Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Wins and losses don’t seem to have a major bearing on a prospect’s college destination, as noted by Maryland’s Mike Locksley Oct. 29 at the weekly coordinator press conference, but there’s no doubt a Terps’ victory over border rival Penn State Nov. 1 would pay dividends for UMD. Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin has already declared he’d turn the DMV into his recruiting playground, and while Franklin’s glitz and glamour -- coupled with PSU’s history and tradition -- have been major selling points to date, Maryland would gain some significant bragging rights if it can silence the Beaver Stadium crowd Nov. 1. Beat Penn State at Penn State, and now the Terps’ assistants and head coach Randy Edsall can use that pitch when attempting to keep top area recruits from heading to State College, Pa.
Now, do we expect current Nittany Lions pledges like Ayron Monroe (St John’s/Washington, D.C.), Adam McLean (Quince Orchard/North Potomac, Md.) and Brandon Polk (Briar Woods/Ashburn, Va.) to jump ship if PSU falls to UMD Nov. 1? No, probably not (although McLean is evidently considering a few other options like Tennessee and Ole Miss).
But maybe class of 2016 UMD and PSU targets like Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.), Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Bethesda, Md.), Jauan Williams (Carroll/Washington, D.C.), Keandre Jones (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.), Terrance Davis (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) and Keith Simms (Landon/Bethesda, Md.) will give the hometown school more consideration than its neighbors to the north. Again, one mid-season Big Ten win isn’t going to start a windfall of turtle love, but it would certainly help -- and dispel the notion Maryland can’t win on the big stage.
The Terps need every bit of momentum they can muster to bring in a guy like the quarterback Haskins. The straw that stirs the drink, he is perhaps the most important local recruit in years given his talent level and cache with other elite Maryland-D.C. prospects.
Another OL To Monitor
We mentioned back in early September that Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, N.J.) offensive lineman Jared Southers, a 6-foot-4, 290-pound class of 2015 recruit, was visiting College Park, Md., for the West Virginia game. And then about a month later we noted that New Jersey area Terps recruiter Keith Dudzinski would be trekking through SHP to visit with Southers’ coaches.
But after talking to a couple Scout folks who had seen Southers play, we rendered this late-emerging senior -- who missed all of last season with a broken foot, which hurt his recruitment -- a fallback option in case Maryland missed on the likes of Quarvez Boulware (Friendship Collegiate/Washington, D.C.) and/or Isaiah Prince (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.). We still think the Terps are in good shape for both local linemen, but it seems like UMD may be willing to take a third trenchman in this class as well.
Southers, who holds offers from the likes of UConn, Temple, Rutgers and ODU, said he’s had consistent contact with Dudzinski since the spring, and now offensive line coach Greg Studrawa is intrigued too. The Jersey product indicated that both UMD assistants were impressed with the strides he’d made this season, and that he could very well be offer worthy. If what Southers said holds up, Edsall is currently reviewing his film and could present the scholarship shortly.
And if said offer materializes, Maryland would immediately become one of Southers’ foremost suitors, alongside Temple (his very first scholarship) and perhaps UConn. Southers is also hearing from the likes of Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Stanford, Penn State and all the Ivies.
Southers enjoyed his recent visit to College Park and plans to return again for an official visit, either Nov. 15 for the UMD-Michigan State showdown or after his senior season. He also wants to officially visit Temple, UConn and maybe more depending on what other scholarships pop up. Stay tuned. (ARTICLE).
Another Safety Too?
We figured Maryland was finished recruiting safeties after Jay Stocker (Coatesville, Pa.) said he hadn’t had much contact with the Terps’ staff for a good while, but evidently the coaches may still have an interest in adding another high school defensive back to pair with Jameel Cook (Ridge Point/Missouri City, Texas). Johnny Petrishen from Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.) indicated on Twitter, and later told our Pennsylvania colleagues, the Terps had been in touch.
The 6-2, 205 pounder -- who holds offers from Pitt, Wake Forest, Virginia, Akron, Temple and others -- said he’d exchanged messages with UMD area recruiter Greg Studrawa, and the offensive line coach would indeed be coming to Central Catholic during Maryland’s bye week. If an offer is subsequently presented, or if Petrishen believes he could secure one following a campus visit, expect him to trek down to College Park for the Michigan State showdown Nov. 15.
Even if all of that comes to fruition, we wouldn’t expect Petrishen to commit on the spot. Schools like Virginia and Pittsburgh have been on him for months, and he’s visited both the Wahoos and Panthers multiple times. The feeling right now is they’re the two current leaders, but we’ll see what happens if UMD pursues in earnest.
