Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
The Isaiah Prince (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.) Situation
OK, so here goes folks. I’ll try to put this together for you all as clearly as possible, which means it’ll probably come across as convoluted and confusing. Anyway, here’s what I’ve been able to glean from speaking to those who cover Ohio State, Alabama and those close to the four-star offensive tackle:
So, as the situation currently stands, Isaiah Prince is no longer committed to Alabama. But before we delve into that whole ordeal, let's start from when Prince popped to the Tide Jan. 23.
The original premise that Alabama had too many commitments and would not be able to accept Prince was probably not entirely accurate. Yes, the Tide did lose a defensive tackle pledge, and Prince committed to Bama almost on cue, but I’m led to believe the two events were either mutually exclusive or only loosely tied. Fact of the matter is, the Tide wanted a left tackle, Prince was their main target, and Nick Saban would’ve figured out a way to get him into school someway, somehow.
But regardless of how events transpired, Prince ended up a Tide pledge, likely because Saban and Co. forced his hand a bit. I’m told Alabama let Prince know he was their guy, but if he didn’t accept their offer on the spot, Bama would go after highly-rated lineman Chidi Valentine-Okeke (Faith Baptist Christian North/Stockbridge, Ga.) instead (Valentine-Okeke has since committed to LSU).
Since Prince did thoroughly enjoy himself in Tuscaloosa, Ala., he decided he’d better accept the scholarship and cancel his remaining official visits to Ohio State Jan. 23-25 and Maryland Jan. 30-Feb. 1.
After doing so, however, those in Prince’s party were reportedly not pleased with Bama’s game of hardball. Thus, Prince and Co. opted to quietly reset the last two officials, attempting to see both OSU and UMD without word leaking out.
Well, that’s pretty much impossible in today’s age of social media, and it took less than 24 hours for folks to figure out Prince was indeed in Columbus, Ohio, and would later travel to College Park, Md.
So following his official to Ohio State, the feeling among Buckeye insiders was that Urban Meyer -- who made one heck of a push to impress Prince by spending half a day at Roosevelt -- was in position to flip Prince from Bama. And evidently Alabama sensed the writing was on the wall as well, because in recent days the Tide hopped right back on a few other highly-rated tackle targets.
All the while, the Bama staff actually went in-home with Prince earlier this week, trying to lock down the Roosevelt product’s commitment. Prince was reportedly receptive to the pitch, but the Alabama coaches weren't the only ones in his ear. Two Buckeyes assistant returned for another go-around as well, and so did Maryland’s Mike Locksley and Randy Edsall.
Following this most recent round of coach visits, Prince decommitted from Alabama, and the feeling now is this is actually a battle between the Buckeyes and Terps. The Ohio State reporters believe Urban Meyer is in position to land Prince, but even they told me Locksley can't be counted out for a DMV recruit he covets.
Fact is, Locksley and Edsall have had Prince’s ear much longer than either Saban or Meyer, and in the end, that just might ring true with the four-star tackle.
We’re not about to predict a Prince flip to Maryland just yet, but the All-American will be in College Park this weekend, giving the Terps last dibs.
And that, UMD fans, is an enviable position to be in.
Stay tuned. Prince announces Feb. 4 at 9:30 a.m. during a ceremony at Roosevelt.
The Austrian Robinson (Trinity-Pawling/Pawling, N.Y.) Situation
Ohio State is out after they nixed an intended Jan. 30 official visit. Ole Miss seems to be focused elsewhere. And Miami isn’t at the forefront of his mind.
Which means things are looking up for Maryland with three-star defensive end Austrian Robinson.
The 6-5, 270-pounder hosted Terps area recruiter Lyndon Johnson and defensive line coach Chad Wilt at Trinity Pawling Jan. 29, and that last visit may have done the trick. Robinson already had the Terps in the pole position, but the final push may have convinced him Maryland just flat out wanted him most.
