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COLLEGE PARK – Dr. Henry Wise, Jr., High School wide receiver Isaiah Hazel and Our Lady of Good Counsel High School offensive lineman Mason Lunsford have confirmed their commitments to be a part of University of Maryland football program after signing their letters of intent during Early Signing Day on Dec. 19.
Both players represent the university’s commitment under new head coach Michael Locksley to bring on the best talents in the metropolitan area. Out of the six players officially signed to join Maryland next season, four are from Maryland, and 1 is from Washington, D.C.
“The guys we signed today were guys that I had some personal relationships with, that I did know a lot about and had done research on,” Locksley said. “I think all six of these guys will make us better.”
As reported last week, the stunning addition to the Terrapins was Hazel, a four-star recruit, after he originally committed to West Virginia. According to Locksley, he had known the Wise “star” as he tried to recruit him for Alabama during his tenure as an assistant coach. Once he was hired by Maryland, Hazel and his family came to College Park for an unofficial, two-hour visit.
“To get a player of Isaiah’s caliber… speaks volumes to where he and his parents think of where we are and we are fortunate to get him signed,” Locksley said.
The 6-foot-1, 197-pound recruit had offers from Michigan State and Virginia Tech as well, following a senior year with a career-high in reception yards (428) and five touchdowns. Hazel said he “rushed the recruiting process” and decided to open the whole process again after the Pumas’ loss to Quince Orchard in the state semifinals.
After spending his entire senior year wearing a West Virginia hand warmer, Hazel traded it for a bright red Maryland sweater, when he officially signed at Wise’s early signing event. Despite the off-the-field concerns that consumed the campus this year, Hazel said conversations with his parents and Locksley, whom he called “a father figure,” motivated him to go to College Park.
“He wanted to make Maryland into a better program and make the whole area better, like it was back in the day when everything was popping and everyone wanted to go to Maryland,” Hazel said. “He wants to bring that culture back, and with the pieces he’s bringing on to commit and those coming back, is going to make this incredible, and I am to be a part of the party.”
Hazel will be joined by three-star-recruit Michael “Dino” Tomlin from Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the core pieces to replenish Maryland’s wide receiver core; this aims to help a Maryland’s offense, which ranked 12th overall in the 14-team Big Ten Conference. Combined with a returning cast of wide receivers, expectations can be exceeded in the upcoming years, including competing for a Big Ten title, Hazel said.
“Coach Locksley is used to winning in Alabama, and he does not want to be used to losing,” Hazel said. “So I think where the program is going is fantastic, and I cannot wait to play for him and start winning and have the players to do it.”
Another local talent brought on was Lunsford. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Olney native was recently named a First Team All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) selection and was rated as the second-highest offensive tackle in the state, according to Rivals.
Falcons Head Coach Andrew Stefanelli said Lunsford’s ability to finish plays and hold his blocks at his size makes him a key piece for Maryland’s rushing attack.
“Even when his technique wasn’t where it needed to be when he got to us, he had that desire to finish plays,” Stefanelli said. “That is something very hard to teach.”
Lunsford arrived at Good Counsel two years ago but quickly developed a great rapport with his teammates and classmates due to his work ethic. For the lineman, being recruited to Maryland is a chance to play for his “dream school,” and Stefanelli said he hopes the Terrapins take advantage of his excitement to join their roster.
“If you give him the opportunities, he will not let you down,” Stefanelli said. “He comes across as an easy-going, good-natured kid, but when you get him on the football field, he’s got a little bit of dog in him, and that is what college coaches are looking for, so he is going to pay huge dividends for them.”
Moving forward, Locksley said he would like to meet and sign all their current recruits while adding new pieces by the National Signing Day deadline in February.
“We want to make sure that both parties know that it’s a fit,” Locksley said. “We have not dropped or not honored anybody’s verbal commitment to our program, but we do want to make sure that both parties have the opportunity to get to know each other and make sure that it is a fit, both academically, athletically and socially moving forward.”