Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
A Look At The Remaining 2016 Slots
The Terps have 15 class of 2016 commitments, and project to sign 22-25 players come February. Here’s where they stand heading into mid-summer.
QB: 0 openings; Dwayne Haskins (committed)
RB: 1 opening; LoLo Harrison (committed); Abdul Adams (main target)
WR: 1 or 2 openings; D.J. Turner (committed); Tino Ellis (main target); Evan Fairs (main target); Aaron Mathews (main target); Grant Holloway (main target); Kellon Taylor (possible target).
TE: 1 opening; Naseir Upshur (main target); Jay Rose (main target)
OL: 1 or 2 openings; Mike Clark (committed); Terek Zingale (committed); Brian Plummer (committed); Alex Hall (greyshirt committed); Terrance Davis (main target); Richard Merritt (main target)
DL: 1 or 2 openings; Joey Fisher (committed); Jeff Pooler (committed); Rahshaun Smith (main target, could be an LB); Rashad Wheeler (main target); Ellison Jordan (PSU commit, main target)
LB: 2 openings; Keandre Jones (committed); Keith Simms (main target); David Reese (main target); Tymar Sutton (possible target); Ali’i Niumatalolo (possible target); James Jennette (possible target)
S: 0 or 1 opening; Mike Viti (committed); Silas Kelly (committed, could move to LB); Devin Butler (committed); Tony Butler (main target); Traveon Redd (main target); Aaron Hansford (main target)
CB: 0 or 1 opening; Parnell Motley (committed); Tyrone Hill (committed); Travon Stott (committed); Trevon Diggs (main target); Robbie Robinson (main target)
Evan Fairs, WR, Foster (Richmond, Texas): We’ve updated Fairs’ status several times since he received a Maryland offer back during the spring, and although he expressed plenty of interest, we were slightly skeptical the Texas product would actually journey north to College Park, Md. After all, he delayed at least three intended visits since adding the scholarship.
Turns out he'll be flying up.
Not only did the 6-foot-2, 182-pounder let me know he had booked a July 29 flight, but he suggested a pop could be forthcoming.
Fairs also has offers from New Mexico, Sam Houston State and Texas State, but he said the Terps are far and away his most attractive option. Moreover, the wideout has had consistent communication with Maryland area recruiter Keenan McCardell, the pair speaking a few times each week. The Lone Star State receiver said McCardell has informed him he’s wanted in the program, could thrive in Maryland’s system, and would have an opportunity to contribute sooner rather than later during his career.
Fairs also likes the fact UMD competes in the Big Ten, just produced receiver Stefon Diggs and has four-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.) on board. And even though College Park is two time zones away, Fairs didn’t sound fazed by the distance, saying he enjoys “experiencing new places.”
Fairs said he and his mother are excited to fly East, a pledge possibly coming at the conclusion of the overnight stay.
“There’s a strong possibility I’ll commit when I’m up there, and if not then, maybe like a week later so I can evaluate all the new information from the visit,” Fairs said.
The Texas wideout might drag his recruitment into his senior season if Maryland head coach Randy Edsall slow plays the situation, but the sense is the Terps will take him. (ARTICLE).
Tino Ellis, WR, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): Ellis is attempting to dramatize his recruitment a bit heading down the home stretch. With 27 days to go until his proposed July 31 announcement date, the DeMatha prospect released a top-six favorites list that consisted of (in no order) Maryland, Virginia Tech, Rutgers, West Virginia, Kentucky and Nebraska.
Frequent readers of this space realize, however, the latter four schools can pretty much be ignored. This has long been a Maryland-Virginia Tech race, with both the Terps and Hokies trading spots atop the leaderboard. Depending on the day, the hour and probably which recruiting pitch he’s heard most recently, Ellis has wavered back and forth between the two.
Some believe Ellis will eventually wind up a Hokie because of the coaching staff’s stability; the fact his cousin, Donovan Riley, is pumping up Tech; and his family’s overall comfort level in Blacksburg, Va. (Ellis repeatedly mentions how well the staff treats his parents while on campus).
