TTDave's Inside the Shell

Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.

Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.

Closing in on More O-line Commits?

Some of these dominoes have to start falling eventually, and it's conceivable it could start with the offensive line. Linganore's (Frederick, Md.) E.J. Donahue has been on board since last fall, and the Terps are in either the pole position or solid shape with numerous other targets.

First and foremost, there's McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) guard Ellis McKennie, who was just at Penn State last weekend. McKennie raved about the PSU brand; head coach James Franklin; and the business school; but at this point I don't think the Nittany Lions make a push for him. Not with the four-star guys they already have in the fold, and a couple other national targets they are still pursuing.

McKennie, who holds just the one FCS offer from Maryland, may have enjoyed State College, Pa., (he is from Pennsylvania and merely boards at McDonogh) but he is equally high on UMD. McKennie loves offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, has a strong relationship with recruiter Keith Dudzinski and was thoroughly impressed with the presentations at both Terps' junior days he attended. The stay-home movement Wes Brown and Stefon Diggs preached seems to have taken hold with the big McDonogh trenchman. Not to mention his mother connected with head coach Randy Edsall, and that can't be discounted.

McKennie may visit Virginia Tech and pick up that offer this spring, but at this point we're inclined to pencil (it's recruiting, so nothing's in pen) him in for UMD. He said he won't announce his destination until later during the fall, but I get the feeling if the Terps push this summer they can secure a McKennie pop. He'll be back on campus April 10 and likely stay for the spring game as well.

You can read what he had to say HERE.

We also like Maryland's position with center/guard Tommy Hatton (St. Joseph/Montvale, N.J.), who was just at Boston College last weekend and will be returning to College Park this weekend. Reading the tealeaves, we're inclined to believe Hatton's top two (in terms of who has offered) are BC and UMD, with the Terps possibly holding an edge here. Hatton visited College Park in early March and came away raving about Studrawa, Edsall and the like. Keith Dudzinski, who does a knock-up job in Jersey, has left quite an impression here and it may be hitting home.

The Jersey lineman has also said schools like North Carolina and Penn State are standing out, but neither have offered. We don't foresee PSU going after Hatton right now (the Nittany Lions have other linemen ranked higher on their board), and UNC might make a run but hasn't indicated it would as of yet.

The next name on the radar is Eleanor Roosevelt's (Greenbelt, Md.) Isaiah Prince, who has maintained a top four of Maryland, Florida, Auburn and Ohio State. While UMD might seem like the outlier compared to the SEC powers and Big Ten stalwart, we actually like Maryland's position quite a bit at the moment. Just knowing Prince personally, I get the vibe he doesn't want to play ball too far from home. He values his family, he hasn't left the Prince George's County area very often, and Terps recruiter Mike Locksley is in his ear.

While many elite recruits used the spring to trek around to various locales, Prince opted to stay put, venturing only as far as College Park, Md. Now, could Prince change his thinking once he does finally make it down to Florida or out to Auburn? Sure, but currently we think Randy Edsall and Locksley may be able to close the deal before it's all said and done.

The fourth recruit to know, Cox (Virginia Beach, Va.) tackle Blake Camper, was just at Virginia Tech for a visit and has trips to Northwestern and Wisconsin set for this weekend. Camper still holds four offers from UMD, ODU, Rutgers and UVA, and if that holds steady we think the Terps have a solid shot. Camper visited College Park twice, and not only did he connect with Edsall, Studrawa and Chad Wilt, but his parents did as well (always a good sign). The emphasis Edsall places on education sat well with the academic-oriented Virginia Beach recruit.

But Camper insists the recruiting process is far from over for him -- and he resides in a Terps trouble zone (the 757). We could easily see Duke, his father's alma mater, making a charge, or possibly Northwestern or in-state contender Virginia. We'll know more once Camper's full complement of offers is realized.

It is conceivable the Terps could land a commitment from Mbi Tanyi (George Bush/Houston, Texas) when he visits College Park April 10-11. Recall, the Texas lineman holds just the one FCS offer from UMD and is eager to see the school. But we're not sure Tanyi will be this year's Brendan Moore -- at least not right away.

I get the feeling the staff may have other recruits rated a bit higher than Tanyi, and Maryland may not be ready to accept his commitment at this time. Now, if guys like Prince, Camper, Hatton, Quarvez Boulware (Friendship Collegiate/Washington, D.C.) and David Robbins (Glenelg, Md.) commit elsewhere, then Tanyi could very well be UMD's guy, so we'll see what transpires.

