Terps Tugging on Travis Hawkins
During a recent visit to University of Maryland football practice, highly touted Quince Orchard (Md.) High junior Travis Hawkins was all set to join one of the team's positional units and sit in on a group meeting. The dilemma for the multi-talented Hawkins was determining which positional group he'd join. Judging by the impromptu tug of war that took place in the Gossett Team House hallway, it's safe to say it was a tough call for the coaches as well.
Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen and recruiting coordinator Dave Sollazzo wanted a few moments with Hawkins. So did running backs coach John Donovan. And defensive backs coach Kevin Lempa. At one point, several of them had grips on his arm, trying to pull him toward their meeting room.
"It was pretty funny," said Quince Orchard coach Dave Mencarini.
It's safe to say that Hawkins, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior rated the No. 10 cornerback in the country, is one of the top prospects on Maryland's recruiting board, and a player who the Terps have a great shot with. He's been a regular at practices this spring.
"He's very interested in Maryland. They have been recruiting him longer than anyone, since his sophomore year, and he has a great relationship with the staff," Mencarini said.
After sending his video clips out to programs across the country early this spring, Hawkins became something of an overnight sensation. The offers have been piling for him – now 14 in total – including recent offers from Florida and Oklahoma. Still, Mencarini said, the ‘brand' names of other suitors isn't likely to affect Hawkins decision.
"He's a kid that wants to go to a place where he can make an impact," he said. "I would expect Maryland to be in it to the end."
Hawkins runs the 40-yard dash in the high 4.4-second range and has great elusiveness and agility. He's an outstanding person off the field, Mencarini said, which has contributed to so many schools taking the plunge and offering immediately. Many schools, such as Maryland, are recruiting him as an athlete, while others see him as a cornerback, safety, tailback or slot receiver.
"He's a game changer," Mencarini said. "He's a difference maker. He has some things in terms of speed an elusiveness that you can't teach."
He also has two teammates the Terps would love to have in junior defensive tackle Terrence Stephens and junior defensive end Jason Ankrah, each of whom holds an offer.
Ankrah is a 6-4, 240-pounder with offers from Maryland, N.C. State, Syracuse and West Virginia. Stephens, a 6-foot-2, 280-pounder, is the No. 19 defensive tackle in the nation and has eight offers, including Maryland, Penn State, Stanford, Nebraska, West Virginia and UConn. He's know for his non-stop motor and seems to be the sort who could factor in early in his career.
The trio, along with defensive tackle Zack Kerr, led Quince Orchard to the Maryland 4A state title last fall. Kerr, who signed with Maryland, is close with his teammates, and they have discussed playing together in college. Maryland's staff has developed an excellent rapport with the program at Quince Orchard, which has become one of Maryland's elite public programs in recent years.
"They've all talked about it, there's no question. They've had the chance to play together and win a state championship together, and there's something to be said for [playing together in college]," Mencarini said. "At the same time, I have sat down with all three and told them they have to make the best decision for them and make sure it's also the best academic fit for them individually. But Maryland certainly offers them a lot."
Mencarini said it will come down to the wire in terms of whether Kerr will be qualified at the end of the spring. If he isn't, he'll attend either Fork Union or Hargrave Military Academy next year before heading to College Park.
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