Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Terps Positioned For Boulware
After back-to-back uplifting Shells, Terps recruiting news leveled off considerably this week what with three targets committing elsewhere and several other key prospects trending away from UMD.
But perhaps trumping those downers was one significant nugget working in Maryland’s favor.
We’ve been suggesting Friendship Collegiate Academy (Washington, D.C.) four-star guard Quarvez Boulware was a Terps lean for some time now, and following his official visit to College Park, Md., Dec. 12-14, we’re even more inclined to project him to Maryland.
Of the three uncommitted official visitors on campus -- Ulric Jones (Butler C.C./El Dorado, Kans.), who eventually popped to South Carolina, and Amir Ealey (Coatesville, Pa.), who eventually popped to Syracuse, were the others -- Boulware was clearly the most effusive in his praise. Which was semi-surprising, because typically the local lineman puts on a poker face when speaking to the media, forcing reporters and fans to read between the lines.
But following my conversation with him Dec. 14, Boulware, who may actually project as a center at Maryland, not only said he and his grandparents thoroughly enjoyed themselves at UMD, but the Terps were now his leader.
Area recruiter Mike Locksley and head coach Randy Edsall already had Boulware’s mind on Maryland (school visits, in-home visits, hosting him for games, etc.), but after spending time with numerous Terps and talking to the seven UMD pledges on campus he was afforded an entirely different perspective. Boulware’s host, Derwin Gray, showed him a good time, while the latter’s buddies gave the FCA prospect a true glimpse of life in College Park -- all of which hit home.
Moreover, Boulware seemed to connect with line coach Greg Studrawa, who made it known how much the Terps needed and wanted the D.C. prospect. Boulware knew coming into the official he had a chance to immediately impact Maryland’s line, but he now believes Studrawa can take his game to another level too.
It certainly helped matters that Boulware’s grandparents, who had never been to UMD before, took to the school and the staff. Boulware hadn’t mentioned his two guardians much before, but he clearly sees the benefits of staying home and allowing his loved ones a chance to attend his games in Byrd Stadium.
Boulware does have four more official visits to go, however, so the Terps will have to weather the storm. The Alabama (no firm offer; not sure the Tide pursues with four other interior linemen on board) trip is coming up Jan. 17; Wake Forest is the 24th ; and Boulware will likely trip to Florida Jan. 30 since he’s been in touch with new UF coach Jim McElwain. A midweek visit to Miami is also in the cards.
The Friendship product probably won’t make his college selection until around Signing Day, so there’s a chance his recruitment could go in another direction. But the signs do point towards Maryland right now, with the Gators perhaps running second. (ARTICLE).
Official Visitors React
In addition to Boulware, Jones and Ealey, seven more current Terps pledges took their official visits to College Park Dec. 12-14: 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).
That means, of the Maryland commits, only Adam McLean (Quince Orchard/Gaithersburg, Md.) and Mbi Tanyi (Bush/Sugar Land, Texas) have yet to take their officials. The former is scheduled to be at UMD Jan. 16, and the latter Jan. 23, joined by top tackle target Isaiah Prince (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.).
Just like last week, all seven Maryland pledges confirmed their commitments and reaffirmed they’d be signing with the Terps Feb. 5. They all thoroughly enjoyed connecting on campus, meeting the staff on a more personal level and hanging with the other Terps. Many of the seven also did their share of recruiting, urging the likes of Boulware, Ealey and Jones to jump on board (spoiler alert: they weren’t successful).
You can read all of their comments in the article HERE.
Any Traction On The QB Situation?
We’re pretty sure Maryland’s staff still wants to bring in another signal caller this year, but both the high school and JUCO ranks have thinned with many elites already scooped up. It’s looking more and more likely the Terps will target an immediately-eligible senior who can be a one-year stopgap type.
We mentioned former UAB quarterback Cody Clements as a possibility considering his school’s football program is defunct, but after asking around we don’t foresee that happening.
Another name to keep in mind, though, is junior Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel, who has already graduated and is eligible to play immediately should he transfer. With former head coach Will Muschamp now at Auburn, and Jim McElwain in at UF, Driskel will have to learn a new offense next year, which may or may not appeal. Plus there’s no guarantee the new headman will even want Driskel at the helm. This is all just speculation, but if Driskel opts out, well, he could be a fit in College Park.
