Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Terps gridiron recruiting roundup.
Two New Additions
Maryland added commitments No. 14 and 15 this week in guard Sean Christie out of Patchogue Medford (Medford, N.Y.) and long snapper Nate Adams out of Greenway High (Phoenix, Ariz.). Both recruits were under-the-radar, late-emerging prospects who the Terps identified during the December open period. Adams had one other offer from Air Force, while the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Christie had a couple I-AA scholarships.
Christie, for his part, is a project who should provide organizational depth and could eventually develop into a rotational guard or even a starter during his latter years in College Park. He doesn't quite have the athleticism of former Terps target Marcus Applefield (Rutgers) or the sheer size/girth of Brock Ruble (Florida State), but Christie does possess some qualities (i.e. good drive, long arms, solid strength) the staff can work with. He's a noted workaholic and has the right attitude, too, so if nothing else he'll set a locker-room example and be a top scout-team player early during his career.
While Christie may not see the field for a couple years, Adams might push for time as soon as next year. With Greg Parcher graduating and two other walk-on snappers on the roster, Adams, who will be on scholarship, should get ample opportunities to claim the job. I personally haven't seen him play, but all the reports I've gotten is this kid gets the ball out quickly and doesn't get rattled. Sure, he's a long snapper, and yes, perhaps you can find walk-ons who will do a serviceable job, but there are ‘ships available. The staff obviously felt it was worth extending Adams one in order to have peace of mind at the snapper spot.
With Christie On Board…
It probably means Maryland is done with offensive line recruiting outside of the big fish who remains on the board. Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) tackle Damian Prince has been relatively quiet lately, but that's mainly because things remain status quo. He's already taken officials to Florida State and Maryland, two schools he's particularly high on, and has remaining trips to South Carolina (Jan. 17), Florida (Jan. 24) and Miami (Jan. 31). He's not announcing his decision until Feb. 14, eight days after Signing Day.
Here's the thing with Prince, though. He and four-star cornerback target Jalen Tabor (Friendship Collegiate, Washington, D.C.) are really good friends, and they've discussed attending the same school together. The thought is if Tabor commits to UMD on Jan. 2 at the Under Armour All-American game, Prince will follow suit in February.
But, what happens if Tabor opts for, say, an Alabama? Will that mean Prince is bound to leave home as well? Just some food for thought …
Speaking of Tabor…
We still like the Terps' position with the 6-1, 180-pounder, despite reports that Maryland may be running third behind the likes of Bama and Arizona. Must we remind UMD fans of a couple years ago when Wes Brown wore nothing but Vanderbilt garb and walked around at the UA game telling reporters he'd eliminated Maryland from consideration? Tabor could very well be playing the same game to stir up the pot. But…
Alabama is Alabama. Nick Saban is staying put in Tuscaloosa, and it looks like he's made Tabor a priority recruit (he visited FCA a couple weeks back). From the looks of it, he's using the opposite tact as Maryland in trying to draw Tabor in. While UMD is telling the star corner he can "build his brand," Saban may be stressing that at Bama his brand will already be built … and there's the added benefit of playing for a national title. On top of that, Bama plays in the SEC against some of the best receivers in the country, something that figures to be very attractive to Tabor, who is always looking to prove himself against the cream of the crop.
Stay tuned folks; we'll have a resolution just after the new year.
The Running Back Situation
I'm starting to get the feeling Maryland may try to identify another running back target or just not take one in this class. The two we've discussed for the last few weeks, Linganore's (Frederick, Md.) Phillip Butler and Green Run's (Virginia Beach, Va.) Anthony Scott, continue to be surrounded by question marks.
Butler, who told us he was taking the SATs a couple weeks ago, apparently still needs to fill in the bubbles. He told me this week he's not taking the SATs until late January, which seems odd with Signing Day right around the corner. I'm not sure UMD will take Butler if they don't know his scores before Feb. 6.
As for Scott, I'm just not sensing a real strong pro-Maryland push from either side right now. Scott still has some academic concerns as well, and when we've spoken to him he sounded like Virginia Tech or maybe even East Carolina were two schools he'd be looking closely at. He's listed with a Maryland offer, but that's contingent on his grades checking out.
Another Potential Quarterback Target?
