Welcome to our next installment of Inside the Shell, a weekly roundup of Maryland gridiron recruiting news.
The Word on Ruble and Applefield
It's getting down to crunch time for offensive linemen Brock Ruble (Hyattsville, Md., DeMatha) and Marcus Applefield (Weeki Wachee, Fla.), both of whom have Maryland among their top two schools. Applefield is set to announce, presumably, between the Terps and Rutgers on Dec. 13 at 1 p.m. at a school ceremony, while the 6-foot-9 Ruble could make his decision between UMD and N.C. State (don't think FSU is making a big push) at any time.
The feeling on this end is Maryland will grab one of the two tackles, and the staff seems to be in better position for the Floridian. Applefield finally got back to us about his Terps official visit this week, and he raved about head coach Randy Edsall, offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, the area and the chance to be an early contributor. The 6-6 left tackle also hosted the two aforementioned UMD coaches at his head coach's house, and that left a favorable impression as well. Edsall and Locksley seemed to have convinced Applefield's mother, assuring her they'd take care of her son in College Park. Applefield himself may be buying Edsall's mantra of becoming "a better athlete and more importantly a better man."
Applefield does have one more official visit coming up this weekend in Piscataway, N.J. But while Rutgers was considered the favorite throughout much of the recruiting process, the fact of the matter is the Scarlet Knights are in a bit of disarray. They've lost several commitments, they may finish under .500 and there are questions regarding the staff's stability.
Applefield admitted coaching ousters could potentially affect his decision, so we'll see what RU sells him on his visit. The Florida tackle can sometimes be impressionable, so if the Scarlet Knights play this right they might be able to convince him to jump on board, despite the recent string of events. We'll know more after this weekend.
As for Ruble, he just took his final official visit to N.C. State and came away thrilled with the staff and the team, even though the Wolfpack lost to Maryland while he was there. He said the outcome of the game didn't and wouldn't really play into his decision.
Regardless, I get the feeling Ruble is favoring N.C. State, where his teammate, Deonte Holden, is already committed. Maryland did just go in-home with him, however, and once again made a rather convincing pitch (Edsall's word resonates with parents). I'm just not sure whether it will be enough to convince Ruble to stay home.
And from a Maryland perspective, that's OK. While it's important to build (rebuild?) the DeMatha relationship, Ruble may not be a "priority recruit."
The Word on Melvin Keihn
The Gilman School (Baltimore, Md.) outside linebacker has maintained a top three of Virginia Tech, Maryland and Virginia, and that's probably the order he has the schools in as well. While Keihn has continued to speak highly of the Terps and Wahoos, the Hokies seem to be in his head and heart. Va Tech's engineering program is a big selling point, as well as the chance to play under Frank Beamer and in the Hokies' defense (where he'll likely be a defensive end).
Maryland did beat Virginia Tech with Keihn looking on during his official to Blacksburg, but that didn't really sway him much. The Terps, by virtue of their academics and Randy Edsall's word, may have made up enough ground to surpass UVA, but it'll be tough to hop Tech.
Of course, Maryland will have at least one more shot at convincing the Gilman backer on Dec. 12, when Andre Powell and Co. are set to visit him in-home. Keihn will then make his final decision Jan. 2 at the Under Armour All-American game.
That Stuff Jalen Tabor Says
Friendship Collegiate (Washington, D.C.) corner Jalen Tabor tweeted earlier this week that he'll make up his mind on Christmas Day, but that's all just part of the game. He's still not actually announcing publicly until the UA game on Jan. 2.
Tabor probably already knows where he wants to go to school (yes, Maryland still looking good), and he'll let everyone know when he's on national TV. Don't expect a Christmas morning gift.
Speaking of Damian Prince…
The McNamara tackle recently had an injury, which will preclude him from playing in the Under Armour game. That's a shame because it would've been good to see him compete against elite defensive ends on a national stage, but an injury isn't going to affect his recruiting. Prince is still set to announce during the UA game, and, like Tabor, we're still feeling good about Maryland's position. The UMD coaches recently had an in-home visit with him, and word is that went very well.
Florida State is still very much involved, though, so we'll see if the Terps can ride off the Seminoles' charge.
The Word on Shawn Boone
The Florida safety has been relatively quiet as of late, as things are fairly status quo. He's taken officials to Maryland, Arkansas, N.C. State and Penn State and still wants to see Ole Miss in January. Though Boone won't publically claim any leaders until he's completely finished with officials, the feeling is the 5-10 thumper is favoring the Nittany Lions. Ole Miss may have a chance to snag him if the official goes well, but it wouldn't surprise me if he pops to PSU before it's all said and done.
It was a bit telling that while Locksley and Edsall were in Florida to see Applefield they didn't travel down to southern Florida to see Boone. Boone said the UMD coaches will go in-home with him in January, so they'll have a chance to make an impression then, but right now I'm not feeling a Maryland pop.
