Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
The Penn State Ramifications
No doubt Maryland’s 20-19 victory against Penn State Nov. 1 was significant, though we have to be careful not to overstate what it means for UMD’s recruiting efforts. Victories are nice, especially on a big stage, but as recruitniks know, a team’s won-loss record seems to be less important to prospects than relationships; the program’s future outlook; the chance for early playing time; facilities; and overall comfort level with the school. Just look at one of the biggest anomalies out there for evidence: Virginia Tech. The Hokies have lost three in a row and sit at 4-5, yet they’re flipping four-star left tackles and hauling in top talents right and left (or so it seems).
That said, if a program can consistently -- major emphasis here -- knock off perennial powers, perform well on national TV, and show out at a solid bowl game, well, then you’re school is going to resonate. Beating PSU at PSU may ring true with a local three-star inside linebacker, but for the Terps to take the next step, they need to begin hitting home with four- and five-star types.
So, let’s see if Maryland can ride the momentum the rest of the way and pull off an upset or two. If the Terps can hang with Michigan Sate, beat Michigan at Michigan, stifle Rutgers in the finale, and then come up with a big bowl victory, they should be able to capitalize -- at least as far as the crème de la crème of local recruits are concerned.
The DMV’s 2016 crop is loaded with intriguing prospects, and it’s imperative Maryland strikes while the iron is hot. If the Terps tank, it’s going to be much more difficult to convince players like Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.), Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Gaithersburg, Md.), Terrell Hall (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.), Ellison Jordan (Gilman/Baltimore, Md.), Rahshaun Smith (St. Frances/Baltimore, Md.), Terrance Davis (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) and others to stay home. Not to say it can’t happen -- again, relationships, facilities (new indoor facility announcement should help UMD here), and playing time trump won-loss records -- but it would make it a heck of a lot easier to draw recruits in if they can claim road victories over the Nittany Lions, Wolverines and another national foe in a bowl game.
The Penn State Reactions
Now, as far as how recruits reacted to Maryland’s victory Nov. 1, the response was expectedly positive. We touched base with more than 15 area prospects to gauge their thoughts, and pretty much all of them saw the 20-19 win as a step in the right direction for Randy Edsall’s program. The majority of the current Terps’ pledges chimed in -- Brett Zanotto (Franklin Regional/Murrysville, Pa.), Darnell Savage (Caravel/Bear, Del.), E.J. Donahue (Linganore/Frederick, Md.), Gus Little (Massaponax/Fredericksburg, Va.), Isaiah Davis (St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes/Alexandria, Va.), Mbi Tanyi (Bush/Sugar Land, Texas), Mike Majette (Woodbridge Senior/Woodbridge, Va.), Ellis McKennie (McDonogh/Owings Mills, Md.), Ty Johnson (Fort Hill/Cumberland, Md.), Jahrvis Davenport (Robinson/Tampa, Fla.), 2016 commit Lorezo Harrison (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md), and others -- and all of them were pretty pumped.
As we said last week, it seems like the 2015 Terps’ pledges are firmly on board for the time being, and excited to arrive in College Park, Md., next summer. Weird things always happen in recruiting, even with the so-called solid pledges (see: Cohen, Jared), but for now it looks like UMD’s class will stay intact.
As for that all-important local 2016 class, the good news for Terps aficionados is most were paying attention Nov. 1. In fact, three elite DMV recruits were in Beaver Stadium to see the action first-hand. Tino Ellis (DeMatha), Dwayne Haskins and Trevon Diggs all thought Maryland proved something by knocking off Penn State, though the victory wasn’t going to drive any of them to jump on the UMD bandwagon just yet.
Of the three, Ellis had the most endearing praise. He said the win proved the Terps are making strides, and Maryland-D.C. prospects should seriously consider staying home rather than venturing north to State College, Pa.
Ellis, though, was already very high on UMD (strong relationship with Mike Locksley, teammate and Terps pledge Lolo Harrison in his ear, sees himself fitting into the offense), and the victory only helped enhance his view of the school. There’s still a ways to go in Ellis’ recruitment, but we could see him committing to Maryland at some point next fall. (ARTICLE).
