Welcome to the next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
From The Sunshine State
Maryland played host to its first two official visitors last weekend when three-star receiver Ryan Davis (Lakewood/St. Petersburg, Fla.) and defensive end Byron Cowart (Armwood/Seffner, Fla.) made their way to College Park, Md., for the second time. The pair, who previously visited UMD together (along with three other Florida recruits) June 28, came back for the West Virginia game and to get a closer look at the university. Area recruiter Mike Locksley, with an assist from receivers coach Keenan McCardell and defensive line coach Chad Wilt, did enough to convince Davis and Cowart UMD was worth a second look.
The consensus now that the dust has settled? The Terps have a pretty good shot at bringing in Davis, while they’re probably on the outside looking in for Cowart.
Davis had been talking up the Terps for a good while prior to his trek up the East Coast, so it wasn’t a shock he left his 48-hour stay Sept. 13-14 with naught but positive comments. What was rather surprising, however, was just how effusive Davis was in his praise.
The 5-foot-9.5, 170-pound dynamo, who plays quarterback for Lakewood, said he loved “everything” about Maryland, from the campus, to the coaches to the players. Hosts Stefon Diggs and Deon Long both did their jobs selling Davis on the program, while Locksley and McCardell let the wideout know how well he’d fit and how soon he could contribute (answer: right away). Moreover, Davis said he had a great time in the Byrd Stadium atmosphere, enjoyed being on campus, and believes the program is heading in the right direction.
In fact, Davis liked Maryland enough that he and his father are planning to return later this year -- on their own dime at that. Davis’ father apparently wants to see all the schools his son is considering, and because Mr. Davis didn’t accompany Ryan on this official, he’d like to meet the UMD staff in person. That fact alone bodes well for the Terps’ chances.
But don’t get too excited just yet. Florida is still considered the leader or co-leader, and Davis is planning to take in two Gators games coming up: Oct. 11 versus LSU and Nov. 15 versus South Carolina. The elite receiver also has Florida State under heavy consideration, and will be returning to Tallahassee this weekend for the FSU-Clemson bout, and again Oct. 18 for the FSU-Notre Dame affair.
In other words, Maryland may be on Davis’ brain at the moment, but let’s see if it can stick with the two local powers.
The questions Davis will be mulling over:
1. To be a potential face of the program at Maryland, or another name at FSU or UF.
2. To play for championships at FSU, or help build the program at UMD.
3. To show out in front of friends and family at UF or FSU, or try something new at UMD.
4. To compete for a spot with other four-star receivers at UF or FSU, or play right away at UMD.
5. To play in front of packed houses at UF or FSU, or play in sometimes-full Byrd Stadium.
You can read my article on Davis HERE.
As for Cowart, we’re not exactly feeling his recruitment trending in Maryland’s favor. The Armwood product didn’t even have UMD in his most recent top five, and is still said to be favoring Florida, FSU, Alabama and Oregon following his Terps official. Cowart did seem to enjoy himself at Maryland, according to Davis and other recruits, but probably not enough to push UMD into serious contention.
Cowart is considered a Florida lean, and said he’ll be officially visiting the Gators at some point. He’s also supposedly setting up dates to see the Ducks, Tide and Seminoles. The question here is exactly when Cowart wants to commit. Some of our Florida guys have reported he'll be announcing at his school Sept. 28, and others are saying he'll take his time and wait until the Under Armour All-American game in January. Cowart’s main concern seems to be how well his final four or five suitors perform on the field this year, so it would make sense for him to monitor each program’s progress before popping. Either way, it looks like UF and FSU are the top two contenders, with Oregon and Bama next in line.
If Davis Chooses Maryland…
We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but it’s always fun to examine hypotheticals. So, if Mike Locksley and Co. can convince Ryan Davis to pop to the Terps, where does that leave Maryland’s 2015 skill position recruiting?
Obviously it would give the Terps four receiver commits in D.J. Moore (Imhotep/Philadelphia, Pa.) and slots Jahrvis Davenport (Robinson/Tampa, Fla.) and Ty Johnson (Fort Hill/Cumberland, Md.), in addition to Davis. Considering UMD already has a number of slot receivers in the program, in addition to a couple up-and-coming “X” and “Z” wideouts, it’s hard to believe all four potential in-coming recruits would remain at their projected positions.
That said, three of the four – Moore, Davenport and Davis – are purely receivers at this point, and would seem to be ticketed for pass catching duties. Johnson, however, can contribute at multiple spots, including running back, cornerback and receiver. Considering UMD does not have a running back pledge in the 2015 class, courtesy of Deltron Sands’ (Aquinas/Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) decommitment, perhaps the staff would ponder shifting the Fort Hill speedster to the backfield.
