Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Beefing Up The D-Line
Last week we extensively addressed the Terps’ outside linebacker and offensive line situation, and this week we’ll offer up the lowdown on the defensive line, a main area of concern as Maryland fills out the rest of its 22-24-man 2015 class.
The Terps have one defensive line commitment on board in nose tackle Keiron Howard (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.), and he’s firm in his pledge. That leaves probably two more spots open, and possibly three if UMD can hit on some of its main targets.
Now, the name Darvin Taylor (Thomas Dale/Chester, Va.) has cropped up a couple times on the message boards, and I guess that’s reasonable considering UMD offered this 6-foot-2, 295-pound beast almost a year ago. But we never sensed the Terps had much of a shot for the Virginia product, even though area recruiter Chad Wilt has made inroads and Taylor listed UMD among his top eight schools.
Taylor has long been considered a Florida State lean, and our FSU folks are telling us it would be an upset if he didn’t pop to the Noles in August. Virginia Tech, the local favorite, is running second for Taylor.
As for the more feasible options, here’s how Maryland’s board may look at the moment:
1. Byron Cowart, Armwood (Seffner, Fla.): OK, OK, we know barring the ghost of Curley Byrd haunting Cowart’s sleep he’s not coming to College Park, Md., for college. But at least this five-star defensive end has shown more interest in the program than Darvin Taylor has. The 6-4, 250-pounder’s pro-Maryland Tweets have been previously discussed, and Cowart does indeed have the Terps among his top five suitors, along with Florida, Oregon, Auburn and Alabama. The feeling is the Gators and Ducks are the clear front-runners, with the in-state program perhaps holding an edge. Cowart will likely pick between one of those two at the Under Armour All-American game, but, as we noted last week, Maryland has already secured a moral victory in terms of positive publicity.
2. Neville Gallimore, Canada Prep (St. Catherines/Ontario): Gallimore is another long shot, but, like Cowart, has kept the Terps in the conversation. He was supposed to visit College Park this July or August (after missing the June 28 Big Show camp), according to his coach, Geoff McArthur, but evidently that may not happen. Gallimore was at The Opening in Oregon, and he told our Scout Midwest reporter, Allen Trieu, he has no plans for more trips before fall officials begin.
While Gallimore wouldn’t let on exactly where he’d like to officially visit, it’s safe to say Ohio State, Michigan State and Oklahoma will be in play, with the last two spots up for grabs.
Unless Maryland receives a fall official, this isn’t great news for Terps aficionados, who were hoping area recruiter Chad Wilt’s efforts and the fact UMD was first to offer would coax the Canadian trenchman to see College Park this summer.
Gallimore does not plan to select his school until National Signing Day, though, so there is time for his recruitment to ebb and flow.
3. Austrian Robinson, Trinity-Pawling (Trinity, N.Y.): Like Gallimore, Maryland was the first to offer this New York edge rusher, and Robinson has continued to talk up the Terps since the winter. Robinson, recall, visited College Park for the first time in June and came away highly impressed with the staff, the academics and the area. Both area recruiter Lyndon Johnson and defensive line coach Chad Wilt have done very well here, and have the Terps sitting in a good spot for Robinson’s services.
But the Trinity-Pawling product is in no rush to make a decision (he said November is when he’ll select a school) and is claiming no firm favorites. He admitted UMD, Syracuse and possibly Rutgers were standing out a bit, but that’s probably because those are the only schools (besides Central Florida) he’s visited so far. Robinson has plans to see Pittsburgh, Penn State (no offer yet) and Temple before his senior year and is also attempting to trek to UVA, Georgia Tech (no offer yet) and Kansas. (STORY)
4. Wes Annan, Lake Forest Academy (Lake Forest, Ill.): Annan, who the Terps offered during the evaluation period, wanted to see Maryland this summer, but he ended up canceling that trip -- along with those to Syracuse, Rutgers and Indiana – due to finances and time constraints. In fact, the only programs he’s seen recently are Notre Dame (no offer and it’s probably not forthcoming), Boston College and Harvard, the latter two right before returning to his native Ontario.
At this point, Annan is content to put his recruitment on the backburner and spend time with his family in Canada. He has no summer trips scheduled and won’t begin traveling again until officials start in the fall. The schools on his radar, though, are Maryland, Rutgers, Michigan, Syracuse and Indiana -- and all except the Wolverines have offered.
