Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Isaiah Davis: Are You In?
Apparently not yet. Maryland’s next potential pledge visited College Park, Md., for a second time this summer Aug. 6, and left just as complimentary of the hometown school as before … but he still wasn’t quite ready to pull the trigger. Davis (6-feet-1, 220 pounds), who lives in Temple Hills, Md., and attends St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Va., said he’s still considering Virginia Tech and will decide between UMD and the Hokies by either Aug. 10 or 11, which is right after he returns from Blacksburg, Va.
We had been told by two reliable sources Virginia Tech was finished recruiting linebackers after Tremaine Edmunds (Dan River/Ringgold, Va.) committed to the Hokies last week, and if they were going to take one more it would only be because four-star local Ricky DeBerry (St. Christopher’s/Richmond, Va.) wanted in (not happening). But on Aug. 6 Davis said Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster let him know there’s still room for him in Blacksburg. We’ll see if that’s the case, but either way the St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes product will follow through with his Tech trip and compare that workout to Maryland’s before making his pledge.
Speaking of that Aug. 6 UMD practice, Davis spent most of the time with inside linebackers coach Keith Dudzinski, giving him an idea how Maryland’s backers work and what’s expected of them in the 3-4 scheme. Davis had been saying the Terps wanted him for an outside linebacker role, but now he is being recruited for the “MO” position, which is more of a weak-side linebacker with coverage responsibilities.
Although the Terps have a similar type of player already on board in Brett Zanotto (Franklin Regional/Murrysville, Pa.), Davis said he’s just fine with his forecast role. Plus there’s always the chance a Zanotto or a Davis could play outside linebacker or a rover position since they’re rather versatile. Regardless, Davis said he could envision himself at Maryland and playing for Dudzinski, head coach Randy Edsall and defensive coordinator Brian Stewart.
Some other factors playing in Maryland’s favor: Davis’ older brother, Sean Davis, is on the Terps already; College Park is near home; and the school has a strong program in his intended major, engineering.
But Virginia Tech offers similar advantages, namely the Hokies’ defensive reputation, veteran coaching staff, and academic prowess. For a good while, in fact, we felt Tech could be Davis’ leader, but we moved the arrow towards the Terps following the Edmunds pop. But if Bud Foster and head coach Frank Beamer will indeed accept Davis’ pledge, well, we’re a bit skeptical about Maryland’s chances.
We still think UMD has a good shot given area recruiter Lyndon Johnson’s efforts, the location factor and with his older brother already on campus, but we’re not quite as confident as before. As we’ve mentioned on the boards, when Davis decided to leave Maryland Aug. 6 without committing, thus giving Tech last dibs, it didn't exactly bode well for UMD’s chances.
We’ll try to drum up some more information in the next day or two, and then see how the situation plays out. (INTERVIEW).
The Defensive Line
As we’ve been saying each week in this space, Maryland is probably looking to add three more defensive linemen to the 2015 class, and the most realistic targets remain the Illinois tackles, Wesley Annan (Lake Forest Academy/Lake Forest, Ill.) and Jamal Milan (Al Raby/Chicago, Ill.), and the New York end, Austrian Robinson (Trinity-Pawling/Pawling, N.Y.).
Right now, UMD is probably on the outside looking in for much-hyped edge rusher Byron Cowart (Armwood/Seffner, Fla.), who has the Terps among his top five suitors but is forecast for UF. Same goes for Canadian tackle Neville Gallimore (Canada Prep/St. Catharines, Ontario), who still could potentially officially visit College Park, Md., but looks to be favoring Ohio State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Michigan State.
Annan, who has about a dozen FBS offers from the likes of Maryland, Illinois, Rutgers, Syracuse, Virginia, Mississippi State, Duke, Boston College and others, hasn’t taken any visits since attending Stanford’s camp back in July. He’s spent most of the summer with family in his native Toronto, and has stated several times his intentions to ramp up the recruiting this fall. He plans to take all five officials in the coming months, and then make a decision sometimes after his senior year.
Virginia became Annan’s most recent offer, and the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder did say it’s a possibility he could check out Charlottesville, Va., though that’s not set in stone. Boston College looks to be a prime contender and should receiver an official, while Illinois is on the radar as well (he’s already visited the Illini).