Others, however, think Ellis will opt for hometown Maryland, a school the receiver has visited multiple times. Ellis has had a longer rapport with Mike Locksley, his UMD recruiter, than any other assistant coach. Meanwhile there’s pressure from teammates-turned-Terps D.J. Turner and LoLo Harrison to join them in College Park. Not to mention quarterback pledge Dwayne Haskins has put on the full-court press, letting Ellis know the two could become one potent tandem the next few years.
Ellis was at Maryland twice during June, including once with his family for another go-around with Randy Edsall and Co. He may or may not return to College Park since he’s been there a bunch already, but plans to revisit Blacksburg, Va., to hear the Hokies’ final pitch. Ellis might check out Kentucky and Nebraska in the next couple weeks too, although that’s not set in stone.
The details of Ellis’ commitment remain in the works, as he’s still deciding whether to announce at Bentley’s or at DeMatha. Terps fans, obviously, are hoping he chooses the popular College Park restaurant.
How do we see this ending up? Well, we’re sticking with our gut instinct (Maryland), though it’s as close to a toss-up as it gets. We might not know for sure where Ellis is heading until late July, after the receiver sees Va Tech.
Terrance Davis, OG, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): Davis won’t choose a college until the winter, but it's worth noting the update he gave Scout’s Brian Dohn at The Opening. Granted, there wasn’t too much new with the four-star guard, although he verbalized what we had gleaned from previous interviews.
As expected, Davis has Michigan in the driver’s seat for now, his rapport with the Wolverines’ staff and his spring visit to Ann Arbor, Mich., continuing to resonate. Davis and his family are smitten with head coach Jim Harbaugh and the Big House, so it’s going to take some effort to supplant UM.
Fortunately for Maryland and Davis’ other suitors, there’s plenty of time. Fact is, UMD, Alabama (no firm offer yet), UCLA and Georgia are firmly in play, and there’s a strong possibility recent offeree Ohio State and Tennessee make Davis’ upcoming top-eight list following visits to Columbus, Ohio, (July 24) ) and Knoxville, Tenn. (July 25).
Other summer trips on the docket include Bama (July 17) and Georgia before Davis starts taking officials post-senior season. Davis will officially visit UCLA Jan. 15, but besides the Bruins, he has no other winter jaunts scheduled. He should return to Ann Arbor for the Michigan-OSU showdown, however.
As for Maryland, Davis has been in College Park several times this spring/summer, and will be back for a game or two in Byrd Stadium. Area recruiter Mike Locksley, along with teammates-turned-Terps-pledges D.J. Turner and LoLo Harrison, have been pursuing Davis hard and heavy, and their words keep hitting home.
Davis isn’t a slam-dunk to wind up at UMD, but we still feel the Terps will reside among the DeMatha guard’s main two or three contenders throughout.
We’ll know more later during the fall, as Davis’ recruitment is bound to ebb and flow.
Naseir Upshur, TE, Imhotep (Philadelphia, Pa.): I wrote about Upshur last week, and earlier this week the four-star tight end granted several interviews at The Opening. Basically, he confirmed what UMD fans already knew: Upshur has his eyes on the nation’s elite, and is probably Michigan bound. Alabama and Florida State are also in the running, with Arizona State and South Carolina the darkhorse candidates.
Upshur told our analysts he’d be checking out FSU and Bama in mid-July, before maybe heading West to see the Sun Devils. Ole Miss and Auburn are also on the radar, though unlikely to gain much traction. (Upshur already trekked to Ann Arbor this summer, raving about the Wolverines and head coach Jim Harbaugh).
Upshur intends to commit August 8, more than likely choosing between one of the aforementioned quintet of UM, FSU, Bama, Arizona State or South Carolina. Maryland, USC and Temple round out the tight end’s favorites list, but none are thought to be serious contenders.
Note: In typical Naseir Upshur fashion, he said even after he’s committed he’ll be taking official visits this fall. Which means the Gamecocks, Sun Devils, Seminoles and Tide might get another crack at him should the Philly product choose the Wolverines as expected Aug. 8.
