The Terps’ staff had a couple official visitors up from Florida Jan. 16-18, including a three-star at a definite position of need. Dillard (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) defensive tackle Aaron Thompson ventured up to College Park, Md., for the first time at the behest of his UMD area recruiters, Chris Beatty and Mike London.
“Man, that official was live. Maryland was really cool,” said Thompson, who holds offers from UMD, South Carolina, Tennessee, Syracuse, NC State, Idaho, FIU, UNC and others. “Right now I’d say Maryland is at the top for me. Man, it was cool up there, bro. I really liked it. Just the vibe, the people, the coaches, the community. I loved it and I felt like I could fit in well, for real.”
While the university itself and its football program certainly grabbed the 6-foot-3, 265-pounder’s attention, a tip of the cap goes to Beatty and London for securing the official and piquing Thompson’s interest. The two new UMD staffers actively recruited Thompson when the coaches were at Virginia, and they continued doing so after arriving in College Park.
“Coach Beatty and Coach London were my guys when they were at UVA. Coach Beatty came down here before [to Dillard] and has known me for awhile. I have a great relationship with him and Coach London,” Thompson said. “So I was with them at UVA, and when they told me about Maryland, well, now I’m with them at Maryland (laughs). I started looking hard at Maryland ever since they got there.”
Evidently Thompson will get another dose of the Terps’ staff Jan. 21.
“Maryland wants me there pretty bad. I know Coach [Scott] Shafer, the defensive coordinator, he’s coming by [Jan. 21] to see me,” Thompson said. “And I think Coach Beatty’s coming too. The coaches really want me at Maryland.”
Indeed they do. During his 48-hour stay in College Park, Thompson said he met almost every single staff member. The defensive tackle said all of the coaches, including headman D.J. Durkin, expressed how much the Terps needed him on their depth-deprived D-line.
“All the coaches were saying how bad they want me there. I saw the depth chart when I was up there, and I was, ‘Whoa, they could really use some help,’” Thompson said, chuckling. “So they said I can play early there, and that’s one of the main things I’m looking forward to doing – getting on the field early.
“But just the energy of the coaches and how they all were, that really stood out too. It’s a new staff there and they’re all just really cool guys. I feel like I could get along with them well.”
Naturally, Thompson spent the majority of his Jan. 16-18 stay with some current Terps’ defenders. Jesse Aniebonam hosted him, the defensive end imparting how much he enjoyed Maryland and the new staff.
“Jesse was pretty cool and we got along real well. I enjoyed being with him and the rest of the guys,” Thompson said. “We met some cool people, had a lot of fun in the dorms – it was great.
“I was with some other recruits too like Terrell Hall (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.) and the running back from Florida (Ledarrian Wilson), and we were all having fun. Terrell, I know he likes Maryland a lot. We talked about teaming up on the D-line there. He’s one big dude.”
One of the chief reasons Thompson’s looking at UMD, though, is the school’s academic support system and its journalism program. He said he wants to be a sports broadcaster and immediately took note of some of the Maryland graduates currently working for major networks.
“Maryland has one of the best communications programs in the country,” Thompson said. “So that really stood out, and also the academic support would be very helpful to me.”
The Florida native went on to laud the campus and the surrounding area, namely Washington, D.C.. He particularly enjoyed dinner at STK on Jan. 16, as well as the Maryland basketball game he took in that afternoon.
“The steak I had was huge. That was one of the best parts, getting that free steak,” laughed Thompson. “And the basketball game was so fun. The fans at Maryland are great. I saw some of the players too, and they were really cool.”
Next up on the agenda is an official visit to either Idaho or Tennessee Jan. 22. After that, Thompson’s planning on taking in South Carolina, but “I have to talk to the coaches first to see where I stand with them.”
“Right now Maryland’s up top, and then I’m looking at Idaho, Tennessee and South Carolina. It’s just those four for now,” Thompson said. “I plan on committing on Signing Day.”
Thompson is coming off a senior season where he recorded 56 tackles, 10 sacks, five tackles for loss and five forced fumbles.