Johnson and Co. offered Robinson before any other school, way back in Feb. 2014, and have maintained consistent contact since then. Robinson almost always mentions the relationship he’s built with those two -- who have been up to New York numerous times now -- as well as the early playing time opportunities and the chance to compete in the Big Ten as the primary reasons Maryland has stood out.
Moreover, on both occasions Robinson visited College Park (in June and Dec. 6 for his official visit), he came away absolutely raving, rating the spring trip a “10 out of 10” and his official a “really, really good time.” The official visit basically cemented Maryland as his No. 1 suitor, and it’s maintained that status through his next two trips to Coral Gables, Fla., and University, Miss.
Granted, Robinson called UMD and Ole Miss “co-leaders” earlier this week, but we got the sense the Terps were still up top. Although the Rebels sent coaches to see Robinson as well, we just don’t think Ole Miss covets him the way UMD does.
I’m told Ole Miss has five-star CeCe Jefferson (Baker County/Glen Saint Mary, Fla.) and at least two other defensive line targets rated ahead of Robinson, so it’s probably unlikely the Rebels’ staff will accept the Trinity-Pawling product’s pledge, even if Robinson wants in. So unless the bottom falls out at Mississippi, the New York product is probably bound for College Park.
Robinson said he’ll likely announce his final decision on Signing Day, but acknowledged it could be before that, maybe as soon as this weekend. He noted how he’ll be returning home to see his mother Jan. 31-Feb. 1, and after “talking everything over” he could be ready to announce his college destination.
In other words, you might see a bat signal go off at some point this weekend.
OK, so now that we’re inclined to believe Robinson will join the Terps -- unless Ole Miss really does make a charge -- let’s take a look at what kind of a player UMD may be getting. Obviously I was not able to watch him live, but I spoke to a couple colleagues who did see Trinity-Pawling in action this year. Their reports were interesting, to say the least.
As a defensive end, Robinson flashed a fast first step, aggressive hands and solid athleticism, thanks to his days on the hardwood. Robinson’s stout base and long arms made it difficult for opposing linemen to get into his body, while he was able to consistently disengage from blocks as well.
That said, Robinson’s technique (hand placement, footwork, etc.) and leverage need work. On top of that, he has to develop more refined rush moves and lateral agility.
The above is a fairly typical evaluation of a mid-level FBS end, but here’s where things get rather curious. Our analysts have actually projected Robinson as an offensive tackle, and if you watch his film, rightfully so.
Robinson clearly did his best work on that side of the ball, his arm length, hands and strong base serving as obvious assets in pass protection. Moreover, Robinson came off the ball quickly, shifted his feet fairly well and displayed a potent initial punch.
Again, Robinson is still raw and has to work on leverage and fundamentals, but our analysts suggest he may be more successful as a right tackle than as an edge rusher.
The Terps will probably give Robinson a shot at defense initially, but don’t be surprised if he ends up taking instruction from Greg Studrawa rather than Chad Wilt. (ARTICLE).
The Quarvez Boulware (Friendship Collegiate/Washington, D.C.) Situation
There’s really not much to say here beyond what we reported in this space last week. The 6-2, 280-pound guard/center is still expected to sign with Maryland Feb. 4 at 10 a.m. at FCA, but in the meantime he’s enjoying paid “vacations” to Winston Salem, N.C., and Gainesville, Fla.
Boulware just went to Wake Forest Jan. 23 and naturally enjoyed himself, citing a “cool” staff and the education benefits Wake offers.
That’s all well and good, but the Deacons are not considered a serious threat to land the four-star.
Next, Boulware will be at Florida Jan. 30 for his second look at the Gators.
Some Terps fans may be leery of new UF coach Jim McElwain’s pull, but for a variety of reasons we don’t project Boulware to wind up in Gainesville. Florida also has three interior offensive line commits already, so the Gators are more in need of tackles anyway.
Recall, Boulware -- who took his Maryland official Dec. 12 and afterward declared UMD the clear frontrunner -- practically ended his recruitment Jan. 17 with an unintended pop to UMD while in College Park for the Terps-Michigan State hoops game. Afterwards, he denied such a pledge ever occurred, but the whole situation was really just a matter of semantics.
