Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Saine Says He's On-Board
Talk about back from the abyss.
With some of Maryland's other junior college and high school defensive line targets heading elsewhere, the Terps uncovered former Lincoln (R.I.) star Oseh-Lie Saine, who was most recently at Worcester Prep Academy (Worcester, Mass.) in 2013 and is now taking classes at a Lincoln, R.I., community college.
The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Saine -- who lived eight years in Gambia in West Africa -- ended up committing to Boston College out of high school, and then sticking with his pledge after a year at Worcester, but apparently there was a falling out due to grade issues. Saine said BC had to "review his situation," and the Worcester product decided that probably meant the Eagles weren't a great fit in the long run.
Thus, he was left college-less and football-less, although Saine remained in shape by working with two different personal trainers during the last year. All the while, Saine's mentor kept his name in the news by sending e-mails to college programs all over the country. Eventually, just a month before Signing Day, beef-needy Wake Forest and Maryland chomped at the bit.
Saine said he considered Wake's offer, but felt Maryland was "a much better situation for me." He cited the school's Big Ten affiliation, need for defensive linemen, communications program, Under Armour connections, and emphasis on education as the reasons he wants to join the College Park movement. Moreover, he immediately took to area recruiter Keith Dudzinski (who is visiting Saine Jan. 15), defensive line coach Chad Wilt and head coach Randy Edsall.
Saine said he could sense how much the staff wanted and needed him, and the edge rusher certainly appreciated that. He immediately set up an official visit to UMD for Jan. 16, and acknowledged he would be formalizing his commitment following the trip.
So, what are the Terps getting in Saine, should his commitment come to fruition?
Although he hasn't played football in over a year, Saine, who was actually born in Silver Spring, Md., looks to have some potential given his versatility, strength, athleticism and motor. He lined up all over the defense at Worcester, and showed some explosiveness as an edge rusher. He's raw fundamentally, and a project for sure, but the Terps need bodies up front, and Saine might be worth taking a flyer on. (STORY).
Robinson Sticking By Terps
The Terps’ No. 1 defensive line target, Austrian Robinson (Trinity Pawling/Pawling, N.Y.), landed his most significant scholarship to date Jan. 5: Ohio State. Urban Meyer’s crew had been making a strong run at defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (Suffield, Conn.), who committed to Clemson Jan .5, and before that Neville Gallimore (Canada Prep/St. Catharine’s, Ontario), who popped to Oklahoma. But when those options fell through, the Buckeyes immediately identified Robinson as a potential target.
Now, Robinson, who declared Maryland his clear leader following a Dec. 5 official visit to College Park, Md., did not call the Buckeyes’ offer a “game changer” per se. In fact, he’s still maintaining the Terps are his No. 1 suitor, followed by Ole Miss, OSU and Miami.
Robinson has a deep respect for the UMD staff and appreciates its persistent pursuit. Area recruiter Lyndon Johnson, line coach Chad Wilt and head coach Randy Edsall have all made it known how much they covet Robinson’s services, and their efforts have resonated with both the edge rusher and his family. The Terps need for defensive linemen, the chance for early playing time and the opportunity to compete in the Big Ten all have Robinson focused on Maryland.
Moreover, Robinson is comfortable in College Park, is genuinely fond of the Terps’ community, and believes Maryland will help develop him as a person and football player. His mother, meanwhile, took to Edsall’s education-first message, and liked how College Park was just a couple hours from her New York home.
But that’s not to say Robinson is a Terps lock just yet, as he is indeed thinking long and hard about that Buckeyes’ scholarship. Robinson is seriously considering taking an official to Columbus, Ohio, Jan. 30, for the last of his visits, and hinted OSU could ratchet up his leaderboard following said trip. He said the chance to learn under defensive line coach Larry Johnson and play for a national title contender held great appeal.
One question to ponder here, however, is how much OSU really covets Robinson. The Buckeyes will probably take one, maybe two, more defensive linemen this year, and likely will pursue several already-committed targets.
