Maryland coach Randy Edsall plans to 'grow our brand' with Dunbar practice

Randy Edsall has been committed to growing Maryland's brand ever since he took the job in College Park more than two years ago.

The state flag was already printed across the Byrd Stadium end zones when he arrived on campus, but that wasn't enough. The football coach unveiled state flag-inspired "Maryland Pride" uniforms for his first game on the sideline and replaced the Terps moniker with Maryland on both the field and jerseys.

On Saturday afternoon, he'll unveil another part of his plan. The Terps are holding an open scrimmage at Dunbar, and they're inviting the public to attend. The team will also hold a scrimmage at Middletown High in Frederick County next weekend.

"Where we're located in College Park — with the Ravens and Orioles [up here and] the Nationals and Redskins down there — we need to do something a little bit unique, a little bit different to grow our brand and attract more fans," Edsall said. "It gives us an opportunity to get exposure and come up here and reach out to people."

Edsall said he thought up the idea earlier this year. A lot of other football programs have done similar things, and Syracuse did it when he played for the Orange in the late 1970s.

Baltimore is the state's largest city and has a number of strong high school programs. Dunbar recently built a new football field with Under Armour, so Edsall said it was a perfect fit.

"Hopefully [young people] come and they see it, get mom and dad to bring them back to a game, and they grow up with Maryland on their mind," Edsall said. "So when they become recruitable student athletes as seniors and we're recruiting them, you hope that because they've developed this affinity for the University of Maryland that they'll end up being here and being part of the program."

Recruiting is perhaps the most important part of the trip. Edsall has made it a point to increase the Terps' local recruiting efforts, and he's already had a lot of success. More than half the players on the spring practice roster are from Maryland or Washington, and 13 of the team's 22 commitments in the Class of 2013 are from the area.

Tight end and Baltimore native Dave Stinebaugh said holding open scrimmages could help improve those numbers. By moving practice from College Park to the surrounding area, the Perry Hall graduate said the Terps can increase awareness of the program in local communities.

"When you get out there and practice in different locations and see different types of people that come out to watch, it adds a different element to recruiting," Stinebaugh said. "Bringing practice to them tells the people in Maryland that we're trying to get out and trying to reach them."

Running back Kenneth Goins Jr. agreed. The Baltimore native and former Gilman star said publicizing practices can show local high school kids how Terps' practices work and what they could expect if they decided they wanted to play for Maryland. It could also boost ticket sales at Byrd Stadium.

For Edsall, that's what it's all about. He doesn't want the Terps to be just another team in Maryland. He wants the Terps to be Maryland's team.

"It helps create an image with young people so as they grow up in this state, it's, 'Hey, I want to go to Maryland,'" Edsall said. "'That's my state school. That's where I grew up.' What you're trying to do is just grow that and develop that. So when it does come time to recruit those kids, they remember going to a practice at Dunbar."

Goins would have remembered it. After all, it's not every day that kids get to watch a Division I college team practicing on their high school field.

The Terps don't have to impress Goins anymore, because the redshirt freshman is already part of the program. If he wasn't, though, he said something like this practice would have surely helped convinced him to go to Maryland.

"I would be very excited to come and watch a college team play together. As a high school player, that's like everybody's dream; to go to college and play on the next level," Goins said. "So I feel like it will make kids interested in the school."

jvitale@baltsun.com

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