Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
The Iowa Game Visitors
The UMD-Iowa game Oct. 18 wasn’t as widely attended, as far as recruits were concerned, as the Ohio State showdown, but there were still some intriguing names of note. One class of 2015 defensive end, Mufu Taiwo (McDonough/Pomfret, Md.), whom we removed from the hot board months ago, was at the game, as well as 2016 targets like offensive lineman Josh Ball (Stafford/Fredericksburg, Va.), defensive end Rashan Gary (Paramus/Scotch Plains, N.J.) and offensive tackle Jauan Williams (Carroll/Washington, D.C.), in addition to a few DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) youngins and other nearby prospects.
Taiwo (6-feet-5, 250) certainly looks the part of a potential FBS defensive end, though he hasn’t generated that much upper-level interest (he has 10 offers from I-AA programs). Perhaps that’s because he’s still raw and has questions regarding his motor and get-off. He is currently committed to Old Dominion, though he said Maryland and a few other programs are intrigued.
At this point, though, Taiwo is probably a fallback option for UMD in case it misses on the likes of Wes Annan (Lake Forest Academy/Lake Forest, Ill.), Austrian Robinson (Trinity-Pawling/Pawling, N.Y.) and Jamal Milan (Al Raby/Chicago, Ill.). Right now, the Terps are in real good shape for Robinson, pretty good shape for Annan and somewhere in the middle for Milan. If the Terps can pull in the former two, we don’t expect them to pursue a guy like Taiwo.
As for the underclassmen, let’s start with the 6-foot-7, 297-pound tackle Ball, who has now been in College Park, Md., at least four times in the last year, including the aforementioned UMD-OSU game. Ball has always spoken highly of the Terps and area recruiter Chad Wilt. He likes the school’s academics, the fact he could contribute early during his career, and Maryland’s Big Ten move. Not to mention the campus isn’t too far from his Fredericksburg home. At the same time, Ball has an expanding offer list, and nearby programs like Virginia and West Virginia are firmly in play.
Gary, meanwhile, is a five-star defensive lineman with more than 20 offers to date. The 6-4, 285-pounder has now been at Maryland twice and has left with naught but positive comments. He spent a good deal of time after the Iowa game with Terps’ D-line coach Chad Wilt, whom he immediately connected with, and came away impressed with the stadium atmosphere as well.
But while Gary does seem to have interest, the “name” programs like Ohio State, Alabama, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and others have all caught his eye. In fact, he’ll be at PSU this weekend and OSU after that. So, at this point, Terps fans probably shouldn’t get too excited.
And then there’s Jauan Williams, the big 6-6, 285-pound left tackle who has been in College Park numerous times the last few months, most recently for the UMD-WVU game. Williams once again said he enjoyed being at Byrd for the Iowa bout, and this time he was able to speak to head coach Randy Edsall, offensive coordinator Mike Locksley and line coach Greg Studrawa. He has a close rapport with Locksley dating back to his freshman year, while he’s developing a relationship with Studrawa.
It’s still early for Williams, who needs to take more visits before he can claim definitive leaders (he’ll be at Penn State this weekend), but the vibe is Maryland will be among his top three suitors throughout the recruiting process. Williams should be back in College Park Nov. 15 for the UMD-Michigan State game.
One other interesting recruit I spotted at the game was South Carroll (Sykesville, Md.) lineman Brian Plummer, a 6-7, 310-pound class of 2016 prospect. But when I watched Plummer’s film, I noticed he probably didn’t have the get-off, foot speed and agility needed to play high-FBS football. Of course, you don’t come across 6-7 linemen every day, so he is someone to monitor down the road.
Key Offer Out In The Constitution State
As we hinted they might do a couple weeks back, the Terps did indeed offer Kingswood Oxford (West Hartford, Conn.) linebacker Koby Quansah, whose school Terps’ area recruiter Keith Dudzinski visited during UMD’s bye week. Quansah already had an established relationship with Dudzinski, but one of the main reasons he coveted a Maryland verbal was his friend’s -- tight end Andrew Isaacs -- presence on the roster. Quansah and Isaacs, who attended Manchester High in Connecticut, used to be neighbors, and the two have stayed in touch during the latter’s time in College Park. Moreover, Maryland’s academics, conference affiliation (Big Ten), and the program’s direction all have Quansah intrigued.
Quansah has never visited UMD before, but said he’s eager to see it for the first time Nov. 15 when the Terps take on Michigan State.
Besides Maryland, Quansah holds offers from UConn, Syracuse, Rutgers and Boston College. He has already visited the latter four, though right now he’s claiming no leaders or initial standouts. We do expect the Terps to be a prime player here, however. (ARTICLE).
On Oct. 17, I was able to take in the Friendship Collegiate (Washington, D.C.) and Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) matchup in Baltimore, a game the Greyhounds ended up winning fairly convincingly, 42-27. While I did pay attention to Gilman’s UMD class of 2016 targets like Ellison Jordan, Devery Hamilton and Stephen Spanellis, my main purpose was to scout Knights offensive lineman Quarvez Boulware.
Boulware, who plays left tackle for FCA but projects as a college guard, is of course one of Maryland’s most coveted recruits. The 6-3, 285-pounder currently has a top five of UMD, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Florida and Alabama (no firm offer yet). We’ve discussed Boulware’s recruitment aplenty, and the continued feeling is the Terps are in a very good spot. The FCA guard still has Florida rated highly, but with Will Muschamp’s job in jeopardy and UF on the downswing, we’re not sure the Gators will have his eye for long. Maryland has a distinct edge with recruiter Mike Locksley heavily involved and in the ear of Boulware and his family.
