Maryland is displaying some major mojo on the recruiting trail, and the Terps now may be closing in on their top running back target. Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) jack-of-all-trades DeShawn McClease, who had UMD among his top three suitors along with Virginia Tech and North Carolina, just announced that not only was he moving up his decision date from late August/early fall, but he was only considering two primary schools.
"It's Maryland and Virginia Tech," said the 5-foot-10, 178-pound McClease, a three-star with offers from the Terps, Hokies, Tar Heels, Wake Forest, Indiana, Louisville, Purdue, Temple and others. "Those are the two schools that I've been looking at the longest and have shown the most interest in me in this process. With North Carolina, I liked them, but I really didn't have a relationship with them and I really can't consider a school that doesn't have real interest in me.
"I was going to wait and see some other schools, but I'm kind of getting tired of the whole recruiting thing. I'm about ready to commit, like in the next week or so. No one is really pressuring me [to commit], but I know what schools I like and I'm almost ready to make my decision."
McClease, of course, was just at Maryland for the first time May 24. He admitted the visit vaulted the Terps up a few notches and perhaps even into the lead for his services. Since then he has taken no other trips, and does not have any firm visits scheduled.
"I just loved the whole atmosphere at Maryland. I honestly can't say anything bad about that school," McClease said. " I love the coaches, the facilities, the business professors, the campus – things like that.
"One thing I really liked about Maryland when I visited is it's right near the city and the campus itself has a city feel. So, like, if it's the offseason and I'm working out there I feel like I could really enjoy myself. There's a lot to do right there."
The Oscar Smith back went on to laud the new facility plans, players' dorms and the "sweet" Under Armour uniforms. He said the opportunity to play Big Ten ball is "a huge plus," while he has a terrific rapport with area recruiter Chad Wilt and running backs coach Andre Powell as well.
"I feel like Coach Wilt and Coach Powell are good men and coaches. Coach Wilt is a really good guy to talk to and he has a great personality, and Coach Powell, he's great too," McClease said. "[Powell] really wants me there and thinks I can do big things for Maryland. He said he needs me there; he's really pushing for me."
McClease went on to say that Maryland is a chance to play early and in an offense he could see himself in. He said Mike Locksley's zone-read fits his style and he could envision himself making plays in College Park.
"Playing early isn't something that I'm totally focusing on because there's still areas I need to improve on. But it would definitely help if I could get on the field right away," McClease said. "So I think I could get to see the field fairly soon at Maryland, and I like how their backs are used in different ways too. I can pound the ball, but I get out in space and make plays in the open field too, and I like how Maryland lets their [running backs] do that."
The Terps, though, do have one running back on board in Deltron Sands (Aquinas/Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.). McClease knows all about him and said the fact UMD has one other back doesn't bother him.
"I'm not really worried about that. No matter where you go you're going to have to compete," McClease said. "There's always going to be competition. I'm not going to back down from competition.
"Maryland told me when [Sands] committed what the deal was. They gave me the run down and said they're taking one more back. They want me to be that back."
Virginia Tech wants him to be their back too. McClease has been considered a Tech favorite and has held a Hokies offer since last year. He also has a strong rapport with the staff and knows plenty of current players.
"I got the jump on Tech early, because I was up there before Maryland even offered me," McClease said. "I have a relationship with guys there from the 757, and I have a good relationship with the coaching staff. It's a great school academically too."
Right now McClease said both Tech and Maryland are even in his eyes. He isn't sure what factors are going to separate them as he noted how there are plenty of positives surrounding each.
In an ideal world, McClease would like to return to Tech (he hasn't been there in months) and Maryland in order to compare the two again. But he's unsure if that will happen as he hasn't set up any trips yet.
"Honestly, I really can't say which way [I'm leaning]," said McClease, who still plans to graduate early and major in business. "I can't give either one the edge yet. But I'll know soon. I'm getting close."
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