Maryland secured a commitment from St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.) defensive end B'Ahmad Miller Oct. 1. Afterwards, we spoke to SFA Director of Football Operations and associate head coach Messay Hailemariam to gain more insight into the 6-foot-2, 240-pounder.
Our question-and-answer session is below:
Terrapin Times: Coach, I know B’ahmad spent his first three years at Eastern Christian and you guys have only had him since the summer, but can you give some insight into who B’ahmad is and how he’s progressed in the months since you’ve seen him?
Messay Hailemariam: He’s just a tremendous, first and foremost, person in general. He’s a leader on and off the field. He’s the quality of a player with a high IQ, a motor and he’s been an amazing leader for us this year. You can tell he’s played at a high level for a little while. He came onto our team and added to what we were excited about for ourselves in the type of player we were getting, but more importantly what he brought to the program as a whole.
TT: Specifically, what does he bring to the table as a defensive end?
MH: He’s extremely quick off the ball. He’s a monster, he’s aggressive. He commands a double team, and when he is double teamed, he creates for his teammates. Everything you can look for in a football player, especially in a defensive lineman, he has. He’s quick, explosive, strong, and just the intangibles he brings. He’s also versatile and can play any spot on the defensive line. That’s why he’s a great addition for the Terps, and hopefully he can impact them right away.
TT: And what does B’ahmad need to work on? I found it curious he only had a couple FBS offers, so what were some of the reservations some major programs had?
MH: I mean, he was heating up and starting to receive a lot of attention. He had been getting ready to start getting some more offers, but he’d been talking for a long time about how he wanted to be a Terp. It just happened to be he made the decision early. But in the next couple weeks we were anticipating him getting more offers.
But, in terms of what he needs to work on, like any high school player making the transition to college, he just has to do everything even quicker and stronger. As long as he gets bigger, stronger and faster and fine-tunes his game and really develops counter moves and all that, he should be fine at the next level.
TT: Did you anticipate B’ahmad would commit on campus Oct. 1? Did he give any hints he’d be ending his recruitment that day at the game?
MH: I think he thought for some time that might be the place for him. He’s had a good relationship with Coach [Mike] London for some time, and he was exited about what Coach [D.J.] Durkin is doing there. He was already kind of leaning towards the Terps. It was just figuring out when and how [to commit].
And in that environment [Oct. 1], it was an awesome day and Maryland really took it to Purdue. But more importantly, just the whole environment there now. There’s something going on at Maryland, and that’s what he said. He was excited and wanted to be part of the rebranding and rebuilding of Maryland football.
TT: How important was it for Maryland to get in at St. Frances now and begin establishing the pipeline with the new staff from Gilman there now? I know the former Maryland staff landed Nnamdi [Egbuaba], but with St. Frances becoming the new power in Baltimore, how big was that for the Terps to get a player from there now?
MH: Coach [D.J.] Durkin, Coach [Mike] London, that’s a tremendous move to continue to effectively recruit in-state. If they continue to do this, St. Frances, and all the other DMV programs, it’s gong to establish the fact [the Terps] want to keep the guys that are local home and they want to win with [in-state] recruits. So I think it’s awesome, I think it’s exciting. And now, with the other young players we have here, I’m sure they’ll be saying, ‘OK, Maryland is taking care of their own.’ It makes them more compelled to want to stay home.
TT: What’s B’ahmad like around his teammates off the field and in the locker room?
MH: You can’t ask for anything more out of a player or person. He really works hard and has a tremendous demeanor about him. I always comment that he has an old soul. He’s a lot more mature than your average 18-year-old. He’s been tremendous in the locker room establishing a disciplined environment for the guys. He literally has helped to continue to create a culture we’re looking to build on.
We have a pretty good freshmen class that came in, and a lot of them are extremely talented but, at 13 or 14 years old, they’re not as mature as a coach would like them to be. So B’ahmad has been tremendous in setting an example and letting them know not everything happens overnight. And for some of the guys that have never played on a national level, he’s been through that. Like when we went up to play Paramus Catholic, he had a very calming effect on the team.
TT: Last question Coach. Before you talked about a different environment surrounding Maryland football. Is that the impression most of the local coaches and you guys at St. Frances are starting to sense at UMD now?
MH: What I’m seeing consistently, and having spoken to [former SFA star] Nnamdi [Egbuaba] and getting some more insight into it … there’s a level of excitement that most changes brings, but this one is a little more exciting. The new staff is working that much harder, they’re much more committed, and you can see it.
When you win like they did against Purdue, you can tell the program is moving in the right direction. When you rush for 400 yards and hold somebody to 10 yards, that’s an accomplishment in the Big Ten, I don’t care who you play. That’s a direct result in their preparation and training, and the culture Coach Durkin is trying to establish. That’s my personal opinion, and you can tell there’s an excitement that hasn’t been there in a little while.