As we mentioned in last week's Shell, Maryland will try and add another 2014 quarterback to go along with William Ulmer, evidenced by the offer to Chaminade (West Hills, Calif.) signal caller Brad Kaaya and the interest in Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul, Minn.) gunslinger Ricardo Johnson. Kaaya is a Miami commit and he'll likely stick with the Hurricanes or flip to UCLA, while Johnson could eventually emerge as a target. We wrote about him last week and he seems like a C.J. Brown incarnate, someone with a fairly decent arm but who has the ability to run the zone-read well. Johnson is particularly eager to check Maryland out, though no offer has been extended yet. We'll see what develops after the dead period ends in January.
One other name to keep an eye on also hails from California. We've heard that with Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin's name being bandied about for the Texas job, current Commodores quarterback commit K.J. Carta-Samuels could look elsewhere should Franklin bolt. Carta-Samuels is a 6-3, 220-pound four star out of Bellarmine Prep (San Jose, Calif.), though the only other offer he's listed with besides Vandy is Arizona. Now, Carta-Samuels would still figure to draw significant interest should he decommit, and if Maryland were smart it'd pounce. The UMD staff, which did go out to California during the open period, is familiar with Carta-Samuels, so we'll see what develops. Again, just some food for thought…
Boone Off the Board
We never really liked Maryland's chances to begin with, but it looks like the Terps are now out for Dwyer (Palm Beach, Fla.) safety Shawn Boone. The undersized thumper officially visited College Park in late October and had praise for the program, but we didn't get a terrific vibe from him. From the looks of things right now, he'll be heading to Penn State, which he visited Nov. 23, with N.C. State running second.
Could Maryland add another safety in this class? It's possible. We've mentioned the name Demetrius Johnson (Annapolis Area Christian) a couple times, but I'm not exactly feeling that one. Perhaps new offeree and Terps target Daniel Ezeagwu from Colonial Forge (Stafford, Va.) could be a safety since he is 6-2, 200.
We've had several reports on the Virginia product this week, including some from his coach and others from Ezeagwu himself. He does in fact have a firm Maryland offer and is set to officially visit College Park Jan. 24. Ezeagwu did have plenty of good things to say about Brian Stewart and the UMD program, but we really won't know exactly where he stands until after his visit (he's never been to Maryland before).
Another contender figures to be Virginia, which has offered and will get an official Jan. 17. UVA is the hometown option and he's quickly developed a relationship with the Wahoos staff.
Here's the thing with Ezeagwu, though. His twin brother, David, is a pretty good player in his own right, though not a I-A athlete. David, however, holds an offer from James Madison, while Richmond and Towson are also looking at him. Daniel Ezeagwu is extremely close to his sibling, and it wouldn't surprise us to see him turn down BCS offers in order to join his brother in college. We'll know more where he stands in late January.
The Linebacker Situation
There's one new tidbit to report on Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) outside linebacker Melvin Keihn. It now looks like he'll be announcing in a couple days rather than the UA game Jan. 2 which probably means he's got his mind made up and just wants to get it over with.
The Terps went in-home with him during the open period, and though Maryland sent four coaches to see Keihn, which greatly impressed the three-star recruit, we still see Virginia Tech as the leader.
So, if Keihn does opt for Tech, how does Maryland respond? Will they go after an under-the-radar guy a la Sean Christie when Applefield and Ruble fell through? Or will they stand pat and not take another linebacker in this class?
The latter would seem to be a viable option considering the current depth UMD has at the position. Jermaine Carter, Jalen Brooks, Abner Logan, Yannick Ngakoue, Brock Dean and Cavon Walker all have three or four years left in College Park, while Avery Thompson and Shawn Petty are just sophomores. Of course, things can always change if there is attrition…
The Kareem Ali Situation
We reported earlier this week that junior cornerback Kareem Ali (Sicklerville, N.J., Timber Creek) was close to making his college decision (again). Remember, he's the recruit who previously wanted to verbal to Penn State but subsequently had a falling out. After that, Ali listed Maryland as a prime contender, along with Northwestern, Rutgers and possibly Pittsburgh. (He said PSU is still somewhat in the game).
Ali has visited all of the aforementioned schools and had plenty of the usual praise for each. It would not surprise us if Ali chose the Terps and became the school's second 2015 verbal. He isn't particularly tall (about 5-9) or fast (4.6 40-yard dash), but Ali has done something to pick up close to 15 verbal offers.
Ali said he'll be sitting down with his family and then making a surprise announcement "very soon."
