Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Viti On Board
Every year since head coach Randy Edsall has been at Maryland he’s identified at least one offer-worthy off-the-radar prospect during one-day season. We thought the trend might end this summer what with the Terps already having 11 class of 2016 commitments, but apparently not.
In need of a safety with numerous other targets falling by the wayside, Edsall and defensive backs coach Darnell Perkins tabbed Cedar Cliff’s (Pa.) Mike Viti as their guy in ’16. Viti, who drew interest from Pitt, Wake Forest, BC, ODU and others but had no offers, impressed during the June 14 College Park, Md., camp and walked away with a full ride.
Of course, before he literally walked away, the 6-foot-1.5, 185-pounded ended up popping on the spot, reneging on several previously-scheduled upcoming camp dates.
“I was just in shock. I actually didn’t talk to Coach Edsall much, if at all, until after the camp when my parents and I walked into his office in Gossett,” Viti said. “And we were talking for a little bit, and after awhile he was like, ‘Well, we think you’d be a great fit at Maryland, we think you can help us win a Big Ten championship and we’d like to offer you a scholarship.’ And, I’ll tell you, I was just in awe, and my parents were shocked too.
“[My parents] kind of looked at me, and I could tell we were on the same page. They asked me if I wanted to take some time to think about [making a decision], but I was like, ‘No, I want to commit.’ I thanked Coach Edsall and told him I was ready to be a Terp.”
Viti had been in College Park a couple times before, most recently for the 2014 Big Show event, where he had a chance to meet area recruiter John Dunn and the rest of the Maryland staff. He said he knew following said camp experience he’d love to be a Terp one day, despite growing up in Penn State country.
Viti noted the coaches’ collective attitudes, the fact UMD competes in the Big Ten, and the fact College Park isn’t far from his Pennsylvania home as the primary reasons he held Maryland in such high regard. Add in the educational benefits, which he learned about June 14, and it was a no-brainer decision for him.
“It just seemed like a perfect fit,” Viti said.
Now, at first blush, this reeks of a “reach” offer, but we’ll reserve judgment until evaluating the safety live. If you go by his film, though, Viti certainly looks the part. He displays plenty of athleticism, good short-area quickness and solid initial burst. Viti looks to have loose hips, nimble feet and the instincts needed to play center field. Moreover, he can come downhill to deliver a pop, showing enough physicality to drop down into the box.
Granted, Viti isn’t the flashiest defensive back out there. While he looks to possess some moldable skills, he’s not a freak athlete. Viti also has to continue working on his speed and strength, especially the former.
He can get away with being a step or two slow in high school, but elite Big Ten receivers could expose him. In other words, recovery speed is a question mark -- and that’s a fairly big question mark when discussing free safeties.
The good news for Terps’ fans is Viti ran a 4.59 40-yard dash at camp June 14, a major improvement over his previous times (probably the major reason why other programs chose not to offer). If Viti had run, say, a 4.7 during the one-day, Edsall probably wouldn’t have given him a second look, but a 4.59 is respectable.
It also helps that Viti trains with PrimeXample, an intense, competitive defensive back group that is known for developing Division I safeties and corners. Viti’s fundamentals are reportedly well-refined, and we’re told he’s more than held his own against some of the D.C.-area’s best receivers.
We’ll be eager to see how he performs when the pads go on this fall.
You can read what Viti had to say about Maryland HERE. You can read what his coach had to say about him HERE.
Terps Resonating With Simms
Keith Simms, LB, Landon (Bethesda, Md.): Maryland’s No. 1 linebacker target was back in College Park twice last week, and will be returning for a third time June 20 when Landon participates in a UMD-hosted 7-on-7 event.
First, Simms stopped by campus June 13 to chat with area recruiter Chad Wilt and Co. and hang out with other Terps’ recruits. Three days later, Simms returned with his mother in order to meet with a Maryland business professor, giving him a deeper look at the school’s academics.
Following the two trips, the vibe is Maryland resides at or near the top of Simms’ offer list. First and foremost, his connection with Wilt is strong, the two developing a friendship of sorts that extends beyond a typical player-coach relationship. I got the sense Simms’ rapport and trust in Wilt is one of the main reasons the Terps are in the thick of things. On top of that, both Simms and his mother connected with Randy Edsall June 16, the three talking for upwards of two hours about life, football and all the benefits of a Maryland education.