Annan refused to name favorites, but the vibe is the Terps, Orange, Scarlet Knights, Hoosiers and BC Eagles will be vying for his services. With UMD, the Illinois defensive tackle has a solid relationship with area recruiter Chad Wilt, likes the fact Maryland is in the Big Ten, and, perhaps most importantly, has standout academics (Annan is an honors student). If Annan does make it College Park for an official, the Terps have more than a puncher’s chance at landing him.
If all goes according to plan, Annan wants to make a mid- to late-fall decision. (STORY).
5. Jamal Milan, Al Raby (Chicago, Ill.): Another Illinois trenchman Maryland offered during the spring, Milan also reneged on an intended UMD visit. This Chicago plugger wanted to take in Maryland, Iowa State and Minnesota, but due to financial and travel issues could not make it out this summer. The only campuses he’s seen recently are Syracuse’s and Indiana’s, and both schools did catch his eye, with the Orange being of particular intrigue.
But while Milan praised SU’s environment and staff, he didn’t want to name favorites until he saw a few more main suitors. One of those is the Terps, who seem to have his full attention.
Milan said he “definitely” wants to visit UMD at some point, likely for a post-senior-season official, because of the vibe around the program. Like Annan, Chad Wilt has made serious inroads here, and it’s obvious the UMD defensive line coach’s message is resonating. Milan lauded Wilt’s energy, coaching style and knowledge of the game, and said he wants to meet the rest of the staff as well.
If we had to handicap it right now, Milan’s recruitment could come down to SU, UMD and Indiana, the latter of which is in play because it’s close to his home. But a lot can happen between now and his November officials, so we’ll see what Milan is thinking in the next few months. (STORY). (I didn’t mention this in my story, but there is a chance Milan could pop this summer if he senses spots are filling up. If that’s the case, it would not be a surprise to see him jump on the SU or IU offers).
6. Mufu Taiwo, McDonough (Pomfret, Md.): We’re listing Taiwo here because he’s a local with an intriguing 6-5, 255-pound frame, who apparently caught Maryland’s eye (as well as Ohio State’s) following a standout camp performance. Taiwo only has ODU and several Division I-AA offers at the moment, but it’s feasible his recruiting could elevate dramatically if he delivers standout senior film.
Taiwo has high interest in the hometown school, and he’s been on campus multiple times for games, camps, junior days and the like. It’s possible if Maryland offered him he’d pop on the spot, so his development is worth monitoring. If the Terps don’t hit on Cowart, Gallimore, Annan or Milan, they could very well pounce on Taiwo and another late bloomer or two.
In fact, it wouldn’t totally shock us if UMD took a flyer on Taiwo even if the Terps do snag their main targets. The McDonough product’s upside and intangibles (high character, great student) might be worth the gamble as Maryland attempts to add bodies to its defensive line. (STORY).
The JUCO Options
If the high school route doesn’t prove fruitful, it’s always a possibility the Terps could scan the junior college ranks once again. Remember, Maryland offered a few intriguing JUCOs several months ago, which represented a change in philosophy for head coach Randy Edsall’s program. The Terps know they’re going to need experienced and developed beef to hang in the Big Ten, so it’s conceivable they could mine even deeper into the community colleges later this year.
Two recruits we don’t see winding up in College Park, however, are Ulric Jones (Butler C.C./ Butler, Kans.) and Deonte Reynolds (Contra Costa C.C./Contra Costa, Calif.), a pair of big bodies UMD extended scholarships too. Both expressed initial Terps interest, but each has since added major offers and seem to be seeing stars.
Jones said he’s still open to all suitors, but he may be focused on USC and Texas A&M, while an Oregon offer could very well end his recruitment (he said the Ducks are close to pulling the trigger). Reynolds, meanwhile, picked up verbals from a slew of Pac-12 programs like UCLA, Washington, Washington State and California. He’s originally from Pinole Valley, Calif., and indicated he’d like to stay on the West Coast if given the opportunity. Now, obviously, he has said opportunity.
One name to watch out for, though, is Laney C.C. (Oakland, Calif.) defensive lineman Anthony Fotu, who is still feeling out the recruiting process. Fotu has a number of interesting offers on the table, including Miami, which he has a connection to through a coach. But Fotu has expressed interest in checking out College Park at some point, so we’ll see how hard JUCO recruiter Brian Stewart and Co. push for him.