That would be the most logical scenario, but the coaches probably won’t pigeonhole any of the previously mentioned quartet until after they sign and show what they can do during spring ball. In other words, let the kids’ talent do the talking, and then go from there.
Will Maryland attempt to go after another 2015 running back even if Davis does jump on-board? Well, unless a guy like Deshawn McClease (Oscar Smith/Chesapeake, Va.) suddenly grows disenchanted with Virginia Tech, I’m not sure I see it. Most of the elite options have been snapped up, so unless there’s a late emerger, the staff would probably stand pat.
Ealey Sees UMD Live
After seeing College Park for the first time back during the spring, Coatesville (Pa.) outside linebacker Amir Ealey made a return trip for the UMD-WVU game Sept. 13. The unofficial visit allowed him to watch the team in action for the first time, and the Philadelphia native said he loved the Byrd Stadium atmosphere and thought the Terps played hard.
Ealey left saying Maryland remains in the same position it was prior to his trip. Which is to say it’s is still in the driver’s seat, ahead of challengers like North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, UCF, West Virginia and Temple.
Ealey may have praised Maryland’s effort during the 40-37 defeat, but it’s really the coaches and players that have him high on the program. He had a chance to interact with the entire Maryland staff before and after the game, namely his area recruiter, John Dunn. Ealey and Dunn have been in regular contact via social media and the like, and UMD’s tight ends coach has let the Coatesville product know how much he’s needed. Moreover, Ealey said current Maryland pledge and good friend D.J. Moore (Imhotep/Philadelphia, Pa.), who also attended the game, is urging him to join the Maryland movement. The academics, campus feel and the proximity to his home are other reasons Ealey has the Terps under consideration.
Ealey didn’t want to come right out and say which programs were standing out, but he basically admitted the Terps and Tar Heels are sitting pretty. While Ealey said UMD (which could eventually move him to tight end after he arrives on campus) is pushing the hardest for him, UNC is apparently right there as well. Ealey has a strong relationship with the staff, likes how the Heels are recruiting him as a tight end, and is receptive to the idea of returning to the Carolinas, which is where he lived the last few years before moving back to Pennsylvania.
Syracuse, which he’ll likely be visiting this weekend, is also a strong contender, and Pittsburgh and UCF are in the conversation as well. Ealey still wants to officially visit Maryland, North Carolina and UCF after his senior year, and may add two more to round out the allotted five. Expect him to announce his decision sometime in late November or early December, if in fact he follows through with the majority of his officials.
It should be noted that, when talking to Ealey, he can be a bit mercurial and contradictory, so it’s sometimes hard to gauge his thoughts. That’s probably because he has a potpourri of people in his ear -- from his father to his coaches to recruiters -- and he’s trying to process everything he’s hearing at once.
Visits, favorites and decision dates tend to change, so it’s tough to make a firm projection here. We do like Maryland’s chances and think his interest is genuine, but let’s see what happens after he takes a couple more trips and sees North Carolina again.
You can read my update HERE.
Boulware Was In The House Too
Yet another top Maryland target, Friendship Collegiate Academy (Washington, D.C.) offensive guard Quarvez Boulware, took in the UMD-WVU bout as well. Boulware, of course, has already seen multiple Terps games and been on campus more times than he can remember. But this trip allowed him to connect with new line coach Greg Studrawa and get a sense for UMD’s progress, especially in the trenches.
Boulware arrived 30 minutes late, but he said that was a good thing since he didn’t get caught in the rain. And even though he missed the first half, he still saw a good deal of the offensive line, impressing the FCA guard with their gritty play.
Afterwards, he spoke to both Studrawa and area recruiter Mike Locksley, both coaches offering up their current assessments of the UMD line and offense, respectively. Boulware reiterated how strong his relationship is with Locksley, and how he’s developing a bond with Studrawa as well. He plans to return to campus with his mother in the coming weeks for another staff sit-down. After that, Boulware will more than likely officially visit Maryland following his senior season.
Boulware, though, does have four other schools he’s taking officials to: Florida, Wake Forest, North Carolina and Alabama. He said he’ll probably hit Wake or UNC during his bye week Oct. 10, and then head to Florida for the UF-FSU bout Nov. 29. Boulware said Bama, UMD and any other trips would take place in late November or December.
Of his five leaders, Boulware said the Gators are making a strong run and have caught his eye. He mentioned how UF has several veteran offensive linemen about to graduate, so there’d be a chance to contribute early during his career.
That’s all well and good, but as I’ve mentioned in previous Shells and on the message board, Terps fans shouldn’t be worrying yet. Perhaps if Mike Locksley didn’t have a track record in D.C., and perhaps if Maryland didn’t already have an established relationship with FCA, Boulware’s statement would be cause for concern. But this particular recruitment, along with that of Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.) tackle Isaiah Prince, just rings of Damian Prince Part Deux.
