Maryland is making a push for that signature Florida speed, and one under-the-radar receiver who is apparently closing in on a Terps offer is Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville, Fla.) wideout David Gardner. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder, who clocked a laser-timed 4.4 40-yard dash at a recent combine, claims early verbals from UAB, Cincinnati and Eastern Michigan, while the Terps could very well be next in line.
"Coach [Keenan] McCardell from Maryland has been recruiting me since January and we have a great relationship," Gardner said. "He's been down here twice now, once in January and again [April 25], and he texts me like every week. He said Maryland is looking for speed and that's why they're recruiting me. He told me the offer was basically there for me, and I just need to meet the head coach [Randy Edsall] to confirm everything. After I go to a camp in June I should be good to go with Maryland.
"To me it's just an honor and a blessing to be considered and looked at by a school like Maryland. I'm very, very interested in the program."
The Sunshine State receiver went on to say that he and McCardell have become "buddies" through social media, texts and the like.
"He has a great personality and he's a family-first guy," Gardner said. "I really like him a lot. He's always making sure your family is doing OK and he's not all about football. He asks me all the time how my family is, and I really appreciate that. He tells me that he wouldn't recruit someone who wasn't a great kid, and he knows I'm a great kid with great character."
Gardner said he and his family are already planning to attend one of Maryland summer one-days. The Florida wideout has never been farther north than Alabama, so he's looking forward to visiting College Park for the first time.
"I have an uncle up in New York that I visited once as a baby, but I don't even remember that," Gardner said, laughing. "But I honestly think I'm going to like Maryland just fine. I like to try new things, and I wouldn't mind leaving Florida for college at all. I'll get up [to Maryland], take a look at the city, the school, the campus, and I'm sure I'll like it."
While Gardner hasn't heard much about the Terps outside of what McCardell's told him, he's researched them quite a bit. He's seen multiple UMD games on TV and even broken down YouTube clips of star receiver Stefon Diggs.
"I know Stefon Diggs, that's for sure. I watched how quick he is off the line, how his moves are, how he goes up and high-points the ball – he's great," Gardner said. "And, you know, that's the kind of receiver I am. I'm very fast, I'm patient with my routes, I make sure I use my moves to my advantage instead of just relying on my speed, and I have really good hands.
"And just watching Maryland's offense and how it works, I think I'd fit in really, really well. I was watching this thing on ESPNU last year where they went inside different offenses, and Maryland and Stefon Diggs was featured on one [segment]. I remember watching it and thinking it was pretty cool."
Gardner wasn't finished. Even though he's never been to College Park, he's already found plenty appealing about the D.C./Maryland corridor.
"You know, D.C. is right there and that's pretty cool – the White House is right down the street," Gardner said. "And the Ravens are there [in Baltimore] too and I love watching them on TV. I actually remember Coach McCardell when he was with the Jaguars and they played against the Ravens. I'm a Jaguars fan, so I definitely remember those games."
It's obvious Gardner has legitimate interest in the Terps. So, if the UMD offer does become official following a campus visit this summer, what would he think of it? Could a commitment follow?
"Well, I do want to keep my options open," Gardner said. "But I would definitely have to think about it. I am really interested in Maryland."
Some of those other options include the UAB, Cincinnati and Eastern Michigan offers. Of those, he has only seen UAB thus far.
"UAB is a great area, and their staff is great. They're trying to build something there, and the program is getting up there," Gardner said. "I could see them winning some games in a few years."
Gardner is also receiving interest from USF, Florida, Illinois, Penn State, Georgia Southern, Louisville and Tulane. He has visited UF and Georgia Southern before.
"When you think Florida, you think Percy Harvin and all those guys," Gardner said. "The campus is wonderful there, and I talked to the OC and they're using a three-wide set this year. If they recruited me it would be a great fit.
"And with Georgia Southern, they have a new staff and they're going with a pistol set, three wides and more tight ends too. I think I'd fit well there, too, and it sounds like that's an up-and-coming program."
Right now Gardner does not have any other set trips besides an imminent UMD visit in June. He said he'll sit down with his family in the coming weeks and plan out exactly where he can travel to this summer.
"I'd really like to get to a few different places and see what other offers I get, because I want to commit before the season," Gardner said. "It's a lot to deal with recruiting, school and football, and I want to focus on just winning games and doing well in the classroom."
Gardner is coming off a season where he hauled in 25 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns in a run-first attack. He said this year the offense will use more spread elements and he'll have the opportunity to show more of what he can do.
"I'll get a chance to get some yards after the catch and just have my hands on the ball more," Gardner said. "I'm excited for this season, it should be a great one for me."
Gardner Highly Interested in Terps
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