Maryland’s staff added two more recruits on National Signing Day Feb. 3, the last pledge coming from yet another Florida defensive back. Oak Ridge (Orlando, Fla.) safety Tyrek Tisdale signed with the Terps during a school ceremony, choosing UMD over UMass.
“I’ve officially committed and signed to the University of Maryland,” Tisdale said on Twitter Feb. 3. “Maryland is a good school, great coaches, great education and great players.”
A former Florida pledge who reneged back in October, the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder officially visited Massachusetts Jan. 15 and Maryland Jan. 29. He returned from his College Park, Md., trip calling the two schools “equal,” insisting conference affiliation (Big Ten for UMD, independent for UMass) and level of play wouldn’t play a role in his decision.
But Tisdale believed Maryland offered him plenty of opportunities after college, which was the safety’s foremost concern, as well as a chance to play for a program on the rise under head coach D.J. Durkin.
“Coach [D.J.] Durkin has a vision to change the program around and knows what he’s doing,” Tisdale said. “He sees what other people don’t see, and that’s what really struck me.
“Coach Durkin, when we talked I could tell he’s a really passionate coach and he’s working to turn things around.”
Tisdale took to the UMD coaches in general, namely area recruiter Scott Shafer, who pursued the jack-of-all trades ardently when the coach was at Syracuse. Maryland defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, receivers’ coach Chris Beatty, line coach Mike London, Durkin and the rest of the staffers impressed Tisdale as well.
“I really liked the coaches at Maryland. They were all together and were all in-tune with everything that’s going on at Maryland,” Tisdale said. “They’re all about putting things in order at Maryland and have a clear vision, and that was very impressive. I liked that a lot.
“I think with the staff they’re putting together they’re going to compete for a Big Ten championship soon. I really like what they have going on there. Coach Shafer was recruiting me at Syracuse and we already had a pretty good relationship, and I just to Coach Beatty and Coach London too. They’re all really good coaches. So I like the staff they’re putting together there, and I liked how when they talked to me it wasn’t just about football. They’re making it a point to get to know me personally, and I like that.”
The Terps, despite having six defensive back pledges in the 2016 class, can offer early playing time too. That fact immediately piqued Tisdale’s interest back in early January, when he first received his UMD offer from Durkin.
“The [Maryland staff] told me to be ready to play when I come in. They don’t think I need to redshirt. They said I could see the field as a freshman, and to come in and be a leader. So that’s the main thing I really liked about Maryland,” Tisdale said. “They said I’m a good athlete, but I have a chance to be a great athlete with work. Coach Durkin, Coach [Scott] Shafer, Coach [Aazaar Abdul] Rahim, they were all saying I have the ability, but they also were straight with me and told me some things to work on. I appreciated their honesty, and it shows they believe I can be even better. I like how they would push me there.”
Tisdale was originally recruited as a running back and then a slot receiver. But he’s now slotted to play defense, where UMD lacks depth.
“They want me as a safety, and I’m fine with defense,” Tisdale said. “I actually started my whole football life on defense. I only actually played offense for three full years of my life. The rest was defense, so it’s nothing new to me.”
Besides the coaches, Tisdale connected with the Maryland players while on campus. His player host, safety Josh Woods, explained the UMD defense to an extent, while also introducing Tisdale to the other Terps.
“[The players] seemed like they were about business and not just about having fun. They talked a lot about education and being a hard worker, which I liked,” Tisdale said. “They were on their Ps and Qs and want to get that Big Ten championship."
While all the “football factors” resonated, Tisdale kept harping on UMD’s educational benefits. He wants to major in business and believes there are plenty of post-graduation opportunities in and around Washington, D.C., which is just minutes from College Park.
“Maryland is a really good school, a great education,” Tisdale said. “There’s a lot of support there and I believe they will set me up for life after college. That’s very important to me.”
Thus, Tisdale became the 22nd commitment in UMD’s class. He is coming off a 1,100-yard, 14-touchdown season, to go along with 15 receptions out of the slot. He did not play defense his senior year, but is ready to assume a safety spot in College Park.
“Playing defense doesn’t scare me at all. I’m ready to play defense, and deal with that kind of pressure,” Tisdale said. “Pressure builds character, and I thrive on pressure.”