Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
As the Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.) Wheel Turns…
So with the four-star quarterback that is supposed to be committing still not having pulled the trigger quite yet, Terps recruit aficionados are still playing the waiting game. Which is understandable considering the DMV-to-UMD Movement last saw a pop Jan. 24 when D.J. Turner (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) jumped on board.
In the wake of Turner’s pledge, local fans have watched an elite defensive end commit to Ohio State (Terrell Hall/St. John’s); a receiver target pledge to West Virginia (Marcus Simms/Sherwood); another wideout claim Virginia Tech as his leader (Tino Ellis/DeMatha); a four-star cornerback and legacy recruit call Alabama his No. 1 (Trevon Diggs/Avalon); an elite linebacker gush over Stanford (Keith Simms/Landon); and a UMD linebacker pledge declare he was visiting OSU and possibly Michigan (Keandre Jones/Good Counsel).
If ever The Movement needed a shot of life, it’s now (or at least by the spring). Fortunately for Maryland backers, the Terps are still on track to secure the breadwinner of the bunch, the one recruit who could steer his fellow DMV talents back on the red-and-white path.
It’s true, Dwayne Haskins will be at Notre Dame March 21 and at Florida March 28. But the weekend after -- along with Diggs, four-star running back Robert Washington (Southlake Christian/Huntersville, N.C.) and others of that ilk – Haskins will return to College Park, Md., for the third time this offseason.
Will Haskins finally commit to Maryland on said date? It remains to be seen, but we still believe the Terps are in position to land him before the summer months. Haskins has been downplaying UMD recently and will undoubtedly continue to do so following his South Bend, Ind., and Gainesville, Fla., visits, but it’s all part of his game.
Truth is, he’s remained in close contact with Terps head coach Randy Edsall, offensive coordinator Mike Locksley and area recruiter Chad Wilt. In fact, Haskins let slip on Twitter recently that he had a “great” conversation with Edsall.
You don’t have to be a clairvoyant to guess what they were talking about.
More than likely Edsall once again stressed the importance of Haskins’ commitment to Maryland and what it would mean to the program. Edsall probably reemphasized how Haskins could be the ringleader of this 2016 class and potentially become the face of UMD football.
And the Bullis quarterback, we’re led to believe, is indeed listening. Now we’ll just have to see if he’s truly ready to join the program, or if Haskins will continue to methodically slog through the process.
Could we potentially become worried about an Ohio State, a Notre Dame, a Florida, an Oklahoma (wants to visit this spring), an LSU (wants to visit this spring) or an Alabama (wants to visit this spring)?
Well, you never know in recruiting, especially when dealing with teenage kids. But, for the moment, we still like Maryland’s chances.
One Simms Fading, Another Simms Faded
As late as the end of January, with The Movement at the forefront of local recruits’ minds, the Terps looked to be in the pole position for both Landon (Bethesda, Md.) outside linebacker Keith Simms and Sherwood (Sandy Spring, Md.) receiver Marcus Simms.
Since then, however, Keith Simms has slowly backed away from UMD in favor of some prestigious out-of-state academic institutions, while Marcus Simms is off the board to West Virginia.
Now, it’s true the Landon product is no longer calling Stanford his “leader,” though that might just be for logistical reasons. He’s earned a number of interesting offers this winter, and obviously it wouldn’t behoove him to visit some of these schools if their respective staffs already knew he was heading to Palo Alto, Calif.
Keith Simms hasn’t taken any visits recently, but during his upcoming break he’ll be trekking through the Carolinas to see Duke (visited March 20), N.C. State, Wake Forest and North Carolina (visited March 19). After that, he’ll fly out West to check out Cal and, yes, Stanford. Other schools on his radar for the summer include Michigan, Notre Dame (no offer yet) and maybe even Oregon (no offer yet).
At the moment, Keith Simms seems infatuated with the two Pac-12 programs, Stanford and Cal, and, as we’ve said in the past, it wouldn’t shock us if he committed to the Cardinal while out West.
