With the Randy Edsall era drawing to a close on Sunday, I thought it would be interesting to give what I’ll remember about this era of Maryland football.
The Edsall era was filled with promise, deflating losses, and a change in conference affiliation. The former Maryland head coach came to College Park with a lot to prove.
Edsall got his first head coaching gig with Connecticut, beginning in 2000 after time with Boston College, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, and the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. He helped guide the Huskies from Division I-AA to Division I-A, which came to fruition in 2004 when Connecticut was declared a member of the Big East.
After winning at least eight games in each of his final four seasons in Storrs, Edsall made the move to Maryland to replace Ralph Friedgen.
Here’s the three things that I’ll remember most about the Edsall era at Maryland:
It began with a bang
After taking Connecticut to the Fiesta Bowl in the 2010 season, Edsall drew a big primetime matchup against Miami to start off his career at Maryland. The Terrapins welcomed Miami to Byrd Stadium for a nationally televised game. It was also the debut of the Maryland Pride uniforms that had the college football world buzzing.
Following warmups, the Terps whipped out the helmets with the Maryland state flag. Needless to say, many people, including NBA superstar LeBron James, were not exactly fans of the new uniforms. As we would come to find out, this wouldn’t be the first time that Maryland debuted some stylish threads.
The Edsall era got off to a great start as the Terps took an early 10-0 lead. On their very first drive, quarterback Danny O’Brien orchestrated a 79-yard drive that culminated in a 10-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Ronnie Tyler. On their next drive, O’Brien was intercepted at the goal line by safety Vaughn Telemaque to end what looked like a touchdown sequence. The Terps did respond on their third drive as kicker Nick Ferrara connected on a 24-yard field goal.
Miami bounced back courtesy of rushing touchdowns from running backs Mike James and Lamar Miller in the first half. With the momentum swinging in the Hurricanes favor, Maryland took control. With just 47 seconds remaining in the second quarter, linebacker Matt Robinson made the initial hit on James, which allowed cornerback Cameron Chism to rip the football out of James’ grasp. The ball popped up into the waiting arms of defensive tackle Joe Vellano, who returned it back for a 30-yard touchdown to give the Terps a 20-14 lead.
With 1:39 left in the game and Maryland trailing, Ferrara connected on a 32-yard field goal to give the Terps a 26-24 lead. Just a minute later, quarterback Stephen Morris had Miami driving, but was picked off on fourth down by Chism, who returned the interception back 54 yards for a touchdown to give Maryland the 32-24 lead.
On the ensuing Hurricanes possession, safety Kenny Tate intercepted Morris to ice the game for the Terps.
Edsall showed a winning attitude in his first game, and began his tenure with a bang. After more than a decade at Connecticut, he began his Maryland coaching career with a very tough opponent. Miami was shorthanded in this game, but coach Al Golden‘s group still had a tremendous amount of talent. Ironically, Edsall outcoached Golden and now Golden is being mentioned as one of Edsall’s potential replacements if the former Temple coach is relieved of his duties with the Hurricanes.
One of the biggest storylines of the Edsall era was deflating losses that happened under his watch.
The theme began early in Edsall’s tenure in 2011. After an emotional win over Miami and a narrow loss at the hands of West Virginia, Maryland was dominated by Temple in a 38-7 rout. Future Baltimore Raven running back Bernard Pierce rushed for 149 yards and five touchdowns in one of the most embarrassing losses of Edsall’s tenure with the Terps.
Later that season, Maryland faced No. 8 Clemson in a game that the Terps desperately needed in order to stay in the ACC race. The Terps did race out to a 28-10 lead thanks to a pair of touchdowns from running back Davin Meggett. However, Maryland’s defense was abused in the second half as they were outscored 39-17. It didn’t hurt that quarterback Tajh Boyd threw three second half passes to bring the Tigers back from behind.
In 2012, Maryland was playing solid football with Perry Hills under center. Hills, who entered the season as the starter after C.J. Brown suffered a torn ACL, was playing well before the Terps faced North Carolina State. Hills suffered a torn ACL of his own in the second quarter. Despite that, Devin Burns and Caleb Rowe nearly led Maryland to an impressive victory. After Rowe got Maryland in position to attempt the game-winning field goal, kicker Brad Craddock ripped out the hearts of Maryland fans everywhere as he nailed one right off the upright from 33 yards.
This was a gut-wrenching defeat and arguably one of the worst of the Edsall era.
Success on the recruiting trail
One of the more successful items of Edsall’s tenure was his ability to recruit. His first recruiting class at Maryland in 2012 really set the tone as he secured pledges from running back Wes Brown, wideout Stefon Diggs, and linebacker Abner Logan among others. Edsall showed that he can land a hometown talent like Diggs.
In the 2013 class, Edsall pulled wideout Taivon Jacobs, cornerback Will Likely, and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Likely was one of the more surprising gets out of Florida because it wasn’t an area that Maryland had heavily recruited in the past. Likely probably wouldn’t have come to College Park if he was a little taller. If he was closer to 6’0, he likely would’ve garnered more interest from elite programs.
The 2014 class had quite a bit of firepower as well. Edsall really addressed the trenches as he secured commitments from defensive end Jesse Aniebonam, offensive tackle Derwin Gray, offensive tackle Damian Prince, and defensive tackle David Shaw.
Edsall has been very successful on the trail, partially due to his strong commitment to academics. The 2016 class was building up to be one for the ages with Dwayne Haskins, Tino Ellis, and Keandre Jones already on board. Under a new regime, hopefully Maryland will be able to keep these guys on board and land a few more. This is the one part of the job that Edsall truly excelled at.