Catching Up With Commits at Chesapeake Bowl

TSR was on hand at the 1st Annual Chesapeake Bowl and caught up with Maryland's commits.


Ryan Malleck, the 6-5 230-pound tight end of Point Pleasant (NJ), has been committed to Maryland for some time despite entertaining over 10 Division-1 offers. The Terps uncertain coaching situation, however, has forced Malleck to reopen his recruiting to gage his interest in other colleges.

Former offensive coordinator James Franklin and running backs coach John Donovan was integral parts to Malleck’s recruitment. Franklin, now head coach of Vanderbilt, said that if Malleck is unhappy with Maryland’s coaching situation he would welcome him to Nashville.

“[Franklin] wants me to come. They need tight ends there. And he’s trying to build that program up,” Malleck said, adding he spoke to Franklin earlier this week. “I’m still committed. I still want to talk to whoever comes in and see. But I opened up my recruiting again last so I’m talking to other schools. I’m probably going to set up my official visits and then decide.”

Other schools Malleck is interested in include Nebraska, Miami, Rutgers and Connecticut. He is looking for the school that best suits his criteria – academics, the right coaching staff and a pro-style offense that utilizes the tight end in the passing game, something he is weary of if Mike Leach takes over for Maryland.

“I really got close to Coach Franklin, Coach Donovan, Coach Friedgen. Im still committed to [Maryland], it’s just – I’m going to look at other schools,” Malleck said.

In the Chesapeake Bowl, Malleck hoped to exhibit his blocking skills and show he brings energy to his team. However, the tight end was used primarily in the wide receiver position, something he did for much of the season. Malleck had a key drop in the endzone, and showed he is not a very polished route runner. He was also unable to gain position on a defensive back that he had a six-inch height advantage over.


Despite being verbally committed to the University of Maryland, Evan Mulrooney is exploring his second collegiate offer from North Carolina State just in case he is not content with the Terps new head coach.

“Right now I’m still committed but I’m taking my official [visit] to N.C. State, so I’m working on my other option a little bit. I just need to figure out what coaches are staying and what coaches are going and everything until I can really say I am going to go there,” Mulrooney said. “If things don’t work out there w\ the coaching staff, and they hire someone that I don’t really like then I am going to de-commit and go somewhere else.”

Specifically, Mulrooney is interested in discovering the fate of 10-year assistant and offensive line coach Tom Brattan, who would be coaching the center from Delaware. Mulrooney said he and Brattan have developed an outstanding, trusting relationship, and likes how he approached him during recruiting.

Former Terps offensive coordinator James Franklin, now the head coach at Vanderbilt, offered Mulrooney the chance to play in Nashville but he declined. Franklin offered Brattan a position on his coaching staff, but Mulrooney believes if Brattan is not retained at Maryland he would opt to retire.

In the Chesapeake Bowl, Mulrooney relished the chance to play amongst the top talents in the Maryland, Virginia area, and challenge himself against the elite of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. He called the game a measuring stick of what it will be like to compete on the next level.

Mulrooney blocked well on both run and pass plays, and had a key block against DeMatha’s Darian Cooper. He was also a reliable long-snapper, and for the most part he snapped to a shotgun quarterback.


Maybe no offensive lineman was so consistent during the Chesapeake Bowl as Andrew Zeller, the offensive guard from Red Lion Area (PA). The 6-6 Zeller played at both left and right guards, and at nearly 300 pounds was on the move for sweep plays and protecting a quarterback who often was throwing on rollout plays. Zeller rarely got beat and maintained his blocks to keep his quarterbacks untouched throughout the entire game.

Zeller’s goal in the Chesapeake Bowl was to prove his abilities against the top-tier talent in the region. Job well done, sir.

Zeller is verbally committed to play at Maryland next year, but like many other recruits he is keeping his options open due to the coaching carousel.

“I’m just seeing how things fold. They said they’re going to name a coach within the next 10 days the last time I talked to them. I’m just going to go from there, re-evaluate the new coaching staff that’s being brought in. I’m going to have to start from scratch,” Zeller said.

Oregon, Michigan State and Miami are some of his fallback options, and because of James Franklin’s move to Vanderbilt, playing in Knoxville is a possibility if he is not satisfied with the new head coach of the Terrapins.

After speaking with Coach Kevin Lempa, the assistant and safeties coach at Maryland, and Ryan Steinberg, an assistant recruiting coordinator in his fourth season in College Park, Zeller is confident there will be some survivors on the coaching staff, although he resided to the fact that there will be casualties.

Zeller said that it is not the name or reputation that will factor into his decision to become a Terp or take his talents elsewhere; he simply wants to get to know the new hire. He hopes he is down to heart and a straight shooter.

In the offseason, Zeller plans to continue running, lifting weights and improving his physical attributes.


Lafeyette Pitts, who has a soft verbal commitment to Pitt, proved to be the North’s most versatile weapon. He lined up as a punt returner, kick returner, running back, cornerback and safety.

On special teams duties, Pitts muffed a fair catch in his one attempt. As a kick returner, however, Pitts showed he is shifty, making a decent return out of nothing. It makes you realize why he scored on 11 returns this season.

Defensively, Pitts kept toe-to-toe with the speedy Darius Jennings as he ran downfield. There was no receiver that could outrun him, whether he was playing as a corner on the outside, against the slot or at safety. Pitts’ quick recovery speed allowed him to play exceptional coverage over the top on receivers.

In limited play at running back, the North tried to utilize his speed as a receiver out of the backfield. However, his quarterback overthrew him deep after he created separation downfield.


If you were curious to why Gilman’s most dynamic offensive weapon warranted national attention, Darius Jennings let his play at the Chesapeake Bowl answer the question. As a running back, wide receiver and quarterback, Jennings proved to be the game’s more versatile player.

Most of the offensive plays revolved around using Jenning’s off the jet-sweep, which when he got the carry was successful almost every attempt. He scored on a 11-yard run. The jet-sweep formation set up two reverse passes, both of which Jennings completed for long gains, one to Zachary Dancel, the other to Jordan Kittrel.

As a wide receiver, Jennings demonstrated breakaway speed and the ability to adjust his route to a quarterback scrambling, in search of receivers. When he got momentum, Jennings proved to be tough to tackle. One knock – he did drop a handful of passes and needs to improve his ball control.

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