Maryland had its second wave of official visitors come through College Park, Md., Dec. 12-14, and for the second straight weekend the Terps hosted seven current commits. Quarterback Gage Shaffer (Frankfort/Ridgeley, W.Va.), running back Ty Johnson (Fort Hill/Cumberland, Md.), receiver D.J. Moore (Imhotep/Philadelphia, Pa.), defensive lineman Keiron Howard (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.), linebacker Gus Little (Massaponax/Fredericksburg, Va.), linebacker Isaiah Davis (St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes/Alexandria, Va.) and safety Jameel Cook (Ridge Point/Missouri City, Texas) all made the trip in, leaving only Adam McLean (Quince Orchard/Gaithersburg, Md.) and Mbi Tanyi (Bush/Sugar Land, Texas) as the pledges who haven’t taken their officials yet.
Joining the aforementioned seven were three prime uncommitted Terps targets in four-star guard Quarvez Boulware (Friendship Collegiate/Washington, D.C.), outside linebacker Amir Ealey (Coatesville, Pa.) and junior college defensive end/tackle Ulric Jones (Butler C.C./El Dorado, Kans.).
The safety Cook has not been in College Park since attending the June 28 Big Show camp, so he was eager to return. Cook didn’t arrive until late Dec. 12, however, so he missed the Friday night dinner and the campus/facility tours. But the 6-1, 190 pounder said that hardly put a damper on things, as he enjoyed meeting his future teammates and connecting with the coaches.
“I got there a little late, but I got a lot closer to the people I’m going to be playing with next year, and some of the guys who are already on the team too,” said Cook, who committed June 20. “I especially talked to a lot of guys on my side of the ball; I feel like I already know everyone on the defense.
“Will Likely was my host, and he’s cool, man. He’s from South Florida, where I’m from. We’re both Florida cats, and we both talked a lot about that and really connected. [Likely] was telling me the coaches there are great, but you have to be prepared, know your plays and stay focused. He said if you stay on your Ps and Qs, you’ll do just fine. Then he was telling me how much he loved Coach Stewart and that’s the reason he came to Maryland. His relationship with Coach Stew is kind of like my relationship with Coach McCardell – these [coaches] love us and they’re really positive people. I can tell I’m going to have a great time at Maryland.”
Cook went on to describe his interactions with the other commits, as well as Boulware, Jones and Ealey.
“So I just loved meeting everyone, my future teammates and the three [uncommitted] guys too,” he said. “Quarvez, Amir, the JUCO guy [Ulric Jones], they were loving it. I think Maryland is going to reel all these guys in, keep that on the down-low, but I like their chances with those guys (laughs).”
The Texas safety said he really enjoyed watching the Terps practice Dec. 13. He liked how structured it was, and how defensive backs coach Brian Stewart was working the corners and safeties.
“I already knew Coach [Keenan] McCardell, Coach [Randy] Edsall, but this time I got to talk to Coach Stewart a lot more, and I think he’s a great coach,” Cook said. “I think I can learn a lot from him, and he knows how to get the most out of his guys. He puts them in spots to succeed.”
Cook’s favorite part of the visit, though, was hanging out on the practice field with his fellow incoming Terps. He said they all had Maryland Pride Under Armour jerseys on and were dishing back and forth about their futures.
“We were just having a good ‘ol time,” Cook said. “We were saying how we’re going to win Big Ten championships, national championships. We have big-time hopes here.”
The Massaponax linebacker commit Gus Little was an early riser Dec. 14, enjoying breakfast with his family (who accompanied him on the visit) at College Park, a final meeting with Randy Edsall, before arriving home by 11:30 a.m. after a full weekend at UMD.
Little's player host was Terps running back Joe Riddle, while he enjoyed the company of all the other recruits on campus this weekend. His family -- his father, mother, and his two sisters, one of which is a student at VCU made the trek to College Park for the official – thought highly of their stay as well.
"What really jumped out was the coaching staff. I love the coaching staff," Little said of his main highlight. "You can tell they have really good intentions, they are really nice, and just their hospitality they showed us....taking us to really nice restaurants, driving us around....I am really thankful they did that for us."
Little had fun on a bus tour of downtown Washington, D.C., to see the sights and all the Christmas decorations, as well as dinner at Ruth's Chris.
Little also enjoyed meeting with academics folks, the strength and conditioning program, as well as the engineering department, a field he hopes to study. The 6-3, 220-pounder got to see two bowl practices as well.
He said he has been to campus so many times -- between junior days last year, to so many games this fall -- that the weekend was as much about his family seeing everything, too.
