Feb. 6, 2002
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -
Following are comments made by head football coach Ralph Friedgen as he addressed area media in announcing Maryland's 2002 football recruiting class:
"I'm very excited about our 2002 recruiting class. It is a class that has greatly enhanced our speed. We were looking to improve in that area. I also think we have improved our athleticism. Our linebacker situation, which currently has some holes, has been improved. We've lost six players who have been in backup [linebacker] roles. I feel like we've done very well in-state again. I don't feel there is a kid in-state that we wanted that we didn't get. I feel very good about that."
On coming off 10-2 season:
"I feel we have to use this past season as a foundation. We have a lot of work to do. We're not anywhere where we need to be. We had a good season, but the 2001 season is history. But now we're preparing for the 2002 season, and we've gone back to work."
On getting more speed on the perimeter:
"I think we need to have some more cornerbacks. We tried to get some immediate help with Reuben Haigler from Lackawanna JC. He is a 4.3 40 kid who is pretty well built. We also signed some players who come here in dual roles: we recruited Chris Choice as a wide receiver, but he is a guy who also could go over to corner if we need help there. Also, Jo Jo Walker from the Dallas, Texas area. He is not a real big kid, but he is very explosive. The thing that really caught my attention is the way he hits. He is a very, very tough kid who has tremendous explosion and is a very good athlete. In the secondary, Marcus Wimbush is a player we recruited last year. Also, Domonique Richmond is a kid who I told I would give a shot at a quarterback, and I will. He is an excellent athlete who can play corner, safety, or quarterback. I told him I would give him a shot at quarterback, and I will. But I think he can play other positions also.
On the linebacker corps:
"When you look at the linebacker corps, all of them are big kids who can run. And they all have some height to them."
On the quarterback position:
"The quarterback position is one I have some concerns about. Latrez Harrison and Chris Kelley were backups last year. And they clearly are front-runners for the starting position because of the number of repetitions they've had in the system. I've been very impressed by Scott McBrien, a transfer from West Virginia this past year. We put him on scholarship at the end of the year. He is very accurate and has a quick release. We had an opportunity to get a junior college quarterback, Orlando Evans, who led City College of San Francisco to the national championship. He put up some very good numbers. Orlando can run and throw. I am also high on our two freshmen, Sam Hollenbach and Joel Statham. I don't want to rely on them, although I am very high on them. I've found that if you play a quarterback too early, and he loses his confidence, he may never get it back. I'd rather bring them along slowly. With Latrez and Chris, if they're not going to be the starter, they are too good of athletes that can play somewhere else. We'll have to see where that goes."
On in-state recruiting
"We've been very well received in-state. The coaches have been very cooperative, and I think they're excited about our success. I think when a kid comes to the University of Maryland from a high school in the state, the coaches feel a sense of pride, not only in our success, but because they are a part of our success. Their players not only represent Maryland, they represent their own individual schools."
On out-of-state recruiting:
"We were surprisingly well received in Georgia. I think it was a situation because I had been at Georgia Tech. I was surprised we got in on so many kids. We were able to come out with some youngsters there."
On Shawne Merriman:
"He is an excellent football player. He is big, strong and fast, and he will get bigger. He is really a good football player and a good student. He really wants to come to Maryland. He is another area kid who I am really happy is here. It really sends a message out to the best players in Maryland to come to Maryland."
On the secondary:
"We lost some real quality kids in the secondary. It's hard to replace Randall Jones and Tony Jackson, special individuals who paid a special price. Tony Okanalawon made first team All-ACC and played just seven games. That's how the rest of the league felt about him. Madieu Williams is a transfer from Towson who is following in the footsteps of
Chad Scott [of the Pittsburgh Steelers]. Last year I think he would have been one of our better players in the secondary. I think he will be someone who comes in and helps us tremendously. We also have coming back Curome Cox and Domonique Foxworth, so we just needed some other corners so we could play our nickel and dime [packages]."
"Danny Melendez gives us a wide receiver who can get up the field. I feel good about Paschal Abiamiri, a 6-3 kid who runs well ... David Quaintance [defensive tackle] is a player we feel real good about ... We're extremely happy to have Reggie Holmes. He is a very physical kid who played on state championship team. He is one of the premier kids in the state. Along with Shawne Merriman, I think we got the top two players in the state."
Overall thoughts on the 2002 class:
"Knowing me, I'm never satisfied. But I'm very happy with this class. I would have liked to have gotten a few more kids at the end that we worked very hard to get. But that is always going to be the case. You just have to wait and see how they turn out."