Regardless, Boulware’s recruitment still has a ways to go. On Oct. 17 I wanted to gauge what he brings to the table as an FBS guard (he’s not quite tall enough and his arms aren’t long enough to play tackle).
Well, Boulware’s strong, stout frame should hold up well at the next level, while his athleticism will allow him to block in space and push to the second level. He’s especially adept at run blocking, where he uses his lower-body power to drive his man off the ball, and his fast first step to gain an initial advantage. Boulware also has active, aggressive and strong hands, which allow him to latch on and anchor in pass protection.
On top of that, he’s a finisher and has above-average field awareness (he picks up blitzes well), two intangible qualities you like to see in offensive linemen. That said, Boulware’s feet need work, especially in pass pro; he needs to play with better leverage; he has to develop more agility; and he has to hone his hand placement (sometimes he lets defenders get into his body). But it’s clear Boulware has the capability of being a dominant FBS guard. (ARTICLE).
As for the Gilman trio, I continue to be impressed by the defensive tackle Ellison Jordan, who beat Boulware for a sack. A relentless fireplug, Jordan’s a scrapper and fighter who busts through double-teams and lives in opposing backfields. If he was two inches taller (he’s about 6-0), he’d probably be a high four-star recruit, with the potential to be ranked among the best at his position nationally.
Hamilton, meanwhile, is a solid two-way player who probably fits best at offensive tackle. He tends to play high, he can be stiff at times, and his pass protection needs work, but Hamilton’s physical frame (he’s a robust 6-7 with long arms), natural power, and burst off the ball make him an intriguing prospect.
Spanellis projects as an offensive guard, and he too has a rugged, blue-collar mentality. He’s a downhill drive-blocker with a mean streak, plus enough agility to pull and block in space. That said, he has some hip stiffness, needs to improve his leverage, must work on his footwork in pass pro, and has to display more overall athleticism.
Of those three Greyhounds, Jordan is still the most likely to end up at Maryland. He’s been on campus multiple times, has a relationship with the entire staff, loves the academics and said Randy Edsall and his program resonate with his parents as well. That said, Jordan did just land a coveted Penn State offer; he’s visited State College, Pa., before and has significant interest in the program. Either way, Jordan's recruiting will inevitably ebb and flow as his offer list continues to expand (12 and counting).
Hamilton, for his part, seems intrigued by UMD based on the university’s educational opportunities, and the idea of representing his hometown school. But Hamilton hasn’t visited anywhere else yet, and his recruitment is still in its infancy stages (Rutgers and Michigan are two schools he’ll be checking out). It’s way too early to make a call on him.
Spanellis, meanwhile, is probably the least likely to end up a Terp. In fact, though he claims a Maryland verbal, we’re not so sure it’s committable. Spanellis did have some positive things to say about Maryland, but the vibe is he’ll be looking elsewhere unless the Terps decide to make a push.
Dohn's Look At Prince
Scout's Brian Dohn caught up with Eleanor Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.) tackle Isaiah Prince this week, and provided a recruitment overview. There wasn't too much new in the report, but it did basically confirm what we'd been reporting here at TT. Prince still has the same top four of UMD, Florida, Alabama and Ohio State, with his only official visit set for Bama Jan. 16. Dohn's feeling seems to be that OSU and UF are currently sitting third and fourth, respectively, with the Terps and Tide fighting for the No. 1 spot. Location is a significant factor for Prince, and ultimately that could play into Maryland's favor, according to Dohn. He said if the Terps continue to perform well in the Big Ten, they could very well snag the elite local tackle.
That's been TT's feeling as well, but it's a good sign for Terps fans that an outside source is jibing with our reports.
A Note On Amir Ealey
Last week we reported that Coatesville (Pa.) outside linebacker Amir Ealey may be close to setting his Maryland official visit, but he chimed in this week that nothing had been scheduled. That said, we still expect him to trek down to College Park after his senior season, maybe on Dec. 5, which is the date Austrian Robinson’s official is set for. The Maryland staff will probably attempt to coordinate the trip so Robinson and Ealey can see the school together, along with the rest of UMD’s class of 2015 pledges.
We also expect Ealey to take officials to Syracuse, Pitt and UCF, three of his other prime contenders. North Carolina may be a player as well if it pushes, though we sense the Heels may be fading.
Currently, we have the Terps in the pole position for the Coatesville product. Now we’ll see if that holds up through the winter.
If There Is A Change At Florida...
There’s been much speculation about Will Muschamp’s job status in Gainesville, Fla., and word is he might not make it through the weekend -- especially if the Gators lose to Georgia Oct. 25. If that’s the case and Muschamp is sent packing, I expect someone on the message board to ask if it helps the Terps with former-UF leans Ryan Davis (Lakewood/St. Petersburg, Fla.) and/or Byron Cowart (Armwood/Seffner, Fla.), who both officially visited UMD.
Simply put, not really.
The five-star defensive end Cowart just took an official to Tuscaloosa, Ala., and the Tide are now considered the frontrunners, while the receiver Davis may be leaning towards Florida State. Maryland is no longer in Cowart’s top five, and Davis has the Terps outside of his top two or three. We do not expect that to change, and both have been removed from the hot board.
New Offer Out
The Terps extended an offer to an elite 2018 running back Oct. 23. Hylton's (Woodbridge, Va.) Ricky Slade is a 5-10, 170-pound phenom with early verbals from UMD, Va Tech, UVA, Ohio State and more on the way. He visited Maryland for its game against OSU and said he had a fun time at Byrd, while connecting with area recruiter Lyndon Johnson. Slade will be a 25-plus offer recruit, so it was good for UMD to get in there early.
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