Defensive Back News
Robbie Robinson, CB, Phoebus (Hampton, Va.): We wrote the four-star cornerback Robinson off earlier in the spring when he started gathering offers from places like Stanford, Ohio State and Penn State. But evidently the Terps are still kicking around and among Robinson's foremost seven contenders. The Phoebus prospect told Scout's Mike Clark earlier this week that Stanford, PSU, Clemson, Arizona State, Maryland, OSU and Vandy were on the brain, with a decision set for July 25.
At first blush, one might assume the Cardinal, Buckeyes and Nittany Lions would have the edge, but that's not necessarily the case. OSU and PSU have backed off some with other targets in mind, leaving Stanford as the most ardent pursuer of that trio.
Then there's this not-so-marginal nugget: Robinson will be returning to College Park in the next week for one last look at Maryland, while he's set for a three-day stay in Tempe, Ariz., July 21-24. With that in mind, the feeling is UMD and the Sun Devils might very well reside in Robinson's top three, along with Stanford.
Here's what Robinson had to say about the Terps:
"They’re losing four defensive backs and I could come in and learn behind (junior cornerback) Will Likely. I’d also be able to do a lot of internships in Washington, D.C., around the Capitol Building and it would really help me prepare for my law career.
"I've been [to Maryland] before and am just going to go back up there for a day. There’s not really anything specific I want to see. I just want to go back up there and hang out with some of the players, talk to them and watch them work out... The coach I talk to from there is (defensive line) coach (Chad) Wilt. He’s very cool and down to earth. He cares about how you’re doing and it’s about more than just about football with him.”
Arizona State gets last dibs, so that might ultimately push the Sun Devils over the top, although you can't count out the Cardinal with their renowned academics and the fact they need defensive backs. But it's a situation worth monitoring for UMD aficionados, for sure.
Stay tuned, and let's see what Robinson's thinking after his College Park jaunt.
Tony Butler, S, St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio): It was a mere formality, but July 3 Butler finally decommitted from Pittsburgh and announced a new leaderboard that did not include the Panthers. Butler, who added a Terps offer in June, said the four schools he’s looking at are Maryland; Arizona State; Michigan; and Rutgers. He wants to officially visit each of that quartet during the fall, but will check out Ann Arbor July 15 for his final unofficial.
Right now, the feeling is Michigan holds the upper-hand -- as long as head coach Jim Harbaugh has an opening later this year (no guarantee). Butler’s been projected to the Wolverines ever since they offered, which makes sense considering he’s from Ohio and has been regaled with UM and Ohio State lore.
That said, Butler seems to like Arizona State a good amount too, while he’s seeking offers from Clemson; Ohio State; Michigan State; and others.
Maryland does have a chance here thanks to area recruiter Greg Studrawa’s and defensive backs coach Darrell Perkins’ overtures, but some contenders probably have to fall out of the running for the Terps to bring Butler in. That said, if the St. Edward product follows through with that intended UMD official visit, maybe Randy Edsall can leave a lasting impression.
I want to emphasize the word if in the last statement. Realize Butler's proposed officials are hardly guaranteed and really quite tentative.
It’s obvious Butler’s current favorites list is extremely malleable, so if elite Big Ten or ACC suitors become involved, UMD, Rutgers and maybe even Arizona State could get the boot.
We’ll what happens in the months ahead, but for now Butler is staying “cool” on the hot board.
Trevon Diggs, CB, Avalon (Gaithersburg, Md.): Last week, Avalon’s head coach, Tyree Spinner, filled us in that his cornerback/receiver had several visits he wanted to take before declaring his college destination, which was supposed to occur July 4. This week, Diggs pretty much reiterated his coach’s comments at The Opening -- albeit with a bit more insight.
Diggs told Scout’s Brian Dohn he was considering the likes of Maryland, Alabama, Clemson, LSU and West Virginia. The sense is UMD and Bama lead the pack, although Diggs will give the two Tigers’ squads and the Mountaineers a chance to make their respective marks.
Diggs hasn’t set up visits for CU, LSU and WVU yet, though each could occur later in July/August. If not, he might take officials to those three locales during the fall. Right now, the only scheduled trip he has is to Tuscaloosa, Ala., on July 13, which will be his third time on campus.