If the Bethesda native refrains, however, perhaps others like Maryland, Notre Dame, Michigan and the like can make a run.
Keith Simms still has plenty of praise for his hometown school, and he’s maintained consistent contact with area recruiter Chad Wilt. The school’s academics and the chance for his family to see him play regularly all resonate.
It’s even possible Simms will make his way back to College Park at some point this offseason, though it won’t be easy with school and his extensive travel schedule.
But if Wilt and Co. can coax him over to campus again, then perhaps UMD can make its way back into the forefront of Keith Simms’ mind.
The Terps are still one of his main suitors, and will likely be on his upcoming leaderboard, but there’s no awards for second or third place in recruiting. So let’s see where Keith Simms stands following that Cardinal trip in early April.
As for Marcus Simms, well, his WVU commitment was a bit of a sucker punch for Maryland purposes. No, the 6-0 receiver isn’t a program changer, but he was probably the most pro-DMV-to-UMD recruit the Terps had pursued recently.
Recall, the Sherwood wideout actually considered committing to Randy Edsall on the spot Feb. 19 while on campus, and then came agonizingly close to doing so once again after returning to UMD Feb. 24. He expressed a desire to play with his former DeMatha teammates D.J. Turner and Lorenzo Harrison, as well as represent his home state. Marcus Simms had a terrific rapport with area recruiter Chad Wilt and actively took to receivers’ coach Keenan McCardell as well.
But when Marcus Simms left College Park Feb. 24 without popping, it allowed other pursuers an opportunity to change the Sherwood receivers’ mind. So, the wideout took in Rutgers March 12, which was strike one against Maryland (Simms went from UMD as his “clear No. 1” to RU and Maryland as co-leaders). Then, the very next weekend, he visited Morgantown, W.Va.
We figured the impressionable Marcus Simms would return from WVU declaring the Terps, Scarlet Knights and Mountaineers as his top three, but he bypassed that “traditional” recruiting path altogether. Apparently his West Virginia recruiter, Lonnie Galloway, sold the program well, while WVU’s penchant for producing receivers (Tavon Austin, Kevin White, Steadman Bailey) served as a ringing endorsement. Not to mention Marcus Simms’ head coach at Sherwood is a West Virginia alum.
Now, we’re not positive Marcus Simms will actually stay committed to the Mountaineers, even though he insists he’s 100 percent on-board. As aforementioned, he does tend to be mercurial, and suggested he’d still like to take some visits/attend camps.
Given that, I wouldn’t count Maryland out just yet. If the Terps can get him back on campus, perhaps Edsall and Co. can flip the Sherwood prospect. Stay tuned.
I updated the statuses of most of Maryland’s offensive and defensive line targets last week, but more news trickled in this week as well:
Joseph Goff, DT, Episcopal Academy (Alexandria, Va.): This emerging defensive lineman picked up a Maryland offer back in early March, right before he departed for a week-long service trip to the Dominican Republic. He’s since returned from the DR and took his initial college visit this offseason to Boston College (Goff lives in Massachusetts and boards at Episcopal).
The Eagles certainly left a favorable impression given their academics, coaching staff and Goff’s familiarity with the school. At the same time, Goff suggested he might get caught in a numbers crunch at BC. Evidently the Eagles have offers out to other defensive linemen and could fill up their spots before the Episcopal product is ready to select his school (September or after his senior season).
Goff has plenty of other locales to explore, and has no intentions of ending his recruitment this spring. In fact, he’s planning to be at Maryland for the first time in late March, along with his teammates.
The Episcopal product said UMD’s academics, conference affiliation and need for defensive linemen have his attention, while he’s developed a rapport with both Terps’ area recruiter Keenan McCardell and defensive line coach Chad Wilt.
After taking in Maryland, Goff should be at Navy, another school that’s offered. Then, in the summer, he’s looking to trek to offerees like Pitt, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and any others that may crop up.
Goff suggested Vandy, Va Tech and Wake, along with UMD, were firmly on his radar. BC would be in the game too should it have a spot for him.
We’ll see what Goff is thinking later this March after trekking to College Park.
