Bowie CB A.J. Hendy elects to stick with Maryland
Maryland coach Randy Edsall, who's been on the job almost exactly a month, notched a significant recruiting victory Tuesday night when Bowie cornerback A.J. Hendy announced in his high school's gymnasium prior to the start of a varsity boys' basketball game that he would keep his commitment to Maryland.
Hendy, a three-star prospect according to Rivals.com, gave an oral commitment to the Terrapins last April, but decided to explore all of his options in December after former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen was fired.
Defensive coordinator Don Brown, who also will serve as Hendy's position coach, kept in contact with the player during the period in which Maryland officials searched for Friedgen's replacement. Between the bond Hendy has developed with Brown, who was retained on Edsall's staff, and Hendy's initial impressions of Edsall, the player chose to stick with Maryland. Hendy -- who said he would sign his letter of intent Wednesday, the first day on which recruits can ink their commitments -- chose the Terrapins over Iowa.
Keeping Hendy is an important accomplishment for Edsall and his staff, which is trying to establish its footing in an effort to lock up as many high caliber in-state recruits as possible in the coming years. Had Hendy instead chose Iowa or some other program, it would have sent an unflattering message regarding the Terrapins' standing in their own backyard, which has been invaded heavily in recent years by recruiters from other national programs.
Hendy and three-star DeMatha cornerback Michael Williams, the younger brother of former Maryland defensive back Madieu Williams, give the Terrapins' Class of 2011 two of the top 20 prospects in the state, according to Rivals.com rankings. Virginia plans to sign four. Iowa and New Mexico each plan to sign two.
Hendy said he visited with representatives from Iowa, N.C. State, VIrginia and Maryland last week, and that his final decision came down to Maryland and Iowa.
"It was like 1A and 1B," Hendy said. "It was a tough decision. I just felt more at home at Maryland. I had maybe a better connection with some of the players already at Maryland than I did at Iowa. It was close, but I felt like Maryland was the place for me."
Hendy made his choice Friday, one day before visiting with Edsall and members of the athletic department's academic support staff at Maryland.
"With Coach Edsall, his main point of the meeting was just to firm up things and to make sure that I was under the impression that they still wanted me and that it was a good situation that I was coming into," Hendy said.
While establishing a connection with Edsall -- who Hendy said he's met with two or three times in the past month -- might have helped seal the deal for Hendy, he said his relationship with Brown also carried significant weight.
"The first time I went up to Maryland I felt a real connection with Coach Brown," Hendy said. "He’s a football guy. I think he knows the game a lot. It’s amazing. Every time I go up there he’s got a new cornerback (video) cutup or a DB cutup for me to watch. I feel like we’re on the same level with the love we have for the game."
Sophomore defensive end Isaiah Ross (Eleanor Roosevelt HS) and freshman cornerback Jeremiah Johnson (Suitland) also helped sell Hendy on staying with Maryland.
"Their message was Coach Edsall’s a good coach," Hendy said. "He has a lot of good morals and values that he brings to the program. He wants the best for the program. Like everyone knows, the ticket sales haven’t been the best and the support around, that’s the biggest thing that they’re trying to work to to get more excitement around the Maryland football program."
Hendy said the Maryland coaches "expect me to come in and battle for a starting job."
When asked what Terrapins fans can expect from him in the coming seasons, a grin spread across Hendy's face.
"A lot of big plays, a lot of game-changing plays," he said. "Get your popcorn ready."
| February 1, 2011; 7:37 PM ET
Categories: Football, Randy Edsall, recruiting
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