Diggs chimed in as well, and while he was complimentary of UMD’s win, calling it “huge for the program,” he kept it in perspective. He basically said he enjoyed the hard-fought game and was happy his older brother, current Terps receiver Stefon Diggs, played well, but the outcome really wasn’t going to affect his outlook on either program (both Penn State and Maryland are after the younger Diggs).
Of course, Diggs’ situation is more complicated than other recruits’ as he’s not sure whether he wants to follow in his older brother’s footsteps or not. Trevon Diggs --who UMD is now apparently recruiting as a defensive back, which Diggs said he didn’t mind -- has attended multiple Terps games, is comfortable in College Park, and has an excellent relationship with the entire staff, but if he wants to blaze his own trail, it could be sayonara Maryland.
For now, Diggs has Penn State firmly in play, and will be checking out his numerous SEC/ACC suitors this offseason. His recruiting is in its infancy stages, although Diggs did make one thing clear: He’d ideally like to attend the same school as his good friend, four-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins. So if Haskins were to choose a school like, say, the one in College Park? Well, you can draw your own conclusions. (ARTICLE).
Unfortunately, Haskins is not picking up his phone these days, but from what we’ve gathered, he didn’t put a ton of stock into what he saw in Beaver Stadium Nov. 1. Haskins is a heady kid who isn’t easily impressed by aesthetics or wins in November. He is more concerned with how he’ll fit a particular offense, chances for playing time, how the staff will develop him, and if the program has a chance to win titles.
That said, Haskins does like Maryland a good amount (relationship with Mike Locksley, potential face of the program, knows he can start a real hometown movement), and the Terps are in a solid early position for him. Haskins doesn’t have a clear leader at this point what with the initial Ohio State love fading a bit (OSU already has a couple other top quarterback commits coming in like 2015 five-star Torrance Gibson, 2015 four-star Joe Burrow and 2017 rising star Danny Clark), so we think UMD is going to have a real shot.
In addition to the aforementioned trio who saw the game live, we conducted long-form interviews with two other prime Terps 2016 targets: Jauan Williams (Carroll/Washington, D.C.) and Ellison Jordan (Gilman). Both are national names who have UMD and PSU among their foremost suitors, so we were naturally interested to see what they thought about the Nov. 1 result.
The big left tackle Williams said he thought the win improved Maryland’s national profile, but the result wouldn’t affect how he viewed either school. The Terps are in a prime spot for the Carroll product, although that’s more so because of the rapport he has with the staff and his comfort level on campus than anything else.
Publicly, Williams isn’t claiming any leaders, however. He still has to venture out to other locales (he’ll be taking in Ohio State, another prime contender, Nov. 29) before narrowing down his 25-plus choices. The feeling is the Terps, Nittany Lions and Buckeyes will be on the short list before it’s all said and done. (ARTICLE).
The sentiments were similar for the Gilman defensive tackle Jordan. Always effusive in his hometown praise, the 6-foot stalwart called the UMD-PSU bout “emotional,” and said it was an important win for Maryland. Jordan said the Terps needed to prove themselves in the Big Ten, and beating Penn State in Happy Valley was a major step towards accomplishing that feat.
However, like Jauan Williams, Trevon Diggs and others, Jordan wasn’t going to throw his hat into Maryland’s ring just yet. Penn State is now in his ear, Virginia Tech is in play, Michigan State is up there, and new suitors are bound to emerge throughout the SEC, ACC and Big Ten. But we do like Maryland’s chances with Jordan given his previous comments about the school (close to his family, terrific relationship with the staff, strong journalism program).
The Penn State Fallout
While we do think the UMD staff can attempt to use the PSU victory as part of next year’s recruiting pitch, we’re not so sure it’s going to be that effective with the 2015 crop -- even if the Terps attempt to persuade a couple current Penn State commits.
Maryland pursued PSU pledges Ayron Monroe (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.), Adam McLean (Quince Orchard/Gaithersburg, Md.), Brandon Polk (Briar Woods/Ashburn, Va.), John Reid (St. Joseph’s/Philadelphia, Pa.), Andre Robinson (Bishop McDevitt/Harrisburg, Pa.), Ryan Buchholz (Great Valley/Malvern, Pa.), Steven Gonzalez (Union City, N.J.), Manny Bowen (Barnegat, N.J.), Ryan Bates (Archbishop Wood/Warminster, Pa.) and others, but we’re not about to predict a flip for any of those guys other than maybe McLean, who has set up official visits to Ole Miss and Tennessee. Penn State could conceivably lose a commit or two, but it probably won’t be to Maryland. (Maryland never offered PSU pledges Kamonte Carter from Gaithersburg, Md., or Jonathan Holland from Bullis).
