TTDave's Inside The Shell

Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.

Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.

Texas Three Step?

Terps assistant Keenan McCardell helped pull in a pair of Lone Star State recruits back in the summer when Mbi Tanyi (Bush/Sugar Land, Texas) and Jameel Cook (Ride Point/Missouri City, Texas) joined the Maryland program, and now the Texas native may have UMD in position for a third. Maryland’s receivers’ coach came in contact with James Taylor (Katy, Texas) safety Rodney Clemons right after the New Year, and though head coach Randy Edsall hasn’t extended an offer yet, the late-emerging recruit is planning to officially visit College Park, Md., Jan. 23.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Clemons pulled in earlier offers from SMU and New Mexico, in addition to Division I-AA suitor Abilene Christian, but said the Terps held particular appeal due to their Big Ten affiliation. Clemons has never been to UMD before, though he mentioned how he’s looking forward to seeing the campus, meeting the coaches, and delving into what the program has to offer.

He knows UMD has produced some notable NFL alums, and is aware the team needs another safety in this year’s class. Maryland also has a strong program in Clemons’ intended major: sports medicine or physical therapy.

Given the above, Maryland would seem to be in solid shape for the Texas safety, but UMD will receive stiff competition from SMU. While SMU doesn’t compete in a power conference like the Terps, it is close to his Katy home, which Clemons acknowledged gives the Mustangs a leg up. Moreover, SMU was Clemons’ first major offer, and the staff has been in close contact with him since December.

Clemons, a converted receiver who recorded 115 tackles, five interceptions and six pass breakups in 2014, is scheduled to take an official to SMU Jan. 17, one week before his Maryland trip. He’s also looking to visit New Mexico Jan. 30, but admitted that could change should another intriguing suitor emerge (he wasn’t all that thrilled about UNM).

Expect Clemons to select his school right around the beginning of February, if not sooner. Right now, SMU sounds like the team to beat, but we’ll know more following the upcoming officials. (ARTICLE).

Another Defensive Back To Watch…

In addition to mining his native Texas, it sounds like McCardell has been tracking recruits from his old NFL stomping grounds as well. Around the same time Clemons reported increased UMD interest, defensive back Jay Irvine from Sandalwood High (Jacksonville, Fla.) said he’d been hearing more and more from McCardell as well.

Irvine initially claimed a Terps scholarship when I spoke to him Jan. 14, but later admitted it’s contingent on Randy Edsall’s and defensive backs coach Brian Stewart’s evaluations, putting him in the same boat as Clemons. The 6-1, 175-pound Irvine, who McCardell has been tracking since last spring, said he could potentially fit as a safety or cornerback in College Park, and is considering taking an official to the school Jan. 30.

Irvine went on to say that McCardell is “his guy;” at one point Maryland’s assistant had the Sunshine State defensive back thinking Terps all the way. But Irvine admitted once UMD stopped pursuing in earnest, it led the Florida prospect to focus attention elsewhere.

That said, now that McCardell has re-upped the interest, Irvine has College Park somewhat back on the radar. He noted his relationship with the UMD receivers’ coach as the main reason he’s still keeping UMD in mind, along with the school’s academics and potential need for defensive backs.

But Irvine also said that Oregon State is a clear favorite, while Wake Forest is probably running second. Both the Beavers and Deacons have been after Irvine for months, and seem to hold a decided edge at the moment.

Irvine will officially visit OSU Jan. 16, and if he doesn’t commit while on campus (a possibility), he’ll make it up to Winston Salem, N.C., Jan. 23.

Provided Irvine leaves both universities without pledging, well, the Terps might just have a shot here. That is, if he opts to actually visit Maryland at all. Irvine also said that he might opt to see Middle Tennessee instead, since the Blue Raiders’ staff has been “on me hard.”

Maybe if a firm Terps offer is presented, Irvine will give UMD a closer glimpse. But, at this time, he seems destined to be a Beaver or Deacon.

For now, we’ll keep him on the hot board and see if the situation changes in the near future. (STORY).

