The DMV-to-UMD movement continued April 9 when four-star outside linebacker Ayinde Eley (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.) committed to Maryland, joining the likes of defensive tackle Cam Spence and Kasim Hill, who also pledged to the Terps in the last 36 hours. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Eley talked about why he elected to end his recruitment so soon, the factors that played into his decision, his relationship with the Terps' new staff, what he brings to the UMD defense and his firm belief in the stay-home movement.
Hear what Eley had to say in the audio interview above, while a story with some different quotes is below:
It’s a trio of four-star locals in a 36-hour span for the Maryland Terrapins.
A day after Bowie, Md., native Cam Spence (IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.) started the ball rolling and just minutes after Kasim Hill (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.) announced his intentions, outside linebacker Ayinde Eley (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.) jumped on the hometown bandwagon as well. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder from Suffolk, Va., pledged to the Terps April 9, becoming the fifth commitment in head coach D.J. Durkin’s 2017 class.
“Let’s keep the momentum going,” said Eley, who held offers from the likes of Ohio State, South Carolina, Nebraska, Michigan State, UNC, Wisconsin, WVU, Va Tech, Iowa, Syracuse, Penn State, Rutgers, Indiana and Temple. “I’ve known I wanted to be at Maryland for a couple weeks now, but this week I had no doubt in my mind this is where I wanted to be. There’s something special going on at Maryland, and I’m just excited. It’s like a dream come true.”
Eley, like recruits of recent DMV vintage, originally intended to wait out his recruitment, taking numerous offseason trips before maybe selecting a school later in August – if not after official visits during the fall. But there’s a different vibe surrounding the hometown school these days, and Eley said there’s a palpable energy pulsing through the D.C. corridor.
“When you talk to the coaches at Maryland, you just believe what they’re saying about the program – they’re going to compete for championships,” Eley said. “Their energy and their plan, you can tell they’re going to put 100 percent effort into building up Maryland. I believe what they’re saying and I feel like a lot of guys around here do too.”
Some of those staffers the Good Counsel product personally developed a rapport with were linebackers coach Matt Barnes, defensive line coach Mike London, area recruiter Chris Beatty and Durkin himself. He connected with Barnes during multiple position meetings during Eley’s College Park campus visits, the four-star believing he can readily develop under his watch. Furthermore, Eley has maintained close contact with London and Beatty via social media, while he and his parents have enjoyed their sitdowns with Durkin too.
“Coach Barnes is one of my favorite coaches to talk to. We’re real close,” Eley said. “And Coach Beatty, he knows my dad well because my dad used to coach him in the CFL. We have a connection through that, and I just like talking to him. He’s very easy to relate to and a great recruiter. Same with Coach London; he’s all about personal relationships and getting to know you as a person. It’s like that with the whole Maryland staff – getting to know you on a personal level.
“And Coach Durkin, the energy he has and how he’s getting all the local guys on board. I mean, his message is really hitting home with guys. He’s making guys want to be part of something big at Maryland.”
During one of Eley’s forays through College Park, he had an opportunity to watch the Terps practice. Seeing the Durkin-inspired attacking defense opened the backer’s eyes.
“Maryland plays my style of defense. They fly around and get after it, and that’s the way I love to play,” Eley said. “And Coach Barnes, that’s what he wants from me. He wants downhill, aggressive linebackers, and he said I’m that kind of player. He thinks I can fit real well there. He has a great plan for me, and he wants me to be a playmaker. I feel like I can do real well learning from him.
“I’m going to bring energy, fly around, rush the passer and fill holes. I have to work on letting the game come to me and just being patient, but I can play all over the field – linebacker, defensive end, wherever. Wherever they need me to be, I’m ready.”
The Virginia native had previously talked up the Maryland campus, the pending facility upgrades and the dorm/weight room renovations. He’s been in College Park numerous times the last couple years for games and camps as well.
“Everything they’re doing up there with new facilities, the indoor fields, the dorms, it’s great. It’s really going to help Maryland [recruiting] now and in the future. It’s going to look amazing when it’s all done,” Eley said. “But, really, I’m just very comfortable up there. It’s close to home and my family can easily see me play. To be able to stay home and represent my hometown school, you can’t ask for more than that. I’m proud to be able to say I’m playing for Maryland. The way I feel when I come up to Maryland, I mean, everything just pointed to Maryland.”
Eley had numerous programs to compare the local university to. He was able to visit the likes of West Virginia, Florida, Va Tech, Ohio State, Michigan State, Kentucky, Penn State and UNC. Eley sought to return to several of the above, with OSU, MSU and UF firmly on the brain. But, ultimately, he couldn’t turn down what Durkin and Co. were selling.
“There’s something big going down at Maryland ... For me, it was Maryland, and then everyone else,” Eley said. “Coach Durkin keeps talking about how Maryland can be like Miami in the 1980s where we can win championships if all the [locals] stay home. And I definitely think that can happen. “[DMV-to-UMD] is for real. It’s not just a saying. We’re going to do it. We’re going to recruit as much as the coaches and let everyone know it’s ready. We’re coming here trying to get a Big Ten championship and a natty [national championship].”