When Melvin Keihn chose Virginia Tech over Maryland in December 2013, he admitted in a video interview with Terrapin Times that it was "very hard" to say no to his hometown school. The Terps and Hokies battled all the way down to the Under Armour All-American game for the 6-foot-1, 215-pound former four-star Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) recruit, the two trading punches for months (much like they've done for receiver Tino Ellis (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) this year). But, ultimately, Keihn felt Tech's defensive scheme, which would allow him to play his natural defensive end spot, better suited his game.
Two years later, though, the freshman Keihn is coming home, with little thought given to his projected position. Keihn, who will have to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules, announced his transfer July 30, a week after rumblings surfaced of a possible move.
Evidently Keihn wanted to play closer to his Baltimore home (he lives with his former Gilman head coach, Biff Poggi) and also sought to be part of the newfound "hometown movement" that's taken hold in College Park, Md. He has a distinct familiarity with the UMD program from his days at Gilman, and took the chance to reunite with head coach Randy Edsall, assistant Mike Locksley and the rest of the staff.
Last year, Keihn played primarily special teams, although Tech did allow him to rotate in at defensive end for a few snaps. At Maryland, though, Keihn will play outside linebacker, bringing plenty of athleticism and quickness to the defense. He has a long, sinewy frame, a fast-fire first step and loads of quick-twitch fibers. He's known for his ability to defeat blocks, using his pole-length arms and strong hands to shed offensive linemen. Keihn also possesses a variety of moves that allow him to either cut inside offensive tackles, or come around backside. Basically, he has a nose for the quarterback and is considered a relentless pass rusher.
Keihn also moves well laterally, picking through the trash on the way to ball-carriers. He locates well, is a sound tackler and rarely allows leaky yardage. Moreover, he's a downhill defender and doesn't get caught flatfooted or back on his heels.
A more underrated part of his game, though, is Keihn's pure speed and penchant for chasing down the ball. One of the reasons he excelled on special teams at Gilman and Tech was his ability to catch return men in the open field.
Granted, Keihn does need to improve his pass coverage skills in order to become a more complete defender, but his ability to blitz is a valuable enough asset on its own.
Beyond what he brings as an athlete, Keihn's transfer is significant in and of itself. Even though he took a roundabout way to arrive in College Park, Keihn is still the highest-rated former Gilman recruit to attend Maryland. That's significant, because the Terps have struggled to land elite prospects from the Baltimore power since the Victor Abiamiri (class of 2003) debacle. Numerous Gilman stars, even those before Abiamiri, spurned the Terps in favor of renowned Big Ten, ACC and SEC schools.
But perhaps, if Keihn succeeds at UMD and speaks highly of the university when he returns to Gilman, it will open the door for more top-level Greyhounds to attend the hometown school. The Terps are still actively recruiting Penn State defensive tackle pledge Ellison Jordan, for example, and they'll undoubtedly be recruiting class of 2018 lineman Taron Vincent and Evan Gregory as well. Jordan remains infatuated with PSU, but maybe the Keihn addition could aid in Maryland's pursuit down the line.
Time will tell what kind of repercussions this transfer will have, although at first glance, it's nothing but positives for Maryland.
Analysis: Keihn Boomerangs To Terps
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