Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Shazam Coming to College Park?
St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) running back Deltron Sands sent me a text the morning of March 14 saying he would commit to Maryland when he visits in the spring. He said he was talking to the Terps' staff to set up a date when he could make it up to College Park for the first time.
Sands, an under-the-radar back, raved after receiving his UMD offer in mid-February, saying he wanted the Terps' scholarship even before the staff began recruiting him. He has family in the area, believes he'll fit well into the offense and is in love with Under Armour. On top of that, he hit it off with his recruiter, Andre Powell (the two had a funny exchange and Sands' game somehow elicited one UMD coach to shout, "Shazam").
If Sands does indeed follow through with a commitment -- you never know with kids -- he would seem to be a solid addition as Maryland's one 2015 running back. He doesn't have 4.3 40-yard dash speed, but Sands is quick enough, runs low and hard, and has a few nifty moves to make defenders miss. In a weak local running back class, UMD may have found a good one in the Sunshine State.
Polk's In Play
Well, it turns out Brandon Polk (Briar Woods/Asburn, Va.) isn't a Stanford lock quite yet. After spotting Polk in College Park once again in early March, I made the trip down to Briar Woods to get the latest with the three-star receiver. He told me that while Stanford is definitely in play, he's also considering Maryland, Penn State, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
He said Maryland's program is on the rise, he was impressed with Terps receivers' coach Keenan McCardell, and he has a good relationship with his recruiter, Lyndon Johnson, as well as head coach Randy Edsall. The Virginia product plans to return to UMD again for a game this fall, so his Terps interest seems genuine.
Penn State, though, looks to be a prime contender, and he's visiting there in short order. The Nittany Lions signed Polk's teammate, Trace McSorely, last year and that means something to him, plus new PSU coach James Franklin is on him hard.
Polk will visit Stanford for the first time too, and though he wants to stay close to home for college, the lure of the Cardinal might be too much to pass up. He's an academic-oriented kid, so it wouldn't surprise us to see him in Palo Alto. We'll know more this summer after he visits.
The hometown program, Virginia Tech, will get a long look as well. Polk has been to Tech more than any other school and is very comfortable with the staff. If he truly values staying in-state, Tech might be his destination.
You can see what he had to say HERE.
Four Horsemen on Campus
The week began with a relative bang when Maryland hosted four elite targets March 7 in tight end Chris Clark (Avon Old Farms/Avon, Conn.), center Tommy Hatton (St. Joseph's/Montvale, N.J.), cornerback Kareem Ali (Timber Creek/Sicklerville, N.J.) and tackle Matthew Burrell (Hylton/Woodbridge, Va.).
Of those four, Hatton seems the most likely to be a Terp, followed by Ali. Hatton has been high on Maryland since he camped in College Park last year and has now been on campus three times. He has a rapport with his recruiter, Keith Dudzinksi, and connected with new offensive line coach Greg Studrawa during the March 7 visit. Expect him to return to College Park at some point in the coming months, either for a personal visit or a game during the fall.
That said, Hatton insists he's looking at all his options and has Rutgers in play, along with Boston College, Georgia Tech and a few others should they offer (Penn State being one). He's heading to BC this weekend and PSU March 22. Maryland, though, is in a good position right now; you can read what Hatton had to say about his visit HERE.
As for Ali, the Jersey corner had high praise for head coach Randy Edsall, defensive backs coach Brian Stewart and the Terps' scheme. He enjoyed himself and has UMD among his top suitors. Ali's father also took to Maryland and lauded the school's academics; it's always a positive when the parents like the program.
Ali, though, is taking the process slowly and will look around at many of his 20 suitors. He just picked up a Florida offer and figures to check the Gators out. North Carolina, which he's visiting shortly, looks to be in a strong position as well. You can read what Ali had to say about Maryland, HERE (in the article, when Hatton said "Coach Stud," the writer thought he was saying "Coach Dud," so Studrawa and Dudzinski were confused).
