When Keenan McCardell walks into a recruit’s living room, often surrounded by fellow members of Maryland’s staff, he tends to get the same reaction.
“Hey, I know you ... from the NFL,” McCardell recalls many saying. But it’s always followed by the same genial, somewhat deflective response from the former all-pro receiver.
“No, I’m not here about me,” he typically says. “I’m here about your son and I want to make sure that you understand that I’m here to take care of your son.”
McCardell was hired to head coach Randy Edsall’s staff in January and on Wednesday it paid its first big recruiting dividend.
Four-star Imhotep Charter (Pa.) wide receiver D.J. Moore committed to Maryland over a host of Big Ten schools that included Penn State, Purdue, Illinois, and others.
He becomes the 16th member of Maryland’s 2015 recruiting class and the second four-star receiver in two years to commit to the Terrapins. New Jersey wideout Juwann Winfree will begin his freshman season in the fall.
That’s not to mention Deon Long, who played his first season in College Park in 2013, and junior-to-be Stefon Diggs, who was having another strong season before breaking his leg, both of whom are NFL-caliber pass catchers.
And McCardell is the key here. Not only will he have the opportunity to work with a talented group of wideouts in the fall, but he brings a unique combination of Pro Bowl accolades as a player and pro coaching experience on the sidelines down the road in Washington.
Edsall was even hesitant about asking McCardell to join the staff, the first-year coach said, thinking that the former Jaguars wide receiver wouldn’t be interested in a college job.
He was wrong.
“I get a chance to mentor some young men to be better young men,” McCardell told CSN earlier this spring. “I bring a lot to them because they want to get to where I was and where I’ve been, so I can help them do that.
“I know what they’re expecting. I know what they’re thinking. A lot of times kids think that it’s just I play half the time. They’ve got to realize they got to play all the time.”
From the limited time he has been on the practice field in the spring, it’s clear he is intense, involved, and motivational. He’s unafraid to insert himself into drills and run the show, despite the relatively short amount of time he has been on staff.
And he has explained why.
“It’s a lot of talent at this position,” he said. “I just want them to realize that you have the talent that you need to play at the next level, but you’ve got to do the right things here to even get to the next level.”
He could have two of his own headed to that next level come the 2015 draft.