Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
With College Park on spring break and many coaches on vacation, there wasn't a ton of breaking news in terms of new offers this week. But there was some buzz surrounding various Terps targets, which I detail below:
The Tight End Situation
We thought it was a long shot anyway, and now we know for sure Chris Clark (Avon Old Farms/Avon, Conn.), the nation's No. 3-rated tight end, is off the board to North Carolina. Clark had visited Maryland and lauded the program, but this cat loved talking up every school that offered him and we figured he was paying lip service. The only surprise here is that Clark didn't choose an SEC or major Big Ten program, but evidently the Tar Heels made a major impression on him when he visited Chapel Hill last weekend. Since committing Clark has said he'll take other visits, but even if he reopens his recruitment we don't expect Maryland to be his destination.
So, where do the Terps look for their one 2015 tight end? Well, they do have an offer out to Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville, Fla.) three-star Chris Cunningham, who has expressed interest in visiting the school this summer and seemed intrigued by the program's direction.
However, Cunningham was ecstatic over his new offers from UNC, Virginia Tech and the like, and if the Florida schools get involved he will take a hard look at them as well. But if the Terps do indeed get him on campus they may have a legitimate shot here, so Cunningham is worth monitoring.
If UMD whiffs on the Florida product, there are a couple local options Maryland is monitoring. The name that keeps cropping up is Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.) tight end Trevor Brown, who has an Old Dominion verbal and has been in touch with Terps recruiter Mike Locksley. Brown said he'd definitely be receptive to UMD, but first he has to earn his offer at a one-day camp. Remember, though Brown looks the part (6-foot-5, 270 pounds) and has uncanny athleticism developed from his days on the hardwood, he's still a raw football player. An offer is no guarantee.
The other local to keep an eye out for is St. John's (Washington, D.C.) pass catcher Scottie Washington. A tall, lanky prospect, Washington plays receiver for the Cadets, but because of his average 40-yard dash time projects as a tight end in college. Washington isn't quite as fast or athletic as Brown; he too will have to camp in order to secure an offer.
The other name we've bandied about, Millburn's (N.J.) Jake Pickard, just picked up new offers from Temple and Boston College after attending their junior days. The 6-6, 225 pounder now holds scholarships from Louisville, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Virginia, BC and the Owls. Right now, in-state Rutgers looks to be in a favorable position, though Pickard isn't ready to commit just yet. He liked Maryland after he visited for a junior day in February, but without a Terps offer Pickard figures to be bound elsewhere. We'll see if UMD makes a push, but at this point it could be a little late to the game.
Ali and the Corners
So Timber Creek (Sicklerville, N.J.) cornerback Kareem Ali decided to hop back into the recruiting game after staying fairly mum for about a month. Last week he announced a top eight, in no particular order, of Rutgers, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Maryland, West Virginia, Michigan State and Temple. You can read what he had to say about each school HERE.
After talking to those close to Ali, we think Maryland is in the game here and is likely in his top two or three suitors. But word is North Carolina is in a solid position to land the three-star corner, and as we know in recruiting, there are only winners and losers. You don't get a prize for finishing in second or third place.
But Maryland's coaches, namely Randy Edsall and Brian Stewart, apparently made a terrific pitch when Ali and his father visited College Park March 9. We'll see if area recruiter Keith Dudzinski and Co. can secure a return visit and work to the top of Ali's list before he supposedly decides right before his senior season.
Even if Maryland misses on Ali, there are plenty of other corners out there (and, really, there are questions how good Ali is and many say he wouldn't be that big of a loss to begin with).
Caravel (Bear, Del.) corner Darnell Savage continues to ride the Terps' bandwagon even as he added a Temple offer following the Owls' junior day. Savage, who now holds verbals from UMD, Temple and Coastal Carolina, said he thought the Owls had a nice program, but he seemed more excited when I asked him about Maryland. After visiting Cincinnati March 29, he plans to be back in College Park for the spring game in April.