Note: Irvine mentioned that McCardell had also been in touch with his cousin, Javarius Davis, a running back from nearby Ed White (Jacksonville, Fla.). The safety/corner noted how McCardell was trying to get both Jacksonville products to officially visit College Park Jan. 30. But after speaking to Davis personally, it doesn’t sound like he’s taking the Terps all that seriously.

Davis already has officials scheduled for Auburn Jan. 16 and Georgia Jan. 30, and said he’s thinking about tripping to Florida or Michigan Jan. 23. When asked specifically about UMD, Davis said, “I know Jay [Irvine] likes Maryland, but he's higher on them than I am. I'm not really looking at them."

Yet Another DB Mentioned

Scout analyst Brian Dohn reported earlier this week that Wisconsin decommit T.J. Griffin (Ocean Lakes/Virginia Beach, Va.), who backed out of his Badgers’ pledge Jan. 14 following assistant Chris Beatty’s departure, would be inquiring into four different programs leading up to Signing Day. The 5-10, 180-pound Griffin has one official visit set up to Virginia Jan. 23, and is also considering visiting Florida, Oregon and Maryland in the coming weeks.

But after speaking to a Scout analyst who knows the Virginia Beach area well, Griffin is basically a Wahoos lock. Why? Because Chris Beatty just happened to take the running backs coaches job at UVA. Enough said.

We’ll let you know if something changes, but at this time the Ocean Lakes recruit seems like a relative long shot for Terps purposes.

College Park Weekend Visitors

As far as we know, the Terps will host two official visitors Jan. 16-18 now that the open period has resumed leading up to Signing Day Feb. 4. UMD pledge and one of the program’s foremost advocates, Adam McLean (Quince Orchard/Gaithersburg, Md.), will be in town for his lone official, and he’ll be joined by post-grad defensive tackle Oseh-Lie Saine, most recently of Worcester Prep Academy (Worcester, Mass.).

Saine, of course, is expected to formalize his verbal commitment to Maryland following the trip, likely on Jan. 18 after speaking one-on-one with Randy Edsall. The Rhode Island native, who starred at Lincoln (R.I.) during high school, probably doesn’t even need any McLean coaxing, as the 6-4, 270 pounder told area recruiter Keith Dudzinski and defensive line coach Chad Wilt, “I’m coming,” shortly after the Terps offered in early January.

We reported extensively on Saine when he first pulled his Maryland scholarship Jan. 7, and then broke him down further in last week’s Shell. Remember, he has one other major offer from Wake Forest, but said the Deacons didn’t hold nearly the same appeal UMD did. He likes Maryland’s 3-4 scheme, its conference affiliation, its communications program, its Under Armour connection, and the fact UMD has a need for beef up front.

Saine hasn’t even seen the school yet, but said the Terps have so much going for them he’s fairly certain he’ll fit well in College Park. Expect Saine, who has been out of football since 2013 (refer to my story on him HERE for more), to send off the #MarylandPride bat signal this weekend. That is, unless another Ulric Jones (Butler C.C./El Dorado, Kans.) situation arises.

As for McLean, it certainly looks like he’s firmly on board with Randy Edsall’s program. The four-star defensive tackle has been all Terps since he committed to Maryland back in December after a falling out with Penn State, telling reporters and recruits alike that UMD is about to turn a corner.

Some Terps fans worried that an Ole Miss or some other power program could sway the mercurial McLean late during the recruiting process, but it doesn’t sound like that’ll be the case. Barring an academic snag -- McLean said he’s fully qualified, but we still think he has a little work to do before he can enroll at Maryland -- the Quince Orchard product should be a Terp come Feb. 4.

