The hometown movement is alive and humming.
The Maryland Terrapins now have three significant class of 2016 local recruits in toe with athlete Darryl Turner (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) committing to the Terps Jan. 24 while on a College Park, Md., campus visit. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Turner, who could play either slot or cornerback in college, joined teammate Lorenzo Harrison and rival Keandre Jones (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.) in the Terps’ underclassmen commit crop, giving head coach Randy Edsall his word following a meeting.
“I just had a meeting with Coach Edsall and he asked me what I thought and I told him 'I'm coming.' Maryland is where I wanted to be all along. I knew I wanted to go there before I got the offer,” said Turner, who was accompanied by his parents during the trip. “I’ve been high on them for a long time, and I’m pretty excited. I think Maryland is a great fit and the program is moving in the right direction. I think the future is bright if all of us from the DMV go to Maryland; I think we can win championships here, definitely.
“But just like the feeling of staying home and representing the school you grew up watching – that means a lot to me. I mean, I was born in Prince George’s County, I was raised in Prince George’s County and I’ve lived in Prince George’s County all my life. I feel like I can do big things at Maryland and represent the county I was raised in.”
Maryland had been trending for Turner long before he even held an offer (Jan. 18), and now that he’s on board, he thinks the Terps will start trending for his uncommitted friends as well. While there were plenty of reasons Turner wanted to be a Terp, one of the foremost was the chance to line up alongside those he’s known since his days in the Grassroots Youth League.
“It will be great to play with Lo at the next level; we talked about that a lot. He always talks about Maryland, but he didn’t even really have to push me there, because he knew I liked the school a whole lot already,” said Turner, who also held offers from ODU, Western Michigan, UMass, Toledo and Army. “Then you’ve got Keandre [Jones] there too, and we got Tino [Ellis] and Terrance [Davis] who we’re trying to get on board with UMD. It will be really exciting and we can do some big things if we stick together.”
Even before Turner befriended the likes of a Lolo Harrison, he had been intrigued by the hometown Terps, noting how he grew up a fan of the team and how both his mother and father attended the university. He had attended multiple games at Byrd Stadium, while participating in camps and junior days as well.
Turner even went as far as to say he would consider committing to Maryland on the spot should a firm offer materialize.
Edsall presented said offer Jan. 18, which was Turner’s birthday, and though the DeMatha star didn’t snap up the scholarship right then, he hinted it was only a matter of time.
Six days to be exact.
“Me and my family really wanted to see Maryland quick and wanted to get up there as soon as possible,” Turner said. “I just got the offer [Jan. 18], and this was our first available time to get up there. We were all really excited to get to meet Coach Edsall, the rest of the coaching staff and see all the facilities there. We all love it up at Maryland and think it’s a great fit. I know my parents are excited they can see my games right down the street. I can't pick one thing that happened today [Jan. 24] that stood out, because it was all great.”
During the visit, Turner and his parents toured College Park, met with a couple academic advisors, talked to a couple current Terps, and chatted with area recruiter Mike Locksley, Edsall and other staff members. While Turner pretty much knew what UMD was about, the trip assured both him and his family the school right down the street was an ideal option.
“This was my parents first time up there and they were really excited about it,” said Turner, who wants to major in cyber security at Maryland. “They’re upgrading a lot of the facilities, putting in the new indoor facility and all that, and it all looks really nice. The locker rooms, the stadium – it’s all great. And the coaches there, Coach Edsall, Coach Locksley, they’re great. I know guys up there like Cavon Walker, Yannick [Ngakoue], Derwin [Gray] and Taivon Jacobs, and I know all those guys love Maryland. It’s like a real family atmosphere up there with the players and coaches.
“And I definitely feel comfortable there, because it’s right down the street from DeMatha and my home. I know all the good restaurants around there, the good barber shops – it’s like a second home for me.”
Maryland’s close proximity to his Prince George’s County house certainly played a role in Turner’s decision, as he noted how he wanted his parents and friends to witness his home games. But, really, the comfort level he developed on campus and around the coaches made a much greater difference.
