Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
The Quarterback Situation
The buzz has reached a point where we’re all but certain Maryland will look to the senior transfer ranks for a one-year stopgap quarterback. We broke out the name Jeff Driskel from Florida a few weeks back, and this week a couple more names surfaced as potential targets.
There are probably more, but the main ones we know about are Everett Golson from Notre Dame, Braxton Miller from Ohio State and Kevin Hogan from Stanford.
The Irish’s Golson is set to graduate in May and will be free to transfer to any team he chooses sans penalty next year. He will obviously be a sought-after commodity, but the buzz is the Terps are in the game for him. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder finished 2014 completing 60 percent of his passes for 3,445 yards, 29 touchdowns against 14 interceptions for an 8-5 Notre Dame squad.
Meanwhile, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller (6-2, 215 pounds), who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in August, has been a transfer candidate ever since the emergence of Buckeyes signal caller J.T. Barrett. Miller has been rumored to wind up at seemingly half the colleges in the country, and most recently has been connected to Florida State, Duke and now Maryland. In 2013, Miller completed 63.5 percent of his throws for 2,094 yards, 24 touchdowns and seven picks.
The Stanford quarterback Hogan, meanwhile, has already completed four years in Palo Alto, Calif., and is reportedly seeking a return home for his final year of eligibility. The Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) product may be considering either Maryland or Virginia, among other regional programs. The 6-4, 230-pound Hogan completed 66 percent of his passes for 2,792 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. In the 2014 Foster Farms Bowl against Maryland, Hogan was 14-for-20 for 189 yards and two scores.
Of the four aforementioned quarterbacks – Driskel, Golson, Barrett and Hogan – Hogan may be the most realistic for Terps purposes given his prior relationship with UMD (the Maryland staff recruited him at Gonzaga) and its proximity to his home. Stay tuned.
I also checked in with a source about North Carolina triggerman Marquise Williams, who has already graduated and would seem to be an ideal fit at UMD given his dual-threat abilities. But I’m told Williams isn’t a prime target at this time, nor would he consider Maryland.
I also took a flyer by tossing out the name David Watford to our Virginia source. The dual-threat Watford has also graduated and announced his transfer intentions in early December. But I’m told the inconsistent Wahoos triggerman, who lost his starting gig in Charlottesville, Va., probably isn’t a fit at UMD either.
So, the search continues. We’ll continue contacting sources, trying to nail down more possibilities as the offseason moves along.
Under Armour Elite 50 News
Some of the country’s elite underclassmen made the trek down to Florida this week for the Under Armour Elite 50 Experience. There weren’t too many clear Terps targets in attendance, but there was at least one major one: Bullis (Potomac, Md.) quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
Haskins told our colleagues in Florida that he had a top three, in order, of Notre Dame, Ohio State and Maryland. Moreover, he said he wants to check out Va Tech and Duke this offseason, and make a return trip to UND. Haskins went on to say he'd like to decide "before the end of the school year" rather than sometime in the next couple weeks.
OK, so what are we to make of that? Either our sources who suggested Haskins was ready to pop to Maryland sometime this month were completely off, or the Bullis gunslinger is pulling another Adam McLean (Quince Orchard/Gaithersburg, Md.). (Recall, McLean told me he had “zero” interest in Maryland, and then committed a week later. He admitted afterwards he wanted to surprise everyone, so he didn’t want to let on his intentions.).
From our standpoint, while Haskins’ comments make us a bit leery, we’re still inclined to believe the Terps are in solid shape with the Bullis product. He might not be ready to pop tomorrow, but we still think UMD could have their gunslinger at some point. These are kids, so we'll have to see how this plays out.
Of course, as Keith mentioned earlier, there could be other circumstances at play that may be affecting Haskins' thinking. If for some reason offensive coordinator Mike Locksley is not at Maryland next year, well, that would obviously affect the Bullis product. We'll have to see how this all play out. For now, we have to sit back and wait.
