On Saturday, the University of Maryland held a football practice at Dunbar High School in Baltimore that was open to the public and free of charge. This coming Saturday (April 6), they will do the same in this part of the world at Middletown High School.
After years of being criticized for letting some of the top local talent get away or not paying enough attention to the high school football scene around the state, the Terrapins finally seem to be recruiting their own backyard seriously.
The open practices give alumni, fans and, most importantly, would-be recruits a chance to see the inner workings of a major college football program first-hand. What goes on during a practice? What are the coaches like? For the would-be recruits, is this something they can see themselves doing? Is this where they want to do it? These practices help answer some of those questions.
For most, it's just a chance for an up-close brush with a major college team. And that itself is a cool thing. But if I am a highly regarded football recruit from Frederick County and I know Maryland came to my school — or close to my school — to run a practice, I might be willing to give the Terps a serious look. They seem to care about me. Maybe I should care about them.
Head coach Randy Edsall is criticized for a lot of things. Some of the criticism is deserved. Some of it is not. But the shift to in-state recruiting seemed to happen as soon as he took the job. One of Edsall's early recruits was Joe Riddle, a former standout running back for Linganore High School. Richy Anderson, a standout player for Thomas Johnson, gave a verbal commitment to Maryland before changing his mind and going to Penn State, his father's alma mater.
Justin Falcinelli, a junior lineman at Middletown and one of the most sought-after recruits in the state for his position (left tackle), reportedly has Maryland on his list of finalists for his college choice. Maybe a visit by the Terps to his own school will help sway Falcinelli to play for them.
Edsall has and will continue to take a lot of heat until he turns Maryland into a consistent winner. But for all the flack he has taken in his two seasons on the job, he at least deserves some credit for changing the focus of the program and putting the Maryland back in Maryland.