Stephen Spanellis, OG/OT, Gilman (Baltimore, Md.): We finally heard a peep out of the quiet Spanellis after he visited Boston College March 19. The Terps supposedly have an offer out to the Gilman recruit, though we’re not sure recruiter Mike Locksley is making a strong push for him at the moment. The vibe is UMD may have its eyes on a couple other offensive line targets ahead of Spanellis.
And based off Spanellis’ comments (albeit, they were brief ones), that may indeed be the case. Spanellis hasn’t been in College Park since the fall, and he doesn’t have any firm plans to return, although it’s possible he’ll be joining his Gilman teammates at a spring practice in March/April (the Greyhounds typically bring a large contingent of players to Maryland each spring). But even if he does return, it might just be a cursory trip.
Spanellis was at Wake Forest back in February, and it sounds like the Demon Deacons have his attention thanks to their small-campus feel and strong academics. BC is also a top educational institution, so it was little surprise he immediately talked up the Eagles too. Virginia Tech, yet another renowned university, is on Spanellis’ mind as well.
We’ll see if the Terps make a push, but we’re not currently forecasting him to College Park.
Rashad Wheeler, DT, Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.): We wrote about Wheeler in last week’s Shell, letting folks know the Pittsburgh lineman would be at Maryland April 4 for the first time. Terps area recruiter Greg Studrawa, the Big Ten affiliation, UMD’s need for D-linemen, and the Under Armour connection are all reasons Wheeler wants to visit College Park.
But while that UMD trip should still happen, last weekend Wheeler took in the school many figure is the one to beat: Pittsburgh. Wheeler has long favored his hometown program, and after meeting new coach Pat Narduzzi and learning more about his system, it’s clear the Panthers are No. 1 in Wheeler’s mind. So much so that the Pittsburgh product will be back at Pitt March 21 for yet another look at the campus.
Will Wheeler commit to the Panthers? There’s a chance, but the Central Catholic defensive tackle said he fully intends to follow through with visits to Maryland, BC (April 11) and Wake Forest (April 18). He also has offers from West Virginia and UVA and figures to trek to both of those universities as well.
Wheeler could make a summer college decision, although it’s possible he’ll wait until after his senior year if his recruiting profile explodes.
Josh Ball, OT, Stafford (Fredericksburg, Va.): This four-star UMD target has slowly but surely been slipping from the Terps' grasp. True, he's been in College Park more than five times now, including twice this offseason. True, offensive line coach Greg Studrawa has made a strong pitch, convincing Ball to continue returning to CP. True, Ball likes the campus, the Big Ten affiliation and UMD's inherent need for linemen.
But plenty of his other suitors offer similar advantages to Maryland, and the vibe is those "others" are leading the charge.
Ball was most recently at NC State and Penn State, and he returned saying the Nittany Lions were standing out. West Virignia continues to be a prime player, and the Stafford product is set to see the Mountaineers once again this spring/summer. Other programs on tap include Illinois, Iowa, UVA and return visits to PSU and NC State.
The Terps are still in their battling, but for now we can't list him above "cool" on the hot board.
Jacob Gruber, OC, Eastern (Voorhees, N.J.): Scout’s northeast analyst, Brian Dohn, let us know earlier this week an under-the-radar center recruit had started to emerge on recruiting radars. Gruber is a 6-3, 295-pounder who has drawn looks, but lacks offers, from several regional Division I programs. Dohn suggested Gruber would likely have to perform well at one-day camps to earn said offers, but would garner his share in time.
Some of the schools Gruber will be camping at include Rutgers, Temple, ECU, Wisconsin, Penn State and Maryland. The Terps have jumped on lesser-known center recruits before (see: Mason Zimmerman, Brendan Moore), so perhaps Gruber is someone they’ll take a closer look at once he’s on campus.
Defensive Back & Linebacker News
Ali’I Niumatalolo, ILB, Broadneck (Annapolis, Md.): We wrote about Niumatalolo, the son of Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, a while back, and the local linebacker said the Terps and area recruiter Chad Wilt could be on the verge of offering. Well, it’s been more than a month since then and no scholarship has materialized as of yet. In the meantime, though, Niumatalolo has landed his first FBS verbal from Connecticut.