The Remaining Positional Targets
Projected Recruits: 2
On Board: Gage Shaffer (Frankfort/Ridgeley, W.Va.)
Realistic Targets: Kai Locksley (Gilman/Baltimore, Md.), David Sills (Eastern Christian/Elkton, Md.)
Analysis: Yes, we’ll list Locksley and Sills under “realistic targets,” but we’re not feeling Maryland for either one. We’ve written enough about Locksley where you know our position by now. Texas, which Locksley is visiting July 17-18, may lead; Florida State (visiting July 15) is right in the game; and Maryland could be running third. Logic suggests Locksley should be College Park bound (i.e. father offensive coordinator; guaranteed to play quarterback at UMD; would be face of program), but for various reasons we’re not throwing our support behind logic in this case.
As for the former USC commit Sills, there’s just never been a great Maryland vibe with him. We’re not so sure the ECA gunslinger is truly interested in the program, nor are we positive the Terps are making all that strong of a push.
Maybe, if all other options are exhausted on both ends, the two sides reconvene, but we don’t see it at the moment. West Virginia may be Sills’ destination now that Michigan, Alabama and others are going in different directions.
So, if no Lockley and no Sills, and with their other top targets off the board (Nick Johns, Joe Burrow, Zach Gentry, Travis Waller, etc.) where do the Terps turn? Well, it’s always possible another quarterback can be unearthed in California, Texas or Florida, but perhaps UMD scans the JUCO ranks. The Terps already have one developmental gunslinger in Shaffer, and the second guy was supposed to be a more established, polished type. That prospect may no longer be available at the high school level, however, so post-grad quarterbacks now become a realistic option.
Brandon Bergeron (Highland C.C./Highland, Kans.) could be a name to watch as the Terps did trek through Kansas earlier this year, while dual-threat Tay Bender (Iowa Western C.C./Council Bluff, Iowa) plays at a familiar program in Iowa Western.
Projected Recruits: 2
On Board: Deltron Sands (Aquinas/Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)
Realistic Targets: Deshawn McClease (Oscar Smith/Chesapeake, Va.), Ray Ray McCloud (Sickles/Tampa, Fla.)
Analysis: Sands said he’s entrenched at Maryland following his June 28 visit, and we’re inclined to believe him unless the Terps tank next fall or, say, a Clemson offer crops up. So let's see if UMD can stay on this kid and secure his signature on Signing Day.
McClease, as reported last week, is set to pick between Maryland and Virginia Tech July 16. He said it’s a 50-50 split between the two schools, though we’ve been given indications the Terps may hold a slight edge here. But McClease is scheduled to visit Blacksburg, Va., next week, and that’s a little worrisome for Maryland as the Hokies would be fresh in his mind. Visit or no visit, he has strong 757 connections at Tech, and the Hokies were the original favorites before the Terps made a charge. In other words, don’t fall off your chair if he selects the in-state school.
But area recruiter Lyndon Johnson and running backs coach Andre Powell have done as well as they could have here, hosting McClease for what he called a standout trip, and constantly letting him know how much the program covets his services. The Terps have pulled off a couple “upsets” already this class (most notably Jahrvis Davenport from Florida), so we’ll see if they can turn the trick with McClease as well.
As for McCloud, although he's still listed as "cool" on the hot board, the four days he spent in College Park this June left an impression for sure. The primetime Florida runner does have Maryland under consideration thanks to area recruiter Mike Locksley’s overtures, but the Sunshine State elites have his ear, along with the likes of South Carolina, Notre Dame, Clemson, Oregon and others throughout the SEC. The Terps have a shot here, but we’re not quite ready to project McCloud to UMD when he decides July 28.
Projected Recruits: 3
On Board: WR D.J. Moore (Imhotep/Philadelphia, Pa.); Slot Jahrvis Davenport (Robinson/Tampa, Fla.), Slot Ty Johnson (Fort Hill/Cumberland, Md.)
Realistic Targets: Ryan Davis (Lakewood/St. Petersburg, Fla.), Auden Tate (Wharton/Tampa, Fla.)
