Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
The Big Fish
There wasn’t a ton of earth-shattering scuttlebutt surrounding Maryland’s two main offensive line targets, Quarvez Boulware (Friendship Collegiate/Washington, D.C.) and Isaiah Prince (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.), last week, though each did generate some news. The former, a week after his Southern swing through Alabama and Florida, released an official top five suitors list that included Maryland, Wake Forest, Florida, North Carolina and Alabama (no offer yet).
Again, nothing shocking here, as the 6-foot-3, 285-pound Boulware had been talking up those five schools for some time anyway. The only notable omissions here were Auburn -- which Boulware holds an offer from and reportedly had a standout visit to in mid-July – and Miami, a school he had effusive praise for following a trip to Coral Gables, Fla. But that’s not of much concern to Terps aficionados, who still have reason to believe Maryland will remain firmly in the game all the way up until Boulware announces his college destination this winter.
Unlike some recruits (and you know who we mean) who merely offer hometown lip service, Boulware’s UMD interest is genuine. Area recruiter Mike Locksley has done well to not only connect with the FCA guard, but his family as well. Meanwhile, Boulware’s comfort level on campus and with the players in the program (See: Walker, Cavon; Gray, Derwin; Prince, Damian) have the hometown school sitting pretty.
Briefly, here’s a recap of why the other four schools made the shortlist. Wake Forest is a sentimental favorite since it’s where Boulware’s originally from, though the FCA guard does seem to have real interest in the Deacons. He’s visited Winston Salem, N.C., a couple times and has taken to the small-town feel. In fact, some believe Wake may actually lead at the moment, though we don’t expect that to hold up.
North Carolina, which is recruiting Boulware as both a defensive tackle and offensive guard, left an impression following a camp in Chapel Hill, N.C., where the D.C. product developed a rapport with the coaches and enjoyed the environment. Florida’s staff, meanwhile, made a strong pitch following his Gainesville, Fla., visit a couple weeks back. The fact the Gators have needs along the O-line, as well as the presence of former teammate Jalen Tabor, hit home as well.
And Alabama, well, it’s Alabama; the tradition and prestige certainly had Boulware seeing stars. We’re not so sure the Tide will pursue in earnest, however.
As for Prince, he just returned from his Southern tour last week, which took him to Alabama, Auburn and finally Florida for the Friday Night Lights camp. All three of those programs, in addition to Maryland and Ohio State, remain firmly in play for the 6-7, 290-pound four-star, though he doesn’t want to list firm favorites just yet. (It’s quite obvious Maryland, Florida and Bama will be among them).
At Bama, Prince connected with former DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) star Arie Kouandjio, as well as line coach Mario Cristobal, who let the Roosevelt tackle know the Tide needed big trenchmen right away what with several upperclassmen graduating. Head coach Nick Saban’s message resonated, as well as the school’s winning tradition.
A day after seeing Alabama, Prince and his coach trekked over to the Tide’s main rivals, and the Roosevelt prospect offered up similar thoughts. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and offensive line coach Jeff Grimes told Prince how much the Eagles coveted his services, and how he could potentially see the field early.
As for Florida, Prince thoroughly enjoyed taking in Gainesville, seeing the facilities and learning from the coaches. Like Bama and Auburn, the Gators’ staff told Prince they're prioritizing offensive line recruiting, though UF may have the greatest need of the trio.
In fact, of the universities he just trekked to, Florida could be pushing the hardest, and the Gators do seem to be firmly on Prince’s mind. But Prince is an intelligent, thoughtful guy, and he’s going about the process deliberately. He’s not going to gush over any program right now, and that includes the school that’s in prime position for him: Maryland.
The Terps are using a similar recruiting approach with Prince as they did last year with eventual signee Damian Prince. Area recruiter Mike Locksley and Co. know they have the Roosevelt tackle’s attention, and the latter has already been on campus multiple times. His feelings about the hometown school, as well as his family’s, have been well-documented in this space.
Really, there’s not much more for UMD to sell at this point, so expect the Terps to let Prince wad through the process until making one last hard push before Signing Day. In fact, Prince may not even mention the Terps in some interviews, but Maryland fans shouldn’t take that as a slight. UMD is right there for him and will remain so throughout.
News From The Opposite Trench
Maryland is still looking to add multiple defensive line prospects, though most of the Terps’ main targets are in a holding pattern. The Midwest defensive tackles, Jamal Milan (Al Raby/Chicago, Ill.) and Wes Anan (Lake Forest Academy/Lake Forest, Ill.), remain highly interested in UMD, but neither is set to visit until the fall. In fact, both have basically put recruiting on the backburner until they can begin taking official visits after Sept. 1.
