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Football Recruiting: Jackets add Maryland transfer LB Ayinde Eley

Geoff Collins’ squad picks up a seasoned veteran at a key position of need

NCAA Football: Indiana at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Tech has been hitting the football transfer market heavily to bolster the roster for the 2021 campaign, particularly on defense, and Monday brought more news on that front as Maryland linebacker Ayinde Eley announced he will be transferring to Tech for the upcoming season.

As a recruit, Eley was fairly highly regarded, earning a high three-star rating (.8810) on the 247Sports Composite index and receiving reported offers from most of the Big Ten, including Ohio State. He started nine games for Maryland as a redshirt sophomore in 2019, racking up 79 total tackles, four tackles for loss, and four pass breakups. He saw less action this season, though, appearing in three games (out of the team’s five total games) and getting the start only in the win over Penn State. It appears his decline in playing time was less due to his own ability and more due to Maryland’s improved depth at linebacker, and he still brings some starting experience for a Big Ten squad to a Tech team in need of experience at the linebacker position after the departure of longtime starter David Curry.

He mostly played outside linebacker at Maryland, and his responsibilities were closer to those of the Will linebacker position in Tech’s lineup—where 2020 starter Quez Jackson is set to return—than the vacant Mike inside linebacker spot. But he brings a lot of speed to the table, particularly for someone with a 240-pound frame, and that combination of size and athleticism should prove useful for head coach Geoff Collins and defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker regardless of where he ends up on the field.

Since 2020 would have been his redshirt junior season, Eley will have up to two years to play for the Jackets. Per the NCAA’s recent ruling on transfer eligibility, he will be eligible to play immediately for the upcoming season. It’s a much-needed boost for the defense, and as he joins a linebacker corps that lacks any significant experience behind Jackson and Demetrius Knight, he has a good chance of carving out a large role for the upcoming season.