COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WDVM) – Maryland football’s 2021 class is shaping up to be their best recruiting class since 2017, when ESPN ranked them as the 20th best class in the nation.
According to Maryland athletics; 21 athletes signed their letters of intent to play football for the Terrapins, when early signing period began on Wednesday.
This class is highlighted by four four-star players on the defensive side; linebacker Demeioun Robinson, linebacker Branden Jennings, defensive lineman Tommy Akingbesote, and defensive lineman Taizse Johnson.
Of the 21 athletes, 11 of them are from Maryland, four of them are from Florida, two are from the District, and one each from Delaware, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In terms of which players represent which side of the ball; 12 of those signings are for the defense, and nine of them are offensive players.
“I think you can tell by the names we’ve announced, our focus for this season was on the defensive side of the ball.” said Head Coach Mike Locksley, “Especially in the front seven. Where I firmly believe you need to build your program from the trenches.”
It’s an undestatement to say the Terps loaded themselves up with talent from the DMV: four-star Tommy Akingbesote, four-star Taizse Johnson, three-star Joe Bearns III, three-star Terrance Butler Jr., three-star Tai Felton, three-star Roman Hemby, three-star Leron Husbands, three-star Antwain Littleton Jr., three-star Colby McDonald, three-star Andre Porter, three-star Zion Shockley, three-star Dante Trader Jr., and three-star Jayon Venerable.
“We have a formula for how many defensive lineman, D-ends we want.” said Coach Locksley, “You know when you have 85 scholarships, you have to allocate them properly to make sure that your scholarship distribution fits. I thought when I first got here, we were a little lopsided in some position groups. I remember having seven quarterbacks on scholarships, and we had like six wide receivers in one class, so what we’ve done and been able to do in the last couple of years is try to balance that scholarship distribution out to where we’re starting to feel and hit the needs of where we want to be, and how we distribute the scholarships to the 85 we have.”
Locksley didn’t fail to mention how grateful he was for his staff, when he had the chance; for all of their hard work in the recruiting process, since they’ve joined the program.
“I want to thank my staff.” said Coach Locksley, “Our recruiting class did a tremendous job with this ’21 class. When I took this job in January of ’19, this was the class we targeted. Not that we didn’t recruit ’19’s and ’20’s but I knew that relationship building is about a two year cycle. And when we took over in ’19, and knowing how great a class this area had locally, as well as our ability to continue to stretch all throughout the country to get players – we put a lot of points of emphasis on this one and the staff; with Taylor Edwards, Will Christopherson, Marcus Berry, Shelton Eley, all did a tremendous job on that side as well as our coaching staff.”
Coach Locksley emphasized the two-year window; but did mention that a positive for recruiting during a pandemic has been taking “the fluff out of recruiting.” Which he says allowed for him, and his staff to sell the players on the school’s pitch of how they will develop in their time with the Terps.
The Terrapins struggled to a 3-9 finish in their 2019 season, but progressed a lot in the 2020 season; while benefitting from a deep returning roster for their next campaign.
Maryland’s signees for 2021:
- Tommy Akingbesote, four-star defensive tackle from C.H. Flowers High (Bowie, Md.)
- Taizse Johnson, four-star defensive tackle from St. John’s College High (District Heights, Md.)
- Demeioun Robinson, four-star linebacker from Quince Orchard High (Gaithersburg, Md.)
- Terrance Butler Jr., three-star defensive end from St. Frances Academy (Essex, Md.)
- Roman Hemby, three-star running back from John Carroll School (Edgewood, Md.)
- Leron Husbands, three-star tight end from C.H. Flowers (Seat Pleasant, Md.)
- Darrell Jackson, three-star defensive lineman from Gadsden County High (Havana, Fla.)
- Antwain Littleton Jr., three-star running back from St. John’s College High (Washington, D.C.)
- Colby McDonald, three-star running back from St. John’s College High (Accokeek, Md.)
- Andre Porter, three-star defensive lineman from Washington (Pa.) High (Washington, D.C.)
- Zion Shockley, three-star defensive end from St. Frances Academy (Baltimore)
- Gereme Spraggins, three-star linebacker from Hutchinson Community College (Odenton, Md.)
- Dante Trader Jr., three-star defensive back from McDonogh School (Delmar, Del.)
- Jayon Venerable, three-star defensive back from Archbishop Spalding (Glen Burnie, Md.)
Players that will join the program in the winter:
- Branden Jennings, four-star linebacker from Sandalwood High (Jacksonville, Fla.)
- Joe Bearns III, three-star fullback from St. Frances Academy (Huntingtown, Md.)
- Corey Coley Jr., three-star defensive back from Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Fla.)
- C.J. Dippre, three-star tight end from Lakeland High (Scott Township, Pa.)
- Tai Felton, three-star wide receiver from Stone Bridge High (Ashburn, Va.)
- Kyle Long, three-star offensive tackle from Hazelwood Central High (St. Louis)
- Weston Wolff, three-star tight end from Venice High (Englewood, Fla.)