The Terps, however, are right in the thick of things what with area recruiter and position coach Chad Wilt making inroads. Annan and Wilt have a strong bond and are in close contact, and the latter seems to have convinced the Lake Forest defensive tackle to at least check out College Park. Maryland is currently in a solid spot here, and if UMD can get Annan on campus the Terps’ coaches typically put on a good showing, their message resonating with recruits.
As for Anna’s fellow Illinois product, Milan, he just took another visit over to nearby Illinois, a school he didn’t mention as one of his top suitors when we last spoke to him. But based on his most recent comments to me, it sounds like the hometown university left quite a favorable impression. In fact, it wouldn’t shock us if he ultimately opted to stay put in Illinois, especially considering how much he values his family.
Indiana, another somewhat-nearby school he’s visited, is right in the game as well, as is Northern Illinois, which he’s trekking to next. (He’s also seen Syracuse and said the Orange are under consideration.)
Milan -- who holds scholarships from the Illini, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Syracuse, Northern Illinois and others -- does still want to officially visit the Terps, Minnesota and Iowa State towards the end of his season, however. Like with Annan, Chad Wilt has done well with Milan, the defensive line coach’s energy and overtures grabbing the Chicago tackle’s attention.
Now we’ll have to see if Milan does in fact follow through with his intended official, which would give Maryland a legitimate chance at landing him. But if we had to pick which Midwest lineman Maryland was in the best position for, we’d have to go with Annan, who is more willing to travel and explore than Milan.
We reported on the defensive end Robinson last week after he called Maryland his “No. 1 school,” and that statement still holds true … for the most part. Robinson did just receive a surprising offer from Miami, and said he has the Canes on the brain now. Meanwhile, former contenders Kansas, UCF and Purdue, in addition to Mississippi (no offer yet), are on his mind too, and could eventually work up his favorites list.
Robinson wants to officially visit UMD, UCF and Purdue, and intends to see Temple, Pittsburgh and Syracuse this August. He might also make it back down to College Park this month if time allows.
That’s the outlook for now, but we do expect Robinson’s leaders and intended trips to change often enough since he has no plans to commit before the winter. That’s just how recruiting works what with college coaches causing these kids to hem and haw all the way until Signing Day.
That said, we do think when Robinson sits down with his family, the Terps, which offered before any other team, will be right at or near the forefront of his mind. Area recruiter Lyndon Johnson and position coach Chad Wilt have done their due diligence, and that spring College Park trip really left a favorable impression. It’s going to take awhile, but we like Maryland’s chances here.
News From The Sunshine State
As expected, four-star receiver Auden Tate (Wharton/Tampa, Fla.) committed to Florida State Aug. 5 over Maryland, Georgia, Clemson, Michigan, South Florida and Florida. Tate said his final visit to Tallahassee, which took place just days before he popped, along with area recruiter Lawrence Dawsey’s message, sealed the deal. But, in reality, he was FSU’s to lose ever since the Noles offered.
Tate did mention that Maryland finished second for his services, but we never had the feeling UMD was that close to landing him. We know the Wharton product enjoyed the June 28 Big Show and connected with recruiter Mike Locksley, but his post-pop comments rang of lip service. Even if that was the case, it’s still a major step for Maryland to be in the conversation with elite Sunshine State recruits like Tate, Byron Cowart, Ray Ray McCloud (Sickles/Tampa, Fla.), George Campbell (East Lake/Tapron Springs, Fla.), Ryan Davis (Lakewood/St. Petersburg, Fla.) and the like.
Speaking of Davis, we’re still not ready to elevate him above “cool” on the hot board, even though he continues to have Maryland among his top suitors, along with Florida, FSU, Kentucky and UCF. Florida is considered the favorite, and it wouldn’t surprise us if he jumped on the Gainesville bandwagon before the final receiver spots are claimed.
UF has only one true wideout on board in Kalif Jackson (Fletcher High/Neptune Beach, Fla.), and the Gators will likely save the second spot for George Campbell, who is deciding shortly and has Florida under heavy consideration. That third slot, then, is seemingly Davis’ to lose, and the 5-9 speedy slot might just snap it up sooner rather than later.