The Broadneck backer hasn’t been to Storrs, Conn., before, but he plans to trip north March 28 to meet the staff and check out the school. Unless he’s absolutely blown away, however, Niumatalolo does not figure to ultimately wind up a Huskie.
Boise State and BYU (where Ali’i’s brother, Va’a, plays) are two Midwest programs that could work into the mix should each offer this summer (they probably will). Meanwhile, hometown Maryland has Niumatalolo’s attention as well.
The Broadneck product isn’t too concerned about location, but he’s suggested in the past he’d like the opportunity to represent at his hometown school and be part of The Movement. Moreover, he likes Wilt, likes UMD’s academics and believes he’d fit in well at Maryland.
If the scholarship comes to fruition (he might have to shine at a one-day camp this summer), we’re inclined to believe the Terps would become a Niumatalolo favorite, depending on his recruiting profile at that time.
He’s visiting College Park again in April, so perhaps we’ll have a better gauge on his situation following that trip.
Elias Reynolds, ILB, Poly Prep (Brooklyn, N.Y.): We mentioned Reynolds last week when he received his Maryland offer, but I wasn’t able to catch up with him until after that edition of the Shell came out. After personally speaking to Reynolds, however, I got the first-blush feeling he was rather lukewarm about UMD.
Granted, Reynolds said he appreciated the offer and what area recruiter Keith Dudzinski had told him about the program. Maryland’s business school and Under Armour connection immediately stood out, while he called the Terps a “good balance” between football and academics.
But, at the same time, I sensed he favored some of his previous suitors and schools closer to his New York home. Rutgers seems to be the leader in the clubhouse, with Syracuse right in the thick of things. He’s seen RU on multiple occasions and has a close bond with the staff and a few Scarlet Knights players too.
Wake Forest and UConn, two other programs he’s visited, are also involved, while more are bound to enter the fray too. When asked if he would be checking out Maryland this spring, Reynolds didn’t give a clear answer, whereas he said he “definitely” wanted to check out the ‘Cuse and Umass in April.
But there’s a long way to go in Reynolds’ recruitment since he doesn’t want to commit until after the fall. I’m just not sure that line of thinking will actually play in Maryland’s favor, however. Why not? Because Reynolds said the Terps are probably taking just one inside linebacker this year, and it’s likely UMD will have that position filled by the time the Poly Prep prospect is set to pop.
Of course, decision dates change all the time, so we’ll see if Reynolds alters course later this offseason. (ARTICLE).
Patrice Rene, CB, Episcopal (Alexandria, Va.): The teammate of Joseph Goff, the four-star cornerback Rene will be visiting Maryland with the rest of his team in late March. Rene has been in College Park a couple times before, mentioning how he’s comfortable on campus and around the staff.
He’s been talking to area recruiter Keenan McCardell a good bit since UMD’s receivers’ coach took over the Northern Virginia area, and it seems like the two have a budding rapport. Rene’s late-March trek to UMD will give McCardell, along with the rest of Maryland’s coaches, a chance to make more inroads with the elite cornerback target.
But while Rene seems intrigued by Maryland, Ohio State and Penn State are considered the leaders, while the cornerback is hoping to pull Michigan and Michigan State scholarships as well.
One of the main reasons Rene is high on those particular Big Ten schools is it would allow him to play near his native Canada. Rene is originally from Ottawa and only transferred to Episcopal to increase his recruiting exposure. So don’t be surprised if he ends up a Buckeye (or Wolverine or Spartan) before it’s all said and done.
Jayme Thompson, S, Iowa Western CC (Council Bluffs, Ia.): Scout’s junior college analyst, Derek Young, informed us this week Maryland’s staff has been taking a look at this post-graduate safety from Deon Long’s old stomping grounds. Now, Randy Edsall doesn’t typically pursue JuCo recruits this early in the recruiting process, so we’re not sure an offer will materialize anytime real soon. But Thompson, a December graduate, is someone to keep an eye on later in the year.
