HEISER: QB's commitment may be biggest win yet for Susquehannock grad Edsall at Maryland
"The Movement," led by a teenage quarterback, may help Randy Edsall keep his job.
The Susquehannock High School graduate is entering the fifth year of a six-year contract that he signed with the University of Maryland in 2011.
There has been much speculation, almost since his arrival in College Park, about whether Edsall is the right man to lead the Terrapins' football future.
He inherited a program that had gone 9-4 in 2010 under longtime coach Ralph Friedgen, who got fired for his efforts. That move was hugely unpopular with many Maryland fans.
So Edsall was stepping into a prickly situation.
The Glen Rock kid grew up rooting for the Terps and said he considered Maryland his dream job, but he suffered through a nightmarish start in his new gig.
After taking over, it quickly became clear that Edsall's more hard-nosed style didn't sit well with many of Friedgen's players, who left the program in droves. Those defections, combined with a nearly unprecedented rash of injuries, produced disappointing 2-10 and 4-8 records in Edsall's first two years in College Park.
The next two years were more successful, producing consecutive 7-6 marks. Last year, Maryland's debut season in the Big Ten, seemed particularly encouraging. Attendance at Byrd Stadium increased by 14 percent and the Terps earned high-profile victories over Penn State and Michigan.
Still, Edsall's overall record with the Terps is just 20-30, including a 10-22 league record, and he hasn't produced a true breakout season yet. The Terps did earn bowl bids after each of the last two seasons, but lost both.
Recruiting: His recruiting efforts, meanwhile, have also been average at best — until now.
Over the weekend, Edsall may have earned his most pivotal victory yet during his stint at Maryland.
On Friday, Maryland's Gatorade Player of the Year, Bullis junior quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr., gave his verbal commitment to Edsall. Haskins becomes the crown jewel in a 2016 recruiting class that is shaping up as Edsall's best ever.
The 6-foot, 3-inch, 198-pound Haskins reportedly chose the Terps over offers from such national powers such as Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Texas and Ohio State. He also had an offer from Penn State. Rivals.com rates Haskins as the fourth-best pro-style QB in the nation in the 2016 recruiting class. There's already talk that Haskins could be the Terps' starting QB as a true freshman on opening day in 2016.
Edsall and the Terps have long struggled to keep Maryland's top players. Penn State, in particular, has often poached the state's best recruits.
That trend may be fading, however. Haskins is the third four-star Maryland recruit to commit to Edsall's 2016 class, which is now up to 10 members. That class is currently ranked No. 18 in the nation by Rivals.com. In comparison, Rivals.com had not rated any of Edsall's previous Maryland recruiting classes in the top 30.
"The Movement": Even better, Haskins has reportedly become the unofficial leader of "The Movement," which is a growing push by the Terps' coaches and players to keep the top Maryland recruits at home in College Park.
In fact, after he committed to Edsall, Haskins told anyone who would listen: "'The Movement' is in full effect."
Haskins may turn out to be Edsall's best recruiter. His coach at Bullis told The Baltimore Sun that players "want to be around" Haskins and that he's "great at attracting talent to Bullis. He's a great leader and I expect that continue."
If Haskins can convince other blue-chippers to join him at Maryland, Edsall could end up with his best recruiting class ever.
That in turn, would likely do wonders to solidify Edsall's job security, especially if he can produce an eight- or nine-win season in 2015.
Of course, that will be easier said than done in ridiculously competitive Big Ten East Division, which also includes Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State.
Still, it's clear that the outlook in College Park is significantly brighter for Edsall and the Terps than it was just a few days ago.
"The Movement," thanks to a teenager with a big arm and a big reputation, is clearly gaining momentum.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.