COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Terps have their running back.
Three days after his parents saw the University of Maryland for the first time, Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.) three-star Tayon Fleet-Davis opted to end his recruitment and announce for the hometown school. The 6-foot, 215-pounder committed to UMD head coach D.J. Durkin while at Maryland’s cookout event July 30.
“Maryland is doing something big, and that’s where it’s at right now,” Fleet-Davis said. “The DMV Movement, with all the local guys on board [with the Terps], Maryland is going to be special. I love what Coach [D.J.] Durkin has going on there; Maryland is on the come up.”
That’s quite a change of course for Fleet-Davis, who had long favored Syracuse. But evidently that July 27 foray through College Park turned the tide towards Maryland. Fleet-Davis was supposed to be in New York July 30, but quickly cancelled his final SU trip in favor of UMD.
“I really did like Syracuse, but I couldn’t turn down the chance to play for the hometown team,” Fleet-Davis said. “I love it [at Maryland], and my parents liked it a whole lot too, just meeting the coaches and seeing what they’re about. It’s a chance to stay home and do something big for my hometown school.”
There were a number of factors that pushed the Terps to the head of the list, not the least of which was area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim’s persistent pitch. Abdul-Rahim played a major role in securing a commitment from Fleet-Davis’ teammate, Deon Jones, earlier in July, and the defensive backs coach had a similar relationship with the running back. Fleet-Davis has known Abdul-Rahim since he coached at Friendship Collegiate (Washington, D.C.) several years ago, and the two quickly bonded when the staffer came over from Alabama and offered the three-star back in February. Moreover, Abdul-Rahim left a distinct impression on Fleet-Davis’ parents July 27 as well.
“Coach Aazaar is my guy; he was my favorite [college] coach to talk to,” Fleet-Davis said. “He’s just cool, and we have a great relationship. We talk all the time just about anything, just having normal conversations about life. He’s a really good guy and someone I look up to.”
Head coach D.J. Durkin and running backs coach Anthony Tucker deserve props too. Durkin’s overarching energy and his stay-home mantra resonated, while Fleet-Davis talked up Tucker’s coaching approach at various camps and practices. (The Potomac product also knew linebackers coach Matt Barnes, an indication the Terps may look at Fleet-Davis for defense if offense doesn’t work out).
“Coach Durkin is just a really intense guy, and I like him a lot. He keeps talking about the DMV takeover and how I needed to keep the momentum going. He talks about how Maryland can be like Miami in the ‘80s, and that’s something I thought a lot about and sounds good,“ Fleet-Davis said. “And Coach Tucker, I like the way he coaches. He’s fun, but also very detailed. I liked the way he talks to the running backs and interacts with them.”
Of course, the aforementioned Deon Jones gets an assist as well. The four-star corner has been hyping the Terps for the last month, doing his part to get his teammate on board. Fleet-Davis said he wouldn’t be affected by another recruit’s decision, but Jones’ efforts certainly helped the Terps’ cause.
“Deon is on me like every day. Every single day,” Fleet-Davis said. “Like, every time he sees me it’s like, ‘Terps, baby.’ He’s just always saying how I need to stay home and keep the [hometown] movement going. He said we’re going to win championships at Maryland.”
While the coaches and Jones certainly had Fleet-Davis convinced, it’s important to note the runner’s inherent comfort level on campus. He visited College Park on random days just to chat with the staff, while he attended workouts, practices and every special event Durkin and Co. hosted (DMV Day, the Freak Show and the July 30 cookout).
“Every time I go up to Maryland I have a good time, just chilling,” Fleet-Davis said. “I really like bonding with the coaches and just hanging out up there. It’s always a lot of fun, and there’s always cool people to chill with. I just like being around Maryland.”
Some of the school’s aesthetic qualities caught Fleet-Davis’ eye too. He previously talked up the forthcoming $150 million facility upgrades, the weight-room improvements, the renovated player dorms and the campus itself.
“When the facilities are done, those are going to be hot,” said Fleet-Davis, a football lifer who was forecast as the ‘next big back’ in Prince George’s County as a freshman. “They’re going to be some of the best in the country. That’s going to be huge for Maryland.”
Fleet-Davis also considered SU, Iowa, Illinois, Rutgers, Indiana and NC State, the latter of which actually offered after Fleet-Davis’ freshman year. He pared that list down to UMD, SU, Iowa and Indiana, but during the spring it became clear Maryland and Syracuse were the two frontrunners, Fleet-Davis visiting each multiple times.
The Orange were favored, but the Terps, with one final push, kept the local runner home.
“I’m all Terps, and I’m ready to keep the movement going,” said Fleet-Davis, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds and piled up 780 yards and seven touchdowns last year. “I feel like with the class we have coming in, we’re going to do great things in the future. We just got to keep it rolling. Go Terps.”-->