DeMatha football alumni shine in Maryland’s spring game, just like the good ol’ days

University of Maryland running back and DeMatha alum, Lorenzo Harrison, carries the ball in Saturday's Red-White spring game on April 22. Photo by Austin McFadden/MSA.

COLLEGE PARK — It was like the good ol’ days, when DeMatha football runs the stomping grounds of Capital One Field at University of Maryland, the same place where so many Washington Catholic Athletic Conference titles have been bagged. As a spectator during Maryland’s annual Red-White spring football game, DeMatha football coach Elijah Brooks basked in the moment of deja vu, watching former running back Lorenzo Harrison prance for a 56-yard touchdown and D.J. Turner showcasing the surface of his potential with a series of dazzling routes and catches.

“It’s the best feeling in the world as a coach,” Brooks said. “It’s almost like they’re your children, you know? I spend so much time with them in high school. You’re able to go down the road and see those guys playing on the college stage, and doing well.”

Harrison finished with 79 yards on just five carries, and Turner, meanwhile, rarely missed a beat in the receiving corps, going for 126 yards and a score on six receptions. The two accounted for 207 of the 462 yards generated in Team White’s 40-35 win over Team Red. 

[RELATED: Maryland’s Red-White spring game scoring system]

University of Maryland running back and DeMatha alum, Lorenzo Harrison, carries the ball in Saturday’s Red-White spring game on April 22. Photo by Austin McFadden/MSA.

Harrison and Turner both had illustrious careers at DeMatha Catholic High School, just a short drive and a few miles from UMD’s campus, winning three-straight WCAC titles in the latter part of their prep tenures.

On Saturday, they showed a glimpse at the championship pedigree inherited from their time at DeMatha.

Turner’s six receptions and Harrison’s 79 rushing yards were both team highs.

“[Turner is] a playmaker with the ball in his hands,” Durkin said. “He’s a tough cover in the slot. … You saw [Lorenzo] do what he does. He’s hard to tackle. I don’t care who you are. He’s tough to tackle.”

Defensive back Tino Ellis, receiver Chris Jones, defensive lineman Seun Oluwtimi and offensive lineman Terrance Davis are four more DeMatha alumni on Maryland’s roster looking to carve out roles. 

Davis and Ellis both received starting nods at their respective positions on Saturday.

Harrison’s 56-yard touchdown was the longest play of the day. Turner recorded the second longest play of the day with a sparkling 53-yard grab down the sideline and hauled in a 28-yard touchdown reception. 

It was also Harrison’s and Turner’s first in-game showing since their four-game suspension for roles in an alleged airsoft shooting incident on campus in November.

Brooks said the mistakes by Harrison and Turner “aren’t a reflection of who they are.”

“It was definitely a learning lesson for them,” Brooks said. “They’re maturing. It was good to see those guys take the proper steps and doing things the right way.”

Turner said he’s “definitely a different person” after enduring the process and Harrison said in a press conference earlier in the month he’s matured since then. Durkin reiterated after Saturday’s spring game Harrison remains a leader and is ready for a large role in the fall.

“That was a tough couple months for me,” Turner said. “We’re definitely sorry for what we’ve done. We’re very apologetic. I will never make that same mistake again. Now, I’m back, fully focused on football. I’m ready to go.”

Harrison and Turner are coming off starkly different freshmen campaigns. Harrison played in the first nine games, ranking second on the team in rushing yards (633) and touchdowns (five). He also set the Maryland freshman record for yards per rush (minimum 75 attempts) at 7.5. Turner, meanwhile, had an injury-riddled collegiate debut season, appearing in eight game and only catching two receptions for 19 yards. 

University of Maryland receiver and DeMatha alum, D.J. Turner, hauls in one of his six receptions during Saturday’s spring game. Photo by Austin McFadden/MSA.

“I had to come out here and make a statement,” Turner said. “Definitely had a chip on my shoulder, not playing as much last year. I had to come out here and make a name for myself.”

Harrison and Turner aren’t the only two DeMatha-related guys who made waves in College Park on Saturday. Two four-star recruits under Brooks, offensive lineman Evan Gregory and defensive lineman Austin Fontaine, announced on social media their verbal commitment to Terps football that morning. 

Brooks said Durkin has set a precedent for the long-run with his exuberant approach and overall football knowhow. 

“Coach Durkin just gets it,” Brooks said. “We don’t have to beg him to recruit our kids. He’s made it a priority. Not only DeMatha kids, but kids all across the DMV. He’s made that a priority, and that’s half the battle. We have plenty of kids here in the state who want to play for Maryland. You just need the right people going after your kids. Coach Durkin gets it.”

Along with Brooks, a few DeMatha assistant coaches and many current Stags players attended Saturday’s spring game, witnessing their former teammates forge relevance and showcase a DeMatha-to-UMD pipeline already taking effect.

“They take great pride in representing the state of Maryland,” Brooks said. “Our kids are just as good as any other kids in the nation. They see the direction Maryland wants to go. They want to be trailblazers, and they want to do it together.”

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About Kyle McFadden 307 Articles
Kyle McFadden is a graduate from Linganore High School's Class of 2014, a sports junkie and general news-hound. He got his start as a sports writer in January 2014 for Linganore's student-run newspaper The Lance, where he wrote 13 articles. McFadden then launched his own blog in October 2014 called The Beltway Dispatch covering collegiate, local high school and professional sports. Formally known as The Beltway Dispatch, McFadden and Evan Engelhard merged respective platforms in June 2015 to make what is now Maryland Sports Access. With baseball, basketball and golf experience, McFadden brings ample knowledge to the helm of MSA. McFadden covers a wide variety of sports in football, baseball, basketball, golf, hockey, lacrosse, soccer and specializes in the collegiate and high school levels. McFadden volunteers his time at Damascus Road Community Church -- serving as a mentor to the youth, basketball coach at the varsity and junior varsity levels, and leads a small group of high school sophomores every Wednesday night. Although he's only been around journalism since January 2014, he's a high school sports reporter for The Baltimore Sun and freelancer for The Frederick News-Post. McFadden's work has also appeared in DMV newspapers The Aegis, The Capital Gazette, The Daily Times (Delmarva Now), The Hometown Observer, Howard County Times, Germantown Pulse and The Towson Times. He's also won two Mike Powell Excellence in Journalism awards and has appeared on The Best of SNO, which showcases top student work of high school and college journalists. McFadden currently studies at Frederick Community College and plans to transfer to the University of Maryland in the fall of 2018 to work on a bachelor's degree in journalism with aspirations to be a national college basketball writer.
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