Soft pop, firm pop or no pop, it really doesn’t matter -- Boulware’s signature should be on a Maryland Letter of Intent come Signing Day.
The Ryan Davis (Lakewood/St. Petersburg, Fla.) Situation
Maryland still has some life in the Ryan Davis sweepstakes, though the Terps’ heartbeat is admittedly faint.
The four-star receiver took an official visit to Florida Jan. 23, and left raving about Jim McElwain and the overhauled Gators’ program. Add in his familiarity with the school (he’s visited countless times), the chance for early playing time in the SEC, and his rapport with numerous UF players, and the feeling is Florida might’ve jumped back into the lead for Davis’ services.
Auburn is also firmly in play after Davis officially visited the Eagles Jan. 16. Then two weeks later head coach Gus Malzahn and former Gators coach and current Eagles defensive coordinator Will Muschamp went in-home with the Lakewood prospect Jan. 28, leaving a positive impression. Davis already had an established relationship with Muschamp, and he knows Auburn needs receivers as well, so it’s certainly an attractive option for him.
Maryland, though, is right in that top three for the moment. Area recruiter Mike Locksley has done well to maintain a connection with Davis, and both he and Edsall made a strong in-home pitch when they visited St. Petersburg in mid-January.
Davis is well aware he could be a face of the UMD program, with an opportunity to be another star receiver like Stefon Diggs. The Sunshine State standout has been in College Park both unofficially and officially (Sept. 12), and has said in the past he could see himself at Maryland.
Besides the aforementioned trio, Davis might still consider Michigan, Miami or Alabama. As of this writing, Davis had not scheduled an official visit for Jan. 30, but he could conceivably take a last-second trip to see the Wolverines, Hurricanes or Tide.
But barring a late change, he’ll probably decide between the Gators, Eagles or Terps on Signing Day. The vibe for the moment, though, is hometown Florida may now hold the edge, with AU running even or a close second.
The Jameel Cook (Ridge Point/Missouri City, Texas) Situation
The recruit has gone silent on the matter, but our Midwest Scout.com sources are telling us that safety Jameel Cook has scheduled an official visit for Indiana Jan. 30-Feb. 1, which means he is no longer a Terp. Randy Edsall has a strict policy about pledges not trekking to other schools, so if true (and we have reason to believe it is), then it's, "Sayonara Mr. Cook."
Cook, through a series of texts, basically admitted this was the case, which would make him the second former UMD pledge to flip to the Hoosiers. Remember, Mike Majette (Woodbridge, Va.) took an unannounced official to Bloomington, Ind., Dec. 14 and committed to IU shortly thereafter.
The lingering question here is, Why would Cook follow through on such a visit? Indiana already had four defensive back pledges, and multiple safety commits, so it's curious why IU would even take him in the first place. Furthermore, Cook had been firmly committed to Maryland since July, and following his official visit to College Park, said he was 100 percent on board.
This is just speculation, but perhaps the only reason I can think of that would change Cook's mind is the status of his area recruiter, Keenan McCardell. McCardell was the main driving force behind the Ridge Point safety's Maryland commitment, the two having a deep rapport before Cook even got to high school (McCardell played with Cook's father, Jameel Cook Sr., in the NFL and has known Cook Jr. since he was a youngster).
We're led to believe McCardelll isn't going anywhere, but at the very least, it looks like Cook is heading elsewhere for college.
Some Good News ... Turner’s A Terp; What’s Next?
As expected, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) junior athlete Darryl Turner -- a pure playmaker who projects as a slot receiver at UMD, according to his coach, Elijah Brooks -- became the second Stag and third class of 2016 commitment for Maryland. The 5-10, 175-pounder gave Randy Edsall his word Jan. 24, following through on the intended pop during a campus visit.
