Welcome to our next installment of Inside the Shell, a weekly roundup of Maryland's gridiron recruiting efforts.
Two Official Visitors
Maryland will host a pair of big left tackles this weekend when the Terps play their final ACC home game against Boston College.
The first is Weeki Wachee (Fla.) High tackle Marcus Applefield, a 6-foot-6, 270-pound three-star recruit who seems rather intrigued about his return trip to College Park. Applefield visited back during the summer, and while he had good things to say about Randy Edsall's program, he seemed more enamored with some of his more prominent pursuers. But during our last interview with him he praised Edsall and sounded genuinely excited about the trip.
Applefield has already taken officials to Purdue and UVA, and after Maryland he'll take in Vanderbilt and Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have been on him the longest and are still considered the favorite, but we'll see if Maryland can make up ground, or even claim Applefield's top spot, after this weekend.
The second lineman coming in Saturday has been a somewhat familiar face as his school is just 10 minutes from campus. DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) tackle Brock Ruble was supposed to be in Knoxville this weekend for an official to Tennessee, but he told us the visit "fell through."
Read between the lines here, Terps fans. Could the Vols still be going after Ruble? Maybe (and he did say he wants to get out to Knoxville eventually), but we're not so sure this isn't a classic slow play by the Tennessee coaches. In fact, we're not entirely positive two of Ruble's other top-five suitors, Ohio State and Florida State, will make a push either. Ruble did visit FSU for his first official but obviously did not commit while in Tallahassee.
If the tea leaves read correctly, that leaves Maryland and N.C. State vying for the mammoth lineman. The Wolfpack have made quite an impression on Ruble and may have the upper hand, but, again, we'll see what happens after he takes in College Park.
The Two Big Guns
I'm not going to do it. One. Week. Without. Mentioning. … OK, I give up. So Damian Prince (Forestville, Md., Bishop McNamara) and Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C., Friendship Collegiate) both took officials last weekend, the former to Florida State and the latter to Arizona.
The outcome? Both enjoyed themselves, naturally, though we still like Maryland's chances. And, no, folks, Tabor is not going to school in Arizona, regardless of what he tweets. Remember, his Twitter handle is "HesSuchATease."
OK, that's it, no more commentary on those two.
The Rest of the 2014 Targets
Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) linebacker Melvin Keihn took his official to Virginia Tech last weekend and is heading to Penn State this weekend. He might go to Miami in December to round out his five trips, as he's already seen Maryland and Virginia. Keihn said he's announcing January 2 at the Under Armour All-American game, though it wouldn't surprise us if he made up his mind sooner and told whichever staff he's pledging to he's coming in advance.
Right now, it still looks like the Hokies have the upper-hand given their engineering program, Bud Foster's defense, etc. Va. Tech loves to take hybrids like Keihn (6-3, 220) and turn them into defensive ends, which is appealing to the primetime pass rusher.
But Maryland does have advantages as well, namely its location (close to D.C., near his family, his mom can see him play), solid academics, and the relationship he has with the coaching staff (Edsall has made quite an impression). Virginia has similar qualities and is still very much in play as well.
The search for a running back might be heating up as Green Run (Virginia Beach, Va.) athlete Anthony Scott recently claimed a Terps offer, though we've since found out the scholarship has not been presented yet. Here's the thing about this primetime runner with 4.4 40-yard dash speed: Though he's qualified academically, there may be some issues there. If Maryland feels Scott can survive in College Park education-wise, then he would certainly be a solid pickup, but we're not sure UMD will go hard after him. That said, the Terps could use another make-you-miss type of back, and Scott is certainly that.
Southfield (Mich.) tackle Chukwuma Okorafor, who has yet to receive a Terps offer, recently picked up verbals from the likes of N.C. State, UVA and Iowa. The Western Michigan commit said he wants to visit Maryland, but the list of suitors is growing by the week (Florida and Arkansas have supposedly offered as well), so we're not sure if he makes it to College Park. Especially if Maryland doesn't offer him a scholarship. We'll see how this plays out in December when he plans to start his trips.
