- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Since taking over the Terrapins three seasons ago, Maryland coach Mike Locksley has been steadfast in trying to keep local D.C.-area high school talent in the region.

Those efforts appear to be paying off. The Terrapins’ National Signing Day class of 20 recruits announced Wednesday features four of the top 10 players from the state of Maryland.

“We signed a lot of high-quality kids today,” Locksley told reporters. “I really do see this class being kind of the DNA of the player-driven culture that we’re working to create here. As the flagship university, we’re doing our part to go out and recruit each and every high school in this state that has Division 1 talent.”

Maryland’s 2022 early signing period class was ranked No. 26 in the country by 247 Sports and No. 34. by Rivals.

“This class may not rank as high as maybe some of the other classes that we’ve had before, but I can tell you when it comes to character, leadership, the intangibles it takes to create a player-driven culture, I feel really, really good about this class.” Locksley said.

Locksley’s biggest get was consensus four-star linebacker Jaishawn Barham, a District Heights native who played for Baltimore power St. Frances Academy and previously at DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville. Barham originally committed to South Carolina on Dec. 11. But just four days later, Locksley got him to flip and stay home. He figures to play a big role for Maryland after highly-touted linebackers Branden Jennings and Terrence Lewis decided to transfer.

“I can’t tell you that I had any idea that it would happen,” Locksley said of Barham’s flip. “None of our coaches could say that we knew this would happen. But as with all our recruiting, our coaches just continued to remain very diligent in selling the Maryland brand.”

Another local four-star, wide receiver Octavian Smith Jr. will also head to College Park. The Silver Spring native scored 22 offensive touchdowns for Paint Branch in leading them to the Maryland Class 4A quarterfinal round this season. He had initially committed to Northwestern, Locksley said, but his staff kept in touch with Smith, and the hard work paid off.

“I think one of the things we continue to do is even when a kid commits to another program, we’re very respectful of their commitment,” Locksley said.

“We congratulate them,” Locksley continued, “but we also say, ‘Hey if it’s OK, we’d like to kind of touch base with you off and on, and that way if something changes, we can continue to recruit you. I think that really worked well there for him.”

Locksley also flipped another four-star who had already committed, Midlothian, Virginia, running back Ramon Brown. The Manchester standout initially said he was headed to Virginia Tech in July, but changed his selection to Maryland in a Twitter announcement Tuesday. He posted totals of 20 touchdowns and 1,290 yards offensively this season.

The class overall includes eight signees from Maryland, four from Florida, and three from Virginia, with 12 coming on on the offensive side of the ball. Nine of the 20 will also enroll early at the university and be available to participate in spring practice.

“To be able to have these guys here to go through spring ball upfront, to get a jumpstart on lifting, conditioning, and training, will be really beneficial for our program as we continue to grow this thing,” Locksley said.

The early signing period for high school athletes continues until Friday, and the complete recruiting class will be finalized on Feb. 2.

“Everyone likes to ask, “How many do we have left?’ We have kind of an idea, but there’s a lot of moving parts,” Locksley said, referencing players in the transfer portal and high schoolers who haven’t made their decisions yet about where they will attend.

Maryland’s 2022 football recruiting class:

— LB Jaishawn Barham, District Heights, Md.

— LB Andrew Booker, Cincinnati, Ohio

— RB Ramon Brown, Midlothian, Va.

— OL Coltin Deery, Glen Mills, Pa.

— WR Perry Fisher, Tallahassee, Fla.

— S Gavin Gibson, Mooresville, N.C.

— WR Leon Haughton Jr., Richmond, Va.

— TE Preston Howard, Halethorpe, Md.

— OL Keon Kindred, Belle Glade, Fla.

— WR Shaleak Knotts, Monroe, N.C.

— OL Maximus McCree, Kansas City, Mo. (transfer)

— OL Ja’Kavion Nonar, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

— DL Daniel Owens, Pikesville, Md.

— OL Andre Roye Jr., District Heights, Md.

— QB Jayden Sauray, Lanham, Md.

— DB Lavain Scruggs, Baltimore, Md.

— WR Octavian Smith Jr., Silver Spring, Md.

— LB Caleb Wheatland, Centreville, Va.

— CB Lionell Whitaker, Tallahassee, Fla.

— LB Kellan Wyatt, Severn, Md.


• George Gerbo can be reached at ggerbo@washingtontimes.com.

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