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Posted at 6:41 PM ET, 02/ 2/2011

Virginia football staff's relationships in Maryland/D.C. area crucial given new Terps regime

By Steve Yanda

Virginia coach Mike London introduced on Wednesday a 26-member* recruiting class for 2011 that included 17 players from the Commonwealth, the most in-state commitments the Cavaliers have secured in a single year since at least 1990.

* Two of those players -- quarterback David Watford and linebacker Daquan Romero -- enrolled at Virginia for the 2011 spring semester and, consequently, officially count as part of the 2010 class of recruits.

But Virginia's recruiting haul for the 2011 class also included six players from the state of Maryland, including four-star wide receiver Darius Jennings from Gilman School in Baltimore and four-star defensive back Brandon Phelps from Damascus.

With a new coaching staff transitioning in at Maryland -- Randy Edsall was hired Jan. 2 to succeed former coach Ralph Friedgen -- London acknowledged that the foundation of relationships he and his assistants have with high school coaches in the Maryland, D.C. and northern Virginia region will be crucial moving forward. Special teams coordinator Anthony Poindexter and wide receivers coach Shawn Moore are the Cavaliers' two primary recruiters in that area.

"We talk about treating the bordering schools like in-state areas," London said. "I know there’s going to be a concerted effort now, with new leadership up in Maryland to keep guys in Maryland, but our message will still be the same. We’re a different school, I believe, than some of the schools that we recruit against. We’ll continue to keep trying to send that message and hopefully get a chance on some of those top notch players."

The Cavaliers garnered commitments from defensive end Vincent Croce (Good Counsel) and offensive tackle Kelby Johnson (DeMatha), giving them two players from the two most prominent high school football programs in the region.

Poindexter said Wednesday he is entering his fifth year recruiting the Maryland/D.C. area, and Moore lived and coached in the District for roughly a decade prior to coming on board London's staff. London previously recruited the area for Virginia when he was a Cavaliers assistant under former coach Al Groh.

"I think it’s easy," Moore said of recruiting in Maryland, D.C. and northern Virginia. "Anthony has a reputation up there. Kids love him. Coaches love him. For me, I’ve been up there for the last 10 years. So it’s easy to kind of just fall into those relationships. We have a good rapport with the kids and the coaches, so when we go there, it’s not like they see us as a burden. Sometimes you’ve got to set two hours aside because you’re spending quality time with those coaches and those kids.

"I love having that area and splitting it with (Poindexter). I think when we go in together we’re a pretty good team, a pretty good tandem. It makes it easier for both of us because we have each other to lean on."

Poindexter and Moore played an integral role in helping the Cavaliers land four-star athlete Dominique Terrell from Osborn High in Manassas. Terrell, who Virginia coaches plan to use as a wide receiver, made his decision Wednesday and became the fifth four-star recruit in Virginia's 2011 class, which ended up being among the top 30 in the nation, according to Rivals.com.

"Having this class, having the number of kids we have from the state of Maryland in this class and even kids prior to that," Moore said. "Having E.J. Scott from the year before and having good relationships with Good Counsel and DeMatha, that’s who’s up there. We’ll continue to go in those same schools every year and try to make those relationships, build those relationships and continue to get kids because they’re always going to have great players out of those schools."

Other players Poindexter and Moore helped recruit to the Cavaliers' 2011 class include Stone Bridge defensive end Rob Burns, DeMatha defensive back Kyrrel Latimer*, St. Stephen's linebacker Darius Lee and T.C. Williams offensive tackle Jay Whitmire, as well as defeensive end Marco Jones from Boys Latin School in Baltimore.

*Latimer spent the 2010-11 school year at Fork Union Military, a prep academy in Virginia.

Poindexter gave much of the credit for Virginia's recruiting success in the Maryland/D.C./norther Virginia area to London's reputation.

"A lot of our guys, we just know a lot of people up there now," Poindexter said. "People know what kind of guy Coach London is, and at the end of the day, no matter how good you are as an assistant, if people don’t feel good about your head coach, they’re probably not going to come. We’ve just got a great situation with Coach London, and fortunately this year the ball fell our way."

By Steve Yanda  | February 2, 2011; 6:41 PM ET
Categories:  Football  
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Next: Virginia 49, Clemson 47: Three up, three down

Comments

great class.....now we need about 3 more like it....

Posted by: mdoughtie22 | February 2, 2011 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Phelps signing with UVA just continues the long history of Damascus players leaving the state... honestly can't recall a single one ever signing with Maryland...

Posted by: soriphius | February 3, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

[great class.....now we need about 3 more like it]

And we'll get them, mdoughtie22. Of that, I have no doubt. Why? Because the high school coaches love Mike London - the man he is, the coach he is, and the role model he is.

At the end of the day, a football team is like a family, and after these kids have spent four years on a squad, their coaches look after them like family. They want what is best for the ENTIRETY of those kids lives.

While UVA may not be a national championship caliber team, it's only been 10 years since the days of we were consistently ranked in the top 20. And it is still an NFL recruiting factory, so kids with that type of talent will find that path open to them. Additionally, UVA is one of this country's premiere universities, and a degree from UVA puts you at the front of alot of lines.

High school coaches know all of this...and don't think for a second that the decisions all of these 4-star recruits made to come to UVA weren't heavily influenced by their coaches. And for Mike London and his staff to put together this type of incoming class after a 4-8 season speaks volumes about how those high school coaches view Mike London.

Good things are coming :)

Posted by: rvastar | February 3, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

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