The younger brother of former Terps' great Stefon Diggs doesn’t feel the need to foray through College Park again since he’s practically lived at Maryland the last two-plus years. But we could foresee a UMD official materializing if area recruiter Mike Locksley pushes for one.
As far as a new decision date goes, Diggs isn’t quite sure when he’ll be ready to announce. There’s a chance he could pop before his senior season starts, but more than likely he’s going to drag the process out a la his older brother.
Either way, we believe the Terps have the inside track, but it’s never an easy battle going against ‘Bama.
Note: Diggs wasn’t asked about the much-ballyhooed “package deal” between him and Terps' pledge Dwayne Haskins. But the feeling here is Diggs, like most recruits, won’t be swayed by any of his friends -- even the Bullis quarterback. Diggs may very well end up at Maryland, but it will be for his (and his family’s) reasons.
Aaron Hansford, S, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): It might be about time to give up the ghost on the local safety Hansford. Typically mum about his recruitment, Hansford opened up at The Opening . . . and proceeded to exclude UMD during interviews.
Hansford isn’t naming favorites yet, but it’s obvious Penn State and Ohio State are at the forefront of his mind. Others he’s thinking about include Oregon, UNC, Notre Dame, Florida and Duke.
Maryland could sneak onto Hansford’s upcoming top-10 list, which will be released next week, but it’s unlikely the Terps rise into the safety’s upper tier -- despite area recruiter Mike Locksley’s best efforts.
Hansford could be scratched from the hot board at any time.
More Defensive Notes
Keith Simms, LB, Landon (Bethesda, Md.): Scout’s Wisconsin publisher, Ben Worgull, touched based with Simms this week, and the Landon backer let him know he was close to releasing a top-10 favorites list. Simms, however, gave away most of said list when he mentioned that Stanford, Oregon, Maryland, Baylor, Duke, UNC and Wisconsin were “standing out.”
There’s not many surprises among the above seven, except for the exclusion of Michigan State. Once thought to be a prime contender, Simms hasn’t talked about the Spartans in weeks (he didn’t touch on MSU when Keith interviewed him after the UMD 7-on-7 either). In all likelihood, Michigan State has either filled up its linebacker spots -- the Spartans have two backers committed -- or has its eyes on other targets.
Which means this could very well turn into a Maryland-Oregon race, with Duke possibly in play too. Simms has hinted time and again the Ducks and Terps had his ear (recall, Stanford is likely on the backburner since Simms may not have the necessary AP courses to qualify), and he didn’t stray from that line of thinking during the latest interview. He told Worgull he wanted to officially visit UMD and Oregon before announcing his future destination.
Before embarking on officials, though, Simms wants to check out UNC, Duke, Oregon and maybe Wisconsin in late July/August. He’s been in College Park about five times this spring and summer, so he’s seen all he needs to at Maryland.
There’s still time for Simms’ situation to change, but right now we like Maryland’s position. He’s been trending towards the Terps since June, when he trekked to UMD three times in a week, so unless Oregon or maybe Duke blow him away, Simms could very well end up at the hometown school.
James Jennette, DE, Hazelwood West (Hazelwood, Mo.): I touched base with Terps offeree James Jennette this week in an attempt to “clear up” his situation. Yes, he ended up committing to Ball State July 1, but that was of little concern on this end. (It was one of those “I’ll go there if I don’t have any better options” verbals).
Mainly, I wanted to find out if 1) Jennette was still planning on visiting UMD in late July, 2) if Maryland remained his No. 1 suitor, 3) if the Terps were even in touch with him, and 4) if Jennette had a committable UMD offer.
Here’s what I was able to glean:
First, and perhaps most significantly, Jennette -- who is indeed keeping the Terps atop his personal leaderboard -- said he and area recruiter Darrell Perkins communicate fairly regularly, perhaps once a week or more. But, according to the Hazelwood West recruit, Perkins let Jennette know the Terps could no longer accept anymore defensive end commitments what with Jeff Pooler (Chaminade Julienne/Dayton, Ohio) and Joey Fisher (Clear Spring, Md.) currently in tow.
