Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup:
Harrison In The Fold
While we weren’t shocked that running back Lorenzo Harrison (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) committed to Maryland Sept. 3, we were surprised he made the decision so early during his high school career. Harrison (5-feet-8, 185 pounds) is just a junior and will undoubtedly accrue several more scholarships by the time this season is over.
But the diminutive speedster said gathering offers and taking a deliberate approach, complete with multiple visits, didn’t exactly interest him. He’d been in College Park, Md., 10 times; he had a relationship with area recruiter Mike Locksley dating back to his Grassroots League days; he wanted to play Big Ten ball; and he wanted his family and friends to see him play at least six times a year at Byrd Stadium. Add it all up, Harrison reasoned, and there really was no reason to delay. In fact, he said he’d had Terps on the mind for a good while, and it was only a matter of time before he popped.
Physically, Harrison has been compared to Ray Rice often enough, and that’s not a bad choice (both were three-star recruits coming out of high school). The DeMatha product has a stout frame and a strong base, making him difficult to wrap up. He’s powerful between the tackles, cuts back well, and has excellent field vision with a knack for sensing where the holes are. Harrison also possesses some real shake, with enough moves to make defender whiff in the open field. Moreover, Harrison has above-average burst and start-stop acceleration, allowing him to shoot through holes and cut in space without losing much speed.
Harrison isn’t a 4.3 40-yard-dash track star, and he doesn’t have Kailo Moore (Ole Miss) wheels, but he’s fast enough to get the job done. We would like to see him become more of a downhill force, however, hitting the holes even harder than he already does. He’s a patient runner and lets plays develop, but unless the Terps go to a zone-blocking scheme predicated on cutbacks, he’ll be better off developing a one-cut-and-go style. Also, Harrison has to continue working on his hands and his blitz pickup as well.
So, now let’s analyze what Harrison’s pledge exactly means. Most significantly, it signals the end of the supposed divide between UMD and DeMatha, one of the premier talent factories not only in Maryland, but nationally as well. The Terps had not secured a Stag since Pete DeSouza in 2009, and hadn’t had an impact DeMatha prospect since Kenny Tate, a half-decade drought that left many in College Park scratching their heads.
Michael Moore. Cyrus Kouandjio. Arie Kouandjio. Marcus Coker. Lorenzo Waters. Michael Coley. Darien Harris. Darian Cooper. Taiwan Deal. Brock Ruble. Chris Jones. Ja’Whaun Bentley. Tyler Green. Those are just some of the Stags from the last six classes that Maryland, at some point, pursued but let slip away (in fairness the Terps didn’t pursue every one in earnest). But maybe now, with Harrison on board, the pipeline can start flowing again.
Harrison has pull with numerous local recruits, headlined by his teammates Tino Ellis and Terrance Davis, a pair of top 2016 prospects who were already high on UMD. The receiver Ellis could very well be the next Stag to jump on the Terps’ bandwagon as he’s been talking up UMD even more than Harrison recently. It wouldn’t surprise if Davis, who is eager to see the Maryland-WVU game Sept. 12, joined in at some point either. Maryland may also pursue DeMatha cornerback/receiver Darryl Turner, who doesn’t have a UMD offer yet but could earn one in time.
Meanwhile, elite Stags defensive end Shane Simmons seems firmly committed to Penn State, but who knows what will be on his mind in another year? If UMD knocks off PSU this year, might it sway Simmons’ thinking? It’s food for thought, at least.
As for other locals, do we think standout 2016 targets like Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.), Ellison Jordan (Gilman/Baltimore, Md.) or Keandre Jones (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.) are going to pick Maryland just because Harrison is committed there? Probably not. But at least it gets them thinking, “Hey, one top local guy took the UMD plunge, maybe it’s time to get this hometown movement rolling in earnest.”
Now, how does Harrison’s commitment impact Terps running back recruiting? Well, we’ll have to see how things play out in 2015 first. Perhaps UMD will elect not to sign a true running back in this year’s class, opening the possibility of nabbing two in 2016.
