COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Stefon Diggs could be more valuable than the University of Maryland might even imagine.
Diggs was one of the most highly touted high school seniors in the country and had his pick of big-name powerhouse schools he could attend. The receiver shocked the college football world and chose to stay close to home to become a Terrapin.
“It was all tied in, my belief, my faith, the faith I had in this university,” said Diggs on Monday during his first college media day experience. “It’s a good school all around so all that tied in and I just bought in. I bought in to what (coach Randy Edsall) was doing and how he was constructing his program, and I just knew this was a great place to be.”
The Terps not only got the services of a top-notch receiver, they also got a new face for the program.
Diggs’ commitment to Edsall and the direction of Maryland’s program is a huge shot in the arm for the school after last year’s 2-10 season — a losing campaign which made a number of fans, boosters and media members question the hiring of Edsall.
But image aside, the possibilities of what Diggs is projected to do on offense may overshadow the fact that he graduated from Good Counsel High School in Gaithersburg, Md., and turned down the chance to play at Auburn, Ohio State and Florida for the chance to come to school 10 miles from home.
“Going away to school is going away to school,” Diggs said. “It doesn’t matter how far away you go … but it’s nice to be close to home.”
The possibilities ahead for Maryland were rather intriguing, though.
The Terps changed offensive coordinators during the offseason and rehired Mike Locksley to come in and install a “pro style offense which will incorporate some spread principles.” That seems to imply a chance for receivers to get quick passes in situations where they are able to make things happen with the ball.
Diggs has strong credentials to fit in such a plan.
The 6-foot, 185-pound pass catcher was rated as a five-star prospect, the No. 1 prep player in Maryland and the second-ranked wide receiving prospect in the nation. He collected 36 catches for 808 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 229 yards and three touchdowns last year, while also returning two kicks for scores.
Ten of those 13 touchdowns were for at least 37 yards.
“Guys like Diggs are very explosive,” said Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown. “We can only do so much over the summer with player practices, 7 on 7s, and stuff like that so we’ve seen them in open space. Everyone wants to see once you get the pads on. That’s when players separate themselves.
“We’ll have to wait a couple days, but we all know he’s going to be a special talent and an asset to this team.”
Suddenly, Diggs is coming with some of the same expectations as followed Darius Heyward-Bey when he showed up in College Park in 2006.
Heyward-Bey was a track and football star with much speed and huge game-breaking possibilities. He left after his junior season to become the first-round selection (ninth overall) of the Oakland Raiders.
Diggs is downplaying any comparison.
“I put my socks on in the morning just like everyone else,” he said. “I’m taking it all day by day.
“(Locksley’s) not asking a whole lot, he’s just asking me to work hard. That’s all my coaches and teammates are saying, they’re just telling me to work hard. My goal is to just be a good teammate and work hard. Basically that’s it, that’s all I can do.”
Edsall knows that Diggs has all the earmarks of being something special, but he isn’t about to play favorites. Diggs is listed fourth on the preseason depth chart.
“All of the freshmen are at the bottom of the depth chart. The depth chart was based on how the players did in the spring time,” Edsall said. “When we add the freshmen to the list, we just plug them in at the bottom.
“Stefon will be given that opportunity to see what he can do as a punt returner, kick returner and a wide receiver. He is a very talented young man and is very competitive. He wants to play.”
Just where Diggs fits in at Maryland has yet to be seen. He has proven his abilities in high school, but he’s the first to admit that this is entirely different to where he’s been.
“It’s an adjustment. I have a lot of positive people around me, pushing me to do well, getting me in the meeting rooms,” he said. “They’re helping me a lot. It’s just a new playbook, so I’m getting accustomed to it, getting used to it, and trying to get everywhere on time and be early. It’s a good transition.
“I’m going to have to do a lot things here because in high school you don’t have to work as hard. I’ll just take it day by day.”
The only thing that’s certain is that Diggs is happy to be at Maryland.
And the Terrapins are glad to have him.