Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Other than maybe a boomerang or two, it looks like the Terps' one remaining class of 2014 target will be four-star tackle Damian Prince. The Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) recruit officially eliminated both South Carolina and Penn State earlier this week, though USC was a longshot to begin with and PSU entered the game way too late for Prince to consider them seriously.
That leaves the hometown school, Maryland, and the University of Florida as the two remaining contenders. And, as we've been saying for months, we like UMD's position. Why? Family, relationships and one heck of a recruiting effort.
The Terps -- who just hosted Prince for a basketball game and then had an in-home visit with him Jan. 30, in which head coach Randy Edsall, offensive coordinator Mike Locksley and new line coach Greg Studrawa attended -- recall, were Prince's very first offer way back after his freshman season, and even today he hasn't forgotten that.
Meanwhile, Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley has stayed steadfast on Prince throughout the years, not pushing too hard, but saying just enough to hit home with the big man. Prince has said time and again he appreciates how Maryland doesn't give him the hard sell because the coaches already know Prince is aware what the university is all about.
The most important factor, however, continues to be family. Prince is constantly surrounded by his relatives, and always keeps them in mind when making many major decisions. It's no secret he'd love for them to see him play and vice versa, and Maryland offers the best opportunity for that.
Now, did the Terps take a bit of a hit when offensive line coach Tom Brattan left and then their new hire, Dave DeGuglielmo, bolted after just six days? Maybe a little one, but if Prince doesn't commit to Maryland, that won't be the reason. Plus the McNamara tackle met Studrawa, whose resume at LSU speaks for itself, and was naturally impressed.
But, yes, Florida still does have a chance here. As you read this Prince is in Gainesville listening to Will Muschamp's pitch, and the team that gets the final official typically does resonate with many recruits. Could Prince possibly be swayed by the allure of the swamp, the SEC competition and good friend and Gators commit Jalen Tabor (Friendship Collegiate/Washington, D.C.)? It wouldn't be a total shock, and to many outsiders it would seem like the no-brainer destination.
We'll known soon what Florida had to sell and how much it hit home with Prince. He doesn't announce his decision until Signing Day, so there's a couple more days for him to mull over his final two suitors.
Cohen's a Heel
We can finally put the kibosh on the Jared Cohen saga. Fact is, Terps fans, recruits that decommit from a school, especially the hometown school, have a very difficult time re-upping with that program later on down the road. No one wants to be the dog with the tail between his legs, and it takes a lot of gumption to swallow all that pride and recommit.
Given that, once Cohen backed away around Christmastime in order to take a Penn State official, his chances of returning to UMD were probably slimmer than he let on. Even with new PSU coach James Franklin basically giving him the snub, Cohen decided to give a school that had hardly registered on the radar, North Carolina, a long look. Once that happened, it should have signaled sayonara for Terps fans.
Publicly, Cohen threw plenty of support behind UMD and said he held no hard feelings when Randy Edsall told him he had to decommit if he wanted to take other officials. But I get the feeling that ate at Cohen and his family, and the only way the two sides could truly reconcile is if there were no other options.
The Terps did make a push, however. Recall, Keith Dudzinski made his pitch before Cohen visited UNC, and Randy Edsall and Greg Studrawa were supposed to visit him Jan. 29, so it's not like the staff kicked him to the curb or harbored ill will. They could have used his size and athleticism heading to the Big Ten, with or without Prince on board.
Two New Commits
Maryland played host to five official visitors last weekend, including three current UMD pledges (Sean Christie, Dave Shaw, Andrew Gray) and two prospective ones in Nnamdi Egbuaba (St. Frances Academy/Baltimore, Md.) and Daniel Ezeagwu (Colonial Forge/Stafford, Va.), both of whom committed.
We reported at length on both Egbuaba's and Ezeagwu's joint verbal Jan. 26, the two Nigerians forming a bond before deciding they needed to go to college together. Egbuaba was probably Terps bound from the day he received a prospective offer a couple weeks ago. He did have offers from Connecticut and Virginia, but Egbuaba had only recently come into contact with those programs, whereas he'd been at Maryland numerous times during the last year (camps, games, junior days).
Ezeagwu, meanwhile, was a tougher get considering his sated love for Virginia and his parents' Wahoo overtures. He almost committed to UVA during his official Jan. 17, but when he opted to wait until after his College Park trip, it gave Maryland a serious advantage what with UMD being able to make the final impression (James Madison notwithstanding). Add in a little nudge from his new best friend, Egbuaba, and Ezeagwu became a Terp.