Right now, UMD does not have an offer out to another ‘16 back other than Kareem Walker (DePaul Catholic/Wayne, N.J.), a five-star who is being pursued by all the heavy hitters. More realistic possibilities include Jonathan Lee (Good Counsel), a 4.4 40-yard dash speedster, or maybe power back Antonio Dupree from Gilman (Baltimore, Md.). Out-of-state candidates will undoubtedly emerge down the line as well -- if the Terps even want a second 2016 back. (STORY).
Sands Reneges On Pledge
When I saw Deltron Sands (St. Thomas Aquinas/Ft. Lauderdale, Md.) tweet early Sept. 3 that he had received a Louisville offer, I turned to my colleague and said, “Watch, he’s going to decommit.”
And Sands indeed backed out of his Maryland pledge and said he was reopening his recruitment, with Louisville and possibly Syracuse being the foremost contenders (he will probably take official visits to both).
It was probably inevitable, but I guess it’s better this happened sooner rather than right before Signing Day. Even so, Sands’ decommitment did throw a kink into the Terps’ 2015 running back recruiting plans. While Maryland hung around with the mercurial Sands -- a shaky commitment from the start who waffled back and forth between being “1,000 percent on board with UMD” to “I’m solid on Maryland unless Florida offers” to “I’m thinking about taking officials to other schools” -- the Terps let a guy like Deshawn McClease (Oscar Smith/Chesapeake, Va.), who seemingly wanted in at UMD but was told there was no room at the inn, go to Virginia Tech. My Virginia source tells me McClease isn’t backing out of his Hokies pledge now that Frank Beamer’s gotten ahold of him, so the chances of Maryland flipping him are slim.
Which brings us to local favorite Kesean Strong (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.). Strong, recall, tried to pop back in June, but was told he couldn’t commit with Robinson (Tampa, Fla.) slot Jahrvis Davenport already in toe. But now that Sands is gone, the Potomac speedster may have a chance to jump on the Terps’ bandwagon, either as a slot receiver (with Fort Hill slot Ty Johnson shifting to running back) or running back. I have already contacted Strong, and he basically said if the Terps reached out again he wouldn’t hesitate to pop. But it remains to be seen exactly what the staff will decide.
Maybe, as I mentioned before, they’ll stand pat and not recruit a 2015 running back, opting to pursue multiple 2016 runners instead. Or maybe they’ll see if another candidate emerges this fall, a la last year when they dabbled with Philip Butler (Linganore/Frederick, Md.).
Or maybe they’ll shift Ty Johnson to running back and go after the last of the viable/realistic Florida elites who visited College Park in June: receiver Ryan Davis (Lakewood/St. Petersburg, Fla.). Davis currently has Maryland among his top suitors, right along with Florida, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Florida State and Miami.
But while Davis has spoken highly of the Terps, the feeling is it’s only a matter of time before he pledges to UF. After all, he’s visited Gainesville, Fla., three times in the last month and has been talking up the Gators all summer. Ole Miss is also a personal favorite, while Kentucky has made inroads as well. At this point, unless area recruiter Mike Locksley can pull a rabbit out of the hat, we can’t project Davis to UMD.
Hosting A Prince
Other than several current commits and class of 2016 receiver Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Bethesda, Md.), who comes to most every Maryland home game to see his older brother Stefon, the only other significant recruit at the UMD-James Madison bout Aug. 30 was Isaiah Prince (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.). I spoke to Prince a day after the game, and the vibe I got was typical of a national name watching an FBS-vs.-FCS shellacking. In other words, the Terps had little to gain, but much to lose if they fared poorly. Fortunately for UMD, it played very well in the 52-7 affair.
While Prince ended up leaving by the third quarter and admitted the trip didn’t exactly change his UMD perception, the Roosevelt tackle did come away with some positives to ruminate over. Namely, the performance of Maryland’s offensive line under new assistant Greg Studrawa. Prince had a chance to speak to Studrawa, briefly, before he took the field, and then honed in on the line during the game. Prince noted Studrawa’s energy and enthusiasm, as well as the O-line’s technique and improved play. One of the primary reason offensive tackle recruits choose certain colleges is for the line coach, and after the JMU bout Studrawa is resonating for Prince.
