Inside the War Room: Edsall, staff in dark about 5-star Damian Prince

Inside the War Room: Edsall, staff in dark about 5-star Damian Prince
February 5, 2014, 6:15 pm
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COLLEGE PARK--Head coach Randy Edsall and the Maryland coaching staff held a morning meeting on Wednesday, National Signing Day, as the faxes trickled in and slowly locked the Terrapins’ 2014 recruiting class into place.

Edsall and his assistants returned from that meeting to the program’s staff room in Gossett Team House around 10 a.m. There they waited for the announcement of five-star local prospect Damian Prince, who was set to make his choice on national television around 10:30 a.m. and tell the country where he would be playing college football.

As the video feed was played through a projector onto a screen at the front of the room, Maryland came to the realization that it was in the dark.

Edsall had tried to call Prince the night before without an answer. Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley tried the same, and with the same result. The Terrapins staff would find out Prince's college decision at the same time as the rest of the world.

“We thought that we were in good shape,” Edsall recalled Wednesday afternoon about the feeling in the room at that time. “We had done everything we possibly could do.”

Standing in his school’s gymnasium, Prince picked a Maryland hat up off the podium in front of him and affixed it to his head as he announced his intentions to play football in College Park. The room in Gossett, filled with Maryland staffers, erupted.

[RELATED VIDEO: Maryland staff reacts with elation to Prince's announcement

They pumped their fists and high-fived each other as Prince smiled on screen with a black Maryland hat atop his head.

Maryland had long paved the path for Prince to ride to College Park, but on the night before his announcement there was radio silence leading up to a decision that shifted the perception of Maryland's 2014 class.

“I think he just wanted to have some space and everything else,” Edsall said. “Recruiting is a relationship game and it’s the relationships that you develop. I’ve had a relationship with Damian for over three years.”

The arrival of Locksley on staff, the program's ace recruiter in the region, helped to further strengthen the relationship between Prince and the Terrapins.

It was that relationship, Edsall maintains, that ultimately gave Maryland the edge when schools like Auburn, LSU, and Penn State jumped in late in the process. Florida even had a visit with Prince this past weekend, just days before the announcement, but it wasn’t enough to sway him.

“Damian is a young man where family was very important to him and he wanted his family to be able to see him play and be a part of his collegiate career,” Edsall said. “We were just up front and honest with him the whole time.”

Check back to Comcast SportsNet in the coming days for continuing coverage of National Signing Day.