Rutgers and Maryland as rivals? It was just too easy to lump them in that category as the new kids on the Big Ten block ahead of their first season in the conference. Reality was, these two teams didn’t have a lot of history between them and a rivalry needed to spring up organically.
However, their end of the season matchup proved to be the most entertaining game of the weekend (if not the Big Ten season), and with Rutgers’ crazy comeback win it perhaps sparked something more than just wishful thinking on the rivalry tip.
Fast forward a few more months and these two were in a heated battle for four-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins out of Potomac, Md.
Landing his commitment was priority No. 1 for both schools on the 2016 recruiting trail, and as the process went along both became true contenders. Both saw gaining Haskins’ commitment as a way to spark an uptick in the future of their programs.
In the end, it was the two newcomers standing atop the heap and vying for an important commitment. Yes, Maryland and Rutgers were the two finalists for the No. 5-ranked pro-style quarterback in the country. Hard to believe, but it was true.
Late last week Haskins made his verbal commitment, choosing to stay home and play his football for the University of Maryland. In that decision, Haskins made it known that the Terps and the College Park campus felt like home.
He also made it very clear that he wasn’t done recruiting and making something special happen for the Terps.
“I feel like Maryland is on its way and I think I can make an instant impact,” Haskins said, via 247Sports. “Maryland is on the rise. Me and a few players that we look forward to recruiting could make it special.”
However, for Rutgers it was back to the drawing board and option No. 2 at quarterback. The Scarlet Knights didn’t have to wait long though, as high three-star quarterback Anthony Russo made his verbal pledge to Rutgers on Monday.
While Rutgers was happy to have a quarterback commit for the 2016 class, there’s little doubt losing out on Haskins was a blow to what head coach Kyle Flood was hoping was going to be the class that turned things around.
Having a four-star quarterback who was top 5 at his position would have been a catalyst on the recruiting trail for Rutgers, no doubt about it. Why? It’s already been a boon to the Terps’ recruiting efforts for the 2016 class.
In fact, it was mid-interview after announcing his commitment that defensive tackle Jeffery Pooler made his verbal pledge to the Terps. While Pooler isn’t a major prospect, it’s just a small glimpse of the power that Haskins’ commitment could have on the program he chose.
No doubt that one player won’t make these two programs hate each other more…but it definitely will heat things up in the stands, on the message boards and that’s usually how these things are started. Someone has to be the villain in order for things to get really going, and Haskins’ commitment has the potential to be the final spark that ignites this rivalry.
Of course, that means Haskins also has to develop in to the guy everyone thinks he will. Lord knows we’ve seen four-star quarterbacks and Elite 11 participants flame out after coming to college. Still, you can see the vast potential for Haskins to change the fortunes not only on the recruiting trail, but on the field as well.
As long as that development happens, you can bet the fans won’t let him forget which side he “dissed” and which side he chose.
It’s hard not to see the decision made by Haskins as the one that could take a potentially budding rivalry in to a full-fledged rivalry — with some trophy to be named later too (because it isn’t a rivalry in the B1G without a trophy).
Should Maryland contend in the Big Ten East in the future and Rutgers struggle, look for this commitment to have a lot to do with it for both sides.