When Urban Meyer was the head coach of the Florida Gators, he created an event called Friday Night Lights. Current Gators coach Will Muschamp continued the tradition when he took over at Florida, and Urban Meyer started the event again when he was announced as the head coach at Ohio State. Friday Night Lights is a camp held for prospects and commits to come and showcase their talents. For some, it’s about receiving the scholarship offer; for others, it’s about bonding with other commits and targets.
On Friday, both Ohio State and Florida held the event at their respective stadiums. Various drills for prospects, such as 1-on-1’s for receivers and corners, individual drill instruction, and strength and conditioning/speed training, were held as the coaching staff and alumni gathered to watch. Any prospect can attend this by filling out a form online or via invite from the coaching staff.
This may sound like a regular camp day, but the hype and glamor of the event makes it even bigger. For Ohio State, legends Eddie George and Mike Doss were there, as well as many 2014 commitments. For Florida, endless top 2014, 2015, and 2016 recruits attended the event. In the past, all parties have come away happy, with Florida receiving commitments from top-tier players.
In 2011, Maryland phenom Stefon Diggs and 5-star Dante Fowler, Jr, (then the 28th ranked DE in the nation) attended the event. Although they didn’t land Diggs (hallelujah), Fowler ended up giving the Gators his commitment. In 2012, Vernon Hargreaves III, one of the top corners and players in the nation, committed the Florida the day before the event. As Ohio State also received commitments in their first year, including top-100 offensive tackle Jamarco Jones, it’s obvious that this event generates buzz and excitement for prospects, commits, fans, and alumni. So why isn’t Maryland considering this?
Here are just a few Maryland alumni who might draw a crowd: Boomer Esiason, EJ Henderson, Erin Henderson, Torrey Smith, Darius Heyward-Bey, D’Qwell Jackson, Vernon Davis, Randy Starks, LaMont Jordan, Kris Jenkins, Bruce Campbell, and Randy White. All Maryland athletes over the past 40 years, all successful in the NFL. With Edsall looking to lock up the talent in the DMV area, an event like this would generate buzz, and with recruiting wizard in Locksley, Maryland might be able to secure some premiere talent before other schools get in the mix.
On the other side, recruits will be mesmerized by the Maryland legends and may give Maryland a little more prestige in the eyes of some recruits. The Terps have it, they’ve just got to flaunt it. What the camp can also bring are stronger connections with both recruits and local powerhouse schools, such as Good Counsel, Dematha, and Friendship Collegiate Academy. With premiere talent coming out of each of these schools, a strong bond between all programs will only help Maryland’s recruiting efforts in the future.
In terms of the fanbase, Maryland can create this in a way that allows the fans to attend and get autographs from former and current players, as well as get a look at some Terp targets and commits. This may help boost ticket sales, which were a problem the past couple of years for Maryland; Terps fans would reconnect with their beloved alumni and get a chance to watch some of the area’s top talent.
The only concern that may arise is making sure Maryland is in compliance with the NCAA recruiting rules. NCAA recruiting rules are certainly tricky, but if Maryland sets it up in a way that all rules are followed, then this seems like a no brainer. Additionally, if Maryland begins to produce on the field, this event will only become more popular, generate more premiere recruits, and create a stronger bond between the program and its beloved fans. Although this may seem a far-fetched possibility, Maryland would be wise to consider a glamorous camp such as this.