The slim Maryland-Jersey connection

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Wrote a little bit in today’s dead-tree edition about the recruiting value (or perhaps lack thereof) of Saturday’s Maryland-Rutgers game.

It sure seemed like it was a bigger deal when these teams met two years ago in New Jersey. But it was an idea Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen didn’t seem to buy into yesterday.

“How much does that play into recruiting?” Friedgen said. “I don’t really know. Maybe bragging rights and this and that and so on and so forth. But sometimes more is made of that than there really is.”

Friedgen’s roster features seven scholarship players from New Jersey. Here’s the full rundown, with year each player joined the program:

C Phil Costa (2005)
LB Alex Wujciak (2006)
S Antwine Perez (2007, via transfer from Southern California)
WR Tony Logan (2007)
LB Ben Pooler (2007)
TE Matt Furstenburg (2008)
LB Ryan Donohue (2009)

This also isn’t an entirely complete glance, since the Terps have signed other Garden Staters in this half of the decade. Such as:

LB Jeff Clement (2005)
WR Danny Oquendo (2005)
WR Isaiah Williams (2005)
OL Joe Faiella (2007)
S Dominique Herald (2007)
OL Bearthur Johnson (2007)

So on a year-by-year basis, Maryland added 4-1-6-1-1 over the last five recruiting cycles.

If you go back even further, there are only a handful of names on the commit lists. Carlos Feliciano in 2004. Lance Ball and Omarr Savage in 2003. Nobody in either 2001 or 2002. The roster Friedgen inherited in his first spring practice featured three New Jersey natives – Jamahl Cochran, Kevin Eli and Ed Tyler.

(EDIT: This does leave off a guy who earned a scholarship like Rick Costa. The idea was just to scour for additions who were originally offered a scholarship).

Which points to four things, each with varying degrees of relevance:

1. The Terps have some history in Jersey, but didn’t do much up there earlier this decade.

2. The Terps haven’t done much in terms of securing New Jersey commitments since Rutgers’ breakout season in 2006 (a lot of those ‘07 guys were already committed before that season).

3. Maryland’s victory at Rutgers in 2007 meant virtually nothing in attracting New Jersey natives.

4. New Jersey is a secondary – arguably tertiary – area for Maryland’s recruiting thrust to begin with.

In short: Friedgen is probably more correct than you’d think when he minimized the recruiting impact of this game.

New Jersey is clearly a place Maryland would like to poach a player or two each year. But aside from two unsustained crescendoes, it’s not like the Terps have made their living there even when Rutgers was trying to put a speedbump up to protect the state borders rather than the wall the Scarlet Knights are presently trying to build.

Patrick Stevens

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