New Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin has been in College Park, Md., just over 48 hours, and first thing’s first: Recruiting. While Durkin elected to postpone a dozen Dec. 4 official visits until he hires his staff, he did host a pair of prime out-of-state targets in four-star defensive end Rahshaun Smith (IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.) and his teammate, cornerback Khalil Ladler, along with local lineman Terrance Davis (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.).
The latter four-star guard was in town for an unofficial Dec. 4, representing the second recruit to meet the Maryland headman in person at College Park (Shaq Smith arrived on campus earlier).
“It was a great, great visit,” said Davis, who has been at UMD more times than he can remember, most recently for his team’s conference-title game inside Byrd Stadium. “It was great talking to and meeting Coach Durkin. He has huge, huge plans for Maryland and wants to build a winning program early.
“I was up there for maybe like 45 minutes, mainly because I just wanted a chance to talk to him and meet him. He said a lot of positive things about changing the mentality of the team. He’s a great guy to sit down and talk with. He’s very energetic.”
The 6-foot-2, 300-pounder actually just spoke to Durkin Nov. 28, right after Thanksgiving. Davis took an official visit to Ann Arbor, Mich., his presumed leader, and saw the then-Wolverines’ defensive coordinator in passing.
“I’ve actually known him since the spring; I met him when I was up at Michigan then, and then I saw him last weekend on my official,” said Davis, whose finalists are Michigan, Alabama, Georgia, UCLA, Maryland and Florida. “We talked a little bit then, but I didn’t really know him all that well. What I did know was that he’s a great, great defensive mind and the defensive guys there all loved him.”
The 45-minute talk Dec. 4 obviously represented the most extensive conversation the two have had. Davis said what struck him the most was how enthusiastic Durkin was about Maryland and his vision for the program. The local said that was the main difference between Durkin and former Terps’ head coach Randy Edsall and interim headman Mike Locksley, his ex-UMD recruiter.
“The energy was definitely what hit me [about Durkin],” Davis said. “He was really fiery. He mainly said the same thing as [Edsall and Locksley], but the fire and energy were legit. That was really impressive to me and caught my eye.
“I mean, he wants to turn around the mentality of the entire program and have them believing they can win big.”
Davis also liked what Durkin had to say about his recruiting tactics and some of his other plans for UMD.
“He wants, first, to get all the local guys on board. He said getting the local guys at Maryland is his priority,” said Davis, who noted that his teammates currently committed to UMD, Tino Ellis, LoLo Harrison and D.J. Turner, are in a holding pattern and haven’t formed an opinion on Durkin yet. “He does want to add a couple out-of-state guys, but said this area is No. 1. He wants to make sure all the committed guys stay and keep going after [uncommitted] DMV guys like myself. He said we’re the base of the program. I also liked how he said he’s going to work to get us job opportunities outside of football, and how he hopes to develop us on and off the field. It was good to hear.”
Following the chat, the DeMatha guard said the Terps’ chances of landing him remain solid. He previously called UMD his No. 2, right behind Michigan, and didn’t waver from that even though Mike Locksley may no longer be with the program (his contract runs through December and he is not expected back).
“Meeting with Coach Durkin really did help,” Davis said. “Just hearing his plans about the competition and having Maryland ready to compete with the big-time powers, it was pretty intriguing. I do have to see how things unfurl with the staff and all that, because that’s very important too. But it was a great first impression.”
Earlier in December, Davis hosted coaches from Michigan and Georgia. He expects staff members from Bama, Florida, Maryland and UCLA to trek through as well.
Davis has embarked on the one official to Michigan, and he was supposed to see Georgia Dec. 11. But Davis will likely wait until new Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart assembles his staff before heading to Athens, Ga.
After taking in Georgia, he’ll see UCLA Jan. 15 and Bama Jan. 22. Davis will take one final official to either Florida (most likely) or Maryland as well.
“I’m thinking I’ll commit on Signing Day or maybe at the Under Armour All-American Game,” Davis said. “I have to talk to my mom about it. We haven’t decided yet.”