Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
The 2015 Hot Board
The 2014 names have been erased, and the hot board has been repopulated with 2015 targets. You can check it out HERE.
After signing 17 guys last year, we'd expect this class to be in the 20-person range, with a chance for more depending on how the current roster shakes down.
Like last year, there will probably be adjustments every day or so as recruiting ebbs and flows, ebbs and flows, ebbs and flows. Inevitably (as we've already seen with several recent Maryland "offers"), kids will claim offers and interest that aren't legitimate, while others will fly under the radar before popping up with an "Oh, I got a Maryland offer back in December." So bear with us as we try to sort through all the hullaballoo until camp season begins and I start traveling around to some local high schools.
There's no need to rehash all the explanations already on the new hot board, but here's a position-by-position primer of Maryland's expected priorities:
Look for Maryland to once again take one signal caller in 2015, with Kai Locksley (Gilman/Baltimore, Md.) being the No. 1 target. The jury is still out on him, however, and it's still unclear whether or not Locksley wants to stay local.
So, if the Terps bypass Mike Lockley's son, or vice versa, look for them to go hard after Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) signal caller Nick Johns. Johns only played a couple games last year due to injury, but he's a big-armed, savvy gunslinger who has wheels as well. He's not quite former Gonzaga star Kevin Hogan (Stanford), but Johns has top-level talent for sure, and Terps fans shouldn't be disappointed if he came to Maryland. In fact, some evaluators project him to be a better quarterback down the line than Locksley.
Maryland is also monitoring several other quarterback prospects. See the hot board for more.
The best of the bunch is Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.) bull Andre Robinson, who is someone the Terps have apparently offered. Robinson's a major recruit, however, and it's not going to be easy pulling him out of the Keystone State – or keep him away from the elite Big Ten programs.
Longtime Terps target Darnell Savage (Caravel/Bear, Del.) continues to sing Maryland's praises, and it wouldn't surprise us if he committed to UMD during or after the fall (he said he'll let the process develop since he's returning from a broken femur and wants to show colleges he's fully recovered). Savage might be recruited as a cornerback, though he's a more-than-adequate runner as well. Either way, he's someone the Terps have stayed on and made an impression on. He would be a solid addition to the backfield or secondary given his speed (4.4 40-yard dash) and playmaking ability.
Other than those two, there aren't any clear running back targets who have emerged yet. But pay attention to Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.) athlete Kesean Strong, who was invited to Maryland's first junior day in late January.
I'd expect Maryland to take one or two receivers in this class depending on attrition and what options are available to them. Currently, Gonzaga's Jabari Greenwood remains a top target, and the interest seems mutual. Greenwood's profile is growing, however, and the Terps are going to have to work for him. He was just on campus for a junior day, and figures to be back again this offseason, so the staff is doing its due diligence.
Another D.C. name to watch here is St. John's wideout Scottie Washington, who looks the part. He's a big, physical receiver, though not quite as athletic or refined as Greenwood (Greenwood light?). If Maryland misses on Greenwood, Washington wouldn't be a bad second option.
Elite Virginia wideout Brandon Polk (Briar Woods) is clearly someone Maryland covets, but at this point I don't see it happening. The kid has a Stanford offer, and that'll be tough for him to turn down.
We haven't heard of too many tight ends on the radar yet, though a couple will inevitably surface. Chris Clark (Avon Old Famrs/Avon, Conn.) was offered, but that's going to be a very difficult pull. Clark has every program and their brother after him, and it wouldn't surprise us to see him at a "name" school next Signing Day.
You can never have too much beef up front, and it would behoove the Terps to pull in four or five this class. Linganore (Frederick, Md.) tackle E.J. Donahue is already on board and, despite looking around at other campuses, seems solid on UMD. Look for him to help recruit other prospects to College Park.
Besides Donahue, Maryland is in good position for Friendship Collegiate (Washington, D.C.) guard Quarvez Boulware. We've talked about his relationship with Mike Locksley, his frequent visits to campus and the like, and we're inclined to mark him as "hot" on the hot board. However, there's a long way to go until next winter, and things can turn on a dime in recruiting.
Another nearby guard/tackle, David Robbins (Glenelg, Md.), was recently offered and has UMD rated highly. We could easily see Maryland making an early push for Robbins (before he blows up) and subsequently receiving a commitment. The Terps had him out to campus and are showing the love, so we'll see if Robbins bites and commits early.
