The Terps landed a commitment from 6-foot-6, 300-pound offensive tackle Terek Zingale (Nordonia/Macedonia, Ohio) May 16, and afterwards we spoke to his head coach, Jeff Fox, about him. Here's our question-and-answer session with Fox:
Terrapin Times: Coach, talking to Terek a few days ago, he sounded like someone that was going to go through the process and maybe wait until later this summer to commit. Then all of a sudden two days later he's committing to Maryland. Were you surprised?
Jeff Fox: No. Ever since his visit I knew he was in love with it. He and his parents hit it off with Coach Stud, Coach Studrawa the offensive line coach. I could tell that Maryland was definitley his No. 1 choice. The only reason to keep it open is if the big boys of our region were to come in like Michigan State or Ohio State, but I think he's very comfortable now.
I think he was like, 'I'm hanging around for no reason.' Maryland was definitely where he felt comfortable and felt at home, and he's excited about what Maryland has to offer. I had a conversation with him [May 16] and he seemed really, really excited to be a Terp.
TT: Now, Terek is pretty good from what we can tell. What happens if an Ohio State or Michigan State eventually comes through?
JF: I’m pretty confident he's on board with Maryland right now, but who knows? We'll cross that bridge when it comes. Terek isn't actively seeking it out. Within our high school program we have had the pleasure this past season to have a couple other kids get recruited, and I'm proud of all of them. And when they say they commit, that’s what they mean. So if something does happen down the road, we'll cross that bridge, but as of right now Terek is extremely excited about Maryland.
TT: Just watching Terek's film, I know it's just highlights, but still, it's a little surprising some of those upper-tier Big Ten teams haven't gotten involved yet. Can you give some insight into that?
JF: Yeah, he didn’t even play varsity for us as a sophomore. If you pay close enough attention to the film, he was really figuring it out throughout his junior year. But he's been the beneficiary of one of our greatest seasons ever last year, and we got to extend our season into the playoffs, and Terek improved every week. He's still a developmental player, though.
He's grown from about 240 pounds as a sophomore to 270, 275 his junior year, and we weighed him in at 304 last week. And it's an athletic 304. He's also 6-6, and he’s still growing. But Terek is still developing and growing, so that's probably why he wasn’t as well-known.
But who knows? It’s kind of a testament to how this process is, it’s fast paced, and Maryland and a number of other schools are excited about Terek.
TT: What does Terek bring to the table as a tackle, and what does he still need to work on to get to that Big Ten level?
JF: He's extremely athletic, he's got a mean streak. And when he got his hands on kids he got some packackes and physical blocks and demonstrated toughness. Figuring out the technique and the assignments, that's what developed throughout his junior year. When you turn on the film of his last couple games, he was about as consistent as they come. The more he learns his assignments and techniques, the more consistently you'll see the nasty streak. I can’t wait to see his senior year, because you can see his confidence grow. And he’ll continue to work hard to get better each and every day and hopefully fulfilling that potential.
TT: What is Terek like in the locker room or around his teammates? Is he a quiet type, or is he someone that everyone rallies around?
JF: He’s really quiet at first. But we're really excited, our senior left tackle is headed to Toledo, and we have four juniors, including Terek, who are returning on our offensive line. And that offensive line developed a personality. They're definitely a fun group and can be a great group of kids to be around.
Terek's funny; when you meet him he comes off as very reserved and quiet, but once he gets comfortable around you he's a great kid and funny. But at the same time, the group works hard, they're physical and it's a great group to coach.
TT: And what was your relationship, and Terek's relationship, like with Coach Stud? What kind of dealings did you have with him and what did you think?
JF: You can tell he's a great guy. He came in a year ago, because they showed some interest in Cameron Bell, who is going to Toledo. Since he was recruiting Cameron a year ago, Coach Stud has done a great job developing a relationship with me and the rest of the staff, and that quickly turned into developing a relationship with Terek.
I don't remember all of the timing, but they officially extended the offer sometime before Easter, and that made it perfect for Terek and his family to be able to make it down for Maryland's spring game. That was the timing when it all happened. Then since Terek and his family made the trip out, Coach Stud came up two more times during the recruiting season to watch Terek work out. You can tell Terek and Coach Stud had a great relationship, and that's one of the main reasons he made the decision so quickly.
And the fact Coach Stud is the offensive line coach at Maryland, that meant a lot too. For the offensive line coach to come up and watch Terek work out in person, and for him to be Terek's recruiter, that meant a lot. I think Terek really valued his opinion.
TT: Can you recall a moment that sort of showed what kind of potential Terek has on the field? Something that illustrates Terek's game?
JF: I can remember a whole game he put together in Week 2 against Twinsburg. In Week 1 we played our rival who took us to overtime, and in Week 2 we played another next-door rival in Twinsburg. As an offensive line we had a young group, and we made an emphasis on, 'Quit thinking, it's OK if you make a mistake, just be nasty and let's get some knockdowns.'
So Week 2, Terek's second start on varsity, is when we finally looked at each other and were like, 'OK, this kid is going to be something.' He was just a really physical player. He definitely wasn't doing everything perfectly yet, but he was making a lot of plays, being physical and definitely making his presence felt.
We actually gave Terek offensive player of the week that week just because of how physical he was and the knockdowns he was getting. He set the tone for our offense, and it was great to see, because we were waiting to see when he would come out of his shell and play that way.
TT: Just looking at his body type, height, weight, I assume he projects as a right tackle in college?
JF: I mean, who knows? It's so hard to predict. It's such a different animal at that level. He does have decent length; I'd say he's 6-6, and at least 6-5. I think he does have good length, but at the big time, who knows? Sometimes [college programs] are looking for extreme length.
But I think he’s athletic enough to be a tackle on either side, because he has great feet, great flexibility in his hips, and he can bend. He's better than any kid I've ever coached, and I think he has the athleticism to play tackle. But who knows at that level; it's hard for us to gauge sometimes how they translate to the big time.
TT: That's a pretty big compliment for Terek, Coach. I know you've coached other DI guys, and Terek is at the top of the hierarchy?
JF: Yeah, I think he has the most potential. Comparing him to Cameron, he's not quite as big as Cameron, but Terek's athleticism, physicality and the things he can do for how big he is, he's definitely one of the best I've been around.
TT: Where do you see Terek in a few years? What kind of potential does he have?
JF: I think the sky is the limit, but it’s up to him. Terek, for the last year now, he’s really been committed. I mentioned those early games in his junior year, you could see him realize how good he can be. If he continues to realize that and put in the work this next calendar year, he’s going to be in good shape. He do anything he puts his mind to, but that's up to Terek.
Coach Speak: Jeff Fox On Terek Zingale
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