Moreover, Simms admitted Dwayne Haskins’ (Bullis/Potomac, Md.) constant Terps’ overtures are resonating -- the two had lunch together June 14 -- even though the Landon backer insists he won’t choose a school based off someone else’s comments. It’s evident Simms is feeling the hometown pull and is keen on the idea of DMV-to-UMD.
But the wildcard here, the factor that could eventually separate Maryland, is the academics. Both Simms and his parents -- especially his parents -- have made education a priority. (Recall, academics was the No. 1 reason we originally forecasted Simms to Stanford). The family already knew how much Randy Edsall and Co. emphasized classroom work, but the Simmses also wanted to make sure UMD’s business school fit the bill.
To make a long story short, Simms and his mother were highly impressed after their sit-down with a business professor. The Landon product said he’s sure Maryland will offer him a great degree and provide him with plenty of post-playing-day opportunities.
But Simms won't be popping just yet. He still wants to see Virginia Tech in short order, followed by Duke, UNC, Michigan State, Boston College, Oregon and maybe Stanford and Cal. Simms isn’t ready to publically release his favorites list, but it’s fairly obvious the Spartans, Ducks and Terps are sitting anywhere from Nos. 1-3, with the Blue Devils and Tar Heels in play too.
Stanford, as we’ve written previously, would probably be the frontrunner if not for Simms having to take a couple AP courses to meet the Cardinal’s qualification requirements. So, barring a change on that front, it looks like the Terps will have to sweat out upcoming trips to Eugene, Ore., and East Lansing, Mich.
We’ll know more following those visits, but we do think Wilt, Edsall and others in Maryland’s corner have a shot to pull this off. Simms should be ready to announce his decision by August (there’s a chance he could opt to take official visits in the fall, but he’d prefer to end his recruitment this summer), so stay tuned. (INTERVIEW). . . . (ARTICLE).
The Devery Hamilton (Gilman/Baltimore, Md.)/Elijah Johnson (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) Situation
OK, so you know the deal by now: Maryland is looking to take maybe two more offensive linemen this year, and one of those spots is reserved for Terrance Davis (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.). The other slot will likely go to another local lineman, with Devery Hamilton and Elijah Johnson being the two names in contention. Four-star offensive guard Richard Merritt (Carroll/Washington, D.C.) is also in play, but he’s not selecting a school until next winter and is projected to wind up at Florida State or an SEC program.
So, here’s what we know about Hamilton and Johnson as both come down the home stretch of their respective recruitments:
The Gilman tackle -- who has a top three of Maryland, Stanford and Michigan -- was originally supposed to visit College Park one last time this week, but the trip hasn’t materialized. Hamilton will find time to see UMD, but it looks like it’ll be sometime between June 21-25 and not any earlier.
That’s significant because Hamilton hinted he may need to push back his intended decision date from late June to July. He wanted to have his Terps trip tucked away already so he could mull the pros and cons of UM, Stanford and UMD this weekend before selecting one of the trio shortly thereafter.
So, why does it matter when, exactly, Hamilton decides? Because Elijah Johnson has a firm announcement date scheduled for June 25. Regardless of what Hamilton opts to do, Johnson is intent on ending his recruitment, selecting between Rutgers, Maryland, UVA, Illinois, Pitt, BC and Indiana.
In last week’s Shell, we let you know Johnson seemed to be leaning towards UMD. But, at the same time, we also said the Terps’ staff preferred Hamilton to Johnson and may not be willing to accept the latter’s pledge unless the Gilman product fell through. Unfortunately for UMD, it probably won’t know where Hamilton is heading until after Johnson announces.
Now, after talking to a few sources, we get the distinct feeling Johnson is well aware of where he stands with Maryland, realizing he might not be able to pop to Edsall even if he wanted to. Thus, we’ve heard Rutgers, which was the last school Johnson visited, may be trending up, while the Terps are trending down.
Johnson has yet to schedule a final visit to College Park (he should be at UMD June 20 for the lineman challenge camp), and we’re not sure he’ll take one before committing June 25. So unless UMD head coach Randy Edsall lets Johnson know they’ll take him, he could very well end up a Scarlet Knight.
