Maryland secured a commitment from DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) class of 2016 running back Lorenzo Harrison Sept. 3, and afterwards we spoke to his head coach, Elijah Brooks, to gain more insight into the 5-foot-8, 185-pounder.
Here’s our question-and-answer session with Brooks:
Terrapin Times: Coach, it’s been six years since DeMatha has sent a player to Maryland. Not since Coach [Bill] McGregor was there have the Stags had anyone heading to College Park. What does it mean to you to send your first guy to the Terps?
Elijah Brooks: Oh man, it’s a great feeling for everyone. It’s something that’s great for DeMatha, great for Maryland and hopefully the first of many. It really is a great honor.
TT: So could this be the start of another pipeline from DeMatha to Maryland, almost like you guys had going with UVA a few years back?
EB: It definitely could be. Sometimes all it takes is one to get the ball rolling. Lorenzo is definitely well respected in our program and well liked. His [commitment] could go a long way with some of the guys around here. Guys like Tino [Ellis], Terrance [Davis], they definitely like Maryland, and some of the younger players, they look up to a guy like Lorenzo. So it could definitely be the start of something.
TT: I know you’ve heard the banter about how people felt there might have been a rift between DeMatha and Maryland, like there was something going on between the two schools. What was that all about, and does this commitment sort of change that perception?
EB: I mean, Coach [Randy] Edsall and I have a fine relationship, and me and Coach [Mike] Locksley are pretty close. We know what the perception was, we all heard it, but it wasn’t … anything we [DeMatha] were doing. We understood what was [being said] out there, and we didn’t necessarily like it because we [at DeMatha] knew it wasn’t true. We’re just glad to send a player like Lorenzo to Maryland, and hopefully it helps the communities’ [perception] at both DeMatha and Maryland.
TT: Could you break down Lorenzo’s game for us Coach? What does he bring to the table, and then what does he still need to work on to take his game up another notch?
EB: Just based on his running style and frame, he’s very similar to guys like Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice – guys who are shorter but that are very explosive and powerful. He can run between the tackles, he has excellent speed to get to the edge, he can line up as a receiver in the inside slot and do great things for you, and he’s also very effective in the return game. With his speed and toughness, he brings a lot to the table. And I think with all young running backs, he has to work on his pass protection because they’re not doing it as often as they will have to [in college]. But ultimately he’ll get there.
TT: Coach, I know LoLo was a known name coming out of the Grassroots League. When did you first identify him as someone you wanted to recruit and when did you know he could be a special talent?
EB: I’ve known Lorenzo for a very long time, even before middle school. I had worked him out a couple times when I was just the strength coach at DeMatha. So I’ve been aware of him for years, and it’s just great to see him progress and reach his goals. … And it wasn’t just his measurables. It was his heart, his competitiveness, his level of competition – he competed at a very high level at a young age – and I knew that could translate into him being a successful player for us.
TT: Obviously LoLo’s first two years he had to share the backfield with other top backs like Taiwan Deal. This is his first year as a feature back, the go-to guy so to speak. I know he’s going to miss a few games with the elbow injury, but is this the year he has to put it all together and realize his potential?
EB: Definitely. He’s been behind some guys the last couple years, and this is the year he steps to the forefront. He had a minor setback with the elbow, but we know once he returns he’ll be in top form. We expect him to really step up and take on the full load and prove he can be that every-down back. He definitely has that potential to be a workhorse type of back.
TT: So at the next level, is he someone that can come into college, like a Ray Rice going to Rutgers, a three-star guy who goes into a program and becomes one of the top backs in college football?
EB: I do believe the sky is the limit with Lorenzo. We can’t control ratings, but it’s tough to find a lot of guys that bring to the table what he does, from a character standpoint and a physical standpoint. I’m confident that Lorenzo, regardless of what they have him rated as, will perform at the highest level. Maryland is getting a fantastic player and a fantastic young man.
TT: Right, just talking to LoLo he seems like a very level-headed, cerebral kid. Even when he was younger, he seemed to carry himself like an upperclassman…
EB: Well, he carries a 3.5 GPA, he takes honors classes, and he is extremely bright. He has a great knowledge of the game. He’s not a very vocal kid, but he really does lead by example, and his work-ethic is something a lot of guys follow. He’s always in the weight room, and he’s one of our strongest players pound-for-pound.
TT: Is there a moment you can point to, either on or off the field, that sort of illustrates that? Sort of shows the kind of leader he was even at a young age?
EB: Yes, his freshman year we’re playing Good Counsel in the championship and we had to make a decision which running back would execute a two-point play at a crucial point in the game. We had guys who were older and who could do it, but we trusted Lorenzo. We called his number in the championship game as a freshman, and he took it right into the end zone. … And he actually had a few carries that first year as well, which is unheard of in our program. So we knew right away this was a special talent and someone who could be a leader for us.
Coach Speak: Elijah Brooks on LoLo Harrison
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