The tight end Clark is a talker, and he's another one of those love-every-program guys. At this point we see him at a "name" program such as Alabama, Ohio State or Notre Dame, but he did seem to thoroughly enjoy his College Park experience. The fact he wanted to visit, even though it was just one stop on a long list of campuses he's seeing, is enough to at least include him on the Hot Board. Clark said the chance to be big man on campus is appealing, so we'll see if the Terps can play that card. You can read what Clark had to say HERE.
Burrell, meanwhile, has had Maryland on the mind since last year when former O-line coach Tom Brattan made his pitch. With Brattan gone, however, the Terps have had to reconnect with the elite left tackle, and seemingly they've done so. Burrell and his father enjoyed meeting Studrawa, talking to Edsall again and learning more about the program's direction. But while we think Maryland could be in the conversation here, it's probably not a prime contender at this time based on Burrell's comments regarding other schools. Florida, Florida State, Alabama, South Carolina and Ohio State are all in play.
A Day Later…
During the open March 8 practice, we spotted two intriguing Virginia running backs in Byrd Stadium: Centreville's (Clifton, Va.) A.J. Turner and Heritage's (Lynchburg, Va.) Frankie Hickson. Hickson, though, is an under the radar guy, and he'll have to camp in order to get a look. We're not sure he's fast enough in order to garner serious attention.
But Turner is a prime-time runner with offers from UMD, Boston College, ODU, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech. March 8 was Turner's first time in College Park, and he and his family bonded with head coach Randy Edsall and Co. Turner also stressed Maryland's academics and the chance to make an early impact as two main reasons he has the Terps under consideration.
But Turner also admitted he has other programs ranked just as high or a bit higher than UMD, namely South Carolina, North Carolina (which hasn't offered), Virginia and Clemson. There's still a ways to go for Turner, however, and he's only visited UVA and UMD so far (he has UNC and Clemson coming up), so we'll see what develops.
You can read what he had to say HERE.
Play that Funky Music…
As expected, Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) cornerback Ashton White decommitted from Virginia Tech, the second D.C.-Maryland prospect to verbal to the Hokies and then back out soon after (Gonzaga's Marcus Lewis being the other). We've been saying the Terps have a solid shot at landing White, and now that he is officially on the open market it's a definite possibility -- with an emphasis on possibility.
He said his top three schools at the moment are Maryland, Penn State and Notre Dame, but so far only the Terps have offered. He has been in College Park numerous times, has a connection with recruiter Mike Locksley and said he'd fit well into Brian Stewart's defensive backfield.
At the same time, White will take several visits and is looking to pick up more offers. He's heading to Florida, Florida State and Miami coming up, and Rutgers in late March.
You can read what White had to say recently HERE.
Junior Day Numero Tres
Maryland held another junior day March 9, and the kids I spoke to estimated there were about 30 recruits there. Unlike the February junior days, however, this one wasn't a who's who of elite talent, but there were at least two top targets in attendance: Ellis McKennie (McDonogh/Owings Mills, Md.) and Blake Camper (Cox/Virginia Beach, Va.).
It's recruiting, and as a rule I'll never put the word "lock" out there publicly, but McKennie and Maryland might just be a match. The McDonogh tackle, who actually attended two UMD junior days, couldn't stop raving about the Terps following the latter visit. He loved the atmosphere inside Comcast Center for the hoops game, connected with Edsall, and enjoyed talking to the offensive line coach Studrawa. More importantly, McKennie's mother loved the trip and spent plenty of time chatting up Edsall.
It wouldn't shock us to see McKennie pop to Maryland at some point this summer, maybe when he's back on campus for a third time. You can read what he had to say HERE.
Camper will be a tougher pull out of Virginia Beach, but UMD looks to be in solid position for him as well. The emerging left tackle harped on Maryland's education, Edsall's value system, Studrawa's resume and the Big Ten move as prime reasons he's high on the Terps early.
After visiting College Park in late February with his father, Camper brought his mother to campus March 9, and word is she really enjoyed herself. Camper told me she bonded right away with Edsall and was impressed with the football team's graduation rate.