Another lineman on the radar, JUCO Robert McClure from North Carolina, said he's looking to trek up to Maryland in December. He has a few other smaller schools he'll be taking in before that, though, and it really wouldn't surprise us if he ended up at one of those. McClure is OK, but his film isn't overly impressive, so we're not sure he ends up with a legitimate UMD offer.
On the defensive line, there still hasn't been another clear target who has emerged. The Terps did sniff around local end Cory Jones (Washington, D.C., Carroll), who had a huge senior season, but his coach told me he's had no contact with the UMD staff in weeks. Unless there's a sudden spate of interest in December, we're not sure Maryland will pursue.
At cornerback, the Terps just landed 6-2/6-3 McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) athlete Josh Woods. For an under-the-radar recruit, Woods had impressive film, and we liked his athleticism when we saw the Eagles play this year. He looks to be a solid complementary piece to the other corner the Terps hope to land, Jalen Tabor.
While we though UMD would only recruit two corners this year, the Terps could try and add yet another. Recently, four-star cornerback Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa.) put the Terps in his top five, along with Louisville, Miami, Pitt and WVU. Now, we're not saying Maryland is in prime position for the lockdown defender (West Virginia gets his final official and could be the team to beat), but if you get the kid on campus, you never know.
What's Going on in Piscataway?
So Rutgers has lost six commitments this year, and on Sunday saw their fourth decommit in a week. Quarterback Tyler Wiegers, receiver Adonis Jennings, safety Kiy Hester and cornerback Lamont Simmons all gave RU the heave-ho, some because the Scarlet Knights over-recruited their positions and others because head coach Kyle Flood looked down on them taking other visits.
What does that mean for Maryland? Well, honestly, probably not much. Current Terps commit Juwann Winfree (Dwight Morrow, Englewood, N.J.) said he was going to try and convince Hester to take a visit to College Park, but we're not so sure that will happen. Hester didn't have UMD in his top schools when he committed to Rutgers months ago, and he's probably not going to hightail it down to Maryland just because he's no longer a Scarlet Knight's recruit.
A current Scarlet Knight to note is receiver-turned-corner Ian Thomas, who has been in all the local papers proclaiming he wants to leave the school and move closer to his home. Where's his home? Reisterstown, Md., where he attended Franklin High School. Now, we're not sure Rutgers would actually release Thomas to Maryland, nor are we even sure the Terps even want him. And then there's the question of whether Thomas even wants to continue playing football (he reportedly wouldn't mind giving baseball a try). So who knows what's going on with that one…
Some Class of 2015 Notes
A quick recap of the names we've dropped in the last two installments of Inside the Shell:
Locals with offers: CB Ayron Monroe (Terps in good early position), QB Kai Locksley (good position), WR Jabari Greenwood (good position), OL Quarvez Boulware (good position), CB Jalen Christian (solid if not spectacular position), DL Adam McLean (good position), DE/OLB Kamonte Carter (good position), OL Richie Petitbon (OK position, Alabama probably leads), DB Dionte Austin (not feeling), CB Ashton White (eh…), OL Isaiah Prince (jury's out until he takes more visits… maybe SEC bound)
The Terps saw one of their top 2015 targets come off the board when Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) corner Marcus Lewis popped to Virginia Tech -- while taking in a Hokies loss to Maryland no less. But we're not so sure Lewis will stay committed given that Va Tech is the only school he's really seen outside of Maryland.
We also just recently spoke with DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) safety Tyler Green, who has offers from N.C. State and Maryland. Green has been to College Park a number of times and seems to genuinely like the school. However, we see the Wolfpack as the leaders right now as he's visited three times and will be returning for a fourth trip Nov. 30. Green is also receiving a ton of interest from prime BCS programs. His mom's from Pennsylvania and he likes the idea of Penn State, and his dad's from Florida, which has Green taking a look at Florida State.
