The local cornerback crop is once again deep, and one in-state defensive back who has held a Terps offer since last summer continues to keep Maryland among his top suitors. Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.) cover man Dionte Austin, a 6-foot, 170-pound speedster with a dozen verbals, will be visiting College Park, Md., Feb. 24 for the UMD-Syracuse hoops game and is excited to be back on campus.
"I haven't been there since the summer 7-on-7 when I got the offer, and before that I hadn't been to a game since my sophomore year when [Maryland] played UConn," Austin said. "So I'm looking forward to meeting the coaches, seeing [recruiter Keith] Dudzinksi and seeing some of the new coaches they have over there too. I haven't been there in a minute so I'll be able to catch up with them all."
Austin went on to say that there are plenty of benefits of staying close to home for college. He said along with a solid coaching staff, he values the chance to play in front of his family.
"I'm always going to keep Maryland up there because it's nearby," Austin said. "My family seeing me in action is a big thing because I'm close to them. If I go to Maryland they won't have to travel far and they can come to all the home games.
"Also, I like the coaching staff at Maryland. I find them cool, down-to-earth type of people, and that's the type of coaches I want to be around."
The Calvert Hall corner hasn't spoken to Dudzinksi in person for quite some time, but the two do stay in touch, mainly via social media. Dudzinski was also at the Towson high school recently to speak to CHC head coach Don Davis.
"Coach Keith hits me up on Twitter a lot just to see how I'm doing," Austin said. "I couldn't talk to him when I came up to my school, but I know he was here a couple weeks ago to talk to my coach. He's a good dude."
While Austin spoke positively about Maryland, there are other options to consider. He recently picked up an offer from Georgia Tech and now holds scholarships from the likes of the Yellow Jackets, Boston College, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, UMD, Rutgers, Toledo, Virginia, Virginia Tech and a couple lower-level programs.
Of those, he said Indiana, Virginia Tech and the Terps are beginning to separate from the current pack.
"I'd say those three stand out the most right now," Austin said. "The coaches from those places say the most to me and are recruiting me the hardest. I've been to Maryland before and liked it there, and I really liked Indiana and Va Tech when I visited for camps [last summer] and the coaches showed me around. The facilities, the coaching staffs and education-wise, those are some top programs in those areas."
When asked if he could see himself suiting up for one of those three schools, Austin said, "yes, for sure." After visiting Maryland on Feb. 24, he'd like to set up visits to IU and Virginia Tech as well.
He said the main factor in deciding which school he'll ultimately attend is the coaching staff.
"If I don't like the coaches, there's no point in me being there," Austin said. "I want to go to a place with down-to-earth coach, but also guys that get on my case if I do something wrong. I want to be told when I'm doing things right but corrected when I need to improve. I want to have good communication with the whole staff."
Right now, Austin has no timetable for making a decision.
This winter he's mainly concentrated on lifting and has gained more than 10 pounds of muscle. He also does daily footwork drills in order to improve his backpedal, breaks and the like. In the spring, Austin plans to run track to help with his speed, which is in the 4.4-second 40-yard dash range.
Austin is coming off a junior season where he recorded about 35 tackles and two interceptions.
"I'm quick out of my breaks, I can muscle up and press, and I'm good at playing off guys and locking down in zone," Austin said. "I need to get stronger, that's the main thing I need to work on, but otherwise I see myself as a complete corner."
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