Another Terps target, Carroll (Washington, D.C.) offensive tackle Jauan Williams, also chimed in. Williams suggested that, at this point, Ohio State and Penn State are his current leaders, though he also said it's still early and there's plenty of time for that to change. The Terps have been in touch, along with Alabama, Tennessee, UF, FSU and others.
Williams plans on visiting the Gators, Tide and Seminoles this offseason, and we expect him back in College Park as well. While it may be a bit disconcerting for UMD aficionados that Williams seems to be favoring the national powers, it's still very early in his recruitment, and we still believe the Terps have a solid shot -- especially if the stay-home movement gains traction.
Some other Maryland news that trickled out of the combine came from DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) defensive end Shane Simmons, a Penn State pledge. As expected, Simmons is continuing to reiterate the mantra that he’s “100 percent” committed to the Nittany Lions. At this point, he’s probably telling the truth, but we’ll see what happens if this stay-home movement comes to fruition. Terps pledge Lorenzo Harrison has been in his ear quite a bit.
Five-star outside linebacker/defensive end Rahshaun Smith (St. Frances/Baltimore, Md.) was also at the event, and he gave basically no insight into his recruitment, except to say Maryland, Penn State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama, Ohio State and a couple others were making a strong push for him. He said the Terps, Nittany Lions, Vols, Buckeyes, Sooners, West Virginia, Clemson, Oregon, FSU, Virginia Tech, Oregon State, Washington and more were all in play for his services.
The good news for UMD fans is that at least Smith is mentioning Maryland. Previously, he only brought up the Terps if he was asked about them.
Paramus Catholic (Paramus, N.J.) defensive tackle Rashan Gary, one of the nation’s top three 2016 recruits, apparently has no leaders at this point. He has an offer list that extends beyond 50, and basically has his choice of schools. It’s probably going to be a long shot, but, remember, Gary did visit Maryland last year and had plenty of positive comments about the Terps.
If things continue breaking Maryland’s way in terms of landing multiple top DMV talents (you can bet Adam McLean is in Gary’s ear), in addition to another national name or two, well, maybe the staff can make further inroads with Gary.
Prince Update From Army Bowl
The poker faced Isaiah Prince (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.) did his best Texas two-step while down in San Antonio for the Army All-American Bowl this week. The four-star senior offensive tackle and prime Terps target gave plenty of interviews, revealing . . . absolutely nothing. Prince is refusing to tip his hand in any one direction, forcing us in the media to rely on our sources to get a true gauge on what the 6-foot-6, 270-pound left tackle is thinking.
Well, let’s just say we still like the Terps’ chances. Regardless of what Prince says or doesn’t say, Maryland and area recruiter Mike Locksley still have a bead on the local product. Prince knows the hometown school inside and out, and he realizes the potential the Terps have with the “stay home” movement possibly coming to fruition.
He’s also well aware he could be a fixture at blindside tackle for years to come in College Park, Md., a possibility that excites him. Most importantly, Prince has a long-standing rapport with Locksley, head coach Randy Edsall and Co., and appreciates the opportunity to play just minutes away from family and friends.
As for the other contenders, Prince publically eliminated Florida from consideration (that was expected with Will Muschamp out of the picture), declaring a top three of Maryland, Alabama and Ohio State. He’ll officially visit Bama Jan. 16 and Ohio State Jan. 23, and may take a third to UMD Jan. 30 if he deems it necessary.
Now, I realize the perception is Prince slighted the Terps by backing out of an intended College Park official Jan. 23, but we don’t think that’s the case. Fact is, Prince hasn’t had an opportunity to visit any other schools besides UMD in recent months since Roosevelt played exclusively on Saturdays this fall. He wants a chance to go through the process, get the red carpet treatment at a couple out-of-state locales, and see what these college football blue bloods are all about.
Prince still holds Maryland in high regard, and he already knows what the Terps have to offer. He still could take a trip to the U of MD, but right now he sees it as superfluous.
At the moment, we still see this as a Terps-Tide race, with the turtles perhaps holding the inside track.
Expect Prince to announce his college decision on National Signing Day. (STORY).
More DBs To Consider?
With Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.) safety Johnny Petrishen seemingly favoring Penn State (Jan. 23 official visit), Pittsburgh (Jan. 16 official) and UVA (Jan. 30 official), in that order, it looks like Maryland may have to go in another direction if in fact the staff is deadest on adding a second senior safety to this class.
The Terps do still have a shot at Petrishen if he opts to take a midweek official (likely between the PSU and Pitt ones) to College Park, but even if that comes to fruition it's going to be hard to pry him out of his home state.
Now, there are at least two more class of 2015 safeties that are floating around that Maryland's coaches could potentially pounce on. The first hails from New Jersey power Paramus Catholic (Paramus, N.J.). Najee Clayton is a 6-3, 215-pound center fielder who had plenty of major Big Ten interest earlier given his size-speed combination. But that was before his academics caused some concerns, prompting a couple suitors to back off. Clayton's picked up his GPA, but there may still be some issues with his SAT, so we'll have to see whether that could potentially affect a Terps push.
At this point, Maryland still hasn't extended a formal scholarship, though we're led to believe one could materialize in January. If so, Clayton suggested he could set up an official visit to College Park, perhaps Jan. 30.
Clayton had been in contact with UMD defensive backs coach Brian Stewart, and he likes Maryland’s Big Ten affiliation, but at this time the Terps are probably on the outside looking in even if they do make a concerted effort.
Clayton’s already set up an official visit to Syracuse for Jan. 23, and he hinted the Cuse, which are recruiting him for slot receiver, could be the team to beat. “All I can say is Syracuse is heading in a real good direction. I have a good relationship with [the Orange area recruiter]. He’s been recruiting me and I like him a lot,” Clayton told Scout this week.
In-state Rutgers has also made a concerted effort of late and is right in the thick of things as well given that it’s the hometown school.
Clayton also said that he’s “definitely” taking an official visit to Virginia, though he hasn’t set one up yet. The Jersey product has a longstanding rapport with UVA coach Steve Fairchild.
Another school that could potentially get involved is Wisconsin, which just hired former Pitt coach Paul Chryst. The latter recruited Clayton at his former employer, and the Paramus prospect said Chryst has been in touch since taking the Badgers’ gig.
The second safety we heard about actually surfaced around Christmas, when our colleagues who covered the Shrine Bowl in Spartanburg, S.C., let us know Spartanburg High safety Cedarius Rookard was hearing from the Terps. The 6-1, 190-pound Rookard only holds one FBS offer from Troy, though he said UNC, UMD and a couple other power conference teams were showing increased interest.
Apparently Rookard has some academic concerns, however, so that might preclude the Terps or others from pursuing in earnest.
We’ll mention a third possibility here, because his name cropped up on the message board. Carol City (Miami, Fla.) cornerback Rashad Fenton told me he had been hearing “a little” from the Terps, though he didn’t sound all that enthused. Maryland hadn’t extended a firm scholarship yet, and the Miami corner was more concerned with the programs that had been on him for months.
When I spoke to him, Fenton said UCF, South Carolina, Illinois, Louisville and Arkansas were his main focus. He already took an official visit to see the Illini, and plans to take in three of the Gamecocks, Cardinals, Badgers and Knights in January.
More DLs To Consider?
We brought up the name Tyrell Jacobs, the Oklahoma decommit from Archbishop Rummel (Metairie, La.) who is supposed to be officially visiting College Park in January, last week. This week, we heard about two more potential defensive line targets.
First, there is Murphy (Mobile, Ala.) defensive end Mose Hall, who played the three-technique in high school but projects as a five-technique in college. Hall currently holds FBS scholarships from Minnesota and Wake Forest, and said the Terps could be anteing up shortly. He plans to visit each of the three aforementioned programs in January: Wake on Jan. 17, Minnesota on Jan. 23 and Maryland on Jan. 30.
Hall has been in contact with Maryland area recruiter Chad Wilt, who apparently liked his film and sent it over to Randy Edsall for review. The Alabama product said he thought Wilt was “a pretty cool guy,” but was especially drawn to Maryland’s need for defensive linemen with three starters set to graduate.