Watch Out For The Post Grads
We’ve been hearing increased buzz on Twitter and from our Scout colleagues about Maryland being involved with post-grad recruits and possible transfers, from quarterbacks to cornerbacks to defensive linemen.
Just this week the name Marchez Coates (Iowa Western C.C./Council Bluff, Iowa) surfaced. The cornerback Coates was a former local high school star at McDonough (Pomfret, Md.), who signed with N.C. State before opting to go the junior college route. Coates said he doesn’t have any firm offers yet, but he’s been hearing from the likes of UMD, Rutgers, Arizona, Arizona State and Louisville.
The Terps took a JUCO defensive back last year in Denzel Conyers, and they’re certainly familiar with both Iowa Western (Deon Long’s former school) and Coates himself from his high school days, so it wouldn’t shock us to see UMD ante up. If the Terps did so, Coates would likely jump at the chance to return home for college.
Coates and JUCO quarterback Trent Hosick (Arizona Western/Yuma, Ariz.) are the only definitive names that have cropped up so far (we wrote off several defensive line targets earlier like Ulric Jones and Deonte Reynolds), but we expect more to surface during the bye week when the coaches begin traveling again. The UMD staff would probably still like to add an experience quarterback and a couple veteran defensive linemen to build depth.
I was able to attend two high school games last weekend, the Oct. 24 bout between Linganore (Frederick, Md.) and Tuscarora (Ballenger Creek, Md.), and the Oct. 25 meeting between Fort Hill (Cumberland, Md.) and Capitol Christian (Landover, Md.). The former allowed me to scout Terps pledge E.J. Donahue, while the latter was an opportunity to see Maryland commit Ty Johnson.
The 6-5, 325-pound Donahue, who was UMD’s first class of 2015 popper, was still shaking off the rust against Tuscarora, despite his team’s 49-13 victory. Donahue, recall, suffered a torn ACL while playing lacrosse and was just recently cleared for gridiron action. He didn’t perform poorly, by any means (zero sacks allowed, three pancake blocks), but it was clear the Linganore left tackle had some hip stiffness to him. He was coming off the ball too high, didn’t look as agile as usual and wasn’t moving his feet adeptly in pass protection.
That said, Donahue still had a good get-off, displayed plenty of power, and showed the ability to push to the second level and pull down the line. Donahue’s a competitor who finishes his blocks, and once he gets into Maryland’s strength and conditioning program, and begins working with line coach Greg Studrawa, he should be good to go. His athleticism, flexibility and agility, in addition to his fundamentals, should all markedly improve. Donahue has plenty of upside as an FBS guard (his thick, stout frame and average arm length are probably better suited for guard, or maybe right tackle), and he should hold up well against Big Ten competition.
After the game, we caught up with Donahue, who let us know he’s still fully on board with the Terps and set for his official visit Dec. 5. Donahue, who has attended several Maryland games and will be in College Park for the Michigan State contest, said he’s stayed in touch with Studrawa and numerous other UMD pledges. He also said he is trying to bring more top recruits into the fold like Quarvez Boulware (Friendship Collegiate/Washington, D.C.) and Isaiah Prince (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.). (ARTICLE).
A day later, I made the long hike up to Cumberland in order to scout 4.3 40-yard dash speedster Ty Johnson, who said Maryland wants him at running back. And I could certainly see why the Terps offered him on the spot at their June one-day camp, as the 5-10, 180-pounder ran roughshod over Capitol Christian to the tune of 173 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries, while recording another score on a 29-yard reception. Johnson also had three tackles and a textbook pass breakup on defense. Fort Hill ended up winning the game convincingly, 56-16.
Johnson may be slotted for offense at UMD, but he looked awfully good at cornerback Oct. 25. Allowed to play bump-and-run, Johnson was physical at the line, looked fluid in coverage and shadowed receivers stride-for-stride. His steps were sound, his hips were loose and his in-air ball skills were on-point (maintained inside position, high-pointed the ball, etc.). Johnson will have to continue honing his fundamentals and field awareness, but based off that Capitol Christian performance, he looks like a natural corner.
As a running back, Johnson’s vision, short-area quickness and acceleration stood out. He’s a patient, heady runner who gets downhill in a hurry and knows how to use his blockers before letting his wheels take over. Johnson probably isn’t a true home-run hitter at the next level, but the initial burst should allow him to generate positive yards at UMD.