The Running Back Situation
I spoke to both Green Run (Virginia Beach, Va.) RB Anthony Scott and Linganore (Frederick, Md.) scat back Phillip Butler this week. Though nothing is definitive, this is my read on the situation: If the Terps make a run at one of these two, it'll be Butler. The staff seems to like his game, Greg Gattuso has gone out to watch him practice, and Butler has visited College Park, getting some great vibes in the process.
The question, of course, is whether Edsall will sign off on him, considering Butler had some legal issues (armed robbery) and has to pick up his SATs/ACTs a bit. If Maryland doesn't pursue, though, West Virginia probably will. He is scheduled to visit Morgantown in the near future.
Scott, meanwhile, is an underrated talent with 4.3 40-yard dash speed. I personally love this kid's game, but I'm not sure UMD will go hard after him. He has some academic concerns as well, and it's not clear whether or not he'll qualify. Moreover, Scott seems to be favoring Virginia Tech and had plenty of praise for the school he grew up watching. He's set to officially visit there on Jan. 24 (he has one other official to East Carolina set up for Jan. 17).
Scott would also like to see Maryland, but he'd probably only check the Terps out if they offered. The Green Run RB said his coach told him UMD eventually will pull the trigger, but we'll see what develops.
There is a third running back target on the radar, according to our Carolina guy, but we don't see the Terps landing Donte Thomas-Williams from Hillside (Durham, N.C.) at this time. The four-star back has a slew of top-tier offers, and while UMD is said to be making a push, Thomas-Williams is probably West Virginia or Florida State bound.
Maryland's Current Commits
Just a quick note on the Terps' committed 2014 crop. Most of them – Jared Cohen, Josh Woods, Tyler Burke, Jesse Aniebonam, Juwann Winfree, David Shaw, Brett Kulka, Brendan Moore, Will Ulmer – have either hosted Maryland coaches or had a coach come out to their school during the contact period. All are solid on the Terps and we don't foresee any wavering, especially after Maryland earned itself a bowl berth and finished with a big win against N.C. State.
The Word on Micah Till
N.C. State commit Micah Till, a 2014 tight end from Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.), is still a solid Wolfpack verbal. There were some inklings that Till still wanted in at Maryland, but the Terps never offered him and there aren't any signs the staff will make a run.
UMD told current commit Andrew Gray they'd only recruit one tight end this year, and apparently they're sticking to it -- even though Till (pass catcher) is a completely different player than Gray (blocker). We'll see if something changes as Signing Day nears.
Staff All Over the Map
It's the open period, and Maryland, like any other school, has been all over the map. D.C., Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, Virginia, New York, Connecticut, the Carolinas, Georgia, Delaware and Ohio are some of the spots we've heard UMD coaches have been spotted. In addition to in-home visits with the likes of Jalen Tabor, Damian Prince, Brock Ruble, Marcus Applefield and the aforementioned commitments, the coaches have been following up with some 2015 and '16 targets.
Here are some of the names/schools the Terps have reportedly seen:
Friendship Collegiate Academy (Washington, D.C.) for OL Quarvez Boulware, OL Richard Merritt
Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) for OL Richie Petitbon, WR Jabari Greenwood, DB Marcus Lewis, QB Nick Johns
St. John's (Washington, D.C.) for QB Will Ulmer, LB/TE Davonte Brooks, DB Ayron Monroe and others
Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) for LB Jesse Aniebonam, DE Darius Fullwood, DB Keandre Jones and others
Archbishop Carroll (Washington, D.C.) for OL Jauan Williams
DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) for OL Brock Ruble, WR Tino Ellis, RB Lorenzo Harrison, DB Tyler Green, DE Shane Simmons and more
Damascus (Damascus, Md.) for DB Jalen Christian
Quince Orchard (Gaithersburg, Md.) for DE Adam McLean
Gaithersburg (Gaithersburg, Md.) for DE Kamonte Carter
Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.) for OL Isaiah Prince
Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) for QB Kai Locksley, DL Ellison Jordan
Linganore (Frederick, Md.) for RB Phillip Butler, OL E.J. Donahue
McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) for LB Wyatt Cook, ATH Eric Burrell
Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.) for DB Dionte Austin, LB Rahshaun Smith
Eastern Christian Academy (Elkton, Md.) for LB Malachi Felder, OL Shamir Hardin, LB De'le Harding
St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.) for WR Devin Phelps and others
Bullis (Potomac, Md.) for DE Jonathan Holland, RB Devonte Williams
Don Bosco (Ramsey, N.J.) for DB Daivon Ellison, OL Kevin Feder, LB Anthony Malaguti, DB Lawrence Stevens
Union City (N.J.) for OL Steven Gonzalez, ATH Daiquan Kelly
Red Bank Catholic (Red Bank, N.J.) for LB Jamie Gordinier, OL Liam Smith
Monmouth Junction (South Brunswick, N.J.) for RB Dontae Strickland
