Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Davis Is In… Finally… But For How Long?
It took an extra couple months, but St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Alexandria, Va.) inside linebacker Isaiah Davis finally pledged to the Terps Aug. 12. The younger brother of current UMD safety Sean Davis, Isaiah Davis took a methodical, deliberate approach, making a list, checking it twice ….
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound three-star ended up visiting or camping at all of his primary suitors, including Boston College, Maryland, Virginia Tech, N.C. State and Tennessee, and then he returned to Blacksburg, Va.; Raleigh, N.C.; and College Park, Md., for follow ups. He said the Terps won him over following his Aug. 5 trip for a fall-camp practice, citing the intensity and up-tempo pace. Davis also cited an Aug. 11 conversation he had with Terps offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who allayed any concerns he held about UMD, as a key reason he’ll be donning the red and white.
That’s all well and good, but I got the vibe Davis may still be keeping his options open. Could he have tried to pop to N.C. State following his Aug. 9 trek south? And would he have attempted a Virginia Tech pledge had he not known beforehand the Hokies were full at linebacker? Both State’s and Tech’s recruiters apparently let Davis know they liked his game, but didn’t have vacancies at the inn, so the St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes prospect followed the highway north until he found one at Maryland. (He already knew his Tennessee verbal wasn’t committable, and Boston College was full at linebacker as well).
OK, so to many that’ll sound like Davis is a Terp only by default, and while he did sort of fall into UMD’s laps, it’s not like he doesn’t want to be in College Park. Davis and his older brother have a tight relationship, as does the entire family. Isaiah Davis said the chance to play with Sean Davis, and for his parents to see them both in action together, was something that really stayed with him.
Moreover, he appreciated how area recruiter Lyndon Johnson pursued him and let him know the Terps coveted his services, while he enjoyed working with defensive coordinator Brian Stewart and inside linebackers coach Keith Dudzinski as well. Maryland’s Big Ten shift, the facility upgrades and the school’s premier engineering program also hit home with the legacy recruit.
Now the question becomes, Can head coach Randy Edsall and Co. secure a signature come February? Davis offered up the old “never say never” line at the end of my story, and that always raises some eyebrows. If a spot opens up at, say, Virginia Tech, or if Tennessee calls back down the road, what Will Davis do? He said he’s excited to be a Terp, but I got the distinct feeling this isn’t a recruit Lyndon Johnson and Co. can sleep on until Signing Day.
If Davis stays true to his word, Maryland is getting a solid weak-side linebacker who projects at the role currently occupied by LA Goree. Although he doubled as a running back, Davis spent a lot of time with his hand in the dirt last season and showed a rapid-fire first step and the ability to knife into the backfield. Possessing uncanny strength for a high schooler, Davis hits hard, drives his man backwards and finishes off the play, rarely allowing leaky yardage. He’s also quite fleet of foot for a recruit his size and demonstrated that he could set the edge and make plays in space.
Davis does have to work on his drops, his footwork, his coverage skills and just his overall fundamentals in order to play the “MO” spot at Maryland. He hasn’t really been asked to pick up cues in high school, so recognition and tracking tight ends/wideouts will take some getting used to as well. (He’ll be playing more MIKE linebacker this year, so that should help in the transition to the FBS level.) Moreover, Davis is probably maxed out in terms of his body and may have already reached his physical peak, so what you see now may be what you get in college. (STORY).
Done at LB?
With Davis’ commitment, and assuming he sticks, the Terps are assuredly finished recruiting inside linebackers with Gus Little (Massaponax/Fredericksburg, Va.) and Brett Zanotto (Franklin Regional/Murrysville, Pa.) already on board.
Mbi Tanyi (Bush/Sugar Land, Texas) remains the loan outside backer, and we still think Maryland may pursue Coatesville (Pa.) product Amir Ealey, who currently has UMD under heavy consideration. Ealey, and Tanyi for that matter, both have the frame to eventually develop into edge rushers, so perhaps Maryland will pursue Ealey with the intention of turning him into a defensive end in a year. Some programs, such as Syracuse, are already recruiting Ealey as purely a hands-in-the-dirt guy, so it’s a proposition that could definitely be in the cards -- especially since UMD only has one 2015 defensive line pledge.
We updated Ealey’s recruitment last week, and basically he has said he wants to officially visit UMD, and is very high on the program. He continues to talk up his spring trip to College Park, area recruiter John Dunn, head coach Randy Edsall and the rest of the staff.
Other programs in play include West Virginia, Temple and Pittsburgh, while Ealey is holding out hope for a North Carolina, Ohio State or Alabama offer. It should be noted that many of the aforementioned suitors want Ealey for tight end, but the Coatesville product insists UMD is recruiting him purely as an outside linebacker.
Ealey will make his college decision after his team’s fourth game in October, so we’ll see if the Terps remain involved here.
Writing Off Ryan Davis
The ship has likely sailed on elite Sunshine State receiver Ryan Davis (Lakewood/St. Petersburg, Fla.), who visited Maryland for the June 28 Big Show camp and had the Terps among his top five suitors. While Davis spoke highly of UMD in the month following said trip, in his most recent interview the Terps were noticeably absent.