Given Ohio State’s position as the potential FBS national champion, Urban Meyer and Co. have some bargaining power, and it wouldn’t surprise if the Buckeyes flipped a highly-rated recruit. La Salle (Cincinnati, Ohio) defensive tackle Jordan Thompson, who pledged to Northwestern, is one possibility, as is Archbishop Alter (Kettering, Ohio) tackle Kraig Howe, a Pitt commit. East Saint Louis (Ill.) five-star end Terry Buckner is also considering OSU.
So the thinking on this end is Robinson may be a backburner option for Meyer and Co. unless the Buckeyes somehow strike out on other defensive line targets. (In fact, should OSU land a couple coveted D-line targets prior to Robinson’s official date, we think the New York edge rusher might just cancel the trip altogether). And based off Robison’s comments, we still believe the Terps are in the pole position.
Of course, this isn’t just a two-horse race between the Terps and Buckeyes. Before Robinson takes in OSU Jan. 30, he will see Miami Jan. 16 and Ole Miss Jan. 23. Interestingly, Robinson told me the Rebels were his No. 2 suitor behind Maryland; he claims Ole Miss has a firm offer out (we’ve heard reports to the contrary) and the staff has been in touch frequently. The Rebels do only have one defensive line pledge in the 2015 class, so perhaps the staff will make a push after all. We’ll know more as that Jan. 23 date nears.
Miami is also considered a threat, but after my latest conversation with the Trinity-Pawling product, I got the feeling he wasn’t as hot for the Hurricanes as he previously indicated.
Robinson plans to select his school Feb. 1, three days prior to Signing Day. Let’s see what develops after these next couple officials. (STORY).
More News On The D-Line Targets
Last week we reported on three high school defensive line targets the Terps recently became involved with: Mose Hall (Murphy/Mobile, Ala.), Tyrell Jacobs (Archbishop Rummel/Metairie, La.) and Robert Windsor (Fond Du Lac/Fon Du Lac, Wisc.). Add in the longtime target Robinson and the new "verbal" Saine, and there are at least five names to know as Signing Day nears (well, actually four... read on) -- and more are bound to crop up soon after this Shell is released.
There wasn’t much new to report with the Alabama end Hall, who said previously he’d be officially visiting UMD Jan. 30, though he lacks a Terps offer to this point. Hall mentioned the developing relationship he has with area recruiter Chad Wilt, and how he thought he could be a fit in Maryland’s defense.
But he also acknowledged Minnesota, which he’s officially trekking to Jan. 24, is the front-runner; Hall might not make it back from Minneapolis, Minn., without popping. The Gophers have been after Hall since October, longer than any other major FBS program.
Wake Forest is also firmly in play and may actually be running second for his services given its desperate need for defensive linemen. Hall will visit Winston Salem, N.C., Jan. 17.
We did hear from our colleagues that the Louisiana product Jacobs, who decommitted from Oklahoma due to a numbers crunch a few weeks back, set two more official visits: to Kansas State Jan. 17 and Illinois Jan. 30. Jacobs, remember, was supposed to fly out to College Park, Md., Jan. 30, but now it looks like it will notl materialize. He did not hold a firm UMD scholarship yet, and didn't want to head East unless he was assured the Terps actually want him.
Either way, Jacobs seems focused on Missouri, a school the Rummel edge rusher had near the top of his list before popping to Oklahoma last spring. He’ll officially visit Mizzou Jan. 24, and could commit to the Tigers shortly thereafter.
Meanwhile, Windsor generated a few more headlines this week. The Wisconsin lineman picked up a pair of FBS offers in the span of 24 hours, the first from UMD Jan. 4 and the next from Penn State Jan. 5. Those are in addition to earlier scholarships from Illinois, Purdue, Iowa State, Vanderbilt and Pittsburgh (may not be committable under the new regime).
Windsor was highly appreciative of the Terps’ offer, and said both he and recruiter Chad Wilt were in the process of getting to know one another. The Fond Du Lac prospect didn’t commit to an official visit to College Park yet, but hinted he was definitely considering one. UMD’s strong academics, Big Ten affiliation and opportunity for playing time appealed to Windsor.
