The Maryland-DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) connection has been well established, and the Terps have already secured commitments from the powerhouse Stags’ top two 2018 prospects in Evan Gregory and Austin Fontaine. Now, UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and Co. are making inroads into the 2019 crop.
They’ve long had an offer out to four-star sophomore wideout DeMarcco Hellams, but earlier in May Abdul-Rahim identified strong safety Nick Cross as a scholarship-worthy recruit. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder pulled his first two verbals from Purdue and Temple early during the current spring evaluation period, and Maryland came in shortly thereafter.
“The Purdue offer was my first, and that kind of came out of nowhere. I haven’t even seen any Purdue coaches here; Coach [Elijah] Brooks just texted me about it,” Cross said. “But I did see Temple and Maryland at my workouts, and both offered after they watched me. The Maryland offer was a good one. I’d talked to Coach Aazaar before and he’s a really nice guy and a good coach. I’d had a relationship with him already; he’s up here [at DeMatha] a lot. So it’s great to now have an offer from him.”
Cross lives in Silver Spring, Md., just minutes from the Terps’ College Park, Md., campus. Naturally, he’s been over to the local university numerous times, first for a 7-on-7 last summer, then for August practices, and then again this spring for more practices. And Cross was up at Maryland yet again May 12 a few days after picking up the offer.
“I really like it over there. From watching the practices I think they have a lot of talent, they’re really building things up and the coaches are great,” Cross said. “The coaches are very nice people and they relate well to the players.”
Cross went on to comment on the DeMatha-to-Maryland pipeline that’s taken hold. The budding safety knows current Terps LoLo Harrison and DJ Turner fairly well and has spoken to them the most.
“Lo was actually by DeMatha [May 15] just to hang out. I’m friends with him and DJ,” Cross said. “But we really don’t talk about Maryland all that much yet. Sooner or later I’ll start asking them about it to get the lowdown, but right now I’m just getting into recruiting and haven’t even really thought about what I want in a school yet.
“The [DMV movement] and [my teammates] going to Maryland is great, and I like Maryland, but I’m keeping things open right now until I learn more about that school; meet some other coaches at other schools; travel around; and develop relationships with other coaches. I’m just getting my feet wet. I’ve been in the DMV my entire life; this recruiting thing is new to me and I have to explore.”
The only other school Cross has been to besides UMD is Rutgers, and that was just for a campus looksee following a combine event in the area. He’s unsure where he’ll be heading to this summer, either, noting that, “I have to sit down with Coach Brooks and discuss where the best places are for me to go.”
Cross is unaware what other colleges are showing interest beyond his current suitors. He said typically Brooks, who is the point of contact for college recruiters who are looking at his freshmen and sophomores, keeps mum on those matters until the verbal is actually presented.
“All I know is Coach Brooks said a lot of schools are looking at me and to keep working hard,” Cross said. “And right now workouts are going well, and I’m just trying to get better from last year so come August I’ll be a cut above the rest.”
Cross did not start for DeMatha last season, but rotated in a good amount. He mainly played a rover/strong safety role in specialty packages, allowing him to play up in the box and also drop back into coverage. He’s slotted to start at strong safety this season.