Today is national signing day, a de facto holiday in some parts of the country and a rare opportunity to fire up the fax machine on college campuses across the land.
It is time when grown men will salivate and groan in anguish over the decisions of 17-year-olds who are lavished attention before signing over their personal independence, er, selecting a school where they will play football for up to the next five years.
Multiple websites will assess the personnel bounty with varying degrees of success, and every coach will claim it was a successful venture. After all, without a true scoreboard and five years of possibilities to come, signing day (unlike Saturday) is not entirely a zero-sum game.
(Some might claim it is more successful than others, especially if someone is an assistant with what amounts to the coaching contract equivalent of a prop bet written into his deal, but that’s a matter for the end of the day).
The best time to fully dissect a signing day haul is five years in the future, once an entire class has come and gone. And that’s what this post aims to do with Maryland’s 2007 class.
Players who signed in 2006 but attended prep school and didn’t arrive until 2007 are included in this post, while 2007 signees who didn’t come to College Park until a year later are pushed back to the 2008 class. A few walk-ons who were regular contributors for several seasons and were later awarded scholarships are also included.
In the spirit of signing day, the following star system is used:
5 stars: All-America performer or high NFL Draft selection
4 stars: Multi-year starter at a high level (i.e. all-conference selection)
3 stars: Multi-year starter or strong one-year starter
2 stars: One-year starter or organizational player who contributed for much of his career
1 star: Organizational player with modest on-field contributions
0 stars: Never played
By popular demand, the 2007 Rivals.com rankings are included with each player. And for those interested in how the 2006 class panned out, click here.
The rundown of 26 players who agreed to come to Maryland five years ago and departed at a variety of junctures in the time since.
Maryland’s 2007 class did not produce a first-team All-America pick or a first-round NFL selection.
WR Torrey Smith (3-star recruit according to Rivals.com)
Smith was a high school quarterback who Maryland intended to turn into a wide receiver. It worked out rather well for both parties. Smith was a more than worthy heir to Darrius Heyward-Bey, hauling in 152 receptions for 2,215 yards and 19 touchdowns over three seasons. He was especially strong in 2010, with a 67-1,055-12 line that featured a four-touchdown day in his home finale against N.C. State (henceforth known as the Torrey Smith game).
Smith also had 2,983 kickoff return yards, an ACC record when he turned pro at the end of his redshirt junior season. The Baltimore Ravens selected him late in the second round, and after a slow start Smith emerged as a crucial vertical threat for the AFC North champs. He wasn’t an All-America choice or a first-round pick, but he was pretty much everything else for the Terps.
P/K Travis Baltz (2 star)
The early enrollee was one of four players in this class to play as a true freshman, and he remained a consistent starter throughout his career. Baltz was a fixture whenever he was healthy (which was all the time besides a couple issues during the Terps’ star-crossed 2009 season) and wound up with 9,224 punting yards as he continued Maryland’s strong recent history at the position.
Baltz (who also wins points for a quirky sense of humor) also served as Maryland’s kicker as a senior, connecting on 14 of 18 tries (including a game-winner against Navy and a 52-yarder against N.C. State).
T Bruce Campbell (5-star)
Campbell originally signed in 2006, but attended prep school and got pushed back to the ’07 class. Once in College Park, it was clear he was an impressive physical specimen – a bigger Vernon Davis, to paraphrase former Maryland strength coach Dwight Galt. He played a little as a freshman, and dealt with injuries during his junior season.
Overall, he played in 27 games (17 starts) and turned pro after the 2009 season. A fourth-round pick for the Oakland Raiders, Campbell was a solid college left tackle but probably not as dominant as many figured he would be during his recruitment. Nonetheless, he was one of the best pieces of Maryland’s haul five years ago.
G Andrew Gonnella (unranked)
Just another walk-on Maryland’s former staff helped turn into quality contributor. But while Gonnella wound up at Maryland in part because of family ties (he’s the nephew of J.D. Maarleveld, an All-America pick for the Terps in the 1980s), his success in College Park is tied to his own persistence and dedication.
While many scholarship linemen in this class flamed out because of injury, inability or academics, Gonnella wound up starting 26 games and appearing in 30 contests over his career. He struggled as a sophomore, but emerged as an important piece of the Terps’ line in 2010 and was arguably their best man up front over the first five games last fall before he suffered a dislocated knee.
CB Trenton Hughes (3-star)
Hughes played every game as a sophomore, started throughout his junior year, then found himself a backup for almost all of his senior year before returning to the lineup for his final three games. All along, he was a regular contributor on special teams and even filled in on kickoff returns when Torrey Smith was ailing in 2010.
In the end, his senior season didn’t go quite the way he probably wanted, from both a playing time and team success standpoint. But to his credit, he remained one of Maryland’s most upbeat players and handled his situation gracefully – which in the long term will likely mean more than his interception or tackle total in his final season.
PR Tony Logan (4-star)
Another high school quarterback, Logan didn’t emerge as a standout wide receiver in the way Torrey Smith did. Indeed, Logan was perpetually the Terps’ emergency quarterback and occasionally took direct snaps in what could be called the Wild Turtle. However, he did enjoy perhaps the second best season ever for a Maryland punt returner, accruing 560 yards and two touchdowns as a junior.
Teams got wise to his skillset; some just punted away from him, while many utilized rugby-style punts or a shield punt formation (or both) to neutralize him. Logan had only 96 punt return yards as a senior, and wound up with 10 receptions for 75 yards as a career.
LS Tim Downs (unranked)
A walk-on like most long snappers, Downs was a three-year starter who received a scholarship for his senior season. It’s hard to quantify the position’s value, but he was a reliable player who left with a history of quality snaps. This seems like a fair ranking for a guy who played a steady role but was not on the field for more than a dozen plays in most games.
WR Quintin McCree (3-star)
McCree’s was an interesting odyssey: From prep school to spring game star to academic issues to starting to a two-game suspension and back to starting by the time his senior year wrapped up. His career line of 61 receptions, 697 yards and two touchdowns isn’t overwhelming, though he produced a decent 40/485/1 in 10 games as a senior.
WR Ronnie Tyler (3-star)
Tyler played in a whopping 46 games at Maryland, including 12 starts as a slot receiver. His best year came as a sophomore in 2009, when he had 28 catches for 346 yards and a touchdown.
He’ll likely be remembered for his early-season arrest in 2011 that effectively zapped his senior year shortly after it began. He was suspended two games for that incident, then left at home for the season finale for what coach Randy Edsall described as an academic issue. Tyler’s line for his final season: 18/158/1, with the lone touchdown coming in the season opener.
DT Dion Armstrong (3-star)
Armstrong was a promising defensive lineman, playing in all 13 games and starting three as a redshirt freshman in 2008. He had 22 tackles, including one sack, that season, but his time in College Park was cut short by academic trouble.
FB Haroon Brown (2-star)
A last-minute signee out of the 757, the affable Brown looked like a man built to play fullback. He was thrust into action as a true freshman when Cory Jackson missed a game with a broken hand, and later redshirted in 2009 to recoup that year. Brown played in 29 games (three starts) and caught a touchdown pass in a 2010 rout of Wake Forest. He was part of the attrition in new coach Randy Edsall’s first six months and did not return for a fifth season.
DE Derek Drummond (2-star)
Drummond played in 24 games and made one start between 2008 and 2010 for the Terps, collecting 20 tackles (1.5 for loss) along the way. He played sparingly as a junior and did not return for 2011, closing out his career at Division II Abilene Christian.
DT Maurice Hampton (3-star)
Hampton was recruited as an offensive lineman, but switched to defense midway through his career after multiple injuries. He enjoyed a solid senior season in 2011, finishing his time at Maryland with 26 tackles (2.5 for loss). Overall, he played in 24 games and was the rare player to make starts on both sides of the ball (one on offense, four on defense). Added reporter’s insight: Hampton is a riveting interview subject with exceptionally well-thought out views on things related and unrelated to football.
