Oseh-Lie Saine can finally realize his dream.
After spending the last year in football purgatory, taking classes at a gridiron-less community college in Rhode Island, the 6-foot-4, 270-pound post-grad defensive tackle has found a home at the FBS level.
“This is unbelievable, man. This past season, not being able to play football because of my SAT issues, it was killer. I was very angry, and all my friends and the people who supported me, they were all so happy for me that I’ve reached this point,” said Saine, most recently of Worcester Academy (Worcester, Mass.). “I’m just so happy, and so excited. All these people supporting me on social media, man, it means a lot. I’m just excited to have a home and a chance to play football at a high level, and get my education as well.”
Saine actually gave the Terps a verbal commitment back on Jan. 8, after head coach Randy Edsall let him know he had a committable scholarship offer. But before accepting said pledge, Saine had to visit College Park, Md., for the first time. Thus, he took his lone official Jan. 16-18, and left eager to return a week or so later for the spring semester.
“Coach Edsall, he was all excited. I basically was already committed, but I had to make it official by coming to campus and talking to him,” said Saine, who is set to enroll at Maryland Jan. 25 and has four years of eligibility. “I posted that I was committed on my Twitter, but the Maryland coaches didn’t even know I had done that. So I showed them [Jan. 17] and they were psyched. Coach Edsall, he did his thing of Twitter, putting out that double Pride thing – what is it, the Daily Double? (laughs)
“But, yeah man, the official was unreal. I mean, the players and coaches definitely showed us a good time -- going out to eat at nice restaurants and all that, and taking us all around D.C. and College Park. I mean, the players were great and they’re great people all the way around.”
Maryland linebacker Nnamdi Egbuaba played host to Saine during the trip, the Rhode Island product raving about him and the other Terps. Saine said he interacted with the likes of unofficial visitor Quarvez Boulware (Friendship Collegiate/Washington, D.C.), who ended up committing to Maryland Jan. 17, in addition to class of 2015 defensive tackle Adam McLean (Quince Orchard/Gaithersburg, Md.) -- another Maryland commitment on his official – and enjoyed meeting them and the other Terps. He mentioned how the players not only welcomed him in “like a brother,” but gave him plenty of insight into the program itself.
“Nnamdi, he hosted me. He was great. He has an African background, and so do I, so we really connected. He was telling me how much he loved it at Maryland and how it is there. He said the coaches really care about you and they want what’s best for you,” Saine said. “Then I was talking to Quarvez. He came in not committed, but he loved it so much he committed right then and there. Adam [McLean] was all over him; he did the heavy lifting on that one. But those two, they were great to talk to and hang out with. We got to know each other at the basketball game.
“Then, like, we were hanging out with Jacquille [Veii], and two other players -- Kingsley [Opara] and Josh Woods. We were hanging out, and we went to the basketball game together; that was a real good time. But, man, they were real welcoming, man. It’s like a family there. They’re all really, really cool, and they all said great things about Maryland and the coaches there.”
Speaking of coaches, Saine finally had a chance to meet the people he committed to in person during his 48-hour stay. Area recruiter Keith Dudzinski actually came up to visit Saine’s family the day before the defensive tackle flew down to College Park, but he had yet to exchange more than a few words with Edsall, defensive line coach Chad Wilt and Co.
The official was an opportunity to connect with the staff on a personal level, while also allowing Saine the opportunity to learn more about the Terps’ defense and how he’d fit in.
Saine said he’s being recruited as a weak-side end, and, should he earn it, a chance to have an early impact in the rotation. Maryland is graduating three starters off its defensive line, so players such as Saine, McLean and others could see the field as soon as next fall.
“Coach Edsall, he’s a very caring guy, and he’s all about the right things. When you talk to him, you can tell he genuinely cares about you. And, really, that’s all you can ask for from your coach – that he has your back. He was telling me how the program is getting better, and he believes I can be a big part of that. That was awesome, just hearing that from the head coach,” Saine said. “And Coach Keith and Coach Wilt, they’re both great guys. Unreal guys. Coach Keith, I got to know him the most out of everyone, because he recruited me and came up to see me, but Coach Wilt, man, I love that guy. Just talking to him, he makes you want to jump up and start playing football right then and there. He’s going to get the best out of me for sure. And Coach Keith, he’s my guy. He was the main one who has been in touch with me, and he’s a really great guy.”
Saine went on to detail his meeting with Wilt, and specifically what will be expected of him once he hits the field in College Park.
“Coach Wilt, he has me as a left-side end, but it changes depending on what’s going on on the field. So, you know, we’ll see. Strongside, weakside -- I can play both,” Saine said. “But he was telling me I’m coming into a situation where I can get a lot of playing time right away. I know I’m going to have to work for it though, so I’m coming in ready to grind.”