We'll see if the positive Terps vibe trends on if/when Savage adds a couple more offers, but right now we like UMD's position. Don't expect him to commit before the fall, however, so there is time for his recruiting to ebb and flow.
As for top cornerback target Marcus Lewis (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.), he just picked up a Miami offer after visiting the Canes. Miami was a school Lewis identified as a potential favorite before he blew up, so the Hurricanes figure to be firmly in play here.
Recall, Lewis named Ohio State his leader in early March, and other "name" programs such as Florida, Florida State and the like have caught his eye as well, so Mike Locksley and Co. are going to have to put forth a strong, relentless effort to land him. Lewis does have a genuine interest in Maryland, however, and has been in College Park on numerous occasions. Expect the Terps to remain in Lewis' top five suitors up until he chooses a school for real sometime next winter.
Over at nearby Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.), Ashton White joined Lewis on his trip through the Sunshine State. But while White enjoyed his foray through college football's royalty, he does not hold offers from the Floridas and Florida States of the world just yet. His three suitors remain Maryland, Va Tech and Ohio State, with the Terps being one school he seems to be favoring.
White recently said his top three schools are Penn State, UMD and Notre Dame, but only Maryland has offered. He has a great rapport with Locksley, has friends at Maryland, and has taken to the "stay home" movement spurred on by former McNamara star Damian Prince. White will take his time with the recruiting process, but early on Maryland is in a good spot.
Down the road at Damascus (Md.), Jalen Christian is holding firm on his top 11 (yes, top 11) suitors. We discussed this last week, but basically we feel Maryland will make Christian's next round of cuts. He has a developing relationship with recruiter Chad Wilt and enjoyed his recent junior day experience. Right now, that's enough to keep Christian "warm" on the hot board.
Up in Towson, Calvert Hall cornerback Dionte Austin sounds as high on the Terps as any cornerback UMD is recruiting. Austin hinted last week that UMD is right up there with Wake Forest among his top two suitors. But the feeling here is if he picks the Deacons, it's because Maryland feels it can land other targets like Lewis and Christian.
Austin was highly impressed with the Terps' pitch following the February junior day and likes the idea of staying near home for college. He's not going to commit anytime real soon, however, so we'll see if the Terps remain in prime position as the months move on.
Other corners on the radar include Myles Hartsfield (Sayreville/Parlin, N.J.), who just added a Temple offer; Josh Teachey (McDonough/Pomfret, Md.); Kobe Marfo (Hayfield/Alexandria, Va.); John Reid (St. Joseph's/Philadelphia, Pa.); Justice Pettus-Dixon (St. Frances/Baltimore, Md.); John Kelly (Oak Park, Mich.); and Kareem Gibson (Greater Johnstown/Johnstown, Pa.), among others.
Of those, only Reid has a firm offer, and he's a four-star guy with the SEC all over him. He's remained open in his recruitment and did visit Maryland, however, so the Terps may have a shot -- although we're not about to bet on it.
Hartsfield figured to be a prime UMD target, especially after he attended Maryland's junior day, but so far no offer has been extended. At this point, he looks to be bound elsewhere, perhaps to hometown Rutgers.
The rest of the bunch are intriguing athletes but will likely have to camp in order to gain more UMD interest. Marfo, Teachey, Pettus-Dixon, Gibson and the like have all said Maryland's coaches are in touch, but they probably have to wow at a one-day to be considered actual targets. We'll know more where they stand after the June prospect days.
The Safety Situation
While we're on the subject of defensive backs, let's take a look at the safety targets. Ayron Monroe (St. John's/Washington, D.C.) remains the No. 1 priority, and Maryland is right in the game for UMD defensive tackle Andre Monroe's brother. After attending the Terps' junior day in February, the frequent College Park visitor figures to be back on campus this spring, likely for the April spring game. Monroe's affection for UMD, the staff, and the program has been well documented, and there's no need to rehash it all again.