If not, Kentucky, which may take one more receiver, is right there for Davis as well, while other SEC suitors could conceivably push into the picture. Not that Davis isn’t truly considering Maryland. He does genuinely like UMD and recruiter Mike Locksley, and the Big Show camp certainly opened his eyes, but after talking to some Florida folks we’re just not feeling Davis-to-the-Terps right now.
One final Sunshine State receiver, David Gardner (Atlantic Coast/Jacksonville, Fla.), who is probably a notch below Tate and Davis, generated some news this week when he listed Maryland as one of his two favorite schools, along with UF. But Gardner doesn’t hold firm scholarships from either program, and doesn’t figure to receive them either barring down-the-road decommitments.
Gardner visited College Park for the Big Show camp, and he and his family thoroughly enjoyed themselves, lauding the area; the program; and the coaches. Area recruiter Keenan McCardell has remained in touch since then, and apparently the Terps’ receivers' coach will stay in contact. But we just don’t expect a firm scholarship to be extended unless a D.J. Moore (Imhotep/Philadelphia, Pa.) or a Jahrvis Davenport (Robinson/Tampa, Fla.) opt out. Of course, decommitments do happen every year, so maybe if the latter two get cold feet the Terps will revisit Gardner. He’s a name to keep in mind at least.
News From PA
Amir Ealey, OLB, Coatesville (Pa.): Ealey sent me a text earlier this week to let me know there is one school he “definitely” wanted to take an official visit to: Maryland. Remember, Ealey trekked to College Park for the first time back during the spring and left in awe. Area recruiter John Dunn’s overtures, the conversations he had with the defensive coaches, UMD’s kinesiology program, and the fact Maryland isn’t too far from home all have hit home with the Pennsylvania product. Right now, the feeling is the Terps may actually lead for Ealey’s services.
But here’s the rub: Ealey said the Terps still want him at outside linebacker, and if weak-side backer Isaiah Davis does jump into the fray it would give Maryland four 2015 linebacker pledges. In other words, there may not be any room left at the inn.
If that scenario plays out, maybe head coach Randy Edsall can make the numbers work and take a fifth linebacker, or look at Ealey at defensive end. Syracuse and a few other programs envision Ealey as an edge rusher, so maybe Maryland will do the same in order to get him in the program.
It all becomes a moot point, however, if Davis choose Virginia Tech. If so, Maryland and John Dunn will likely throw all its efforts into securing Ealey and bringing him in as that fourth linebacker pledge.
But how the Terps go about their business probably won’t really concern Ealey, who has plenty of other options. The emerging Coatesville product, who is being recruited as a tight end by a number of schools, holds offers from WVU, Virginia, UCF, Temple, Syracuse, Pitt, Rutgers, UConn and others, with programs such as Penn State, Georgia Tech, South Carolina (offer not likely), Ohio State (offer not likely), North Carolina and even Alabama (offer not likely) monitoring him.
Of the scholarships he does hold, UMD, Temple, SU, UVA and WVU remain prime contenders, but his recruiting could go in many different directions. (It’s worth noting that Ealey is good friends with Coatesville prospect and current Temple pledge Ahkeema Evans, who could make things interesting.) Ealey is intent on taking several officials and sending out senior film to the likes of OSU, UNC and PSU, proving he can play tight end or outside linebacker at the FBS’ top levels. If he somehow hauls in a Buckeyes, Heels or Nittany Lions scholarship, that could very well change his thinking.
We’ll have to see what transpires in the next couple months before Ealey makes his decision in late September or early October. (STORY).
Jazzee Stocker, S, Coatesville (Pa.): This safety recruit, who is still on Maryland’s radar, is about to release his top five suitors from a list of around 15 to 20 scholarships. He hadn’t put out the firm five when this was written, but it’s a safe bet UMD, Pittsburgh and Syracuse will be included, along with two outliers who are anyone’s guess.
It remains to be seen whether the Terps will accept another safety pledge with Jameel Cook (Ridge Point/Missouri City, Texas) in the fold, but we’re led to believe if Stocker wants in, Maryland will take him. That doesn’t mean we’re ready to forecast him to UMD, however.
Stoker’s recruitment has moved along slowly and laboriously, with few definitive comments in terms of clear leaders, official visits and the like. Even this upcoming top five won’t shed too much light on the situation, as many figured the Terps, Orange and Panthers were already in a good spot. He’s visited all of those programs several times and talked up the staffs and environments at each.
