- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Maryland football program welcomed a big recruiting class of 25 players on national signing day.

Then again, the group is just flat-out big.

The Terrapins’ haul, ranked 34th nationally by rivals.com as of yesterday afternoon, includes 11 linemen, including as many as eight who could play offense for a program still searching to develop depth at the position.

“Offensive linemen are like fine wine — they have to mature,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “We have a good class in here. We’ll see who’s ready to play. The ones that aren’t ready to play yet, we’ll redshirt them and hopefully they’ll be ready to play a year from now.”

Bruce Campbell, a 6-foot-7 lineman who committed last year but attended Hargrave Military Academy, was one of the Terps’ top signings, along with tight ends Devonte Campbell and Lansford Watson and quarterback-turned-wideout Tony Logan.

The Terps also picked up the final player of their class yesterday, adding fullback Haroon Brown from Hampton, Va.

The positional emphasis, though, was clearly on the lines. The Terps will lose three defensive linemen after next season, including tackles Dre Moore and Carlos Feliciano. Offensively, Scott Burley and Andrew Crummey also will depart, and the Terps are replacing three of the 10 linemen on their two-deep roster from last fall.

“Obviously, it was very, very big,” recruiting coordinator Dave Sollazzo said. “The old saying that it starts up front, I don’t know if that will change 100 years from now. It starts up front, and we got some really good linemen on both sides of the ball.”

It is unknown how soon any of the newcomers can help Maryland. Only one true freshman — fullback Cory Jackson — played last season as Friedgen redshirted nearly the entire class, a trend sure to increase nationally after Wake Forest’s success with fifth-year seniors and fourth-year juniors last year.

Friedgen said he hopes some of the wideouts — Logan, Hargrave products Quinton McCree and Ronnie Tyler and athletic former quarterback Torrey Smith — could solidify a thin position. Whether the flood of linemen can be of immediate use isn’t as certain.

“You just don’t know,” Friedgen said. “I would like for someone to be able to do that. There’s a spot at left guard where they could help us out. If that would happen it would really be a blessing for us.”

Much of Maryland’s recruiting work was done even before the season started. At that point, the Terps were coming off consecutive losing seasons but rebounded to go 9-4 and win the Champs Sports Bowl.

Friedgen said many of the prospects who told him they wanted to see the Terps win before committing spurned Maryland anyway, making the early efforts even more valuable.

“We came off two 5-6 seasons and for us to get that many verbal commitments as early as we got them, I would say that was a lot of hard work by our coaching staff doing a lot of great convincing that we were going to get this thing turned around like we did,” Sollazzo said.

Sollazzo said Devonte Campbell, who waited until last week to make his decision, was the toughest commitment to secure. He was also the highest-profile player of the seven from the District, Maryland and Northern Virginia to sign with the Terps.

Friedgen acknowledged there wasn’t as much talent in the area as last year, and many of the best players — including District defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who signed with North Carolina yesterday — did not stay nearby despite Friedgen’s emphasis on keeping local players at home.

“It’s my first priority every year,” Friedgen said. “I want to recruit the kids in this area. I said that from Day One. There’s more and more people recruiting them now than there were six years ago. We’re winning some of those and we’re losing some of those.”

Note — Maryland will play its spring game April 28 at Byrd Stadium.

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