Maryland’s Georgia-area recruiter, Walt Bell, stopped by one of his frequent Peach State stomping grounds way back in January, with a 6-foot-6, 215-pound tight end immediately catching his eye. Shortly thereafter, Bell and tight ends coach Pete Lembo extended an offer to Maleak Bryant (Mays/Atlanta, Ga.).
Four months later, Bryant finally had a chance to visit College Park, Md., for the first time. He proceeded to dub Maryland his leader post-trip, letting on it was only a matter of time before he committed.
Bryant did just that May 21, choosing UMD over Iowa State.
“I chose to do this now because I just didn’t see the point in waiting any longer,” said Bryant, who also claimed verbals from Rutgers, Pitt, Tennessee and ECU. “I called the Maryland coaches [May 20] and told them then, and decided to announce my commitment tonight. I called Coach [DJ] Durkin and he was excited and happy to have me on board.
“Maryland just felt like home when I was up there, they have a top program for what I want to major in and the offensive coordinator is going to use my the way my high school does now – as a flex tight end. Everything there just seemed to fit.”
UMD was actually the only power-five offeree Bryant visited. He was scheduled to see Iowa State June 8, and he still plans to head out there with his teammate, receiver Amir Abdur-Rahman, but has no plans on entertaining the Cyclones.
“Maryland is where I want to be,” said Bryant, who has been hearing the most from coaches at UMD, Iowa State, Toledo, UCF and Georgia State. “The coaches there treat you like family there. I’ve known Coach Bell and Coach Lembo for a minute there and they’re talking to me like every day. Coach Lembo, he’s been great because we talk about more than just football. He’s a really good guy to talk to and always checks in on me.
“And I feel like Coach Bell is a great coach and I liked what he’s been saying to me too. He said they don’t have tight ends like me on the roster now, and they want guys who can get down the field and make plays. He wants to make them a bigger part of the offense, and he thinks I can be like the guy he had at North Carolina, Eric Ebron. That made me feel great, for him to think I can do that kind of thing for his offense.”
Bryant went on to praise the Under Armour uniforms, the campus setting and how College Park is just a four-hour drive from home. He said it was “big” that his family wouldn’t have to travel too far to see his home games.
“The off-campus player dorms they have there are really nice. They’re sweet, and they do a lot to help the student-athletes there,” Bryant said. “And the new facilities and what they’re building there is real nice too. I love how the locker room leads right out into the stadium and the new indoor fields that are going to be opening up.
“Also, I want to major in communications, and Maryland has a top program in that field. There are so many jobs available after college there. That’s a great opportunity for me and my parents were really impressed with that.”
Now that he’s committed, Bryant said he’s going to shut down his recruitment so he can focus on his team. He admitted he might have to gauge his situation after his senior film is evaluated, but insisted he’s a solid Maryland pledge.
Bryant is coming off a season where he caught 35 balls for 550 yards and 10 touchdowns as part of a wide-open spread that featured eight different receivers. He currently runs the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds.
“I’d say when I’m on the field I have an attitude that no one can stop me,” Bryant said. “I’m very confident in what I can do and think I can have a big impact at the next level.”