Other Jersey News
Regional programs, including Maryland, are well aware that New Jersey is ripe for the picking what with Rutgers having some problems. Not only has RU lost three coaches, but the Scarlet Knights have now seen eight recruits decommit. Though head coach Kyle Flood is doing his best to control the damage, we're getting the sense the hometown option isn't necessarily the No. 1 choice for many of Jersey's best recruits.
Maryland's Garden State recruiter, Keith Dudzinski, reportedly hit the state hard during the open period, visiting numerous high schools and reaching out to more than a handful of prospects. We've spoken to several of them, and the sense seems to be that Jersey kids are more willing than ever to check out College Park.
The Terps landed four-star receiver Juwann Winfree in the 2014 class, but we could see multiple 2015 recruits from that area heading to UMD. Ali might get the ball rolling, but others on the radar include:
St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City) quarterback Brandon Wimbush and cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick (he's a long shot)
Union City tackle Steven Gonzalez
St. Joseph's Montvale center Tommy Hatton and linebacker Joe Giles-Harris
Don Bosco (Ramsey) tackle Kevin Feder
Red Bank Catholic linebacker Jamie Gordinier
Lakewood running back Chapelle Cook
South Brunswick (Monmouth Junction) running back Dontae Strickland
The Peddle School (Hightstown) defensive tackle David Ryslik
Sayerville War Memorial (Parlin) athlete Myles Hartsfield
Westwood (Washington) receiver Nolan Borgersen
Millville athlete Robert Ennis
Wallington quarterback Ryan Adzima
(Also keep an eye on former New Jersey player Chris Clark, who was at Don Bosco and is now at Avon Old Farms school in Connecticut. We've written about him before and he's intrigued by the Terps. … Fellow Connecticut native, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, is another UMD target who could be receptive to College Park).
Speaking of Adzima…
We wrote about the 3,000-yard passer from the small Jersey school earlier this week. He said Dudzkinski had stopped by and is showing solid interest in him. (The intrigue is reciprocal. Adzima has been to College Park twice for a camp and a game and really likes the program). Once again, as we mentioned in the last couple Shells, it signals the Terps are targeting several 2015 gunslingers other than Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) athlete Kai Locksley.
Locksley will be visiting numerous programs this offseason, including Virginia Tech, Florida State, UNC, Virginia, USC and Oregon, in addition to others. He's already been to Maryland, of course, as well as Ohio State. While the Terps are still on offensive coordinator Mike Locksley's son, Kai has said multiple times he'll make his own decision and will go through the process.
In turn, UMD will do its diligence and monitor other 2015 signal callers. Adzima is one of them, and local option Nick Johns (Gonzaga, Washington, D.C.) is another. An intriguing name who I've heard very good reviews on from the Midwest is Alex Malzone (Brothers Rice, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.). The Terps checked out Malzone, who currently holds a handful of MAC offers, during the open period, so he's someone to keep an eye on.
One Under-the-Radar Local I'm Starting to Like...
Is Glenelg (Columbia, Md.) tackle David Robbins, who we've had a couple reports on now. He's big, strong and has surprisingly good film. Robbins just picked up an offer from Illinois and Maryland has been in touch. This is the type of kid UMD may want to jump on soon and try to get an early commitment out of.
Some Other Local Unheralded Juniors To Keep an Eye On
Boys' Latin (Baltimore, Md.) linebacker Preston Waters (6-1, 210) had a big year for the Lakers this year and their coach said UMD and a few others have shown early interest.
Pallotti (Laurel, Md.) lineman Pete Grenchik is 6-4, 310 pounds and will be a D-I prospect according to his coach. UMD did stop in to check him out...
Towson (Md.) running back Ronje White is a big, physical 6-2, 180 pounder who topped 1,200 yards last year. His coach said Maryland and numerous other BCS schools are intrigued.
Finally, keep an eye on Poolesville defensive end Jon Bateky, who is 6-4, 235, and had a real good year for the tiny Montgomery County school.
Who Is the Next 2015 Commit?
If it's not Ali, Maryland is still in a good position for Carver (Bear, Del.) athlete Darnell Savage, who remains high on the Terps. He might not be as ready to commit as originally believed, but a late winter/early spring pop is not out of the question. UMD remains his only offer (remember, he's still recovering from that ugly broken femur injury) and he's maintained a solid relationship with Lee Hull, who went to see him during the open period.
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