Maryland Football: Recruiting has changed since D.J. Durkin took over

Dec 26, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach D. J. Durkin on the sideline prior to the game against the Boston College Eagles at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 26, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach D. J. Durkin on the sideline prior to the game against the Boston College Eagles at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

D.J. Durkin was brought to College Park to try and revive a stagnant program.

From a recruiting perspective, he’s definitely done that since arriving less than two years ago.

Following the 2010 season, Ralph Friedgen was let go despite coming off of a 9-4 campaign and a Military Bowl win over East Carolina. The school chose to buy out the final year of Friedgen’s contract and clearly wanted to go in a different direction.

That’s when Randy Edsall came strolling into College Park. Edsall had just led Connecticut to an 8-5 record and a Fiesta Bowl appearance, so he was one of the hottest names in the collegiate coaching world.

One of the biggest themes of Edsall’s tenure was his push of “Maryland Pride.”

Edsall made headlines in the Terrapins’ 2011 season opener against Miami (Fla.) when the school debuted their “Pride” uniforms. As many Maryland fans remember, the uniforms were quite gaudy and drew slanderous reviews from fans and analysts alike.

The Terps responded in a big way with a 32-26 victory over the Hurricanes behind a late 54-yard pick six from cornerback Cameron Chism. This was arguably the biggest win of the Edsall era, which speaks volumes to how underwhelming this period of time was for the program.

Maryland did go to back-to-back bowl games in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Unfortunately, the Terps fell to the likes of Marshall (Military Bowl, 2013) and Stanford (Foster Farms Bowl, 2014).

Only two of his five seasons ended with a winning record. Edsall only accumulated six wins during his first two seasons after Friedgen had a great deal of success prior to being let go.

While Edsall did reel in a few four-star recruits, Maryland really didn’t recruit well on a national level during his tenure. The Terps were ranked no higher than No. 38 in 247Sports’ class rankings from 2012-15.

Edsall was responsible for bringing like Stefon Diggs, Will Likely, D.J. Moore, Yannick Ngakoue, and Damian Prince among others. While that’s a very nice collection of talent, he most likely lived off of three-star recruits and a lot of them didn’t even see the field.

Almost as soon as Durkin arrived, things changed for Maryland.

Within a month of arriving in College Park, Durkin secured commitments from a pair of highly-touted local offensive linemen in Terrance Davis (DeMatha) and Richard Merritt (Archbishop Carroll). A majority of the 2015 class that Edsall had put together either decommitted or had their scholarships pulled.

From the moment he took the job, Durkin had two months to field an entire recruiting class. Considering the little amount of time he had, he ended up putting together the seventh-best class in the Big Ten and a top 45 group.

The 2017 class really showed what Durkin could do and why he was such a respected recruiter in the past.

Durkin had a full calendar year to attack the recruiting trail in various portions of the country. It certainly paid dividends as he reeled in eight four-star recruits.

Markquese Bell, Kasim Hill, Deon Jones, and Anthony McFarland helped fill out one of Maryland’s most talented classes in years. Bell was the only member of the eight-man four-star group that didn’t hail from the DMV.

The class ranked No. 18 in the country and only trailed Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State in the Big Ten. The Terps beat out the likes of Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina, and UCLA in 247Sports’ class rankings.

Maryland has let a lot of other programs come into the DMV in recent years and poach some of the nation’s most highly-regarded recruits. That was arguably the biggest downfall under Edsall.

However, Durkin has made the DMV his top priority and doesn’t leave any stone unturned.

While there’s still seven months until National Signing Day for the 2018 class, that is looking like a very promising group as well.

The Terps currently are ranked No. 19 in the country and fifth in the Big Ten, according to 247Sports. Maryland already has three DeMatha four-star pledges in the 2018 class, including offensive tackle Jaelyn Duncan, defensive tackle Austin Fontaine, and offensive guard Evan Gregory.

In the month of June, the Terps secured six commitments and have stayed incredibly hot on the recruiting trail.

Obviously, it’s going to come down to on-field production and if that happens, recruiting will get even better for Durkin and his staff. However, considering where this program was when Edsall left, it’s remarkable how quickly Durkin has made strides.

Next: Athlon Sports ranks all 130 college coaches

While Maryland went just 6-7 last season, reaching a bowl game one season removed from a three-win campaign is nothing short of astounding. If the program keeps trending upward, the recruiting success will be even more impressive.