SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- For a guy who called himself Dec. 27 at the posh Hotel Nikko in downtown San Francisco -- site of the Terps Foster Farms Bowl presser Dec. 27 with Stanford -- a "no-name recruit with only one offer coming out of high school," well Maryland senior middle linebacker Cole Farrand has come a long way.
One of three players chosen by Coach Randy Edsall to represent the team at the presser event following the Terps' morning practice in Oakland, Farrand was lauded by his coach for his leadership, toughness, and desire to "play the game the right way."
Farrand not only leads the Terps in tackles with 111 but picked up both honorable mention all-Big Ten honors as well as league academic accolades, too. Farrand is also one of three Terps seniors that have been invited to next month's East-West Shrine Senior Bowl All-Star Game in Florida, the nation's second most prestigious event of its kind.
Maryland's active leading tackler with 276 stops, Farrand represents (as did Brad Craddock and C.J. Brown at the event) everything Edsall envisions in a team player, and yet another Terp that overcame injuries to lead the team. But it hardly came easy, or overnight, as the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Green Pond, N.J., native built himself into a tackling machine and run-stuffer-deluxe at College Park from those humble beginnings when Maryland was the only big school to offer Farrand out of Pope John XXII High School four years ago.
"I am really happy with where I am at right now," Farrand said. "I don't think I was a highly-touted recruit coming out [of high school], and the three-stars? I think they just felt bad for me. I mean I had one college offer. And that's the one I took and it turned out fantastic for me. It couldn't have turned out any better."
Farrand will be needed, as always, to plug the run, this time against stout Stanford in this week's bowl game. And he's been stirring it up at Terps bowl practices this week along with fellow 'backer Matt Robinson, with the offense and defense enjoying some good-natured "whoofing," and Farrand's nose for the ball disrupting plays. He went from a freshman that played in nine games at Maryland registering just three tackles, to 78, 84 and now 111 stops the enusing three years.
Farrand paused to reflect on his career this week, but for the present was soaking up all the city, where so many Terps had never been before, had to offer as well.
"It's just been a highlight travelling here," Farrand said of the San Francisco experience. "I have never been this far west before, it's a beautiful city, and it has a lot to offer. I was driving on one of the hills and had never seen anything so steep before. I have never seen cable cars before, never seen sea lions before, and from the distance I have seen the Golden Gate and Alcatraz for the first time. I mean, the trip here is just the highlight, it's beautiful as heck."
Farrand's parents will make the trek out as well for the game, and son Cole can't wait to play in it. He's rooming this week with freshman kicker Adam Greene, and has enjoyed exploring the city every moment he can away from the football commitments. He's still the kind of guy who would rather just go play than talk a lot about it, and one that appreciates the simple things, like a new and iconic city to go explore.
"We are all definitely really excited," Farrand said. "You don't get to come out and play Stanford very often, and it's the first Pac 12 team I have played against. It's exciting. And the weather is beautiful, you're not breathing in cold air all the time and it's not raining like it is all the time in Maryland. So we're just excited and ready to go."
Farrand's pursuit to the ball and tackling ability (see his frequent 19, 18 and 17-tackle games over the years, not to mention his career-best 23 stops against Clemson despite a broken hand and concussion as a junior) have been his calling card. He's hoping to end on an equally high note as one of 16 seniors/juniors that graduated this month.
"I just always want to make the play," Farrand said. "I think that is part of the reason why I had games like that. I don't like anyone standing in my way."
Farrand said what he wants to work the most on for the next level is his footwork and strength, and point up "all the little things you got to perfect for the next level."
But this week he will have his hands full with Stanford's physical, downhill attack.
"They have a very good offense, we're definitely preparing for the run. We know they like to run the ball and want the ball in their hands the majority of the time. So that's the biggest thing, making sure they don't run the ball," Farrand said. "So we got a challenge ahead of us, but I don't think it's anything we can't handle."
Looking ahead to the all-star game,on Jan. 17, Farrand will report for a week's camp on the 10th. He will be joined by teammates Darius Kilgo and Deon Long.
"I mean, it's a great honor," Farrand said. "You work to get into one of those high-class senior bowls, and it's definitely one of the better ones. It's an opportunity I am excited about, to go down there and showcase my talents to a lot of scouts. So it is going to be a great experience."
As he looked forward to the week in San Francisco, Farrand wistfully said he'd "love to see the Redwoods, but I don't think we have time for that."
If Farrand keeps overachieving, from those humble roots he keeps in the back of his mind, no doubt he will continue to climb higher.
Farrand Has Come A Long Way
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