Maryland offers QB Shane Cockerille

It's hard to be overlooked at quarterback when playing for a national powerhouse football program. But Shane Cockerille has managed to do just that.

The surrounding talent has often overshadowed Cockerille's consistent play.

No longer.

The Baltimore Gilman junior received his first scholarship offer this week when Maryland coaches decided to extend the invite after seeing him in person at the Patriot Classic in Annapolis on Saturday.

Cockerille has also received interest from Mississippi State, Alabama, Kansas State and Notre Dame, but nearby Maryland seems to have an early edge.

"I like Maryland a lot," Cockerille said when asked about the Terps last Saturday before the offer. "I would like to be there."

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound recruit, who teammates like to call "Tebow" for his tough running style, could play a number of positions, but safety seems the most likely.

"I would say he's got a chance to be a big-time safety," Gilman coach Biff Poggi said.

Toughness comes natural for Cockerille. The two-time wrestling state champion surely learned much of that from his father, who is a welder. He is also athletic, as evidenced by his ability to run Gilman's option offense.

"He really runs well for a bigger body kid," Poggi said. "He's one of the toughest kids I have ever seen. ... He's just a tough kid that will give you everything he has."

While Poggi sees Cockerille as a defensive back in college, he's not completely ready to rule out quarterback, where he has proven efficient in his first season at Gilman since transferring from Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha.

"He might be good enough to play behind center [in college]," Poggi said. "Our offense isn't the best to give you the best look at that position because we don't throw much. He's a football player. That's for sure."

Why Watkins went west

While it may seem a bit surprising that defensive tackle Jordan Watkins from College Park (Ga.) Woodward Academy decided to commit to Stanford this week, it actually makes a lot of sense upon further inspection.

Watkins long said education would be a factor in his recruitment. A standout student, Watkins will surely benefit from the academia the Cardinal will offer. Watkins also said months ago that he was concerned about Georgia coach Mark Richt's job status, which is even more uncertain after an 0-2 start.

Moreover, Stanford has one of the more unique approaches in recruiting, partly because its high academic standards demand it. Despite being in a talent-rich state, only one of Stanford's 13 commitments is from California. Stanford isn't afraid to recruit the South.

The most surprising aspect of Watkins' recruitment is that Florida backed off weeks ago. Time will tell if that turns out to be a good move or not. If Florida picks up another highly-touted defensive tackle, the move will make sense. If not, Gators fans may be left wondering why Florida let Watkins get away.

Roaring Lions

The score, 41-6, pretty much said it all.

When the bludgeoning was finally over, it was obvious that Bear (Del.) Red Lion was a better and more talented team than Annapolis (Md.) Christian.

Prospects certainly played a part. Freshman quarterback David Sills gets plenty of publicity since he committed to Southern California in seventh grade and started for Red Lion as an eighth grader last year. Yet there's more than just the ballyhooed freshman.

Defensive lineman Eli Ankou is committed to UCLA. Offensive lineman Isiah Johnson has drawn some college interest, as has junior offensive lineman Khaliel Rodgers. But the best of the bunch will likely be junior defensive lineman Kenny Bigelow.

Bigelow has trouble recalling all of his scholarship offers but he thinks he has about 15. The 6-4, 295-pound prospect said Auburn, Clemson and Ohio State are currently standing out among the pack. The key for Bigelow is to go to a school where football is king.

"I'm going to go wherever the football is big and fast," Bigelow said. "I love big teams that play big and play hard."

Bigelow attended summer camps at Auburn and Rutgers and said he'll definitely visit Auburn again. He is also planning trips to Notre Dame, Penn State and Alabama.

However, those schools seem to have an uphill battle to land Bigelow, who has grown quite fond of the Tigers.

"The coaching staff is just amazing, great people. They're friendly. It's a lot like home," Bigelow said.

The Tigers also have an advantage in freshman defensive lineman Angelo Blackson, who is Bigelow's former teammate at Red Lion.

On the other side of the field, Annapolis Christian, albeit outmatched, had some talent as well, namely athlete Josh McPhearson, who has scholarship offers from Cincinnati, West Virginia and Temple.

McPhearson said he is planning a trip to Morgantown on Sept. 24 for the West Virginia-LSU game. The Mountaineers are recruiting McPhearson to play defense but he hasn't given up hope that he could play offense just yet.

"I feel like when the ball is in my hand, I can do anything," the 5-10, 180-pounder said. "This is my year to show them I'm an offensive type player and I think I'm doing that well so far."

McPhearson may soon have more college options. He said he's received mail from Nebraska, Wisconsin and Kansas State.

As for the nearby Terrapins, McPhearson said, "No love from Maryland yet. I was kind of surprised about that."

McPhearson said he's unsure when he'll announce his decision but would like to do so soon.

Leading talent

Junior prospects and their families in the areas surrounding Baltimore, Washington D.C. and northern Virginia are watching receiver Stefon Diggs from Olney (Md.) Good Counsel and defensive tackle Eddie Goldman from Washington (D.C.) Friendship closely.

If either -- or both -- sign with Maryland, it would go a long way to legitimizing the Terps' rebuilding efforts. Goldman and Diggs are both considering the nearby school along with several others.

Most think Goldman will head south for college, which makes Diggs a slightly more likely candidate to stay close to home.

Dave Hooker covers Southeast and Atlantic Coast recruiting. He has covered recruiting and college football for more than a decade. Email him at davehookerespn@gmail.com.