But while Windsor sounded intrigued by the Terps, he was, shall we say, “pumped” when Penn State pulled through a day later. In fact, he immediately set up a Jan. 24 official visit to State College, Pa., and said he was eager to see the school for the first time.
Even before PSU anted up, Windsor admitted to me he’d “love” to hear more from the Nittany Lions. He just didn’t think an offer would actually materialize -- and one probably wouldn’t have had Penn State landed Christian Wilkins.
At this time, however, Windsor is sticking to the company line of being “open” to all his suitors. But the vibe is he could be the Nittany Lions’ to lose.
Illinois, which Windsor already officially visited, and UMD, are probably in Windsor’s top three, while Iowa State and Iowa (no offer yet) are also in the game.
Windsor said he’d like to take at least three official visits and then announce around Feb. 4, but we’ll see if that actually comes to fruition. (ARTICLE).
Though there have been rumors suggesting the contrary, we still believe Maryland’s best chance at adding another quarterback this year is bringing in a fifth-year transfer. Last week we discussed the names Everett Golson, Braxton Miller, Jeff Driskell and Kevin Hogan as possibilities, and we’re in the process of uncovering more.
Currently, it’s looking like the Notre Dame quarterback Golson and the Ohio State gunslinger Miller are longshots for UMD purposes. Miller has been linked to LSU, and may well wind up a Tiger, while he is also considering Duke and maybe even Florida State.
There have been swirling numerous rumors surrounding Golson’s next destination as well, but Maryland is not a name that’s being bandied about. Golson will likely end up in the SEC or Big 12.
The former Florida triggerman Driskell, meanwhile, opted to transfer to Louisiana Tech, so he’s now off the board.
As for Hogan, the Stanford product is evidently still mulling his options. The former Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) star could opt to test his mettle in the professional ranks by declaring for the NFL Draft, or he could transfer to a few different programs that may covet his services for a year.
The Terps would represent a homecoming of sorts for Hogan, who, if he opts to play another year of college football, would likely select a school close to his family in D.C. The Maryland staff recruited Hogan at Gonzaga, so there is familiarity on both sides. Virginia is also a possibility for him.
Note: Awhile back we surmised that former UAB quarterback Cody Clements could be an option for UMD since the Alabama-Birmingham football program was disbanded. But the Terps never showed much interest, and just recently Clements chose to transfer to South Alabama.
A note on a high school gunslinger: We did hear some inklings from our colleagues at the Semper Fi bowl Jan. 3 that recent Florida decommit Sheriron Jones could be a possibility for the Terps. The Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley, Calif.) dual-threat was a Terps target back in the summer, and UMD quarterbacks coach Mike Locksley had been in touch fairly regularly at one point. But after Jones popped to UF, Maryland and others backed off.
When Jones reentered the open market, however, a host of schools jumped into the fray. But before anyone could pursue in earnest, Jones, who indicated Tennessee was his favorite following his decommitment, popped to the Vols Jan. 8.
We're not even positive the Terps were all that interested to begin with.
Another note on a high school gunslinger/athlete: Some on the message board have unearthed the name Kai Locksley (Gilman/Baltimore, Md.) once again, which was to be expected considering the local triggerman and son of UMD offensive coordinator Mike Locksley is wavering on his Florida State pledge. But, just as we'd reiterated during the months leading up to Kai Locksley's original pledge to FSU, we don't see him winding up at Maryland -- even if he moves from quarterback to receiver. Locksley will officially visit Texas Jan. 23, and the feeling is he could very well wind up in Charlie Strong's program.
During the open period, it seemed like area recruiter Mike Locksley, receivers coach Keenan McCardell and head coach Randy Edsall had the Terps right in the thick of things for Lakewood (St. Petersburg, Fla.) four-star receiver Ryan Davis. But while the quarterback convert, who projects as a wideout or slot, had naught but praise for UMD and its staff during an in-home visit, it seemed like the in-state programs Florida and Florida State always held the upper-hand.
