Terrapin Times caught up with the blindside tackle Williams recently; this week the 6-foot-5, 330-pound Merritt chimed in.
“The recruiting’s going real good for me; I’ve been blessed to get all these offers, and Pittsburgh was actually my most recent one,” said Merritt, who holds verbals from the likes of Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Michigan State, Florida, Florida State, Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Auburn, Arkansas, Iowa, Arizona, Penn State, Miami, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Oklahoma, N.C. State and Nebraska. “But, like, a whole bunch of coaches are staying in touch with me, and it’s been fun to hear from the all. Florida State, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland, Florida – those are some of the coaches I’m closest to. But really everyone that’s offered is coming pretty hard. It’s hard to single anyone out, because it’s like everyone.”
The Terps are in hot pursuit of both Carroll linemen, and have had an offer out to Merritt for more than a year. As Merritt’s recruitment exploded, however, he seemed to put the hometown school on the backburner for a period. He’s since come back around to UMD, saying the Terps are firmly in play for his services.
“I think it’s a great school,” Merritt said. “I can see myself playing in the Big Ten at Maryland, and I can see myself playing as a true freshman there because they’re really not too strong on linemen from what I could tell. It would be a good opportunity for me.”
Merritt’s area Terps recruiter, Mike Locksley, has known the D.C. product since before he even entered high school. Merritt’s older brother, Jamal Merritt, who attended Sherwood High (Sandy Spring, Md.), played for Locksley at New Mexico, giving his younger brother early exposure to the recruiting process.
“I have a really good relationship with Coach Locksley, for the simple fact that he recruited my brother,” Merritt said. “I’ve known Coach Locks for a long time, and we talk on Twitter and I call him when I can. Coach Locksley is a great guy and he’s up here [at Carroll] all the time. He’s a great recruiter.”
The Terps have started to resonate with area prospects what with three local class of 2016 targets already on board with the DMV-to-UMD movement. Merritt is another key player who has taken notice of the trend.
“I hear a lot of it on Twitter. People tag me most of the time when they post stuff like that about Maryland,” Merritt said. “And I do think it can be done, but everyone has to get on board with wanting to go to Maryland. So many guys have offers from Alabama, Florida State, Florida and everywhere else. Sometimes guys get a little too bigheaded and they don’t think of the positive aspects of going to Maryland. They get bigheaded and think, ‘Oh let me go to this school and win a national championship.’ But they don’t think, ‘If I go to Alabama, I might have to sit my [freshman and sophomore] years and then maybe play my junior year. But if I go to Maryland I can be the ‘man’ there and be like a face of the program.’”
So, is Merritt one of those bigheaded guys?
“I mean, I really can’t say. I‘m open to every school right now. I do like Maryland, and I think it’s a great school, and it’s a place I’m comfortable at and I’ve been to,” Merritt said. “I like going to games there and I know some people on the team. But, I mean, I just don’t know yet”
Merritt was last at Maryland for a game back in September. He said he’s trying to return for UMD’s junior day Feb. 19, but he isn’t sure if he’ll be able to make it or not.
As far as other visits are concerned, Merritt said he hasn’t taken any yet this offseason but wants to be at Alabama Feb. 28. After that, he and his coach plan to travel to Virginia, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, NC State, Duke, Florida, Florida State and Miami.
Merritt said his cohort, Jauan Williams, will not be touring with him. The two have discussed attending the same school in the past, though they shouldn’t be considered a package deal.
“I mean, we’re both doing out own thing [this offseason]. Him and his mom go on the visits together, and I go with my assistant coach here at Carroll,” Merritt said. “We’ve talked about going to the same school before, but we both have to do what’s best for us.”
For his part, Merritt said he has no early standouts among his 30-plus offers. That said, he admitted a few had begun to catch his eye early on.
“Alabama is one. I really like how they put so many linemen in the league. That’s obviously attractive to me, because it’s a chance to play for a prestigious program and really develop as a player. So, yeah, I do like Alabama,” Merritt said. “But Florida, Florida State, those are two I like. Virginia Tech is a school I like, Maryland is a school I like, and Virginia too.
“I don’t have any top schools or clear leaders yet, but Those are just some [programs] I’m thinking about right now.”
The Carroll lineman said he’d like to announce his college decision at next January’s Under Armour All-American game. This summer he plans to release a top 10 or top 15 list.
In the meantime, Merritt will continue working on his game and building up his body.
“The offseason has been good, just being in the weight room working out. I’m trying to get down to 315 [pounds], because right now I’m 330,” Merritt said. “As far as that, that’s what I’m really trying to do – get my body right. Over the season, we were busy with practice and stuff, so we really didn’t work out as much. I kind of gained some weight and I’m trying to drop it now.”