There were more than 30 local recruits who showed up at UMD’s “DMV Day” Feb. 13, although one of the more prominent attendees wasn’t from D.C., Maryland or Northern Virginia. Four-star inside linebacker Avery Roberts (Concord/Wilmington, Del.), along with his younger brother, 2018 running back Grahm Roberts, took the 1.5-hour drive from Delaware to College Park, Md., for another look at the Terps.
“It was a real good time, I really enjoyed myself there,” said Roberts, who has Penn State, Nebraska, Cal, Stanford, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Pitt, BC, WVU, Clemson, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, UNC, Rutgers, Wake, Syracuse, UVA, Va Tech and more in pursuit. “It was good spending time with Coach [D.J.] Durkin and Coach [Matt] Barnes; that was my first time meeting them in person. Their fire and energy, it’s different than how it was before. The atmosphere is different at Maryland from when I was up there with the old staff.”
Indeed, Roberts had developed a rapport with ex-UMD-area recruiter Keenan McCardell, while he knew former head coach Randy Edsall and defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski too. Edsall actually offered Roberts back before his sophomore year, and the Delaware recruit reciprocated the early interest by visiting College Park multiple times. He was last at Maryland for a game in early September.
Now, though, Roberts is in the process of familiarizing himself with D.J. Durkin’s crew.
“Coach Durkin, he’s a cool guy. He talked to both me and my brother and expressed how much he wanted me in the program,” Roberts said. “He was saying how he needed guys like me to step in and help build Maryland into a winner. He said I could come in there and make an immediate impact and be part of something special.
“And Coach Barnes, he’s a funny guy, a high energy guy and a young guy. The past couple weeks he’s been talking to me on Twitter and we’ve talked on the phone. I like him, and we’re building a relationship.”
So, what’s the consensus?
“I liked what Coach Durkin and Coach Barnes were saying. It’s definitely something that I’m thinking about," Roberts said. “My uncle and my dad, they were there too, and they like Maryland a lot. They like the coaches there and they like that it’s close to home and they’d be able to see my games.”
The Concord product went on talk up the new facility upgrades, calling them “great” and “really nice.” He also thoroughly enjoyed taking in the Maryland-Wisconsin basketball game, dubbing the UMD fans “awesome” and “electric.”
As for what he thought about DMV-to-UMD and Durkin’s “stay-home message,” Roberts considers himself part of the area. He said even though he’s from Delaware, he’s “local enough.”
“I mean, it’s pretty much the same area. Maryland is only 1.5 hours away,” Robert said. “It’s close to home, and Maryland is pretty much like the hometown school. So I see myself fitting in with those [DMV] guys. I felt like I fit in with them.”
Afterwards, Roberts couldn’t say exactly where he stood with the Terps, because he doesn’t have a clear-cut favorites list yet. But he said the visit Feb. 13 certainly improved their standing.
“Maryland is rising. They’re definitely on the rise,” Roberts said. “Just the new staff, it stands out. I’ll be back at some point too, likely for a spring practice.”
Next up, Roberts is heading to Rutgers Feb. 20 and Penn State Feb. 27. He’s been to both schools on several occasions previously.
“Penn State, I wouldn’t say that’s a favorite yet, but I’m pretty high on them,” Robert said. “Just the relationship with the coaches, the area and the school itself, I like Penn State.”
Other programs potentially jumping out early are Nebraska, Oklahoma, Clemson and Stanford. Roberts visited Lincoln, Neb., last year and said he loved his stay out there. The Concord prospect wants to get down to Clemson and out to Oklahoma at some point, but admitted he’d probably have to take an official in order to see Stanford.
“To be honest, location isn’t a big factor for me,” said Roberts, who mentioned he’d like to procure offers from Florida, Ole Miss, TCU, Michigan State and Baylor. “Staying close to home or going farther away isn’t big for me. It’s really about the best fit. I want to find a school where I have a good relationship with the coaches, coaches who can get me ready for the NFL, and academics are big too.”
Roberts said he’d likely drag the recruiting process out. He wants to use all five official visits and then come to a conclusion next winter.