There were numerous "name" recruits who attended Maryland's spring game April 11, and one who made a last-minute trip over from nearby Damascus (Md.) was star athlete Jalen Christian. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder, who holds over 20 scholarship offers, has now been on campus three times in the last few months and has the hometown program under solid consideration.
"I actually came up late due to traffic and I had track practice after school, and then I left early because I had a track meet the next morning," Christian said. "But I was able to at least see some of the game. I didn't really get it, though. The score was like 100 something to 100 something at one point. Usually in spring games you split it up with offense going against defense, but it was all defense on one side and all offense on the other side. I guess it was kind of cool because it was different."
Christian did not have a chance to speak to the Maryland staff during this latest trip. However, he has had consistent contact with his recruiter, Chad Wilt.
"Coach Wilt has been saying I need to come down and visit, and he wants me and my mom to come in to talk to the professors and see the campus in more detail," Christian said. "He's a pretty cool guy, and I like talking to him. We talk here and there, and we're chill. He's an energetic guy and I like him."
Since he didn't get to experience much of UMD during the spring game, Christian said he will try to take Wilt up on his offer and return for a personal visit with his mother.
"Coach Wilt wants to sit down with us at the school," Christian said. "My mom, even though she's been there three times, doesn't know as much about Maryland in detail as I do. And when we visit a school we sit down and talk about academics, school size and things like that, and we want to do that with Maryland."
The Damascus athlete recently listed Maryland among his top 11 suitors, along with Duke, Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Rutgers, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin and West Virginia. He said the fact UMD is nearby, heading to the Big Ten, offers early playing time, and has solid academics are the reasons he's taking a close look at the Terps.
But right now Christian couldn't say for sure whether UMD, or any other school, would make his next round of cuts.
"There are some schools that are starting to jump out to me -- at least four I really want to visit -- but I don't want to say right now exactly who's popping into my head," Christian said. "I'm narrowing things down in my mind, trying to get down to that final four, but I've still got to take some visits and think things through."
One of the reasons Christian refused to make any definitive statements is he has yet to see may of the programs on his list. Besides Maryland, which he's tripped to multiple times, he's only been to OSU, WVU, South Carolina and Notre Dame since his freshman year. In fact, he hasn't taken in another campus besides College Park, Md., since tripping to Notre Dame last summer.
"I've just been so busy with football, track and school. That's the reason I haven't visited other schools," Christian said. "When I have some spare time this summer I'll start getting out to some other places. I'm trying to get down south to experience those schools and campuses, and I'm in the process of planning that out with my mom now.
"I know I'm getting down to Kentucky and Tennessee, definitely, and South Carolina too – and maybe Duke. I might get up to Wisconsin too if I head north. Basically I'm trying to get around to as many schools as I can and just enjoy the process of visiting."
Christian said the main factors in choosing to look at the above programs -- and, really, in choosing his final 11 – were how much the staffs have stayed in touch and how much each needed players of his ilk.
"Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Duke – all of them are saying they need playmakers and want me at their schools," Christian said. "Basically everyone wants me as a slot receiver now, and they think I can be a difference maker on that side of the ball. Some schools said I could play defense if I wanted to, but they definitely want me at slot and as a returner. And that's where I feel most comfortable and where I think I can make the biggest impact – playing out of the slot."
If Christian is able to take all his desired visits he could be ready to name his college destination before his senior season. His goal is to choose by late summer and then concentrate on football once the fall hits.
"We'll have to see if I can get everywhere," Christian said. "It could be summer, or it could be during the season if I don't get out to all the places I want to see. At this point, who knows?"
Currently Christian is running relays and doing the long jump for Damascus. As for football training, he's improved his weight-room numbers and his speed.
"I'm way faster now because of track, and my hips and explosiveness have really picked up as well," said Christian, who runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. "I squat 465 pounds now, too, so that's really improved. And one new thing with me is I just went to church and got myself a Bible, so I'm working on changing my life a little bit too (laughs)."
Christian Back at Maryland
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