Harrison Ends DeMatha Drought, Ready For UMD

The drought is finally over. For the first time since 2009, when Maryland signed DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) lineman Pete DeSouza, the Terps have another Stag in the fold. Three-star junior running back Lorenzo Harrison, a 5-foot-8, 185-pound mighty-mite who has long been high on the hometown school, committed to UMD Sept. 3, almost two years before his class' Signing Day.

The drought is finally over. For the first time since 2009, when Maryland signed DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) lineman Pete DeSouza, the Terps have another Stag in the fold. Three-star junior running back Lorenzo Harrison, a 5-foot-8, 185-pound mighty-mite who has long been high on the hometown school, committed to UMD Sept. 3, almost two years before his class’ Signing Day.

“I’ve known where I wanted to go to school for a long time now, it was just a matter of when I was going to announce it,” said Harrison, who also held offers from Hawaii, ODU and UVA. “Actually, I was going to [announce] after our team’s season opener, but I ended up hurting my elbow at the game and decided to delay it. Basically, I just wanted to stay home [for college], and I figured there was no sense delaying [my commitment] any longer. Maryland is where I’ve wanted to be for a long while.”

A heady, aware recruit, Harrison knew all about the social media and message board banter surrounding the perceived rift between DeMatha and Maryland. Numerous elite Stags prospects the last half-decade have opted to take their talents to programs like Virginia, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State and the like, even though the school 10 minutes away pursued in earnest.

Although Harrison wasn’t setting out to be a trendsetter by choosing the Terps, he knows the significance of his commitment -- and what it could potentially mean down the road.

“I did hear all about that [supposed rift], and I think it’s big on my part to sort of end the talk,” Harrison said. “I see myself as a leader, someone who can get this right. I’m glad that [DeMatha and Maryland] can build that rapport again. Whatever was going on between the two schools, and I don’t know what that exactly was, I’m just glad it’s over now and I’m glad I could be the one to end it. Hopefully we can start that [DeMatha to Maryland] pipeline again.

“I’m trying to get Tino [Ellis], Terrance [Davis] and even Shane [Simmons] on board with the Terps, although I think Shane is 100 percent committed to Penn State. Tino and Terrance definitely like Maryland though.”

The DeMatha product, though, said the main draw was playing in front of his loved ones and representing his state. He thoroughly bought into the stay-home movement during his numerous College Park visits, listening to overtures from current Terps like Wes Brown and Stefon Diggs.

“I’m real close to my family, and I want them to see my games. Playing in front of my friends and family is something special,” Harrison said. “And they say top programs keep the top local kids home, so I figured it’s time to start that back up here at Maryland. I really think with all the talent around here, if we [locals] do all stay home, we can turn [UMD] into a championship team.”

Harrison went on to describe some of the other reasons he chose to end his recruitment so early. He said he had a terrific, long-standing relationship with his recruiter, Mike Locksley and believes he’ll fit well into Maryland’s zone-read offense.

“Coach Locksley is a real cool guy. I’ve known him since before I got to DeMatha; he knew me in the Grassroots leagues,” Harrison said. “It was relatively big for me [his relationship with Locksley], because he’s my offensive coordinator too. So when he tells me he’s going to get me the ball in space and let me be a playmaker, I believe him. He’s the guy calling the shots.

“And I really think I fit well into Maryland’s system. It’s kind of like a spread where they get their playmakers the ball.”

Head coach Randy Edsall’s message, the Big Ten and the home-like feel of College Park helped sway Harrison as well.

“I think Coach Edsall is a really good coach and he has them on the right track,” Harrison said. “And I love the Big Ten move, and I think that’s a really competitive conference, and it’s the kind of competition I want to play against.”

The Stags’ stalwart has been at UMD about 10 times during the last couple years. He said it’s become a home-away-from-home for him.

“It’s really nice there and it feels like home…. It’s a really nice campus,” said Harrison, who will be attending the UMD-WVU game coming up. “And the academics … it’s a very good school. They have my major; I want to study criminal justice and they have a great program for that.”

Although Harrison sounded as sold on the Terps as can be, recruiting is often very fluid, ebbing and flowing up until Signing Day. There is still more than a year until Harrison signs, so it begs the question, Could anything change his current pledge?

“I’m 100 percent right now,” Harrison said. “I can’t really even think of anything that could change my mind. I’m not looking for bigger offers or anything like that. And even if [UMD] doesn’t do so well [this season], I know I won’t be there for another two years so there’s time to turn things around. So I’m all Maryland.”

Harrison is coming off a season where he rushed for almost 800 yards and 12 touchdowns on just 70 carries. He only had five totes and one kick return for 70 total yards during the season opener this year due to the aforementioned elbow injury.

The three-star recruit actually began playing football in elementary school and developed quite a following as a youngster. With breakaway speed and ankle-breaking moves, not to mention a stout frame similar to Ravens running back Ray Rice, he became a youth-league star by middle school. His exploits in the Grassroots League program, headed by former Terp Mike Anderson, have been well-documented, and Harrison seemed destined for stardom even before he entered high school.

So far, through two years at DeMatha, he’s shown flashes of his potential, and this season as the feature back hopes to fully realize those expectations.

“The No. 1 thing I bring to the table is toughness,” said Harrison. “I can take it up the middle, and running through the tackles is the strongest part of my game… But I bring quickness too, and I can make guys miss and run by guys in the open field. And I can catch the ball out of the backfield, run routes and just be a playmaker.”

And in two years, he’s hoping to make those same types of plays in College Park.

“That’s right,” Harrison said. “Go Terps.”
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