Camper plans to return to Maryland for a third visit later this spring. At this point, he could very well end up a Terp, but it is still early for him. Camper tends to heap praise on all schools that are looking at him, so you have to take that into consideration. He's also vying for a few more offers, and figures to pick up verbals after visiting Duke March 20 and North Carolina March 21. Duke would seem to be a prime contender considering his father is an alum, while UVA, which has already offered, is in position as well.
You can read what Camper had to say HERE.
Two More Junior Day Visitors
Two of the more intriguing lesser-known prospects at the March 9 junior day were Eastern Christian Academy (Elkton, Md.) receiver Elisha Sewell and Hayfield (Alexandria, Va.) cornerback Kobe Marfo. Neither recruit holds firm offers yet, but they have some game and could be "camp" guys this summer if they run fast enough 40-yard dashes. Of the two, Marfo is the higher profile and figures to garner a bit more attention from in-state schools like UVA and Virginia Tech.
Either way, both Sewell and Marfo told me they loved their visit, connected with the coaches and enjoyed taking in the hoops game. If Maryland decided to pursue either one it would probably be in a good spot, so we'll monitor the situation.
Two More Horsemen
Several days after hosting Burrell, Hatton, Clark and Ali trekked to College Park, Maryland brought in Hatton's teammate, linebacker Joe Giles-Harris, and top tackle recruit Grant Newsome (Lawrenceville Prep/Lawrenceville, N.J.).
Newsome had a good visit and liked watching Studrawa work with the line, but we're not feeling a ton of Terps love here. The Jersey recruit, who also visited Duke and Northwestern, has SEC schools like Alabama, LSU and Georgia under consideration, in addition to the Michigans and Ohio States of the world.
Giles-Harris, though, is a legitimate Terps target. The three-star linebacker has family ties to Maryland and has a relationship with Dudzinski, not to mention he thoroughly enjoyed taking in the UMD practice March 10.
Giles-Harris could return to Maryland later this offseason, but he will look around and is wide open in his recruitment. He continues to add offers and is now up to a 11, so while he likes UMD he's going to be combing over numerous programs. Northwestern and Illinois are on the docket for April, and he figures to check out Rutgers, Syracuse, Boston College and others as well.
You can read what Giles-Harris had to say about his Maryland visit HERE.
Next Level Nation Notes
The first major combine this offseason took place in Hyattsville, Md., and there were several Terps targets in attendance. I did a notebook/whispers piece following the event, and you could read what the recruits had to say HERE.
Here's quick rundown of what you'll see in the article, from a Maryland perspective:
Adam McLean, DT, Quince Orchard (Gaithersburg, Md.): Likes Maryland, loves others like Ohio State, Michigan State and Florida. Penn State also in play. Taking tons of visits to "name" programs this offseason.
Dionte Austin, CB, Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.): Claimed a top five of Maryland, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, Indiana and Georgia Tech, with UMD and Wake separating themselves a bit. Said Wake was the front-runner, but it's early. Terps in good position. Raved after UMD junior day, will be back on campus again.
Quarvez Boulware, OL, Friendship Collegiate (Washington, D.C.): Visiting Penn State March 17, Wake Forest March 29. Still high on Terps but doesn't want to list leaders. Was in College Park for a practice, will return for spring game.
Dave Robbins, OG, Glenelg (Md.): Taking visits galore, continues to add offers. Likes Maryland, likes Edsall, likes Greg Studrawa, likes academics. But I didn't get great Terps vibes from him. May want to leave the state for college.
Patrick Allen, OT, Franklin (Reisterstown, Md.): Likes Maryland, but needs to camp (which he'll do) to get an offer. Has Florida State and Ohio State on the brain, with Tennessee in play as well. Trying to visit all three of those latter suitors.
Kareem McDonald, LB, Wilson (Washington, D.C.): See Twitter for his thoughts. Seriously. Kid is practically begging for a Maryland offer. Will have to camp to get it, though.