One other intriguing name that caught my eye was former Virginia Tech backup quarterback Mark Leal, who announced he was leaving the Hokies in early November. But apparently Leal isn’t interested in continuing his football career, as he told the team he was pursuing “an unspecified business opportunity,” according to College Football Talk.
Other names are bound to emerge after high school signing day Feb. 5, but Driskel is one to keep in mind moving forward.
I never had a great pro-Maryland vibe from Coatesville (Pa.) outside linebacker Amir Ealey, which is why I didn’t list him above “warm” on the hot board at any point during the recruiting process. Although he always complemented the UMD program, from the campus to the academics to area recruiter John Dunn -- all the while talking up former teammate-turned-Terp Tyler Burke -- there was always “that other school” in mind.
Initially it was West Virginia; then it was Pittsburgh; then it was North Carolina; then it was Virginia; and finally it was Syracuse, which snuck in the back door to scoop Ealey up Dec. 14.
Yes, Maryland was on the brain as well, and at one point Ealey did suggest the Terps ranked as his No. 1 suitor. But he always had some reservation, offering some comment like, “But I’m still keeping my options open” or, “It sounds good, but we’ll see, I still have some other schools to look at.”
Even after his College Park official Dec. 12-14, Ealey sounded a bit less than enthused, noting that while he and his father “like Maryland, we think it’s a good school,” there was also “some other places I have to look at first.”
Typically when recruits fall in love with a place you can hear it in their voice inflection. They’ll use words like “awesome” or phrases like, “man, it was great, they showed me so much love there,” and, “I could definitely see myself fitting in there.”
But Ealey kept his comments even keeled, and at that moment I thought he was a no-go for the Terps, although I figured Virginia, not Syracuse, would be his destination. The Wahoos and Mike London made a late charge, enticing Ealey with their strong academics and the chance to return South for school (he’s originally from South Carolina). Maryland and Syracuse looked to be running second and third for his services.
But evidently Ealey was growing tired of the recruiting process, deciding to renege on his stated intentions of dragging a decision out until Signing Day. He took just two official visits, to Cuse and UMD, and it just didn’t work out for Maryland.
That might be perplexing to Terps fans considering Syracuse already had several defensive line commits, while the program itself hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire, but it is what it is. Perhaps there were other mitigating factors at play that led to Ealey’s decision.
Where do the Terps go from here? Well, there aren’t anymore clear senior outside linebacker targets on the board, so it’s possible they’ll stand pat. The Terps could elect to add multiple class of 2016 outside linebackers instead of reaching for someone this year.
Remember, Maryland does have junior outside backer Keandre Jones (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.) committed, while a couple other local class of 2016 pass-rush backers have talked up UMD as well, most notably Keith Simms (Landon/Bethesda, Md.) and Cameron Brown (Bullis/Potomac, Md.), who doesn’t have an offer yet.
That said, in 2014 they snared Nnamdi Egbuaba from St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.) late, so we’ll see if another name crops up as Signing Day nears.
Jones Is a Gamecock
As late as Dec. 13 we thought junior college defensive end Ulric Jones was all set to firm up his soft verbal Terps commitment, which came Nov. 10. Jones told us in the days leading up to his Maryland official visit Dec. 12-14 he was on-board with Randy Edsall’s program and just needed to shake the headman’s hand and sign on the dotted line Dec. 17 (the junior college signing day).
It should have been a mere formality, but apparently there was a snag during Jones’ 48-hour stay. When the Alabama native attempted to commit, he suggested the staff told him to think things over before making a firm decision. Translation: Jones was a red-flag, slow-play recruit.
Thus, Jones told me afterwards he was back on the open market and would consider both the Terps and new suitor South Carolina, which offered around Thanksgiving.
Now, the 6-7, 285-pounder noted that his Maryland trip did go well. He liked the staff; respected defensive line coach Chad Wilt; had a good time with his host, Jermaine Carter, and numerous other players; and thought the Under Armour gear and new facility plans were “just amazing, man.”
But, at the end of the interview, Jones hinted that something went awry Dec. 14, and that he was still taking a hard look at South Carolina. Apparently Jones had tripped to Columbia, S.C., once before, so he knew what the Gamecocks were about. Moreover, he had confirmed their offer was committable, though he’d have to stay at Butler C.C. an extra semester before enrolling.
Jones initially preferred to leave JUCO in January before beginning his career in College Park, but I got the sense that wasn’t an option for him. Thus, he popped to the Cocks Dec. 17 and will enroll at South Carolina in the spring.