Now, can these kids play? The simple answer is: yes. Both were solid gets this late in the game, and Egbuaba looks to be a true find. The St. Frances linebacker is constantly in attack mode and has a relentless motor, to go along with plenty of athleticism. In fact, Egbuaba might be on par or maybe even a tad better than top UMD linebacker Melvin Keihn (Gilman/Baltimore, Md.). In any case, look for Egbuaba to make noise as a pass rusher in the coming years.
Ezeagwu, meanwhile, could develop into a solid player down the road if he refines his technique and becomes more explosive. He's physical, has good ball skills and tracks well, but the lack of initial burst may preclude him from being a true one-on-one corner at the next level. In fact, given his size (6-feet-2, 200 pounds) and strength, Ezeagwu might become a safety. Some suggested that Ezeagwu's commitment makes up for the loss of Jalen Tabor, but that's probably a stretch.
At the same time, it can't hurt to get a recruit out of Virginia, a state Maryland has struggled in recently. But landing a late-emerging prospect with one other FBS offer probably isn't going to change the perception of UMD down in the 757; the Terps still have a lot of work to do in that area.
The Running Back Situation
There really isn't one anymore. Running back Phillip Butler (Linganore/Frederick, Md.) is taking his SAT Feb. 1, and we'll know after that if he scores high enough to qualify. But even if he does, I'm not so sure the Terps take a flyer on him given the fact Wes Brown is officially back in the fold. So, other than Damian Prince and those prospective boomerangs, the 2014 class might be finished.
The Mini Junior Day
While much of the focus was on the senior official visitors last weekend, Maryland also played host to three prime junior targets: Gonzaga's (Washington, D.C.) Jabari Greenwood and Marcus Lewis, and Friendship Collegiate's Quarvez Boulware (Potomac running back Kesean Strong and Wilson linebacker Kareem McDonald also visited).
The trio took in the Maryland-Pittsburgh basketball game and spoke briefly to the football staff, and all three continue to list UMD as one of their favorite schools. Boulware remains the most likely to be a Terp, as he's spoken highly of the program and Locksley for quite some time. Granted, his profile is starting to grow (he just picked up an Auburn offer), and there's a long way until Signing Day 2015, so we'll see if the Terps can continue to resonate with him.
As for the Gonzaga kids, both Lewis and Greenwood have become highly-sought after recruits, and neither figures to be a UMD lock. Both are looking around, taking visits and listening to pitches, so Locksley and Co. are really going to have to stay on them in order to bring them to College Park.
Lewis, recall, committed to Virginia Tech not too long ago, so he's proven to be impressionable. We'll see if he's still high on UMD after he visits a few SEC programs. Greenwood, meanwhile, has always spoken well about Maryland, but we'll know more where he truly stands in the coming months.
Other 2015 Notes
So, what's up with lineman E.J. Donahue (Linganore/Frederick, Md.) checking out West Virginia? The junior Terps commit, like any underclassmen probably should, will enjoy the process and take a look at a few other campuses. But we're not sensing there was anything more to his Morgantown visit than just taking the opportunity to see another school. Donahue remains firmly loyal to Maryland and insists it's his school. In fact, he's already doing a good bit of recruiting via social media, pumping up UMD big time. Of course, Jared Cohen was a mortal lock to stick with Maryland at one point too … Just saying.
Also, the Terps' staff made the rounds with the local targets, and recently were in Montgomery County to see Jalen Christian (Damascus, Md.), Kamonte Carter (Gaithersburg, Md.) and Adam McLean (Gaithersburg, Md./Quince Orchard). They also hit the likes of Isaiah Prince (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.), Ayron Monroe and his teammates (St. John's/Washington, D.C.), Kai Locksley (Gilman) and the aforementioned kids from FCA and Gonzaga.
Right over the border, Darnell Savage (Carver/Bear, Del.) also met Edsall and new receivers coach Keenan McCardell Jan. 31.
There were a few "offers" handed out to the likes of Chad Smith in Virginia and John Kelly in Michigan, two emerging juniors, but neither of those are official yet. They likely won't get firm verbals until they visit College Park.
Wilt and McCardell hitting it
New defensive line coach Chad Wilt and new receivers coach Keenan McCardell seem to be making an impression early. Numerous recruits I've spoken to or heard from colleagues about have raved about both, and there have been reports of their whereabouts in places like Texas, Delaware, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and more. If you're a Terps fan, that's what you want to hear – get these guys into areas UMD needs to mine for talent, and have them hit it hard.
Now, we'll see if Studrawa can follow suit, starting with Damian Prince.
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