Even so, Jennette suggested he’s not completely out of luck yet. The Missouri product said Perkins and Co. might be able to take him as an outside linebacker should UMD’s other targets (see: Keith Simms, Tymar Sutton) fall by the wayside. Jennette played outside backer his first two years at Hazelwood West and was a hybrid end/backer last year, so he’s not at all opposed to the proposed role (in fact, he said it fit him “perfectly”).
Regardless of whether or not there’s an opening, Jennette would like to visit College Park at some point. He and his mother were supposed to venture East later in July, but a monetary situation will preclude them from doing so. Thus, Jennette said he’d “more than likely” be taking a Maryland official in October or November to “see if it’s a good fit.” (Of course, we doubt the trip will materialize if Perkins lets Jennette know he can’t commit).
So, currently, Jennette is truly in a holding pattern. No other programs are giving him a hard look -- for what it’s worth, he said his grades and SAT scores aren’t an issue -- after Missouri and Kansas Stated elected to pass, so Jennette’s relying on strong senior film to draw more looks.
If nothing comes to fruition, well, at least he’s found a home in Ball State.
Our gut? We don’t envision Jennette as a future Terp. The vibe is Perkins might be giving him the ‘ol “coach speak” spiel, and UMD won’t make much of a push.
But, either way, we’ll continue to monitor Jennette’s recruitment. (ARTICLE).
Off The Board
Noah Turner, TE, Carmel Catholic (Mundelein, Ill.): Maryland and area recruiter Chad Wilt made a strong run at Turner, ultimately finishing among the tight end’s top two suitors. Wilt developed a terrific rapport with Turner, visiting Carmel twice during the spring before the Terps hosted the Illinois prospect for a March 23 practice.
Unfortunately for UMD, there are no silver medals awarded to second-place finishers.
Turner ended up popping to longstanding No. 1 North Carolina July 3, citing the pitch from UNC tight ends coach Seth Littrell; the chance to be the next Eric Ebron in the Tar Heels’ offense; the Chapel Hill, N.C., area; and more. He visited Carolina back in March, a day after tripping to College Park, and proclaimed UNC the team to beat shortly thereafter.
The Midwest product coveted a Notre Dame offer, which delayed his inevitable decision, but he failed to receive one at the recent Irish Invasion camp. So when it became clear the Irish weren’t going to ante up, Turner didn’t hesitate to commit to North Carolina.
So with Turner no longer an option and four-star Naseir Upshur (Imhotep/Philadelphia, Pa.) seemingly bound for Michigan (or a major SEC contender), the Terps’ remaining tight end target is Southington’s (Conn.) Jay Rose. But Rose has reneged on multiple College Park trips, and, as I wrote last week, we’re skeptical one will materialize at this rate.
Syracuse and Wisconsin, two schools Rose saw in June, seem to have his eye, while UConn and BC are in the game because they’re recruiting the Connecticut athlete as a quarterback (his desired college position).
We’ll see if area recruiter Keith Dudzinski can coax Rose down for a visit. If it ever does occur, we do think the Terps will have a legitimate shot at landing him.
Carlos Basham, DE, Northside (Roanoke, Va.): Technically, Basham didn’t come “off the board” after committing to Wake Forest July 6, because he was never really on it. Even after Basham placed the Terps among his four foremost contenders last week, we didn’t believe UMD had a true shot. After all, he hadn’t visited College Park since last winter, while he’d checked out each of his three other favorites -- Wake Forest, Cincinnati, Pitt -- this spring.
Plus, Basham basically admitted the Deacons were the team to beat when I spoke to him. Wake was one of his first major offers; he liked that Winston Salem, N.C., wasn’t too far from home; and he readily took to the small-town, small-school vibe. The coaching staff’s potent pursuit and the school’s academics only added to Wake’s appeal.
But the Terps, with Darrell Perkins handling the recruiting (we’re not positive head coach Randy Edsall truly wanted Basham), may have finished second in the running, with Pitt right there as well..
If nothing else, this is another example of Perkins’ activity on the trail. He’s had the Terps involved with numerous recruits, so we’ll see if the persistent efforts pay off in the future.
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