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COLLEGE PARK — With his staff surrounding him, University of Maryland Head Coach Mike Locksley was at one end of the table with a live feed of four-star quarterback Lance LeGendre’s commitment video playing on a large projector screen at the other.
LeGendre, who had verbally committed to Kansas in his junior season at Western Easton High School, signed with Maryland over Florida State on National Signing Day. His decision caused several coaches, including Locksley, to stand up from their chairs while the room exploded with claps and cheers on Feb. 6.
After a season enveloped in investigations and controversy, Wednesday’s celebration was a stark contrast from the football program’s situation just three months ago.
“When we took over this job, it was a priority for us to build on a really great team,” Locksley said. “We felt we already had a strong foundation of current players, but we needed to build on it. We think we’ve been able to do that with this recruiting class.”
LeGendre joins a class of 17 players who rank 60th in the country and 12th in the Big Ten, according to 247Sports.
Maryland’s 2018 season was played in the shadow of two investigations into offensive lineman Jordan McNair’s death by heatstroke, resulting in Maryland’s recruiting to dramatically regress. Maryland was ranked 28th nationally and fifth in the Big Ten in 2018, and the class featured seven more players.
But despite a limited time frame for recruiting, Locksley feels that the players he has added to the roster fill the team’s needs.
“We feel like we hit home runs on the guys that we signed,” he said. “We feel like they met and fit the evaluation that we wanted position by position.”
Locksley’s performance since being hired Dec. 4 has garnered national praise as well.
“Locksley is known for being an excellent recruiter and, more importantly, an exceptional relationship builder with prospects and their families,” said ESPN College Football and Recruiting Reporter Tom VanHaaren. “This 2019 class is an excellent start to the foundation of what this staff is building towards.”
Locksley described LeGendre as a competitive player who can beat teams with arm and feet. The former Alabama offensive coordinator said he was familiar with LeGendre from when the Crimson Tide began recruiting the Louisiana prospect.
“You start developing those relationships with the coaches involved down there, and once you develop those relationships, it doesn’t matter where you are,” Locksley said. “It’s all about need and demand.”
Maryland also signed seven players from the DMV area, six of which have Maryland ties. Wise High School receiver and consensus four-star recruit Isaiah Hazel was the program’s most significant acquisition in the state. Hazel, who chose the Terps over West Virginia, Alabama and Boston College, was the top-rated offensive player in Maryland and was a vital role in three undefeated seasons from 2015-17.
Nine of the team’s 11 signees are on the defensive side of the ball, four of which are from the DMV. area. That includes three-star defensive back Lavonte Gater from Washington, D.C. As a junior, Gater had six interceptions and was a Washington Post All-Met First Team selection in 2018.
“He’s a physical player,” said cornerbacks coach and defensive pass game coordinator Cory Robinson. “Lavonte is the ultimate competitor. He has really good range and ball skills.”
Locksley stressed the importance of recruiting local players.
“There’s no doubt about it the DMV, in particular, has become a hotbed and a very fruitful area for recruiting,” Locksley said. “There’s no doubt we have to be very aggressive in this area, and we have to…make it cool to be a Terp again.”
Maryland still has time to add more players and check off needs for their roster. The Terps have been active in the transfer market by signing Ohio State linebacker Keandre Jones and Virginia Tech wide receiver Sean Savoy.
And Locksley feels that the university’s future has a lot to offer to potential players.
“The biggest thing now is the facilities we’re building and the investment that administration has made,” he said. “The resources available to a student-athlete here at the University of Maryland, a top-25 academic institution in a lot of different fields, what is there not to like about this location in Maryland?”