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.

As the Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.) Wheel Continues to Turn

Hey, who doesn’t love a little drama in the non-stop recruiting soap opera?

Last week our Rutgers sources informed us Dwayne Haskins would be visiting Piscataway, N.J., for the second time in two weeks -- and for an overnight stay at that -- hinting a Scarlet Knights commitment could be coming on the triggerman’s birthday May 3. Apparently they had heard from those close to Haskins he was practically on-board with Kyle Flood’s program and would be ending his recruitment shortly.

But even as all this was coming to light, our own Haskins sources insisted the news wasn’t accurate in the slightest. We were once again fed the same line we’ve been given for more than a half-year now: Dwayne Haskins is bound for Maryland.

So, really, it came as no surprise when May 3 came and went with Haskins giving no indication of an impending pop. The Bullis product is certainly interested in his hometown school, RU, but, again, we don’t see him winding up there.

Look for the quarterback to take at least one more visit to Notre Dame before finally announcing his college destination in late May or early June. He may also return to Florida, but the sense is his three main suitors are UMD, RU and Notre Dame, probably in that order (flip-flop the latter two?).

Haskins is not going to show his hand publically until he’s good and ready to do so, so we fully expect him to trumpet the Irish, Scarlet Knights and maybe even the Gators in the next couple weeks. But until we hear otherwise, he’s staying “hot” on the hot board, and we’ll continue to forecast him to College Park, Md.

TT Spring Tour: Carroll (Washington, D.C.)

I stopped by Carroll this week in order to speak to new Terps‘ offeree Deon Jones, a class of 2017 cornerback, and longstanding target Richard Merritt. But in addition to chatting with those two recruits, I met the Lions’ new head coach, Robert Harris, formerly of Surrattsville (Clinton, Md.).

Harris, a Carroll graduate, is taking over for veteran headman Rick Houchens, who is in the process of finding a new gig at another D.C.-area program. Harris has plenty of connections in and around D.C., so we’ll see what he can do recruiting against the likes of DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), St. John’s (Washington, D.C.), Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) and the like.

But that’s down the road. In the meantime, here’s what I learned about Jones and Merritt:

Richard Merritt, OG: The last time we touched base with Merritt, at The Opening D.C. back in April, he seemed to have anywhere from six to eight standouts, with Maryland being among them. But after a one-on-one this week, I was a little less encouraged about UMD’s chances at the moment.

Merritt said he “didn’t know” if the Terps would definitely be among his main suitors, noting how he had to see what kind of progress Maryland makes the next few months and into the 2015 campaign. He’s savvy enough to talk up the local school when prompted, but just doesn’t seem as thrilled with UMD as some of his other offers.

That’s not to say Merritt isn’t keeping UMD on his mind. He was just at College Park again April 27, and said he “definitely” wants to return this summer.

Merritt’s most recent foray through UMD was his first time touring the campus, the lineman calling it “very nice.” He had a chance to speak to Greg Studrawa, in addition to recruiter Mike Locksley, Merritt mentioning he “really likes” the Terps’ offensive line coach. He also noted the importance of the new facility upgrades and the Movement, two factors that could improve Maryland’s standing with Merritt down the road.

But, as previously stated, there are other programs that seem to have the D.C. guard’s ear currently. First and foremost, there’s Florida and Florida State, two programs he’s scheduled to see in June. Merritt suggested both the Gators and Seminoles could vault to the top of his leaderboard following trips to each.

Others in play include Clemson, Auburn, West Virginia and Virginia Tech, while he’s hoping UCLA, Oregon and LSU -- which have shown interest recently -- come through. It’s also possible Michigan, MSU and Ohio State could become factors should any of those programs pursue in earnest.

Merritt plans to take numerous visits coming up (WVU, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, N.C. State, UF, FSU, Va Tech, UMD and Clemson) before releasing a top 10 list by late summer. He’s not looking to announce his college decision before December, though, so there’s time for this situation to ebb and flow. (INTERVIEW).

Deon Jones, CB: We wrote about Jones’ Maryland offer in last week’s Shell, but evidently the 2017 corner changed his cell number, so I wasn’t able to interview him until this week. After speaking to Jones, I got the vibe he did truly appreciate the UMD verbal (“it felt great, it really meant a lot to me,” he said), though area recruiter Mike Locksley will have to work to haul him in.

Which Locksley is fully capable of doing. The Terps’ offensive coordinator has known Jones since his freshman year and has a developed rapport with the D.C. recruit.

