The trouble with a 24/7 media world of insane deadlines is that when you get a call at 7 p.m. for an extended analysis of a story you were supposed to file three hours earlier, it really hamstrings you.
Such was the case last night, long after this dead-tree edition story was filed.
Nonetheless, Mike Farrell of Rivals.com was gracious enough to spend some time talking about Maryland’s recruiting decisions (and if this needs any emphasis at all, the whole point of the examination is to assess Maryland’s choices of three and four years ago rather than the performance of the guys the Terrapins are using on Saturdays).
Just as ESPN recruiting analyst JC Shurburtt pointed out in his take in the dead-tree edition story, Maryland’s inexperience up front is just as much on the absence of offensive linemen from its 2006 class as it is the unexpected injuries and misfires from the 2007 group.
“The normal approach for schools, especially coming off taking three [offensive linemen, as Maryland did in 2005], is to take three to five linemen every year,” Farrell said. “Sometimes if you don’t do that and end up taking seven in a class, your chances of getting a higher percentage from year is a lot lower than if you spread it out. … It’s almost like skipping a year in taking a quarterback. You need somebody in the program practically every year that’s going to learn the system and will be there whenever needed.”
(I did bring up this issue with offensive line coach Tom Brattan, who provided as logical an answer as he could in general terms.
“You want to take four to five every year, but at the same time you don’t want to take four to five just to take four to five,” Brattan said. “You have to feel good about them. You have to feel like they’re good people, that they’re going to do well here academically, because this is no easy school. Then, are they going to give you a chance to win the ACC? There’s only so many of those guys around.”)
Back to Farrell’s analysis now of the seven-man class Maryland hoped would capably step in this season.
As a reminder, that groups includes Tyler Bowen (injured), Bruce Campbell (starter), Joe Faiella (transferred to Stony Brook), Maurice Hampton (started last week), Bearthur Johnson (flunked out), Stephen St. John (injured off and on) and Lamar Young (starting this week):
Campbell is a fifth-year guy and is a home run. He has a year of prep school, he’s a monster, he’s no longer 270 pounds, he’s 300 pounds. The big question was ‘Is he physical enough? That was the big question. …
Tyler Bowen was never someone I was really super high on. Joe Faiella was a bit of a reach in New Jersey. He was a guy who wasn’t heavily recruited. He had some upside to him, but a lot of programs that recruited that area had passed, like Penn State and Rutgers. He was a bit of a brawler. The big question was did he have enough ability to play Division I football.
Bearthur Johnson was a weight issue. He was 350 pounds in high school, but he wasn’t fat. I know he ballooned. … If you saw him in high school, you tend to think 350 is slovenly, and he just wasn’t that guy …
Maurice Hampton was a pretty good prospect. We thought he would be playing right now. Figure a redshirt year and a redshirt freshman season and then you try to become a starter as a redshirt sophomore, junior and senior. He’s starting now, he’s on track. Now is the time where the clock starts …
Stephen St. John was a going to take time to get strong enough but had good feet. Lamar Young, he was also a guy from Georgia we thought had some upside.
In short, based on how those guys were viewed at the time, it wasn’t an awful class. Maryland rolled the dice on a couple guys, but it’s done that before and things have worked out.
For those interesting in the ranking system, both Phil Costa and Edwin Williams were two-star prospects. Same goes for Bennett Fulper, who became the first interior offensive lineman to start under Ralph Friedgen earlier this year.
So what was Farrell’s overall take in retrospect?
“There’s only one kid ranked over three stars, which was Bruce Campbell, but there was a bunch of three-stars, which you should be able to make do with,” Farrell said. “It’s not a great class, but certainly on paper you could expect more of those guys.”