With Terps football camp starting this week -- and four members of the D.J. Durkin's first recruit class alums of both Mike Anderson's local Grassroots Youth Football League and DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) -- who better to chat up some football, both prep and college, than the former Stag and onetime Terps running back and basketball point guard in the late 1980s.
Anderson, who battled back from leukemia as a Terp student-athlete, helped develop, between the grades of sixth and eighth grade, the likes of Terps rookies RB LoLo Harrison, Slot D.J. Turner, WR Tino Ellis and OG Terrance Davis, not to mention fellow incoming frosh OL Richard Merritt, who played at nearby Archbishop Carroll (D.C.) High School.
Not a bad Stags haul, especially after a lengthy, blue-chip dearth of top DeMatha talent coming to College Park that spans back nearly a decade, to former four-star WR/S Kenny Tate.
This year the Terps broke through, while two of Anderson's GYFL alums -- QB Kasim Hill and DL Cam Spence -- are in the Terps Top 15, 2017 pledge class already.
We spanned several topics with Anderson in Part 1 of our series today, including the most recent DeMatha-to-College Park (and another GYFL alum) news, former Stags three-star receiver Chris Jones boomeranging back to College Park last week as a transfer after initially signing with Wisconsin. Look for Part Two tomorrow breaking down the next wave of local future stars in GYFL (many with Maryland in the early lead), as well as the new local lay of the land with all the changes at powers like Gilman, St. Frances and St. John's, among others.
This is Year Seven for Anderson and GYFL, who graduated from UMD in 1991.
Terrapin Times: Mike, talk about the recent acquisition of Chris Jones, the former Stag standout receiver, and what he brings to the table as a receiver now for UMD.
Mike Anderson: Oh, I am really excited, man. He is one I that I hoped would have chosen Maryland initially, and they wanted him. Wisconsin was a pretty good situation for him, and I am not sure of all the details that happened out there. But tremendous athlete, length, ability to go get it, speed, tremendous team guy. You know, of course it brings another DeMatha kid to help bring the Maryland brand as well.
TT: And his father, Troy, who is a local trainer, your thoughts on the impact having him aboard as well.
MA: Troy is a great guy, man, he is one of the top trainers in the area, and he has trained some of the best of the best who have gone on to star at colleges all over the place. So for his son to be back home is strong, it is a good fit, a benefit for him, and because of some of the kids that Troy trains right now. He still trains some of the best up and coming kid,s middle school kids in our league, so I think it will benefit everyone.
TT: And your five kids at UMD now in their first camp, the feeling there and especially so many DeMatha kids. Give us a soundbite on each for Terps fans to get to know them more.
MA: Man, I am excited because I coached each and every one of those kids. LoLo, he is one of the toughest football players that I have ever seen in my life. I mean, what is in the heart of those four kids is really, really different, you just have to get know them. I got to know them when they were in middle school, and watching them develop, LoLo has a heart like a lion, will not quit, tough, fast, reads holes, you know, eyes on the back of his head.
And then D.J. Turner, I had to create an award for D.J. in Grassroots. Because when he was in middle school, he was a a phenomenal athlete but he was small. So I was always thinking forward, thinking you got to have the prototype size. And I didn't think he would be big enough to become what he has become, but arguably he is one of the best players to ever play at DeMatha. And to overcome the injuries that he has had...he will be a special slot, a devastating slot receiver and they will not be able to guard him.
Then Tino, prototypical size, work ethic...all these kids have great work ethic...but Tino is like a machine, he is like an animal. That young man has worked harder than any kid I have ever seen, and he has all of the measureables: the size, the speed, all those things to be a great receiver at Maryland.
Then Terrance, he is just an anchor, just an anchor. Terrance is the 'alpha dog' of the whole group. Prototype size, great work ethic, great base, great strength, guard or tackle, but I think he will be a guard at Maryland. And I would not be surprised if he got some playing time as a freshman at Maryland.
Richard, you can't teach size, you can't teach size. Richard played for us, the FBU Team Maryland, he was one tackle and Terrance was the other tackle. And we always thought he had outstanding potential. I am happy for him, his career, being an Under Armour All American. I think he has to work to get his body to where he wants to get it, but once he does, well I think he will be a tremendous asset.
TT: And just talk about this year's DeMatha breakthrough to College Park after so any lean years.
MA: I just think that D.J. has an infectious type of personality. He has a great staff, energetic staff, and like the grandfather (laugh) of the staff, Mike London, is amazing. No, he is like everybody's uncle (laugh). And so the spirit is awesome out there, and that's no knock against the last staff there. And I think a lot of kids wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Locksley, and I think if he stayed a lot would be here as well. But I think it is a changing of the guard right now out there, and a lot of kids are realizing this opportunity with this new staff.
And as far as D.J. [Durkin], I was shocked when he first got here. Within the first week, I was shocked that as soon as he got here within a week I got a call from Marcus Berry, their recruiting coordinator, and said that at one of the first meetings that he had, Coach Durkin had requested he reach out to Grassroots. And I was just humbled and honored to get a phone call like that a day later. We have established a great relationship and things have been great.
And we did two things out there already: in the spring we opened up our season at Maryland, so all of the 6-8 graders all played on campus. they played in the stadium, and many of the coaches were there, they could watch those eighth-graders. And that was something Coach Edsall and Coach Locksley opened up the door for the year before. And then we ended our season on July 20 with a showcase with about 300 kids there and the coaches ran the event. They got to work with Coach London, Coach Bell, Coach Aazaar, and we had a ceremony that night. They have been very gracious with us. That was a blast for them.
And then we had our championship game at Gilman this year, so it was a great year for us. But the feeling with D.J. now? Pure excitement, pure excitement now down at the local grassroots level with the kids. The young kids want to be associated with him and the program now. I have seen a domino affect now, with the kids they see now out there, and the many in this freshman class, and them wanting to follow in their footsteps now. He kinda has that electrifying personality, his spirit is just infectious, and he makes you feel a part of something, Some coaches have that, some don't. Some are just born with it.
TT: And how about the future Terp pledge for 2017, Kasim Hill, the four-star quarterback now at St. John's?
MA: Kasim, oh Kasim is going to be good. Kasim, he is a just a different, he is just different. I coached him for two years, got him as a seventh-grader, met him at a FBU tryout at Annapolis Area Christian School. And [Hill's QB coach] Chris (Baucia) was my quarterback at DeMatha.
And Kasim showed up at tryouts from Delaware, and then came down in the spring and played for a Baltimore all-star team. And he was just special, he lit the league on fire. And you get a quarterback like that, and a Cam Spence, two fabulous players going to St. John's and then to Maryland. The future is looking very bright.