Teenage Turtle Power: Stefon Diggs And The New Maryland
He milked the recruiting cycle from every conceivable angle. Untold promises, swaying of high school teammates, cryptic tweets, leading public appearances, and photos in full Buckeye attire. When the dust settled on Friday night, Stefon Diggs became a Maryland Terrapin.
I wrote in September about how Maryland’s garish new uniform set is designed to appeal to players like Diggs (who I mentioned specifically as a marketing target for the new threads). There were certainly many factors that played into Diggs’ decision to pick the Terps over Ohio State, Auburn, and Florida, but if it’s not clear from the photo, Diggs likes the gear. Diggs himself, in tandem with a re-tooled roster and coaching staff, will represent the new marketing tool for rebuilding a program that could be described as the ACC’s most intriguing “fixer-upper.”
The Terps will win more that two games in Randy Edsall’s second year as head coach. Diggs will contribute to that, certainly, but his impact will be felt exponentially if he stays at the forefront of the team’s identity. The most prized recruit, perhaps in school history, is actually the best recruiting tool Maryland currently has.
Diggs took a leap of faith in signing his letter of intent to appear at College Park in the fall. With a mass exodus of transfers going out one door, Diggs leads a new generation of players in the other, including fellow Good Counsel alums Wes Brown and Zach Dancel. It takes balls to be first in the door. Blazing a trail isn’t so much about your journey as it is those who will follow, and that is key for Maryland more so than Diggs.
Certainly, the wide receiver/kick returning speedster will contribute on the field for the Terrapins in 2012. Still, the rest of the roster is not one that will likely challenge for double-digit wins. After all, they are a season removed from well, “double” wins, if you count a victory over FCS Towson. If his makeup is any indication, Diggs may not stick around long enough to find out how the story ends. And that’s actually okay. If the levy breaks and the four-star players start staying at home more frequently and coming in from out of state, the Terps have every opportunity to replicate and exceed the success of the best Friedgen years. For his style of play and his role in the program, you might call Stefon Diggs “The Catalyst.”
What Maryland has in Diggs is a symbiotic relationship that can hopefully benefit both parties. Diggs is auditioning for Sundays, not an ACC Championship game. Maryland is far from competing for said Championship, but needs ammunition to give new offensive coordinator and local recruiting wizard Mike Locksley to build a team that can compete for conference supremacy. The means that serve the ends for both parties are Diggs appearing on SportsCenter and highly-televised broadcasts as much as possible. The sure hands, shifty hips and long-striding speed that made Diggs a five-star talent are what is going to put him, and Maryland, back in the minds of the best 2013 and 2014 high school recruits.
Every college football program in the country waxes and wanes. It takes a small handful of believers to buy low on a program like Maryland. Local ties obviously help kickstart a movement like this. If Diggs had been born in Mississippi, there’s no way he’s wearing red, black, and gold today. The randomness of the birth lottery has given the Terps another chance at redemption from an impossibly rocky coaching transition. In this sense, Diggs is literally heaven-sent to Maryland.
No pressure, Stef.
Dave Gilmore lives in Baltimore and writes “The Win Column” for Baltimore Sports Report and will begin writing the video game blog “Game Cache” for b in late February. Find him on Twitter @dave_gilmore.