Turner, who was joined by his parents (who both attended UMD) and teammate/Terps pledge Lorenzo Harrison, was noticeably amped following his short stay in College Park. He exclaimed how excited his teammates, friends and entire family were to have him at the nearby university. A longtime Terps fan who grew up in Prince George’s County, Turner called it a “dream” to represent his hometown school and continue the stay-home movement.
Turner’s relationship with area recruiter Mike Locksley, his familiarity with the school, and the fact Harrison and friends are considering Maryland all made UMD an easy choice. Not to mention, UMD was Turner’s most significant offer to date; he previously held verbals from the likes of ODU, Western Michigan, UMass and Army.
But Turner’s commitment was practically a lock after he received a firm Maryland offer on his birthday, Jan. 18. The question Terps aficionados were pondering in the immediate aftermath was, What’s next?
Of course, if you’re a frequent Shell reader, you know the names by now. But Turner himself gave some pretty clear insight into what UMD fans can be expecting in the not-too-distant future.
In the spring or summer, junior DeMatha receiver Tino Ellis should be joining his two teammates as Terps pledges. Turner personally believes Ellis will join the Movement in February, though the Stags’ receiver said that might be a little premature. Either way, he should wind up in College Park eventually.
It’s true, Ellis likes to play up Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Rutgers, but fact is he’s been even more effusive in his UMD praise than Turner has been. Area recruiter Mike Locksley, Randy Edsall and Keenan McCardell have all left a distinct impression here, as has the fact UMD produced the likes of Stefon Diggs.
Ellis even went as far as to suggest he might announce his decision at perhaps the most popular Maryland restaurant in College Park – R.J. Bentley’s (he was joking, but it’s still an encouraging statement for Terps fans).
Perhaps even before Ellis jumps on the bandwagon, look for four-star Bullis (Potomac, Md.) gunslinger Dwayne Haskins to join the fray, maybe sometime in early March. Both Turner and Ellis have hinted strongly that Haskins is on board with the DMV-to-UMD trend, which jives with what we’ve been indicating since late November.
Haskins, like Ellis, will play up other schools like Rutgers to keep the drama alive, but we expect the former to be throwing passes to the latter in Byrd Stadium circa 2016.
Haskins, of course, goes hand-in-hand with good friend and Terps legacy recruit Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Gaithersburg, Md.). The cornerback Diggs, the younger brother of former Maryland star Stefon Diggs, has said time and again he and the Bullis product are a package deal -- and we believe such a package will stay in-tact.
Diggs has been relatively quiet recently, but we still believe he’ll join Haskins at the next level. Look for Diggs to make his decision sometime during the spring.
The last of the horsemen, DeMatha guard Terrance Davis, is a heavy Terps lean as well. It might take a bit longer for Davis to pop since he wants to take a look at some of his glamour suitors (Georgia, Tennessee, Florida State, South Carolina, etc.), but all signs point to him winding up in College Park too.
Area recruiter Mike Locksley and his teammates have all been working Davis, and that should be enough to keep him home.
As I’ve written in this space previously, the above recruits are only the first tier. Other locals will, or already have, taken notice of the stay-home movement, including Ellison Jordan (Gilman/Baltimore, Md.), Jauan Williams (Carroll/Washington, D.C.), Richard Merritt (Carroll), Devery Hamilton (Gilman), J.P. Urquidez (DeMatha), Shane Simmons (DeMatha), Terrell Hall (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.) and Keith Simms (Landon/Bethesda, Md.).
You can read my article on Turner’s commitment HERE).
You can read my interview with DeMatha head coach Elijah Brooks HERE.
Speaking of Simms and Ellis…
I caught up with both the DeMatha receiver Tino Ellis and the Landon linebacker Keith Simms earlier this week, and both continued to deliver favorable opinions of the hometown school.
Simms was actually in College Park, Md., Jan. 24 along with his parents, and the trio witnessed Turner’s commitment first-hand. The Landon product mentioned how it was a fairly emotional pledge, Simms admitting to getting caught up in it a bit.
“D.J. committing, man that was big,” Simms said. “It was really big. I actually played football with him and Lo [Harrison] in the sixth grade, so I know those guys. It was a good initiative for me, actually, to see them choosing their hometown school, because it gets me really thinking about Maryland too.”
