When the dust settled on National Signing Day, one thing was clear about the Maryland football program.
D.J. Durkin had definitely worked his magic.
The Terrapins have gone through quite a transformation over the last three months. Randy Edsall was shown the door after a complete disaster of a six-game stretch to start off the season.
Interim coach Mike Locksley didn’t fare a whole lot better, but did end the 2015 season on a high note with a comeback win at Rutgers. Following the season, Locksley was not retained and Durkin was brought in to help fix the program.
In his introductory press conference, it was clear that Durkin had the enthusiasm and the connections to get the job done in the Big Ten. After spending the past two months relentlessly recruiting, Durkin has already put Maryland in a better position than he found it in.
“It’s always hard, this is my first time as a head coach but on several staffs, coming in the first year as the guys get in December and January and you catch the tail end of a recruiting class,” Durkin said. “This has always been a difficult thing, everywhere I’ve been, but I am really proud of my staff. The recruiting staff and coaching staff really put together a class that is just tremendous.”
To put things into perspective, Durkin and his staff were able to add a pair of four-star offensive guards in Terrance Davis and Richard Merritt shortly after arriving in College Park. To make things even better, the duo hailed from right in Maryland’s backyard.
Ole Hotty Toddy
“That is our number one thing,” Durkin added. “We are going to build this program with guys in their own backyard, the DMV. If you talk to people from this area, everyone has such pride from being from this area especially when talking about high school football. Everyone has pride about the depth and talent in this area and it’s true. In the past, guys have continued to spread out and go to different places. I think it’s our job to build a program and put a product on the field that people are proud of so that guys that are from here will want to come play for the hometown team.”
The Terps were also able to add four DeMatha Catholic (Md.) recruits in the 2016 class. Maryland hasn’t had a DeMatha recruit since the 2012 class when cornerback Michael Williams signed with the Terps. It’s definitely a huge plus to establish a pipeline with one of the top local powerhouses.
Obviously, Tino Ellis, Lorenzo Harrison, and D.J. Turner all pledged to Maryland when Edsall was still around. However, Durkin had to convince these players that staying home was the right decision.
“The guys here know what they are getting into and they want to be a part of this thing,” Durkin said. “They embrace the challenge of building something. The class that this staff put together is tremendous.”
As if the local recruits in this class weren’t impressive enough, Durkin also dipped into the south for 10 members of the 2016 class. He grabbed seven recruits from the state of Florida, where his staff has several ties.
As impressive as that was, Clay-Chalkville (Ala.) quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome may be the most significant addition.
Durkin was able to secure the services of a signal from the deep south that Maryland offered in the past month. For a long time, it was viewed as a two-horse race between Tulane and Virginia Tech, but Maryland closed the gap in a hurry.
It’s a good thing for the Terps because Pigrome was labeled as an “electric” player by Durkin and also drew high praise from offensive coordinator Walt Bell.
“He is unbelievable,” Durkin said. “I can’t tell you how happy we are that it worked out with him. He’s from several states away in the south and for him to make the decision to come up here tells you a lot about him; he’ll be a household name around here soon.”.
“Tyrrell has the chance to be one of the most dynamic players in the class because of his incredible athleticism,” Bell added. “He’s very comparable to some of the spread quarterbacks that I have had in the past. He was the Gatorade 6A State Player of the Year in Alabama and won the state championship.”
Considering how much time Durkin had to work with, what was achieved on National Signing Day was pretty special. The Terps beefed up their offensive line, added some very talented offensive playmakers, and added their quarterback of the future.
That’s not bad for just two months of work. Just imagine what Durkin and his staff will do in the 2017 class with a whole 12 months to work with.