By Chandler Parr
For Unwind magazine
The University of Maryland’s 2017 football recruiting class, nicknamed Shell17, is UN-REAL.
When DJ Durkin became the university’s head coach, he promised to rebuild a struggling program. He vowed to recruit better and indeed he did. This is Durkin’s first full recruiting cycle and it is undoubtedly the best recruiting class in Maryland football history— Shell17 is ranked No. 18 in the nation and No. 4 in the Big Ten Conference, according to 247Sports.
In the past, this university has had a hard time convincing in-state players to join the “stay home movement.” Comparing this year’s recruiting class to the 2016 class, which was ranked No. 42 in the nation, Durkin and his outstanding staff’s arrival has been the program’s saving grace.
Durkin and his coaching staff have determinedly recruited across the Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia (DMV) area, convincing high-profile recruits to stay home. The DMV is flourishing with talent that always seems to escape Maryland’s grasp, but Durkin was able to keep many of them in the area. Not only did he focus on picking up players within the DMV, but he also ventured to Florida, Georgia and even California.
The Terps landed five out of Maryland’s top 10 recruits, with DeMatha Catholic High School’s four-star running back Anthony McFarland Jr. from Hyattsville as one of them. It was an extremely pleasant surprise when McFarland decided to stay home, as he was expected to end up at Miami University.
Cam Spence, a four-star defensive tackle from St. John’s College High School and a native of Washington, D.C., also helped put this recruiting class on the map.
Spence, who is very confident in the team’s ability for this upcoming season, said, “Our class is very talented. It’s the best class UMD has ever had, and I see us as a team this year winning 10 games and going to a bowl game.”
Durkin brought in an immense amount of talent after signing 21 recruits and bringing seven early enrollees on board.
The program signed five defensive backs, including four-star early enrollees Markquese Bell and Deon Jones, both of whom are sure to strengthen Maryland’s secondary. The Terps’ offensive line should reach new heights with the addition of DeMatha’s Marcus Minor, McDonogh’s Jordan McNair, Gonzaga’s Johnny Jordan and Southampton’s Tyran Hunt.
Early enrollee Hunt from Boykins, Virginia shared his excitement for his class and the upcoming season.
“We’re tighter than any other recruiting class, it’s kind of how we got together,” he said. “So when they come in we’re going to sit together, grind it out and make this program even better.”
“Coach Durkin and his staff did a good job,” said defensive end and redshirt sophomore Melvin Keihn, who studies family science at this university. “I’m excited to see what the young guys are going to come in and show, and I’m just excited to work with them and get to know them and see how far the team can go with the new recruiting class.”
When recruiting players, Durkin and his staff emphasize the idea of building a legacy rather than joining one.
According to Hunt, Durkin said to the 2017 class, “Brand you…create your own brand.”
This football season could go down in history as one of the best, just like the 2017 recruiting class.