Speaking of Robbins, the local lineman was at Ohio State last week and has Maryland's spring game coming up April 11. Wake Forest (April 15) and Kentucky are also on the visit radar this spring.

Robbins has said UMD is one of his standout suitors, but I'm not so sure that makes it the favorite. He sounds like the type who may want to get away from home, and right now schools like Florida State, Ohio State and maybe even Kentucky (which he's seen once before and will return to) are catching his eye as well.

As for Boulware, he most recently visited Wake Forest and should be at Maryland's spring game April 11. There's not much more to say about the D.C. guard at this time, other than we think the Terps have a good chance at landing him. Auburn and Florida State figure to be in the game, but with Locksley on him and Maryland's connections with FCA, we'll give UMD the edge right now.

The only reason he's not marked as "hot" on the hot board is Boulware has no intentions of committing early. In fact, he is emphatic about taking his official visits. That in and of itself always makes us a bit leery, so let's see what transpires come next winter.

While the Terps may be in position for the above targets, we're not feeling particularly positive about local legacy Richie Petitbon (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.). The savvy lineman continues to keep Maryland among his top four suitors -- LSU, Penn State and Alabama are the others -- but Alabama is a clear leader at this point.

Petitbon hasn't taken any visits recently since he's playing lacrosse, but he's been effusive in his Tide praise. If UMD can turn this one around, tip your cap to Edsall and Locksley; it would be a bigger surprise than landing Damian Prince or Stefon Diggs.

Briefly, we'll touch on Middletown (Md.) lineman Will McClain, who holds offers from Maryland, West Virginia and Temple. McClain recently lauded the Terps and could be back in College Park for the spring game. But McClain is wide open at the moment and there's really no use handicapping where he'll end up at this time. We'll wait to see what other offers come in and where McClain decides to visit before forming an opinion. But, if forced to venture an early guess, I'd say West Virginia would be his destination.

Also, Hunter Littlejohn (Olentangy Liberty/Powell, Ohio) is a Midwest guard the Terps are keeping tabs on. If Maryland makes a move, look for Littlejohn to visit since he is interested in the school. The Terps currently may be after higher-rated recruits, but if they want to make inroads into the Midwest, Littlejohn wouldn't be a bad addition.

Close to being scratched from the hot board: Brandon Knight (Noblesville, Ind.), Barnabas Baning (St. Mary's Ryken/Leonardtown, Md.), Matthew Burrell (Hylton/Woodbridge, Va.), Louis Csazar (Liberty/Bethlehem, Pa.), Ryan Bischoff (Plymouth-Whitemarsh/Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) and Levon Livingston (Ballou/Washington, D.C.). We'll hold off on removing Patrick Allen (Franklin/Reisterstown, Md.) until after camp season as it's conceivable he could still yank a Terps offer.

Just recently scratched: Hayden Mahoney (Malvern Prep/Malvern, Pa.). Mahoney, who the Terps were interested in but did not offer, committed to Miami last week.

More Tight End Targets

Maryland is trying to identify its one 2015 tight end, and from the looks of things it may have to go with a convert or a hybrid. Top target Chris Clark (Avon Old Farms, Avon, Conn.) went off the board several weeks ago, and I'm not so sure Atlantic Coast's (Jacksonville, Fla.) Chris Cunningham gives the Terps a serious look based on his recent comments.

So that leaves a potpourri of receivers-turned-tight ends or recruits making the transition to tight end this year. DeMatha's (Hyattsville, Md.) DeAndre Kelly, known primarily as an outside linebacker, recently said the Terps are looking at him at tight end. Expect Kelly, who likes the hometown program and has been on campus several times, to get a long look this spring. If he shows enough speed, hands and blocking prowess, Maryland could make a move. Hey, if nothing else, it would give them an "in" at DeMatha.

Kelly recently checked out Arizona and Arizona State and will take in Penn State April 11 before heading to Michigan. He said UMD, NC State, Duke, Nebraska and Syracuse are showing the most interest.

You can read what Kelly had to say HERE.

Another name I recently added to the hot board is Lawrence Academy's (Groton, Mass.) Chris Garrison, who holds offers from BC, UConn, Iowa, UMass and Syracuse -- but said the Terps are in touch. Garrison, however, told me Maryland is looking for more of a true tight end (read: 6-foot-5, 250 pounds) than a tight end in a receiver's body (Garrison is 6-4, 215).

