COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland’s staff has one 2017 tight end committed in Andrew Park (Lake Braddock/Burke, Va.), but the Terps seem inclined to add a second. Jenks (Okla.) three-star Reese Leitao was the latest tight end to secure a UMD verbal earlier in July, and July 30 he visited Maryland for the first time as a recruit.
The 6-foot-4, 234-pounder, who is the son of DePaul basketball coach Dave Leitao, said he thoroughly enjoyed his experience and now has the Terps firmly on his radar.
“Before coming to Maryland, I felt like they weren’t as high, but now they definitely climbed up,” said Leitao, who holds offers from programs like Penn State, Duke, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and more. “I felt really comfortable around the coaches and can definitely see myself in College Park for the next four, five years. I see them as a really good candidate.”
Leitao had actually been in College Park before when he was younger. When Dave Leitao was an assistant at Virginia and the family lived in Charlottesville, Va., Reese Leitao had a chance to see some of the schools the Cavaliers competed against. One of which was obviously Maryland, Leitao recalling taking in games at Xfinity Center and driving through College Park.
“So I actually remember Maryland from that, which was pretty cool. But [July 30] was my first time being on the campus as a football recruit,” Leitao said. “It was my first time checking out facilities, talking to coaches and actually getting a feel for the school. I thought it was very impressive.”
Leitao, whose father accompanied him on the trip, said he first learned about the school’s academics. An education-first recruit who wants to major in engineering, he had a chance to speak to a Maryland professor in that field.
“When we first got to Maryland we went to the engineering building and sat down for an hour with a professor. I learned about all the different options Maryland has to offer in that major, and it sounds like a great opportunity,” Leitao said. “Then we learned about the academic assistance they offer student-athletes there, and that sounded really great too. Maryland is a very strong school academically, which I like.”
Leitao’s favorite part of the visit, however, was meeting the Terps’ coaches. He had a chance to connect with tight ends coach Pete Lembo, offensive coordinator Walt Bell and head coach D.J. Durkin.
“I really liked sitting down with Coach Bell; that was the best,” Leitao said. “Just learning about the offense, I think it would fit me well. And just talking to him and he’s such a young, ambitious coach. I really related well to him.
“Then Coach Durkin, he’s the same way. Just his energy and passion really came across. And with Coach Lembo, we’ve been building a relationship since I got the Maryland offer a few weeks ago. We’ve started to pick things up a bit.”
Leitao enjoyed interacting with the other recruits and the various Terps’ commitments on campus too.
Afterwards, the Jenks product said College Park was his final visit this offseason. There’s a chance he commits towards the end of August, but now may be inclined towards embarking on official visits.
“My initial thought was to decide before the season, but now I’m leaning towards taking at least some, if not all, five officials,” Leitao said. “I just want to get a feel for these schools more in-depth. But we’ll see; but I’m still thinking about maybe committing in August.”
As of now, Leitao said he does not have a clear leaderboard. However, he admitted that schools such as Penn State, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Duke, Iowa, Illinois and now Maryland had his eye. Moreover, he said those programs’ coaches have had the most contact with him.
Of those, Leitao has been able to visit Oklahoma State, Penn State, Duke, Nebraska and Maryland. He’s also tripped to Alabama, Arkansas and Missouri.
“All of the visits were top-notch,” Leitao said. “I enjoyed myself at each school I’ve seen.”
So, which ones are in line for officials?
“I’d say right now, if I don’t commit [in August], it’s going to be Oklahoma State, Penn State and Nebraska,” Leitao said. “Those are the three I definitely want to take officials to.”