Virginia Beach hasn't been especially kind to Maryland for football recruiting purposes, but don't expect the Terps to shy away from the 757. UMD just placed new defensive line coach Chad Wilt in the area, and he's already left a mark with some of the local coaches and prospects. That includes Cox High (Virginia Beach, Va.) coach Bill Stachelski and his rising star offensive tackle, Blake Camper, who Maryland offered in late February.
"I had talked to Coach Wilt through e-mails before he had a meeting with my coaches last Wednesday to offer me, and then I met him when I was on campus [Feb. 27]. He's a great man," said the 6-foot-7, 275-pound Camper, who now holds offers from Maryland, Rutgers, Virginia and Old Dominion. "I really respect him and you can tell he knows what he's doing. I like him a lot; he made me feel at home talking to him and I'm looking forward to building a relationship with him. I think Maryland is a great school, and it's moving up."
Needless to say, Camper came away thoroughly impressed with his Feb. 27 trip to College Park with his father, a former Duke offensive lineman. Maryland was actually Camper's second stop on a five-school road trip, which he decided to take because his high school football team is on break from workouts. He saw Rutgers, another school that's offered him (Old Dominion is his third offer), the day before UMD, and on Feb. 28 he took in Wake Forest. He finished up with his father's alma mater, Duke, and Virginia before heading home on March 2.
Then, after a week, he'll be right back at Maryland for the UMD-Virginia hoops game March 9. Camper said Randy Edsall and the staff wanted him to return with his mother so she could see the school as well.
"I actually went into [the Feb. 27] Maryland visit without any expectations, but [the coaches] really did a great job, and my dad and I were both very impressed," Camper said. "I met with Coach Wilt, and then I talked to Coach Stud [Greg Studrawa]. I'd heard [Studrawa] just came up from LSU and obviously has a great background with LSU, and I really appreciate what he'd be able to teach me.
"Coach Wilt, like I said, he did a great job showing me around and he was on-point. Then Coach [Randy Edsall] pulled me into his office and talked to me about how his players behave, how the work ethic is great there, and how he has an idea for the caliber of player he wants in terms of work ethic, ability and in the classroom. He said I'm at that caliber, and that meant it a lot."
Camper had more comments about Edsall. Evidently Maryland's headman struck home with the Virginia Beach lineman, who owns a 3.7 GPA.
"It's academics first, sports second, and I agree with that," Camper said. "If you get hurt on the field, there's always school, and Coach Edsall really puts an emphasis on that. He said it starts with academics and ends with academics. The standards are if you're not doing good in the classroom you're not playing. [Edsall] was top notch; very straightforward with everything he said impressed me."
While Maryland's academics and coaches resonated, Camper also enjoyed touring the campus, seeing plans for the new facilities and trying on the Under Armour gear. He said he learned a lot about the school and the program, as he knew little prior to his visit.
"I knew about Under Armour and [founder] Kevin Plank, but in terms of the whole program, I remember [former head coach] Ralph Friedgen had them in some good bowl games, but I didn't know much since then.
"But everything I saw there was very impressive, and I know they're moving to the Big Ten too. That's a great move. It shows they're ambitious and it brings Maryland to the next level. It's obviously a great football conference, and when you think Big Ten you think football. That's exciting for me."
At this time, however, Camper isn't ready to claim any leaders. He said he had no favorite teams growing up and doesn't have a favorite team now, keeping to the standard, "I'm interested in every school recruiting me." Besides Maryland, he has those Rutgers and Old Dominion offers and is in touch with Duke, Virginia, Wake Forest, North Carolina and several others.
"I obviously just saw Rutgers, and I enjoyed it. I was impressed by their academic standards and coaching staff, and how their graduation rate is in the 97th percentile for football players," Camper said. "Wake Forest was very nice too. They're into academics a whole lot, they have a new coaching staff and they're in a time of rebuilding. They're upgrading facilities, the campus was pretty and I like the way they presented everything.
"I haven't talked to UVA too too much yet, but they've been in contact on Facebook, and I know that's a school with terrific academics. And Duke, that's my dad's school, but he doesn't really push them on me or anything. He lets me deal with the process, so I don't know too much about them yet except it's great academics."
After Camper completed his road trip he returned to workouts and concentrated on improving his game. Besides that return visit to College Park, Md., March 9, he isn't too focused on recruiting and likely won't thoroughly delve into it again until the summer for one-day camps. Ideally, by that point, Camper would like to see enough schools and have enough options to choose a college by the midway point of his senior season.
"[My decision] isn't going to be anytime soon," Camper said. "I want to take a few officials, see some more schools and take things slowly."
On the field, Camper is considered a strong run blocker who is improving as a pass protector, which makes sense since he played in a run-oriented offense at Cox. He believes his strengths are his quickness and his footwork, while his technique and strength need some improvement.
After spending his first high school season on jayvee, Camper rotated in on varsity his sophomore year before starting at left tackle most of last season. He also has experience playing left guard, right guard and right tackle, making him particularly versatile.
"[Blake] really got better as the season went along, and he has really grown into himself physically in the last six months," Cox head coach Bill Stachelski said. "He's always had the height but he's been in the weight room six days a week and put on about 25, 30 pounds, and he's up to 6-7, 275.
"And I think that's what's caught the attention of these recruiters. When you see him in person he's a big kid' he's pretty imposing, Plus his reach is long, he's fundamentally strong and his technique is good. We're not a passing team, but we've spent time teaching pass protecting and kick steps and things he'll need to pass block at the next level. He really works hard in all aspects of the game, and he's determined to improve."
That holds true off the field as well. Not only is Camper a strong student, but he's involved in several Church groups, community projects and charity organizations, including Young Life and Operation Smile.
He comes from a strong, stable family background and learned the values of hard work from both his father and his two older sisters, who are on soccer scholarships at William and Mary.
"I think that's what's impressed these college recruiters as well – this kid just gets it," Stachelski said. "He gets it and his family gets it. Blake really is a tremendous kid, and he's going to make some [college program] very, very happy."
Cox OL is a Different Camper
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