Thompson currently claims verbs from Western Kentucky and Arkansas State, and said UMD, Auburn, Rutgers and now Michigan State have begun to take a closer look at him. He does not have any leaders or favorites at this time, though he acknowledged “the Big Ten schools” appeal to him.
We’ll see how Thompson’s recruitment develops down the road.
Khaleke Hudson, S, McKeesport (Pa.): The four-star safety Hudson announced he would be visiting Maryland for its spring game April 11. Hudson has been in touch with area recruiter Greg Studrawa and has expressed some interest in the school since it's not too far from home, in the Big Ten and offers a chance to contribute early during his career.
But Hudson seems to be trending towards other programs at the moment, namely in-state Penn State and Pittsburgh. In fact, many who cover Pennsylvania football believe he'll end up a Nittany Lion. Other universities Hudson references often are WVU, Va Tech, Michigan State and Wisconsin (no offer yet).
Hudson has already been to PSU, Pitt and WVU this offseason, and Maryland will be his next stop in a whole line of trips. He'll be trekking to Michigan, MSU, Va Tech and more later in April.
Hudson will remain "cool" on the hot board.
Brenton Nelson, CB, DeMatha: Nelson just transferred to DeMatha from Florida, and this 5-11, 160-pounder already has a half-dozen or so offers, including: Kentucky, Wisconsin, FAU, Louisville, Marshall, USF and UVA. We haven’t heard of too much Terps interest yet, but you can be sure area recruiter Mike Locksley either already knows about him or will find out soon enough.
Nelson has already gone on record claiming Kentucky as an early standout, while Wisconsin has his eye as well. He’s not about to decide on a college destination anytime soon, though, so there’s time for UMD to get involved if it so wishes.
More News & Notes
Kofi Boateng, WR, Lamar (Arlington, Texas): One of our Midlands analysts caught up with this four-star receiver the Terps offered last month, and apparently Boateng is listening to UMD’s overtures. He said both Maryland head coach Randy Edsall and area recruiter Keenan McCardell are two of the coaches he’s hearing from most. The others include assistants from Arizona State, Texas Tech, Kansas and Ole Miss.
But I wouldn’t get too excited yet, Terps fans. This guy has about 20 offers to date, and schools such as Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are about to pull the trigger next. Both the Sooners and Bears have Boateng’s attention, while he’s pining for the other instate powers like Texas and TAMU to throw their hats into the fray.
We’re not inclined to place Boateng on the hot board unless he actually visits College Park.
Naseir Upshur, TE, Imhotep (Philadelphia, Pa.): Upshur gave his latest round of extensive interviews this week, and once again he listed different standouts/leaders/favorites to different reporters. That said, Upshur typically includes some variation of Miami, USC, Michigan, Alabama, South Carolina, Michigan State, Auburn and Ohio State when asked which schools are beginning to make headway.
The one constant among that latter group, however, is Miami. Regardless of who he's talking to, the Canes are typically the first or second program out of his mouth.
As for the Terps? Well, we know Upshur likes the program after visiting College Park numerous times, and we know he's still in touch with UMD area recruiter John Dunn. But unless Dwayne Haskins pops to Maryland and convinces Upshur to join him (no given even if Haskins does join the Terps), we're not feeling Upshur in College Park.
Upshur does not plan to make a college decision until after his senior season, though, so there's lots of time for his recruitment to ebb and flow.
Gene Coleman, WR, Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.): Coleman visited Maryland for a junior day back in February and said he could "definitely" envision himself in College Park. He didn't hold an offer at the time, but mentioned one could be forthcoming in the coming weeks. Said weeks have passed, and still, Coleman doesn't have a Terps scholarship.
Meanwhile, Rutgers, Syracuse and now UConn have extended verbals, and it sounds like Coleman is favoring hometown RU. His profile could grow exponentially this spring, but he probably won't wind up at Maryland at this rate. Coleman has been removed from the hot board.
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