The only factor that could throw a kink into things right now is that Penn State offer. Monroe had plenty of praise for the Nittany Lions following his State College, Pa., visit, and some feel PSU may actually hold a slight edge over UMD at this point. But, again, Monroe isn't going to commit tomorrow, so we'll see how his recruitment (you guessed it) ebbs and flows, ebbs and flows.
If Maryland takes two safeties this year, DeMatha's (Hyattsville, Md.) Tyler Green could be the second option. Although we're always hesitant to read too much into what DeMatha recruits say, Green's UMD praise has been effusive. He attended two Maryland junior days and seems to genuinely like the school, the defense and the coaches. Now, if Green's profile grows this fall he could conceivably change his thinking, but currently the Terps -- along with N.C. State -- are in solid early position for the Stags' safety.
Another local safety, Gilman's (Baltimore, Md.) Robert Branch, chimed in that he'd "love" to have a Terps offer as well. The 6-1, 190 pounder currently holds scholarships from Boston College, Rutgers and Georgia Tech, but said he's been in touch with Maryland. Branch wouldn't call UMD a favorite if it did offer, but he would give the school a long look.
If the Terps make a push here, they could very well snag the Baltimore product, but at this point Georgia Tech may have caught his eye with its engineering program. You can read what Branch had to say recently HERE.
Up north, in Pennsylvania, Maryland remains in play for Jazzee Stocker (Coatesville, Pa.). Stocker has been to College Park and likes what his teammate and Terps signee Tyler Burke has told him about the program, but we get the feeling he may have his sights set elsewhere. Stocker's recruitment is wide open, however, so if he does make it back down to Maryland (he said he will at some point this spring) we'll ratchet him up the hot board. For now, though, he could be Penn State-bound unless PSU fills up its slots.
Boulware and the O-line Targets
The only real news from Maryland's main/realistic offensive line targets last week was that Quarvez Boulware (Friendship Collegiate/Washington, D.C.) visited Penn State along with sophomore teammate Richard Merritt. Both FCA recruits enjoyed their State College stay, but neither hold PSU offers just yet. That could change in the near future, however, namely for the junior Boulware.
Now, Boulware isn't one to offer up hyperbole, so it's not always easy to gauge his true interest in a program. But word from his camp is PSU made quite the impression and figures to be right in the game. Does that mean Boulware will be a Nittany Lion? Not necessarily. Though Boulware won't claim leaders, Maryland -- with Locksley recruiting him and his Terps friends (Cavon Walker, Derwin Gray, etc.) in his ear -- is still right there for his services. He'll be back on campus for the spring game, and we expect him in College Park for personal visits this summer as well.
Boulware does not plan to announce a decision before the winter, though, so expect plenty of stories about potential leaders between now and then. Cue the collective yawn.
I did talk to some folks about the status of Northside (Roanoke, Va.) guard/defensive tackle Chance Hall, who we haven't heard from in awhile. Maryland has offered him and he did visit College Park a couple times, but it seems his Terps interest is waning. Hall's main focus is currently on the southern schools such as North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech and SEC programs Tennessee and Vanderbilt. At this point, it wouldn't surprise us to see him end up a Tar Heel.
Also, local lineman Barnabas Baning (St. Mary's Ryken/Leonardtown, Md.) chimed in that he picked up his first two offers from ODU and Georgia State. He told me he personally hasn't had too much contact with Maryland yet, but his coach relayed that UMD had been in touch recently. If the Terps do make a push, expect Baning to be very receptive, though an on-the-spot commitment would be unlikely.
Here's a quick rundown of the other O-line recruits on the hot board:
E.J. Donahue (Linganore/Frederick, Md.): Firmly committed to UMD, though we'll see if that holds through to Signing Day. Florida State and Wisconsin have offered and Donahue has said he may visit other schools just for the heck of it.
