Maryland secured a commitment from Fort Hill (Cumberland, Md.) athlete Ty Johnson June 8, and afterwards his head coach, Todd Appel, discussed UMD's latest pledge. Johnson is a 5-foot-10, 185-pounder with 4.36 40-yard-dash speed who can play slot, running back, cornerback and returner. He totaled almost 2,000 total yards last year and scored 23 touchdowns on offense, while tallying an eye-popping 10 picks (one returned for a score) on defense.
Here's our Q&A session with Appel:
Terrapin Times: Coach, I've got to ask you right off the bat. What does this commitment of Ty Johnson to Maryland mean to you personally? I know a lot of times kids in Western Maryland do get overlooked.
Todd Appel: The thing about Ty is he works really hard at his craft, he's a really humble, hardworking kid and he's a great student. He's been like that all his life, and he's put in the time. What Ty did at the camp today, he earned that, and it was the product of the work he put in.
And really, because we're so far West [in Maryland], a lot of kids out here don't get noticed, and this will open the door for some of them. There is a lot of talent up here, and for someone like Ty to go out to a Division I camp and measure up to the other elite athletes, it proves that kids up here can be as good as anyone else.
I talked to Coach [Randy] Edsall today about Ty and he said Ty did a great job against the top athletes there. He definitely measured up and he said Maryland wanted to extend him a full scholarship. And that just really meant a lot for Ty, the program and the area.
TT: Had Maryland been in touch with Ty, or did this come as a shock?
TA: It wasn't so much of a shock, but I was surprised it was today [that he got the offer]. I knew there were other schools that were very interested in Ty and he had a couple [Division I-AA] offers already. There were a lot of coaches that came by Fort Hill to talk to me about Ty, and I thought he would get a few [major] offers.
Maryland and Coach Chad Wilt did come by and he was interested, but not to the point where they were going to offer without him going to a camp. They wanted to see how well he ran and competed against other top-flight athletes down there. They didn't want to pull the trigger until he proved himself there.
I was a little surprised he committed so soon, but it is a great opportunity for him to play at the University of Maryland. It's the team I've always rooted for, and still do to this day. Ever since I was a kid I've been a Maryland fan, and I think it's great that the school is keeping a talented local like Ty home. Now I have even more reasons to buy tickets to their games.
TT: Can you break down Ty's game for us Coach? I know he can play slot, corner, kick returner, running back – all over the place…
TA: The first thing you need to know about Ty is he's very humble and hard working, and he's a winner. He doesn't really care where he plays, just as long as he's helping the team win. That's the biggest thing about Ty. His physical abilities are obvious with his speed and his ability to make plays, make guys miss and score whenever he touches the ball, but it's his want to win that really stands out. He's going to do whatever it takes for the team.
TT: Is there anything Ty needs to work on in particular with his craft right now?
TA: I can tell you this: If there is anything, he's going to work on it and get better. When I tell him something, when I say he needs to work on something, he gets after it. He really works at his game and his craft. So far, so good. From what I can see, I don't see a lot of negatives or drawbacks to his game at all. I think he's going to do very well in the Big Ten for Maryland.
TT: When did you first know Ty could be a high FBS talent? Was there a moment you saw that you can say, OK, he's a big-timer?
TA: I really don't get into looking at kids and saying, OK, this kid is going to be a Division I kid, this kid is going to be Division II. But I can say that after this season we put Ty's highlights on our webpage, and when I sat back and looked at it I was like, OK, he's got a chance to get some real looks. It's just touchdown after touchdown after touchdown after interception.
And colleges saw those highlights and started to come out to Fort Hill, which is big because it's off the beaten path. So for them to come out here to see Ty, you knew it was serious.
TT: What's Ty's background, Coach? Did he grow up in the area; is he originally from Cumberland?
TA: We're a very miniscule town in Western Maryland, and we take what we get up here. The kids up here, you know, they work very hard and they're tough. Ty is from here and has always lived here. It's nice to see the hard work he's put in translate into success, and I'd like to see more of that. That's what we do up here – we work. Hopefully he'll open the doors for other kids, because he showed that if you put your head down, get after it, and work, you'll be rewarded.
TT:What kind of a guy is Ty around his teammates? I know he's very humble, but what's he like in the locker room? Is he a leader?
TA: He's a leader through his actions. He was a junior last year, so his main role wasn't to be a vocal leader, but he did lead in the way he played. Kids saw how he worked, saw the plays he made, and they followed his example. Ty is the type of leader where he helps everyone around him get better because of the way he pushes himself and goes about his business.
And he takes the time to work with the eighth grade kids and show them what it takes to be successful. He doesn't have to do all that, but he makes sure they're on the right track. That shows you what kind of person he is.
TT:Any fun little anecdotes you can share with us about Ty? Any off the field stories to illustrate who he is?
TA: Not really anything specific. He's just a really humble, likable kid. There's really no story I can tell you, but I can say who he is as a person. He is not about stardom. He is not about "me." He's about working for the team, making the team better, and if he can use his personal talents and accolades in order to get a free education, well, that's great. But he's never going to advertize that kind of thing.
He just wants to play ball, get ready for the Division I level and go off to Maryland. I think he's going to excel there, and I'll have to buy a couple tickets to go see him.
Coach Speak: Todd Appel On Ty Johnson
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