Prince, who will return to Byrd Stadium for his team’s game against Gwynn Park this weekend, is still deciding whether or not to officially visit UMD after his season ends. But regardless of when or not he does, the Terps remain in a very good spot for his services. Area recruiter Mike Locksley, head coach Randy Edsall, and now Studrawa, have all done well here, and we think the hometown pull may eventually win him over.
Of course, Alabama and Florida, two schools he’ll try to officially visit this fall, are firmly in play as well, and Ohio State is also in the game. Once again, expect Prince’s recruiting to ebb and flow all the way up until the Under Armour All-American game or Signing Day, which is when he’s set to decide. (ARTICLE).
The Terps are still hanging on for Canada Prep (St. Catharine’s, Ontario) four-star defensive tackle Neville Gallimore, he of the meteoric rise from one offer (Maryland) to more than 30. If nothing else, Terps area recruiter Chad Wilt deserves props for identifying Gallimore before any other program and staying on him even as his profile grew. And apparently Wilt’s efforts have left an impression on the Canadian tackle, who has Maryland among his top seven suitors and should be officially visiting College Park following his senior season.
Which means the Terps have a shot. How good of a shot? Well, as Lloyd Christmas famously said in that highbrow flick Dumb and Dumber, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”
Gallimore will take his first official to Oklahoma Sept. 12, and the Sooners are currently in prime position. Ohio State is another top contender, while Florida State, Notre Dame, Miami and maybe Florida (in addition to UMD) are also on the brain. If we had to make a prediction based off what our sources up North have reported, Gallimore will probably choose between OU and OSU.
So, to recap what’s on the hot board, here’s how we’d rank the Terps’ standing with their remaining defensive tackle recruits:
1. Austrian Robinson (Trinity-Pawling/Pawling, N.Y.): He’s “warm” on the hot board for now, but his status could elevate to “hot” by the end of the fall. He has UMD as his No. 1 suitor, with Syracuse, Purdue, UConn, UCF, Kansas, Miami (no offer) and Ole Miss (no offer) currently trailing. As we’ve reported numerous times, Robinson has genuine love for UMD, position coach Chad Wilt and primary recruiter Lyndon Johnson. We like Maryland’s chances here. Early Projection: Maryland.
2. Wes Annan (Lake Forest Academy (Lake Forest, Ill.): It’s never easy to pull recruits out of the Midwest, but Chad Wilt has made serious inroads, and we’re inclined to list Annan as “warm” on the hot board. Hometown Illinois, and also Boston College, are two main competitors, along with possibly UVA and Duke -- but the Terps are at or near the top. Annan, a Canadian native who has shown a willingness to explore new places, should be officially visiting College Park after his season. And if he does indeed follow through, we think UMD has a real shot. Early Projection: Illinois, BC or Maryland
3. Jamal Milan (Al Raby/Chicago, Ill.): Milan also has talked up Chad Wilt and the Terps, but again, it’s going to come down to whether or not they can get him on a plane bound for College Park. While Annan has shown more of a desire to travel for college, the sense is Milan may want to stay closer to home, making him a harder pull. Even if he does trip to UMD after the season, we think Illinois and Syracuse may be the teams to beat. We’ll keep Milan “warm” on the hot board because of his effusive pro-Maryland comments, but he could shift to “cool” at any time.Early Projection: Illinois or Syracuse.
4. Neville Gallimore (Canada Prep/St. Catharine’s, Ontario): See above. Early Projection: Oklahoma or Ohio State.
5. Anthony Fotu (Laney CC/Oakland, Calif.): How hard Maryland pursues this junior college recruit may depend on how they fair with the aforementioned high school targets. Fotu claims a Terps offer, along with Illinois, Miami and UAB, but we’re not sure the Terps scholarship is committable at this time. Miami has a connection to Laney College, while Fotu’s brother is at Illinois, so those two schools could have the inside track. We’ll know more about his status after he schedules official visits. Early Projection: N/A.
