By the time Maryland offered him a scholarship, Folkston (Ga.) lineman Ricky Hart had already made his way across the country to tour the schools who were interested in him. But after making his way to College Park, checking out the town, meeting the coaches and learning about the program and the opportunities it had to offer him, he was sold.
So Hart went ahead and committed to Maryland, choosing the Terps over Florida, Arizona State, Memphis, UAB, Tennessee, Purdue and others – most of which he’d visited, and all of which had either offered or given him the impression an offer was coming his way.
Hart, 6-foot-3-and-a-half and 315 pounds, benches 390 pounds, runs a 5.1 second 40-yard dash and has a vertical leap of 29 inches. He’ll play offensive guard and Maryland, and he expects to play it early in his career.
Maryland’s coaches “said they have four seniors [on the offensive line] who are going to be gone next year and a junior who might go to the league. I went up there and watched the competition and the way they practice. I’ll have a very good chance of playing early on,” Hart said.
Despite having the option of playing in the Southeastern Conference, where most of his region’s top prospects end up, Hart opted for Maryland and the ACC, giving the Terps a major steal from SEC country.
“A lot of the boys from here, they like to stay in the South and they feel more comfortable being right by home. I wanted to get out, see other things,” he said.
Hart was recruited by Terps offensive line coach Tom Brattan.
“He’s a straight-up guy, that’s what I like about him,” he said. “They said they like my agility because they do a lot of pulling, so they want somebody who can step out and pull. When I went to practice they were pulling the whole time. I love to pull.”
Of head coach Ralph Friedgen, he said, “Coach Friedgen is a big-time academic man. I was talking to Bruce Campbell about him, and he said if you come in and do what you’ve gotta do, you’ll be all right. You’ve got to study. They saw he was not trying to improve, so his relationship with coach Friedgen wasn’t getting nowhere. Now he’s working hard, and coach Friedgen is his best friend.”
Hart loved the campus and was impressed by the upgrades to Byrd Stadium. He also toured the business school – “It looked like the Bellagio, man” – and checked out the criminal justice program, in which he plans to eventually enroll.
Hart said he will try to drop to 295 pounds for his upcoming senior season, but spoke with Brattan about beefing up to 325 or so for his freshman year.
“Once I get in that weight room, you put weight on like it’s nothing,” he said.
He also said his commitment is solid.
“Like I said, all of my other offers, I went and visited. Arizona State was the only one that came close,” he said. “I felt like if I went to Florida, I didn’t want to get stuck sitting on the bench [for a few years].”
At Maryland, though, it appears Hart will stand a good chance of making a splash sooner rather than later.