NCAA

How Stefon Diggs convinced WR Rakim Jarrett to pick Maryland over LSU

How Stefon Diggs convinced WR Rakim Jarrett to pick Maryland over LSU

As much as coaches might do everything they can to entice a player to join their program, sometimes it takes something out of their control to convince a recruit to sign.

In the case of future Maryland wide receiver Rakim Jarrett, that something was Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs.

Jarrett idolized the former Terp and connected with him on social media while weighing the decision of where to play in college. Despite initially committing to LSU, the D.C. area native changed his mind and opted to sign with Maryland, surprising even head coach Mike Locksley.

“I got to tell you, I was as shocked as everybody when he sent me a text…saying, ‘Coach, I'm ready to do this,’” Locksley told 247Sports in a video published Wednesday. “And I was like, ready to do what? Because we were all of the opinion he would [decide] in February, and he was like, ‘No. I'm ready to do it now.’ I almost fell out my chair.”

Unsure about his connection with LSU’s coaching staff, Jarrett reached out to Diggs to ask for his thoughts on playing in the same area he grew up in. Needless to say, Diggs’ advice resonated with the St. John’s product.

“I hadn't been real aware that they had been communicating,” Locksley said. “And I know in the end, Stefon's conversation with Rakim played a huge part of it. Because I know Rakim grew up, when I recruited Stefon to Maryland, he was a young, seventh, sixth-grader coming to Maryland games.

“This whole area fell in love with the type of player Stefon Diggs was and what he did for Maryland. So I know that those two had a mutual connections in that, here it is, four or five years later, Rakim is in the same position to do something similar.”

Jarrett highlights a deep 2020 recruiting class for Locksley and the Terps. It’s been a successful offseason for the football program, which also landed transfer quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa from Alabama on Friday.

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Howard makes a massive jump in preseason KenPom rankings after Makur Maker commitment

Howard makes a massive jump in preseason KenPom rankings after Makur Maker commitment

The Howard men's basketball program was forever changed once 2020 five-star recruit Makur Maker announced his decision to play with the Bison next season

While this is a monumental step for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as a whole, this is also a really big deal for the current Howard program. 

Last season, Howard was 4-29 (1-15 MEAC). Only three of those wins were against Division I opponents. Literally they were one of the worst teams in college basketball.

But with Maker that will change things. Not only will they vault to title favorites in the MEAC, but their national profile and coverage will greatly improve. Already Ken Pomeroy, who is the developer behind one of the most trusted metrics in the sport (KenPom), has the Bison taking a huge step by simply adding the five-star center. 

RELATED: ARE TOP PROSPECTS GOING TO HBCUs A NEW TREND?

That meant Howard was going to be second-to-last in Division I for Pomeroy's preseason rankings this year. Going to 252nd gives them a 27% jump by the addition of a single player. 

That will be the largest jump by a player - ever, according to Pomeroy. 

Makur is a 6-foot-11 player that is projected to be a lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. His cousin, Thon Maker, plays for the Pistons in the NBA.

All signs point to Howard being the class of the MEAC next season, but overall the quality of the league as a whole will improve with Maker. 

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2020 five-star recruit Makur Maker commits to Howard

2020 five-star recruit Makur Maker commits to Howard

When five-star big man Makur Maker announced his final four schools Thursday and Howard University was on the list, it certainly raised some eyebrows. Now, it appears Howard has landed one of the biggest recruits in its history. 

Maker tweeted early Friday morning that he had committed to Howard and head coach Kenny Blakeney over UCLA, Kentucky and Memphis.

"I was the first to announce my visit to Howard & others started to dream “what if,'" Maker wrote. "I need to make the HBCU movement real so that others will follow. I hope I inspire guys like Mikey Williams to join me on this journey. I am committing to Howard U & coach Kenny Blakeney."

Top high school recruits such as Maker and 2023 five-star Mikey Williams are the first to show real interest in playing their college ball at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Maker is the first of his caliber to make a commitment amid a worldwide movement against the systematic oppression of Black people. 

RELATED: RANKING THE CBB COACHES IN DC, MARYLAND, VIRGINIA

Maker, the brother of Pistons big man Thon Maker, is the 18th-ranked 2020 recruit in the nation according to 247sports. The 6'11, 235-pound big man is known for his blend of size, mobility and perimeter skills at the center position.

Maker was born in Kenya and immigrated to Australia when he was one year old. He then played high school basketball at multiple schools in California before playing his final season at Hillcrest Prep Academy in Phoenix, AZ. 

Maker will join a program in need of a boost in talent. Howard went 4-29 last season and will surely improve with their newest addition. But perhaps Maker's decision will have a bigger impact on college basketball moving forward. As top recruits begin to consider avenues outside the traditional powerhouse programs, the game's landscape could look a lot different in a few years.

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