If the latter occurs, expect the staff -- if it hasn’t already -- to put all its efforts into securing Hamilton. That final visit, whenever it occurs, will be pivotal, as it will give the Terps’ staff one last opportunity to jump Stanford and Michigan.
Hamilton is publically keeping UMD, the Cardinal and the Wolverines on an even plane, but the smart money is on Stanford leading, with Michigan is the two-hole. Which means Terps’ recruiter Mike Locksley, line coach Greg Studrawa and Edsall are going to have to do a knock-up job of convincing Hamilton to stay home.
If they’re unable to do so, and Johnson does indeed commit to RU, then the staff is going to have to reevaluate its position. Maybe they’ll extend an offer to Massachusetts lineman Eddy Fish (discussed below), who is camping at UMD June 25. Or maybe they’ll elect to stand pat with the linemen currently in tow (Brian Plummer, Mike Clark, Terek Zingale and greyshirt Alex Hall), plus Terrance Davis.
Various Terps Target Notes
Tyrone Hill, CB, Don Bosco (Ramsey, N.J.): Scout’s Brian Dohn caught up with the Terps’ offeree Hill, who let him know he has no leaders but remains high on Maryland. Remember, the last time we spoke with Hill, following a spring visit to College Park, he declared UMD his No. 1 suitor. He said the atmosphere surrounding the program, the fact College Park wasn’t too far from Jersey, his relationship with area recruiter Keith Dudzinski, and the fact Maryland is a Big Ten school all resonated.
At the same time, Hill didn’t exactly give off a genuine pro-Terps vibe. We insinuated he was placing Maryland atop his leaderboard only because it was the largest program to offer him (his other verbals were from Buffalo, Army, Navy and Old Dominion).
But apparently Hill does indeed have an affinity for UMD. In fact, Dohn let us know the Terps were the first program out of his mouth when he caught up with him earlier this week. Provided Dudzinski continues to pursue, it looks like UMD has more than a puncher’s chance at pulling in the Jersey corner.
But the Terps now have some stiff competition. Hill just picked up a second competitive Division I offer, adding Pittsburgh following a one-day last weekend. After his stay, the Bosco product had naught but praise for Pitt, saying he loved the players; coaches; and facilities. He also said he planned on returning to campus multiple times later this summer, a further indicator the Panthers are a true contender.
For now, Hill is content to move through the process and see what develops later this summer. We’re leaving him as “warm” on the hot board until further notice.
Noah Turner, TE, Mundelein (Ill.): For the moment, the Terps reside firmly among Turner’s two favorite programs, but, just like the other Noah Maryland pursued (Noah Burks) this year, UMD may be on the outside looking in.
As we’ve written in previous Shells, Turner seems infatuated with North Carolina, and he publically declared the Tar Heels his leader in multiple interviews last week. Turner visited Chapel Hill, N.C., in late March, raving about the campus; the coaches; UNC’s offensive system and more. Even after Turner saw College Park a day after checking out Chapel Hill, he maintained Carolina as his front-runner.
About the only reason he hasn’t popped to the Heels yet is his desire for a Notre Dame scholarship. Turner is going to the Irish Invasion camp June 20, and if the offer’s on the table, he’s liable to take it.
UND probably won’t ante up, though, since it has a couple other coveted tight ends on its board. So if the Irish pass, Turner will likely commit to North Carolina, barring an unforeseen scenario.
Just as he did with Noah Burks, UMD area recruiter Chad Wilt did well with Turner, convincing him to trek east for a visit. Turner always has positive comments for Wilt and Maryland, talking up the facility upgrades; the Terps’ need for tight ends; the Big Ten affiliation; the Under Armour connection and more.
The Terps aren’t out yet, but the overarching opinion is it would be an upset if UMD -- or any other contender -- topped the Tar Heels (or Notre Dame).
Eric Kumah, WR, Forest Park (Woodbridge, Va.): If you’re reading this after 5 p.m. June 19, you already know where Kumah is heading to college. If not, you know he’s down to Maryland, Virginia Tech, Miami and NC State, with a decision imminent.