DePaul Catholic (Wayne, N.J.) for DB Kiy Hester, RB Kareem Walker
Montclair High (Montclair, N.J.) for ATH Elijah Robinson
Paramus Catholic (Paramus, N.J.) for CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, WR Najee Clayton, QB Brandon Wimbush
St. Joseph's Montvale (Montvale, N.J.) for LB Joe Giles-Harris, OL Tommy Hatton
Alexis I Dupont (Wilmington, Del.) for WR Quadree Henderson
Caravel (Bear, Del.) for ATH Darnell Savage
Malvern Prep (Malvern, Pa.) for DE Ryan Buchholz, SS Trevor Morris, OL Hayden Mahoney, QB Alex Homibrook
Coatesville (Coatesville, Pa.) for DB Jay Stocker
Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.) for RB Andre Robinson
Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) for LB Jake Cooper, OL Ryan Bates
Matoaca (Chesterfield, Va.) for WR Trevion Armstrong
St. Christopher's (Richmond, Va.) for LB Ricky DeBerry, DB Garrett Taylor
Briar Woods (Ashburn, Va.) for WR Brandon Polk, ATH Dominic Moore
Phoebus (Hampton, Va.) for DT Harry Lewis
Avon Old Farms (Avon, Conn.) for TE Chris Clark
Brother Rice (Bloomfield, Mich.) for QB Alex Malzone
More 2015 Notes
-- As you can see from the above list, it looks like Maryland will once again go after a number of New Jersey products. The Terps pulled Juwann Winfree out of the Garden State this year and could very well up the ante in 2015. Keith Dudzinkski and Co. should obviously aim high and go all-out for the Minkah Fitzpatricks and Steven Gonzalezes of the world, but we'll know more about the realistic targets as the offseason moves along. Kareem Ali, the touted defensive back from Timber Creek (Sicklerville, N.J.) continues to be on the radar.
Maryland will be competing with Rutgers for a number of these recruits, and it'll be interesting to see what the locals up there think of the hometown school. RU has had some issues this fall, and I wonder if that will carry over to 2015 prospects. For the first time in awhile, Maryland might be able to use the negative recruiting angle in its favor.
-- Speaking of negative recruiting, Randy Edsall said recently finishing 7-5 and going to a bowl was huge in that opposing coaches won't be able to spin that "Maryland hasn't won" yarn. And indeed, I've spoken to a number of recruits who have called the bowl berth "big" for the program. One example: When talking to running back Anthony Scott (see above), he admitted he didn't know much at all about UMD, but he did know the Terps were bowl eligible and said "that's huge for them." If the coaches play the cards right, they might be able to ride the postseason momentum right into Signing Day (Prince, Tabor, Applefield, Keihn, a top RB would be ideal) and the 2015 class.
-- Good Counsel has become a priority destination for college coaches, and rightfully so. But for the first time in a few years, there might not be quite as much activity over there. At least from Maryland's standpoint. Yes, 2015 DE Darius Fullwood claims a boatload of offers, but UMD isn't one of them and there are questions about his game. Beyond Fullwood, the Terps are monitoring, but may or may not push, for 2015 defensive backs Roger Richardson and Andrew Ashley and WR Keon Paye. The next elite recruit Maryland might go hard after is 2016 ATH Keandre Jones, a recruit I really like.
-- DeMatha's 2015 crop may not get much play either. After the Stags' stellar 2014 class, which included six or so high-major recruits, it drops off once those guys graduate. Junior safety Tyler Green claims offers from Maryland and N.C. State, but we'll see if UMD makes a strong run. Beyond that, though, the elite talent resides in the 2016 class, where Maryland will be looking at Shane Simmons (has offer), Tino Ellis (has offer) and Lorenzo Harrison (no offer yet), among others.
-- The main D.C. destination will be Gonzaga, what with four high-major recruits: Petitbon, Greenwood, Lewis and Johns. Maryland and RU remain high on Greenwood's list, and the long receiver might be the Terps' most realistic target. The Terps have some ground to make up on Petitbon, though the legacy offensive tackle does think highly of UMD (Alabama and LSU are tough to compete with, though). Lewis was committed to Virginia Tech, but he recently backed off his early verbal. Now that he's on the market again, expect the Terps to go hard after him. Lewis won't be an easy get, but he does have Maryland rated highly. As for Johns, it all depends on whether or not he's the Terps' type of quarterback. If UMD wants him, Johns might listen, though that's not a guarantee as he figures to land numerous major offers.
-- Most have assumed Maryland will go after one 2015 quarterback, and that one figures to be Gilman's Kai Locksley. But it seems the staff is doing its homework on other potential signal callers in case 1) Locksley doesn't work out or 2) The infatuation with him has worn off. Gonzaga junior Nick Johns is on the radar, and the Terps have also checked out gunslingers in Michigan (Alex Malzone, see above), New Jersey (Brandon Wimbush, Ryan Adzima, Cinjun Erskine), Virginia (Elijah Burress), Pennsylvania (Alex Hornibrook) and Ohio (Joe Burrow), among others. Again, we'll know more as the offseason develops.
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