Terps Targets Visiting Elsewhere This Weekend

With the open period back in full swing, the last of the uncommitted 2015s will be trekking to various locales leading up to Feb. 4. As a reminder, here is a list of the top remaining Terps targets, who are taking officials this weekend:

Isaiah Prince, OT, Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.): Alabama (Jan. 16), Ohio State (Jan. 23)
The Skinny: We still think the Terps hold an edge here, regardless of whether Prince takes an official to College Park Jan. 30 or not. Alabama might be running a close second for his services, while Ohio State now has some major mojo having won a national championship. It’ll be interesting to see what Prince is thinking following his Buckeyes trip Jan. 23, though the vibe is UMD area recruiter Mike Locksley should be able to seal the deal for the local product come Feb. 4. We’ll know more for certain in the days leading up to Feb. 4.

Quarvez Boulware, OG/OC, Friendship Collegiate (Washington, D.C.): Alabama (Jan. 16), Wake Forest (Jan. 23), Florida (Jan. 30)
The Skinny: Boulware was supposed to join Prince in Tuscaloosa, Ala., this weekend, but he ended up canceling the trip. Boulware lacks a firm Tide offer, and we’re not sure he would've gotten one, either, since Bama has numerous interior offensive line recruits already committed. He finalized his Florida official earlier this week, and we do think new Gators coach Jim McElwain and Co. have Boulware’s ear. The fact Florida has last dibs for Boulware might make some Terps fans leery, but we’re inclined to believe Maryland has the inside track. He took his official to College Park Dec. 12 and came away raving, and later suggested UMD was indeed his leader. Boulware is scheduled to be back in College Park for an unofficial visit Jan. 16, giving him yet another chance to interact with the staff. Wake Forest, meanwhile, is probably on the backburner barring something unforeseen happening.

Austrian Robinson, DE, Trinity-Pawling (Pawling, N.Y.): Miami (Jan. 16), Ole Miss (Jan. 23), Ohio State (Jan. 30).
The Skinny: Robinson took to Twitter to announce he now has just a base top four instead of a clear leader (Maryland) and a No. 2 (Ole Miss), with OSU and Miami trailing. But I wouldn’t worry yet, Terps fans. This is a common tactic used by recruits as they enter the homestretch in order to A) not show their hand as Signing Day approaches, B) give themselves an “out” in case they’re blown away by a surprise visit or C) a previously mentioned No. 1 suitor stops pushing for them. We do think Robinson is entering his last three officials with an open mind, but we still believe UMD is in solid shape given the Terps’ longstanding relationship with him, and their inherent need for beef up front. Not to mention Robinson’s mother is high on Edsall and Co, which can only help Maryland’s chances.

The Rebels, we’re told, still haven’t extended a firm scholarship, despite Robinson’s insistence to the contrary. He likes Mississippi, but the feelings might not be mutual. Meanwhile, Robinson didn’t seem as high on Miami as we originally surmised; we’ll see if the upcoming official changes anything with the Hurricanes. Ohio State, Robinson’s latest suitor, would seem to be in position for the Trinity-Pawling product considering how excited he was when the Buckeyes offered. But we’re not sure how hard Urban Meyer will push now that he has a national championship to sell to some of OSU’s other top D-line targets.

So, basically, we like the Terps’ chances here (he officially visited College Park Dec. 6) -- unless the Rebels and Buckeyes really do make a power move.

Robert Windsor, DE, Fond Du Lac (Fon Du Lac, Wisc.): Penn State (Jan. 23), Maryland (Jan. 30)
The Skinny: Windsor hasn’t scheduled any trips this coming weekend, though we suspect he could take a last minute flight out to Iowa State or Purdue. Penn State is in a strong spot for the Wisconsin product considering how amped he was following the Nittany Lions’ scholarship (he immediately set up his official to State College, Pa., following the offer). But Windsor just scheduled his Terps trip Jan. 13, and said he’s eager to see College Park as well. Area recruiter Chad Wilt visited Windsor’s school Jan. 15, and apparently that left an impression too. Given Maryland’s need for defensive linemen, and the fact the Terps will have the final impression, it could push UMD past PSU in the pecking order. If Windsor leaves State College, Pa., without committing (definitely not a guarantee), we think Maryland will have a solid shot.