Do the Terps have a chance? Well, fact is that top four is probably a “top one” with three also-rans. We (and pretty much every other analyst out there) have been projecting Kumah to Virginia Tech for months now.
Kumah was back in Blacksburg, Va., once again June 13, and it’s pretty obvious the Hokies are the overwhelming favorite. Kumah talked up the new indoor facility, said he’s maintaining a great relationship with the staff, and said numerous current Hokies are pushing for a pop. Then, following the trip, Kumah hinted he was “very close” to announcing his college destination after previously saying he wouldn’t decide until the fall.
As far as Maryland is concerned, Kumah has been in College Park four times, so we do think he has genuine Terps’ interest. He remains in contact with the UMD staff, has an affinity for receivers’ coach Keenan McCardell, likes that College Park is relatively close to home, and knows he’d have early opportunities there.
The sense is Maryland may reside in Kumah’s top two or three, but there are no rewards for finishing second or third. It would be an upset if the Terps, or any other school, jumped the Hokies June 19.
Christian Colon, DT, Independence (Charlotte, N.C.): We reported Maryland had landed on Colon’s initial favorites list a couple weeks back, the Terps joining the likes of North Carolina, Penn State, UCLA, Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Then this week our Scout analysts caught up with Colon again at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp, letting us know the 6-3, 325-pounder had set up some summer trips.
Colon was just at Kentucky for the Wildcats’ camp (he earned an offer), and next up he’s set for a one-day at Tennessee (June 19) followed by North Carolina a day later. In early July, Colon is scheduled to see Auburn and Alabama, two potential suitors that have shown some interest, and then Pittsburgh (July 17); Maryland (July 18); and Penn State (July 19). After that, he’ll attempt to venture West for a look at UCLA, California and others.
The sense, for the time being, is Colon has in-state UNC out in front, with Penn State and UCLA close behind. Kentucky could be under consideration now that the Wildcats have extended a scholarship, as could Bama, Auburn and other prominent suitors if they eventually offer.
So, basically, that top six is extremely malleable as Colon draws more and more attention. It’s likely to change considerably during the summer and fall months, especially since Colon isn’t picking a school until November.
We’re not placing him on the hot board until we hear some definitive Terps interest beyond an intended College Park trip.
Eddy Fish, OL, Lawrence Academy (Groton, Mass.): I removed Fish from the hot board last week when it seemed like the UMD staff’s main focus, as far as O-linemen were concerned, would be on Terrance Davis (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.), Devery Hamilton (Gilman/Baltimore, Md.) and maybe Elijah Johnson (DeMatha). But that won’t stop Fish from camping at Maryland June 25 (he originally said June 20, but has since rescheduled) and trying to cull out an offer.
Fish told Scout’s Jacquie Franciulli earlier this week he’s maintained a “great relationship” with the Maryland staff and couldn’t wait to perform at the lineman challenge. He also talked up the Terps’ current recruiting class, the location near D.C. and the academics.
We’re unsure Fish’s enthusiasm will result in an offer, but if one does come to fruition, he’d probably pop on the spot. More than likely, though, Fish will be told to wait as the Maryland coaches see what the likes of Johnson and Hamilton decide.
It should be noted that UVA’s staff told Fish just that following the Wahoos’ one-day last week. Fish came in all hyped up about Virginia, but didn’t emerge with an offer he highly coveted.
If either the Cavaliers or Terps do eventually ante up, however, expect Fish’s recruitment to end instantly.
“What I am looking for in a school is great academics, a school that has a great culture and a great overall vibe to it. And I think Maryland and UVa have it. I couldn't picture myself in any other two places,” Fish told Franciulli.
Note: Fish has been hearing from Syracuse and Miami as well. In fact, he’s camping at UM June 20 and the ‘Cuse June 23 before heading to College Park.
New Offers Out
Mike Viti, S, Cedar Cliff (Pa.): See above.
Ryan Solt, OG, James Coughlin (Wilkes Barre, Pa.) (2017): Some offers fall under the “no brainer” category, and that definitely applied in Solt’s case. When I first wrote about Solt, the son of former Terps’ and NFL lineman Ron Solt, back during the spring, it was fairly obvious the Terps just had to ante up -- preferably sooner rather than later.
Maryland legacy recruit? Check.
