Maryland played host to around 50 or so recruits for its April 11 spring game, including numerous top targets. Prospects came from all over the country in order to see College Park, Md., traveling from locales like California, Texas and Florida, in addition to those players who trekked up from Virginia, over from Washington, D.C., and from the surrounding counties.
One of the most intriguing recruits in attendance was Butte CC (Oroville, Calif.) junior college corner Denzel Conyers, who Maryland just began recruiting in earnest about a month ago. Conyers has flown under the radar, however, until he recently announced he was flying cross country for a visit at the behest of his recruiter, Brian Stewart.
Conyers did not receive his UMD offer yet, but he indicated it could be coming in short order, perhaps as soon as April 12.
"Coach Stewart was saying he wants me here and is hinting at an offer, but we focused a lot on academics [April 11], and meeting the staff and potential teammates," the 6-foot-3, 200 pound Florida native said. "We also talked about how they do things and how they run their program. It's real disciplined, and I like the way they stress academics and really look after their players."
Conyers had never been on campus before, nor had he ever visited the Old Line State. He came away with a favorable first impression.
"It was a beautiful and big campus. It seems very alive and down to earth," he said. "Academically I know it will set me up to be an efficient and successful worker when the day comes when I no longer play football.
"And I love the team. The dudes have shown me nothing but respect and brotherly love. It's a great group of young me I hope I can be a part of."
As for the spring game, Conyers raved about that as well, even though it rained about halfway through.
"The spring game was awesome with a ton of big plays on both sides of the ball," he said. "I love the competitive nature the DBs showcased among each other in the way they played and giving the offense a good look. I can tell the team is headed for greatness. I want to contribute and be a major factor in the success that is coming very soon."
Another prospect who had a rather long journey in was George Bush (Houston, Texas) defensive tackle Mbi Tanyi. The 6-3, 260 pounder, who holds Terps and LA Tech offers, mainly played offensive guard last year but said UMD wants him for defense.
"Coach Edsall said he wants me on defense, and that's a plus for me because I really like defense," Tanyi said. "I think he has a good plan for me, and I enjoyed talking to him."
Tanyi, of course, was more concerned about acclimating himself to the school than his future position, however. He'd never left Texas before April 10, so this was quite an experience to say the least.
"I was a little nervous at first, but now that I'm up here I don't think I'd mind leaving home at all," Tanyi said. "I can tell it's a real family environment and I think I'd fit in well. I liked how the coaches treated their players, and I like how they run things."
As for the spring game, Tanyi paid close attention to both sides of the line. He said he thought the scrimmage went smoothly and he could tell the team was coached up well.
"The rain was a bummer, but I thought it was a competitive game and the guys got after it," Tanyi said. "It actually wasn't too bad for me because my seats were undercover. I enjoyed it."
Tanyi said beforehand he wasn't going to commit while in College Park. And apparently he's sticking to it with no plans to decide until the spring is over.
"I was thinking about [committing], but I just want to run it by my family and all. I want to think things through," said Tanyi, who may take other trips this spring but hasn't planned any yet. "But either way I'm going to leave here with these memories and share them, and hopefully I'll make my decision by the end of the spring."
Another key Terps trenchman target, Ellis McKennie, was back on campus for the third time in a little more than a month. The McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) product holds offers from Maryland and Rutgers, but he's been riding high on UMD for some time. The April 10 personal visit and April 11 spring game only helped strengthen his relationship with the school.
"Maryland is still my No. 1 at the moment. I really enjoyed my visit [April 10] when I came in to meet with the coaches and see the school. I got to see a side of campus that I hadn't before and I was really impressed," McKennie said. "I got to sit down with Coach [Randy] Edsall and he stressed to me how important I was to this program and that I am the type of guy they like to have on the team. He stressed really three things: proximity to home, good education and how this program is on it's way to the top."
McKennie chimed in about the spring game as well:
"The game was good when it wasn't raining," he said, laughing. "I liked watching the O-line and how they got after it. Coach Stud [Greg Studrawa] has done a good job with them."
The McDonogh lineman isn't ready to commit just yet. He does want to check out Rutgers at some point after speaking to head coach Kyle Flood, and Virginia Tech is still under consideration for a trip as well.
"Most likely at some point this summer I'll be ready to decide," McKennie said. "I'm not rushing. I'm still thinking a few things through."
Turns out McKennie isn't the only McDonogh prospect who could be Maryland bound. His teammate, linebacker Wyatt Cook, a 6-3, 220-pound MIKE with offers from UMD, ODU, Toledo and Virginia, has had nothing but praise for the Terps since being offered last December.