Hall also mentioned that he thought he’d fit well into the Terps’ 3-4 defensive scheme, should the staff use him as a nose tackle or defensive tackle (his position in high school).
But while Hall sounded upbeat about UMD, he acknowledged Minnesota was the team to beat. The Gophers were his first major offer, after all, and that held major weight with him. Hall said the Minnesota staff has been pushing since October, eagerly trying to get him on campus. Of all the assistants he’s been in touch with, Hall said he has the best relationship with Minnesota’s.
Wake Forest is a prime player as well, given the Deacons’ lack of depth on their defensive line. Hall noted how he’d have a chance to play his freshman year in Winston Salem, N.C., while he has an established rapport with the staff too.
Hall intends to take all three officials before announcing his decision on Signing Day. However, he admitted he could end his recruitment early if he falls in love with a certain school during a January visit (read: Minnesota).
Right now, Hall sounds like he’s bound for Minneapolis. But if he does make it to College Park Jan. 30, we think the Terps will have a real shot considering they’ll have last dibs. (STORY).
The second recruit who came up was Robert Windsor from Fond Du Lac High in Wisconsin. While Windsor sounded semi-intrigued by Maryland, we’re skeptical he’ll take a College Park trip unless something changes in the next week or two (i.e. he earns an offer).
Windsor has had initial contact with Terps’ area recruiter Greg Studrawa, but the Wisconsin product suggested Randy Edsall probably wouldn’t ante up unless he trekked to campus.
For now, Windsor has Illinois sitting No. 1 following his official there, citing the area; staff; and a shot at early playing time. Next up, he plans to see Penn State in mid-January. The Nittany Lions haven’t offered yet, but Windsor is confident they will following his trek to State College, Pa. The vibe is if PSU extends the scholarship (no guarantee), Windsor will snap it up.
Iowa State, which has offered, and Iowa, which has not, are two more schools he’s taking a look at.
We’ll monitor the situation and let you know if things change for Terps purposes.
The Louisiana edge rusher Jacobs, for his part, has been unresponsive in our repeated attempts to contact him. Our colleagues have surmised that Missouri is the team to beat, however, with Maryland and Arizona State (another school he’s officially visiting) running second and third, respectively.
Of the three, Jacobs has the most upside and should be the No. 1 target, but it’s unclear just how interested he is in checking out College Park. We’ll continue to try and reach him in order to gauge his thoughts.
DL’s Not To Consider
He’s been on the hot board, then off the hot board, then back on the hot board, and then off the hot board. This time, though, we’re fairly confident we can leave Armwood (Seffner, Fla.) five-star defensive end Byron Cowart off.
The Terps remained on the periphery for the nation’s No. 1 recruit -- which was a moral victory of sorts -- ever since he visited College Park June 28, and then returned Sept. 12 for an official. But at the Under Armour All-American practices in Florida this week, he confirmed UMD had basically been eliminated.
Cowart’s main focus, as expected, is on Florida State, Florida and Auburn, with UCLA possibly involved as well. The five-star will officially visit Auburn Jan. 16, FSU Jan. 23 and either UF or UCLA Jan. 30 before selecting his school Feb. 4.
Florida looked like a clear front-runner given new coach Jim McElwain’s overtures, and the Gators definitely still have a solid shot. But from the sound of things it looks like the Seminoles could be the team to beat. Evidently FSU’s stable staff has left quite an impression on the elite talent.
Auburn also has a chance for Cowart now that former UF coach Will Muschamp is the school’s new defensive coordinator. The Tigers are probably running third for the defensive end’s services, however.
Besides Cowart, the other name we finally had to write off was Jamal Milan (Al Raby/Chicago, Ill.), who until a week or so ago was still mulling taking an official visit to College Park (recall, he originally scheduled a trip to Maryland in November, but reneged due to an injury). But in his most recent interview Milan said Maryland was no longer on the brain, as his full attention has been turned to Indiana; Iowa State; Illinois; Minnesota and North Carolina.