Of course, beings that it was his first time on campus, Saine wanted to get a true feel for College Park. He also ventured over to nearby Washington, D.C., for a tour of the nation’s capital, as well as a steak dinner at Ruth’s Chris. Saine then spent a good deal of time hanging out in the dorms and dining halls, meeting athletes and regular students alike too. He specifically mentioned the locker room and Byrd Stadium as two facilities that caught his eye, in addition to the New Cole indoor practice fields he was shown.
“The school, I was actually blown away. Everything was brand new, and on top of that they’re adding on all this great stuff, like that new indoor facility -- it’s going to be great,” Saine said. “I saw the videos and tutorials, and it looks really great.
The dorms were awesome, and I saw the locker room too, which was really nice. I got to try on the jerseys and see all the Under Armour stuff; I had to post a picture of that on social media immediately (laughs).
“But, honestly, just the people there man. It’s the people that really made the place. It’s just really great people there.”
Saine spoke to several academic advisors as well. He said he wants to major in communications, noting Maryland’s renowned program in that field, and the numerous internship opportunities available thanks to the school’s location near D.C..
He also mentioned the football staff’s attentiveness in regards to player education, and how he’ll have plenty of classroom help should he require it.
“Education, that’s one thing they kept talking about. That’s really big with Coach Edsall and Maryland,” Saine said. “That’s a big thing for me too, just getting my degree. I know Maryland definitely has my back with academics, and I’ll get a great education there.”
Saine’s commitment concluded Maryland’s long, arduous search for a junior college defensive lineman. The Terps dabbled with the likes of Deonte Reynolds (Contra Costa/San Pablo, Calif.), Anthony Fotu (Laney/Oakland, Calif.) and Ulric Jones (Butler/El Dorado, Kans.), among others, back during the summer, but nothing came to fruition.
Eventually, the Terps’ Chad Wilt jumped back on Jones during the late-fall open period, practically securing a verbal commitment from the Alabama native. But after Jones officially visited College Park, something went awry, and he ended up committing to South Carolina instead.
Around the same time, Wilt identified another potential impact defensive lineman in Poplaville, Miss, tackle Drew Bailey from Pearl River C.C. Bailey raved about UMD following the Terps’ offer, and practically called them the team to beat in late November. Bailey then followed up with an official visit, and said College Park was everything he expected and more.
But Bailey also had just landed a coveted Louisville offer, which turned out to be a game-changer, the 6-5, 282-pounder popping to the Cardinals over the Terps on Dec. 14.
Turns out, third time was the charm. Saine took his official and followed through with his previously-stated intention to commit.
“All I had to do was just shore everything up,” Saine said. “No doubts, no backing out. Now I’m ready to work, I’m ready to help the team, and I’m going to do what I do. I’m ready to do big things next year, that’s for sure.”
Saine, who was born in Silver Spring, Md., but grew up in Lincoln, R.I., after spending eight years in Gambia (he played basketball and soccer during his time there), starred at Lincoln High during his prep days. But academic issues forced Saine to attend Worcester Prep Academy (Worcester, Mass.) for a year. Saine, who was introduced to American football during the seventh grade, had originally committed to Boston College coming out of Lincoln and remained a firm Eagles pledge all the way through his time at Worcester.
But, according to the burly tackle, the BC staff had concerns about Saine’s viability in the school’s rigorous academic program, and the two sides parted ways. As a result, Saine was left without a place to continue his career. He enrolled at the Community College of Rhode Island to stay in “school mode,” while enlisting two different personal trainers to help him stay in shape, both in the weight room and on the field.
All the while, Saine’s mentor, Norm Kelly, actively contacted college assistants from around the country, letting them know he had a diamond in the rough waiting to be uncovered in Northeast Rhode Island. Naturally, many coaches dismissed Kelly’s claims, while others took a wait-and-see approach in order to gauge Saine’s academic situation.
At the forefront were Wake Forest and Maryland, two schools that had failed to land a few of their other top targets and were in need of experienced beef up front. And once Saine met NCAA requirements, making him eligible to enroll in a four-year university for this coming spring semester, both the Deacons (first into the fray) and Terps (a couple days later) anted up.
It didn’t take long for Saine to make up his mind. As soon as he spoke to Keith Dudzinksi, Chad Wilt and Randy Edsall, he told them he’d love to join the program.
All he needed to do was visit College Park and shake the headman’s hand.
Saine did just that Jan. 18.
“I want to accomplish a lot of things at Maryland,” Saine said. “I want to help the program now and in the future, and I want to do my best to represent the school. I think I can do a lot of big things there, and I’m ready to get down there next Sunday [Jan. 25].”
Saine Sold On Terps, Ready To Report To CP
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