Garrison said if the Terps pushed for him they would likely use him as an H-back, which is the position he projects at. Right now, Garrison is considered a BC lean, but he would be receptive to checking out UMD if the staff decides it wants an H-back type in this class.

Besides those two new names, the holdovers we've bandied about in the past – Jake Pickard (Millburn, N.J.), Scottie Washington (St. John's/Washington, D.C.) and Trevor Brown (Wise/ Upper Marlboro, Md.) -- are still in play. Brown was just at Maryland's scrimmage March 28 and then visited ODU, which is his only offer, last weekend. He plans to return to College Park for the April 11 spring game. The local two-way prospect is very high on UMD, but unless he shines at camp Maryland may look elsewhere.

Washington, meanwhile, remains status quo. He's a receiver who needs to add bulk and improve his speed to garner serious Terps interest. Monitor him during camp season to see if he catches the staff's eye.

As for Pickard, his offer list is now substantial with Louisville, Cincinnati, UVA, Rutgers and BC on the table. He'd likely need to camp at Maryland to secure a Terps scholarship, but at this point we don't see it. Expect him to pop for one of his current suitors at some point this offseason, with Rutgers possibly in the pole position.

Some Linebacker Notes

The two linebackers Maryland seems best positioned for are local MIKE Wyatt Cook (McDonogh) and Red Bank Catholic (Red Bank, N.J.) middle linebacker Jamie Gordinier. The question that immediately arises is, Would the Terps take two players so similar in style? I'm not so sure, but at this point UMD needs to secure one of them and then go from there.

Gordinier, who added offers from Michigan State and UConn last week, just returned from trips at Northwestern and Miami. Both of the latter programs are firmly in play -- NU because of its academics and the Hurricanes because of a family connection. Duke, another high-academic institution, is also under heavy consideration.

But Gordinier might just have UMD on the brain at the moment. He was thrilled when Maryland, a Big Ten school, offered in February and has developed a deep bond with Keith Dudzinski. He also likes the fact UMD is recruiting him as a linebacker and not as a defensive end. Gordinier is scheduled to visit College Park this weekend, and while he may not pop while on campus, we expect the Terps to be among his top two or three suitors as the offseason moves along.

Michigan State, however, could potentially throw a kink into things if Gordinier decides to visit the Spartans, so he's by no means a UMD lock. It also wouldn't surprise us if he opted for a Northwestern or a Miami.

Cook, meanwhile, might be the more likely of the two to end up in College Park. The McDonogh backer, who just added offers from Temple and Toledo, said the Terps have been pushing the hardest for his services, and he plans to be back on campus (after taking in the most recent junior day) April 11 for the spring game. Cook, like Gordinier, has a rapport with Dudzinski and said he wouldn't mind staying home for college.

He recently visited Penn State, and the thought was if the Nittany Lions offered they would become the favorite. But with PSU securing commitments from Kamonte Carter (Gaithersburg, Md.) and Josh Barajas (Andrean/Merrillville, Ind.), I don't think Penn State is going to pursue Cook. That leaves Maryland, Virginia, Temple and ODU in play, and currently we have UMD ranked ahead of the latter three.

You can see what Cook had to say recently HERE.

The other five "realistic" prospects Maryland has offered -- Joe Giles-Harris (St. Joseph/Montvale, N.J.), D'Vonta Hinton (Texas City, Texas), Darrell Taylor (Hopewell, Va.), Tremaine Edmunds (Dan River/Ringgold, Va.) and Chad Smith (Dominion/Sterling, Va.) – remain status quo this week.

Of the four, Maryland's best shot is Giles-Harris, who has visited campus and is looking to return at some point in the summer (along with teammate Tommy Hatton). Giles-Harris maintains he has no leaders at this time, however.

Hinton has also expressed some interest in visiting College Park, but we'll know more about where he stands if he follows through with said trip.

Taylor likes UMD, UVA and Va Tech early on, but the in-state programs may have the decided edge.

Edmunds recently added Kentucky and Wake Forest offers, and while he had praise for UMD, he's a Va Tech legacy and figures to end up there.

Smith does not have Maryland rated high on his list. He could wind up at Clemson before it's all said and done.

The Terps offer hopefuls include Eric Assoua (St. John's/Washington, D.C.), Dominic Moore (Briar Woods/Ashburn, Va.), Gus Little (Massaponax/Fredericksburg, Va.) and Kareem McDonald (Wilson/Washington, D.C.), among others.