Moreover, Jones said Maryland would “always be in my top five” since it’s in his backyard; will have upgraded facilities; and the fact he knows several current Terps. He also talked about DMV-to-UMD, saying if it comes to fruition it would “definitely” influence his thinking. “There’s good things coming at Maryland,” Jones said.

But Jones already has 20-some offers and is being courted by college football’s royalty. Recent verbals from Ohio State, Florida and Miami had him excited, while he remains high on Clemson, his very first scholarship.

Jones visited Clemson, Bama (no offer yet) and Auburn this offseason, and all three seem to be standing out, notably the former two. Jones will be attending an Alabama camp this summer to try and procure that offer, which could very well be a game-changer.

There’s a ways to go in this recruitment, however. Jones will be taking numerous trips this summer, so his status is guaranteed to change. Some of the campuses he’ll be trekking to include Ohio State, Penn State, Florida and Florida State, with returns to Maryland, Bama and Clemson also on the docket. (INTERVIEW).

TT Spring Tour: St. John's (Washington, D.C.)

After checking out Carroll, I hit St. John's later in the week in order to touch base with Terps safety target Aaron Hansford. The 6-2, 215-pounder said he's no closer to making a decision and is keeping all his offerees (Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland, Duke, Michigan State, North Carolina, Pitt, Kentucky, Wisconsin) in play.

That said, it was clear from our conversation the assumed frontrunner, OSU, is at the front of his mind. He kept bringing the Buckeyes up, mentioning his visit there, the prestige of the school, the staff, and the like. Penn State continues to resonate as well, Hansford noting his standout trips to Happy Valley, his rapport with the coaches and how former-teammate-turned-Nittany-Lion Ayron Monroe is always on him about PSU.

Now, that doesn't mean Maryland won't have a puncher's chance. Hansford did say he maintains contact with area recruiter Mike Locksley, likes how his parents and friends can easily see him play, and is high on the school's academics (kinesiology program). The St. John's safety hasn't visited College Park since the winter, which is a bit troublesome for Terps fans, but he said he'd be returning "a couple times" this summer, giving the staff a chance to work back into his graces.

Hansford does not have a visit schedule set yet, but he said he'd likely be returning to PSU, OSU and UMD, along with an initial trip to MSU, in the months ahead.

He insisted, at the behest of his parents, that he won't be making a summer college decision. Hansford said he will take several official visits in December -- Ohio State and Penn State will assuredly be two of them -- before he's ready to announce his destination.(INTERVIEW).

Linemen News

Tommy Carnifax, DE, Howland (Warren, Ohio): Maryland offered this Midwest edge rusher April 20, and a couple weeks later he and his father were in College Park for their initial visit. The 6-5, 245 pounder seemed genuinely impressed with his first glimpse, calling the program/school “better than I expected.” He talked up the campus, the facility upgrades, the business school (he wants to major in that field) and the staff.

Carnifax already had a developing rapport with area recruiter Greg Studrawa, but May 4 he was afforded a chance to meet Randy Edsall, defensive line coach Chad Wilt and defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski as well. The Ohio product said the entire staff showed plenty of energy and enthusiasm, which struck him. He found Edsall to be forthright and genuine (“he didn’t seem like a salesman,” Carnifax said), and took to Wilt, his potential position coach, quite well too.

Carnifax said both he and his dad found Maryland to have struck a balance between football and academics, which is perhaps the primary reason the edge rusher has the Terps among his top four (likely top two) suitors.

Next up is a trip to Northwestern May 18, Carnifax’s final visit before selecting his college destination in late May or early June. He’s already seen Kentucky, Toledo and now UMD, his three other standouts, and said he’ll be picking between the aforementioned quartet.

The vibe on this end is the Terps and Northwestern are the clear frontrunners, though the Wildcats may have an edge. Not only is Northwestern a renowned academic institution, but it also has the benefit of receiving Carnifax’s final trip before decision day.

But Studrawa and Co. have positioned themselves well, so we’ll see where Carnifax stands later this month. (ARTICLE).

Elijah Johnson, OT, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): Coinciding with Carnifax’s visit to College Park was Johnson’s, who was on campus with his father. Johnson, of course, didn’t have nearly as far to travel as the Ohio defensive end, and the DeMatha product had been at Maryland several times prior to May 4.

But Johnson said his most recent jaunt was different because he was able to view the facility-upgrade plans and learn more about the school’s academic standards. Johnson said the indoor practice fields, weight room improvements and player dorms were impressive, while both he and his father talked up the educational benefits/expectations.

“[Coach Edsall] said he’s big on academics and personally checks progress reports every week to make sure guys are staying on-point,” Johnson said. “I like that kind of structure, and my dad loved that too. [My dad] was telling me afterwards, ‘Academics, academics, academics.’ He’s all about that, and I think that’s why he likes Maryland so much.”

