Terps ink 22 recruits, including former 5-star, in college football early signing period

Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin calls out to his team during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, in Austin, Texas. Maryland won 51-41. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)

The Maryland Terrapins took full advantage of college football's new early signing period, securing 22 of 24 possible commits, including a high-profile transfer player, on Wednesday.

The official commitments give Maryland head coach D. J. Durkin a real chance at pulling off back-to-back top-20 recruiting classes in his first two full recruiting cycles. Durkin's 2017 class was one of the most highly-regarded ever in Maryland football history.

"We went through some adversity this year and not one of our guys has wavered or decommitted or left and I think that tells you a lot about their character and what they stand for," Durkin said in an interview with the Big Ten Network.

The highlights of the class include four-star defensive tackle Austin Fontaine of DeMatha Catholic, four-star offensive tackle Jaelyn Duncan of St. Frances Academy and three-star wide receiver Darryl Jones of Princesse Anne.

The 6-foot-3, 309-pound Fontaine not only played his high school ball just down the street from UMD, he solidifies maybe the Terps' biggest area of need. Maryland ranked very low in stopping the run and rushing the passer during their 4-8 2017 season and graduates most of their key contributors on the defensive line. He was the first recruit to sign on Wednesday.

Duncan continues UMD's recent streak of adding young, talented linemen at a juncture where Durkin could lose bookend tackles Derwin Gray and Damian Prince to the NFL Draft.

At 6-foot-2, Jones brings some much-needed size to a Maryland receiving corps that is losing First-Team All-Big Ten pass catcher D.J. Moore to the NFL. Fontaine, Jones and Duncan are among 14 members of the 2018 class who all hail from the D.C., Maryland, Virginia area.

However, Maryland's most important signing could be former five-star defensive end Byron Cowart, who was the No. 3 recruit in the country before committing to Auburn. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Cowart left Auburn early in the 2017 season after amassing just 15 combined tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble in 14 games, according to Cowart comes to Maryland by way of Hillsborough Community College in Florida, where he became a three-star junior college prospect.

Maryland currently sits at number 19th in 247Sports' NCAA recruiting rankings. They finished the 2017 recuting cycle ranked 18th in the country.

The full list of commits who signed Wednesday can be found below. Four-star defensive back Noah Boykin and three-star tight end Maleak Bryant are expected to sign their letters of intent in February.

-Austin Fontaine, 4-star defensive tackle, DeMatha Catholic, Hyattsville, Md.

-Jaelyn Duncan, 4-star offensive tackle, St. Frances Academy, Baltimore, Md.

-Byron Cowart, 3-star defensice end, Hillsborough C.C., (JUCO), Tampa, Fla.

-Evan Gregory, 3-star offensive guard, DeMatha Catholic, Hyattsville, Md.

-Darryl Jones, 3-star wide receiver, Princesse Anne, Virginia Beach, Va.

-T.J. Bradley, 3-star offensive tackle, Lackawanna C.C. (JUCO), Scranton, Pa.

-Tyler Baylor, 3-star defensive end, Good Counsel, Olney, Md.

-Chigoziem Okonkwo, 3-star tight end, Hillgrove, Powder Springs, Ga.

-Tyler DeSue, 3-star quarterback, Bishop Sullivan, Virginia Beach, Va.

-Durrell Nchami, 3-star linebacker, Paint Branch, Burtonsville, Md.

-Vincent Flythe, 3-star cornerback, H.D. Woodson, Washington, D.C.

-Jalen Alexander, 3-star defensive tackle, Western Branch, Chesapeake, Va.

-Dontay Demus Jr., 3-star wide receiver, Friendship Academy, Washington, D.C.

-Nihym Anderson, 3-star linebacker, Vineland South, Vineland, N.J.

-Spencer Anderson, 3-star offensive tackle, Bishop McNamara, District Heights, Md.

-Fa’Najae Gotay, 3-star linebacker, North Fort Myers, Fort Myers, Fla.

-Jordan Mosley, 3-star linebacker, Haverford, Havertown, Pa.

-Raymond Boone, 3-star defensive back, Eleanor Roosevelt, Greenbelt, Md.

-Chance Campbell, 3-star linebacker, Calvert Hall, Towson, Md.

-Brian Cobbs, 3-star wide receiver, Hayfield, Quantico, Va.

Joseph Petrino, 3-star kicker, Richmond Hill, Richmond Hill, Ga.

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