The Terps have had their eye on a number of DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) recruits, and class of 2016 offensive lineman Elijah Johnson became the latest Stag to pull a hometown scholarship. The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder heard from his head coach, Elijah Brooks, April 24 that Maryland’s staff had evaluated him and had decided to offer.
“I was really excited about it. Finally, I got one from the hometown school,” said Johnson, who also holds verbals from West Virginia, Boston College, Rutgers, Wake Forest, UConn, Temple, ODU, Western Michigan, Umass and others. “It’s a real good feeling to know that the local school wants you. It’s been a longtime coming.”
Johnson said UMD area recruiter Mike Locksley stopped by DeMatha April 21 to watch the team workout. Both the Terps’ offensive coordinator and the Stags’ lineman then exchanged messages on Twitter, the former letting the latter know Maryland head coach Randy Edsall was highly interested in extending the scholarship. Less than 72 hours later, Edsall had deemed Johnson offer-worthy.
“Coach Locksley said the staff evaluated me and they wanted me to play offensive tackle for them,” Johnson said. “Coach Locks said I got off the ball well and showed good explosion. He said I’d be a great fit [at Maryland].
“Then I had a good, long talk with Coach Edsall too. He was telling me how I’d love it at Maryland and how I have to get down there to check it all out.”
Which Johnson plans to do in the next few weeks. He said he hasn’t been in College Park, Md., since last fall, when DeMatha played in Byrd Stadium for the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship, so he’s looking forward to returning.
“I’ve been up there maybe four or five times for football purposes, but it’s been awhile,” Johnson said. “But I have seen the campus before and I have family that works there. My great uncle and my other uncle actually work in the engineering program there, so I’ve been up before just to visit them.
“But besides that, I haven’t really seen all that’s going on there. I’ve heard they’re building new facilities and all that, so I’ve got to check it out. I’m going up with my family probably in May, or maybe in June.”
Johnson went on to say he likes that UMD isn’t far from home, competes in the Big Ten and has solid academics. He mentioned one of the main reasons he’s considering Maryland, though, is his relationship with Locksley.
“Coach Locks is always up at DeMatha, and we message each other on Twitter all the time,” Johnson said. “We talk about how I’m doing, football, and just stay in touch. He’s a great guy and we have a great relationship.”
The DeMatha lineman has also heard plenty about the Terps from two of his teammates, Maryland pledges D.J. Turner and LoLo Harrison.
“D.J. and Lo, they talk about Maryland all the time,” Johnson said. “They say Maryland is where it’s at and it’s a program on the rise. So now that I have the option to go there, I’ll be paying even more attention to what they’re saying.
“They talk about the whole DMV-to-UMD thing, and I think that’s pretty cool. Getting all the local guys to stay home, that’s cool.”
Johnson doesn’t have any clear leaders yet, but he said now that the Terps are in play “they’re definitely up there.”
Others firmly in the game include WVU, Rutgers and possibly Wake Forest, in addition to prominent suitors that may emerge during the evaluation period/camp season.
“I visited Rutgers and really liked that. That’s one of the schools that’s caught my eye,” Johnson said. “Wake Forest, that was a really nice place. And West Virginia, they’re kind of standing out for me right now. The feel there, mainly, I really liked it. I like the school, the coaches and the atmosphere [at WVU].”
The Stags’ tackle said he doesn’t plan on selecting a school anytime soon. He intends to go through the recruiting process and commit “whenever it feels right,” noting it could be before or after his senior season.
He has no visits planned for now, other than a trip to Maryland.
Johnson said schools are recruiting him at all three line positions. He’s played all over the O-line at DeMatha and mentioned he’s comfortable at guard, center or tackle.
“The position really doesn’t matter to me. Most coaches think I can help them at any spot on the line,” Johnson said. “I think right now my strength is coming off the ball low and hard, and just being explosive. But I have to get stronger and keep working on my footwork and technique.”
Terps After Another DeMatha Stag
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