Assoua took in Rutgers last week, and the Scarlet Knights, which have already offered, look to be the prohibitive favorite.

Moore is still searching for his first verbal and will have to impress at camp to make it happen.

Little is being monitored by FCS programs but has no firm scholarships. He was just at N.C. State for a visit and indicated the Wolfpack may be making a run.

And McDonald remains at the MAC/lower-level Division I level, and that's probably where he fits best. He does plan to be at Maryland's spring game April 11, however.

Greenwood, Simmons and the Wideouts

It was a bit disconcerting for Terps purposes when Jabari Greenwood (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.) returned from his Ohio State visit saying that Kentucky, NC State, Rutgers and Michigan State had begun to separate themselves. He has visited all of the aforementioned programs and plans to see the Spartans in short order.

Greenwood did mention Maryland as a fifth standout, but it seems the Terps may not be in as strong of a position as originally believed. Recall, Greenwood emerged from the UMD junior day gushing over Keenan McCardell and Mike Locksley, all the while eating up the atmosphere inside Comcast Center. But it seems recent visits through the Midwest and down in the Carolinas have altered his thinking a bit.

There's still plenty of time in the process, though -- Greenwood isn't deciding anytime soon -- so look for Maryland to work its way back into the game. By no means are we writing Greenwood off.

You can read what he had to say HERE.

One new name to keep an eye on, Freddie Simmons (Bethlehem Catholic/Bethlehem, Pa.), told me he has a high interest in Maryland. While he currently holds offers from California (he insists it's legitimate), Rutgers, Buffalo, Purdue, Wake Forest, Virginia and Western Michigan, he said he's "really hoping for" the Terps scholarship -- along with Boise State and Penn State (don't see either happening).

Simmons was in College Park last summer and plans to return for the spring game April 11. If Maryland pushes, it could very well position itself for Simmons' services, but that's far from a "lock" at this point. Still, the situation is worth monitoring.

We'll throw local corner/slot Jalen Christian (Damascus, Md.) into this category mainly because our database continues to list him as a receiver. (I personally believe Christian fits best at cornerback, but no one asked my opinion). Either way, Maryland may be positioning itself nicely to make a strong run at the Damascus talent. The Terps did make his initial top 11, but reading between the lines I get the feeling UMD will remain in the game following his next round of cuts later this summer.

Christian has been in College Park multiple times, has a budding rapport with Chad Wilt and likes the fact UMD has a great communications program. Expect him to return to campus at some point this summer, if not for the spring game April 11 (he's unsure if he can make it yet).

Two other schools that figure to be involved include Kentucky and Tennessee, a pair of SEC suitors Christian is scheduled to see soon. Wisconsin is also in play and set for a visit, and South Carolina should get significant play as well.

One other note: In 2016 recruit news, top Terps target Trevon Diggs (Wootton/Rockville, Md.) added an Ohio State offer. He now holds verbals from OSU, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, NC State and Virginia.

Sands, McClease and the RBs

We mentioned a couple weeks ago things seemed a little sketchy with St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) running back Deltron Sands. But I just spoke with Sands again April 3 and he insisted Maryland is his clear leader and he wants to commit in late May, right before his high school's spring game.

Sands said he's "going to try like heck" to get to UMD's spring game April 11 and is looking forward to seeing the campus and meeting all the coaches. He just added offers from Wake Forest and Cincinnati, but said that has no bearing on his feelings about the Terps.

The only question here is whether or not the staff will accept his verbal. I get the the suspicion there could be a few issues, and the Terps may want to see some transcripts before taking him in.

Maryland's other prime running back target, DeShawn McClease (Oscar Smith/Chesapeake, Va.) will visit Virginia Tech this weekend before trekking to College Park for the spring game April 11. McClease listed UMD among his top suitors when I spoke to him and seemed genuinely excited about seeing the school in a week. That said, McClease may have the in-state programs and North Carolina rated just as high or a bit higher than Maryland, so don't get too excited just yet. Let's see what McClease is thinking after these next two visits.

A third running back the Terps have offered, A.J. Turner (Centreville/Clifton, Va.), added an offer from Duke -- as a cornerback. Turner, though, said that's his only defensive offer and the rest of his suitors -- Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia, UNC, Virginia Tech – all want him to tote the rock.