Analysis: Maryland is likely finished recruiting receivers unless one of those Florida talents wants in. As previously mentioned, Davis, who doubles as a quarterback, is the most realistic option what with his effusive post-Big-Show UMD praise while continuing to speak highly of Maryland on social media. The Terps will have to fend off the Florida programs and several select Pac-12, SEC and Big Ten suitors, but there is definitely a pulse here. Davis does not plan to select his school until after his senior season, though, so we’ll see what he’s thinking later in the process. (This is purely speculation, but maybe UMD could lure Davis by recruiting him as a quarterback. That’s what Rich Rodriguez is doing in Arizona, and the Terps do need another signal caller… Anyway, it’s food for thought.)
As for Auden Tate, he continues to list UMD among his top 10 suitors after enjoying himself during the June 28 Big Show camp. But Tate isn’t nearly as high on the Terps as Davis is, and it would take one colossal push by Locksley and Co. to win him over. Florida and FSU are considered heavy favorites, with Michigan also firmly in play.
Projected Recruits: 0-1
On Board: None
Realistic Targets: None
Analysis: Maryland went after a couple nationally-rated tight ends in this class, but none are forecast for UMD. Most notably, Chris Clarke (Avon Old Farms/Avon, Conn.) popped to Michigan, while Chris Cunningham (Atlantic Coast/Jacksonville, Fla.) is probably bound for Va Tech or Louisville. Chris Garrison (Lawrence Academy/Groton, Mass.) held a Terps offers as well, but he committed to Boston College recently.
Projected Recruits: 6-7
On Board: OT/OG E.J. Donahue (Linganore/Frederick, Md.); OG Ellis McKennie (McDonogh/Owings Mills, Md.); OC Mason Zimmerman (Anthony Wayne/Whitehouse, Ohio); OT Will McClain (Middletown, Md.)
Realistic Targets: OT Isaiah Prince (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.); OG Quarvez Boulware (Friendship Collegiate Academy/Washington, D.C.); OT Tony Pilato (Hempfield/Landisville, Pa.)
Analysis: Unless another lineman emerges during the season, we see the Terps going hard after their top two remaining targets, Prince and Boulware, while a Pilato pop would be icing on the cake.
We updated Prince’s status last week, noting how his recruitment has begun to ebb and flow. His top four has morphed into a top six of Maryland, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Ohio State and Virginia Tech -- with visits to Bama and AU coming up July 22-23, and UF after that. There will inevitably be other scheduled trips and more suitors to emerge as well.
Prince is not deciding before next winter, so either get on the roller coaster and ride the ups and downs, or tune out until December. You can probably do the latter and still be confident the Terps will be right there for his services. Maryland, as we’ve noted plenty of times previously, is in a very good spot here. Area recruiter Mike Locksley and the hometown pull are two key reasons Prince has UMD right in the game.
If we had to call the early lines, we’d give Maryland very good odds for Prince and favorable odds for Boulware. The FCA guard seems a bit more impressionable and a bit more willing to explore than Prince, and ultimately he might be a tougher Terps pull.
Boulware was just in Beaverton, Ore., for The Opening, and it sounds like he’s still trying to rack up all those profile-boosting scholarships. He’s trekking down to Florida, FSU, Auburn and Bama in August, and is seeking offers from the Tide and Gators (the Noles and Eagles already pulled through). All four of those powerhouses have Boulware’s attention and each (should they all offer) will get plenty of consideration.
North Carolina (recruiting him for defensive tackle), Miami and sentimental favorite Wake Forest (Boulware is from the Carolina area originally) are firmly in play as well, along with Maryland. But Penn State, another potential offeree, is a school to watch out for here. Scout’s Brian Dohn indicated Boulware is high enough on the Nittany Lions that he could pop to them should James Franklin ante up.
Regardless of the speculation, we still like Maryland’s chances. The Terps are one school he consistently mentions among his standouts, and Boulware’s repeatedly talked up his relationship with area recruiter Mike Locksley and the staff. Again, the Terps are going to have to ride the roller coaster until next winter, but we think there’s a good shot they gain the pole position.
Finally, there’s Pilato, who has once again gone AWOL following our June interview with him. Last we spoke, he was supposed to visit Syracuse in late June or July before picking his school later this month. Pitt, WVU and UMD are firmly in play, and the vibe was the Panthers led with the Terps running second. We’ll try to gain more insight into this situation through our Pennsylvania connections, but it wouldn’t surprise us if Pilato popped to Pitt.
Projected Recruits: 2-3
On Board: See above.
Realistic Targets: See above.
Analysis: See above.
