Maryland’s major cookout event July 30 hasn’t even commenced yet, but it’s already paying dividends. South Mecklenburg (Charlotte, N.C.) kick Jonathan Doerer arrived in College Park, Md., a day early July 29, and ended up committing after touring the school and meeting the coaches. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound booter, who is considered one of the top kickers in his class per several outlets, becomes the 12th pledge in UMD’s 2017 class.
“You know, I was going to wait until I left Maryland July 30 to commit, but I was with [head coach D.J.] Durkin all day [July 29] and I just decided to go ahead with it. I had been ready to commit for awhile actually, but I wanted to make sure I saw the school and my mom got to see the school first,” said Doerer, who held one other offer from Army. “Once she saw the academics and all that, we knew it was perfect. It was time to commit and I’m pretty happy with it.”
Doerer first caught the Terps’ coaches’ eye back in March, when area recruiter Walt Bell trekked through South Mecklenburg. The interest Bell and special teams coach Pete Lembo showed convinced the emerging kicker to attend UMD’s camp June 11.
Doerer, kicking inside Maryland Stadium, ended up showing off his leg in front of both Lembo and Durkin, drawing plenty of praise for his big leg and accuracy.
A couple weeks later, he landed the coveted offer and has been all about the Terps since then.
“When Maryland first offered me, I knew that was my school. It was exciting to get the offer, and it was something I’d been working towards,” said Doerer, who lauded his June 11 campus visit, praising Lembo, Durkin and the school itself. “All I needed, really, was to see the school and learn about the academics, and I was good to go. I’m really, really happy with my decision and excited about my future at Maryland. It’s a great opportunity for me.”
Although Bell is Doerer’s area recruiter, the kicker mainly stayed in contact with Lembo. Doerer said he conversed with UMD’s special teams coach about three times each week.
“Me and Coach Lembo have a great relationship. He’s from North Carolina and we sort of had that bond to begin with,” Doerer said. “He also has a great relationship with my coach; my high school coach’s son played for Coach Lembo at Elon. So I’d heard all about Coach Lembo before Maryland even offered me, so it was like we’d known each other for a long time.
“So it’s been great and we get along well. He’s been great throughout the process, walking me through everything. He’s been real with me, letting me know my chances there, and I appreciate all of it.”
Doerer wasn’t finished talking up Lembo. The kicker believes he can learn plenty, and eventually thrive, under the Terps’ special teams coach.
“Coach Lembo was a great special teams coordinator back in the day, and he continued to emphasize special teams as a head coach. He always tells me how important he takes special teams and how much emphasis he puts on it,” Doerer said. “He really believes special teams can make the difference in any given game. A lot of coaches don’t always put focus on special teams, but he realizes you can win games with the kicking game. That was huge for me, and I can’t wait to learn from him.”
Doerer had similar praise for Durkin. The South Mecklenburg product noted that Durkin has a special teams background as well.
“Of all the head coaches I’ve talked to, Coach Durkin had the best grasp on special teams. When he was a coordinator, it was obvious he had a grasp on how important that part of the game is,” Doerer said. “He has experience with special teams and really emphasizes it.
"Also, he's just a great guy and a great head coach. With his energy, he's the type of coach you want to play for."
Of course, the coach relationships were only part of the reason Doerer jumped on the UMD offer so quickly. The school’s educational aspects were really what sold him on the school.
“I got a tour of the kinesiology program and my mother was really happy with that. I want to major in sports medicine,” Doerer said. “To see the major up close, to see where I would be going to class and meeting the professors, that was great. We were all really impressed.”
Moreover, Doerer loved the campus and surrounding area. He had a chance to tour Washington, D.C., after taking in College Park.
“The connections in D.C., and just what’s available to you job-wise in D.C. and Baltimore, it’s a great location. I love it up here,” Doerer said. “And also Under Armour, that relationship with Maryland is terrific and it presents so many future opportunities. So you take the Under Armour connections and the school’s location, and you can’t beat it. It’s a terrific situation.
“Also, the new facilities at Maryland, those are going to be fantastic. I was so impressed with what they’re building there and the new dorms and all that. It was all great.”
Thus, Doerer ended up committing before leaving to have dinner in D.C. He said he can’t wait to be a Terp and arrive in College Park next year.
“It’s just an exciting opportunity and I just want to thank the Maryland coaches for giving it to me,” said Doerer, who was receiving interest from schools like UNC, NC State and others, but hadn't procured any other offers yet.
Last year, Doerer was 9 of 16 on field-goal attempts, with a long of 49 yards. He put 90 percent of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. Doerer said he can punt too, but is being recruited only as a kicker.
The question is, Can Doerer, who trained under renowned specialist Dan Orner (North Carolina), become another Brad Craddock, the Terps’ former Lou Groza Award winner? Only time will tell, but the Carolina native is confident in his abilities.
“You know, I’ve worked so hard and I’ve had some great coaches guiding me,” Doerer said. “I’m confident in my abilities and what I can bring to the table. I’m going to keep working, keep improving to be the best I can be and make Maryland fans proud. I’m excited about the opportunity.”