Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Locking In Officials
It was a productive bye week for Maryland’s assistants, who trekked to their respective recruiting areas to check in on the Terps’ top class of 2015 and 2016 targets. Last week, we detailed the recruiting situations surrounding some of the elite underclassmen they’re looking at (offensive lineman Josh Ball from Virginia, linebacker Koby Quansah from Connecticut, top locals from schools like DeMatha, Bullis, St. John’s, Carroll, etc.), and this week we want to hit on a few of Maryland’s remaining 2015 priorities. In particular, four out-of-state recruits who generated significant news the last few days.
Let’s begin with the two defensive tackles from Illinois, Wes Annan (Lake Forest Academy/Lake Forest, Ill.) and Jamal Milan (Al Raby/Chicago, Ill.). Terps area recruiter Chad Wilt visited each of their respective high schools the weekend of Oct. 11, and after he left both had locked in official visits to College Park, Md. Annan and Milan are scheduled to be at Maryland Nov. 14-16 for a 48-hour weekend stay that will include the Terps’ prime-time showdown against Michigan State. Neither Annan nor Milan have been on campus before, so this will be their first taste of CP and life on the East Coast.
Of the two, the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Annan seems more likely to end up donning a Pride uniform. An Ontario, Canada, native, Annan is used to being away from his family and has gone on record multiple times to say location isn’t a factor for him. He has had a rapport with Wilt since the May evaluation period, when the Terps offered, and has continuously stressed how he could see himself playing for UMD’s defensive line coach. Moreover, Annan has long talked up Maryland’s academic reputation -- he’s an honors student carrying a 3.5 GPA -- and Randy Edsall’s education-first message. The Big Ten move, the campus vibe (from what he’s been told), and the school’s location near Washington, D.C., are all icing on the cake.
The other primary contender, though, is Boston College, a school Annan’s visited unofficially and will take in officially around the same time as UMD. Head coach Steve Adazzio and BC’s Illinois-area recruiter have both hit home with Annan, as has Boston College’s strong academics.
After talking to Annan extensively, I came away feeling BC and UMD were the two primary contenders, though others could conceivably get involved. He mentioned Ole Miss as a potential suitor and a school he might officially visit. Annan said the Rebels did offer him, and while that may be the case, we’re not sure how hard they’ll actually push.
Virginia is also on his brain since it’s the No. 1 public school in the country. But Annan admitted he hasn’t had as much contact with the Wahoos’ staff as some other schools. He could officially visit Charlottesville, Va., in late November/December, but that’s not a given.
We’ll see what develops in the next month or so, but Annan should have his mind made up soon after visiting College Park and Chestnut Hill. (ARTICLE).
As for Milan, he too has Maryland high on his favorites list, and has been singing UMD’s praises for some time. Much like Annan, Milan has a great relationship with Wilt, saying he thinks the D-line coach is a “really cool guy and the type of coach I could see myself playing for.” Milan also likes what he’s seen from Maryland on TV so far, and thinks he’d have a terrific opportunity to contribute right away should he choose the Terps.
That said, we’ve long had the feeling Milan wasn’t as apt to travel as far East as Annan. The former is very close to his family and friends in Chicago, and may be inclined to attend a school closer to home. Iowa State, which Milan officially visited, is currently sitting pretty, though Illinois figures to vault to the top soon enough. Meanwhile, Syracuse is right in play; Indiana, Minnesota and North Carolina (no offer yet) are three other contenders.
Milan has visited both Illinois and SU unofficially and could very well return for officials in December. Both the Illini and Orange have been considered favorites for some time, and if we had to handicap it right now, we’d peg Milan as a future Fighting Illini.
It should also be noted that Milan has scheduled an official to UNC for the first week in December. But unless the Tar Heels ante up and make one heck of a push, we can’t see him ending up there (plus Chapel Hill is even farther away from home than Maryland). It’s recruiting, though, and stranger things have happened.
The Terps will get their shot Nov. 15, and we do feel they’re going to have a legitimate shot to woo the Al Raby plugger. Wilt and Co. have already scored a victory by getting Milan to fly East, and perhaps if the staff and community win over both him and his mother, the tide could turn in UMD’s favor. (ARTICLE).
Robinson Locked In Too
Trinity-Pawling (Pawling, N.Y.) defensive end Austrian Robinson confirmed he will be officially visiting Maryland Dec. 5, which may be the same weekend the Terps host the majority of their class of 2015 commits. (Remember, UMD usually has one or two December/January weekends set aside when all their current pledges take officials together).
Terps assistant and New York area recruiter Lyndon Johnson visited Trinity-Pawling the weekend of Oct. 11 in order to touch base with Robinson’s coaches. Robinson, naturally, said it was good to see Johnson and reconnect with him, even though the two couldn’t have a conversation.