But the main reason Simms, who attended multiple Terps games in the fall and had been on campus several times prior, visited was so his parents could see College Park. Afterwards, he said his family -- his dad is a big Terps fan --immediately bought Randy Edsall’s message, while they also enjoyed interacting with area recruiter Chad Wilt, who has made Simms a priority.
The Bethesda native suggested that Maryland’s staff in general came across as “genuine.” Simms said their persistent effort in recruiting him, and the rest of the DMV for that matter, certainly held weight.
Simms is also considering Virginia, Wake Forest, Duke, South Carolina (no offer yet) and Penn State (no offer yet), but UMD is probably the team to beat right now. He plans to make his college decision in August. (ARTICLE).
As for Ellis, he too seems to be the Terps’ to lose. The DeMatha star is always careful not to tip his hand when speaking to the media, but we’re led to believe it’s only a matter of time before he pops to Edsall and Co.
Naturally, Ellis took particular note of Turner’s commitment and said many of the elite DMV talents have discussed Maryland in-depth. He noted how the likes of Haskins, Terrance Davis, Trevon Diggs and the like are well aware of what UMD could accomplish if they stay together, but many want to see other campuses before ending their recruitments. Ellis, though, made it seem like it was just a matter of time before they all hopped on the #Pride bandwagon.
Speaking of looking around, Ellis will do his share of traveling this winter. He will take in West Virginia Jan. 29, Virginia Tech the weekend after and Rutgers sometime in the spring. In-between, he’ll return to Maryland for a personal visit with his family (Ellis insists he won’t commit during that trip).
Following those trips, and possibly a couple others (depending on what offers are presented during the spring evaluation period), Ellis said he should be ready to announce his future destination in July.
And even though he won’t be making that pledge at R.J. Bentley’s, as he suggested on Twitter, we still think the Terps are in the pole position.
Area recruiter Mike Locksley, who has known Ellis since the eighth grade, has done well selling the program to him. We think that, maybe even more than the DMV Movement, will keep Ellis home. (ARTICLE).
Drop Another DL Target
We figured this was going to happen, but there was still some optimism that Terps’ Alabama area recruiter Chad Wilt would be able to secure a College Park official visit from defensive tackle Mose Hall (Murphy/Mobile, Ala.) Jan. 30.
Not the case.
The 6-4, 250-pounder, who the Terps offered when it became clear Robert Windsor (Fon Du Lac, Wisc.) would not be coming to UMD, popped to long-standing favorite Minnesota Jan. 27. He subsequently cancelled his intended trip to Maryland.
Hall also considered Wake Forest, which he tripped to Jan. 16, but he was the Gophers’ to lose from the jump.
Minnesota offered Hall before any other major FBS suitor, and the Murphy tackle had been in touch with the Gophers’ staff for months. Plus Minnesota already has two Murphy alums on its roster, including Gary Moore, who hosted Hall during his Minneapolis, Minn., official Jan. 23.
But although Hall called that Gophers’ visit “a blast,” he did not immediately commit. That slight hesitation gave Terps aficionados a ray of hope, but apparently all Hall needed was an extra 48 hours before snatching up the “Golden Ticket” Jan. 27.
Wilt made a strong effort with a visit to Mobile and pitching Maryland’s need for defensive linemen, but ultimately it was, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Once again, moving on.
Where Does Maryland Look Now?
I’ve been keeping in close contact with Stafford (Texas) defensive tackle Josh Uluocha, who area recruiter Keenan McCardell has been in touch with. And following Hall’s commitment to Minnesota, I figured maybe Randy Edsall would jump on the Texas tackle, who has expressed a desire to officially visit College Park.
Uluocha is committed to Texas State, and just took an official there, but he indicated he’d consider flipping to UMD -- or a larger suitor -- should an offer arise. He said the chance to play Big Ten ball and potentially contribute early on Maryland’s defensive line “definitely” appealed.
