It turns out the Terps will have two 2016 recruits from South Carroll (Sykesville, Md.) after all. On March 5, running back/linebacker Steven Baca received a preferred walk-on offer from the UMD staff, promptly jumping on the opportunity.
“I had a couple other schools interested in me, but when Maryland came along I couldn’t pass that up. For me, it was a no-brainer,” said Baca, a 6-foot-2, 215-pounder who didn’t have any firm offers but had preferred walk-on opportunities from Wagner, William & Mary and Division II programs. “It’s the hometown school, it’s a chance to represent my home state, and I just believe with Coach [D.J.] Durkin and his staff they’re taking things to another level. It’s an awesome opportunity.”
The South Carroll product received said opportunity courtesy of Maryland-area recruiter Pete Lembo. Baca said he first began getting in contact with UMD’s tight ends coach in early February.
“Coach Lembo talked to me about the possibility of becoming a walk-on, and said he’d be getting back to me,” Baca said. “And then [March 4] he told me the staff would love for me to be part of the program. I was ecstatic and very excited. I called him back a day later and let him know I wanted in.”
Naturally, as with almost all walk-ons, academics played a major factor. Baca holds a 3.8 GPA and intends to major in political science.
“The academics are really strong at Maryland, so that’s huge,” Baca said. “It’s a great school and I know I’ll get a great degree there.”
Baca has not visited Maryland this offseason but plans to foray through College Park, Md., later this month to meet the staff in person. He said he’s only had phone conversations with Lembo thus far and hasn’t actually sat down with him or any other UMD staffer face-to-face.
“But I have been to Maryland in the past for games and things like that,” Baca said. “I really like the campus and the atmosphere there. It’s a great place to be, and it’s close to home too.”
It’s also a chance to reunite with his teammate at the next level. Offensive tackle Brian Plummer committed to Maryland last summer and then signed with the Terps Feb. 3. (The Terps also had a commitment from South Carroll safety Silas Kelly, but Durkin did not honor the scholarship).
“Brian is pretty excited about Maryland, and he was real happy for me when I said I was going there too,” Baca said. “I’m excited to be playing with him again for the next four, five years. We’re both excited to get down there.”
Baca said Lembo didn’t tell him exactly which position he’d be playing, Baca suggesting he could line up at running back or linebacker. He thinks he might get a shot to carry the ball initially, however.
Baca is coming off a senior season where he rushed for 1,206 yards and 17 touchdowns. Defensively, he recorded 80 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks and seven tackles for loss.