Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
The Maryland Way
Earlier this week, Maryland announced that it was taking a big step in guaranteeing its athletic scholarships for the duration of a student-athlete’s college career (or however long it takes them to complete their degree), instead of merely renewing said scholarship on a year-to-year basis. The program goes into effect in November.
Talk about a strong move by UMD, and one that could very well have an impact on recruiting now and in the immediate future -- especially the football program. Head coach Randy Edsall has long preached academics-before-athletics, and has cited his players’ almost-perfect graduation rate as evidence. Now, he and his staff have even more fuel as they attempt to draw high-character yet talented prospects to College Park, Md.
I contacted numerous current Terps pledges about the Maryland Way initiative, and the responses were overwhelmingly positive. Recruits like Mbi Tanyi (Bush/Sugar Land, Texas), Darnell Savage (Caravel/Bear, Del.), Will McClain (Middletown, Md.) and E.J. Donahue (Linganore/Frederick, Md.), four commits who chose the university because they truly valued Maryland’s academics, spoke reverently about the plan. The general consensus was this is yet another way UMD is showing it truly cares about its athletes, and Edsall’s “education first” message isn’t just idle talk intended to impress prospects and their parents.
Now, if Maryland is in a battle for a recruit, it has a unique selling point to offer. Academics and guaranteed education aren't going to hit home with every target -- winning, early playing time, facilities and coach relationships remain four primary factors in many prospects’ decisions -- but it certainly can’t hurt when pursuing those “Edsall type” kids.
Deltron On Board
Mercurial St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale/Fla.) running back and Terps pledge Deltron Sands reneged on his recent comments that he was considering taking all five of his official visits earlier this week. I spoke to the 5-foot-8, 178-pounder, and while he admitted he was considering checking out UCF, Western Michigan, Syracuse and Florida (no offer yet), in addition to UMD, he decided it was best not to open himself up for second guessing. Sands said he felt like he’d be “betraying” Maryland if he began looking at other institutions, and that’s not the impression he wanted to give.
Moreover, he insisted he was “1,000 percent” committed to the Terps and Randy Edsall’s program, and had recently spoken to both Edsall and area recruiter Andre Powell to let each know where he stood. The Aquinas back, who visited College Park, Md., for the first time June 28, said he’s eager to return to UMD for his one official Oct. 4, when the Terps take on Ohio State.
That’s all well and good, but Sands tends to change his mind quite often, so it’s possible by next week he’ll want to check out Central Florida or Syracuse again. And what happens if he has a standout senior campaign and an SEC suitor like Florida comes calling? Or what will he do if Maryland isn’t up to snuff and tanks against Big Ten competition? Will Sands still be 1,000-percent committed then?
As we’ve been saying, this is one recruit we’re not about to pencil in until his signature’s on a Maryland National Letter of Intent come Signing Day. (STORY).
”Moore” Solid Pledges
Deltron Sands wasn’t the only Maryland recruit to reaffirm his commitment status this week. Imhotep (Philadelphia, Pa.) receiver D.J. Moore, who some worried might waver on UMD after his friend Kareem Ali (Timber Creek/Erial, N.J.) flipped to nearby Temple, told Scout’s Brian Dohn he was completely sold on Maryland and couldn’t wait to learn from receivers’ coach Keenan McCardell. In fact, Moore said he was actively recruiting his teammate, elite class of 2016 tight end Naseir Upshur, to come to College Park as well. Moore, who Dohn caught (no pun intended) after a recent scrimmage, was also sporting Maryland eye-black as well as Maryland Pride socks, which had to be a welcome sight for Terps aficionados.
So, barring something goofy happening down the road, Moore sounds like he’s sticking with the Terps.
From the 312
Most prospects have put recruiting on the backburner with their seasons about to begin, but I did check in briefly with two of Maryland’s prime defensive tackle targets from Illinois.
Al Raby (Chicago, Ill.) plugger Jamal Milan most recently trekked to Illinois and Northern Illinois, but now he’s locked in and ready for football. He did say he has no plans to make an early fall decision and still wants to take an official visit to Maryland, among other locales like Syracuse and Minnesota. Milan mentioned that he and Terps area recruiter Chad Wilt continue to have open communication, and the latter has left quite an impression.