Since McCardell first showed interest, Uluocha has been eagerly awaiting word from the receivers’ coach. He intimated how he’d be ready to hop on a flight to College Park on a moment’s notice -- but only if the scholarship were presented.
And as of this writing, Uluocha was still in a holding pattern, so at this point Edsall just might not be interested in taking a flyer on him. If that’s the case, expect Uluocha to stay committed to Texas State.
Perhaps UMD’s headman has some other target in mind, or maybe he’s content to stand pat with the current UMD defensive linemen commits. Right now, though, we haven’t uncovered any other potential prospects beyond Uluocha.
Two 2016 DL Targets
A pair of Maryland’s foremost junior defensive line targets checked out a couple contenders earlier this week. St. John’s defensive end Terrell Hall visited Ohio State and Gilman tackle Ellison Jordan took in North Carolina.
Hall has been pegged as an early Buckeyes lean for a good while now, so it was no surprise when he returned from OSU lauding Urban Meyer and area recruiter Larry Johnson. Both Hall and his mother ate up the Buckeyes’ pomp and circumstance, citing the tradition, fan base and coaching staff. Hall said he and Johnson are building a tight relationship, and the former Penn State defensive line coach has made it known how much the St. John’s end is coveted in Columbus.
Now, Hall didn’t call Ohio State a “favorite,” but it’s certainly trending in that direction. But what’s more disconcerting for UMD aficionados is Hall’s starting to get starry eyed in a major way. He told our Buckeyes reporter that schools like OSU, Notre Dame, LSU, Penn State, Tennessee and FSU were beginning to stand out, with no acknowledgement of Maryland.
Hall is cognizant of the DMV-to-UMD movement, and he knew all about D.J. Turner’s commitment to the Terps, but it may take more than a few friends staying home to convince him to attend Maryland.
Right now, the Terps are better positioned for the defensive tackle Jordan, despite what he posts on Twitter and says in interviews. Realize that Jordan tends to become hyped about every offer from JMU to OSU, and probably would think just as highly of a visit to Fargo, N.D., as he would Palo Alto, Calif.
So, yes, Jordan, who was accompanied by his parents, naturally loved his two-day trip to Chapel Hill, N.C., for a junior day. And, yes, Jordan immediately connected with head coach Larry Fedora and defensive line coach Keith Gilmore. And, yes, Jordan loved the UNC fans and football players.
But, no, we don’t project him to wind up a Tar Heel.
Like Hall, Jordan is claiming no leaders at this time, but we think the Terps remain in a very strong spot for him, even though Virginia Tech and Penn State continue to push (Va Tech lost ground when assistant Aaron Moorehead bolted for Texas A&M, and Jordan isn’t as high on PSU as he’s led folks to believe).
Jordan has expressed a desire to play near his family, has a rapport with Terps assistant Mike Locksley and the rest of the UMD staff, and really likes the school’s strong journalism program (he wants to be a sports reporter). The DMV Movement, meanwhile, certainly doesn’t hurt Maryland’s chances either.
Expect Jordan -- who will be at WVU’s junior day Jan. 31, followed by a trip to Rutgers -- to return to College Park at some point this winter/spring. He will likely select his college sometime later this summer.
Adding a CB; Payne’s Coming Home
We typically don’t make a huge deal out of walk-ons, but when former H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) star cornerback D’Andre Payne announced he was transferring from Tennessee to Maryland Jan. 23, it certainly generated plenty of buzz. Considering the 5-9, 180-pound Payne had an offer list exceeding 30 coming out of high school, well, that makes him the most high-profile, non-scholarship recruit I can remember.
Payne, who had fallen down the depth chart at UT, couldn’t be reached for comment, but he must have A) gotten homesick or B) really bought into the hometown movement to accept a walk-on opportunity. Count it as a coups for Randy Edsall and Co.; they just added a relatively talented defensive back without having to give up a scholarship. (It’s kind of like having your cake … OK, you get the picture).