The only one who could possibly give the Terps another look is Ayron Monroe, the younger brother of UMD standout Andre Monroe. The Terps’ No. 1 recruiter, Mike Locksley, has stayed on the St. John’s safety, and Monroe has been in College Park several times this fall to watch his brother play. And, recall, Ayron Monroe had Maryland running second for his services back when he popped to James Franklin and Co., so maybe, just maybe, he’ll reconsider.
Speaking Of Safeties…
Last week we reported that Maryland’s Pittsburgh area recruiter, Greg Studrawa, had contacted and was going to visit Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.) safety Johnny Petrishen’s coaches. This week, the senior defensive back shed more light on the situation, saying Maryland was indeed intrigued and could be offering shortly. If the scholarship is presented, Petrishen said he would likely visit College Park for the first time Nov. 15, and could possibly return again for an official. Petrishen knows former Central Catholic stars-turned-Terps Anthony Nixon and Perry Hills, and said he’s interested in the school due to its academics and conference affiliation (Big Ten).
That said, offerees like Pittsburgh, Virginia, Wake Forest and Syracuse have his eye, and the former two are probably leading. Hometown Pitt sounds like the favorite, with the Wahoos running second. Unless Maryland makes a strong push and wins him over following said trips to College Park, Petrishen may be a Panther.
Either way, this is a situation worth monitoring, and it signals UMD is indeed in the market for another 2015 safety to go along with Jameel Cook (Ridge Point/Missouri City, Texas). (ARTICLE).
Back In The Game
We were ready to write Lakewood (St. Petersburg, Fla.) three-star athlete Ryan Davis off, but it turns out the Terps are making one last charge for the projected receiver. During Maryland’s bye week, area recruiter Mike Locksley trekked down to St. Petersburg in order to meet with Davis’ coaches; Locksley also has been messaging the Lakewood standout on Twitter.
Evidently Locksley’s recent overtures have left an impression, as Davis now has the Terps back in play. The 5-10 speedster talked up Maryland’s 20-19 victory against Penn State, and believes he could have a Stefon Diggs-like impact on UMD’s offense. Davis knows both Diggs and Terps No 2 wideout Deon Long are likely to be drafted come May, so there’s an opportunity for him to seize playing time soon after arriving in College Park.
So now we’ll see if Maryland can maintain its momentum into the winter months, convincing Davis to jump on the bandwagon. Florida is still a viable threat, and may jump back on top if the Gators end up with a hotshot coach who covets Davis’ services the way embattled headman Will Muschamp does. And Florida State, another Davis favorite, could be his landing spot should head coach Jimbo Fisher accept his commitment (the feeling is he would if Davis wants in). Davis has also been high on Kentucky lately, and may take an official to Lexington, while Ole Miss, Texas Tech and Arizona are involved somewhat as well.
Expect Davis, who has already officially visited UMD, to take officials to UF, FSU and others in the next month or so before selecting his school in late January. (ARTICLE).
A Note On Amir Ealey
We hadn’t heard from Maryland outside linebacker target Amir Ealey (Coatesville, Pa.) in awhile, but earlier this week our Pennsylvania analyst, Greg Pickel, caught up with him. The news?
Well, there was no news.
Ealey is continuing to drag his feet, so to speak, keeping his recruiting status quo until after his senior season. He hasn’t been on any visits since seeing the UMD-WVU showdown Sept. 13, and is intent on taking all five officials before announcing his college decision.
Ealey still has the Terps sitting No. 1, although that’s tenuous since he’s been known to change his mind following campus trips. Virginia is a prime contender, and Syracuse is right in the thick of things as well. UCF and Pitt may be on the outside looking in for now, while North Carolina and WVU could get back in the game if Ealey opts to see either of those two programs in December.