Neville Gallimore (St. Catharines/Ontario, Canada), the four-star tackle from north of the border, may have his sights set on Oklahoma, Ohio State or possibly Notre Dame, and has no scheduled trips the rest of the summer. And the five-star Byron Cowart (Armwood/Seffner, Fla.), who talked up the Terps on Twitter following the Big Show event? Well, he’s probably Florida bound, with Oregon also in the running.
But there was some progressive Terps news out of Pawling, N.Y., this week when prime UMD target Austrian Robinson (Trinity-Pawling/Pawling, N.Y.) called Maryland his No. 1 school. The 6-5, 265-pounder, who Maryland offered before any other program, said his strong relationship with line coach Chad Wilt and area recruiter Lyndon Johnson has left a distinct impression. He continued to reference his outstanding College Park summer visit (recall, he rated it a “10 out of 10” in our previous interview with him), and said UMD’s academics, environment, Big Ten move, and the chance to contribute early during his career all hit home.
Robinson is planning to return to Maryland this August and then take an official in the fall. But for all his pro-Terps talk, Robinson insisted he didn’t want to commit before November or December, which means there’s time for his recruitment to ebb and flow.
Purdue and UCF are two other programs he wants to officially visit, and in-state Syracuse remains a prime contender as well. Penn State, meanwhile, which hasn’t offered yet, is a scholarship he’s looking for once he sends out senior film. Virginia, Pittsburgh, Kansas and Michigan (no offer yet) are also somewhat in the game.
We do think Maryland has a legitimate shot here, however. It’s just going to take a persistent effort to secure Robinson’s signature. (STORY).
The Terps are also in prime early position for one of their most coveted class of 2016 defensive linemen, Gilman’s (Baltimore, Md.) Ellison Jordan. The 6-2, 285-pound fireplug visited College Park yet again July 30, allowing him to spend time with Chad Wilt and meet the academic advisors. Not only does he have a rapport with the staff and genuinely like the team’s direction, but one of UMD’s separating factors is its communications program. Jordan wants to be a sports broadcaster, and he knows all about the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism’s reputation.
Jordan’s family, which accompanied him, is also highly impressed with UMD, head coach Randy Edsall and his emphasis on education. Jordan confides in his folks often, and that will undoubtedly help the Terps’ chances with the Gilman product down the road. (STORY).
Simmons To Happy Valley; the DeMatha Dilemma
OK, so we prepared Terps fans a couple weeks back with the cold reality that elite 2016 defensive end Shane Simmons (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) would not be staying home for college. That was fairly obvious, but the bigger news here is that Simmons, who was long considered a Florida State lean, committed to one of UMD’s new Big Ten rivals, Penn State. We’ll see if that pledge holds up until February 2016, but right now that PSU pop is like a gut punch to the Terps.
Not only did Maryland lose another elite in-state prospect; not only did Maryland lose a local defensive end, a major position of need; not only did Maryland miss on a high-character kid who fits everything Randy Edsall is about; and not only did Maryland lose yet another DeMatha kid; but they lost him to James Franklin and PSU -- which is kind of like throwing salt in the wound.
Franklin’s comments about turning the DMV into his recruiting playground have been discussed at length, and nabbing Simmons is indeed a victory for him. It’s one thing for a Florida State or Alabama, two teams Maryland won’t be facing anytime soon, to cherry pick the DMV, but it doesn’t bode well -- both on the field and politically -- if Maryland’s neighbors to the north continue to grab the state’s top talents.
Of equal concern is that whole DeMatha dilemma, which has been a rather polarizing message board topic. The Stags, which sit in Maryland’s backyard, haven’t sent a prospect to UMD since Pete DeSouza in 2009, and that’s clearly a drought that needs to end pronto.
As we’ve been saying, the UMD-DeMatha beef doesn’t lie with the talent-rich high school itself or head coach Elijah Brooks, but may be with several folks who surround the Stags’ program. Said people, for various reasons, seem to hold a grudge against the local university dating back to before Randy Edsall’s arrival, and there still appears to be some lingering tensions.
You know how it goes when folks with a following start chirping. Rumors start flying, word spreads far and wide, and all of a sudden a perception is formed (consciously or subconsciously). So right now, unless Maryland makes a pitch to some of these outside power players, it’s going to be an uphill battle at DeMatha – at least in regards to the top prospects.
That said, maybe the tide is about to turn with the Stags’ 2016 crop. Receiver Tino Ellis and running back Lorenzo Harrison both hold Terps’ offers and seem to have real interest in the hometown school. Emerging guard Terrance Davis is also in play, though he hasn’t said much definitive in the way of leaders yet.
