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OPINION: How Maryland football can rise to national prominence

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OPINION: How Maryland football can rise to national prominence

BY JEFF SLADE  

Note: All recruiting statistics and rankings in this story are from 247Composite, which averages the four major rankings across the industry . 

THE STORY 

University of Maryland football is on the rise – or so University of Maryland fans will tell you. 

Their first season in the Big Ten went better than many expected, with a 7-6 record and going 4-4 in the conference. The season included highlight wins over traditional powerhouses Michigan and Penn State, winning on the road on both occasions. 

They were also surprisingly competitive against the other two East Division powers, battling Ohio State and Michigan State early in the first half before they eventually pulled away. 

If they pulled out other tight matchups against West Virginia and Rutgers, it could have been one of the best seasons for Maryland football in a very long time. 

The success last season did not go unnoticed; with head coach Randy Edsall signing a new three-year contract extension that’ll take him through the 2018 season in College Park. 

But, was this season a true indication of a rise to prominence, or simply an anomaly against teams getting their first looks at the Terrapins? Unfortunately for Terps fans, it may be more the latter, a large part of which due to recruiting, and the lack thereof in the talent-rich DMV. 

THE SITUATION 

The DMV has plenty of players. 

Just in the past three recruiting cycles (2013-15), there have been 11 five-star and 49 four-star prospects in the area, not to mention a bevy of three-star prospects to join them. 

The point being – it’s possible for the Maryland and Virginias of the world to have success with the players in their own backyard. The problem – they aren’t staying. 

Over the course of those same three years, there have been 160 DMV prospects to commit ranked in the top-20 of their respective states (top-15 for DC). Just 12 of those players have chosen to play football at the University of Maryland, coming to less than one out of every 13. 

Yes, the Terrapins have had their victories, like 2014 five-star offensive tackle Damien Prince and recently 2016 four-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Even Haskins though, a prized Potomac, MD recruit and ranked the 5th pro-style quarterback in the country, said he'll take an official visit to Florida just in case "something happened" at Maryland (ahem - coaching change). Read - there lacks confidence of stability in College Park, even among recruits already committed. 

To add to the problem, the Terrapins have not signed a single top-20 prospect from the state of Virginia in the last six years, which happens to be the most talent-ridden state in the DMV. 

The Big Ten East is beginning to develop into one of the toughest divisions in all of college football, joining the ranks of the SEC West and the PAC 12 South. Ohio State just won a National Championship; Michigan State has developed into a perennial national contender; James Franklin is pulling in top-10 recruiting classes in Happy Valley; and Super Bowl coach Jim Harbaugh has taken the reigns at Michigan, a sleeping giant likely about to wake up. 

That leaves Indiana, Rutgers, and yes, Maryland, to regularly compete with these four programs. In order to do so, they simply need talent. Luckily for them, it exists right outside their doorstep, but they need to bring it in. 

MORE TERPS: TEAM ANNOUNCES INTRIGUING POSITION MOVES FOR 2015 SEASON 

WHY RECRUITING IS IMPORTANT 

Good recruiting does not guarantee success, but it is very hard to have success without great recruiting.

Teams winning the National Championship in the last decade like Alabama, Florida State, and Ohio State, continually average top-10 recruiting classes. 

There will always be cases of teams that have great recruiting classes but fail to convert it to the field, like the University of Texas as of late or Tennessee. 

But, it’s extremely hard to find the case of a regular national contender that doesn’t regularly pull in top-15 recruiting classes. 

Though not all five-star prospects pan out, it’s been shown the average five-star prospect is far more likely to be drafted into the NFL than a four-star, and drastically greater than a three-star. 

Player development and coaching are extremely important, but so is recruiting, as any college football expert would agree. 

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM AND HOW DO YOU FIX IT? 

One of the largest problems facing Maryland right now is that, even with the recent success of the team, recruits still do not see the Terrapins as an elite program, a place where they can win championships and develop into an NFL prospect. 

We’ve seen this become troublesome for Maryland in the DMV, as schools like Ohio State, Michigan, Florida State, and Alabama have made the area a priority. 

Right now they’re winning the recruiting battles, and it’s why they’ll likely win on Saturdays as well. 

It’s a hard problem to fix, and one that needs time to correct itself. But, it is absolutely essential for Maryland to keep its homegrown talent home if it ever wants to compete with the likes of Ohio State and Michigan State consistently. 

To fix it requires wins, which will be tough if the recruiting woes continue. 

It also requires the desire – to transform from merely a “basketball” school into one where football Saturdays aren’t just an excuse for a party. 

It’s not as if College Park resides in some secluded corner of the country, or they face immense competition from other local Universities. In fact, as the only power-5 school in the state, the Terrapins should be able to dominate the area on the recruiting trail. 

And, if they can just keep the majority of their own stars home, and begin to annually poach a few prospects across the border in DC and Virginia, they’ll have themselves the talent they need in College Park.    

And suddenly there might be five powers in the Big Ten East…

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Maryland loses two as Justin Jackson declares for NBA Draft, will sign with agent

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USA TODAY Sports

Maryland loses two as Justin Jackson declares for NBA Draft, will sign with agent

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland forward Justin Jackson will forgo his final two seasons of college eligibility to seek a career in the NBA.

Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon also says guard Dion Wiley will transfer before playing his senior season.

MORE TERPS: LEFTY DRIESELL IS FINALLY GOING TO ENTER THE HALL OF FAME

Jackson averaged 10.5 points as a freshman before missing most of the 2017-18 season with a shoulder injury.

Jackson says, "After talking with my family and weighing my options, it's my desire to turn my full attention to preparing for a career in professional basketball."

Wiley appeared in 83 career games, playing a backup role on three teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament under Turgeon.

Maryland was 19-13 this season, including 8-10 in the Big Ten, and failed to reach the postseason.

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Lefty Driesell to be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame per report

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Lefty Driesell to be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame per report

Long-time University of Maryland men’s basketball coach Charles Grice “Lefty” Driesell will finally be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame this year.

This is according to NBC Sports Washington contributor Jon Feinstein.

Driesell coached the Terrapins for 17 seasons between 1969-86. While guiding the program to eight NCAA Tournament appearances and an NIT Championship, Driesell transformed Maryland into a legitimate force in college basketball.

When hired by the Terps, Driesell famously announced that he wanted to turn Maryland into the “UCLA of the East.” After only four seasons he had made it to two ACC Championship Games and his first Elite Eight appearance. His success opened the door not only for the program but the school to compete at the highest levels of competition.

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Maryland made it as high as the Elite Eight twice under the reign of Driesell. He was named ACC Coach of the Year twice and won one ACC Tournament Championship in 1984. At the time of his NIT Championship with the Terps in 1972, the NIT was held in a similar regard to the NCAA Tournament.

He is second on Maryland’s all-time wins list (348), behind Gary Williams’ 461. Driesell however, still holds the best win percentage of all Maryland coaches with 68.6 win percentage.

After Maryland, the former Duke basketball coached at James Madison for just short of a decade and ended his coaching days at Georgia State. Driesell also coached at Davidson before taking the Maryland job to combine for over 40 seasons at the head of a Division I basketball program.

The 86-year-old was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame back in 2007. He also the namesake for the NCAA’s best defensive player of the year award, which was first awarded in 2010.

The official announcement from the Naismith Hall of Fame will be during the Final Four on Saturday, March 31.

WANT MORE HOOPS?  Listen below as Troy Machir and Chick Hernandez discuss Lefty Driesell's legacy in the area and why the Terps icon was on the outside of the Hall of Fame for so long.