Was this a loss for Maryland? Yes and no.
No, his film didn’t suggest he’d be a 10-sack performer at UMD. But at the same time he is 6-7, and our JUCO reporter, Derek Young, who saw Jones play on three occasions, said the Butler product flashed plenty of potential. Young called Jones a classic “boom or bust” prospect, but someone the Terps may have wanted to gamble on given their need for defensive linemen.
That said, perhaps there were extenuating circumstances that kept Maryland from taking said gamble.
Bailey’s A Cardinal
This one wasn’t a surprise like Ealey’s pop to Syracuse, but losing Drew Bailey (Pearl River/Hattiesburg, Miss.) to Louisville Dec. 14 (yes, the same night Ealey announced for the Orange) probably hurt more than losing the Coatesville backer.
A sack artist who looked like a potential immediate-impact defensive end, the junior college product would have conceivably filled a gaping void on next year’s line. With defensive end Andre Monroe set to graduate, Maryland has no other proven pass rushers up front.
And for awhile it looked like the Terps would reel Bailey in. They were the first major school to offer; area recruiter and position coach Chad Wilt made serious inroads; while family friend Keenan McCardell and head coach Randy Edsall made an in-home pitch to Bailey’s father in Florida. Not to mention Bailey loved his College Park official, and couldn’t say enough about the players, coaches, and future of the program.
But when Bailey left UMD Dec. 7 without committing, insisting he still wanted to see Louisville, well, it was sayonara. He ate up Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino’s and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s message, both during an in-home visit and later on his campus trip Dec. 12-14. The chance to shine right away, the UL facilities and the overall comfort level on campus sold Bailey on the school.
We think the Terps’ staff gave it their best shot, but the fact is Louisville is very similar to Maryland -- and the Cardinals had last dibs.
Nothing you can do but move on.
So Who’s Next On The D-Line Front?
Well, the Terps are still right in the thick of things for Trinity-Pawling (Pawling, N.Y.) defensive end Austrian Robinson, and at this point we do like their chances. Robinson, unlike Ealey, did use some of those “tell” words following his College Park official Dec. 6-8, noting how both he and his mother thought Randy Edsall’s program was “great” and “it looks like a really good fit.”
Robinson already had Maryland as his leader heading into the visit, and it remained in an even stronger position following said trip. Now, he does have three more officials coming up to Miami Jan. 16, Ole Miss Jan. 23 and UCF somewhere in there as well, but the Terps are certainly resonating at the moment.
On top of that, we’re not sure how keen the Rebels are on Robinson, while the New York edge rusher never seemed overwhelmingly eager to see UCF. Of the trio, Miami, with its former national power status, could be the Terps’ greatest threat for Robinson’s services.
Penn State, meanwhile, did have Robinson’s ear following the Nittany Lions’ November offer, but he’s since cooled on PSU. We don’t get the feeling he’ll be following through with a Penn State trip -- officially or unofficially -- before he selects a school.
This recruitment could come down to Maryland and Miami on Signing Day, and the feeling is the Terps have the inside track.
But even if UMD lands Robinson, there’s still a need for defensive linemen -- preferably a body or two who could contribute as soon as next year. Neither Robinson nor current pledge Keiron Howard (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.) will be ready for major FBS minutes in 2015, which is why losing a junior college guy like Drew Bailey -- and even someone with limitations but solid upside like Ulric Jones -- stung.
One post-grad name that’s cropped up a couple times is Darius Commissiong, a former Georgia Tech pledge who is now at Deon Long’s former community college, Iowa Western (Council Bluffs, Ia.). Commissiong, originally a class of 2013 recruit who prepped at Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.), did receive a Maryland offer late during the recruiting process, though by that time he already had Tech and others on his mind.
We thought perhaps the Terps would rekindle their interest when Commissiong reached Iowa Western, but apparently the coaches haven’t reach out yet, according to the Reivers’ staff. It should be noted that Commissiong was dismissed from Tech for violating the student-athlete code of conduct, so that may tell you why Edsall and Co. have stayed away.
For his part, Commissiong said Iowa State, East Carolina, Idaho, Middle Tennessee and a couple others had been in touch with him. He has yet to take any official visits, however, so perhaps Maryland’s staff can still get involved here, but right now we don’t see it.
