Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
Late Monday evening, the Maryland Terrapins picked up their fifth football commitment for the 2014 class. Unranked Pennsylvania lineman Brett Kulka was reported to have pledged allegiance to the Terps over a few mid-major colleges.
Kulka, who was not rated by 247Sports.com, hails from Ediboro, Pennsylvania where he plays on the defensive line at General McLane High School for the Lancers. The 6’5, 230-pound commit accrued 54 tackles (ten for a loss) and seven sacks last season as a junior. The Lancers finished 9-3 last year in District 10 Region 6 AAA ball. Lancers alumni Blidi Wreh Wilson was drafted in the third round of this year’s NFL draft, and the school typically has a solid football program under head coach Jim Wells.
Kulka had offers on the table from Akron, Bucknell, Buffalo, Kent State, and Yale among others, but very few FBS schools were in hot pursuit of him. Kulka’s commitment brings the Terrapins class up to six, and he becomes the second defensive lineman from Pennsylvania in the class along with David Shaw of Spring Grove. Shaw committed to the Terrapins earlier in June and was also a largely unheralded recruit at the time (he is now a two-star).
With the commitment of Kulka, it’s becoming abundantly clear where Randy Edsall and his staff is looking for talent. This is their third commit in 2014 from Big Ten country, and it actually gives them more players from those regions (3) than DC or Maryland (2). Edsall is making inroads in Pennsylvania, where he likely holds a lot of clout since it’s where he grew up, and Ohio far sooner than most expected.
Even though Kulka isn’t the biggest get Maryland has ever had, it’s important to remember the bigger picture here. Kulka is from a talented Pennsylvania school that plays high-level football. They just had one of their alumni drafted, and establishing connections with these programs is paramount to landing bigger name recruits in the future. Personally, I love that Edsall is going after some of the lesser-named recruits first as realistic targets, because it lays groundwork for future classes.
Establishing a presence in these Big Ten states gives Maryland a chance to get noticed by players they otherwise would not have. General McLane would typically not give a hoot about Maryland, but now that one of their best players is committed? Slowly but surely via word of mouth, the Terps are going to get some recognition. It’s a form of infiltration at its finest, and I think it’s a great way to lay a nice base path.
On the football end of things, Maryland just landed yet another big boy who could be able to compete against the massive linemen of the Big Ten. At 6’5 and stacked, it’s unlikely that Kulka is going to be pushed around by too many people and that’s evident from his highlight tape. The kid is strong, plain and simple. I know it’s a highlight reel, but when it’s nine minutes long and you see him literally push around an offensive line, you get the feeling that’s is more the norm than anything else.
Kulka is relatively fast, too, and wraps kids up well with his relentless pursuit of the football (a major reason why he had 50+ tackles last year). There were a few plays shown where Kulka actually took down some pretty quick quarterbacks behind the line of scrimmage by blowing up the line and putting the press on. He has a fiery attitude, and doesn’t strike you as a kid who takes plays off too often.
Kulka appears pretty darn athletic for a guy his size, and while strength alone isn’t going to make a player dominant forever, I fully expect him to get some recognition next year for his performance. He’ll obviously have to refine his game at the next level, but there is no reason why he can’t play an important role for Maryland in the future even if it isn’t on the defensive line. With his size, there are a lot of different places you can throw him, and since Randy Edsall is notorious for making players change positions, that’s something I can envision.
As I said before, though, recruiting guys like Kulka is about more than just the raw numbers and stars. It’s symbolic of a mentality change in terms of recruitment, and representative of the move to the Big Ten.
Nice job, Randy!
(Highlight reel is below)