The momentum continued for Maryland Dec. 13 when the staff pulled in junior-college inside linebacker Nick Underwood, the second prospect in as many years the Terps have landed from Riverside City College (Riverside, Calif.). The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Underwood, an Oregon native, committed to UMD after officially visiting College Park, Md., Dec. 8-10. He chose Maryland despite holding an offer from nearby Washington State, which Underwood officially visited Dec. 11.
“I have a lot of respect for Mike Leach his coaching staff and the WSU program. They are a great program,” said Underwood, a January enrollee who will have three years of eligibility remaining. “But, for me, the University of Maryland offers an incredible, elite Big Ten program that is on the rise and I want to be apart of it.”
The Terps actually wrapped Underwood up fairly quickly. The staff first initiated contact with the linebacker in early November, when Maryland assistant Brawley Evans began exchanging messages via Twitter. Shortly thereafter, linebackers coach Matt Barnes and defensive coordinator Andy Buh took over when they watched Underwood’s film.
The Oregonian still had to make sure his academics were in order before Barnes and Co. could pursue in earnest, but once his transcripts cleared, the Terps made the push. Barnes ended up trekking out to Riverside in early December, convincing Underwood to officially visit College Park just a couple days later. The backer was so eager to come out he actually arrived on a Thursday, Dec. 8, and stayed through Dec. 10.
During the trip, on Dec. 9, Underwood received the formal scholarship from head coach D.J. Durkin, which prompted the recruit’s commitment four days later.
“I actually thought about committing when I was at Maryland,” Underwood said. “But I did want to talk to the Washington State coaches and then talk to my parents back home in Oregon. And after I did that, we decided Maryland was the best fit. It’s a great school and a great program.
“When I was [at Maryland] I was really impressed with the coaches and the facilities they have. It's a great staff, and the strength and conditioning program is amazing. I think Coach Rick Court has a great resume and does a great job with his players. The nutrition program they have there is off the charts. And then just all the facilities they're building there, I was blown away by those and just all the things they have there for football with Under Armour. And the campus was beautiful too; I really liked it.”
Underwood said his conversations with Barnes also resonated, the coach explaining Maryland’s defense and the JUCO’s potential role in it.
“I like how versatile Maryland’s defense is and I think the coaches can really get me ready for the next level,” Underwood said. “Coach Barnes likes me at inside backer, and he thinks I can come in and compete and play right away if I work for it. That’s something I really liked. I think I’ll fit in really well.”
The Oregonian said the current Terps sold him on the program as well. Avery Edwards hosted Underwood, the tight end letting on the ins and outs of Maryland and the football team.
“It was fun to hanging out with Avery and those guys. We had a good time, and I felt really comfortable there around all of them,” Underwood said. “I asked them how it is there and playing big teams like Ohio State, and [the players] said it's very competitive, good football in the Big Ten, and how they're right there on the verge of being really good at Maryland. I'd love to come in and help them out. They're on the come-up.”
The Riverside product made sure to note Maryland’s location near Washington, D.C., and the various academic opportunities too. He’s considering going into business and mentioned how UMD has a standout program in that field.
“The academics are huge at Maryland and being near D.C., there’s a lot of internships and connections there,” Underwood said. “I liked being out there too. It’s different from [the West Coast], but I liked it and I could see myself living there.”
Underwood prepped at Lake Oswego Senior (Ore.) and actually committed to Air Force out of high school. But he never signed with the Falcons, opting to go the JUCO route for the chance to play at a power-five program.
Initially, Underwood only received lower Division I offers after arriving at Riverside, with New Mexico State being the most prominent. But then Maryland came in, Washington State followed and a few other programs were showing interest.
“It’s every kid’s dream to play in the Pac-12, and it would’ve been cool to play against a lot of my teammates and friends,” said Underwood, who will join cornerback JC Jackson as the second Riverside alum on Maryland's roster. “But at the same time I had to do what’s best for me.”