Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Ali Down For the Count, Majette On Board
Maryland was pretty much finished recruiting cornerbacks when Darnell Savage (Caravel/Bear, Del.) committed in June, but that quickly changed once Kareem Ali (Timber Creek/Erial, N.J.) flipped to Temple July 19 following a visit to the Philadelphia school. Temple had long been on Ali’s radar, but he hadn’t had a chance to see the program up close and personal until said trip.
Evidently the hometown school left quite an impression, and the fact Temple is just 20 minutes from Ali’s house really resonated here. In addition, Owls secondary coach Fran Brown is Ali’s cousin, and that latter factor may have pushed the Timber Creek product over the edge.
It should be noted that neither Ali, nor his father for that matter, had one negative word for Maryland, continuing to praise Randy Edsall’s program and the direction of the team. That may not be much consolation for Terps fans -- especially after Ali lauded defensive backs coach Brian Stewart, Edsall, area recruiter John Dunn, the Big Ten and Maryland’s academics following his UMD pop -- but it would behoove cynics to remember that sometimes teenagers make impulsive decisions. In retrospect, if Ali had to do it over again, he probably would have taken all of his intended trips/visits before popping prematurely.
Ultimately, though, this wasn’t a huge loss for the Terps since they seem to have recovered quite nicely with the addition of talented-though-unproven Woodbridge (Va.) cornerback Mike Majette. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound converted quarterback held a Maryland offer following a June 16 visit to College Park, Md., and he actually wanted in at UMD well before his July 21 pledge.
But with Ali and Savage in tow, there were no vacancies at Hotel Maryland, so the Woodbridge product went with Plan C (Boston College was Plan B, but the Eagles also had filled up their spots) and planned camps at UVA, Tennessee and Wake Forest. Those intended one-days became unnecessary, however, once Ali reneged on his commitment. Majette learned of Ali’s switch via Twitter and said he “immediately” contacted the Terps’ staff and asked if they would accept his pledge. A day later, after speaking to Edsall, UMD welcomed Majette aboard.
Majette, who caught UMD’s eye after a June 8 one-day, held offers from Purdue, Indiana, Boston College, and WVU, among others. But he said the Terps became the clear front-runner following his June 16 visit to College Park. The staff, namely Edsall and Stewart, left its mark, as well as UMD’s Big Ten move; academics; and the fact College Park isn’t too far from his Northern Virginia home. Majette also specifically mentioned a Vernon Davis video he viewed, where the former Terps’ great swelled with Maryland pride, as something that stayed with him after leaving campus.
As for his game, Majette has mainly played quarterback at Woodbridge, while rotating in at safety. But, according to his head coach, he has spent plenty of time honing his cornerback skills with his trainers, in 7-on-7s, and in practice, though he’s only lined up at said position a few times during actual games. It will be interesting to see how Majette adjusts this fall since he’ll be playing corner full-time (in addition to quarterback), but we’re not especially worried here. Majette has sub-4.5 40-yard dash speed, plenty of quickness, solid agility and a boatload of athleticism. Just coach up the technique and the finer parts of the position, and after a redshirt year he should be good to go. (STORY).
With Majette on board, it probably means the Terps are finished recruiting corners unless Marcus Lewis (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.) wants in down the line. The current Gators commit tends to be mercurial (he was once committed to Va Tech, and is in the process of visiting Michigan and exploring other options despite his UF pledge), so we’re not about to write him off. In fact, we’re inclined to believe anything could happen with this local corner.
Another nearby cornerback, though, probably will not be a Terp when it’s all said and done. David Rose (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.) was seeking a Maryland offer and felt he was next in line to nab one following Ali’s decommitment, but Majette snapped up the spot before a scholarship could materialize. A bigger, physical corner, Rose impressed many staffs, including Maryland’s, this camp season, but he -- for whatever reason -- has failed to haul in major FBS offers.
Personally, we thought either Majette or Rose would have been solid additions. Fact is, Majette had a committable offer and didn’t hesitate to jump at it when presented with an opportunity. Sometimes, that’s just how it goes. You can’t take everyone.
