Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Football recruiting shaping up

In spite of another disappointing season and recruiting competitors like Virginia Tech and Penn State making inroads in the local talent pipelines the 2006 class for Ralph Friedgen is shaping up to be fairly decent. Maryland recently got a verbal commitment from Connecticut prep star Bruce Campbell who is one of the top 20 offensive tackles in the nation. The 4-star rated Campbell(6-7 272 lbs) is a prospect that I'm fairly excited about. He may not contribute in the near term but he helps with depth on the offensive line which is something this team desperately needs. The last few seasons have been disappointments partly because the lack of quality reserves on the offensive line. A few injuries and the coaching staff has been unable to fill spots with capable backups. Don't forget that tight end Derek Miller was pushed into emergency duty at the left tackle spot after senior Stephon Heyer tore a knee ligament in August. Backups Scott Burley, who was recovering from a back injury, and Dane Randolph were not able to fill the vacancy. Massive true freshman Jared Gaither eventually took over the position and played very well.

The drop off in the play of the offensive line was a primary cause of the last two 5-6 seasons and the contributed to the decline of Sam Hollenbach's play in the last 5 games of the season. Even if Antonio Logan-El decides to go with Penn State, which seems more likely at this point, securing Campbell was a great addition to what is shaping up as a surprisingly solid class. It is currently ranked the 17th best class in the nation by Rivals.com and has five 4-star players recruited this season. I excluded the recruits that went to prep school last year and Logan-El, but it will still be one of the better classes for Maryland in recent times.

Shawne Merriman returned to Maryland on Sunday for his annual winter coat drive. The NFL defensive rookie of the year and Pro Bowler received a warm ovation from the Maryland crowd at halftime of the Wake Forest game.

Around the ACC
Georgia Tech senior forward Theodis Tarver has regained his eligibility and played for the Yellow Jackets this past weekend against NC State. The committee that ruled him ineligible met again on Friday and reversed its decision. Tech declined to explain the reversal citing privacy issues. No word on whether Tech got Tubby Smith to look through some old faxes for them.

Two big games on Wednesday as NC State travels to Duke and Wake Forest hosts Georgia Tech. I don't think State has the matchups to give Duke much trouble. Duke tends to struggle with athletic teams that can pressure them on both ends of the court. State doesn't really fit that bill. Their best chance of victory is to continue their stout defense and hope that they have a phenomenal shooting night. Given that the Wolfpack went into Chapel Hill and got handled by Roy Williams' freshmen I doubt they pull an upset in Cameron.

Wake Forest has a must win game at home against Georgia Tech. Going 0-4 would likely eliminate Wake from NCAA consideration and they can't afford a second home loss. I expect Eric Williams will not have 3 fouls in 8 minutes as he did on Sunday. Wake needs more help from either Trent Strickland or one of its freshman.

Virginia stands at 2-2 in the ACC with its surprising win at Virginia Tech over the weekend. I doubt Virginia will be able to stay in the race for a NCAA bid deep into the season but it is a nice start for new coach Dave Leitao. With a brutal stretch coming up versus all the Triangle teams Wahoo fans might want to savor this now. It must have been nice to perhaps put the final nail in the postseason hopes of Hokie fans.

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