- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Spend a season around Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen, and it is clear what two of his roster-building priorities are for the Terrapins.

Create depth on the lines, so a rash of injuries do not lead to relying on walk-ons like last fall. And bring in speed on the perimeter to avoid a rerun of 2006, when Maryland went through much of the season with three wide receivers.

It’s little surprise the Terps emphasized those areas for their signing day haul for today, which is expected to be in the middle of the pack in the ACC.

“It’s a top five or six class in the ACC, 30-35 overall,” said ACC analyst Mike Farrell of rivals.com. “It’s a good class, fills a lot of needs. The average star ranking is over three, which is always a good indication that you’re going to get a lot. I think it’s a good, effective class.”

Maryland entered yesterday with a 19-man class rivals.com ranked 31st and scout.com ranked 45th in the country, numbers unlikely to rise much because of the Terps’ scholarship crunch.

Maryland had 12 scholarship seniors on its roster last fall in addition to linebacker Erin Henderson, who passed up his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft. NCAA rules prevent Friedgen or anyone on his staff from commenting on recruits until they sign letters of intent.

Maryland, which went 6-7 and lost in the Emerald Bowl last year after injuries decimated the offensive line, is expected to pick up four offensive linemen and three defensive tackles today. But the Terps’ work in culling a future receiving corps was just as impressive.

DeMatha product Kenny Tate committed to Maryland last week, joining highly regarded wideouts Kevin Dorsey and Kerry Boykins in the Terps’ class.

“I think that’s probably one of the best trios anyone is bringing in in this class, especially on the East Coast,” said Bob Lichtenfels, an analyst for scout.com. “That’s a trio a lot of coaches would love to have. They made them faster. Maryland wants to be explosive to keep up with ACC defenses, and this is a great way to start.”

A more subtle addition to the class is quarterback Tyler Bass, who committed last month.

The Stockbridge, Ga., native provides a future option to a program that was worried about worst-case scenarios last season.

Maryland started spring practice last year with six quarterbacks. Jeremy Ricker and Bobby Sheahin both transferred, and the team suspended Josh Portis for violating the school’s code of academic integrity. Jordan Steffy then suffered a concussion in the season’s fifth game, leaving the Terps with Chris Turner and true freshman Jamarr Robinson for about a month.

Portis and Steffy remain in the program, but the addition of Bass at least replenishes some of the depth Maryland lost last year.

“That was a big-time need for them,” Lichtenfels said. “There’s not a lot of quarterbacks out there, and people are struggling to bring in quarterbacks. It’s tough, and they did a good job of fitting their system.”

Added Farrell: “Nobody knows what’s going to happen with Josh Portis, if he’ll pan out. You have to bring in a quarterback every year, and this is the guy they targeted. This is a guy Ralph will work with.”

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