The two have maintained consistent contact via Twitter, with Robinson apparently buying into Johnson’s -- as well as defensive line coach Chad Wilt’s -- overtures. The relationship he has with those two, his spring trip to College Park, the opportunity to play Big Ten ball, and the fact UMD is only a few hours from home all resonate with Robinson. The 6-5, 265-pound Robinson has said repeatedly Maryland is his clear No. 1 suitor, with others like UCF, Miami (no offer yet), Purdue and Pittsburgh in a trail position.
Robinson has already officially visited the Boilermakers, and while he enjoyed himself, the trip did not elevate Purdue on his list. He plans to see UCF, UMD, Miami and possibly Pitt after his senior season concludes, with a decision coming sometime in late December or January.
The feeling here is that unless the Hurricanes offer and wow Robinson, or some late-emerging contender arises, the Terps are in a very good spot here. As I’ve said in past Shells, Robinson is as close to “hot” on the Hot Board as you can get. If we had to make a call right now, we’d project the New York edge rusher to wind up in College Park.
As Well As Ealey…
Another prime Terps prospect, Coatesville (Pa.) outside linebacker Amir Ealey, is close to setting his official visit date as well. Like Robinson, it will come after his season, likely in early December. In fact, don’t be surprised if the staff has Ealey and Robinson coordinate trips, along with any other commits who might be coming in.
Ealey has already visited Maryland once, unofficially, this fall, taking in the UMD-WVU bout. Afterwards, he commented that the Terps were making the strongest push for him. And that remains the case several weeks later. He has a close rapport with area recruiter John Dunn, who has let the Coatesville product know how much UMD wants him.
Ealey also has Syracuse, Pittsburgh and UCF in play and wants to officially visit each of that trio as well. North Carolina, which offered Ealey as a tight end, may still be in the game, and the Carolina native previously said he’d be trekking to Chapel Hill at some point. But we get the feeling UNC may have backed off here, because Ealey hasn’t mentioned them as a prime contender recently. Which leaves the door open for Maryland to snap the Coatesville backer up. That is, if Ealey’s recruitment remains status quo.
Another DE To Monitor
Last week, we broke out the name Channing Hames (St. Frances/Baltimore, Md.) as a potential late Terps offeree if Maryland strikes out on some of its main D-line targets. We noted Hames’ presence at the UMD-Ohio State game and followed up with his coaches, who let us know Terps area recruiter Andre Powell and Co. were indeed monitoring him.
But here’s a potentially more intriguing name to keep in mind down the stretch: Jonathan Holland (Bullis/Potomac, Md.), a current PSU pledge. The Terps never offered Holland, probably because his frame didn’t fit what they were looking for in a down D-lineman, but after eyeing him up earlier this fall, he looks to have gained 20 pounds of muscle (he’s around 6-4, 245). Given that, it wouldn’t surprise if UMD puts the scholarship on the table.
Initially, Holland seemed like a firm Penn State commitment, but a few weeks ago he hinted at the idea of taking several official visits. Clemson, Florida State, Iowa, Nebraska, Pitt, UVA, Wake, WVU and more have all offered, so he has plenty of options to consider. Let’s see if the hometown school -- a program Holland expressed plenty of interest in early during the recruiting process -- gets involved and tries to secure one of those five trips.
Terps Jump On Hall… Finally
It took them awhile, but Maryland finally threw its name into the fray for St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) class of 2016 defensive end Terrell Hall. The raw but athletic 6-5, 217-pounder now has verbals from the likes of UNC, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, Tennessee, Syracuse, Rutgers, UCLA, Va Tech, UConn, Iowa, Wake Forest, UMD and several others.
Hall was certainly appreciative of his latest offer, saying how he likes defensive line coach Chad Wilt and area recruiter Mike Locksley. He also commented that he knows plenty of current and former Terps, citing the many St. John’s-Maryland connections. Hall hasn’t been able to attend a UMD game yet, but plans to be at one of the remaining three home bouts.
So, Maryland is now in the game, but it’s clear the Terps have some ground to make up. Penn State has the St. John’s edge rusher’s eye following a visit to State College, Pa., as do Ohio State and Tennessee, two schools he’s set to see in the near future. Virginia Tech and Rutgers have also been mentioned as players.
One factor worth noting in Hall’s recruitment: He’s originally from the South and wouldn’t mind returning to his roots for college. SEC schools like Alabama (no offer yet), Ole Miss (no offer yet), Auburn (no offer yet), Tennessee and Georgia (no offer yet) are all programs drawing his attention.
A couple local newspapers reported that Terps commits Mike Majette (Woodbridge, Va.) and Ty Johnson (Fort Hill/Cumberland, Md.) were no longer being recruited at their original positions. Majette has apparently been shifted to slot receiver from cornerback, while Johnson has moved from slot to running back.