Two more big-name locals, Isaiah Prince (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.) and Richie Petitbon (Gonzaga), are prime targets, but we're not feeling UMD at this time. Both have a national profile and look to be bound for the SEC … unless Randy Edsall and Locksley can work back into the game. If Maryland has a successful initial Big Ten campaign, perhaps it convinces one or both of Prince and Petitbon to take a longer look at the hometown school.
You can read about the rest of the potential targets and Terps offerees on the hot board…
Defensive linemen are always a difficult pull because there are so few adequate ones. And those that can play are quickly identified and poached by the Alabamas of the world.
That looks to be the fate of Quince Orchard (Gaithersburg, Md.) tackle Adam McLean, who released a top five that didn't include Maryland. While the Terps have pursued McLean in earnest, it's going to take one heck of an effort, plus a standout Big Ten season, to swing him. Currently, McLean is starry eyed and has visions of playing at a top SEC or Big Ten school.
Another name to watch is Great Valley (Malvern, Pa.) defensive end Ryan Buchholz, who UMD offered early and has had out to campus a couple times already. The brother of current Terp Carl Buchholz, Maryland would seem to have an inside track to the Pennsylvania product. However, Buchholz' recruiting is skyrocketing and he has a Penn State offer, so he's not going to be an easy "get" either. In fact, it wouldn't surprise us if he popped to the nearby Nittany Lions.
We could see Maryland taking a couple linebackers in this class, with the top two priorities being Kamonte Carter (Gaithersburg, Md.) and Wyatt Cook (McDonogh/ Owings Mills, Md.).
Carter is one of the top recruits in the state and will have an offer list of more than 20 schools before next winter hits. He's currently high on Penn State and wants to visit some other Big Ten schools, so he won't be easy to keep home. New Terps assistant Chad Wilt will have to get in there right away and make quite an impression to convince Carter Maryland is the best option. The Gaithersburg backer did like that UMD offered him first and has had him out to campus numerous times, but it might not be enough to overcome the glitz and glamour programs.
As for Cook, the Terps offered him early, and the McDonogh product certainly appreciated that. He's talked up the Terps and plans to be on campus this winter, so Maryland has a legitimate shot here. Keith Dudzinski has an established rapport, and the Terps' assistant has done well at McDonogh the last few years (no Jared Cohen comments, please).
That said, Cook doesn't strike us as someone who will commit too early in the game. He's going to explore other schools -- Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, etc. are programs he's looking for offers from – and see what options are available to him.
There are numerous other linebacker options besides those two, and you can see some others on the hot board.
Once again there are no shortage of prime cornerback recruits in the DMV, many of whom Maryland has offered or is monitoring closely.
The best of the bunch is Gonzaga's Marcus Lewis, a former Virginia Tech commit. Lewis was just in College Park for a junior day and said the Terps remain one of his top choices. But Lewis is a national recruit with upwards of 20 offers, so the Terps will have to convince him to stay home instead of venturing off to the SEC. Lewis will be taking visits galore this offseason, so expect his recruiting to go in different directions up until next winter.
Damascus (Md.) corner Jalen Christian has given no indication which way he's learning and remains wide open at this point. He has his pick of programs and, like Lewis, will visit many of them this offseason. We'll know more about where he stands after that, but for now the Terps are at least in the game. Former Terps assistant Tom Brattan did well to get UMD in the conversation, and now it will be up to Chad Wilt to build on that.
Another intriguing name is Bishop McNamara corner Ashton White, who just transferred back to the Forestville school from Friendship Collegiate. White is currently committed to Virginia Tech, but we don't expect him to honor that all the way until next Signing Day. In fact, based on recent conversations, it wouldn't surprise us to see him end up a Terp (he was influenced by Damian Prince's choosing to stay home).
Also keep an eye on New Jersey corner Kareem Ali (Timber Creek). Ali has dialed back his early-decision claims and will now take his time choosing a school, but the Terps remain involved. There are plenty of programs after him, however, and he hasn't been down to College Park in a good while, opting to visit a couple other schools instead. Ali would probably pop to Penn State should the Nittany Lions pursue, so watch out for that.