Granted, Payne is not the second-coming of Deion Sanders, and many of his claimed offers were not committable, including the one from UMD (Maryland never pushed for him). But I did see Payne play at Woodson, and before that Friendship Collegiate, and deemed him FBS worthy. If he reaches his potential, he could be a nice rotational piece or third defensive back for the Terps.
In high school, Payne flashed a fast first step, had a nose for the ball, was physical at the line, and was active in the air. He didn’t perform all that well in press, while his hips were a bit stiff and his technique inconsistent, but I certainly didn’t think he was a poor cornerback. And actually, I liked Payne’s short-area quickness and open-field playmaking ability, and thought he might develop into a slot receiver at some point.
As a freshman at Tennessee, Payne appeared in eight games and racked up eight tackles. He will have to sit out one season before being eligible to play at UMD.
Drop A CB; Irvine’s Not Coming
It was a longshot to begin with, but now the Terps won’t even have a chance to woo Sandalwood (Jacksonville, Fla.) cornerback Jay Irvine. The 6-1, 185-pounder committed to Oregon State back on Jan. 19 following an official visit, but he still intended to honor his two remaining trips to Wake Forest Jan. 23 and Maryland Jan. 30.
Indeed, Irvine followed through with the Winston Salem visit last weekend, but he informed me Jan. 29 he would not be trekking to College Park. Evidently the Beavers’ coaches went in-home with Irvine earlier this week and convinced the emerging Sandalwood prospect to end his recruitment right then and there.
OSU had long been the favorites anyway considering the Beavers’ staff had been on Irvine for months, so his decision certainly wasn’t a shock. The Terps made a run when area recruiter Keenan McCardell visited Sandalwood in December, but it was too late by that point.
So, where does that leave Maryland in terms of 2015 defensive back recruits? Well, we haven’t identified any other targets with Signing Day fast approaching, though with Irvine out and Jameel Cook seemingly off the board, you'd have to think UMD would try to pull someone else in. It’s possible the Terps might stand pat and attempt to add multiple 2016 corners/safeties if they can't find another '15 target, or perhaps try to secure another post-Signing Day transfer. (Remember, they brought in Denzel Conyers after Signing Day last year).
Terps Add A Punter/Kickoff Specialist
Although they have Lee Shrader in the program now and walk-on Nick Pritchard (New Egypt, N.J.) coming in, the Terps apparently couldn’t pass up the chance to add one of the top high school booters in the country in Nick Rubinowicz (American Heritage/Delray Beach, Fla.).
We detailed Randy Edsall’s heavy interest in Rubinowicz in last week’s Shell, and a few days later the Terps’ headman extended a firm scholarship offer while in Delray Beach, according to coaches Tony Bugeja and Mike McCabe.
Rubinowicz, who had walk-on opportunities from California, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and Miami, accepted the scholarship on the spot. A high-honors student with a 33 ACT score, Rubinowicz valued UMD’s academic reputation and the chance for early playing time, while the family appreciated how Edsall personally visited American Heritage. On top of that, Terps assistant Brian Stewart had been involved with Rubinowicz for a good while, letting the punter know the opportunities UMD presented.
Now, it’s true Edsall did not release a #MarylandPride tweet following the alleged pledge, but this is likely a situation where the headman wants Rubinowicz to officially visit College Park before taking his commitment. Either way, Rubinowicz and his coaches coaches confirmed the punter’s on board, so, barring a snag, we should see Edsall’s bat signal go off at some point during the American Heritage recruit’s official visit Jan. 30-Feb. 1.
So, how good is Rubinowicz?
Based off reports from McCabe and Bugeja, the Terps are getting one heck of a booter. His kickoffs consistently sail out of the back of the end zone, while his punts routinely travel 44-plus yards and have an average hang time of around 5.0 seconds.
Maryland ranked near the bottom of the FBS in net punt average last year, giving opposing offenses short fields to work with. With that in mind, adding a specialist who could potentially flip field position is a potentially valuable asset. (ARTICLE).