Little spent time with his recruiter Lyndon Johnson, and future position coach Keith Dudzinski, as well as Brian Stewart and of course Randy Edsall.
Little said he feels even better now about his pledge after seeing the Terps make back-to-back bowls, as well as announce the new indoor facility. Little got to see more drawings and renderings of the “New Cole,” and came away impressed.
"I feel even better about my commitment," said Little, who committed June 19. "I think that Maryland is definitely on the rise. And they have a really, really good program building, especially with the new indoor and the Big Ten now and back-to-back bowl games, where right before they did not have as many. The record wasn't as good. So definitely seeing progress being made, and more and more recruits coming in, so it's exciting."
Of the other group of players on campus, Little said:
"I was hanging out with all the commits and the three players that had not committed yet. They all enjoyed themselves, and we were doing a little recruiting for them as well. But it was definitely such a family feeling, so hopefully they will want to join soon. I have a pretty good feeling about them.”
Little said he will spend the rest of the winter "getting my body ready to become a Big Ten linebacker."
Terps three-star pledge Keiron Howard got to hook up with a familiar face, freshman guard Damian Prince, as his official visit player host.
"Oh, it was real good, becoming closer with those guys I will be going up and against next year," said Howard, who committed June 8. "Damian, and guys like Sean Davis, it was really cool."
Of course, the filet at Ruth's Chris jumped out for the 6-4, 280-pounder as well, while touring Washington, D.C. on a bus and taking in the holiday sights.
"And I also liked meeting with Coach [Chad] Wilt, the defensive line coach, mostly," Howard said. "He was talking about my form, and how I can get even bigger and faster.
"And I also got meet with the other coaches and Coach Edsall of course, who said keep working hard to get my scores and get here ready to work," Howard said of his board score, which he said he is close to achieving. "I am just a few points off."
Howard said trying on all the Under Armour gear was fun, as well as learning more about academics and his hopeful major, business, where he met with some department reps. He said that since his pledge things have only gotten better at UMD.
"Maryland, they are getting it done now. We had a good talk about the new indoor, and more guys are going to want to come now with things like this," Howard said. "The other guys here this weekend, not yet [have they committed], but they were talking about it. It was a good feel I got."
Howard also spent a lot of time with offensive line recruit Quarvez Boulware, one of the three uncommitted prospects, while he said he will trip to Florida later this month to play in the Offense-Defense All-American Game in Orlando, while he will also play in the Crab Bowl closer to home.
"I kind of now knew everything about Maryland, but now even things I did not know [heading in]," Howard said of the weekend. "It just confirmed everything I knew before, and why I want to be there even more."
Fort Hill’s Ty Johnson thought he had seen and heard all he could about Maryland after multiple visits for camps, games, and the like over the past year.
"My player host was [freshman linebacker] Nnamdi [Egbuaba], and he was a football player who came all the way here to the States to play football from Nigeria, so that was really cool," Johnson said on Sunday morning as he made the trek back home to Cumberland.
That, plus the overall family feel in the program were Johnson's highlights, he said.
"It was all good, and they show you how we are all like brothers, and family, and how to act and all. It was all a great group of guys," Johnson said of the other recruits, as well as the current players in the program.
Johnson, who committed June 7, said he spent time with the other commitments and the recruit targets on campus, and what also jumped out "was how well they all eat down there. I had the rib-eye at dinner at Ruth's Chris. That was another highlight."
Johnson's mother and uncle accompanied him, and they enjoyed both the admissions and academic meetings. Johnson said he got to interact with regular students as well on campus, learning more about the school through their eyes, while meeting with department reps from kinesiology, which he wants to study at UMD.
He said everything "was so amazing" that it was hard to pinpoint one area. But he liked the chats in the Gossett Football Team House.
"I spent a lot of time with Coach [Andre] Powell, Coach [Chad] Wilt and Coach Edsall, and we were talking about offense and the position with Coach Powell. With Coach Wilt and Coach Edsall more about school and how it will be when I get there in a few months,” he said.
Johnson, fresh off a state title last week in Baltimore, said the new indoor facility chatter only added a cherry on top to what he already knew and liked about Maryland, "and the main thing now is Coach Edsall is taking Maryland in the right direction, doing all the right things to keep going on up," Johnson said.
He said the Under Armour presentation, with trying on jerseys, gloves and helmets, was also fun.
The Terps’ lone quarterback commitment in the class, Gage Shaffer out of West Virginia, saw everything he needed to Dec. 12-14. He said his player host in particular, Caleb Rowe, showed him a good time.
"Caleb Rowe was my host, and he was really cool, fun to talk to. But he told me how difficult it is going to be at first," Shaffer said of learning the offensive ropes. "But as long as you do what you are supposed to do, well I can learn pretty quick. That was his message to me."
