At this time last year, Carmel (Ind.) tight end Kurt Rafdal didn’t hold any offers yet, and had only begun hearing from nearby MAC programs. One of those MAC schools, though, had taken a keen interest in the 6-foot-7, 230-pounder, eventually handing Rafdal his first verbal last spring. That program was Ball State, which was then headed by Pete Lembo.
Lembo, of course, is now the special teams and tight ends coach at Maryland.
“I talked to Coach Lembo when he was at Ball State, and that was the very first school that was interested in me,” Rafdal said. “When he was there, he told me I’d be a power-five guy, but he wanted to get in the hunt first because no one had offered me yet.
“And then [Lembo] remembered who I was when he got to Maryland, and he brought my name up to the staff. He showed them my tape, and they all liked it. He’d been talking to me on Twitter, keeping me updated, and then [Feb. 22] he told me I had the offer from Maryland. So that was really cool, and it was great talking to Coach Lembo again. I was excited that he’s now offering me at a power-five school.”
The Terps weren’t the first power-five look for Rafdal, though. Before Lembo could convince UMD headman D.J. Durkin to approve an offer, the Carmel tight end had added hometown Indiana, Illinois, Louisville, Syracuse, Iowa State and Boston College. Meanwhile, schools such as Purdue, Michigan State and a few others are intrigued.
“But Maryland is definitely a school I’m interested in,” Rafdal said. “I like Coach Lembo and we have a good relationship. Then he [direct messaged] me some pictures of the basketball game and the fans, and it looks pretty wild. The campus looks nice too. He was talking about the business school a little bit too, and that sounded great. I was thinking about majoring in business or engineering.”
The fact the Terps compete in the Big Ten holds weight as well. Which makes sense considering Rafdal’s grown up in B1G country.
“Definitely, the Big Ten is the conference I’ve always watched, and I think it’s top notch,” Rafdal said. “I’ve always dreamed of playing for a Big Ten school.”
Rafdal is now in the process of scheduling an initial College Park, Md., visit. He said he and Lembo haven’t discussed dates yet, but if the coach provides the tight end with a few options, Rafdal said he’d accommodate.
Rafdal has already seen a few nearby campuses, however. He’s trekked through Indiana a couple times, plus visits to Illinois, Purdue and Michigan State. He’ll be at Louisville in March, followed by returns to Bloomington, Ind.; West Lafayette, Ind.; and Champaign, Ill. Iowa State is also on the docket if Rafdal came make it out.
“IU, the times I’ve been there have been great, and the same with Illinois. Both were awesome,” Rafdal said. “I’d love to play for the hometown school. I’m not going to say Indiana is No. 1, but they’re near the top of the list, for sure.”
Michigan State, meanwhile, is an offer Rafdal is hoping for, while he counts Stanford as a “dream school.”
“I don’t really know about Stanford; they haven’t really talked to me. But I’m hoping for some more Big Ten looks,” Rafdal said. “Michigan State would be a big one. Their coaches are saying they need to evaluate me and get me up there again. If they offered, they’d definitely be up there for me.”
Rafdal, whose sister played volleyball at Toledo and cousin played offensive line at Kent State, has no timetable for selecting a school. He said he’ll end his recruitment whenever he finds the right fit, which could come before his senior season.