Ellis McKennie (McDonogh/Owings Mills, Md.): Very high on Maryland, loved junior day visit, impressed with Greg Studrawa and the school. Could be an imminent commitment.
David Robbins (Glenelg, Md.): Positive proclamations about Maryland, but may have sights set elsewhere. May be looking for a different vibe in a college than what he gets in College Park.
Isaiah Prince (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.): Has Terps in top four, may favor SEC programs like Florida.
Richie Petitbon (Gonzaga): Talks up UMD, but tea leaves say he'll be Bama bound.
Tommy Hatton (St. Joseph/Montvale, N.J.): Just visited Boston College; says his recruitment is open. We feel Terps are among his top three or four suitors and could very well land him with a strong push.
Blake Camper (Cox/Virginia Beach, Va.): Seems to love Maryland, and Terps in favorable position after he and his family visited College Park twice. But it's still early and he refuses to claim leaders. Duke, UNC and UVA figure to be factors.
Will McClain (Middletown, Md.): Liked Maryland's junior day, connected with Greg Studrawa, but too early to read right now. West Virginia could be a prime contender. Has slowed down his recruiting considerably.
Mbi Tanyi (George Bush/Houston, Texas): Told me he's still working to set up a Maryland visit. If he gets to College Park, Terps in favorable position to bring him in. UMD remains his one major offer.
Patrick Allen (Franklin/Reisterstown, Md.): Status quo. Likes FSU and OSU early, with Tennessee in the game. Planning visits throughout the south and also up to OSU this summer. Has Maryland on the radar but needs to camp in order to get an offer.
Brandon Knight (Noblesville, Ind.): Has Terps offer. Expressed interest in visiting College Park but has gone mum recently. May want to stick to the Midwest programs.
Hayden Mahoney (Malvern Prep/Malvern, Pa.): Liked Maryland following visit but lacks an offer. Will know more if/when he camps in College Park.
Matthew Burrell (Hylton/Woodbridge, Va.): Praised UMD following personal visit, but usually lauds every school he sees. Burrell has led us to believe he's SEC bound (Florida or Alabama).
Louis Csaszar (Liberty/Bethlehem, Pa.): Said Terps were in touch following junior day visit, but he'll have to camp in order to gain interest. Not sure we see a push here.
Ryan Bischoff (Plymouth-Whitemarsh SHS/ Plymouth Meeting, Pa.): See Csaszar above. Bischoff does have a UVA offer, though, so he's proven legit.
Levon Livingston (Ballou/Washington, D.C.): Has picked up offers from WVU and Kentucky, with numerous others intrigued. No word on a firm UMD push, however. Sounds like he'll be playing his college ball elsewhere.
The Running Back Situation
Local back Kesean Strong added his first two offers from Old Dominion and Toledo last week, and said the Terps have been in touch. Recall he visited College Park for the junior day and said area recruiter Mike Locksley and running backs coach Andre Powell were intrigued. Strong indicated he could pick up a Terps verbal at the April 11 spring game, but more than likely he'll have to run well at a one-day camp to secure the scholarship. If the offer is on the table after that, expect Strong to heavily consider accepting it.
Of course, if St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) running back Deltron Sands pulls the trigger for Maryland in May -- like he said he would -- then it's a moot point. UMD is likely taking one back in this class, and Sands could be the guy. Sands told us last week he was "all Maryland" and a commitment was practically a formality (he even changed his Twitter background to a Maryland Terp).
I'm not ready to call Sands a "lock" yet, however, mainly because something just smells fishy. In the past when recruits have told me, "Oh, I'm going to commit to School X on X date," it's often turned out they never had a firm offer in the first place. Terps fans will recall the Michael Parker situation from a couple years ago as evidence.
If all of a sudden Sands starts backtracking, it's probably an indication the offer isn't committable quite yet. You can read what Sands had to say HERE.
