Most of the Terps class of 2008 comes from Maryland, Virginia or Washington D.C. One came from Connecticut, another from Pennsylvania. Three came from the Carolinas. But the one whose college experience is the farthest from home is quarterback Tyler Bass from Stockbridge, Ga.
Bass was destined to end up far away from home. With offers from Louisville (seven hours), Indiana (nine hours), Purdue (10 hours) and Memphis (seven hours) among others, he selected the school that was the farthest away: Maryland, clocking in at 11 hours and 700 miles away from home.
The Terps have plucked a few notable players in recent years, including current Washington Redskin Stephon Heyer, former starting quarterback Joel Statham, kicker Obi Egekeze and three freshmen who could see playing time next year: offensive linemen Lamar Young and Tyler Bowen and defensive lineman Dion Armstrong.
With the rich football tradition in the south, teams in Florida, Georgia and Alabama usually get their pick of the litter with recruits. However, Bass, a dual-threat quarterback, received no offers from any BCS schools in the three-state region. In fact, his closest offer was to Western Kentucky, a five-and-a-half hour drive from his home outside Atlanta.
So how important was staying close to home?
“It didn’t play [a factor] at all. I really didn’t care where I went. I would have gone to Alaska if it made me happy,” the 6-foot-3, 195-pound signal caller said.
Spending his entire life in Georgia, Bass had talked about getting out of the deep south with his family during the recruitment process. After camping all over the south—including stops at Tennessee, North Carolina, Auburn and Georgia Tech—an offer from a major team in the south never came through.
Bass, who flew to every official visit he took, desired to get away from home, meaning he won’t play with a chip on his shoulder when he faces in-conference southern foes in Georgia Tech, Clemson, Miami and Florida State.
In the end, distance was simply the least important factor in his decision.
“I chose Maryland because they were the only school that asked me to do better on my SAT score. They were looking at me as a man, not just a player. That meant a lot to me. Coach Friedgen is an offensive mastermind; that intrigued me a lot too,” he said.
Maryland originally wanted Bass to camp over the summer to earn a scholarship offer, but a delayed flight prevented the quarterback from making the trip.
“I didn’t know if they were going to take a quarterback, but they came on hard since October or November. They had my film—they came down and saw me [last] spring and watched me at practice,” he said.
Despite the interest from Maryland for some time, Bass never visited College Park until late in January. It was his first real visit to the area since he can remember.
Just because he wanted to get away from home didn’t mean that the Georgia product wanted to get away from family.
“I have an aunt in Baltimore. When I went up, it was different. There was a big difference with the people. I’m used to the south, and it’s nothing like that. It was good different, not bad different, nothing that turned me away. Coach [Tom] Brattan is a real, real nice guy. I was talking to Coach Franklin and Danny Oquendo, and they like it there,” Bass said.
His aunt, who lives in Reisterstown, is like a second mother to Bass. Bass’ father was originally from Brandywine. When the younger Bass declared his intentions to attend Maryland, his father’s friends congratulated him as a homecoming. And while most of his family resides in Georgia, Bass said his sister works for the airport and can often get the family free flights.
“[My family] will probably make it to every game. They can fly to any game they want to. They can drive to the ones in North Carolina because I’ve got a lot of cousins in North Carolina, and it’s only two hours away. I wouldn’t recommend driving to Tallahassee because it’s a long haul. That’s a country haul, not just a long drive. It might be six hours, but it feels like days,” Bass joked.
Before the trip to College Park, Bass was all but set to commit to Louisville, but the senior took a visit to Maryland before it was all said and done and walked away a Terp. Bass grew up in the College Park area—College Park, Ga., that is. Bass noticed a few key differences between the two College Parks.
“The diversity within the people. [Washington D.C.] has people of all races. I’ve got to live in one place and go to another because it’s different to me. Grits, folks [up north] don’t eat that. Stuff that I say down here, people have no idea what I’m talking about. I say ‘ow-an-o’ as in ‘I don’t know,’” Bass explained.
Living 11 hours away from school with a sister working for the airport, it’s a safe bet that Bass will be very familiar with Baltimore-Washington International Airport before he’s done with his time at Maryland.