Turner prefers offense, so that may hurt Duke's chances if it truly wants him in its program. Currently Turner, who has taken in a UMD practice, has Maryland in play, but South Carolina is considered the leader, with UNC and Va Tech also heavily involved.

Finally, Heritage (Lynchburg, Va.) running back Frankie Hickson is worth keeping an eye on. Remember, he visited UMD back in March and has high interest in the program. Hickson is undersized at 5-8, 200 pounds, but he's pretty quick and could procure an offer with an impressive one-day camp (which he plans to attend in June).

The Word on Ashton White

Maryland has long been in a strong position for Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) cornerback Ashton White, and after the four-star watched the Terps' scrimmage March 28 we're feeling pretty good about their chances. White discussed the importance of the hometown movement; the impact friend and Maryland signee Damian Prince had on him; how he'd fit into Brian Stewart's defense; and his relationship with Mike Locksley. He is scheduled to return to College Park yet again April 11 for the spring game, saying he'd "definitely" be there.

White did just visit Penn State and said he's been in touch with the PSU staff, but the Nittany Lions haven't offered yet. I'm not so sure the State College school will go hard after him, either, unless it misses on a couple other cornerback targets.

After UMD's spring game, White plans to see Ohio State, which has offered, April 13, and he may get down to recent offeree Kentucky as well. The Wildcats verbal is probably legitimate, but I'm not so sure OSU will accept a commitment at this time.

The McNamara corner does want to make a summer decision, and that could be working in Maryland's favor. Unlike Damian Prince, who dragged his recruiting out, White wants to select a school he's comfortable with and be done with the process.

You can see what White had to say HERE.

The St. John's Safeties

If Signing Day were tomorrow, it would come down to Maryland and Penn State for Ayron Monroe's (St. John's/Washington, D.C.) services. Monroe was just at UMD's March 28 scrimmage at North Point and continued to talk up the hometown school, lauding Edsall, Locksley, defensive coordinator Brian Stewart and more. Expect him to attend Maryland's spring game next week too, allowing him to get an even better feel for the defense and the team.

At the same time, PSU has left an indelible impression what with James Franklin's pizzazz and Beaver Stadium's glitz and glamour. Monroe visited State College recently and sounded just as high on the Nittany Lions as he did Maryland.

Monroe isn't pining to commit this summer, however, so his recruiting could very well ebb and flow. He'll see a few more campuses this spring and will probably land several more verbals as well, so let's just sit back and see what transpires.

You can see what he had to say HERE.

It turns out Monroe isn't the only St. John's safety Maryland is monitoring. Big defensive back William Jackson, who played sparingly last year due to family issues, certainly looks the part at 6-3, 185 pounds. He recently visited Clemson and Georgia and said UMD and East Carolina have been looking at him. If Jackson shows off some athleticism and speed at a one-day camp, maybe the Terps make a move here.

Another QB on the Radar?

So it turns out Maryland may be after yet another nearby signal caller. David Sills (Eastern Christian/Elkton, Md.), who committed to USC in eighth grade, is apparently visiting Maryland April 4. He is also looking at WVU, Alabama, Penn State and Mississippi State, according to Greg Biggins at Scout. We'll see how serious this is as the offseason moves along. Right now, though, Sills is still a USC verbal.

Random Notes

Elite quarterback Kai Locksley (Gilman/Baltimore, Md.) picked up offers from Texas and New Mexico last week. He should be at Maryland's spring game April 11.

Defensive end Austrian Robinson (Trinity-Pawling/Pawling, N.J.) picked up a Syracuse verbal and now has scholarships from UMD, Rutgers, SU, BC and ODU. He's trying to visit Maryland sometime soon, perhaps for the spring game, but has no definitive plans.

Cornerback Dionte Austin (Calvert Hall/Towson, Md.) added an offer from Kentucky, but still has Maryland and Wake Forest as his top two schools. Austin was at Maryland's junior day and is trying to make the spring game April 11.

Cornerback Josh Teachey (McDonough/Pomfret, Md.), who holds one offer from Toledo, was at the Maryland scrimmage March 28 and saw Rutgers a day later. Both UMD and RU are monitoring him, but he'll have to impress at camps to draw more looks.

Running back Dontae Strickland (Sayreville War Memorial/Parlin, N.J.) added an offer from Indiana and now has Rutgers, IU, WVU, UVA, Temple, Wake, Georgia Tech and ODU on the table. Maryland, which he visited, has yet to come through.

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