Weeki Wachee (Fla.) offensive tackle Marcus Applefield admitted the recruiting process has been a bit of a drain.
First, there was the whole ordeal of taking visits, which he did throughout the summer and fall. Then he had to narrow down his extensive offer list -- it included about 20 scholarships -- to a top five. After that, he had to set up his official visits to the likes of Virginia, Maryland, Purdue, Vanderbilt and Rutgers, while continuing to listen to recruiting pitches, take reporters' phone calls and play out his senior season.
But in less than 10 days all of it will finally end as Applefield, who is set to enroll in college early, will announce his destination at 1 p.m. on Dec. 13.
"It's getting down to that time," said the 6-foot-6, 270-pound Applefield. "It will be good to get it all over with and finally have my school chosen. I still haven't completely made up my mind yet, but I have an idea. It's going to come down to the wire."
Though he wouldn't outright admit it, the consensus is Applefield will choose between Maryland and Rutgers on Dec. 13. He took his official to College Park, Md., Nov. 22 when the Terps took on Boston College, and he's set to visit Rutgers this weekend for its game against South Florida.
"I'm excited about Rutgers. The vibe I'm getting from them is it's a home away from home," said Applefield, who has already visited Virginia and Purdue, but did not make the trip to Vanderbilt. "Their coaches, we have a pretty steady relationship, and they treat me like I'm their own kid. We talk about absolutely everything, from food, to football to life. It's not all about recruiting, and I like that. I relate to them well."
Rutgers, though, has not had a particularly memorable season this fall. Not only are the Scarlet Knights 5-6, but they've seen several recruits decommit, while rumors are flying about the coaching staff's stability, namely line coach Damian Wroblewski.
"Of course all of that matters," Applefield said. "Coach Wrobo is still there, but if he were to leave, yeah, that would make a big difference. We have a good relationship. It's steady, smooth, and everyday we're talking, whether it's on social networks or phone calls.
"But either way I'll be at the game against USF, and I'll be looking at what they're going to need in the future. That's why they're recruiting me. I like it up there a lot; it's a family."
While Rutgers will have the last shot at impressing Applefield, the Maryland staff seems to be pulling out all the stops. Not only did the Terps host the Florida lineman on an official visit recently, but head coach Randy Edsall and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley just had an in-home visit with him Dec. 3.
"[The in-home] went real good. I just talked to Coach Edsall and Coach Locks and they're great coaches. They have their heads on their shoulders right, and they're both parental figures, which is a good thing," Applefield said. "We met at my coach's house, and they met my mom for the first time, which was good.
"They said I'm not going to be just thrown to the wolves out there. They were saying how they have 105 football players and they claim them as their own family, and they're going to look after me. That was big, because my mom was worried because I'm her baby, so they stressed [Maryland] would be a home away from home."
Applefield said neither Edsall nor Locksley gave a straight recruiting pitch. He said both coaches know where he stands in the process, and since he's been to College Park twice he doesn't need to be sold on the school.
"But [Edsall and Locksley] did put the hammer down on them not just making me a great football player, but a man first," Applefield said. "I'm not just an athlete who expects to walk in and go to the NFL in a few years. That's obviously something you have to work very hard for -- academics, building character, becoming a better man, that's all part of it. When they said that, that's kind of a game-changer right there."
Applefield's College Park official only solidified his feelings about the school. He said he was "very glad" he took a second trip to Maryland and loves the fact that it's near Washington, D.C.
"I'm just very comfortable there; it's a lot different than my home, but I really felt comfortable in College Park," Applefield said. "I'm not going to lie, the food was fantastic. I had some pizza there, and it might have been the biggest slices I've ever had in my life (laughs).
"And the Maryland coaches, they kept telling me they really need me there. They made me feel wanted, like I wasn't just any recruit coming in."
The Florida lineman's host was actually a fellow Floridian, 2013 Terps signee Chandler Burkett. Applefield didn't know Burkett in high school -- "I'm from North Florida and that's way different than where he's from in South Florida," he said – but he connected well with him.
"He's a real good kid, a hard worker and I heard about his home life. You can tell he has great work ethic and character," Applefield said. "I met a bunch of other guys too, and I could definitely get along with them."
The fact that Maryland lost to Boston College, 29-26, did not seem to bother Applefield. He's well aware the Terps bounced back with a big win against N.C. State and are heading to a bowl game.
"Maryland is really building up the program," Applefield said. "They're going to bowl, and next year they're going to the Big Ten, which is great. And it's a chance to play early since they need line help; that's something I personally want to do and believe I have the ability to do. So Maryland is a very good situation."
Applefield Raves About UMD, Set for RU Visit
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