Image Credit: WUSA 9
Commitment Date: February 5, 2013
Hometown: Forestville, MD
High School: Bishop McNamara
Weight: 292 lbs.
247Sports Rank: #3 OT, 4-star
ESPN Rank: #3 OT, 4-star
Rivals Rank: #2 OT, 5-star
Scout Rank: #5 OT, 4-star
40 time: 5.00 secs (247Sports); N/A (ESPN, Rivals, Scout)
Other Offers: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Auburn, Boston College, Buffalo, California, Clemson, East Carolina, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston, Iowa, Miami (FL), Michigan, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, Texas Tech, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington, West Virginia
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It was the moment every Maryland Terrapins football fan had been waiting for. After the months and months of recruiting talk, 5-star offensive tackle Damian Prince was standing at a podium in the gymnasium of Bishop McNamara Senior High School, ready to make his decision as to which college would be graced with his presence for the next few years. There were three hats in front of him: Maryland, Florida, and South Carolina. After losing out on 5-star cornerback Jalen Tabor to Arizona, and then Florida, Terps fans were desperate for some sort of high-level recruit to add to what had become a decent, but small, class. Prince didn’t waste much time.
“Good morning everybody, I’m Damian Prince and I want to thank everybody for coming out. But I’m going to be playing my next four collegiate years at the University of Maryland.”
The rest is history. The Maryland coaches, watching in a conference room, went wild. Fans and students around the country went wild. The gymnasium at Bishop McNamara Senior High School went wild. Everyone knows what a special recruit Damian Prince is, and how special it is that he picked Maryland over virtually every other school in the country. But how exactly does he fit into what Randy Edsall and his staff are trying to do in College Park?
SBNation‘s Bud Elliott described Damian Prince as “a powerful man who dominates his opponents in the run game. He’s able to climb to the second level and has the feet to stay on balance once there.” The general consensus is that Prince may be a slightly better run blocker than pass blocker, which led me to project him starting on the right side of the Terps’ offensive line as a freshman, and not on the left side as many other analysts are projecting him to start. That’s not to say that he’s a bad pass blocker though. One doesn’t become a 5-star recruit by doing only one thing very well.
Elliott describes one of the mechanical flaws in Prince’s pass blocking game in his scouting report. “In pass protection, he is sometimes too quick to set up, which can leave him vulnerable to inside rushes.” Naturally, this can be fixed easily by coaching. No high school player comes into college with nothing to improve on. Luckily for Prince, he’s got less to work on than most. Again, I believe putting him on the right side of the line as a freshman would allow him time to grow into his position without the unnecessary pressure of starting at left tackle as a true freshman.
Scout and ESPN also cite Prince’s run blocking abilities as a big strength. He uses his powerful body well, and can block linebackers and safeties in the second level as well. In Mike Locksley’s system, that is key. He consistently asks his offensive linemen to get off their blocks and move into the second level, creating even bigger holes for his running backs and quarterbacks. It’s a zone-read scheme, so running plays develop quickly. Having athletic offensive linemen to complement a quick running back and a speedy quarterback is key. Prince fits that bill very nicely.
It is very possible that Prince will end up starting on the left side of the line right off the bat. I don’t doubt that he has the talent and the work ethic to make that happen. But for right now, I think he would fit very well at right tackle. The Terps have junior college transfer Larry Mazyck to play on the left side, allowing Prince to grow for one or two years on the right side before moving over. No matter where he starts, Prince is bound to make a huge impact in the Big Ten for the next few years.