That said, the Illini are still Milan’s projected destination considering he has expressed an interest in staying closer to home for college. Plus he got the hometown hard sell from the Illinois staff during a three-day stay in Champagne. But Milan hasn’t popped yet, and it sounds like he’s at least going to give UMD a legitimate shot, so we’ll see what happens.
Maryland may have an even better chance at landing Lake Forest Academy (Lake Forest, Ill.) defensive tackle Wes Annan, a Canadian native. Annan spent almost the entire summer with his family in Toronto, aside from a July visit to Stanford, a school that hasn’t offered and likely won’t. Now, he’s back at Lake Forest and is concentrating solely on football. Annan has no planned visits before his season begins, and hasn’t scheduled any firm official visit dates either.
So far the only universities he’s taken in during recent months are Illinois, Indiana, Notre Dame, Boston College, Harvard and Stanford. Annan, who canceled an intended East Coast swing, previously said he wanted to officially visit the likes of Syracuse, Rutgers, Maryland, Michigan (no offer) and possibly Virginia, but none of those are set in stone. When I asked him this week, however, if UMD would still be one of his five, Annan responded, “for sure, absolutely.”
The 6-4, 290-pounder, a high-academic recruit, loves Maryland’s educational opportunities, as well as area recruiter Chad Wilt and the chance to play Big Ten ball. If he does indeed take his College Park official, we think the Terps have a real shot at pulling him out of the Midwest.
More D-Line News
Another main Maryland defensive line target, edge rusher Austrian Robinson (Trinity-Pawling/Pawling, N.Y.), visited Temple last week and said he had a “great time, it was a really good visit. The staff showed me a lot of love.” While we do think the Owls are under consideration, Robinson probably isn’t going to wind up in Philadelphia unless other suitors back off.
Robinson also told me that he wants to make it to Pittsburgh before his senior season begins, and he’s trying to set something up with the Panthers’ staff for next week. Pitt is a prime contender, and Robinson has them among his top suitors. The others include Maryland, Syracuse, UCF and Purdue, with Penn State right up there should the Nittany Lions offer. Ole Miss, another school that hasn’t offered yet, is also on the brain.
And Maryland? “They are still my No. 1,” Robinson said. “It feels like home and I have a great relationship with them.” The New York native reiterated his love of the coaching staff and his desire to take a College Park official sometime this fall. The academics, location and the spring trip he made to UMD all resonate with him, as well as Wilt’s overtures.
But Robinson said he isn’t choosing his college until late fall, after he takes official visits (UMD, UCF, Ole Miss and Purdue are four he has in mind), so there’s still a ways to go before we can elevate him to “hot” on the Hot Board. We do think Maryland has more than a puncher’s chance here, however.
Ealey Pulls Significant Offer
Maryland outside linebacker target Amir Ealey (Coastesville, Pa.) just landed one of the key offers he was looking for earlier this week: North Carolina. Recall, Ealey is from the Carolina area originally and just moved to Pennsylvania last year. He didn't expect UNC to actually pull the trigger on a scholarship until after he proved himself during his senior year, but evidently the Tar Heels' staff decided to take the chance now (UNC is recruiting Ealey as a tight end).
This is what he told me after UNC extended the scholarship:
“This was big for me, huge,” Ealey said. “It's really big because they want me at tight end. Their tight end [Eric Ebron] went early in the draft, and they used him a lot.”
But Ealey then told our colleague, Greg Pickel, that Maryland still led for his services. The Coatesville product still wants to take an official visit to UMD around Sept. 1 since he has a very good relationship with area recruiter John Dunn and thoroughly enjoyed himself during his trek to campus back in the spring.
“I like Maryland so much,” Ealey told Pickel. "I just want to be around their players a lot [when he visits], and to be honest, that school is leading. I'm loving the way they coach, their program, and I’ve been down there so much I know and love the program. I also like the education.”
And not only will Ealey be tripping to College Park, but his teammate, Terps safety target Jay Stocker, could very well be joining him. Stocker also has UMD under heavy consideration, along with Pitt and Syracuse.