The drought has to end sometime, and securing an Ellis, a Harrison or both would go a long way in aiding UMD’s future efforts in Hyattsville, Md.
Edmunds, Davis & More
As expected, Dan River (Ringgold, Va.) outside linebacker Tremaine Edmunds popped to longtime favorite Virginia Tech July 31, announcing his decision on a local Roanoke TV station. The 6-3, 190-pound Edmunds chose Tech over Maryland, Wake Forest and USC, with the Terps likely running second or third for the UMD legacy.
Edmunds said his last visit to Blacksburg, Va., in late July sealed the deal, but in reality this one was probably over long before that. With both his brothers, Terrell and Tre, already at Tech, and with the longstanding relationship he had with the staff, it would have been a colossal upset if Tremaine didn’t choose the Hokies.
Yes, his father, Ferrell, played at Maryland and had high praise for head coach Randy Edsall, but I never sensed that factor really resonated with Tremaine. Edmunds did genuinely appreciate area recruiter Andre Powell’s and outside linebacker coach Lyndon Johnson’s efforts, and his spring visit to College Park did impress him, but it wasn’t going to be enough to pry him out of Blacksburg. That became even more clear after Edmunds missed the June 28 Big Show camp and then failed to reschedule in the month following the event.
Which brings us to Maryland’s next outside linebacker target, Isaiah Davis (St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes/Alexandria, Va.). As we mentioned in last week’s Shell, Maryland looks to be Davis’ best option considering his other stated favorites – N.C. State, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Boston College – may have other priorities or have already filled up its linebacker spots.
The younger brother of Terps’ safety Sean Davis is scheduled for a return trip to Virginia Tech Aug. 9, preceded by College Park during the first week of fall camp (likely Aug. 5), but we’ve been told the Hokies aren’t taking anymore linebackers now that Edmunds is on board. It wouldn’t shock us, then, if he committed to Maryland while on campus this week or shortly thereafter.
Isaiah Davis is familiar with UMD, has said he’d like to play with his brother, has a solid rapport with area recruiter Lyndon Johnson, and likes how he’d be used in defensive coordinator Brian Stewart’s scheme. There is some question as to whether or not UMD really wants another outside backer pledge, but we’re led to believe if Davis wants in the Terps would take him.
If, for whatever reason, Davis falls through, Maryland may just stand pat with the three linebackers it already has committed. We don’t see Malachi Felder (Eastern Christian/Elkton, Md.) as a viable option at this point, even though area recruiter Keenan McCardell had expressed interest. Apparently Felder has some issues to iron out, and that will likely preclude Maryland from pursuing in earnest.
Felder, according to his coach, now has offers from Syracuse, Tennessee, West Virginia and Miami, and the Mountaineers are his most likely destination given Morgantown’s established pipeline to ECA. Previously, Felder suggested he could reclassify to 2016, but his coach put the kibosh on that and said his outside backer is likely sticking with the 2015 group.
As for local safety/outside linebacker William Jackson (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.), we’re not feeling that one either. The kid has been unresponsive, but I spoke to his coach, Joe Patterson, and he said there hasn’t been much recruiting traction this summer. Jackson, who has a couple FBS verbals from NC State and UConn, admittedly did not have a great junior season, and most college programs want to see senior film before offering or accepting a commitment.
I got the vibe, though, even if Jackson did have a standout senior campaign UMD probably wouldn’t be getting involved, barring a decommitment. The Terps have filled up their safety spots (unless Coatesville, Pa., safety Jazzee Stocker wants in, and even that’s questionable), and probably won’t take another outside linebacker except for Isaiah Davis.
No More Receivers?
Well, it’s looking like it … unless there's a decommitment down the road. We knew after Imhotep (Philadelphia, Pa.) receiver D.J. Moore popped to Maryland the Terps had basically shut down their wideout recruiting -- leaving them out of the Lawrence Cager (Calvert Hall/Towson, Md.) and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (Dorman/Roebuck, S.C.) sweepstakes -- but we thought perhaps they’d make an exception for one of those elite Florida cats who visited College Park June 28.
Although George Campbell (East Lake/Tapron Springs, Fla.), Auden Tate (Wharton/Tampa, Fla.) and Ryan Davis (Lakewood/St. Petersburg, Fla.) all have Maryland among their top suitors, we’re not forecasting them for UMD -- nor are we positive the Terps will even make a strong push what with three wideouts already on board.