Johnson also lauded offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, calling him “really cool,” “straightforward” and “funny.” The DMV lineman already had a strong relationship with area recruiter Mike Locksley, which is one of the primary reasons Johnson is considering the Terps, although the two didn’t interact May 4.

Following the visit, we got the impression Johnson had placed Maryland among his upper tier of suitors, though exactly where UMD sits remains to be seen. It’s clear West Virginia is at or near the top of the pecking order, along with Rutgers and Wake Forest (he’s already seen all three).

Johnson also has notable offers from Illinois, Indiana, Temple and Boston College, a trip to the latter currently in the works. Besides BC, the tackle has no other intended visits, but he hinted he’d be returning to Maryland and WVU. He would like to see Illinois and IU as well.

Johnson gave no indication of when he would have his college selected, and, quite frankly, it was difficult to gauge given his comments. Our feeling, though, is as teams fill up their offensive line slots it will push Johnson to make an earlier-than-expected decision. (ARTICLE).

Zach Adams, OT, Riverband (Fredericksburg, Va.): Perhaps it was only a matter of time, but the 6-7, 310-pound Adams has seen his profile increase exponentially since pulling in his second major offer from Maryland April 19. Less than three weeks later, Adams has added Kansas, Pitt, Illinois, Penn State and West Virginia, the latter two holding prime appeal.

True, Adams isn’t claiming any leaders yet, and he’s still scheduled to revisit College Park (he was there for the first time back in March) this June. He’s also maintaining contact with area recruiter Chad Wilt, who trekked through Riverband recently.

But if Adams starts garnering attention from some of the country’s best, it’s going to make him an even tougher pull than he already is. Adams admitted that nearby Virginia, his very first offer, was the leader even after UMD anted up. Virginia Tech will probably become his No. 2 option if/when the Hokies enter the fray, and it’s likely the Nittany Lions will be on Adams’ mind too after he sees State College, Pa., this June.

On top of that, Adams, a Texas native, has been hearing from the Longhorns and is visiting UT June 7 to try and cull out an offer. If the scholarship is presented, Adams will assuredly jump at it.

We’ll leave Adams as “cool” on the hot board for now. Maybe Wilt and Co. can make some inroads this June if the Fredericksburg product follows through on his Maryland jaunt.

Jeffery Pooler, DT, Chaminade-Julienne (Dayton, Ohio): We wrote about Pooler and his newly-acquired Terps offer last week. This week, the 6-4, 270-pounder said he’s scheduled to see College Park for the first time in June. Pooler is setting up an East Coast swing that will allow him to attend camps at Rutgers (no offer yet) and UMD, two schools he’s expressed plenty of interest in.

As far as Maryland is concerned, Pooler has a budding rapport with Terps’ area recruiter Greg Studrawa, who stopped by Chaminade-Julienne and has continued to harp on the advantages of a Maryland education. The defensive tackle isn’t naming any favorites, but said UMD’s academics and the fact it’s a Big Ten program have him eager to see College Park.

In addition to Rutgers and Maryland trips, Pooler will camp at Ohio State this summer. He said the Buckeyes have been showing interest and could offer following a standout performance in June. We’re not sure Urban Meyer will actually pursue (it’s doubtful), but if the scholarship materializes Pooler will probably pop on the spot.

Barring the latter, it looks like the Terps are in a strong position for the time being. Pooler’s only other significant offer is from Uconn, with the rest coming from the MAC (Pooler was actually committed to Toledo at one time). Moreover, the Ohio product hinted he’d like to have his new destination decided by June, meaning a standout College Park trip could prompt him to pop shortly thereafter.

We’ll be monitoring what other suitors emerge in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

Tight End News

Jay Rose, TE, Southington (Conn.): Maryland offered Rose all the way back in February, and he still has yet to visit College Park -- or any other school for that matter. Apparently track season and school have precluded him from venturing out, and thus his status remains fairly stagnant.

The 6-3, 220-pound two-way star, who is being recruited as a quarterback and tight end (UMD wants him for the latter), has added to his offer list since February, however, giving him plenty of viable options.

Since the evaluation period began, Rose has picked up about three new suitors and now holds verbals from UMD, Wake Forest, BC, NC State, Pitt, WVU, Temple and UMass. Programs such as Rutgers, UVA, Penn State, Wisconsin and more have been keeping tabs, with PSU possibly ready to ante up next, according to Rose.

Rose isn’t claiming any leaders at this point, but he hinted UMD, WVU and PSU had caught his eye some. He wants to visit each of the three this June, in addition to any other prominent suitors that may emerge.