A 6-3, 260-pounder with above-average strength and athleticism? Check.
Lives just a couple hours from College Park and already knows all about the program from conversations with his dad? Check.
So when Solt announced a couple weeks back he’d be at Maryland’s one-day June 14, we figured the offer was a mere formality.
Turns out head coach Randy Edsall agreed.
“Coach Edsall was like, ‘There’s no need to beat around the bush, I want to offer you a scholarship,’” Solt said.
Thus, Maryland became the first program to formerly offer the Keystone State product, assuring that the Terps will remain on Solt’s mind throughout the process. The good news for UMD fans is Solt’s UMD interest goes beyond family connections and sentimentality. He seemed to genuinely enjoy working with offensive line coach Greg Studrawa during the camp, while he had high praise for the campus; facility upgrades; Under Armour connection; and academics as well.
It’s way too soon to project Solt at this point (he has no early leaders and will be checking out numerous campuses during the months ahead), but he made a point to reiterate how he “really, really” likes Maryland. But Penn State, the program Solt grew up idolizing, will surely become a prime player if/when the Nittany Lions ante up. He previously called PSU a “dream offer” before backing off those comments in the most recent interview.
Regardless of where he stands with Penn State, though, Solt will undoubtedly garner his share of Big Ten, ACC and maybe even SEC looks moving forward. But for now the Terps look to be in a solid spot and did well to make the first move. (ARTICLE).
Baylen Buchanan, CB, Peachtree Ridge (Suwanee, Ga.): Maryland extended a scholarship to Buchanan, the son of former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Ray Buchanan, June 12, adding to the three-star’s growing offer list. I touched base with Buchanan following the verbal, but he really didn’t have much to say about UMD other than he’d heard from area recruiter Lyndon Johnson and would maybe think about visiting College Park at some point.
Buchanan is currently committed to Louisville, but he’s been wavering on that pledge for more than a month. Wisconsin entered the mix once the Badgers anted up in May, while both Peach State mainstays, Georgia and Georgia Tech, are on the brain too. Nebraska is another intriguing suitor, and Buchanan is hoping Arizona (the staff has been in contact) enters the mix.
Buchanan is in the midst of taking offseason visits, but unless he makes it to College Park, we’re inclined to leave him off the hot board. More than likely, Buchanan will wind up at Georgia, Georgia Tech or maybe Wisconsin. It’s also possible he could stick with Louisville, which has continued to pursue in earnest.
LaVert Hill, CB, Martin Luther King (Detroit, Mich.): The Terps offered the four-star Hill this week, but there’s not much of a chance to gain traction here. Hill is currently committed to Penn State, but ever since Michigan State offered in May he’s been projected to flip to MSU. He’s visited East Lansing twice since pulling the scholarship, and it’s probably only a matter of time before he’s a Spartan.
Terence Williams, ATH, Spoto (Riverview, Fla.): Maryland extended an offer to the three-star Williams, and it would seem the Terps would have an opportunity to impress -- should some of the athlete’s most ardent pursuers fall by the wayside.
Currently, Williams is hyping Colorado and is eager to visit, while FSU (no offer yet) and UNC are counted as standouts too. If the bigwig Sunshine State programs (read: Florida State) become involved, Williams could very well be a Seminole. If not, well, maybe UMD will have a shot going against the likes of Colorado, UNC, Duke and others of that ilk.
Williams has no intention of committing early, and he’s willing to wait until next winter for more suitors to emerge. We’re not going to place him on the hot board, but we’ll keep the name in mind just in case he opts to check out College Park down the road.
Craig Watts, S, Admiral Farragut Academy (St. Petersburg, Fla.): Well, Terps’ St. Petersburg-area recruiter Mike Locksley did have Maryland involved with five-star Florida defensive end Byron Cowart and four-star receiver Ryan Davis last year. Could he possibly get UMD in the conversation with the elite safety Watts as well? We’ll be interested to see if Watts opts to attend the Big Show camp in Byrd Stadium June 27, just as Cowart and Davis did in 2014.
For the moment, though, Watts hasn’t said much about the Terps. Wisconsin seems to be standing out after he visited Madison last week, while Ohio State; Colorado; Notre Dame; Miami; Florida; and FSU are also on the brain.
