Spring Outlook: Maryland

CUTigers.com takes you on a tour through the Atlantic Coast Conference.

School: Maryland
Location: College Park, Maryland
Enrollment: 33,066
Stadium: Byrd Stadium
Capacity: 48,055
2006 Scout.com Recruiting Ranking:
Spring Practice Starts: April 1
Spring Game: April 29

SIGNING DAY UPDATE: The Terrapins tried to put the best spin on its recruiting class, pointing to one national ranking (Scout.com) that had Maryland No. 27 in its overall rankings.

But the reality was nine of the top 10 high school players from Maryland signed with teams out of state. That is never good news when you're trying to become a major program.

"I never get disappointed with the kids you don't get," said Terps coach Ralph Friedgen. "You can't do anything about that. Obviously, I'd like to have kids stay here.

"But they've got to make their choice, and we've got to go on our way, too. We'll continue to recruit the state as hard as we possibly can ... but now it's a little tougher because of the success we've had. More people are in here recruiting."

A more likely explanation, however, is that Maryland had consecutive losing seasons (5-6) and failed to go to a bowl game either time. Rival recruiters had facts to use as ammunition.

The Terps signed 22 players, including a re-sign of Baltimore high school star Melvin Alaeze, who did not qualify last year.

On the bright side, the Terps also got an unexpected player, quarterback Josh Portis, who transferred from Florida and will be eligible in 2007. He was one of the nation's top dual-threat quarterbacks when signed by the Gators.

"We think he's going to be a heck of a quarterback," Friedgen said of Portis. "He's got a strong arm and he's very athletic. We're very excited about him."

The Terps also signed one of Pennsylvania's best quarterbacks in Jeremy Ricker, a three-year starter. Friedgen said he sought a combination of speed and brains.

"If they've got good grades and they can run fast, I'll take them," Friedgen said. "We'll find a place for them to play. Because God only made so many of them."

TOP RECRUITS DE Melvin Alaeze, Baltimore -- He spent last season at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., after originally signing last year with Maryland. He played in 11 games for Hargrave, recording 27 tackles and four sacks. He was considered the state's top high school player for the 2005 recruiting class.

* WR Adrian Cannon, Pontiac, Mich. -- He was a four-year starter, playing four different positions in high school, earning first-team all-state honors. He finished his senior season with 57 receptions for 802 yards and nine touchdowns and also returned one kickoff 90 yards for a TD. In his only game at tailback, he ran for 160 yards and three touchdowns.

* TB Morgan Green, White Plains, Md. -- Another player who spent last year at Hargrave. In high school, he was rated the nation's No. 14 overall tailback prospect by SuperPrep. He finished fifth on Maryland's all-time high school rushing list with 5,133 yards.

* QB Jeremy Ricker -- Hummelstown, Pa. -- If transfer Josh Portis doesn't work out, the Terps landed some security. Ricker was considered one of the nation's Top 10 quarterbacks by two major recruiting services. He passes for 5,245 career yards with 67 touchdowns.

ROSTER REPORT: Former Maryland and South Carolina assistant coach Chris Cosh is the Terrapins' new defensive coordinator. Cosh, a Washington native who served as Maryland's linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator in 1997, replaces Gary Blackney, who retired after Maryland's season finale last month.

"It's good to be back home, obviously," said Cosh, 46. "It's a thrill for me and my family to have an opportunity to come back. It's not too often you can come back home twice in a career."

* Former starting quarterback Joel Statham has transferred to Division I-AA Jacksonville (Ala.) State, not far from Statham's hometown in Georgia. He will be eligible to play this season. Statham started 10 games as a sophomore, throwing for 1,590 yards, 8 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. His brightest moment came in Maryland's first win over Florida State last October, when he threw for 333 yards and one touchdown and ran for another.

GLANCE AT 2006: The Terps will hope to build their team next season around QB Sam Hollenbach, who opted against shoulder surgery to participate in spring practice, along with tailback Lance Ball. Still, they have many issues to settle. They will miss the defensive leadership LB D'Qwell Jackson provided, along with his every-game performance. If TE Vernon Davis leaves, that's another void. The top offensive tackle, Stephon Heyer, is graduating, along with their two top receivers, Jo Jo Walker and Derrick Fenner. The Terps have to recruit better. They have not been able to bring in the type of classes that people expected coach Ralph Friedgen to attract.

SPRING QUESTIONS: Can Maryland become a decent offensive team again under Ralph Friedgen? It won't be easy this year as the Terps lost their top four wide outs from a year ago. Hollenbach gives the team an experienced starter and the defense should return enough quality players to be one of the league's most consistent units again.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a good class that helped us in the areas we needed, and I'm excited about it. It was a little bit tougher for us this year, but I don't think we're very far away from winning again." -- Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen on the struggle to retain a solid recruiting class.

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