Meanwhile, Commissiong’s teammate at McNamara, Georgia Tech and now Iowa Western, Kevin Robbins, has been mentioned as well. Though listed as an outside linebacker coming out of high school, he morphed into a true defensive end at Georgia Tech. Last March, however, Robbins opted to leave the Jackets and join Commissiong at Iowa Western because Tech didn’t have his major.
But Maryland didn’t offer Robbins coming out of McNamara, and according to the Iowa Western staff, the Terps aren’t reaching out now either. We’ll monitor the situation and see if something changes.
One other interesting recruit we came across is ASA College (Brooklyn, N.Y.) defensive end Monte Taylor, who starred for Flowers High (Springdale, Md.) a few years ago.
Taylor committed to UNC after graduating from Flowers, but his academics precluded him from enrolling. He ended up going to prep school for a semester before heading to ASA. Taylor now claims offers from several Midwest programs, and seems to be focused on Indiana, Purdue and UCF. We haven’t heard of the Terps being involved.
At one time, Maryland seemed to be keying on Laney C.C. (Oakland, Calif.) defensive end Anthony Fotu, who actually claimed a Terps verbal when California JUCO recruiter Brian Stewart made the trek out during the spring/summer. Fotu expressed some interest in checking out UMD, but nothing ever materialized.
He seems primarily focused on Miami at the moment, where there’s a Laney connection on the coaching staff. But, who knows, maybe when the Terps are out in California for the Foster Farms Bowl they’ll reconnect with Fotu, or come across another junior college defensive lineman.
For the time being, there haven’t been any other D-line rumblings, but we’ll continue scanning the ranks in case something comes up.
As far as high schoolers go, the only other “realistic” offerees on the board are the five-star defensive end Byron Cowart (Armwood/Seffner, Fla.) and defensive tackle Jamal Milan (Al Raby/Chicago, Ill.). The word “realistic” is used relatively -- neither Cowart or Milan have publically dismissed UMD yet, but the Terps seem to be on the outside looking in for both.
Cowart, despite area-recruiter Mike Locksley’s best efforts (in-home visit, consistent contact), continues to talk up Florida, Florida State and now Auburn with former UF coach Will Muschamp taking the Eagles’ defensive coordinator job.
The five-star will officially visit each of the three aforementioned programs, and the consensus is the Gators still hold the edge. Cowart already took one official to Maryland on Sept. 12, and while he has much respect for the school, it’s going to be awfully tough to reel him in. A telling sign: When neutral reporters interview him, he doesn’t bring up UMD.
With Milan, we mentioned a few Shells ago that he was no longer considering officially visiting Maryland after reneging on his first attempt to fly out to College Park. We do think if area recruiter Chad Wilt and Co. made a last-gasp charge Milan could change his mind, but at this time we don’t see it.
Milan has taken officials to Iowa State and Indiana, and has North Carolina coming up in January. Those three seem to be his primary focus, with Minnesota also somewhat in play.
Besides Cowart and Milan, there’s always the four under-the-radar, in-state down linemen we’ve mentioned previously. Mufu Taiwo (McDonough/Pomfret, Md.), Malachi Felder (Eastern Christian/Elkton, Md.), Channing Hames (St. Frances/Baltimore, Md.) and Kolby Williams (Landon/Bethesda, Md.) would probably all jump at the opportunity to play for Maryland, but all are developmental types who are a few years away from being Big Ten ready.
Taiwo and Williams are best suited for the Division I-AA level; Felder has plenty of talent but has issues to iron out; and Hames is probably a fringe Division I guy.
We haven’t heard of any serious Terps interest in the above quartet, though it’s always possible they could take a late flyer.
Terps Add A Punter
With Nate Renfro set to graduate a year early, the Terps moved to add another punter to their roster. New Egypt (N.J.) senior booter Nick Pritchard had been in contact with UMD special teams coach Andre Powell for several months, and on Dec. 13 accepted a walk-on opportunity.
Pritchard had one other walk-on offer from ODU, but fell in love with Maryland after he and his family attended two games, followed by a campus tour Dec. 13.
After telling Powell he’d enroll at Maryland, Pritchard said UMD’s special teams coach let him know he’d be given an opportunity to compete with Terps backup punter Lee Shrader for the starting job next year.
There hasn’t been too much written about Pritchard’s leg, but he said he averaged just over 40 yards per punt with a hangtime of 4.3 seconds this fall.
You can read more about Pritchard HERE.