I confirmed the moves with both prospects, though each acknowledged the switches shouldn’t be considered “permanent.” Recall, when these guys committed we said they were more along the lines of “athletes” than straight receivers, cornerbacks or running backs. Both Majette, who plays quarterback at Woodbridge, and Johnson can fill a variety of roles, and it wouldn’t shock us if Edsall and Co. moved them again based on team needs.
Obviously, there is only one 2015 cornerback pledge now in Darnell Savage (Caravel/Bear, Del.), so it’s conceivable either Johnson or Majette might shift to defense if UMD could use another defensive back down the road. Of course, the Terps could still pursue a second prep corner in this class, though there aren’t many notable targets available.
And that includes…
Don’t Hold Your Breath…
A couple message board posters inquired about the possible availability of Thomas Stone (Waldorf, Md.) cornerback Juwuann Briscoe, who committed to Clemson back in May. The 6-0, 182-pound 4.4 40-yard dash Briscoe chose Clemson over the Terps, NC State, Rutgers and West Virginia.
At the time, Maryland was thought to have finished second or third to CU, as Briscoe offered up plenty of pro-UMD comments. But the vibe, even then, was his words were mere lip service. Briscoe was sold on Clemson the moment it offered, and he never took the hometown verbal all that seriously.
But five months later, Briscoe seems to be wavering on his CU pledge. He just picked up offers from Ohio State and Penn State, and it has him rethinking his commitment. We confirmed with Briscoe’s “people” that while he’s still on board with the Tigers, he will indeed entertain his newest suitors. Word is he’ll probably take official visits to CU, OSU and maybe PSU before making a decision -- likely between the Tigers and Buckeyes.
I asked about Maryland, and my source said there was little interest there. Maybe that will change if area recruiter Mike Locksley makes a push, but currently we don’t envision Briscoe winding up in College Park.
Fading, Fading, Fading…
We’re getting close to removing Lakewood (St. Petersburg, Fla.) receiver Ryan Davis from the hot board altogether. The elite Sunshine State athlete was back in Gainesville, Fla., for a third time this fall, and once again left gushing over the Gators, despite their home defeat. Davis said he’s not ready to pop anytime soon -- he wants to take all five of his official visits -- but it’s fairly clear he’s Florida’s to lose.
If not UF, then Florida State is a strong possibility for the Lakewood product. Both schools will get officials at some point, while he’s still deciding on his final two (he already used one official when he trekked up to College Park).
Maryland area recruiter Mike Locksley did well to get Davis and his good friend, five-star defensive end Byron Cowart (Armwood/Seffner, Fla.), on campus, but the Terps’ chances are looking rather bleak at this point.
Last year, Eleanor Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.) offensive tackle Isaiah Prince suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 3, which precluded me from scouting him. So this fall I was eager to see the four-star recruit in action for the first time. And I did just that Oct. 11 when Roosevelt took on rival Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.), a game Randy Edsall attended.
The Raiders ended up prevailing over the Pumas, 26-20, in double overtime, and the left tackle Prince faired well, allowing no sacks and recording a couple pancake blocks.
I had just updated Prince’s recruitment the week before following his College Park visit for the Ohio State bout -- he still has UMD, Alabama, Florida and Ohio State in play, with the former three probably holding an edge over OSU -- so my main purpose last weekend was to evaluate.
Basically, Prince has all the tools to be a starting left tackle at a major FBS program. He’s still rather raw, especially with his footwork in pass protection, but physically (6-6.5, 275 pounds) and athletically he fits the bill. Prince’s long arms, big hands, pure power and natural athleticism should all play well at the next level. Plus he’s a finisher and a gritty competitor, which are two intangible qualities you want to see in offensive linemen.
You can read my full report HERE.
Note: Expect Prince to begin setting officials, which he’ll take following his senior season, shortly. Alabama and Florida are main priorities, and he’ll attempt to return to OSU as well. We expect Prince to officially visit Maryland after talking to area recruiter Mike Locksley again, but at this point the Roosevelt tackle is saying he’s seen so much of College Park -- he’s attended two games already this fall -- he may not need to do so. Prince will select his school either at an All-American game in January or on Signing Day in February.
The Iowa Game
We do expect a sizable contingent of recruits to attend the Oct. 18 UMD-Iowa bout, though most of the top locals have seen Maryland in action already this year. The usual headliners -- Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Bethesda, Md.), Lorenzo Harrison (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.), Terrance Davis (DeMatha), Brennon Dingle (Spalding/Severn, Md.), Devery Hamilton (Gilman), the St. Frances kids, etc. -- should be there, but we haven’t heard of any “fresh faces’ worth noting.
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