The Terps landed receiver Sean Nelson (Langston Hughes/Fairburn, Ga.) May 7, and afterwards we spoke to his head coach, Willie Cannon, to gain more insight into the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder. Our question-and-answer session with Cannon is below:
Terrapin Times: Coach, first question, let’s get right into this, can you give us a scouting report on Sean? Can you give us a sense of how he plays and also what he needs to improve on to be ready for Big Ten ball?
Willie Cannon: Sean is a very versatile wide receiver. He’s not your average big-bodied guy. He’s not a straight speed demon, but his speed is very deceiving and he’s very versatile. He catches the ball great, he controls his body very well. He’s still developing, but I see a big upside and a very bright future.
And he just needs to be more consistent overall. He’s getting better, but he just needs to continue to mature in all aspects of the game. Route running, strength, catching, he just has to be more consistent overall.
TT: Coach, did you see him committing to Maryland so early? I know he liked UMD a lot after he visited, but did you see him ending his recruitment so early?
WC: When he came back from Maryland, he just raved about it. He has a lot of family in the New York area, so it didn’t surprise me when he told me he could see himself at the University of Maryland. He really enjoyed his visit there, he loved the coaching staff and was just comfortable there. Also, he knew Coach [D.J.] Durkin from before when he was at Florida and was recruiting some of our previous players. So he really felt connected and at home at Maryland.
TT: What interactions did you have with the Terps’ staff? Did you know Chis Beatty or any of those guys?
WC: I talked to them, but I put a lot more responsibility on my recruiting coordinator at Langston. Coach Williams, he had a lot more interaction with the Maryland staff and actually went with Sean on his visit up there.
TT: And what did Coach Williams and Sean say about that unofficial visit?
WC: Sean liked the versatility of how they use their receivers and how he could play early if he can fulfill his part. No promises were made, but he enjoyed being able to come in and play as a freshman. He also liked playing against Big Ten schools on the national level. And, like I said, the majority of his family is in New York, so they’d have more of an opportunity to see him play there then if he were down south or out on the West Coast.
TT: Do you expect Sean to remain firm with his commitment? I know some SEC schools are involved…
WC: There are some SEC schools paying very close attention to Sean, but he and I had a very deep conversation. I gave him my opinion and said, ‘Hey, if you make this commitment, I want you to uphold it.’ And he told me, ‘Coach, this is honestly where I want to be. My family is very happy with it and I’m ready to do this now rather than later. This is not a game to me. I can see myself really enjoying playing at Maryland.’ So based off that, I see him being firm with it.
TT: Coach, you guys play a spread down there right? Will that help Sean be ready to step in at Maryland with their spread?
WC: I believe so. I believe he’ll be ready for Maryland, and he actually has a receivers' coach here who truly understands how to play receiver. Our new wideouts’ coach is Peter Warrick (Florida State, Cincinnati Bengals), and so he looks forward to working with him. So I think Sean will be ready (laughs).
TT: Coach, what is Sean like in the locker room and around the guys? Is he one of those prima donna receivers (laughs)?
WC: To be honest, Sean is more laid back, but when he’s challenged, sometimes we have to tell him to reel it back in. He’s one when a DB comes at him, he’s going to get into it. Mainly, he’s more of an ‘I’ll show you more than I’ll tell you,’ but once in awhile he’ll get into it (laughs).
He’s a receiver who believes in competing, which I love. He has a defensive backs’ mentality in that he’s going to get real physical with you. He’ll show you, do you in, then he’s going to walk away and say, ‘I’ll get you next time too.’
TT: When did you know Sean could be a D-I guy, an FBS guy? Was there a moment you can illustrate for us?
WC: It really turned on for him in the summer between his sophomore and junior years. He had an opportunity to play against quite a few top guys in 7-on-7 who were going to The Opening out in Oregon and things like that. He took it on himself as a challenge and he was like, 'I think I’m as good or better than them.' He really did well against more than a few of them, and he really turned the corner then. And then he turned in a pretty darn good junior season and he’s continued to grow from that.
TT: Anything else cool about Sean that people might want to know? I know he’s a basketball guy…
WC: I’m just glad he’s one of those kids, he came into high school wanting to play basketball, and then he gave football an opportunity to grow on him. I’m very excited to see how he grows and learns in the game of football after making that decision.
TT: Yeah, he always talks about basketball. Could he have played D-I hoops if he stayed with it?
WC: He’s a great basketball player, but I don’t think a school like Maryland would have offered him a scholarship (laughs). I mean, he’s a 6-1 guard and has some pretty good skills, but I mean, come on… (laughs). No disrespect to Sean, but he’s got a much brighter future as a football player. He continues to thank me all the time fro being tough on him and now allowing him to give up on football.