Come to find out, FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher isn’t ready to accept a Davis commitment (the ‘Noles filled up their receiver spots), so the Seminoles aren’t an option for the Lakewood dynamo at this point. For a good while, FSU was considered the team to beat.
But that still leaves Florida, which has been running first or second for Davis since last spring. Naturally, Davis is now saying his focus is on UF, with UCLA and Auburn also in play. New Gators coach Jim McElwain’s hard sell has Davis thinking Gators, while former UF coach and current Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has the receiver considering the Eagles. UCLA is in the game, meanwhile, because of its wide-open offense predicated on speed.
Davis will officially visit Auburn Jan. 16, possibly hit UCLA Jan. 23 and then end with UF Jan. 30. He already took his UMD official Sept. 12.
We haven’t removed Davis from the hot board just yet -- who knows, maybe quarterback Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.) will pop to UMD, giving Mike Locksley one last major selling point -- but it’s trending in that direction.
Note: We weren’t blind to what Davis’ teammate, receiver Jocqui Ellison, posted on Twitter earlier this week, suggesting he would be committing to Maryland after spending a prep year at Iowa Western (Council Bluff, Ia.). But after checking with a couple sources, including those in Florida and coaches at Iowa Western, this looks like a hoax. No reason to give it any credence.
The chances of Maryland and area recruiter Greg Studrawa bringing in Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.) safety Johnny Petrishen were slim to begin with, and now it appears the door has completely shut. Petrishen said after New Year’s he would be taking three, maybe four, officials in January and declined to mention Maryland as a possibility. (Recall, following UMD’s December offer, Petrishen said he was thinking about taking a midweek official to College Park in January.)
The 6-2, 197-pound safety is trekking to Pit Jan. 16-18, Penn State Jan. 23-25 and Virginia Jan. 30-Feb. 1, with a midweek visit to Northwestern also in the cards. The Nittany Lions are considered the favorite, with the Panthers close behind.
So, do the Terps still pursue another safety in this class to pair with Ridge Point (Missouri City, Texas) pledge Jameel Cook?
Well, the options are limited. Last week we mentioned Paramus Catholic’s (Paramus, N.J.) Najee Clayton and Spartanburg, S.C., safety Cedarius Rookard as alternatives to Petrishen, but neither have UMD offers at this point.
Clayton seems focused on Syracuse (the favorite), along with Rutgers, Virginia and possibly Wisconsin. And Rookard may have mitigating issues that prevent the Terps, and other FBS schools for that matter, from pursuing. His only major offer to this point is Troy.
We’ll continue to monitor the ranks and see if another name emerges late.
Top D.C. Targets Chime In
Earlier this week I was able to catch up with two of Maryland’s foremost class of 2016 local targets: Terrell Hall (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.) and Jauan Williams (Carroll/Washington, D.C.).
The defensive end Hall, now 6-5, 238-pounds, is up to around 25 offers after West Virginia, Notre Dame and Michigan State came in recently. But even as his profile has grown, the St. John’s prospect has continued to keep the hometown school at the forefront of his mind.
Hall has a developing relationship with area recruiter Mike Locksley, and is privy to the stay-home push that seems to be pulsing through the DMV’s 2016 crop. Hall mentioned current Terps pledges Keandre Jones (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.) and Lorenzo Harrison (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.), and how he’s spoken to them about playing in front of family and friends at the nearby school. He also lauded Maryland’s first Big Ten campaign, noting how the football program was becoming “important” in the area, with an increased “buzz” surrounding it.
At the same time, Hall didn’t sound like he was ready to buy into the hometown movement just yet. The Terps are in the game, but Penn State is definitely a contender and may well lead, while Ohio State, Tennessee, Michigan State, Virginia Tech, UCLA and others have his ear. This offseason he wants to visit OSU, PSU, UMD, Tennessee, LSU, UCLA, Notre Dame, Duke and North Carolina.
The Terps have a solid shot -- and an even better one should more DMV talents like Dwayne Haskins announce for Maryland -- but it looks like Hall will take his time and go through the process.
Hall would like to have his college decision made by August, before his senior season. (STORY).
