” he said. “This is a great place to sell.”
“Recruiting is a lot about relationships,” he said. “This is a phenomenal school. It’s got a lot of the top majors in the country. A coaching staff change brings some excitement, some freshness. Obviously success breeds success. A lot of that when we start playing will help us in recruiting.”