Locksley, for instance, is a constant presence at DeMatha during open recruiting periods and has known Turner and his teammates since his freshman year. The two have maintained consistent contact on social media, and figure to continue that moving forward
“Coach Locksley, he actually came up to my school [Jan. 23] just to see what was up. And then later I gave him some information about my parents and stuff like that. He was real excited to have me on board,” Turner said. “I’ve known Coach Locksley for a few years now and he’s a real cool dude. He’s probably one of the coolest coaches I’ve ever met. I can tell he’s a real straightforward guy, too, and anything he tells you is definitely the truth. I like that about him. And I can tell he has a lot planned for Maryland in the future and me too. He’s an exciting guy.”
Prior to even Locksley getting wind of him, Turner was starring in Mike Anderson’s Grassroots League. The 5-10 athlete began playing football when he was five years old and was quickly tabbed as a potential star in the making.
“My parents used to tell me a story about how when they brought me home from the hospital after I was born, my older brother was trying to put me in a 3-point stance right away,” Turner said, chuckling. “I was about five or six before I actually put the pads on, but I’ve been playing this game for a long, long time now.”
Turner developed quickly during his youth league days, and private school powers such as Gilman (Baltimore, Md.), Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) and others all recruited Turner, but he elected to join Elijah Brooks and the DeMatha Stags.
“All the big-time schools wanted me around here, but I really didn’t look anywhere else besides DeMatha, because my brother, Charles Hayes, who is now at Rhode Island, went to DeMatha,” Turner said. “I knew from Day One I wanted to go to DeMatha. I’m pretty proud that me and Lo, and hopefully Terrance and Tino, can represent DeMatha at Maryland now too.”
During his first year in Hyattsville, Turner played freshman ball, contributing as a slot receiver and cornerback. After earning a promotion to varsity the next fall, Turner started at slot, learning from the likes of Stags senior receivers Chris Jones and Cam Phillips.
His 2014 campaign, however, was the breakout. A two-way playmaker, Turner recorded five interceptions as a defensive back, while leading the team in receptions, racking up close to 700 receiving yards and scoring 10 touchdowns as a slot receiver.
Now, he’ll look to replicate or top those numbers in 2015, before heading to College Park the season after.
“I feel like I’ve done pretty well so far, but there’s still plenty I can work on,” Turner said. “I can’t just sit around and be satisfied; I have to keep working and grinding to take my game to the next level.”
Turner previously said the Terps liked him at safety, but he said Edsall is bringing him in as an athlete, with his position to be determined later.
“I feel like I bring a lot of excitement to the games, and I’m a very explosive player and I can make plays all over the field,” Turner said. “I definitely feel like I can help Maryland no matter what side of the ball they put me on. I don’t have a preference for position; I’ll go out there and make plays no matter where I’m at. I think I can help them get some wins and win a championship.
Turner’s pledge could potentially spark a run of hometown “pops.” It took five months after Harrison committed for the next local recruit (Jones) to jump on the Pride bandwagon, and almost two months after Jones’ pledge for Turner to join in. But the vibe is now it may not take nearly as long for some of the DMV’s best to set off the Edsall #MarylandPride bat signal.
Receiver Tino Ellis, yet another DeMatha Stag, has hinted he’s nearing a college decision, while four-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.) could be close behind. The Terps are in position for DeMatha offensive guard Terrance Davis and Avalon (Gaithersburg, Md.) cornerback Trevon Diggs as well.
Down the line, should the DMV-to-UMD trend continue, Maryland could very well be in line for the likes of four-star defensive tackle Ellison Jordan (Gilman/Baltimore, Md.), four-star offensive tackle Jauan Williams (Carroll/Washington, D.C.) four-star guard Richard Merritt (Carroll), three-star linebacker Keith Simms (Landon/Bethesda, Md.), three-star lineman Devery Hamilton (Gilman) and maybe even four-star defensive end Terrell Hall (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.)
“Guys like Tino, Terrance, Dwayne -- you can tell they like Maryland a lot. They’re just waiting for some things to pop off with other recruits,” Turner said. “And now I definitely think I can get things started being on board. I feel like Dwayne or Tino should be next to commit to Maryland, and Terrance will probably be last, but I think he’ll commit to Maryland too. Everybody likes Maryland a lot, and I think they all see what’s going on here. There’s an opportunity to do something big here for your hometown school.”
Turner's A Terp, Keeps DMV Movement Humming
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