It takes time to build a football program from the ground up, and that’s exactly what head coach D.J. Durkin is trying to accomplish at Maryland.
After an initial Big Ten run that saw the Terrapins go 7-6 and 2-4 under Randy Edsall, the former UConn coach was fired and Mike Locksley finished out the year for the Terps, going 1-5.
It wasn’t a good look for Maryland football, especially in light of the basketball team gaining some relevance as part of the Big Ten. So the administration did what’s becoming the trendy thing to do, which is going out to get a big-name assistant coach.
It may not have created the immediate hype of an established big name, and there’s always a gamble, but often-times great assistant coaches work out because 1) the coach is younger and has more energy and 2) that coach really knows how to work on the recruiting trail.
Durkin had both of those qualities, thus he was an attractive option for Maryland.
He was one of the top assistant coaches in the nation at Michigan, coaching linebackers and serving as the defensive coordinator for a defense that was ranked fourth in college football. He was also one of the best recruiters in the nation, stemming back to his time with Florida.
At Florida (2010-2015), he recruited players such as D.J. Humphries, Jonathan Bullard, Will Grier and Daniel McMillian. While at Michigan he recruited the likes of Devin Bush Jr., Reuben Jones and Shelton Johnson.
Durkin was able to finish out Maryland’s 2016 class, one that was ranked No. 42 nationally and No. 7 in the Big Ten, but it’s this cycle where we’ll truly see what he can do for the Terps.
Durkin has to focus on building his program in his first year on the sideline while at the same time being attentive to the recruiting trail, but so far so good — at least on the trail.
Maryland is in the midst of an average season on the field — it’s worth noting that the Terrapins started the season off 4-0 — but the recruiting trail has been anything but average. Maryland’s 2017 class is ranked No. 14 nationally and No. 3 in the Big Ten. The only two schools recruiting better than the Terps right now in the Big Ten are Urban Meyer and Ohio State (No. 1 nationally) and Jim Harbaugh and Michigan (No. 2 nationally).
Durkin is in elite recruiting territory, especially within the Big Ten, and up to this point, Joshua Kaindoh has been a major reason why. He’s the top recruit for Maryland’s class, and expectations are high, to say the least.
Kaindoh is a five-star strong-side defensive end who plays for IMG Academy down in Bradenton, Fla., which is one of the elite high school football prep schools in the nation. Kaindoh is 6-foot-6, 250 pounds and he’s ranked as the No. 2 strong-side defensive end in the 2017 class, according to the industry-generated 247Sports Composite. The only recruit who’s ranked higher than him at his position is Iowa commit A.J. Epenesa.
Kaindoh is the No. 6 recruit from the state of Florida — a top recruiting ground if there ever was one — and the composite ranks him as the No. 26 overall player in America.
The rankings suggest he’s an elite recruit, so the fact that he signed on to be Durkin’s prime-time prospect is a big deal. He’s currently the cornerstone of a class that could end up changing the perception of Maryland football — word on the street is the Terps want to become the Oregon of the East — and the fact that he has local ties make it even sweeter. He went to Mount Carmel (Baltimore, Md.) before transferring to IMG, so he’ll sort of become the prodigal come home for local fans of Maryland football. Kaindoh’s IMG teammate, four-star defensive tackle Cam Pence, is another DMV area recruit who went down to Bradenton but will be coming back up to play football for the Terps, so perhaps Durkin is building a pipeline of sorts. There are few better schools in the country to have a pipeline to as a college football coach than IMG.
That’s long-term stuff, though.
In the short term, Kaindoh has the opportunity to come in right away and make a huge impact for the Terrapins. An Under Armour All-American, he’s talented enough to come in and play college football at a high level from day one for the Terps.
He’s an elite, quick-twitch athlete who’s explosive and long on the edges.
He he has the speed to turn the corner and dip his shoulder, but he also has a quick first step and a nasty inside rip. Kaindoh is also big and strong enough to play the run at a high level, so all in all, he’s without a doubt an elite prospect and will likely be a superstar from day one in College Park.