It’s not every year that Paint Branch (Burtonsville, Md.) produces an FBS recruit, but they have one who just reached college football’s top level in the 2018 class. Outside linebacker Durell Nchami stands 6-feet-3, 205-pounds, with plenty of quickness, athleticism and burst. Last season, Nchami broke out and proved to be one of the top defenders in his conference, recording 55 tackles; six sacks; and a couple forced fumbles.
“Personally, I really trained hard during the summer at camps and worked a lot with my linebackers’ coaches. I used those skills and incorporated them on the field,” said Nchami, who is currently in offseason lifting. “So I felt I played really good this season and really opened some eyes.”
Nchami did enough to generate interest from Maryland linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes, who took a liking to Nchami’s film. Then, on Jan. 4, Barnes let Nchami's coach know he had his first offer from the Terps.
"So my coach called us all together after workouts, and he said in front of everyone I had the offer from Maryland," Nchami said. "I was really kind of nervous about it; I kind of wanted to cry I was so happy. To get my first offer, and for it to be from the hometown school, it was a real blessing. Maryland is definitely the early leader for me."
Nchami hasn't personally spoken to Barnes since landing the verbal, but he plans to in short order. The two already have a rapport of sorts.
“The first time I met Coach Barnes was last summer when I came up for an unofficial visit. He seemed like a really cool dude. I was in a meeting with him and he was really cool to talk to,” Nchami said. “I’ve been talking to him since then and it’s just a cool relationship so far.”
Barnes isn’t the only UMD coach Nchami has interacted with. He’s also met UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty as well as headman D.J. Durkin.
“Coach Durkin actually came to my school, and that was really awesome to see the head coach of Maryland there,” Nchami said. “I was actually really nervous, but it was great to meet him. He’s really cool too.”
Besides seeing Durkin at Paint Branch and Barnes during a campus visit, Nchami has chatted with the Maryland staff after games too. The local linebacker, who projects as a BUCK at UMD, attended two UMD affairs last fall, first for its game against Minnesota and then against Rutgers.
“The first game Maryland struggled, but they beat Rutgers. But I still liked the fans and atmosphere both times I was there. It was a real fun environment,” Nchami said. “It was cool to interact with the fans, and then to talk to the coaches afterwards. All the Maryland coaches are just good guys.
“When I was up there, I got a chance to tour around too. I saw all the new facilities they’re building, and they’re going to be great. I really like what Maryland is doing and I think it’s a great place.”
Now that he has the offer, Nchami said he’s going to be working hard in the weight room and at several spring cams to further draw the coaches’ attention. He’s also doing his part in the classroom, boasting a near-3.2 GPA.
“I really like Maryland, because I like being near my family and friends,” Nchami said. “And Maryland’s coaches are really building up the program, and I want to be part of that. I see all the local recruits going there like Fofie [Bazzie], who I know, and guys like Kasim Hill, and it would be really cool to join them there.”
Nchami said growing up his dream school was Michigan State, but “Maryland has since reached that level.”
The Paint Branch product plans to return to College Park, Md., a couple times this offseason, in addition to hitting a few other locales whose coaches show interest. So far, UMD is the only program he’s taken in.