Heading To Bloomington
These guys have been discussed ad nauseam both on the message board and in last week’s Shell, so it’s probably superfluous to rehash Tyler Green’s (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) and Mike Majette’s (Woodbridge, Va.) situations, other than to say both did indeed commit to Indiana as expected.
The safety Green was an Ohio State castoff (Urban Meyer probably asked him to greyshirt, or the Buckeyes stopped recruiting him altogether), but the Terps didn’t pursue -- even though they’d offered the DeMatha defensive back during the summer and Green asked in following his “decommitment.”
Debate all you want whether it would’ve behooved the Terps to take another Stag for goodwill purposes, but truth is Green proved to be an in-the-box defender who needed work in coverage. Does Green have speed and athleticism? Yes, but obviously Randy Edsall didn’t see enough to warrant bringing him in.
The slot Majette, meanwhile, had been a firm Terps pledge since the summer, going so far as to rebuff an offer from Louisville. But after he took an official visit to Indiana Dec. 6 without letting the UMD staff know, Randy Edsall and Co. decided to cut ties. And with limited options available now that he couldn’t be a Terp, it was only a matter of time before Majette popped to the Hoosiers.
Do The Terps Take Another Safety Or Slot?
The receiver situation is going to come down to whether or not Ryan Davis (Lakewood/St. Petersburg, Fla.) wants in or not. If the Terps’ staff fails to land him, don’t expect UMD to reach for another slot in this year’s class.
What are Maryland’s chances with Davis? Well, we’ve heard enough to at least list him as “warm” on the hot board.
The four-star athlete seems to have the Terps right in the thick of things, along with perceived leaders Florida and Florida State, so it wouldn’t be a total shock if he did sign with UMD. Area recruiter Mike Locksley has gone hard after the Sunshine State standout, while receivers coach Keenan McCardell and Randy Edsall have made their overtures during an in-home visit as well.
Davis has already visited College Park twice – unofficially June 28 and officially Sept. 12 – and has had naught but positive reports about the program and school. But we won’t know where he truly stands until he takes officials to UF and FSU (and possibly Texas Tech and Kentucky) this January. New Gators coach Jim McElwain has already made a positive impression; it might be tough for any program to pry Davis away from Florida.
With the safeties, the only name still percolating (at least as far as offered prospects, although the Terps could still be monitoring late-emerging prep safeties or junior college types) is Central Catholic’s (Pittsburgh, Pa.) Johnny Petrishen. But, as we said in this space last week, the Terps may have jumped on him a little too late.
Though Petrishen has much respect for area recruiter Greg Studrawa, while the recruiting pitches from former teammate Anthony Nixon and current Terps pledge Brett Zanotto have his mind on UMD, he’s long favored Pittsburgh and Virginia. Recent offeree Penn State is also firmly in play, mainly because it’s Penn State, a school that resonates throughout the Keystone State.
Petrishen, who hasn’t taken any officials yet, will trip to Pitt Jan. 16, PSU Jan. 23 and UVA Jan. 30. He could conceivably take one more midweek visit in late January, and if so, it’ll either be Maryland or Northwestern.
Maybe the Terps can make a major impression if he chooses to see College Park, but even if the trip occurs (and we’re still skeptical it will), the Panthers and Wahoos probably have the inside track.
New Offers Out
We heard about a couple new verbals going out to 2016 recruits this week.
First, there was emerging receiver Theo Howard from Westlake High in Thousand Oaks, Calif. This West Coast offer would seem curious, except Howard actually made the cross-country trip to College Park last July. The chance to learn under Terps receivers coach Keenan McCardell is intriguing to Howard, though we’re not sure how much traction UMD will gain. Howard seems focused on numerous Pac-12 (USC, Cal and UCLA) and SEC (Texas A&M) programs that have offered, while Michigan, his stated “dream school,” has come through as well.
Four-star tackle Sean Foster (Carmel Catholic/Mundelein, Ill.) also claimed a Maryland offer. This 6-8, 270-pound four-star is someone Terps area recruiter Chad Wilt identified during his trek through Illinois, and seems like someone who could give College Park a look.
But Foster’s going to be a tough pull from the Midwest. He only has mid-tier Big Ten offers for now, but the bigwigs like Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and others are bound to ante up. He’s suggested in past interviews he’d like to play somewhere closer to home, so Iowa, Wisconsin, MSU or OSU would seem to be viable options for him.
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