A New JUCO (Or Two) On The Radar
We figured Maryland would be scanning the junior college ranks this week, and on Nov. 5 the Twitterverse let us know Chad Wilt was back in Mississippi to stop by Pearl River Community College (Hattiesburg, Miss.). Apparently he was checking out 6-4, 275-pound defensive end Drew Bailey, an emerging recruit who is coming off a double-digit sack season.
Bailey is originally from College Park, Ga., and attended high school at Banneker, graduating in the class of 2011. He has spent the last two seasons at Pearl River and has started to draw attention from FBS schools. He just recently picked up an offer from Southern Mississippi, and others are bound to come in as well.
With the Terps in need of depth along the defensive line, someone like Bailey, who already has two years of post-grad experience, plus the build of an upperclassman, would seem to be a potential fit. We’ll have to see if his academics are in order, and if his play warrants a firm UMD scholarship, but for now he’s someone to keep in mind moving forward.
And he's not the only one to follow moving forward. By this time we figured Butler C.C. ( El Dorado, Kans.) defensive end Ulric Jones would be committed to some major SEC suitor, but evidently the Oxford, Ala., native is still open to all suitors. Yes, schools like Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama and others have his eye, but the Terps are still being mentioned as a possibility. Area recruiter Chad Wilt has made quite an impression, but we'll see if Jones takes an official to College Park before suggesting he may end up at UMD.
Breaking Down Gage Shaffer
I won’t be able to make it to Frankfort (Ridgeley, W.Va.) to watch Terps quarterback pledge Gage Shaffer this year. But thanks to head coach Kevin Whiteman, I won’t have to see the 6-7 gunslinger live in order to evaluate him. The Frankfort headman was gracious enough to send raw footage of his team’s first nine games this year, allowing me to get a true gauge on Gage.
So, after breaking down the film, here are my quick thoughts:
The kid has two qualities you just can’t teach: size and arm strength. That, at the very least, makes him an intriguing recruit who could develop into a starter down the line. Shaffer also has decent touch and looks poised in the pocket.
But beyond that, the Mike Glennon lookalike has some work to do. His throwing motion (hitch, drops his elbow, varied arm angles); follow through (deliberate release); footwork (throws off back foot, feet garbled on drop-backs); accuracy (misses easy throws, deep balls tend to sail); reads (latches onto receivers); and awareness (doesn’t always anticipate defenders) could all stand improvement.
The feeling on this end is Shaffer is going to need a redshirt year plus another season or two before he’s ready to take an FBS snap. There’s potential here, but it’s probably going to take some time for it to be realized. You can read my full report HERE.
Bye Week Travels
It was a bit more difficult to track down where all the Maryland coaches were headed this week, mainly because the assistants saw most of the Terps’ top remaining 2015 targets during the last bye. This time around, the focus seemed to be primarily on next year’s class.
That said, we did learn that Mike Locksley was down in the St. Petersburg area checking out Ryan Davis, as we mentioned above. Locksley will also be at Quarvez Boulware's (Friendship Collegiate/Washington, D.C.) game Nov. 7, according to the four-star offensive guard and top Terps target.
Also in Florida this week was receivers’ coach Keenan McCardell, who was in the Jacksonville area in order to check out junior guard Andrew Boselli, the son of former All-Pro Jaguars lineman Tony Boselli. The Terps have offered Boselli, and the 6-3, 275-pounder is interested in visiting College Park, perhaps as soon as Nov. 15.
We also heard from our Scout colleagues in Virginia that UMD defensive line coach Chad Wilt was in the Tidewater/757 area. We’re pretty sure Wilt stopped by Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach, Va.) in order to check on five-star defensive back Levonta Taylor, who has visited UMD before, and four-star Phoebus (Hampton, Va.) cornerback Robbie Robinson as well.
Wilt was also in Mississippi at Pearl River Community College in order to speak to the coaches about Drew Bailey, as we noted above.
In Pennsylvania, offensive line coach Greg Studrawa was supposed to be checking out Central Catholic safety Johnny Petrishen, as well as current UMD commit Brett Zanotto.
Meanwhile, Gilman’s Ellison Jordan told us this week that area recruiter Andre Powell would be stopping by Gilman for its rivalry game against McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) Nov. 7. We’re not sure if Powell made an out-of-state stop or not, but if so, he likely would have trekked down to the Carolinas.