Mose Hall, DT, Murphy (Mobile, Ala.): Wake Forest (Jan. 16), Minnesota (Jan. 23), Maryland (Jan. 30)
The Skinny: Hall has gone on record saying Minnesota is his leader. In fact, he might not make it out of Minneapolis, Minn., without popping to the Gophers. Wake Forest has Hall’s ear as well, but we don’t see him picking the Deacons over the Gophers. As for Maryland, Hall does like UMD and defensive line coach Chad Wilt -- who visited Hall’s school Jan. 15 -- and knows the Terps need D-line help, but thus far Randy Edsall hasn’t extended a firm scholarship. Hall will probably have to visit College Park Jan. 30 to earn one, but at this point we’re not positive the intended trip will come to fruition. If Edsall and Co. can land Austrian Robinson and Robert Windsor, the Terps might not be that interested in bringing Hall in anyway.

Ryan Davis, WR, Lakewood (St. Petersburg, Fla.): Auburn (Jan. 16), UCLA (Jan. 23 ?), Florida (Jan. 30 ?), Alabama (?)
The Skinny: Davis, who officially visited UMD Sept. 12, has been fading, fading, fading for the Terps, even though he occasionally still mentions he’s in touch with area recruiter Mike Locksley. The Gators and Jim McElwain clearly have his ear now, while Auburn is right in the game with ex-Florida coach Will Muschamp in toe. Florida State was considered the front-runner, but head coach Jimbo Fisher doesn’t have enough room to take Davis. The four-star athlete will likely end up in Gainesville, Fla., although Alabama is now making a late charge as well.

Rodney Clemons, S, James Taylor (Katy, Texas): SMU (Jan. 16), Maryland (Jan. 23), New Mexico (Jan. 30)
The Skinny: See above.

Jay Irvine, S/CB, Sandalwood (Jacksonville, Fla.): Oregon State (Jan. 16), Wake Forest (Jan. 23), Maryland or Middle Tennessee (Jan. 30).
The Skinny: See above.

Oseh-Lie Saine, DT, Worcester Academy (Worcester, Mass): Maryland (Jan. 16)
The Skinny: See above.

Adam McLean, DT, Quince Orchard (Gaithersburg, Md.): Maryland (Jan. 16)
The Skinny: See above. Committed to Terps.

Mbi Tanyi, OLB, Bush (Sugar Land, Texas): Maryland (Jan. 23)
The Skinny: Committed to Terps.

Note: Recall, we removed Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.) safety Johnny Petrishen from the hot board last week after he announced he wouldn’t be officially visiting College Park (he’ll hit Pitt, Penn State and UVA instead, with PSU considered the leader). Area recruiter Greg Studrawa may still make one last-gasp push for Petrishen when he visits him Jan. 15, but it might be too little too late.

Same goes for Archbishop Rummel (Metairie, La.) defensive end Tyrell Jacobs, who backed out of a previously-intended Jan. 30 College Park trip in favor of Illinois. He’ll also be visiting Kansas State (Jan. 16) and Missouri (Jan. 23). Ever since Jacobs decommitted from Oklahoma, he has been considered a Mizzou lean.

Nation’s No. 1 TE Chimes In

I was able to catch up with Maryland’s – and, really, 30 others teams’ – No. 1 class of 2016 tight end target this week. Naseir Upshur (Imhotep/Philadelphia, Pa.), teammate of current Terps’ pledge D.J. Moore, gave a full rundown of where his recruitment stands at this stage.

The 6-3, 235-pounder is basically open to anything at this point, although he admitted Ohio State and Miami have his attention for the moment. The Buckeyes, of course, hold weight with many of the nation’s elite after winning the national championship.

But even as I prodded and nudged Upshur about those two schools -- and other standouts -- he continued to insist any stated leaders could change down the road. An in-tune prospect, who has seen others go through the process, Upshur is well aware how recruitments tend to ebb and flow, so he’s not about to tip his hand early.

