After taking his second tour in less than two weeks, Andrew Park sat in Maryland football coach DJ Durkin’s office March 3 to announce his decision to join the class of 2017.

When Park gave Durkin the news, the first-year coach promptly jumped from his chair and gave Andrew a bear hug. Having secured his first commitment for the program, Durkin then ran into the hallway to gather his staff and proclaim, “Today, Maryland got better.”

“I was so excited. Everything just happened so fast,” Park said. “It was a great moment for me and my family.”

Now finishing up his junior year at Lake Braddock Secondary School in northern Virginia, Park will join the Terps football program in the fall of 2017. But he was the first member of his recruiting class, one ranked 14th by Rivals and on pace to be the highest in program history.

“I wasn’t too worried about being first,” Park said. “I knew people would follow, I just wanted to start the DMV to UMD thing going.”

Park is coming off a junior season in which he caught 26 balls for 400 yards and scored five touchdowns despite playing with a partially torn labrum for most of the season. The Bruins came up short of a title, falling in the regional semifinals to eventual champion Westfield, but Park was a first-team All-State selection in his division and made USA Today’s All-Virginia second team. He also garnered interest from several Division I programs.

At first, Park leaned toward Duke, Tennessee and Fordham because those were the schools he believed offered the best combination of academics and competitive football. This was before the Terps hired Durkin.

Park’s recruitment began when graduate assistant Cooper Bassett reached out to the junior on Twitter. Wide receivers coach Chris Beatty also met Park a few times.

Durkin and his staff’s energy and vision for this program captivated Park, while the future renovations at Cole Field House excited the 18-year-old, too. All of these characteristics resulted in Park’s commitment less than two weeks after his first visit.

“It checked off all the boxes,” Park’s father, Bill, said. “It was a school with good academics, an up-and-coming football program, great athletics and close by to home. It couldn’t have worked out any better.”

Park was an intriguing option for the Terps, too. As a 6-foot-5 pass-catching tight end, he will be a large target for Terps quarterbacks. Park’s inside blocking must improve, Lake Braddock coach Jim Poythress said, but he still predicts Park will be an offensive weapon.

When Park arrived at Lake Braddock nearly four years ago, Poythress immediately recognized the sophomore’s combination of size and agility and opted to move him inside to tight end.

But Park saw himself as a receiver, even going as far as to sneak away from some of the more challenging blocking drills. That stubbornness subsided after Poythress talked to Bill, who played tight end at Navy from 1984-88.

“One call to his father cleared that all up,” Poythress said. “No more problems after that.”

Bill explained to Park that second chances don’t come along very often, so his son should focus solely on putting his head down and getting better. It was his acceptance of a challenging situation that propelled Park to become a three-star recruit and the 31st-best recruit in Virginia for 2017, according to

Park won’t officially join the Terps for more than a year, but he’s still tried to immerse himself in Durkin’s program. Over his spring break, Park had his father drop him off in College Park before going to work in the morning. Park visited the campus three or four times, watching practice, working out and socializing with a team he’ll eventually be a part of.

“He is so very excited, and so are we,” Bill said of him and his wife. “The whole DMV thing, people can come see him compete and we can swing by. We can’t wait.”

Park has also built relationship with his fellow members of the class of 2017. The bunch uses a group chat to communicate, and Park said it’s always buzzing. When a new recruit verbally commits, such as MJ Jarrell did on June 2, they add him to the group, welcoming him to their inner circle. Assistant defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim said that’s the type of warm community the Terps want to build.

As the recruiting class continues to grow, Park will always be known as the Terps’ first 2017 commit. While he won’t be able to contribute until the fall of 2017 — nearly a year and a half after he first committed — Park wants to make an impact with the Terps right away.

“I’m going in ready, I just have to get ready to play those great teams,” Park said. “I’m in it to make an impact from the beginning. Let’s see what I got.”