Maryland's staff is reaching out to recruits far and near in search of defensive backs to fill out its 2016 class. And one of the most recent offers head coach D.J. Durkin and Co. handed out went to a nearby safety who'd been waiting more than a year for a hometown scholarship to materialize.
McDonough's (Owings Mills, Md.) Eric Burrell, committed to Wisconsin since Oct. 12, finally pulled a Terps' offer after securing about 20 others from the likes of Nebraska; Virginia Tech; Duke; Syracuse; Arizona; Pitt; Rutgers; Iowa; UVA; UConn; Wake Forest and others.
"It was nice to finally get the hometown offers," said the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Burrell. "Maryland is the hometown school. I mean, of course I'm going to look at it. I know a lot of guys there, I have teammates going there, and it's a school I'm familiar with."
Yes, Burrell's heard plenty about Maryland the last couple years. Not surprising, considering he attends a high school with a pipeline to College Park, Md. During the last few recruiting classes, the Terps have reeled in Roman Braglio, Josh Woods and Ellis McKennie from McDonogh, and actively recruited Jared Cohen (a one-time UMD commit who flipped to North Carolina); Wyatt Cook (he favored Maryland before his offer was withdrawn); and 2017 five-star tackle Jordan McNair.
"Guys like Josh, Ellis, Roman they come back here to work out and they always talk about Maryland," Burrell said. "I've been up there before, it's a good school, and I know Josh and those guys all like it up there."
Even so, Burrell openly admitted to being "a little upset" it took the Terps so long to ante up. Maryland's former staff, under ex-head coach Randy Edsall, didn't really acknowledge the McDonogh safety, which rubbed him the wrong way.
"It just didn't work out with the former staff," Burrell said. "Coach Edsall never really talked to me, and [UMD-area recruiter Keith] Dudzinski did talk to me, but only really said, 'Hello.' Nothing more than that. Maryland recruited my teammates and talked to them a lot more, but didn't really pay attention to me. So that was a little upsetting, but it's a different staff now. So we'll see."
That's true -- it is a completely different staff. Head coach D.J. Durkin brought on former UVA coach Mike London to run his defensive line and former Syracuse coach Scott Shafer to guide his defense. Both current UMD staffers recruited Burrell at their former places of employment.
"Coach London and Coach Shafer were both on me when they were at Virginia and Syracuse. They are both very down-to-earth guys and guys I had a good relationship with," Burrell said. "I sat down with both of them individually with my dad, and they were very impressive. So now that they're at Maryland, and they told me they wanted to offer me, that made me think higher [of UMD]."
Burrell isn't sure whether or not he'll actually entertain his latest scholarship, however. He's content with Wisconsin and has no plans to take anymore official visits in January.
"I have to sit down with my dad and talk about it," said Burrell, who has cut off contact with all his other suitors. "I'm not sure whether I want to look at Maryland or not. I've basically shut everything down [recruiting wise], and I wasn't planning on taking anymore visits. I haven't really thought about Maryland yet and what I'm going to do with that."
Before committing to Wisconsin in October, Burrell did officially visit Nebraska. He also considered Duke, Syracuse and a couple others. But for the last couple months, he's been all Badgers. And, more than likely, that's the way things will stay.
"I'm 100 percent committed to Wisconsin," Burrell said. "Their defensive backs coach came down to see me, and they can't wait to get me up there. They're excited for me, and I'm excited about them. I know a lot of the other recruits going there, and me and [Wisconsin pledge] Patrick Johnson [Bullis/Potomac, Md.] have talked about heading up for basketball game this winter. We're both excited about Wisconsin."
Burrell is coming off a senior season where he recorded more than 30 tackles and four interceptions, not to mention over 50 receptions at receiver. He last ran a 40-yard dash back in the summer, clocking in at 4.7 seconds.