And just for a little reminder on how the D.C.-area-recruiting play goes, here’s the script:
Opening Act: Maryland jumps on prospect early. Prospect loves UMD. Prospect loves hometown movement.
Second Act: Prospect garners multiple offers, including SEC suitors. Prospect gets starry-eyed.
Climax: Prospect begins visiting said suitors. Has dreams of playing in front of packed SEC crowds. Puts Maryland on back-burner.
Falling Action: Maryland gives one last-gasp hard sell. Maryland plays the Stefon Diggs card. Maryland plays the family card. UMD plays the Maryland Pride card.
Final Scene: Prospect announces to UMD on Signing Day.
Truth is, Terps aficionados, the fat lady isn’t even humming yet. In fact, she doesn’t even have the tune. Let’s watch this play out and see what kind of move Locksley and Co. make when it counts -- in crunch time.
You can read the article: HERE.
In addition to the four headliners, there were several other intriguing names who made their way to College Park for the Terps-‘Neers game. By my estimate around 40 or so high school players attended the game, and of those there were a handful of clear Terps targets (other than Cowart, Davis, Ealey and Boulware and the seven or so current Maryland pledges who stopped by).
From the 2016 class, I spotted Avalon (Bethesda, Md.) receiver Trevon Diggs, who was decked out in UMD gear; Carroll (Washington, D.C.) tackle Jauan Williams; Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) tackle Devery Hamilton; DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) offensive lineman Terrance Davis; DeMatha running back Lorenzo Harrison (already a Terps commit); Spalding (Severn, Md.) receiver Brennon Dingle; and Landon (Bethesda, Md.) defensive end/outside linebacker Keith Simms (no offer yet). There were also numerous players from Edmondson (Baltimore, Md.) and Gilman in attendance who aren’t necessarily targets at this time.
The basic consensus among these guys is they enjoyed the game despite the rain. They harped on the charged atmosphere, the intense battle, and how well they were treated. Individually, it seemed like Dingle and Jauan Williams offered up the most praise. The Spalding wideout, whose only offer is from UMD, has been high on the Terps for awhile now, and he could very well be their next 2016 popper.
Williams, meanwhile, is a national name who will drag out his recruiting until next winter, but he too has had the hometown program on his mind. His relationship with Mike Locksley and the school’s proximity to his home have Williams thinking Terps early. It’s likely his recruiting will ebb and flow, ebb and flow, but right now he has UMD among his top couple suitors (Ohio State is another personal favorite for him).
Trevon Diggs doesn’t have much more he can say about Maryland considering he’s there for every home game. We still like UMD’s position with him, even though he insists he has no clear leaders.
Terrance Davis, like his DeMatha teammate Harrison, lauded UMD as well. He’s going to be a bit of a tougher pull, though, as he wants to explore some of his more prominent SEC and Big Ten suitors. Davis has been racking up offers right and left, and it wouldn’t shock us if he got a bit starry-eyed. LoLo Harrison has been in his ear, however, so we’ll see what kind of traction Maryland gains here.
As for Devery Hamilton, he’s a tougher read. He’s always had good things to say about Maryland, but I get the feeling he hasn’t put too much thought into recruiting yet. We’ll have to see what he’s thinking after he visits Michigan State, South Carolina and others.
Finally, there’s Simms, who thinks a UMD offer may materialize at some point this winter. Simms would be highly receptive to it if the verbal’s presented, so he’s one to watch for sure. Currently he has offers from WVU, Iowa, BC and Illinois, with several Big Ten and ACC programs taking a closer look.
That’s our take on the 2016 class, but there was another interesting 2015 recruit who attended. Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, N.J.) guard Jared Southers currently holds scholarships from UConn, Rutgers and Temple, and could be on the verge of more after sending out senior film.
Southers said he enjoyed his first visit to Maryland and would definitely consider the Terps should they offer. The Jersey guard has apparently been in touch with Terps area recruiter Keith Dudzinski and said UMD will be monitoring him this fall. If the likes of Quarvez Boulware and/or Isaiah Prince fall through for Maryland, perhaps the Terps will give Southers a shot. But, right now, he seems like more of a fallback option.
Scout’s Brian Dohn had the scoop on Southers HERE.
So you’re telling me there’s a chance? Well… Maybe Not
Terps fans were holding out hope that Canada Prep (St. Catharine’s, Ontario) four-star defensive tackle Neville Gallimore would at least keep Maryland in the conversation by gracing the staff with his presence via an official visit. Gallimore, recall, had been listing the Terps as one of his top seven suitors, namely due to the fact UMD was his first FBS offer, and also his rapport with defensive line coach Chad Wilt. He even hinted that he’d be taking one of his five official visits to College Park, likely after his senior season ended.