Note: Maryland may take one more safety – if that safety is Jazzee Stocker (Coatesville, Pa.). Stocker still has the Terps under heavy consideration, but he said he doesn’t want to commit until taking a few official visits this fall. His recruitment is moving along very slowly.
Two OLB Targets Nearing Decisions
Maryland may be focusing on adding to its offensive and defensive lines, but the Terps do want to add one more outside linebacker in the 2015 class. Two of the Terps’ most coveted targets, Tremaine Edmunds (Dan River/Ringgold, Va.) and Isaiah Davis (St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes/Alexandria, Va.), are set to select their schools in late July and early August, respectively.
Edmunds, the son of former Terps’ tight end Ferrell Edmunds, just released a final four of Maryland, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and USC. He plans to pick from that quartet July 31 at 5:30 p.m. during a live broadcast on a local Roanoke TV station.
While the 6-3, 190-pounder said each program remains even in his eyes, the overwhelming feeling is, and has been, he’s Va Tech’s to lose. The Hokies field Edmunds’ two older brothers, Trey and Terrell, and it would be an upset if Tremaine didn’t spend his next four-plus years in Blacksburg, Va., too.
After speaking to Edmunds earlier this week, I sensed that indeed Tech had a stranglehold on him. Not only was he effusive in his Hokies praise, but the only visit Edmunds has taken in the last month-plus was to Blacksburg. The inherent comfort level, along with his familiarity with the staff, make Virginia Tech the clear favorite.
I did get the feeling Maryland could be running second, however. Edmunds and his family visited College Park a couple months back, and the academics, Big Ten move and staff all hit home with the clan. Ferrell Edmunds reportedly sensed the program’s progress under Edsall, while his son left talking up the Terps as well. Edmunds went on to say that he appreciated area recruiter Andre Powell’s and outside linebackers coach Lyndon Johnson’s consistent efforts in trying to bring him in.
Edmunds had similarly high remarks for Wake Forest, which he’s visited twice before. The Deacons may be a legitimate contender, but we can’t see him picking USC considering he’s never been to Southern California.
But regardless of where he has UMD, Wake and USC ranked, it’s fairly clear Tech is the team to beat. (STORY).
The Terps have a much better chance at landing Davis, who has had the same top four or five since early July. He told me earlier this week Maryland, Virginia Tech, Boston College, NC State and Tennessee remain “all even,” and he wants to visit each once more between now and early August, which is when he’s set to choose his destination (he has no firm deadline, unlike Edmunds).
Right now, Davis is saying NC State, Virginia Tech, BC and Maryland will all receive return trips, and he’ll trek out to Tennessee, which he camped at back in June, “if I have time.” The St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes backer said he’s planning to attend a Terps’ practice somewhere around Aug. 3, which is when fall camp begins.
We don't see him taking all of those trips, though, based on current circumstances. Here’s the reality of the situation:
Virginia Tech, which Davis was particularly high on what with the Hokies’ defensive reputation coupled with its proximity to his home, is probably only taking one more linebacker. The Hokies already have three on board, and if Edmunds jumps into the fray as expected it will give them their fourth and likely final backer. We’ll have to see how it plays out in the coming weeks, but we’re told Tech will not take both Edmunds and Davis.
NC State, meanwhile, is already done recruiting linebackers, whether Davis realizes it or not. In all likelihood, he will not be making a trip to Raleigh, N.C., as the Wolfpack have filled their spots.
Boston College has only a couple spots left in its 2015 class, and the Eagles have one or two “name” linebackers they are pursuing. We’re led to believe Davis is not one of them. Davis did harp on the Eagles’ defensive improvements under Don Brown and their penchant for producing NFL-caliber backers, so maybe if he does want in BC will take him, but that remains to be seen.
It’s a similar deal with Tennessee. The Vols have two linebackers on board and will likely take one more, but we’re told they’re not making a strong push for the St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes product. UT has a couple other targets floating around, namely four-star Quarte Sapp (Milton/Alpharetta, Ga.), that they currently covet.