That said, Upshur does seem to be drawn to the likes of Arizona State (he’s visited there twice and seemed particularly intrigued), Maryland, Auburn, Michigan State, South Carolina and Florida State, along with Ohio State and Miami. Notre Dame, which could offer shortly, would also become a factor once that scholarship is presented.

I hit Upshur hard about the Terps, who have been after the Imhotep tight end since last spring, and the feeling on this end is, while UMD can’t be considered a leader, it could be among his top five to seven suitors.

Upshur has visited College Park a few times in the last year, and said he’s comfortable on campus and likes how the school is less than two hours from home. He saw the UMD-Michigan State game in Byrd Stadium, enjoying the atmosphere and admitting he “didn’t think Maryland could pack [the stadium] like that.”

Upshur also has a solid relationship with tight ends coach and area recruiter John Dunn, who Upshur noted “has been on me hard. He wants me bad.” Moreover, the receiver Moore has been hyping Maryland to Upshur since July, his overtures holding water with the Philadelphia tight end.

The most intriguing comment Upshur made, however, was how he would be paying close attention to where some of the top quarterbacks he knows attend school. He specifically brought up two nearby friends, Brandon McIlwain (Council Rock North/Newton, Pa.) and Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.), mentioning how he’d like to play with either one of them.

McIlwain committed to South Carolina Dec. 31, which has Upshur thinking Gamecocks, while he said he’d be taking a closer look at the programs Haskins is high on too.

Haskins has made it known that Maryland, Notre Dame and Ohio State are his three standouts, and, as we’ve been reporting in this space, we think the Terps are in a very good spot for his services. Now, we’re not saying Upshur would become a Maryland lock when/if Haskins announces for UMD, but it would certainly improve the Terps’ chances considerably. (STORY).

Upshur Just Became More Important, Because...

The Terps' other top tight end target, Devante Brooks (St. John's/Washington, D.C.), popped to Tennessee Jan. 15. Brooks had long favored the Volunteers, openly admitting they were his No. 1 and would be hard to beat.

During my last interview with the local product, Brooks had to be coaxed into even talking about the Terps, which was a change from previous comments he made during the fall. Brooks told me UT led, followed by Virginia Tech, Kentucky, Iowa and Nebraska, with UMD sitting just outside the top five.

Whether or not he stays committed to Tennessee remains to be seen, but, either way, barring a 180 down the road, it doesn't sound like Brooks will be playing in College Park.

Another Week, Another Quarterback Update

The search continues for a fifth-year quarterback, who can step in and start for a year, or back up Caleb Rowe, who is still on the mend from a torn ACL.

Last week we all but ruled out the names Braxton Miller (Ohio State) and Everett Golson (Notre Dame), and Jan. 15 Stanford gunslinger Kevin Hogan announced he will be heading back to Palo Alto, Calif. The former Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) triggerman, who has graduated, but still has a year of eligibility remaining, was reportedly leaning towards turning pro. But evidently he'll play his final college season at the place he's known the last four years.

Which means the Terps will have to scan the ranks for yet another name. We haven’t heard of any new targets, but we’ll continue to reach out and see what we can cull out.

Payne Not Likely

We’ve kicked around the name of Tennessee transfer and Washington, D.C., native D’Andre Payne the last couple weeks, at first intimating a return home was unlikely, and then suggesting a homecoming was possible, according to another source. But now we’re fairly certain the former H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) star cornerback won’t wind up in College Park.

We haven’t heard exactly where the freshman Payne will be heading, but, regardless, he probably won’t be playing under Randy Edsall.

Pritchard’s Still Coming

With former UMD assistant Andre Powell departing for Pittsburgh, I checked in with Maryland’s incoming walk-on punter, Nick Pritchard (New Egypt, N.J.), just to make sure he still intended to come to College Park next year. And Pritchard, who had only really been in contact with Powell during the recruiting process, said that, yes, he would indeed be enrolling. He said he is fully focused on earning a Maryland education and competing with Lee Shrader in camp.

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