The Terps secured a commitment from Damascus (Md.) running back Jake Funk Oct. 16. Afterwards, we spoke to his coach, Gregg Frazier, to delve deeper into the 5-foot-11, 205-pounder’s pledge:
Terrapin Times: So, Gregg, Jake’s going to his hometown school. Your initial thoughts?
Gregg Frazier: Yeah, I’m just really happy and excited for Jake. It’s something he’s wanted and worked for since he stepped foot in our program. There’s not a kid who I’ve ever seen who’s worked harder for what he’s earned. He’s the hardest working player I’ve ever coached.
TT: I can tell. I mean, the way he runs, he runs like his hair’s on fire.
GF: Yeah, he’s definitely gotten bigger, faster, stronger from last year, but one thing he’s got in him this year is a little more nasty. It really shows in how he’s been running this year, and when he plays defense.
TT: Can you give us a little scouting report on Jake? In your opinion, what does he bring to the table?
GF: On the field, I think his athleticism is underrated. One of the reason he doesn’t have as many offers as I think he should is his athleticism gets questioned by a lot of people. I’m not huge on sending kids to camps and combines, but he did the Nike SPARQ camp and did really well on all his tested. I actually compared it to kids across the country committed to USC and schools like that, and his SPARQ score was as good, if not better, than those kids.
He’s fast; he’s not getting run down from behind. He has very good lateral ability and cuts very well. Plus he has a ton of power; his lower body is extremely strong. He’s great in the weight room, and it shows in how he plays.
TT: Everyone has to improve and has areas to work on though. What does Jake have to do to be ready for Big Ten ball?
GF: He just has to keep doing what he does. He has unbelievable work ethic, he trains extremely hard in the weight room and out on the track. He’s just going to get bigger, fast, stronger. He’s 205 now, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if by the time he’s at Maryland he’s 225. He obviously has some God-given ability, but his work ethic is what makes him.
TT: Is there a player, maybe at the college or NFL level, you can compare Jake to? I know coaches hate doing that, but just to give us a visual, does he remind you of anyone?
GF: I’m not really sure on that one, but I think he brings the three elements you want most in a running back: speed, quickness and power. I think he has all three of those.
TT: Did you think that Jake could be a Division I runner, and when did you first know he could play at the FBS level?
GF: Yes, I did think he could be just because of his work ethic and athleticism. I thought he had the skills and the desire to work to reach that level.
But I first knew he could maybe play at that level was the first scrimmage his junior year. He was up with us as a sophomore and was our leading rusher then, but he was smaller then. But going into his junior year he grew up some, and that first scrimmage he just looked like he was on a different level. He was going at a faster speed and playing at a different rate than anyone else.
TT: Obviously Maryland is recruiting Jake as a running back, but he can play linebacker too. Do you think linebacker is a possibility at the next level?
GF: I mean, anything is a possibility. The good thing about Jake is he’s the type of kid who is going to work extremely hard at whatever the coaches ask him to do. But I personally have always thought he would be a running back at the college level, and I think that’s what he’ll do at Maryland. He’ll also be a good returner for them too.
TT: This commitment to Maryland means a little more than maybe some others. We’ve talked before, and I know the Terps in the past didn’t always offer or recruit some of the Damascus kids who maybe should have been. How important was it for Maryland to get back in Damascus’ graces, and what’s it mean for you guys?
GF: I think the commitment is big just because Jake is a pretty well-known kid around the state. He’s good friends with some of the other commits Maryland has now, and they’ve been talking. That networking goes from Damascus to the other schools. They constantly talk on social media. Getting a commitment from any local kid is major for Maryland.
TT: Did you think the Maryland offer would happen?
GF: To be honest I didn’t. I didn’t think it was going to happen. But as soon as the coaching change happened, all of a sudden I got a message and there it was.
I wasn’t surprised with how Jake has played this year; he’s got 25 touchdowns through seven games. He’s really been on another level from anyone else we’ve played this year. Even against Quince Orchard in the first game, he rushed 27 times for 275 yards and four touchdowns. Then he had like 11 tackles on defense and 10 were solo. I mean, he’s all over the field and just a dominant player. So in that aspect I wasn’t surprised Maryland eventually came in.
TT: What do you think of Coach Chad Wilt, who recruits Damascus? What’s your guys’ relationship with him?
GF: Coach Wilt has been great. He’s always reachable, he gives you the truth, he shoots you straight, and he’s done a good job of staying in touch with Jake through this process. He did a good job with Jalen [Christian] last year too.
And, actually, Coach [Terry] Richardson came out to practice [Oct. 12] to see Jake, and he was great too. Afterward I talked to him, and [Richardson] loved Jake. He really liked how he caught the ball, which I think was the final OK he needed before Maryland signed off on the offer.
TT: What’s Jake like around the guys? What’s he like in the locker room and also off the field?
GF: He’s a great kid. Teachers in the school will literally stop in and talk about how good of a kid he is. He’s extremely respectful, humble, his teammates love him and he’s an unbelievable leader. He’s the best leader I’ve ever coaches. We’ve had some success here the last couple years, and a lot of that has to do with how Jake carries himself and how his teammates have followed his lead.