Watts plans to select a school by late summer, although he admitted he might have to push back into the fall.
Off The Board
Noah Burks, LB, Carmel (Ind.): We can say this about the former Terps’ linebacker target Burks: It’s not like he led any of us on. Just as he strongly hinted at during several previous interviews, Burks ended up choosing Wisconsin over Maryland and Minnesota (third in the running) June 13.
Yes, Burks publically declared the Badgers and Terps “50-50” following his May visit to College Park, but when I personally spoke to him the percentages seemed more like “60-40” in favor of Wisconsin.
Burks did genuinely like UMD, mainly because of his relationship with area recruiter Chad Wilt, who put in some serious work on the Indiana backer. He was also thoroughly impressed with the program, calling it “better than I expected.”
But, at the same time, Burks readily admitted he would’ve had to have been “blown away” for any institution to top Wisconsin. Even after he returned from College Park, Burks kept talking up the rabid fan base and blue-collar mentality in Madison, while he couldn’t say enough about the Badgers’ staff.
So, really, it was only a matter of time before Burks popped to Wisconsin. Moving on.
Tommy Carnifax, DE, Howland (Ohio): I wrote Carnifax off last week, letting readers know the Maryland staff had all but “given up the ghost” for the Ohio defensive end target. Carnifax told me he hadn’t had much, if any, contact with area recruiter Greg Studrawa or defensive line coach Chad Wilt for several weeks, a clear indication the Terps had conceded the race to Northwestern.
And, indeed, Carnifax ended up committing to the Wildcats June 12, shortly after the last Shell was released. He cited his comfort level on campus, the strong academics, his deep rapport with the staff and the program’s direction as the primary reasons he chose Northwestern.
Duke, which Carnifax visited June 9, finished second for his services, with Maryland dropping to third after the staff ceased contact. Moving on.
Mackenzie Nworah, OG, Manvel (Texas): Maryland made a run for the Texas guard, hosting him for a May 23 campus visit, which Nworah called “better than I thought.” UMD area recruiter Keenan McCardell left an impression on Nworah, and the staff’s emphasis on education resonated as well.
But we never projected Nworah to wind up at Maryland, especially as his profile grew during the evaluation period. Even after his UMD trip, the Lone Star State product admitted that Missouri, one of his initial suitors (along with UMD), held strong appeal and was the team to beat.
We didn’t think Nworah would actually commit to Mizzou when he visited the Tigers June 11, but that’s exactly what he did. He said the facilities, academics and his longstanding relationship with the staff were enough to end his recruitment in June, even as more SEC and Big 12 schools entered the mix. Apparently Mizzou’s area recruiter did a great job selling the program, convincing Nworah to join the Tigers before leaving campus.
As for the Terps, the final two offensive line targets are clear. Nworah would have been a terrific addition, no doubt, but Maryland always had a better chance at landing Terrance Davis (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.), Elijah Johnson (DeMatha) and possibly Devery Hamilton (Gilman/Baltimore, Md.).
Khaleke Hudson, S, McKeesport (Pa.): The Terps might still take another safety in the 2016 class, but don’t expect it to be Hudson, who area recruiter Greg Studrawa has long pursued. Hudson has been relatively mum regarding his recruitment, but late last week a Scout reporter caught up with him for an update.
Hudson just released a top 10 favorites list, and though Maryland made the cut, the vibe is the Terps are towards the bottom of that leaderboard. Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Michigan State, UCLA, Penn State, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Nebraska, North Carolina and Illinois are the other contenders.
Hudson said three schools currently resonating are Wisconsin (it helps that former Pitt coach Paul Chryst is there as Hudson developed a rapport with him last year) and in-state programs Penn State and Pitt. The McKeesport product has been forecast for PSU for a good while now, and it seems like the Nittany Lions remain the team to beat. He’s been on campus multiple times and has a deep rapport with the staff.
Some schools Hudson is considering visiting this summer (he’s already been to Pitt and PSU multiple times) include Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Michigan State, along with Alabama and Tennessee, two programs that haven’t offered but could be on the verge.
We know Studrawa made some early inroads, and Hudson did trek to College Park a couple months back, but his post-visit comments rang of lip service. He has been removed from the hot board.
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