As for Ealey, he holds Syracuse, Pitt and WVU in high regard, along with UNC and UMD. He'd like to see each of those five programs during the fall before announcing his destination later in the year.
Right now, there's no denying Ealey's interest in North Carolina and it wouldn't shock us if he declared the Heels a leader at some point. But the Terps are right in the thick of things, and once they get him (and maybe Stocker) on campus, well, all bets are off.
Any O-Line News?
Not really. Both of Maryland’s top two targets, Quarvez Boulware (Friendship Collegiate Academy/Washington, D.C.) and Isaiah Prince (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.), remain in a holding pattern with the season nearing. Boulware still has UMD right in the thick of things with Wake, UNC, Bama and Florida. He is in the process of scheduling official visits. Prince, meanwhile, claims the same top four of Terps, Tide, Buckeyes and Gators. He will take officials to Bama and Florida, but he might not use one on UMD since it’s so close and he’s been on campus so many times.
Expect both D.C. linemen to attempt to attend a Maryland Big Ten matchup this fall, though it will be more difficult for Prince since most of his games are on Saturdays. That said, Prince’s first high school game this year will actually take place at Byrd Stadium when Roosevelt faces Gwynn Park (Brandywine, Md.), so that will give him an opportunity to get back on campus again.
The Younger Diggs
A couple elite local class of 2016 prospects trekked through College Park during fall camp, headlined by four-star Bullis (Potomac, Md.) quarterback Dwayne Haskins and his good friend, Avalon (Gaithersburg, Md.) receiver Trevon Diggs. We reported on Haskins’ visit a couple weeks back, and Diggs just made it over for the Terps’ open scrimmage Aug. 16, along with his teammates.
Of course, Diggs is the younger brother of current Maryland standout Stefon Diggs, and the legacy recruit has been a fixture at UMD games, practices, camps, junior days and the like. While he said his older brother isn’t pushing the Terps, nor does the younger Diggs feel pressure to attend the hometown school, he has UMD firmly on the brain.
He told me after his most recent visit he has the “best relationship” with the Terps’ staff, and offered up heavy praise for Edsall and area recruiter Mike Locksley. Diggs shied away from words like “leader” or “favorite,” but it was clear Maryland has left its mark.
Diggs, though, is also intrigued by Penn State and should be visiting State College, Pa., right before his junior campaign begins. He doesn’t have any other planned trips for the fall -- aside from returning for Maryland’s home games to see his older brother -- but some of his other prime suitors include Florida, Florida State, Nebraska, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Clemson and North Carolina.
We’ll have a better idea what schools are truly in play once Diggs ventures to a few more campuses, but expect Maryland to remain a top contender throughout the process. (STORY).
Those Florida Guys Again….
Byron Cowart, DE, Armwood (Seffner, Fla.): This five-star defensive end, who has had Maryland among his top five suitors, wasn’t supposed to make his college decision until December. But Cowart indicated to our Florida folks this week he was planning on choosing his destination by late August or early September. The Terps and area recruiter Mike Locksley did well to secure a visit from Cowart for the June 28 Big Show camp, as well as work their way into the defensive end’s top five, but the chances of him actually playing in College Park were slim. Cowart will likely pick between Florida and Oregon in the coming weeks, with the Gators the heavy favorite.
Ryan Davis, WR, Lakewood (St. Petersburg, Fla.): I read a report from one of our colleagues last week where Davis did not even mention Maryland as a school he was still considering. But just this week the elite Sunshine State recruit, who visited College Park along with Cowart, said the Terps were still among his top five to seven suitors. The others in play include Florida State, Florida, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Miami and Texas Tech, which is a different list from what I had read the week prior. I’m inclined to believe the latter seven are more in-line with Davis’ true favorites, but it probably won’t matter for Terps purposes.
I removed Davis from the Hot Board recently, and I don’t see any reason to put him back on -- even though he said he'd like to take an official to College Park. Florida remains a prime contender and a probable destination, while Ole Miss, FSU and Miami are right in the game as well. Davis doesn’t want to rush his decision and plans to take a few official visits, but we don’t see UMD being a serious landing spot for him. In fact, we’re not even sure the Terps are aggressively pursuing him with three wideouts already committed.
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