Terrapin Tuesday: Assessing the Maryland Football Program.

Surprises are common in college sports, whether it be upsets or a new team on the rise in any given season. With march madness in basketball and stronger football programs scheduling weaker opponents, upsets and shocking results are bond to happen, and this season in college football has brought a lot to the table.

Add Maryland football to the group of surprises in the 2013 season. After a abysmal first two seasons in College Park, coach Randy Edsall has the Maryland football team off to its best start since 2001 with a 4-0 mark.

The popular comparison for coach Edsall is the man he took over for, Ralph Friedgen. Under Friedgen, the Terps experienced a lot of success, but also stumbled along the way, failing to find consistency on the field and recruiting trail during his tenure. Under Edsall, both facets have made a turn for the better in a matter of three years.

The first domino fell in February of 2012. Maryland had struggled for years to lure recruits from the local area, better known as the DMV, to stay close to home and play for Maryland. They needed a big name to come to Maryland to help lure some local recruits to come to Maryland, and they needed to do it as soon as possible. That name: Stefon Diggs.

It’s tough to imagine how Randy Edsall sold this team to Diggs. This was a team coming off of a 2-10 season, and hope wasn’t I site for a program that had longed to turn its school into a football school, rather than a basketball school. Edsall knew if he could sell Diggs on the building of Maryland football, it would lure more local players, on top of adding a playmaking wide receiver. Luckily for Edsall, the sell job worked, and Diggs committed to Maryland.

Who are some of the local talents to commit to Maryland in the last couple of years? To name a few, there is Wes Brown, who will be suiting back up ext season, Albert Reid, Deon Long, Yannick Ngakoue, just to name a few. All of these players were highly recruited outside of the area, and Maryland was able to lure them to the program.

The Terps have also found themselves on the top of lists for some future local talents for 2014, 2015, and 2016. One name that comes to mind is Jalen Tabor, a talented cornerback from the area. His top four includes Alabama, Florida, Florida St. and Maryland. Just being on the top of the list with programs like that is a big step for Maryland, and many believe they have a legitimate shot to land Tabor. Much of this may not have been possible if it weren’t for the commitment of Diggs. Future talents such as Trevon Diggs, Stefon’s brother, and Kai Locksley, the son of offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, have been considered by some as nearly locks for Maryland to land.

The times seem to be different on the recruiting trail for Maryland, and that has translated onto the field. Off to a 4-0 start, the Terps are exceeding the expectations given to them when they were picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the ACC in the preseason.

The first two games of the season were easy games, facing opponents Florida International and Old Dominion. Many figured the next two games against UConn and West Virginia to be much tougher tasks for a team that breezed their way to a 2-0 start. UConn had beaten Maryland the prior season, and has motivation to defeat their former ball coach, Randy Edsall. West Virginia had a stranglehold on Maryland, defeating them the last seven meetings in a row.

How did Maryland answer the skeptics? They did so by winning two convincing games, none being as impressive as the win over West Virginia. In a 37-0 route, the Terps smothered the Mountaineer offense, forcing six turnovers and only allowing 175 yards of total offense. Maryland controlled the lock for 38 minutes of the game, dominating West Virginia in every facet of the game.

The most impressive part of the win was doing so in front of 55,000 fans from the local area, which included potential recruits. The two teams have battled for the local recruits for years, with West Virginia winning most of those battles.

While West Virginia may not be the same caliber of a team as they have been in years past, this was still a statement game for Maryland. his showed that Maryland would no longer be a punching bag for West Virginia, and if they wanted to win, they would have to battle much harder than they usually do. On that stage, with what was at stake in terms of local pride and recruiting, Maryland stood tall and dominated.

There will still be skeptics, and rightfully so. Maryland is a team that is tough to trust, given their history of inconsistency. 2-10 and 4-8 in the last two seasons doesn’t get votes of confidence, but a 4-0 start should get some people to start believing that this team may be legitimate.

Maryland is on a bye week, so the focus will go to the next week when they travel to Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee Florida to take on the number eight tanked team in the nation, Florida St. This is the game experts are looking at for Maryland in terms of validation. If they can win this game, this would be validation to the progress of the Maryland Football Program.

Is Florida St. a beatable team? Yes, they are. Can Maryland win this game? This is the question that remains to be answered. Florida St. has long been considered the class of the ACC, along with Clemson.  If Maryland can pull the upset, or even make this a very competitive game, they will begin to get the recognition deserved heading forward. In two weeks, the nation will find out how legitimate of a contender the Maryland Terrapins are.