The Southington product said he remains in frequent contact with Maryland area recruiter Keith Dudzinski, who stopped by his school in late April. Rose mentioned how the two have formed a tight bond, the tight end noting how, “Coach Dud is from Connecticut too. We have that connection going.”

Maryland’s academic reputation, need for tight ends and Big Ten affiliation have his attention as well.

I got the sense WVU could be difficult to top right now, though, while a PSU scholarship would potentially be a game-changer. On top of that, Rose suggested he may attend a few camps this summer as he attempts to pull offers from Big Ten powers like Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State (his dream school).

And then there’s the whole quarterback situation. After speaking to Rose, the vibe was he may actually want to sit under center in college. So he’s going to have to decide if he’d rather suit up at a place like Temple, UMass or Uconn, which all want him for quarterback, or at institutions like UMD, Pitt, WVU, BC or possibly a Penn State, which are recruiting him for tight end.

Either way, Rose wants to have his college selected by late summer. But that will depend what schools he’s able to see and what other offers he procures.

From a Maryland perspective, Rose does have genuine interest in the Terps, but we think he would jump at a Big Ten bigwig if given the opportunity. We’ll see what transpires in the coming months, paying close attention to what becomes of the supposed June College Park trip. (ARTICLE).

Naseir Upshur, TE, Imhotep (Philadelphia, Pa.): This is hardly news to frequent Shell readers, but the more updates I hear on this four-star tight end, the less inclined I am to keep him on the hot board. Even if/when Upshur’s friend, Dwayne Haskins, announces for UMD, the sense is there’s too many other programs on the Philadelphia product’s mind right now.

Yes, Upshur hasn’t eliminated Maryland from his top 13 list, and as far as we know he’s still in contact with UMD area recruiter John Dunn. But he’s also reneged on two intended spring trips to College Park and doesn’t mention UMD as a school he definitely wants to revisit.

At The Opening in New Jersey, Upshur told Scout’s Brian Dohn the four schools on him “the hardest” were Miami, USC, Temple and Michigan. Miami, which Upshur has trekked to and talked up repeatedly, is probably the frontrunner, while Michigan (Jim Harbaugh left a major impression) might be running second. USC (West Coast appeal; national program; only two tight ends on the roster) and Temple (like a second home; coaches after him forever) figure to be on Upshur’s brain throughout the process as well.

Upshur, who will be taking his mother on several visits this summer and fall, still doesn’t want to announce his college decision until Signing Day. Given that, maybe there’s a chance some other suitors in that top 13 can vault into prime contention. But we just don’t see Upshur winding up in College Park unless 1) some of his foremost options fall by the wayside and 2) the DMV movement is fully realized.

More News & Notes

Greg Ross, CB, Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.): The spring evaluation period continues to treat Ross well. After pulling an offer from Nebraska last week, he added Syracuse, Rutgers, Marshall and, most notably, Clemson this time around. The Tigers now have Ross attention, according to the Potomac corner’s coaches, and it’s likely he’ll be checking out Clemson, S.C., at some point. It wouldn’t shock us one bit if Ross eventually reordered his original favorites list (North Carolina, Maryland, Wisconsin, Rutgers, West Virginia) and placed Clemson at or near the top.

In addition to a potential CU trip, Ross will probably see both Wisconsin and Nebraska, with a return to Maryland still in the works. He was supposed to check out College Park with his family a couple weeks back, but the Rosses have since pushed it to an undetermined date.

We do think the Terps remain on Ross’ brain, but area recruiter Mike Locksley is going to have to fend off a few heavyweights to convince the cornerback to stay local. Getting Ross and his family back on campus is an absolute must, because, for the moment, the defensive back is starry-eyed.

Our gut? His recruitment will likely come down to North Carolina (the presumed favorite for now), Maryland, Clemson and possibly Wisconsin -- if Ross’ offer list stays status quo. Ross told me this week he’s in a complete holding pattern, sitting and waiting to see what programs choose to pursue.

At this rate, Ross will probably take most of the summer (if not longer) before announcing his college decision. This after setting an original commitment date of May 2.

Such is recruiting.

Evan Fairs, WR, Foster (Richmond, Texas): The Terps could be close to offering this 6-3, 180-pound under-the-radar recruit. So far only UTSA and New Mexico State have anted up, although several nearby schools (Texas State, Houston, UT, Texas A&M, etc.) are showing interest.

Right now Fairs' recruitment is in its infant stages, and he's hoping to accumulate more looks during camp season. One of which is Maryland.