Milan has taken officials to ISU and IU, and said the Hoosiers are now his leader. But he has upcoming officials scheduled for Jan. 16 to Minnesota and Jan. 23 to Illinois, with a possible trip to UNC Jan. 30. The feeling is he’ll end up in Champagne, Ill., before it’s all said and done, though Indiana and UNC (should it take him) are also possibilities.
DB Not To Consider
When Tennessee head coach Butch Jones announced that former H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) star cornerback D’Andre Payne would be leaving the program, some surmised the D.C. product could end up transferring to Maryland.
But, as Keith posted on the message board, Randy Edsall never made a strong push while Payne was in high school. As I recall, there may have been some mitigating factors that precluded the Terps from pursuing.
So, while we’re not sure exactly where Payne will wind up, the smart money is it won’t be in College Park.
When last I spoke with junior tight end Devante Brooks (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.), he was fairly open in his recruitment, all the while hinting that the “hometown movement” may be piquing his interest. But when I contacted Brooks for a post-holiday interview, the St. John’s two-way star sounded less than thrilled with UMD.
Which is putting it lightly.
Brooks declared Tennessee as his “clear leader,” with Virginia Tech running second. And he didn’t stop there. Brooks then said Iowa, Nebraska and Pittsburgh were next in the pecking order, leaving Maryland out of the picture altogether.
The tight end did acknowledge he still had some contact with UMD area recruiter Mike Locksley, but “we haven’t really talked extensively. I don’t know what’s up.” Brooks said while it was great for Maryland that more local talents were considering UMD, he personally would prefer to play farther from D.C.
So, for the moment, the Vols look like the team to beat, although Brooks admitted there was still plenty of time for him to change his mind. Maybe, in time, Locksley and Co. can work their way back into the game. Plus, who knows how Brooks will react if the likes of Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.), Tino Ellis (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.), teammate Terrell Hall (St. John’s) and Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Gaithersburg, Md.) join the #Pride movement and get in his ear? (ARTICLE).
Of course, if the Terps can somehow land four-star tight end Naseir Upshur (Imhotep/Philadelphia, Pa.), then it’s all a moot point. The teammate of current UMD pledge D.J. Moore, Upshur has been in College Park multiple times and spoken highly of both the program and area recruiter John Dunn.
Granted, Upshur has about 30 other offers and seems to love the Michigans, Michigan States, Ohio States, Penn States and Alabamas of the world. But Maryland looks to be better positioned for the Imhotep product than Brooks at this point, which is saying something.
Dingle Out, Turner In?
At one point, class of 2016 receiver Brennon Dingle’s commitment to Maryland seemed imminent -- a mere formality. After picking up a Terps offer following a standout camp performance last June, the former Spalding (Severn, Md.) star practically called UMD the “team to beat.”
Dingle didn’t pop right then, but when UMD remained his lone verbal for the next several months, we figured it was only a matter of time before he jumped on the Pride bandwagon.
Well, that’s no longer a possibility. Evidently Dingle ran into some issues at Spalding and is no longer enrolled at the nearby private school. Moreover, my source informed that the speedster no longer has a committable Maryland offer, and the Terps’ staff has ceased recruiting him.
As a couple posters surmised, the Terps could turn their attention to another underrated local star, DeMatha’s (Hyattsville, Md.) Darryl Turner, who can play slot, corner or safety. Turner said the Terps actually like him at safety, where he starred for the Stags this year with five interceptions, but he’s versatile enough to be a productive offensive performer as well.
A first-team all-metro selection, the diminutive Turner has been on Maryland’s radar for more than a year, though he may need another stellar camp performance just to garner a longer look. He currently only holds a couple lower-end Division I verbals, and area recruiter Mike Locksley and Co. have indicated to him there are other higher-rated recruits on their board (Patrice Rene from Episcopal in Alexandria, Va.; Damar Hamlin from Central Catholic in Pittsburgh; Robbie Robinson from Phoebus High in Hampton, Va., etc.).
Even so, Turner suggested he’d consider popping if UMD anted up -- the opportunity to join the hometown movement holds heavy appeal -- so he’s a name worth monitoring. (STORY).
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