The Terps played host to their first crop of official visitors Jan. 15-17, including an outside linebacker who has been committed to Virginia Tech since July. Tavante Beckett (Indian River/Chesapeake, Va.) had been in touch with new UMD assistant and Virginia-area recruiter Chris Beatty for the last few weeks and opted to check out College Park, Md. The 6-foot, 215-pound Beckett had previously been to Maryland but was not actively recruited by UMD’s former staff.
“I loved the new coaching staff at Maryland. I’d been up there before, but it was just a very different vibe with the new staff there,” Beckett said. “They have a young linebackers’ coach [Matt Barnes], who is real down to earth. And then they have two coaches from the 757 in Coach Beatty and Coach [Mike] London, and having coaches from my area who can relate to me is an added benefit. I really related well to those guys.”
There was plenty Beckett liked during his 48-hour stay, but chatting up the coaches served as the highlight. He particularly enjoyed his sitdown with Barnes.
“Talking with Coach Barnes and having him present to me what I’d be doing there, that’s what stood out the most,” Beckett said. “He was telling me my role as an outside linebacker, how he’d be using me, how I’d fit and just comparing and contrasting my game to other linebackers he’s coached.
“I liked how when he was at Florida he coached really athletic linebackers, who could move laterally and downhill. Many of them went on to have NFL careers too. It was pretty impressive what he was saying.”
Beckett spoke to head coach D.J. Durkin as well. He said Durkin, Beatty, London and Barnes all delivered pretty much the same message.
“Basically they were saying how it would make their day if I came there,” Beckett said. “They said I could really do well there, how I could play early and how I’m their top guy. I know they were telling the truth, too, because I saw the recruiting board and my name was at the top (laughs).”
In addition to the coaching staff, Beckett readily took to the Maryland players he met. Linebacker Jermaine Carter was his host, and the two bonded easily.
“Jermaine was real down to earth and cool. We had a lot of things in common,” Beckett said. “Then I met a couple other guys and they all had a great vibe to them. I fit in well with them all.”
The Indian River product also said he enjoyed heading into Washington, D.C., for dinner, mentioning that “it was really cool” that the nation’s capital is so close to College Park. He lauded UMD’s campus, facilities and soon-to-be constructed facility upgrades too.
“It’s just a great environment there and they have a lot of great things going on,” Beckett said. “It’s a really good school and the football program is looking up.”
But Beckett isn’t ready to flip just yet. He has a Va Tech official coming up Jan. 22, and is still deciding whether or not to head to Rutgers Jan. 29. (He’s supposed to take the SATs that day, which could preclude him from trekking to Piscataway, N.J.).
“I’m still committed to Virginia Tech, so they’re still the leader for me. I’m solid there,” Beckett said. “I just have to go on my official and see how it goes. Rutgers, I’m not sure about that one yet, but I’m definitely going back to Tech.”
Beckett is coming off a senior season where he recorded 135 tackles, 12 sacks, 24 tackles for loss and two return touchdowns.
Note: Beckett also commented on the status of his teammate, Jaquan Yulee, who visited Maryland unofficially Jan. 16. The Terps are actively pursuing the linebacker Yulee as well.
“I’m not the type to follow anyone else or tell anyone else where to go to school,” Beckett said. “So even if I go to Maryland I’m not going to tell Jaquan he needs to go there, and vice versa. If he does join me in college, great, but if not, so be it.”