Randy Edsall, meanwhile, will probably take in a few local games Nov. 7 and 8. E.J. Donahue told us he’d be at his game against Urbana (Ijamsville, Md.), and Devante Brooks (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.) said Edsall would be at his game Nov. 8 against Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) as well.
The Michigan State Game
We’ll start forming a more definitive visitor list next week, but here are some of the recruits who should be in College Park for the Terps-Spartans game Nov. 15:
DT Jamal Milan (Al Raby/Chicago, Ill.)
DT Wes Annan (Lakewood Academy/Lakewood, Ill.)
LB Isaiah Davis (Davis said this will be his official, but he could decide to take his official Dec. 5 with the other Terps pledges)
Class of 2015 Commits
OL Ellis McKennie
WR Mike Majette
OL E.J. Donahue
CB Darnell Savage
LB Brett Zanotto
LB Gus Little
OL Will McClain (Middletown, Md.)
QB Gage Shaffer
RB Ty Johnson
WR D.J. Moore (Imhotep/Philadelphia, Pa.)
DT Keiron Howard (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.)
Class of 2015 Targets
OL Isaiah Prince (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.) (note: Terps still in good shape)
OL Quarvez Boulware (note: Terps still in good shape)
S Johnny Petrishen (see above) (note: might go to UNC instead)
Class of 2016 Targets
RB Lorenzo Harrison
WR Tino Ellis (maybe)
OL Terrance Davis
DT Ellison Jordan
QB Dwayne Haskins
OL Jauan Williams
OL Richard Merritt (Carroll/Washington, D.C.)
OL/DE Devery Hamilton (Gilman/Baltimore, Md.)
OL Stephen Spanellis (Gilman)
WR Brennon Dingle (Spalding/Severn, Md.)
WR/DB Trevon Diggs
TE Devante Brooks
LB Terrell Hall
LB Keith Simms (Landon/Bethesda, Md.)
LB Keandre Jones (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.)
LB Koby Quansah (Kingswood Oxford/West Hartford, Conn.)
OL Andrew Boselli (Providence/Jacksonville, Fla.) (maybe)
TE Naseir Upshur (Imhotep/Philadelphia, Pa.) (maybe)
DB Robbie Robinson
DB Levonta Taylor
There are others who will be in attendance, of course, but these are some of the guys worth noting who actually hold offers.
Thank God for DVR, because while the Terps were knocking off Penn State in Happy Valley, I was down in North Potomac, Md., to scout UMD 2016 outside linebacker target Keith Simms (Landon/Bethesda, Md.). Simms’ Landon squad ended up losing to Georgetown Prep, 32-19, but the 6-3, 225-pounder still had a decent game (five tackles, a pressure).
Simms plays a standup end position for the Bears, but his body type suggests he’ll be a linebacker at the next level. He doesn’t have the size or girth of, say, a Jesse Aniebonam or Yannick Ngakoue, who both could have played standing up or with their hand in the dirt coming out of high school.
As for his game, Simms is a solid pass rusher with a fast first step, quick feet and a knack for pressing the pocket. He cuts sharply, can beat high school tackles inside or coming around backside, and has above-average agility. Moreover, Simms defends well laterally and is very good in pursuit.
He does have some difficulty disengaging, needs to develop more point-of-attack power, and he has to vary his rush moves, however. In addition, since he’s not asked to cover at Landon, he’ll have to work on his drops and hips (he has some stiffness to him) in order to hang at the FBS level.
So, basically, Simms is a pretty good local prospect, who probably needs a redshirt year and another year of strength and conditioning before making an impact.
As far as his recruitment is concerned, Simms is maintaining solid interest in Maryland given his rapport with area recruiter Chad Wilt and the fact College Park is close to home. Simms is friends with many of the other top DMV recruits, and he’s aware what a true “hometown movement” could mean for UMD’s program.
But while Simms has the Terps under firm consideration, he does has a double-digit offer list, filled with schools he’s yet to check out. We won’t know where the Landon product truly stands until he realizes his full complement of scholarships, and treks to the likes of WVU, Pitt, Wake Forest, Boston College, UNC and others. (ARTICLE).
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