Maryland, for its part, has area recruiter John Dunn on Stocker, and the Terps’ tight ends coach has a close rapport with the Coatesville product. Not to mention UMD freshman linebacker and former teammate Tyler Burke talked up the Terps considerably before leaving for College Park.
Stocker has visited for games, junior days and personal trips with his family, and after each he’s commended the campus; location; coaches; academics; and the team’s general direction. And while he won’t tip his hand, it’s clear UMD is one of his top contenders, along with Syracuse and Pitt, which have both garnered similar praise.
Now, it wouldn’t be a total upset if Stocker ended up at a school outside of the aforementioned three, but the tealeaves suggest otherwise. Stocker just doesn’t strike us as the type who wants to be more than a few hours from home, and that would seem to give UMD, SU and Pitt the upper-hand. (This is all assuming Penn State doesn’t ante up with an offer. If so, Stocker could bolt to Happy Valley).
Even if that’s ultimately the case, Stocker is going to make us all wait. He still doesn’t want to commit before taking officials, and we expect him to at least go on a couple before announcing his college intentions. Look for a mid- to late-fall decision.
Naseir Upshur, TE, Imhotep (Philadelphia, Pa.): This four-star class of 2016 tight end target, along with several teammates such as current Terps commit D.J. Moore, was back in College Park for a second time last week -- and he plans to return for games this fall. Upshur not only has Moore in his ear about UMD, but he has formed a bond with tight ends coach John Dunn and likes the fact Maryland is less than two hours from home.
That said, it’s still very early in the recruiting process, and Upshur is a national name with offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, South Carolina, Auburn, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Arizona State and others. We’ll know more about Maryland’s chances for him at this point next year, because right now there’s way too many factors that could affect his thinking down the line.
Even so, it can’t hurt the Terps to make a concerted effort now and stay on the rising star throughout the fall, winter and next spring. Upshur is a priority recruit at a position where the Terps need a prime playmaker, so expect the staff to put forth its best effort.
The Quarterback Situation
In the 2015 class, the Terps targeted the most heralded local quarterback available, but for various reasons it didn’t work out with Gilman’s (Baltimore, Md.) Kai Locksley, who popped to Florida State. We’ll see if Maryland and quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Mike Locksley can rebound in 2016, which features an even more refined nearby signal caller, Bullis’ (Potomac, Md.) Dwayne Haskins, who visited College Park again Aug. 6.
Haskins’ recruiting took a meteoric rise during the spring evaluation period and the months following. After college coaches saw he really was 6-2, 185 pounds, and that he could indeed sling it around like a young Cam Newton, the offers started rolling. He now claims over 20 scholarships from the likes of Ohio State, Florida State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Michigan, Florida, Clemson, Tennessee, Texas, Penn State, Wisconsin and, naturally, Maryland.
Many prognosticators figure Ohio State is the team to beat considering Haskins called the Buckeyes his “dream school,” and then confirmed his feelings following a June visit to Columbus, Ohio. That may be so, but the hometown program is right in the thick of things, especially now that Haskins knows Kai Locksley is heading elsewhere.
Haskins said UMD was always going to be one of his top contenders, but he admitted the path to early playing time is more open without the coach’s son in College Park. Moreover, Haskins already has a bond with Mike Locksley, believes he fits well into the zone-read offense, is receptive to the stay-home movement, and is comfortable on campus.
After his most recent trek to UMD, Haskins talked about how he could be a leader and face of the Terps’ program, and how he could potentially draw other elite locals to the school a la Stefon Diggs a few years ago. Haskins also said head coach Randy Edsall has the program moving in the right direction, and if the right pieces are in place Maryland can make some noise in the Big Ten.
Does this mean UMD will keep Haskins away from the power players? Well, Ohio State is going to be tough to beat, and the SEC elites and Notre Dame aren’t easy to contend with either, so this is going to take a massive effort from now until February 2016. But we do think the Terps have a legitimate shot here, and the vibe is Haskins is giving the hometown school more than mere lip service.
We’ll have a better grasp on the situation after this fall, as Maryland’s inaugural Big Ten performance may have a lot to do with Haskins’ perception of the program. (STORY).
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