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Five Observations On Maryland Football's 2019 Recruiting Class

February 6, 2019
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- It would have been understandable for anyone in Mike Locksley's position to accept that the Maryland football program's 2019 recruiting class would be thin.

But not everyone is Mike Locksley.

Locksley signed just six players during the early signing period in December after being hired as Maryland's head football coach Dec. 4. He remained in his position as Alabama offensive coordinator until after the national title game Jan. 7. He had about a month before national signing day Feb 6. to try to salvage a recruiting class that ranked last in Big Ten.

Locksley went all out during the past month, filling out his coaching staff while also signing 11 more recruits. Former local standouts transferred back to College Park, Md., to bolster the roster as well. 

Here are five observations regarding Locksley's 2019 recruiting class:

1. The Terps landed a quarterback.

Two weeks. That's the period of time between Locksley reconnecting with consensus four-star dual-threat quarterback Lance LeGendre and the New Orleans, La., native signing with the Terps Feb. 6. 

Locksley had initially recruited LeGendre at Alabama and got back in touch with the highly-rated recruit thanks to his contacts in Lousiana. Locksley texted LeGendre when the quarterback was on a visit to another school, according to the coach, and within a week LeGendre and his mother made an official visit to campus.

"Lance is a competitive player," Locksley said. "He's one of the dual-threat guys that has the ability to beat you with his arm and his feet."

How was he was able to convince LeGendre so quickly? 

"Just like what happens to most people when they get on this campus, they see the vision," Locksley said. "You see the investment that the administration has made with the facilities that we're building and then the opportunity. That's the one great thing we had to offer was an opportunity -- with the new staff coming in -- to compete."

The new coaching staff chose not to pursue then-Maryland commit David Summers, a three-star recruit from Connecticut who eventually signed with Syracuse. Without Summers, the Terps were looking at their first recruiting class since 2011 without a quarterback. But Locksley managed to land his second four-star recruit in LeGendre, who picked Maryland rather than Florida State. 

LeGendre will join redshirt freshman Tyler DeSue and redshirt junior Max Bortenschlager behind the presumptive starter, redshirt junior Tyrrell Pigrome. Redshirt sophomore Kasim Hill is recovering from his second ACL tear.

"We feel he'll be a great addition to the quarterback room which already has some pretty talented players as well," Locksley said.

2. Better late than never, but Locksley worked his magic.

After signing just six recruits during the early signing period, Locksley and his staff left much of their work to the final month before national signing day. They didn't disappoint. Eleven players committed to Maryland between late December and Feb. 6, bringing the total to 17 signees for the 2019 class.

"We feel like our football family got stronger today," Locksley said.

Though he didn't have a full-time coaching staff on board, Locksley credited the early hires he made in the team's recruiting office for helping make his transition from Alabama as smooth as possible and allowing him to quickly recruit the players they identified in a short period. Those hires included director of recruiting Marcus Berry, director of player personnel Dave Mencarini, director of scouting operations Taylor Edwards and director of player personnel operations Will Christopherson.

"They were able to build the [recruiting] board," Locksley said. "The whole thing with recruiting is making sure you know who the best available players are. ... We had a recruiting staff that was working behind the scenes while I was at Alabama finishing up my job there. I've got to give great credit to those guys."

"The only thing we had to do as a staff was go through that board, watch the video, make the evaluations and start the contact," he said. 

When asked how he is able to convince players from across the country to come to Maryland, Locksley said, "We've got a great place. The most important city in the world is located 15 minutes from our campus, Washington, D.C. That's an easy sell.

"People fly from all over the world to come to this city and the resources available to a student-athlete at the University of Maryland, a top-25 academic institution in a lot of different fields. What is not to like about this location in Maryland?"

The late flurry of signees helped edge Maryland up from 14th (last in the Big Ten) to 12th and 59th nationally, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.

3. The 2019 class includes nine defensive players, and there are four defensive backs.

With departures of key contributors at all three levels of the defense -- including defensive back Darnell Savage Jr., linebacker Tre Watson and defensive linemen Jesse Aniebonam and Byron Cowart -- Locksley made it a priority to reload his defense, especially at defensive back, in the 2019 class. 

"Those were the priority positions for us," Locksley said. "We were able to meet the needs that we had [and] go get the players to fill the slots, and we feel like we hit on all of those."

Locksley brought in four three-star defensive backs to help fill the shoes of the departing Savage, including two local players: Deonte Banks and Lavonte Gater from Edgewood High and Ballou High, respectively. Treron Collins (Fairburn, Ga.) and Erwin Byrd (Powder Springs, Ga.) round out the deepest position in the 2019 class.

4. The class has a distinctly southern flavor.

While much of Locksley's appeal is his ability to convince local recruits to stay home, a large chunk of the 2019 class hail from southern states. Linebacker Cortez Andrews and offensive lineman Marcus Finger are from Florida; Collins and Byrd are from Georgia, and LeGendre is from Louisiana.

This southern flavor shouldn't come as a surprise, as Locksley has spent several years in the south with Alabama and built up a network of contacts in those states. 

"The big thing is when you're in the SEC where I just came from, Louisiana is an area that has a ton of players and really good football down there," he said. "For me, because of my ties at Alabama and obviously coach [Nick] Saban having spent time there, we were able to develop relationships."

Meanwhile, seven of the 2019 recruits hail from the DMV -- six from Maryland and one from D.C.

The class also features two New Yorkers: JUCO transfer guard Parris Heath from ASA College (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and kicker/punter Anthony Pecorella, who is considered a preferred walk-on. Tight end Tyler Devera is from Oradell, N.J.

5. Locksley indicated the Terps aren't done recruiting.

There may still be business to be done before the season starts, including the addition of a graduate transfer, late signee or a player from the transfer portal, Locksley said.

"You have to leave yourself a little wiggle room," he said. "I would say that we always try to leave some spaces there because there are always opportunities to recruit some pretty good players that have the ability to come in and help you right now. We definitely took that into account as we have moved forward with our numbers."

For example, Nick Cross is a four-star safety from DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) who is currently verbally committed to Florida State but is also considering Maryland and Penn State. He delayed his signing until after Feb. 6. He would be a significant addition to the class if he chooses Maryland rather than Happy Valley or Tallahassee, Fla.

The Terps could also look to add a running back; they do not have a running back committed for 2019. Though running back is arguably their deepest position, a late addition wouldn't hurt.

"We hope we're not done," Locksley said. "We still have a few slots left." 

Full list of signees:

Quarterback
Lance LeGendre -- New Orleans, La.

Running backs
None

Wide receivers
Isaiah Hazel* -- Dr. Henry Wise High
Dino Tomlin* -- Pittsburgh, Pa.

Tight ends
Tyler Devera -- Oradell, N.J.
Malik Jackson* -- Meade High

Offensive linemen
Mason Lunsford* -- Good Counsel High
Marcus Finger -- Fort Myers, Fla.
Parris Heath -- ASA College (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Defensive linemen
Anthony "Tank" Booker Jr. -- Cincinnati, Oh.
Deshawn Holt -- Westlake High
Sam Okuayinonu -- Mesabi Range Community College (Virginia, Minn.)

Linebackers
Kameron Blount -- St. Charles High
Cortez Andrews -- Tallahassee, Fla.

Defensive backs
Deonte Banks* -- Edgewood High
Treron Collins -- Fairburn, Ga.
Erwin Byrd -- Powder Spring, Ga.
Lavonte Gater* -- Ballou High

Kicker/Punter
Anthony Pecorella -- Malverne, N.Y.

*Indicates early signing

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox