Maryland football coach Randy Edsall faced waves of criticism from fans, alumni and players after leading the Terrapins to just the second 10-loss season in school history last year. But as national signing day arrives Wednesday, players who committed early to Maryland are sticking behind their future coach as they prepare to make their commitments official.
"I love the way that he's doing things, discipline and all that," said Caleb Rowe, a quarterback and Maryland recruit from Greer, S.C. "He's building the program the right way. And I'm definitely behind everything that he does and everything that he's about."
Sean Davis, a safety from Maret School in the District, said he respected the way Edsall suspended players for academic issues.
"Even though they had a rough start last year, I believe in their philosophy of creating a good football program," Davis said. "They are willing to lose on the field, rather than losing in the classroom. That was really a key factor for me."
Edsall didn't have the same support from all of his players in his first year. Throughout the 2-10 season, several players voiced discontent with the coaching staff.
Former Maryland defensive end David Mackall told the Baltimore Sun that Edsall told his players that they "didn't have enough players to compete with teams like Florida State and Clemson. He pretty much lost me because any coach is expected to stick with their soldiers in the middle of battle."
Mackall, who was suspended by Edsall during the season, has since been released from his scholarship and plans to transfer. In total, eight players — Mackall, running backs D.J. Adams, Jeremiah Wilson and Rahsaan Moore, offensive tackle R.J. Dill, safety Titus Till, defensive lineman Cody Blue and wide receiver Adrian Coxson — have either left the team or transferred since the season ended.
DeLawn Parrish, who coached transfers Till and Moore at Wise High School in Upper Marlboro, said transfers can be expected when a new coaching staff takes over.
"Young people get attached to one thing or a certain way," Parrish said. "But then a new father figure, a new parent, comes in and does some things their way and they feel unsure of themselves.
"I would never say anything to my kids negative about Maryland, because whatever the coaching regime is doing now, it may have not fit [Till and Moore.] That's not to say that they wouldn't be a fit for any new players coming in. Everything is based off of individuals, not one situation."
Maryland has 23 verbally committed players, a list at Rivals.com shows. Rivals ranks Maryland's haul as sixth in the ACC, 48th nationally. They have two four-star recruits and 15 three-star recruits.
One of the four-star recruits, outside linebacker Abner Logan from Brookline, Mass., said he's not discouraged by the number of transfers or by Edsall's rules.
"The good thing is now those guys are gone," Logan said of the transfers. "Everyone can start buying into the system, so we should all be on the same page."
Logan said that Edsall has two main rules, "be on time and do the right thing." Outside of that, Edsall also asks that his players keep their hair neat and take earrings and hats off when they are inside the Gossett Field House.
"Coach Edsall likes it very structured, and that's the way he likes to coach," said offensive guard Nick Brigham of Atlanta, who has committed to Maryland. "In my opinion, if you follow the rules, you're fine. And that's what I plan on doing."
Asked if he would have a problem with Edsall's rules, Brigham answered: "I don't wear earrings. I have a buzz cut. And I don't really like hats."
"I think what happens is when you have coaching changes, it brings a different culture to a program. Some people just want to rebel against the new authority," said verbally committed linebacker Brock Dean from Harrisburg, Pa. "It's a transition period. Once coach Edsall gets the guys who want to buy into the program and buy into what he's trying to do, that stuff will die down."
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