Projected Recruits: 4 (two ILBs, two OLBs)
On Board: ILB Brett Zanotto (Franklin Regional/Murrysville, Pa.), ILB Gus Little (Massaponax/Fredericksburg, Va.), OLB Mbi Tanyi (Bush/Sugar Land, Texas)
Realistic Targets: Isaiah Davis (St. Stephen’s St. Agnes/Alexandria, Va.), Tremaine Edmunds (Dan River/Ringgold, Va.), Amir Ealey (Coatesville, Pa.), Malachi Felder (Eastern Christian Academy/Elkton, Md.)
Analysis: The Terps are done recruiting inside linebackers with Zanotto and Little on the bandwagon. If you need a reminder for where Maryland stands with its outside linebacker targets, see last week’s Shell for more in-depth analysis HERE.
Here’s a brief recap: St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes’ Isaiah Davis has Va Tech, Maryland, Boston College and Tennessee firmly in play, and will likely choose between those four by the end of the summer. The Hokies could be the front-runner, but the Terps are right there as well.
Ealey is fairly open, but said UVA, UMD, WVU, Syracuse and others are prime contenders. Ohio State, meanwhile, has been in touch, and if the Buckeyes offer it could be a game-changer. Ealey will make a mid- to late-fall decision.
The Maryland legacy Tremaine Edmunds is considered a Va Tech lean, but UMD, USC, Wake Forest and Cincinnati are on his brain. After attempting to visit the Terps, Hokies, Trojans and a couple others (he just recently took in Wake), he’ll likely make an August decision.
As for Felder, he doesn’t have a Terps offer yet, but we’re told there could be mutual interest between the two sides. If UMD misses on some of its other priorities, Maryland could make a run at the ECA outside backer.
Projected Recruits: 1-2
On Board: Jameel Cook (Ridge Point/Missouri City, Texas)
Realistic Targets: Jazzee Stocker (Coasteville, Pa.), William Jackson (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.)
Analysis: Maryland is probably content to stick with Cook as its one safety recruit, but if Stocker wants in the Terps will probably accept his commitment. Stocker has UMD at the forefront of his mind, along with Pittsburgh, Syracuse, WVU, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin and Duke.
Expect Stocker to come out with a top five before the summer ends and then schedule official visits for the fall. At this point, we think the Terps will not only be among his favorites, but also receive one of those valuable officials.
Stocker does not plan to announce his college intentions until after his senior season, so let’s see what develops.
We’ll keep Jackson on the board if only because it’s conceivable the Terps could give him a look at outside linebacker should they fail to snag Davis, Edmunds or Ealey. Jackson did not attend Maryland’s Big Show camp June 28, however, so he may have missed the boat for a hometown scholarship. He’ll have to show out his senior year to draw the Terps’ attention, or he might just pop to NC State or UConn, both of which have already offered.
Projected Recruits: 2-3
On Board: Kareem Ali (Timber Creek/Erial, N.J.), Darnell Savage (Caravel/Bear, Del.)
Realistic Targets: Mike Majette (Woodbridge, Va.), Marcus Lewis (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.)
Analysis: The Terps may just be finished recruiting cornerbacks unless Lewis wants in late in the game. There’s also a possibility Ty Johnson could be moved to corner if Maryland lands another prime receiver commit like Ryan Davis.
Lewis has UMD in his top five, along with Florida, Oregon, Miami and Ole Miss. Michigan also just entered the picture, and the Gonzaga corner will visit the Wolverines this July.
Lewis is currently committed to the Gators, but at this point it’s anyone’s guess where he will sign. We don’t think it’ll be with Maryland, though, unless his mindset completely changes in the next few months.
Majette, meanwhile, holds a Maryland offer and still has the Terps among his top suitors, along with UNC (no offer yet) and Boston College. He liked what he saw in College Park in mid-June, but the Heels are a personal favorite and he’s willing to wait for a UNC scholarship. Majette also wants to check out BC this summer and has the Eagles near the forefront of his mind.
After seeing Chestnut Hill, the Woodbridge corner could make an August college decision. But Majette also indicated his recruitment could drag into the fall so more schools could evaluate his senior film.
Currently, with two corners on board and maybe one spot open for a prime local like Lewis, we do not project Majette for Maryland. The same goes for emerging local David Rose (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.), who was hoping for a Terps offer after the June 28 camp. Rose didn’t land a scholarship then, and likely won’t receive one with Savage and Ali occupying the two spots. Thus, Rose was scratched from the hot board this week.
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