Fairs said UMD area recruiter Keenan McCardell has been through Foster High and has expressed plenty of interest, prompting Fairs to consider tripping to College Park for a camp/visit. Fairs said he would "definitely" take a long look at the Terps should they offer or if they suggested a scholarship would materialize following a one-day.

Fairs is also planning to camp at Texas, LSU and Texas A&M, while he'll be visiting various Lone Star State locales.

He won't have an idea regarding his college decision date until he knows which programs will pursue or who is genuinely interested. We'll stay in contact with him to find out where he sits with UMD.

New Offers Out

Tymar Sutton, OLB, McKeesport (Pa.): Tymar Sutton visited College Park for the spring game April 11, and about a month later he pulled an offer from Maryland. Sutton spoke highly of the Terps' staff, noting their honesty and how straightforward they've been with him throughout the process. The McKeesport product has a relationship with UMD area recruiter Greg Studrawa, calling him "a great guy, a great guy," while Sutton talked up the Big Ten; the Terps' defense ("they play fast and physical, and that's my style," he said); the facility upgrades ("amazing," Sutton said); Under Armour and more.

Sutton is currently scheduling a return trip to College Park, likely sometime in June. He said the Terps would surely be one of the main schools he considers moving forward.

But Maryland is going to have some competition for Sutton's services. West Virginia has been a clear leader for some time, though the Mountaineers might fill up their linebacker spots before Sutton makes up his mind. Wisconsin is also in the game, and Sutton figures to trip north to see the Badgers this summer.

Sutton wants to have his school chosen by late August or early September, though if slots begin to fill he could pop sooner rather than later. Stay tuned. (ARTICLE).

Jalen Elliott, WR/CB, Lloyd C. Bird (Chesterfield, Va.): A month after checking out Maryland, Elliott finally landed his Terps offer. He's had consistent contact with UMD area recruiter Chad Wilt, but one of the main reasons he has the Terps under consideration is the fact he grew up just miles from College Park. Elliott attended multiple Maryland events growing up and considers himself part of the DMV-to-UMD movement.

“Maryland is like a second home for me,” Elliott said. “It’s really my hometown school, and that’s something Coach Wilt and them have been talking to me about. They want me to be part of the family and the whole hometown movement thing that’s going on up there. So, you know, that’s something I’m thinking about. It’s a good option for me.”

Plus when Elliott trekked to Maryland in April, he couldn't say enough about the staff, the facility upgrades and the campus. He also said it would be a great opportunity to learn from receivers' coach Keenan McCardell.

But during the evaluation period Elliott has become a national name, someone who is being pursued by the likes of Georgia, Auburn, Miami, Va Tech, UVA, NC State, Wake and more. He's scheduled to see Auburn May 30 and Georgia around the same time. Elliott has already seen Tech and UVA on numerous occasions, and both in-state schools have made serious inroads.

We do think Elliott will consider the Terps moving forward, but we'll have a better idea of his interest if he follows through with a return visit this spring/summer. If not, it's because he's seeing stars or sticking with the nearby mainstays, the Wahoos or Hokies.

Elliott would like to have his future destination chosen before his senior year, but admitted he could push the date back if he continues to gather offers. (STORY).

Quartney Davis, WR, Langham Creek (Houston, Texas): The Terps offered this Keenan McCardell recruit May 7, joining the likes of California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa, Utah and others. Davis said he's wide open in his recruitment and has no favorites, but one would believe he's going to be tough to pry out of Texas. He's likely bound for a Big 12 or SEC program.

A.J. Taylor, RB, Rockhurst (Kansas City, Mo.): From UMD running backs coach Teprry Richardson's territory, the Terps offered A.J. Taylor May 7, giving him close to 20 offers to date. Taylor also has verbals from Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville, Nebraska, Tulsa, Vandy and more. He's visited the Badgers twice, and they seem to be the leader right now, while in-state Mizzou, which he's seen multiple times, has his eye too. Taylor is also pining for a look from Notre Dame.

Jhamon Ausbon, WR, Episcopal (Bellaire, Texas): The Terps became the first school to offer this soon-to-be national name May 1. A 6-2, 190-pound class of 2017 talent with elite skills, UMD area recruiter Keenan McCardell identified him during his trek through the Lone Star State, and apparently it didn’t take much to convince Randy Edsall to sign off.

Ausbon was naturally thrilled to have his first significant scholarship, and McCardell and Co. obviously did well to work their way in early. That alone should keep Maryland in contention in the coming months. At the same time, Ausbon is sure to “blow up,” as all the Texas powers are keeping close tabs, along with numerous programs throughout the Big 12 and SEC.


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