Here's a quick rundown of the other running back targets on the hot board:
A.J. Turner (Centreville/Clifton, Va.): Liked his Maryland visit a couple weeks back and praised the coaches. But admitted he has other programs like South Carolina rated a bit higher at the moment. UMD has some work to do.
DeShawn McLease (Oscar Smith/Chesapeake, Va.): Lauded UMD after receiving offer and expressed interest in visiting. But UNC, Va Tech and others are after him and word is he'll stay in-state or attend a southern school.
Dontae Strickland (South Brunswick/Monmouth, N.J.): Expressed early Terps interest but never received an offer or visited the school. Likely bound elsewhere.
Jonathan Forrest (New Rochelle, N.Y.): Visited College Park for a junior day but will have to camp to get an offer. Is probably a backup option if others fall through.
Chapelle Cook (Lakewood, N.J.): Added a Temple offer, but hasn't made it down to College Park. Talented runner but unless he camps at UMD will probably end up elsewhere.
Frankie Hickson (Heritage/Lynchburg, Va.): Visited College Park, liked the school. May not be fast enough to hang at the BCS level. Not sensing a Maryland push at this time.
Devonte Williams (Bullis/Potomac, Md.): Has early BCS offers but minimal UMD interest. Not sensing a Terps push here.
One of our fellow Scout publishers from the Midwest informed he had recently spoken to the father of The Plains (Athens, Ohio) quarterback Joe Burrow, who has a UMD scholarship. Burrow's father is the defensive coordinator at Ohio University, and evidently his son has some interest in checking out College Park this offseason.
That said, Burrow has numerous offers to choose from, and Cincinnati has made its mark, as well as West Virginia, both of which he's visited. His profile is also skyrocketing, and programs throughout the Midwest figure to get involved. We'll see if Burrow follows through on a trip to College Park and shows legitimate interest in the Terps.
A guy we do know has legit UMD intrigue is Gonzaga's (Washington, D.C.) Nick Johns. A couple weeks ago Johns trekked down to the Carolinas and picked up his third offer from N.C. State, while UNC could be on the verge. Penn State, another school he's seen, has been keeping close tabs as well.
But even as Johns' stock rises, he continues to sing Maryland's praises, and we like the Terps' position early. If PSU offers, though, things could get worrisome for UMD aficionados as he has strong ties to State College.
As for Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) signal caller Kai Locksley, he has a full slate of visits coming up. He took in Miami recently, figures to be at Maryland's junior day in April, and then wants to see the likes of Auburn, Louisville, UCLA, Alabama, Ole Miss, Oregon, Northwestern, Georgia Tech and possibly others. He has already visited Virginia Tech and Ohio State, in addition to UMD and Miami.
At this point, Locksley isn't letting on his college intentions, but the Terps will undoubtedly remain among his top tier of suitors following a round of cuts this summer. In fact, expect UMD to remain in play all the way up until Locksley chooses a school.
Maryland handed out at least two new junior college offers this week to defensive tackle Deonte Reynolds (Contra Costa/San Pablo, Calif.) and defensive end Anthony Fotu (Laney C.C./Oakland, Calif). Both are at California natives, so it would be quite an adjustment for them to head East for college.
Pac-12 programs are already involved here and those schools figure to have the upper-hand early, but both Reynolds and Fotu at least seem receptive to Maryland's pitch. Both noted they are open in their recruitments and they could potentially visit UMD officially at some point this fall. We'll know more in the months ahead, but for now just keep their names in mind.
If nothing else, the winter JUCO scholarship offers once again signal Maryland's shift in recruiting philosophy. The Terps know they're going to need beef heading into the Big Ten, and if they can add some already-developed bodies to the mix, it will help them hang with those hulking trenchmen they'll be pitted against.
As for new high school offers, the Terps also extended a scholarship to North Shore (Houston, Texas) running back Tristian Houston last week. But our guys out that way believe he's a long shot to visit UMD. In-state favorite Texas, or perhaps LSU, are considered prime landing spots for the four-star recruit.
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