But based off our most recent reports, Gallimore, barring a change of heart, won’t be following through with said trip. He just took his first official to Oklahoma last weekend and seemingly bought into coach Bob Stoops’ program. Of course, that was to be expected considering he’s long been high on OU. But the disconcerting news (for UMD fans) was when Gallimore said his next four officials would likely be to Florida State, Florida, Ohio State and Oregon (a school that wasn’t even included in his original top seven).
It’s anyone’s guess which of those five he’ll end up at, but either way, it looks like the Terps may be falling out of contention. Maybe he’ll change his mind if Wilt and Co. make another push.
Regardless of what Gallimore decides, expect Maryland to try to secure officials from its remaining top defensive line targets: Trinity-Pawling’s (Pawling, N.Y.) Austrian Robinson, who still has Maryland No. 1 and will be officially visiting College Park after his senior year; Lake Forest Academy’s (Lake Forest, Ill.) Wes Annan, who has the Terps in his top three with BC and Illinois; and Al Raby’s (Chicago, Ill.) Jamal Milan, who has Maryland under consideration, though may be favoring Illinois and Syracuse. (Milan may be on the verge of popping to Illinois. The vibe is he doesn’t want to travel too far from Chicago for college).
If Maryland can land two of Robinson, Annan and Milan, the Terps are in good shape along the D-line. If not, well, they may continue delving into the junior college ranks, or take a flyer on a late-emerging high school prospect like they did with Sean Christie last year.
I made the trek to Caravel (Bear, Del.) Sept. 12 in order to scout current Terps cornerback pledge Darnell Savage and to see how well he’d recovered from his broken femur. And after watching the 5-10, 175-pound Savage (who plays receiver and running back at Caravel too) help defeat Episcopal Academy (Alexandria, Va.), it’s safe to say those bones are fully healed. Savage clocked in with a sub-4.4 40-yard dash time during a summer combine, and it’s clear that speed translates to the field.
Yes, this kid can motor, and as a running back he can run circles around defenders. On one play, Savage took a reverse; was cut off by the defense, changed direction; was cut off again; changed direction a second time; and then motored up the sideline for a 41-yard touchdown. A couple quarters later, he took another handoff, weaved through the secondary, pulled away from the cornerbacks, and raced 61 yards to pay dirt. Home run hitter? You betcha.
But Savage clearly does his best work at cornerback, where he sticks to a receiver’s inside hip, can track deep and has excellent ball skills. He’s physical at the line, is above-average in press, and shows the looseness and fluidity needed to excel at the next level. On top of that, he’s a never-back-down competitor, has excellent field awareness and is an on-field leader. I was highly impressed when, after his fellow corner was beaten deep for a touchdown, Savage put his arm around him and told him to keep his head up.
Savage does have to work out a few mechanical flaws, but from what I could see he could become a mainstay in Maryland’s secondary down the road.
I also had a chance to speak to Savage, just to make sure he’s still a firm Terps’ pledge. He told me he’s in regular contact with area recruiter Keenan McCardell, plans to attend a few UMD home games this fall, and has basically shut down his recruiting. In other words, he’s about as solid as it gets.
You can read my report on him HERE.
In other prep action, Keith watched Gilman take on Anacostia (Washington, D.C.) Sept. 12, and was able to interview/scout top Terps class of 2016 target Ellison Jordan. A fireplug defensive tackle who we’ve seen several times, Jordan is the real deal down low. He’s Andre Monroe times 10, dominating high school competition the way Ndamukong Suh ripped through the Big Ten while at Nebraska.
The good news for the Terps is Jordan has UMD under heavy consideration. He’s been in College Park several times now, and will be returning for a game later this fall. Maryland coaches Mike Locksley, Andre Powell and Chad Wilt all have Jordan’s ear, as well as that of his parents, whom he’s particularly close to. Jordan does have plenty of other attractive suitors he’s looking at -- namely Penn State -- but UMD is in a good spot early.
Finally, one of our Florida guys, Corey Bender, watched Robinson (Tampa, Fla.) play last week, allowing him to catch up with Maryland commit Jahrvis Davenport. The speedy, sure-handed slot is quite an athlete, with a knack for creating yards after the catch. Bender’s reports on him were favorable, and he thinks he can be an impact player at the next level.
Just as important, Davenport reiterated his 100-percent commitment to Maryland. He is not planning on seeing any other schools and will be officially visiting College Park in December.
The Terps did extend at least two offers to nationally-rated class of 2016 recruits this week. Cornerback Jordan Fuller (North Valley Regional/Westwood, N.J.) picked up a UMD verbal, to go along with about 20 others. This 6-2, 190-pounder is considered an early UCLA lean (his brother played there).
A couple days later, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) cornerback Saivion Smith added Maryland to his ever-expanding offer list. The 6-1, 175-pounder favors the Sunshine State schools right now and may be Florida’s to lose.
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