Maryland may have missed on the last McDonogh lineman it tried to recruit, Jared Cohen, but the Terps are right back at the Owings Mills, Md., school this year. On Feb. 14, UMD extended offers to junior offensive guard Ellis McKennie, a 6-foot-4, 290 pounder, and freshman offensive tackle Jordan McNair, a 6-foot-5, 285 pounder.
McKennie, who lives in Pennsylvania but boards at McDonogh, chimed in first about his initial scholarship.
"I was shocked, just really excited about," he said. "Coach Dom [Damico] called me last night and told me to call Coach [Keith] Dudzkinski at Maryland. So I did, and Coach Keith told me, ‘Happy Valentines Day,' which was kind of funny, and then he told me I had a full scholarship to Maryland."
The junior guard said the offer was unexpected, but it's not like he was unfamiliar with the school or the program. McKennie said he's already been in College Park "many times" and plans to return again Feb. 24 when the Terps hoops team takes on Syracuse.
"I've been to Maryland a bunch, but I actually haven't had a true visit there where I walked around campus or anything," McKennie said. "So I'm looking forward to doing that before the Syracuse game. I liked what I've seen so far, though.
"Then I plan on meeting Coach Keith, Coach [Greg] Studrawa and Coach [Randy] Edsall too, and it will be good to see them in person."
McKennie went on to say that Maryland has plenty going for it early in the game. He said teammate Josh Woods, who just signed with UMD, has spoken highly of the school, and he's heard great things from others as well.
"I actually want to be close to home for college so my parents can see me play, but not too close where [my parents] are always there," McKennie said. "So in that sense Maryland is perfect because we live in Pennsylvania and it's like an hour-and-a-half drive there. Also, Maryland is moving to the Big Ten next year and will get to play Michigan and Penn State, and that's really exciting."
Given that, the Terps would seem to have the upper hand early on, and McKennie did say, "Maryland is at the top of my list right now."
But the burly guard also mentioned that he's not looking to commit anytime soon, and wants to play through his senior year before announcing a college choice. In fact, he was just down at Virginia Tech for its junior day and said the Hokies could be close to offering.
"Virginia Tech likes me and they're talking about offering in the spring. I really liked it down there, and it did feel like home. The coaches were great and treated me well," said McKennie, who might be visiting Penn next week. "I also went up to Rutgers for a game last year, and they were looking at me too, but the coach recruiting me got fired. Hopefully they get back involved, but it's slowed a bit with them."
Last year McKennie started every game at guard and helped lead a rushing attack that piled up well over 2,000 yards. McDonogh, of course, won the MIAA A-Conference title and finished with a perfect record.
"I'm really aggressive as a run blocker. Coach [Spencer] Folau really worked with me, and his zone blocking scheme fit me well," said McKennie, who benched 290 pounds and squats 390. "I think I'm a solid pass blocker, too. I have really long arms for a guard, so I'm sturdy inside. I do still need to work on getting lower and my flexibility, but I'm getting there."
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