LB Ben Pooler (3-star)
The snakebit New Jersey native played in 12 career games, making five starts. He had 43 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 2009, but even-numbered years did not treat him well. He lost most of 2008 and all of 2010 to ACL surgery and essentially was not invited back in 2011 after Edsall took over. Pooler closed out his career as a graduate student at Cincinnati.
QB Jamarr Robinson (2-star)
The bridge between Chris Turner and Danny O’Brien, Robinson started the first three games in 2010, suffered a shoulder injury in a loss at West Virginia and was relegated to mop-up duty and Portis Package-style usage for the rest of his junior season.
The one-time grayshirt found himself No. 2 on Maryland’s quarterback depth chart at one point in 2007, but he didn’t receive an extended chance until Turner suffered a knee injury in November 2009. Robinson’s first start produced a 129-yard rushing day, at the time the third best ever for a Maryland quarterback.
Robinson finished his time at Maryland with 808 yards passing to go with six touchdowns and two interceptions, as well as 326 yards rushing. He was not invited back for a fifth year and completed his career last fall at Bethune-Cookman.
S Austin Walker (unranked)
Unheralded but vital, Walker played in 47 games at Maryland – all but three over the last four seasons. Walker’s position was technically safety, but he was a special teams stalwart who rolled up 28 tackles over his career. The one-time walk-on earned a scholarship for his last two seasons, a well-earned reward for one of his class’s most reliable players.
TE Lansford Watson (4-star)
The heralded Brooklyn product played in 17 games (including one start) at Maryland and had 17 catches for 181 yards and a touchdown. He left in the program toward the end of the 2010 season, a campaign he missed because of an ACL tear.
FB Taylor Watson (2-star)
One of two fullbacks in the Terps’ 2007 class, Watson started four of the 28 games he played in between 2008 and 2010 and had nine carries for 49 yards and three receptions for 24 yards. He was a consistent presence his final two seasons, playing all but two games between 2009 and 2010. Like many others on this list, he was part of the attrition of Edsall’s first six months and did not play as a fifth-year senior.
G Lamar Young (3-star)
Young played in 13 games, including three starts during the 2009 season. But academic issues derailed him, and he was gone before his redshirt junior year.
OT Tyler Bowen (2-star)
Sometimes life just isn’t fair. The 6-foot-6 Bowen had the look of a recruiting steal by the time he spent two years in the program, and probably would have played extensively at right tackle in 2009 were it not for foot injuries that ended his career. He played in only two games, but remained a part of Maryland’s program and served as a student-coach and later a graduate assistant. Tack that time on, and his contributions well exceed this rating for on-field production.
DB Michael Carter (2-star)
Maryland added the JUCO defensive back on signing day in 2007, redshirted him and then got eight tackles in 19 games between 2008 and 2010 from him.
DL Ian Davidson (3-star)
The Northern Virginia product could never crack the Terps’ defensive line rotation, playing in six games in four years in the program while recording two tackles. He wrapped up his career with an impressive season at Hampton last fall.
DB Dominique Herald (3-star)
The New Jersey native played heavily on special teams as a true freshman, moved to linebacker the following spring, was suspended for camp of sophomore season and then tore an ACL shortly after he was reinstated. Herald never played at Maryland again after the injury, finishing his career with eight tackles in 14 games.
OL Stephen St. John (2-star)
The oft-injured lineman played in garbage time of only one game and was gone from the program after the 2009 season.
OL Joe Faiella (3-star)
Faiella spent two years in the program without seeing the field before transferring to Stony Brook.
OL Bearthur Johnson (3-star)
Conservatively listed at 350 pounds when he arrived, Johnson battled weight and conditioning issues during his two years in the program and never made it into a game before becoming an academic casualty.