That said, he’ll have to add bulk and strength to hang as an FBS running back. Johnson isn’t a between-the-tackles runner right now, and his best work comes on pitch plays where he can attack the edges. Given that, Johnson may be better suited for slot receiver, where his precise steps, soft hands and quickness could pay dividends down the road.
After the game, Johnson reaffirmed his strong commitment to the Terps. He’s in touch quite often with area recruiter Chad Wilt, and has attended every UMD home game so far. He’ll be at the Maryland-Michigan State bout, and, like Donahue, is set to take his College Park official visit Dec. 5 (Dec. 12 is the alternate date). (ARTICLE).
New Offer Out
The Terps extended an offer to a fast-rising Florida receiver Tre Nixon of Viera HS (Viera, Fla.) Oct. 28. The 6-0. 160-pounder, who has 4.3 40-yard-dash speed, has been adding verbals right and left, with programs like Texas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Miami, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Penn State, West Virginia and others all recently throwing their names in the hat. It was good for the Terps to get in there early, and Nixon does have some interest in visiting College Park, but this kid is going to be difficult to pry from the SEC.
When The Commits Come Marching In
After touching base with a large majority of the current Terps’ pledges, it looks like the Maryland staff is having the group take their official visits either the weekend of Dec. 5 -- which is when the UMD hoops squad takes on Winthrop -- or the week after, when the basketball team hosts USC Upstate. Most of the commits said they would try to be in town for the former date, including many of the out-of-state guys like: Jahrvis Davenport (Robinson/Tampa, Fla.), Gage Shaffer (Frankfort/Ridgeley, W.Va.), Mike Majette (Woodbridge Senior/Woodbridge, Va.), Brett Zanotto (Franklin Regional/Murrysville, Pa.), Gus Little (Massaponax/Fredericksburg, Va.), Mason Zimmerman (Anthony Wayne/Whitehouse, Ohio), Mbi Tanyi (Bush/Sugar Land, Texas), Darnell Savage (Caravel/Bear, Del.) and Jameel Cook. Most of them haven’t firmly set anything up, though, so recruits like Zimmerman, Little, Shaffer and Majette may opt for the Dec. 12 weekend.
Locals such as E.J. Donahue, Ty Johnson, Will McClain (Middletown, Md.), Ellis McKennie (McDonogh/Owings Mills, Md.) and Keiron Howard (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.) said they want to be in town Dec. 5 as well, although a few may come the week after. Isaiah Davis (St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes/Alexandria, Va.), meanwhile, said he’s trying to take his official for the Michigan State game Nov. 15, although that’s not set in stone either.
As far as the UMD pledges’ commitment statuses are concerned, all seem like they’re firmly on board for the time being. Louisville has made a push for Majette, but the Woodbridge athlete just reaffirmed he was “100 percent Maryland” earlier this week. Same goes for Davenport, who has heard overtures from Florida. The Sunshine State slot said he’s excited about UMD and can’t wait to take his official Dec. 5.
Remember, Nov. 15 is also when key out-of-town defensive line targets Wes Annan (Lake Forest Academy/Lake Forest, Ill.) and Jamal Milan (Al Raby/Chicago, Ill.) are due in College Park. The Terps are in a very good spot for Annan, but may be behind a couple suitors (Syracuse, Indiana) for Milan.
A few weeks later, on Dec. 5, surrounded by a glut of current commits, recall defensive end Austrian Robinson (Trinity Pawling/Pawling, N.Y.) will be on campus as well. Maryland is in prime position for Robinson’s services.
The Bye Week
We’ve started to put out feelers where the Maryland staff will be heading during the bye week. During the first bye, the assistants and Edsall hit the road hard, trekking out to Texas (Keenan McCardell), Illinois (Chad Wilt), New York (Lyndon Johnson), Ohio (Greg Studrawa), Pennsylvania (John Dunn), New Jersey and Connecticut (Keith Dudzinski) and numerous local powers like DeMatha, Bullis, Good Counsel, FCA and Roosevelt (Edsall and Mike Locksley).
We expect more of the same this time around, and so far we know Studrawa will be heading to the Pittsburgh area to check in with Johnny Petrishen’s coaches, as well as to see Zanotto; Wilt should be heading to Cumberland to watch Ty Johnson; Edsall is supposed to see E.J. Donahue’s game; Johnson may be checking out Isaiah Davis; and McCardell should be watching Darnell Savage in action. Brian Stewart could be heading West to scan the junior colleges in California and Arizona, while Mike Locksley will undoubtedly hit D.C.’s talent-rich corridor hard once again. More details should emerge in the coming days following the Penn State game Nov. 1.
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