From there, Shaffer got to tour campus and town, take in two Terps bowl practices, and hit the whiteboard with offensive coordinator Mike Locksley for some one-on-one time.
"I had a half-hour with him individually on the whiteboard after practice. It's going to be tough, but I am excited," Shaffer said of the Terps offense. "We went over the basics of what goes on in the offense, and then we got into coverages. It was good."
Shaffer enjoyed the family-bond feeling "and how everyone was easy to talk to. And how excited all the recruits were to be there. And they were all really cool,” he said.
Shaffer, who came with his father and younger brother, said his family had a good time. He confirmed his verbal to UMD, soaked up all he could about the offense, though he had already seen and heard a lot.
"I knew what was going on, what it looked like, so I was there to just have another good experience down there," said Shaffer, who committed June 7.
He said the stakes have gotten even higher since he pledged last June at schoolboy camp. He said his time and conversations with, among others, pledges Gus Little and D.J. Moore, stood out most.
"Oh, it's awesome [Maryland is going to another bowl]. It's real exciting for the future, and success is definitely coming Maryland's way. The presentation on the new indoor facility was just awesome," Shaffer said.
Shaffer said that after checking out the offense even more in-depth this weekend, "that I am hoping I get a chance to play, I think I will get a chance to play, but I am going to have to improve mentally for like reading defenses and getting used to the offense and things like that.
"And Coach Edsall this weekend, he just said do the right things and success will always follow."
D.J. Moore, meanwhile, was making his way home to Philadelphia Dec. 14, and holiday music was in the background, so the reception was a bit choppy. But he chimed in on how it all went down for him in College Park this weekend.
The three-star Moore was hosted by Terps slot receiver Jacquille Veii, and said his highlight was hanging out on campus and relaxing with the players. He liked chatting up his position coach, Keenan McCardell, "to see how they are" in person with more one-on-one time.
"After spending more time with him, I like the way he coaches," said Moore, who committed July 2. "He doesn't really yell or get after you, but he is on top of everything and makes his point. He was telling me to ‘come ready to work.’"
Moore took in the Terps’ bowl practices, played some video games, and enjoyed dinner at Ruth's Chris with a rib-eye steak, among other activities.
Moore said he has been to campus plenty of times, and seen so much, that what was most compelling to him "was just the feeling of like being at home. I got to bond with all the other guys that are committed and the ones they are recruiting. It was really like family, that was the main thing I came away with this weekend."
Moore said seeing the Terps make two straight bowls, and more drawings of the indoor facility, has put Maryland even more over the top as the place he wants to be.
"It's big-time. Their performance, and now for everyone to see the bowls, the new facility...as a program now more and more [recruits] will want to come," Moore said.
He said the visit was a “10” on a scale of 1-10.
Moore said he met with folks in kinesiology, the area he wants to study at UMD.
The 6-1, 194-pounder said he will play in the Offense-Defense All-American Game in Florida on Jan. 2, and that he leaves for camp Dec. 29.
Terps linebacker pledge Isaiah Davis didn't have to look far for familiarity this weekend on his UMD official campus visit, with older brother and junior safety Sean Davis his player host. Adding to that mix, he spent much of his time with defensive veterans Abner Logan, Avery Thompson and Will Likely. It all added up to another memorable experience on campus, where his brother already stars.
"You know, probably watching the practices, getting a feel for my position and unit," Davis said of his weekend highlight. "Working with Coach [Keith] Dudzinski, seeing how hard the guys work with their individual drills. That all jumped out to me."
Davis said he got to meet with academic and admissions folks "to go over the transition to college" as well as his hopeful major, engineering.
Then there was the film work, along with fellow 'backer commitment Gus Little, with Dudzinski that also stood out.
"I got to see the film, learn more about the scheme. It was all good to see again and more," said Davis, who committed Aug. 12. "And Coach Edsall, he just told me to keep working hard and come to summer workouts ready to work."
The 6-2, 215-pounder said the Terps project him at the “MO” spot "and they have two guys moving on there, and spots opening up, and work hard and try for a spot."
Davis reconnected with his brother and others in the program, but has already seen so much at College Park that he was all set heading in.
"I had pretty much seen everything before at Maryland, nothing came up new this weekend," Davis said. "But it was all a good feel, and I am comfortable with Maryland and my decision."
Davis said time spent with his brother on campus was mostly just relaxing. His parents accompanied him on the visit.
Davis said another bowl berth and seeing the new indoor plans again "is only going to bring even more attention to Maryland. Recruits, it will bring in more guys, and just overall more attention to the university."
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