IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) is on spring break, which means many of the powerhouse program’s players have returned home. That includes multiple Maryland natives, such as five-star defensive end Josh Kaindoh and four-star defensive tackle Cam Spence.
The latter, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound Bowie, Md., native, who formerly starred at Gilman (Baltimore, Md.), is using his time off to visit some of his foremost college suitors. His first stop? The University of Maryland, a program Spence has become quite familiar with the last couple years. Spence, along with his father, took in a Terps’ spring practice March 22, and afterwards met the new UMD regime for the first time.
“I loved it. I felt like home as soon as I got on campus,” said Spence, who claims offers from UMD, TAMU, Ohio State, Penn State, Florida, Michigan State, Auburn, LSU, FSU, Mississippi State, NC State, West Virginia and Syracuse. “I’ve been there many times before, so most of what I saw was the same, but meeting Coach [Mike] London and Coach [D.J.] Durkin, I mean, I just felt the new energy in the building. These are different types of coaches at Maryland now, and I know they’re going to turn things around. As a recruit, it’s real appealing.
“So right now, Maryland’s really high up for me. Just meeting everybody [March 22], they’re my No. 1 option right now to be honest.”
Naturally, Spence dubbed his sitdown with London as the highlight of the trip. The IMG Academy product had been in touch with London via social media, but had yet to meet him in person prior to March 22.
“Just talking to Coach London and getting to know him and him getting to know me, that was probably the best part of the visit,” Spence said. “We were talking for a good 45 minutes about things that didn’t even have to do with football. We were talking about life in general, the ups and downs, and it just seemed like he really wanted to get to know me.
“Then [London] was telling me his background as well, and that was very impressive. We connected on a lot of different levels, and my dad said the same thing. What Coach London and then Coach Durkin were saying, it hit home with him too.”
Spence had similar comments in regards to the headman. Durkin didn’t spend quite as much time with the Spences as London did, but his message certainly resonated nevertheless.
“Coach Durkin was saying I’m much needed there and they want me there. He said it only takes one of us recruits to pull the trigger and commit to Maryland, and the rest will follow,” said Spence, who was last in College Park during the fall for the WCAC championship game. “[Durkin] said this is my home, this where I’m from and what better place to be than here. He was describing how I could walk out on the field here every day and be proud I’m representing my hometown school, and how that makes you want to give more, play for more. Then after that he showed me and my dad this ESPN ’30 for 30’ clip of Miami in the 1980s and how all the guys from around there went to [Coral Gables, Fla.] and built them into a power.
“So that really just stood out to me and meant a lot. It really made me think a lot about Maryland.”
The four-star wasn’t finished talking up Durkin. Evidently UMD’s head coach touched on the school’s academic prowess as well, which also struck a chord with Spence.
“Just the non-football things [Durkin] was talking about, how they can make you a better man there, that really stuck out too,” Spence said. “The graduation rates there, and how Maryland is one of the best public universities in the world, that’s something that means a lot because I’m concerned with life after football as well. Maryland is also next to the most powerful city in the world in D.C., and that presents some great opportunities for life after college too. They have so much to offer me there.”
Although Spence has toured the campus on more than one occasion and knew about the upcoming facility upgrades, he’d yet to see the video detailing the $150 million renovations. He called New Cole, the tunnel and the other renovations “incredible” and “amazing.”
If the above weren’t enough, Spence mentioned he has an even deeper connection to Maryland than just his affinity for the staff, its academics and its aesthetics. He said his uncle, Larry Stewart, was a second-team All-American offensive tackle who played for UMD back in the 1970s.
“That means a lot that he played there, because I kind of always had his spirit with me. I feel like he’s right there with me whenever I’m on the field,” Spence said. “My cousin, he was telling me how my uncle would have loved to have seen me play football and coach me up. So I kind of feel like I’d like to follow in my family’s footsteps and honor him in a way.”
While Spence has the hometown school resonating, he isn’t ready to end his recruitment and commit to the Terps just yet. He said he’s content to go through the process, take a couple official visits and announce his destination sometime later during the fall or winter.
“Maryland hit home in a lot of places and I like them a lot, but I don’t want to shun the other colleges,” Spence said. “I do like Ohio State, Penn State and Florida too, and there’s a few others I want to visit and see what they’re like.”
Spence hasn’t taken any trips besides UMD recently, mainly because he underwent micro-fracture surgery for a meniscus tear in his knee five weeks ago. He said he’ll be out of his boot and healthy in another week or two, but for the last couple months he’s “taken it easy.”
Later this week, however, Spence is heading down to see his family in Texas. While there, he plans to head over to Texas A&M, which just offered March 22. Then, during the week of March 28, Spence wants to hit North Carolina. He has no visits scheduled after that, but would like to see Florida (he called that trip “a priority”), Miami and a few others during the summer.
Spence said he probably wouldn’t be returning to PSU and OSU, two of his frontrunners in addition to UMD, until he begins taking officials.
“I’ll probably get back to Maryland at some point as well,” Spence said. “I mean, whenever I’m home, it’s only 10 minutes away, so I can easily get there. Maryland’s a great place to be, and like I said, I like them a lot right now.”
Note: The aforementioned Josh Kaindoh will be at Maryland March 26 for his first meeting with the new UMD staff.