Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
We’ve got a couple big stories today on the recruiting front that relate directly to the Maryland Terrapins. First off, just when you thought the Jalen Tabor saga was over after his commitment to Arizona, we got quite an interesting changeup Thursday morning. That, in turn, immediately brings in Damian Prince. Then, of course, our big brother from the North, Penn State, made a splash in the head coaching pool that will send ripples throughout the DMV. Let’s get into the stories now:
Jalen Tabor de-commits from Arizona, heads to Florida
This one shocked the recruiting world more than any other singular event. Of course Jalen Tabor would de-commit/re-commit during the so-called “dead period.” How could we have it any other way? Tabor spurned the Wildcats a week after committing to take his talents to the Florida Gators. Why? That’s as good a guess as anyone else, but on thing is for sure: both Arizona and Maryland are bitter.
Does this mean the Terps are completely out of it? I’d say so at this point. Clearly something happened with that relationship, and it’s no longer a feasible option at this point. Tabor has a strong relationship with former Gators DB Karlos Dunlap, and that may have played a part in his choice as he spoke highly of them earlier in the recruiting period. But what needs to be realized is that this move could completely take Maryland out of the Damian Prince sweepstake, the 5* offensive tackle from Maryland.
Prior to Tabor’s Arizona commitment, a lot of people viewed he and Prince as a package deal. Be it Maryland, Alabama, or Florida that got the two. They’re close friends, and have expressed a desire to play with one another. Now, Prince is still on Maryland’s radar, but he has been heavily recruiting by G.A. Mangus at South Carolina, Alabama, and Florida as well. Could that mean Florida now has the edge for Prince? Potentially, and it’s something we’re going to have to take note of considering he’s moved up his announcement.
James Franklin accepts head coaching job at Penn State
Later Thursday, news broke that the head coaching search at Penn State was over, and that former Maryland offensive coordinator and Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin accepted the gig. Franklin was a Maryland coordinator from 2000 to 2004, and the again from 2008-2010 (while also becoming a head coach in waiting), and built up quite a reputation here for being a great recruiter and an even better coach.
Then, he took over the Vanderbilt job and posted a 24-15 record from 2011-2013. While there, he turned Vanderbilt into a significantly better program, and brought in a pair of solid recruiting classes right off the bat. There’s no use in understating that accomplishment; getting any solid recruits to come to Vanderbilt is one of the more unenviable tasks in college football. Especially to play in an SEC where they’re near assured to get Hulk smashed every year.
His peers view him as a potent player in the recruiting game, and he’s got some very strong ties to the DMV that he made during his time at Maryland. Of course, that means Maryland comes out a loser in this instance. Penn State already has plenty of hands in the Maryland area when it comes to recruiting, as they constantly poach talent. Adding James Franklin may not exacerbate the problem, but it doesn’t make things any easier for the Terps.
It also virtually ensures that Maryland would not be able to swoop in and snag any decommitments from the Bill O’Brien era. The Terps have already lost two players to the Nittany Lions in the past year, and the chances of them getting these guys back are slim to none now.
Both these events aren’t necessarily massive game changers, but they collectively send ripples through the DMV recruiting front. Neither is particularly good for Maryland, and while it would be a drastic overreaction to say that the Terps recruiting boom is over, there’s no denying that momentum has slowed recently.