Of course, neither Campbell nor Tate are likely to choose Maryland anyway, even if the staff does go hard after them. Campbell did mention the Terps as one of his 10 finalists, but he is tending towards LSU (as a safety or receiver) or maybe Florida. Tate also has UMD in his top 10 and should be announcing his decision shortly, but word is he is Florida State’s to lose.
The 5-10, 170-pound Davis remains the best bet to be a Terp, although we’re not ready to list him above “cool” just yet. Davis has UMD among his final five suitors, along with FSU, Florida, Texas Tech and Kentucky, and he has offered plenty of praise for Randy Edsall’s program. His most recent interviews, however, suggest he too could be Florida State bound. But if Davis doesn’t pop to FSU, or if the Noles choose to go in another direction, then the Terps may have a shot here. Stay tuned and pay attention to what develops.
Note: Arcega-Whiteside, the South Carolina receiver who had Maryland among his top five suitors following a visit to College Park, committed to long-stated favorite Stanford July 30. Maryland didn’t push for the 6-3, 200-pounder after Moore popped, but Arcega-Whiteside was Stanford’s to lose all along. He had hinted during previous interviews it would’ve been difficult to turn down Palo Alto.
More News & Notes
Ray Ray McCloud, RB, Sickles (Tampa, Fla.): The Terps made a strong run for this primetime Sunshine State back, who visited College Park on two separate occasions in June, but to no avail. He ended up committing to Clemson over UCLA and Florida July 28, citing his longstanding relationship with Tigers running back coach Tony Elliott, who had been recruiting the Sickles runner since the eighth grade.
McCloud did have Maryland among his final four suitors, but the Terps were on the outside looking in here. UMD and area recruiter Mike Locksley did well to make inroads with both McCloud and his father, working the Terps into the camp’s top four, but we never felt the Terps’ chances were good enough to elevate him above “cool” on the hot board.
Marcus Lewis, CB, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.): Yes, the local four-star corner is back in the news yet again this week. It was probably only a matter of time, but Lewis did indeed renege on his Florida commitment July 28, putting himself back on the open market (as if he wasn’t already). He currently has a top four of Miami, Michigan, Oregon and UF, but I’m not sure Florida is really in contention anymore. The Gators are probably none too pleased Lewis was taking visits and lauding other programs soon after declaring he was “100 percent sold” on UF, so that’s likely a severed relationship.
Right now, Michigan is considered the favorite as Lewis heaped plenty of praise on UM after visiting the Big House. But the Gonzaga product could very well change his mind next week, the week after that, and so on and so forth. Maryland, for its part, is still lurking around, and it wouldn’t shock us at all if Lewis came full circle this winter and decided to stay home for college. Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? Not with this recruit.
Kai Locksley, QB, Gilman (Baltimore, Md.): Well, that was a bit of a surprise. After talking up Texas on social media and in interviews following his visit to Austin, Kai Locksley popped to the school many figured was running second for his services, Florida State, July 31. Not that it was a colossal shocker by any means. Locksley did thoroughly enjoy his recent trip to Tallahassee and even admitted he came close to pledging while on campus. Head coach Jimbo Fisher left an indelible impression with how he develops quarterbacks, and the Jameis Winston comparisons obviously hit home. The campus, the connection he had with recruiter Sal Sunseri, and the fact FSU is the defending champ didn't hurt either.
The one rather large mitigating factor that could affect things down the road, though, is that fellow quarterback Deondre Francois (IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.) announced for FSU just minutes after Locksley. We figured Francois would commit to Auburn after Locksley announced for FSU, but evidently that didn't deter the IMG triggerman. Which means Florida State now has three signal callers in the 2015 class with De'Andre Johnson (First Coast/Jacksonville, Fla.) also on board.
Now the question is, Will all three really sign with Florida State in February? Not likely, though it is possible. But it wouldn't shock us if Locksley suddenly decommitted and popped to Texas down the road, or if Francois went with his No. 2 choice, Auburn, or some other suitor.
But all of that is for Florida State, Auburn and Texas fans to debate. For Terps aficionados, it means they can finally put this saga to rest unless there's some major change down the road. UMD fans had been resigned to the fact Mike Locksley's son wouldn't be joining his father in College Park for months (at least those who read this site), so now they can finally turn the page and look ahead.
So, with Locksley off the board, do the Terps turn to a junior college quarterback, or hope another high school passer emerges this fall? We detailed the list of top JuCo signal callers a couple weeks back, but we're not sure Maryland will actually go after any of them, nor are we banking on another diamond in the rough emerging. Maybe there will be a decommitment Maryland can jump on in the future, but for now the Terps might be content to stick with just Gage Shaffer (Frankfort/Ridgeley, W.Va.) this year and then put all their efforts into landing a top-notch 2016 signal caller.
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