With the left tackle Jauan Williams, he backed off previously stated intentions -- as he’s wont to do. When I spoke to Williams in the fall, he told me he wanted to have a favorites list formed by the spring, take a few visits, and then pick a school late during the summer. But now the Under Armour All-American is saying he’ll stretch out his recruitment all the way to next Signing Day.
Which means there’s all kids of time for his status to ebb and flow, ebb and flow.
Right now, though, he seems to like Ohio State and Penn State, with the Buckeyes perhaps holding an edge. Williams visited Columbus, Ohio, for OSU’s game against Michigan last fall and fell in love with the atmosphere (apparently his mom liked the school too). Plus Ohio State is in the national title game, which Williams admitted made the Buckeyes more attractive.
PSU, meanwhile, has his eye due to James Franklin’s overtures and the attention he’s received from the Nittany Lions’ faithful.
But while those two Big Ten bluebloods may hold Williams’ attention for the time being, we do believe the Terps have as good of a chance as any at landing the Carroll prospect. Williams didn’t rave about UMD like he did during my previous interview with him, but it’s clear he has an affinity for College Park.
Williams has long had a rapport with area recruiter Mike Locksley, and has visited Maryland numerous times for games, junior days and other visits. On top of that, UMD commit Adam McLean has been in Williams’ ear and used the UA All-American game as another opportunity to hype the hometown school.
Other universities Williams is considering include Michigan, Michigan State, Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Tennessee and Auburn. He plans to visit each of them this offseason and into next fall, so we expect plenty of twists and turns as the process moves along. (STORY).
McLean from UA, Zimmerman From Semper Fi
Scout reporter Jacquie Franciulli caught up with the injured Adam McLean at the Under Armour All-American game, while Brian Dohn spoke with Mason Zimmerman (Anthony Wayne/Whitehouse, Ohio) at the Semper Fi All-American Bowl.
An intriguing personality, McLean once again delivered a stellar on-camera interview, explaining why he opted for Maryland and how Randy Edsall’s program could aid him in his development. He went on to discuss some of the main Terps targets he’s trying to bring on board, including four-star tackle Isaiah Prince (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.), four-star guard Quarvez Boulware (Friendship Collegiate/Washington, D.C.), four-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.), receiver Tino Ellis (DeMatha), cornerback Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Gaithersburg, Md.), offensive lineman Terrance Davis (DeMatha), the aforementioned Jauan Williams, offensive lineman Richard Merritt (Carroll), defensive end/outside linebacker Rahshaun Smith (St. Frances/Baltimore, Md.), defensive end Shane Simmons (DeMatha) and others.
The UA game, however, was an opportunity for McLean to pitch the Terps in person, rather than over Twitter. He said he personally spoke to Haskins, Williams, Smith and Simmons in the players’ lounge in Florida.
Now, we don’t project all those guys to end up in College Park, despite McLean’s best efforts. But we do think the Terps remain in solid position for Prince, Boulware, Haskins (even though he’s delayed his decision somewhat); Ellis, Diggs and Davis -- with Williams and Merritt, among other top locals, in play as well. (INTERVIEW).
McLean, who is do for surgery in mid-January, didn’t participate in the UA all-star game, but the center Zimmerman did play in the Semper Fi Bowl. The word from Fullerton, Calif., was the 6-5, 275-pounder did “OK” both during the practices and in the game itself. Our colleagues told me Zimmerman may not have dominated the competition, but he didn’t perform poorly either.
Zimmerman did do a knock up job in his interview with Dohn, however. He’s not the recruiter McLean is, but he’s obviously a high-character, hard-working individual who should represent Maryland well.
The most telling comment Zimmerman made was after Dohn asked him if he would’ve chosen College Park had UMD not been in the Big Ten. Zimmerman immediately responded that, yes, he would've. The Anthony Wayne product said UMD’s academics, emphasis on education and post-career opportunities all meant more than conference affiliation, early playing time, facilities and the like.
At the very least, Zimmerman has a good head on his shoulders. (INTERVIEW).
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