Tanyi Takes Official
Outside linebacker Mbi Tanyi (Bush/Sugar Land, Texas) was the final class of 2015 early Terps pledge to officially visit College Park, doing so with his family Jan. 23-25. It was Tanyi’s second time on campus -- he flew in for the spring game April 11, 2014 -- and his parents’ first, giving the latter pair an opportunity to see first-hand where their son would be attending college.
The Tanyis already knew Randy Edsall and area recruiter Keenan McCardell from their multiple visits to Texas, but this trip allowed them to meet the rest of the staff, as well as current Terps players and academic advisors. In addition, they toured the campus, Washington, D.C., and the College Park area.
“They enjoyed it. They’re optimistic about my future, and they’re excited about the environment I’ll be in [at Maryland],” Tanyi said.
Tanyi, meanwhile, liked connecting with player host Nnamdi Egbuaba and freshmen Jesse Aniebonam, Josh Woods, Juwann Winfree and transfer Denzel Conyers. He also took to position coach Lyndon Johnson, who demonstrated how Tanyi would be used in Maryland’s defense.
After the trip, Tanyi, who wants to be a pharmacist and will pursue a degree in that field, said he was certain he’d made the right college decision. He turned down a run by hometown Houston and later Oklahoma State to be a Terp, and is set to sign with UMD Feb. 4. (ARTICLE).
New Offers Out
The Terps extended at least six new underclassmen offers this week: linebacker Aaron Hansford (St. John's/Washington, D.C.), offensive tackle Will Fries (Cranford Sr./Cranford, N.J.), linebacker Greg Simmons (Fort Pierce Central/Fort Pierce, Fla.), safety Khaleke Hudson (McKeesport, Pa.), safety Brandon Jones (Nacogdoches, Texas) and offensive guard Tyler Gerald (Sciotoville/Portsmouth, Ohio).
Of the above, the Terps probably have the best shot at the 6-2, 225-pound Simmons -- if he in fact has a committable offer (many Florida prospects have been claiming premature Maryland offers). Simmons is under the radar nationally, with his only other Division I verbals being from Cincinnati and Florida Atlantic, but has been hearing from schools like Florida State, Virginia Tech and others.
When Simmons learned from his coaches about the supposed UMD offer, he immediately vaulted Maryland to top of his favorites list. He noted how the chance to play Big Ten ball held prime appeal, while he readily took to area recruiter Brian Stewart. Simmons said he couldn’t wait to take in College Park for the first time this summer.
We’ll see where this leads down the road, but for now the Terps are in a good spot early on (if in fact Maryland actually makes a push). (ARTICLE).
Maryland probably has a good shot at Hansford as well. The emerging local now has offers from UMD, Pitt, Toledo, ODU, Duke and others, though UMD holds water. He was excited when the verbal was presented and has been on campus before. We'll have more on him later.
Meanwhile, the 5-11, 200-pound Hudson has about 20 offers to date, and those in Pennsylvania believe he’s practically a Penn State lock. Michigan State and Ohio State are two other major players.
The 6-5, 300-pound Gerald is a four-star recruit who committed to Ohio State back in June. Florida State and Penn State were also in on him, but he’s a solid pledge to the hometown Buckeyes.
The 6-6, 270-pound Fries is an emerging three-star recruit who has added a slew of offers to date. He was excited when the Terps pulled through, but he also just picked up verbals from Clemson, South Carolina and Penn State. N.C. State, Rutgers, Boston College, Syracuse, Wake and others are also on him.
And the 5-11, 185-pound Jones has offers from pretty much every college football blueblood in the country. The in-state Texas schools have the edge, but Alabama, Ohio State, LSU and the like are involved as well. Terps area recruiter Keenan McCardell has done well recruiting the Lone Star State, but Jones will not be an easy pull.
After Mose Hall and Jay Irvine cancelled their official visits, we have heard of only two prospects taking trips to College Park for the final weekend before National Signing Day.
Isaiah Prince, OT, Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.)
Nick Rubinowicz, P, American Heritage (Delray Beach, Fla.)
TTDave's Inside The Shell
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