So, the vibe on this end is the Terps have more than a puncher’s chance here. Davis has said before he’d love to be part of the same team as his older brother, current Maryland safety Sean Davis, while the chance to play in the Big Ten appeals as well. The coaching staff, academics and the fact UMD is recruiting him at outside linebacker (other programs want him at the MIKE spot, but his preference is OLB) are the other reasons Davis has the Terps firmly on the brain. Ultimately, he could fall right into UMD’s lap, but we’ll see how it plays out.
Maryland’s third outside linebacker target, Amir Ealey (Coatesville, Pa.), has no plans to commit anytime soon. As mentioned in previous Shells, he’s set on seeing what offers materialize during the fall and then taking official visits after that. Apparently Alabama and Penn State are showing interest in Ealey at tight end, while he’s currently en route to Ohio State for a Buckeyes’ camp. Visits to West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Clemson and South Carolina are also on the docket this summer.
Maryland is in the game here as Ealey did enjoy his College Park tour, meetings with the staff and the school’s kinesiology program. But he’s not going to jump on the Terps’ bandwagon anytime soon -- and not at all if the Terps land Davis.
While we still think Maryland has a chance to land Sickles (Tampa, Fla.) running back Ray Ray McCloud, it’s probably a remote one based on our most recent reports. We’re hearing Florida and Clemson remain right in the game, with UCLA now making a late charge. McCloud is set to announce his decision July 28, and at this point the tealeaves read Gators or maybe Tigers.
If that’s the case, we don’t expect Maryland to pursue another 2015 back. There is some flexibility with current slot receiver commit Ty Johnson (Fort Hill/Cumberland, Md.), so if UMD does need another runner down the line the Terps could easily shift the speedy Cumberland product to the backfield.
Prince Takes Southern Swing
Last week, Maryland’s top remaining guard target, Quarvez Boulware (Friendship Collegiate/Washington, D.C.), trekked through the South, making stops at Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Florida State. This week, it’s Isaiah Prince’s (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.) turn. The No. 1 tackle left on the Terps’ board hit Alabama July 23, and will be at Auburn July 24 and Gainesville, Fla., for the Friday Night Lights camp July 25.
Like Boulware, Prince will likely come away raving about all three SEC powers. And that’s to be expected as I can’t recall any elite recruit leaving those programs unimpressed. Each are national title contenders, have unmatched facilities, terrific staffs and the like.
But, as we’ve been saying with both Prince and Boulware, when the dust settles we still like Maryland’s chances. Prince, in particular, seems to be buying into the hometown movement. His rapport with area recruiter Mike Locksley, the fact that he’s close to his family, the Big Ten move, the chance for early playing time, his relationship with several current Terps, and the chance to learn under O-line coach Greg Studrawa have Maryland sitting pretty.
Now, we’ll sit back and see if UMD can weather the storm and secure Prince on Signing Day, much like the Terps did with last year’s Prince (Damian).
Note: Beyond Prince and Boulware, who will announce sometime during late fall or winter, we don’t foresee Maryland going after another offensive lineman unless one or both D.C.-area products choose other schools. Boulware and Prince are the prime targets, and the staff will likely put its efforts into securing each.
Another Lost Stag?
It’s a trend these days with elite rising juniors committing two years prior to signing on the dotted line, and it looks like DeMatha’s (Hyattsville, Md.) Shane Simmons will be the next underclassman to do so. The state’s No. 1 2016 defensive end announced a top five of Florida State, Penn State, Alabama, Ohio State and Maryland, and he is set to announce his decision at the Hyattsville school July 30. The overwhelming feeling is the Seminoles lead for Simmons’ services, with the Nittany Lions running second.
The Terps, for their part, may be at the back end of that top five, as Simmons basically offered up hometown lip service. Granted, Simmons did visit College Park July 23, and he does have a good relationship with area recruiter Mike Locksley, but the feeling on this end is the brief trip over was merely a courtesy one.
We’ll wait until Simmons announces his choice before commenting further, but this has the makings of another DeMatha snub. The Terps have not signed a Stags recruit since Pete DeSouza jumped on board back in 2009, and that’s a drought Maryland is working diligently to end with the school’s talent-laden 2016 class -- with or without Simmons.
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TTDave's Inside The ShellWelcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
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