Andre Monroe's brother, Ayron, remains the No. 1 safety target, and given his relationship with the school, the Terps should have the inside track. Ayron Monroe has been to practically every Maryland game and attended the team's football banquet as well.
But while he's impressed by the local favorite, Monroe wants to at least look around at his other options. He's getting more and more looks, and other schools are starting to offer (he just got a Georgia Tech verbal).
DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) safety Tyler Green is also in the picture, but UMD has to prove they can pull in a Stag before we declare the Terps a prime contender. Green seems to genuinely like Maryland, but so did last year's DeMatha crop -- and none of them ended up in College Park. Green also has an NC State verbal and figures to snag a couple more in the coming months, so we'll see what transpires here.
Closing Out the 2014 Class
Maryland had very few surprises leading up to Signing Day, aside from last Saturday's last-minute addition of Westlake (Waldorf, Md.) safety Antwaine Carter in the wake of Jordan Noil's decommitment. I actually did not make it down to Southern Maryland to see Carter play last year, but I've spoken to a few area coaches, and the consensus is the kid's a baller. He needs to gain weight, for sure, and his technique needs honing, but word is whenever there was a play that needed to be made, he stepped up. Carter doesn't have tremendous pure foot speed or explosion out of his breaks, but his instincts, ball skills and quickness are solid. After a redshirt, year he could be a solid contributor down the road.
The big fish Maryland landed on Signing Day, Damian Prince (Bishop McNamara/Forestville, Md.), was not unexpected for Terrapin Times readers. Keith and I reassured that, regardless of his other official visits, the Jalen Tabor factor, or what some outlets were reporting, Prince would be a Terp.
Now, Prince did tell me he didn't have his mind completely made up until Feb. 5, but I got the impression he had Maryland out in front the last couple months and just needed to cross the T's and dot the I's in his mind. Either way, it's a huge addition to the 2014 crop and sent Maryland's class skyrocketing some 10, 15 spots in the various rankings.
Of all UMD's 2014 high school recruits, Prince probably has the best chance of contributing next season given the Terps' offensive line troubles. Granted, Larry Mazyck (when he arrives in the fall) and Derwin Gray will get first dibs at the tackle spots, but it wouldn't completely surprise to see Prince rotating in at guard. He does have to learn the system, adjust to a new line coach and become more balanced (my main critique when watching him play), but given his athleticism, strength and explosion off the ball he should see field time in 2014.
Speaking of Mazyck and Gray…
It's a bit of a blow that the Iowa Western product Mazyck won't be on campus until the fall. Reports from Reivers line coach Donnie Woods are that he improved tremendously this year and was ready to step in and contribute immediately on a major college program's line. Mazyck should still be able to work into the mix in 2014, though it might take him a few games to get adjusted.
As for Gray, we've also gotten solid reports from the Fork Union camp, where the big tackle prepped last fall. Gray, who has already enrolled, has built up his body and now looks the part of a Division I tackle (last year it was clear he needed to get in shape). Gray has quick hands, a powerful punch and gets off the ball well, so he's someone that should see significant time provided he does well in camp. It wouldn't surprise us if he started from the get-go.
No Butler, Possibly Boomerangs
Maryland was involved with a couple former local high school stars who wanted to return home to College Park, and word is there are still a couple boomerangs in play. UMD could use some depth in the trenches, and at least one of those potential transfers plays defensive line. We'll see if the staff elects to take these guys on at some point this winter.
As for Linganore (Frederick, Md.) running back Phillip Butler, he's all but off the board now. Butler told me he didn't take the SATs Feb. 1, so no school is going to have any idea whether he's qualified or not until March or so.
I didn't really expect the Terps to pursue this one after they announced Wes Brown's return, but there was still some chance Butler would get a look post Signing Day. Now, that won't happen -- and Randy Edsall even said during his press conference the Terps didn't feel a need to take a running back in this class.
Right around this time is when the walk-ons start coming on board. I've spoken to a few local coaches, and there are players at several private school programs (read: Spalding, St. Frances, McDonogh, Gonzaga, St. John's, etc.) that could be interested in walking on. No names have been confirmed yet, but they'll likely surface sometime in the next month.
Remember, for a kid to walk-on at Maryland they need to have knock-up grades, so some of the more talented uncommitted recruits who have questionable academics probably won't fly in College Park.
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