Early Signing Day primer: What you need to know about Maryland's 2023 class
Note: All star ratings and all rankings are based on 247Sports and its composite rankings as of Monday morning, Dec. 19, unless otherwise indicated.
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Maryland rolls into the Early Signing Period coming off its best 2-year stretch since 2013-14. Now, head coach Mike Locksley and his staff are trying to improve the roster for the future on the recruiting trail.
Entering the Early Signing Period, Maryland has 23 commitments with that group ranked 36th nationally. That group currently ranks 7th in the B1G and is headlined by a pair of 4-star commitments.
Here is everything you need to know about the class of the Terps heading into Wednesday:
By the numbers
Overall rank: 36th
B1G rank: 7th
Highest Rated Player: Edge, Rico Walker, 4-star
Walker comes to Maryland’s recruiting class as one of the latest commitments heading into the signing period. He originally committed to North Carolina in July but eventually reopened his recruitment in November.
Since then, Walker took an early December visit to Kentucky but eventually landed on the Terrapins. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 233 lbs., Walker has the physical frame to handle the next level early on.
According to the 247 Sports Composite, Walker is the No. 24 Edge prospect nationally and No. 214 player in the country for the class of 2023.
Did they bolster the QB room?
While Maryland is not adding multiple quarterbacks in the cycle, the Terrapins have one QB in Robert “Champ” Long committed. Long made an early move, committing to Maryland in June of 2021, and did not look back.
Listed at 5-11 and 200 pounds, Long is rated as the No. 52 QB nationally. He finished his senior season with nearly 2,900 yards of offense and 39 touchdowns.
Even if Long is not an immediate impact QB, he provides a player to work with and develop at the position in 2023 and moving forward.
Best position group: Edge
Maryland’s Edge group in this recruiting class was always trending in the right direction with Rico Walker on board. That position group took an even bigger step forward Sunday, landing a commitment from in-state prospect Dylan Gooden.
The son of former MLB star Dwight Gooden, Dylan is a 4-star prospect and the No. 6 player out of Maryland for the cycle. With the addition of Gooden, the Terps hold pledges from 4 Edge prospects in the class of 2023.
That group is headlined by the 4-star duo of Gooden and Walker. 3-star prospect Dillan Fontus out of New York is also a top-100 prospect at his position (No. 95 Edge) with 3-star prospect DJ Samuels out of New Jersey rounding out the group. Dylan Wade — a 3-star athlete who checks in at 6-4 and 240 — could also wind up at defensive end, or tight end, with the Terps.
Biggest need filled: WR
Already, Maryland knows Rakim Jarrett is off to the NFL. Other key receivers — Jeshaun Jones, Jacob Copeland and Dontay Demus Jr. — are all members of the 2018 recruiting class and approaching the end of their college careers.
With a veteran-heavy wide receiver room, the Terrapins were in need of restocking at the position. Maryland currently holds 5 commitments from wide receivers, providing an indication that it was a position of priority. That group is headlined by 3-star prospect Ezekiel Avit, a 6-foot-3 recruit and the No. 19 in-state player from Maryland.
While none of the receivers currently committed to the Terps rates higher than a 3-star prospect, it does not mean the group is devoid of impact performers. Both Jeshaun Jones and Dontay Demus Jr. arrived on campus as 3-star players, but both are 1,000-yard receivers for their careers with the Terrapins.
Mike Locksley will hope for similar development with the 2023 recruiting class.
Based on class ranking, Maryland’s group for 2023 comprises the lowest-rated recruiting class since Mike Locksley’s first recruiting class at Maryland in 2019. That class came in at 47th on the 247Sports composite.
Since then, the Terps have finished 31st, 18th and 31st with their recruiting classes from 2020-22. However, with the introduction of the transfer portal and extra COVID eligibilities getting used up, the slight drop in ranking for 2023 should not be a major concern.
As for local talent, Locksley and his staff continue to put a priority on the state of Maryland. The 2023 recruiting class currently contains 8 commitments from Maryland prospects and another commitment from a player out of Washington, D.C. The Terps hold pledges from 7 of the top 31 in-state players for the cycle.
Another interesting note for this year’s recruiting class under Locksley is a definitive focus on the East Coast. Of the players currently committed, only Nolan Ray out of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, hails from a state not located along the East Coast of the United States.
While focusing on the East is not necessarily anything new for Maryland, previous recruiting classes typically contained a handful of key prospects from west of the Mississippi River. We will see if any get added throughout the early period, but so far, it is an East Coast group for the Terrapins.