"This [April 11] visit was really cool because I toured parts of campus I hadn't seen before," Cook said. "It was nice to get a feel for the whole school. It was a huge quad, it was really open and I feel like everything is right there for you. I enjoyed seeing the school and being on campus again."
Cook also liked watching Brian Stewart's defense work in the spring game. He said he honed in on how the linebackers moved and picked up on how Cole Farrand and the other inside backers played.
Afterward, he had a chance to speak to several staff members, including his recruiter, Keith Dudzinski, and Edsall.
"Maryland is saying I'm their No. 1 guy and they really want me to go there," Cook said. "The only other commit they have right now is E.J. Donahue, so they're saying there's no rush [to commit], and I appreciated that. I want to see all my options through, but I do like Maryland right now.
"They're in the top, and I really like [UMD] right along with Virginia. Maryland is always going to be one of my top choices."
Cook does not have anymore visits planned, although he acknowledged that could change. He will make it back to College Park for another personal visit this spring or summer, however.
Cook said he'd like to announce his decision at some point this fall, perhaps during his senior season.
Moving down to the D.C. area, elite cornerback Ashton White (Bishop McNamara/Forestville, Md.) chimed in immediately after the spring game. White, recall, was just at the Maryland scrimmage at North Point and sounded about as high on the Terps as could be.
The theme continued April 11.
"I thought the game was good, I liked what I saw," White said. "But it looks like they need some help in the secondary. I know I can come in here and contribute early, and that's big."
The 5-11, 180 pounder had a chance to speak to his recruiter, Mike Locksley, as well as other UMD coaches like Brian Stewart after the game.
"Coach Stewart wants to get me up here on a one on one visit with my parents," White said. "The coaches were saying the academic support is great, and then they were making jokes and saying I need to stop playing around and commit."
So … what did White think about that?
"I'm definitely taking it under consideration," he said. "I can see I can come here and play early, and that's important. They're definitely in my top three."
A few miles away, in Greenbelt, Md., the Terps have targeted top left tackle Isaiah Prince from Roosevelt High. Prince recently said UMD is his No. 1 suitor over the likes of PSU, Florida and Auburn. He remained steadfast in that mindset following the April 11 spring game.
"As of right now Maryland is my top school," the 6-7, 290 pounder said. "But things might change as I get a chance to check out more schools.
"But I thought the game was pretty interesting and I enjoyed it. I think both the offense and the defense made some good plays."
Prince had a chance to talk to Locksley and Edsall following the game. He's already developed a rapport with the Terps' offensive coordinator, so the two didn't have much to chat about that they hadn't discussed already.
"Basically the coaches just want me back up there again soon," said Prince, who would like to visit Auburn and Florida this summer. "They want me to come up with my parents for a personal visit, which I plan to do."
Over in the District, St. John's safety Ayron Monroe has been a regular in College Park. There isn't much he hasn't already seen before, and in fact he was at last year's spring game as well. Even so, Monroe still enjoyed his stay at Maryland.
"I rarely get to see my brother play because we usually play on the same day," said Monroe, who acknowledged he had a good conversation with the staff following the game. "So I enjoyed watching him play."
Monroe was just at Penn State, his other main suitor, last weekend, and some believe the Nittany Lions lead for his services. Maryland, however, is firmly in play and Monroe is very comfortable on campus and around the team.
Regardless, he does not plan on making a decision anytime soon, and insists there are no clear standouts.
Down in Virginia, at least four Maryland offerees made their way to College Park April 11. Tackle Blake Camper (Cox/Virginia Beach, Va.) did not return calls last night, but defensive tackle Aaron Crawford (Stone Bridge/Ashburn, Va.), running back A.J. Turner (Centreville/Clifton, Va.) and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (Dan River/Ringgold, Va.) did (running back DeShawn McLease is coming in April 12).
Crawford holds offers from Duke, Maryland, UNC, ODU, UVA, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, and early reports have him UNC bound or sticking with a hometown program. But the 6-2, 300 pounder said the April 11 UMD spring game gave him something to think about.
"I thought the game was great. I love the opportunity to watch football, and seeing guys get after it, and I definitely got that from Maryland," he said. "I didn't get to see much of the rest of the school, though, so I will be revisiting in the future.
"As of right now they are under good consideration. I did enjoy the little bit of what I got to see. I got to talk to the coaches briefly, and for the most part they said we'd talk a lot more when I come up for my second visit, so I'll have to make that very soon."