Lawrence Cager, WR, Calvert Hall: Has offers from Oregon State, ODU and Toledo with Wake Forest close. Said Maryland has talked to him but hasn't shown much interest.
Eric Assoua, OLB, St. John's (Washington, D.C.): Holds Western Michigan and Toledo offers. Has to camp in order to get Maryland scholarship, and plans to be at a one-day. Not sure how much the UMD staff pushes here.
Devin Phelps, WR, St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.): Said the Terps and West Virginia offers are firm, but we're skeptical about UMD until his transcripts come through. Likes UMD, but not sure it will be his destination in the end.
Juantez McRae, ATH, Calvert Hall (2016): Re-classed to 2016 and is transferring to St. Frances. Holds offers from Oregon State, NC State, Miami, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Marshall, Boston College and ODU, among others. Terps haven't pulled the trigger yet, but may after he camps this summer. McRae sounded intrigued by UMD but it's early.
Update on Robinson
Trinity-Pawling (Pawling, N.J.) defensive end Austrian Robinson, who Maryland offered first in mid-February, picked up his second offer from Rutgers after visiting Piscataway. He seemed to have a good time chatting up the RU staff, but Robinson's recruiting is just beginning. He has yet to take any other visits beyond the hometown school, and could get out to Maryland, PSU, Boston College, Temple and UMass.
We won't know exactly where Robinson stands until he takes a few trips and starts garnering more recruiting attention, but the Terps should have a shot here. He liked the fact Maryland pulled the trigger first and said he wants to check out College Park.
Tight End Updates
Trevor Brown (Wise/Upper Marlboro, Md.) picked up his first offer from Old Dominion recently, and ODU is a popular Wise landing spot. But Brown will assuredly gather some FCS attention, and Maryland could be a real possibility. Brown was just on campus for the March 9 junior day and has the Terps rated highly. If he camps and grabs an offer, he could be UMD's class of 2015 tight end. Of course, Brown is still a bit raw, so a lot will come down to how well he performs at the one-day.
Another potential tight end target, Jake Pickard (Milburn, N.J.), just added his third and fourth offers from Rutgers and Virginia, to go along with Cincinnati and Louisville. We thought Maryland might pull the trigger on this one, but at this point we're thinking he needs to camp first.
The Terps might be too late to the game by that point, however. After what Pickard said about the RU offer, we're not sure he makes it back to College Park (he was at the Terps' February junior day). Pickard raved about the hometown school and the early line has the Scarlet Knights in front for his services.
Update on VA Linebacker
Maryland has offered Dominon (Sterling, Va.) linebacker Chad Smith, who was recently in the Old Line State for a combine. Smith now holds scholarships from Clemson, Duke, Illinois, ODU, Pitt, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Toledo and UMD, while UNC, Ohio State and others are keeping tabs.
Smith seemed receptive to seeing what UMD is about and has the Terps under consideration, but he wasn't as high on Maryland as some other programs. Clemson might be the team to beat here, while in-state schools UVA and Virginia Tech are firmly in play. Wisconsin and Pitt intrigued him as well and he'll probably take a look at the Badgers and Panthers at some point.
Savage Adds Offer
Maryland cornerback target Darnell Savage (Caravel/Bear, Del.) picked up his second offer from Coastal Carolina March 12. Cool. Moving on.
Keep An Eye On…
McDonogh (Pomfret, Md.) cornerback Josh Teachey, who holds an early Toledo offer. Maryland has numerous offers out to cornerbacks, but if some of the Terps' top targets head elsewhere Teachey could be someone they look at. He's a solid if not spectacular cover man and a playmaker on both sides of the ball. If Teachey runs fast enough at Maryland's one-day this summer perhaps UMD will get involved.
The Terps offered First Coast (Jacksonville, Fla.) tackle William Sweet earlier this week. He's very high on North Carolina, Florida, Florida State, however, and he'll probably end up at one of those three programs.
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