By Jared Goldstein
For Unwind magazine
December 1, 2014 and May 15, 2015 were two monumental days for Maryland football – or so it seemed.
First, Keandre Jones verbally committed to Maryland, then Dwayne Haskins followed suit. The #DMVtoUMD “movement”, a term coined on social media referring to area athletes going to the University of Maryland, was finally taking shape.
There was excitement surrounding the program that had not been felt since the early 2000s as local four- and five-star recruits were considering playing for their hometown school instead of going to play elsewhere. As the 12th rated pro-style quarterback in the nation and a top three player in the state, Haskins was regarded with high expectations. Jones was set to be a stud linebacker on the Terps defense.
“With those two, I saw a lot of hope for UMD football,” said freshman biology major Stephen Tonelson.
When the Terps started the season with only two wins in their first six games and Randy Edsall got fired, things started to turn for the worse.
It is important to understand that in recruiting, players commit to a coach, not a school, or a state, no matter what they tweet or say in interviews.
As head football coach DJ Durkin filled out his staff, interim head coach Mike Locksley went back to an assistant coach position, however both Haskins and Jones committed to Locksley. This is when Maryland fans should have started to worry.
Haskins scheduled official visits to other football powerhouses, but did not publicly waver on his commitment. Jones was still considered a hard commit.
Haskins took his official visit to Ohio State in December 2015. Jones took his in January 2016. On Jan. 17, it was reported that Jones flipped his commitment to Ohio State. Haskins launched a website the next day announcing he would also be attending The Ohio State University.
“As a result of coaching changes … it is in the best interest for me to de-commit from the University of Maryland,” Haskins wrote on his website.
Some people started to doubt the future of Maryland football, sometimes bleakly.
“I was thinking that our football team was going to continue on a downward spiral,” said freshman letters and science major Aseem Peshwa.
Durkin has stated that the local area will be Maryland’s priority for recruiting, aiming to form the team around players in “our own backyard,” as quoted in a Washington Post interview. He is already putting his words into actions as Maryland hosted local recruits for the class of 2017 over Valentine’s Day Weekend.
Durkin has energized the program and created a level of excitement among prospective players that could lead to a turnaround in recruiting for the foreseeable future.
The loss of Haskins and Jones may have been significant for a social media movement that was picking up steam and a Terrapin football team entering a rebuilding season, but only time will tell whether the loss of these players would dent the team.