Edmunds, meanwhile, is considered a Virginia Tech lean what with his two older brothers attending school in Blacksburg. But he has always spoken highly of Maryland and is currently enjoying his two-day stay on campus
"Despite the rain it was a good game [April 11]," said Edmunds, who has offers from Cincinnati, Clemson, Maryland, UNC, Virginia Tech, UVA, ODU and Wake Forest. "Coach [Andre] Powell is showing me a lot of love, and I appreciate that. So right now Maryland is under consideration and I plan to learn new things [April 12] since I'm staying overnight."
The running back Turner seemed to be warming up to Maryland following his first visit to campus last month. His second trip April 11 went smoothly as well, though he backed off any statements about it improving his view of the school. Turner also holds offer from ODU, South Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Duke and has the Gamecocks, Cavaliers and Hokies under serious consideration as well.
"The visit was good. I enjoyed being back at the school," Turner said. "I like how Maryland is really focused on academics and all that, and the coaches there are great. The only thing is I had to leave at halftime so I didn't get to see as much as I'd like or talk [to the staff] after the game."
When asked where Maryland stands as of now, Turner simply said, "I'm not sure. I'm still thinking things through."
A few other prospects who do not currently hold Terps offers chimed in about the spring game experience as well.
Here's what they had to say:
Rashad Blunt, WR, Creekside (Jacksonville, Fla.): "It was a great visit. I was really impressed with how highly ranked Maryland is academically, and I like how everything is put together and how the stadium is right on campus. The facilities were pretty nice too.
"At the game I wanted to see Stefon Diggs play, but he was hurt. But I like how they use their receivers, how they throw the deep ball and how they let their guys make plays.
"I think they will offer soon. I know for 2015 they're only bringing in three or four receivers, so I have to prove I'm a level above where I'm at. They're coming down this spring to evaluate me. Coach [Keenan McCardell is coming down and he was saying they like me a lot and want to keep evaluating me. He's pulling for me to make it."
Justin Skule, OL, Centreville: "I liked the game a lot. I thought it was physical. But what stood out was the tour. I saw all the facilities and the campus and really liked all of that.
"But Maryland hasn't really showed too much interest in me. I kind of just went with some friends and other players from my school. We'll see though."
Kareem McDonald, LB, Wilson (Washington, D.C.): "I think the game was great from what I saw defensively. I like the hungriness of the defense and I love the way the secondary played. It seems like Maryland will be good when the fall comes.
"The visit was great. Every time I visit Maryland it feels like home so I'm very used to it now. The coaches love me up there, they just want to see me work out to see what position they want me as. And I believe the offer will come soon after I attend one of the prospect camps -- if not earlier.
"UMD is in my top three schools … Recruiting should pick up for me starting next week in the recruiting period. I'm excited for it.
"As of right now I'm visiting East Carolina [April 12] and Alabama is coming to see me within the next two weeks. So I'm ready for it all. We shall see what happens, but I plan to make my decision on August 11th."
Dominic Moore, LB, Briar Woods (Ashburn, Va.): "I thought it was a pretty good experience. I've been there so many times I know what's coming, but I still enjoyed it. I like how Coach [Lyndon] Johnson uses his OLBs, how they do different coverages, and how they go from man to zone, and how they disguise things. They play kind of the same defense we do at Briar Woods, so I feel like it would be easy for me to learn if I went there.
"I think they're closer to an offer. If I go to the one day camp and do well it should be there for me. I know Coach Johnson really likes me."
Michael Caggiano, K, Manalapan (N.J.): "I always love coming here. I brought my mom with my dad tonight. [My mom has] never been here yet and she really liked the campus a lot. We hung out with Coach Dudzinski for awhile in the cafeteria had a good talk. We had a good time. I like the campus and the stadium, and it's all very nice. I'm planning on going there for a camp this summer."
Qaadir Sheppard, OLB, Iona Prep (New Rochelle, NY): "It was good. the.campus looked nice the facilities looked nice and Coach Keith seemed like a very nice guy."
Kobe Marfo, CB, Hayfield (Alexandria, Va.): "The game was exciting even though it rained. I really enjoyed it, just watching the DBs and being on campus again.
"Maryland is recruiting me more now and they'll be visiting me at my school in two weeks. I think I'll eventually get the offer but it's going to be awhile due to the process of recruiting."
Kesean Strong, RB, Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.): "It was more than I expected. I loved the offense and how Coach Locksley runs it. And also some big time plays were made on both sides of the ball. I enjoyed myself.
"Maryland is going to be coming to look at me [during the evaluation period]. They like my game and just want to see me perform and at camp this summer. But they haven't really shown more interest. I'm mainly just getting mail right now."
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