Locals without offers: LB Wyatt Cook (good position should Terps offer), DE Darius Fullwood (Maryland would have a shot should it offer), QB Nick Johns (probably second QB option behind Kai Locksley), OL David Robbins (good position should they offer), OL Pat Allen (not feeling), OL Keiron Howard (probably SEC bound), DE Jonathan Holland (eh, don't see an offer coming), ATH Jordan Adams (not feeling), LB Malachi Felder (not feeling), ATH Keon Paye (solid position should Terps offer), ATH Andrew Ashley (solid position should Terps offer), DB Juantez McRae (not feeling), WR Lawrence Cager (not feeling)
Out of State 2015 Guys
One Virginia offeree we're getting a good vibe on is Roanoke (Northside, Va.) lineman Chance Hall, who Maryland offered back during the summer. Hall has checked out College Park a few times and was down at Virginia Tech to watch the Terps beat the Hokies. He's always spoken highly of UMD, so we'll see if he can end the Virginia-area drought (UVA and UNC are prime contenders as well)….
Five other guys on the radar in Virginia include Briar Woods (Ashburn, Va.) receiver Brandon Polk, Hylton (Woodbridge, Va.) lineman Matthew Burrell, Rockbridge (Lexington, Va.) lineman Austin Clark, Matoaca (Chesterfield, Va.), receiver Trevion Armstrong and Thomas Dale (Chester, Va.) defensive tackle Darvin Taylor. Right now, the Terps don't seem to lead for any of these guys, though each has Maryland under consideration. Armstrong doesn't have an offer yet but could nab one this offseason.
In Pennsylvania, we continue to like the Terps' position with Coatesville (Pa.) safety Jayzee Stocker and Great Valley (Malvern, Pa.) defensive end Ryan Buchholz. Both have connections to College Park, the former having a teammate (Tyler Burke) heading to UMD and the latter having a brother (Carl Buchholz) on the roster.
Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.) running back Andre Robinson, Johnstown (Pa.) defensive back Kareem Gibson and Malvern Prep (Pa.) linebacker Trevor Morris are three more recruits the Terps are monitoring but have not offered yet. All three have Terps interest, however, and could give Maryland a look should Randy Edsall, John Dunn and Co. pursue.
In New Jersey, we continue to get good vibes from Timber Creek (Sicklerville, N.J.) defensive back Kareem Ali, thought to be a Penn State lock. Ali seems to be seriously considering Maryland and has them among his top schools, though it's still very early in the game.
At St. Joseph's (Montvale, N.J.), a school Maryland has looked to in the past, there are a pair of intriguing recruits in Joe Giles-Harris and Tommy Hatton. The linebacker Giles-Harris and the lineman Hatton have not been offered, however, so we'll see how legit the interest level is as the offseason develops.
Two more prospects to keep in mind are athlete Elijah Robinson from Montclair and Myles Hartsfield from Syerville War Memorial (Parlin, N.J.). Neither have firm verbals but are intriguing players in that they can run and are extremely athletic.
Some of Jersey's big-time recruits like Paul VI (Haddonfield, N.J.) receiver Irvin Charles, St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, St. Peter's quarterback Brandon Wimbush and Union City lineman Steven Gonzalez are probably bound elsewhere
A Couple 2016 Recruits
Yes, it's very early for the 2016 class, but here's a few local names to keep in mind who the Terps seem to like:
1. Devante Brooks, DE, St. John's (been on campus numerous times, likes Terps early)
2. Eric Burrell, DB, McDonogh (he goes to McDonogh … enough said)
3. Trevon Diggs, WR, Wootten (Stefon Diggs' brother really likes UMD but has no leaders)
4. Steven Smothers, ATH, Franklin (likes Terps, but no offer yet. He's starry eyes and loves the Oregons of the world)
5. Rahshaun Smith, DE, Calvert Hall (Jury's out … not feeling right now)
6. Shane Simmons, DE, DeMatha (likes UMD, but we'll see. A national recruit)
7. Terrance Davis, OL, DeMatha (see Shane Simmons above, though not a national recruit yet)
8. Tino Ellis, WR, DeMatha (see Shane Simmons above)
9. Lorenzo Harrison, RB, DeMatha (not sure Terps will push)
10. Jauan Williams, OL, Carroll (Terps in good early position)
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