This leads us to believe Maryland may have actually backed off here what with three 2015 receivers already on board. Simply put, Randy Edsall might not have been able to make the numbers work, even with the departure of former-UMD receiver Nigel King, which gave the program another scholarship to work with.
As for Davis, he was projected for Florida, but it looks like that’s not going to happen with the Gators going in another direction. Now, this 5-9, 170-pound speedster is saying Florida State, Washington State, Miami, Texas Tech, Missouri, Arizona and Kentucky are pushing the hardest for him, with FSU perhaps the leader. Davis hasn’t set up official visits yet, but it’s likely he will trek to several of the latter programs this fall before choosing his destination midway through his senior year.
JUCO DL Back In Play?
Recall, I removed Contra Costa (Calif.) junior college defensive tackle Deonte Reynolds from the hot board awhile back after he showed only cursory interest in Maryland, seemingly favoring the West Coast programs. Which made sense considering he’s from California and probably wouldn’t want to travel 3,000 miles for college, unless it was his best FBS option.
And, really, after talking to a few folks who’ve dealt with Reynolds, that’s probably still the case. That said, the 6-5, 325-pounder did just list five schools he’d like to take an official visit to, and the Terps made the cut. He’s scheduled to trek to Kansas State Sept. 18 for a game against Auburn, Oklahoma Dec. 5 for its game against Oklahoma State, Washington later that month, and Arizona State the first week in January. He hasn’t set the Maryland official yet, but said he’d be doing so shortly.
What makes me skeptical about the UMD trip actually occurring, much less the Terps landing him, is Reynolds’ comments about the school. He admitted he still doesn’t know much about the Terps and hasn’t really researched them, despite holding an offer for months. It seemed the only reason he threw Maryland’s name out there is because UMD did jump on him early, and he appreciated the effort.
The problem is you don’t get A’s for effort in college football. UMD may be in the game, but it has ground to make up on Arizona State, Oklahoma and Washington. We’ll see what transpires in the next few months.
As for Laney C.C. (Oakland, Calif.) defensive end Anthony Fotu, who we discussed a few months back after he received his Maryland offer, he now holds verbals from UMD, Miami, Illinois and Ole Miss. He mentioned that Cal, USC, TCU and Mississippi State are monitoring him and could offer in short order.
At this time Fotu is still claiming no leaders, nor does he have any definite official visits in mind. Even so, Miami is considered a prime destination due to a coaching connection at the school, while his brother his brother, Joe, is currently at Illinois (Fotu had said previously he would rather play at a different school than his sibling). Fotu still has some interest in trekking cross-country to College Park, but we’re not going to elevate his temperature on the hot board unless he actually follows through with an official visit.
”Stocking” The Shelves?
Maryland did take a third inside linebacker in Isaiah Davis; will they accept a second safety? That’s still not completely clear, but evidently Coatesville (Pa.) defensive back Jazzee Stocker thinks so. As we predicted last week in this space, the longtime Terps target listed Maryland, along with Pittsburgh and Syracuse, among his top five suitors. The other two programs under consideration are Wisconsin and Duke, and though it wouldn’t surprise if he picked the Devils or Badgers, we think it’s the former three leading the way.
Stocker said he’s well aware that Ridge Point (Missouri City, Texas) safety Jameel Cook is in the fold for UMD, but he’s still confident he can earn early playing time at Maryland. He went on to laud his latest trip to College Park and the UMD staff, including area recruiter John Dunn, who nabbed his former teammate, Tyler Burke.
The Coatesville product then praised Syracuse recruiter Tim Daost, as well as the school’s strong business program. He has visited the ‘Cuse and thinks he can play early there as well.
But while he has genuine interest in Maryland and Syracuse, Stocker said the Panthers and their coaches “have shown the most love.” He sounded particularly excited about hometown Pitt, a school he’s visited several times and is quite comfortable at. Right now, we’re inclined to believe Pitt may hold an edge, though that’s subject to change.
As for Duke and Wisconsin, Stocker listed them because of the former’s academics and the latter’s tradition. Again, we don’t see him winding up a Blue Devil or Badger when he decides on a school sometime after his senior year.
Stocker still does not have any official visits planned, but expect UMD, Syracuse and Pitt to receive them. There’s also a distinct possibility another suitor could emerge as the safety insisted his top five is malleable depending on what happens this fall.
With its class of 2015 quarterback recruiting in limbo, it looks like the Maryland staff will throw its efforts into landing elite local rising junior signal caller Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.). We had a full report on Haskins’ interest in the hometown school after he visited College Park last week, and from the look of things UMD is right in the game, alongside favorite Ohio State and Notre Dame.
The Terps did offer stud dual-threat triggerman Brandon McIlwain (Council Rock North/Newtown, Pa.) in the 2016 class, but on Aug. 12 this 6-0, 205-pounder released a top six that did not include Maryland. Duke, Florida, Penn State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Auburn are the primary contenders, with in-state PSU hot on his trail and South Carolina firmly in play as well.
I’d expect Maryland to hand out a couple more quarterback offers as they evaluate up-and-coming signal callers this fall, but the clear No. 1 target has to be Dwayne Haskins, especially with McIlwain likely headed elsewhere.
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