6. Deonte Reynolds (Contra Costa/San Pablo, Calif.): This JuCo also claims a Terps offer, along with Washington, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Kansas State, Tennessee and Boise State. Right now it seems like K-State, the Sooners, Dub-U and the Sun Devils are firmly on his brain. We’re about to remove him from the hot board… again. Early Projection: Not Maryland.
7. Ulric Jones (Oxford, Ala.): I never got great vibes with this JuCo who says he has a Terps offer. He seems to give UMD lip service, but all the while seeking offers from larger programs. If Oregon antes up, it’s over, and Mississippi State is in the game as well. He is not listed on the hot board. Early Projection: Oregon.
Some 2016 Notes
I was able to scout a Terps target and potential Terps target last week when I took in the Spalding (Severn, Md.) – Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) game, which the Cavaliers ending up winning.
Spalding features class of 2016 receiver Brennon Dingle, who has a Maryland verbal and is very high on the hometown program. It wouldn’t shock me if Dingle popped to the Terps at some point this winter, provided the staff lets him do so (remember, Maryland also wants two other top local receivers, Tino Ellis and Trevon Diggs, so we’ll see if there’s enough room for all three). Dingle is a talented kid with good hands and solid speed, burst and quickness, though he’s still a raw route runner. He’s not quite as dynamic as, say, an Ellis or Diggs, but he would not be a bad addition to UMD’s 2016 class.
On the Riverdale side, Sir Patrick Scott is a big (6-1.5), physical corner who holds an early Michigan State offer. The Terps haven’t pulled the trigger yet, but I’d expect them to in time (unless there are other issues preventing them from doing so). Scott loves to press, he’s sticky in coverage, and he has enough speed to track deep and recover. He should be a double-digit offer guy by the time his junior season ends. Scott would be interested in Maryland should it offer, but right now his mind is focused elsewhere.
Now that the contact period is open…
I’d expect the Terps’ staff to put in calls to many of the elite in-state targets. Many of them have already been in touch with Mike Locksley, John Dunn, Chad Wilt, Andre Powell Lyndon Johnson, Greg Studrawa, Keenan McCardell and the like. All of the aforementioned DeMatha kids; Keandre Jones from Good Counsel; the Gilman youngsters like Ellison Jordan, Stephen Spanellis and Devery Hamilton; Jauan Williams from Carroll (Washington, D.C.); Devante Brooks and Terrell Mann from St. John’s (Washington, D.C.); Dwayne Haskins from Bullis; Trevon Diggs from Avalon; Dingle from Spalding, and others have had some sort of UMD involvement.
In addition, the staff has stayed on summer offeree Josh Ball, an offensive tackle from Stafford Senior (Fredericksburg, Va.); been in touch with Koby Quansah, a four-star linebacker from Kingswood (West Haven, Conn.); contacted Red Bank Catholic (Red Bank, N.J.) safety Eddie Hahn; and messaged Imhotep (Philadelphia, Pa.) four-star tight end Nasseir Upshur. There are others, of course, but those are a few out-of-state names to keep in mind going forward.
The Maryland-West Virginia game Sept. 13 figures be a big day for recruit visitors. Already numerous 2016 recruits like Brennon Dingle, Tino Ellis, LoLo Harrison, Terrance Davis, Keandre Jones, Ellison Jordan and others are planning on attending. But right now the Terps would probably like to receive visits from two nearby 2015 prospects.
Both of the Terps’ targets from Coatesville (Pa.), outside linebacker Amir Ealey and safety Jazzee Stocker, have a game Sept. 12 and would be available to trek down to College Park the next morning. But Stocker said both he and his teammate aren't going to make it, which is disappointing from a UMD standpoint. Remember, both Coatesville kids are high on Maryland, with Ealey listing UMD as his favorite program, so we're still expecting them to make the trip at some point.
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