Mike Locksley’s recruiting prowess paid off for Maryland football once again.
The head coach inked 20 recruits on early signing day Wednesday, highlighted by flipping four-star linebacker Jaishawn Barham from South Carolina. Barham is ranked as a top 100 prospect in the class of 2022 by ESPN and Rivals and fills a position of need after last year’s top two linebacker recruits departed College Park.
Barham’s commitment, along with the flip of three-star offensive lineman Andre Roye Jr. from Penn State, gives the Terps a recruiting foothold at Baltimore powerhouse St. Frances Academy, which had been a difficult spot for Maryland to secure players in past years.
“They both made decisions early on, and I think as they got closer to signing day, they started to see the value of what staying at home looks like,” Locksley said. “I think us being able to show that as a program, we did take a significant step with our program by becoming a bowl eligible team … really gave us a lot of firepower in terms of being able to continue to press those guys and sell the vision I have for Maryland football.”
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Outside of St. Frances, Locksley continued to keep local talent in the state. The Terps secured four of the top 10 players in Maryland — Barham, Roye, wide receiver Octavian Smith Jr. and tight end Preston Howard — along with quarterback Jayden Sauray, the state’s highest rated signal caller.
Smith was a dynamic and versatile quarterback at nearby Paint Branch High School, earning First Team All-Met honors from The Washington Post. He’s expected to slot into a deep receiving room, though the four-star athlete’s flexibility could see him land at other positions if needed.
Like Smith, Howard was a utility player in high school and is expected to assume a role with a young tight end corps. Sauray provides valuable depth and a dual-threat presence behind quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and could find himself on the field once the redshirt sophomore departs.
“The goal is to keep the right local talent here,” Locksley said. “I feel like we did just that as a staff.”
This strong class, however, did not appear certain even 48 hours before Wednesday’s signing day. At that point, Locksley had just one four-star recruit signed — wide receiver Shaleak Knotts — and the Terps’ recruiting class was middle-of-the-pack nationally.
Now, Locksley has four four-stars — Knotts, Barham, Smith and running back Ramon Brown, who flipped from Virginia Tech Tuesday evening. That has vaulted Maryland’s recruiting class up to 28th in the country and eighth in the Big Ten, per 247Sports.
Nine signees, including Barham, will enroll early and participate in spring practice.
“I really do see this class being kind of the DNA of the player-driven culture that we’re working to create here,” Locksley said.