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.

Tino On Track

So, Mr. Ellis, are you in or not?

Well, currently, the DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) wideout is “in,” ready to end his recruitment July 31 and presumably commit to Maryland.

Earlier this week Ellis set the Twitterati world ablaze by waffling back and forth on his longstanding intended college decision date. Initially, Ellis said he wanted to push back his announcement so he could check out Blacksburg, Va., and possibly Kentucky and/or Nebraska before selecting a school. But less than 48 hours later, Ellis reverted to form, tweeting he would indeed be popping July 31.

Which basically meant we had little new to report after last week. That is, until Ellis revealed July 22 he would indeed be trekking to Tech one last time this weekend... before announcing July 23 he wouldn't be going anywhere at all. (Yes, my head is spinning too).

At any rate, we think Ellis will be a Terp, regardless of whether or not UMD does indeed get last dibs.

Ellis’ most recent visits to College Park, Md., including once with his family, apparently vaulted UMD ahead of its stiffest competition, head coach Randy Edsall and recruiter Mike Locksley winning the Ellises over. A longtime DMV-to-UMD cog, Ellis knows he can shine at Maryland, catching passes from four-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.). He's also cognizant of the fact the Terps have been after him longer than any other program, provide terrific academic opportunities, have state-of-the-art facility upgrades set to be completed in 2017, and need receivers.

That said, the Hokies, with multiple coaches and Ellis’ former teammate, Cam Phillips, pumping up Blacksburg, aren’t giving up the ghost, and some believe they’re leading for the receiver’s services. But Locksley, Edsall, Haskins and teammates-turned-Terps D.J. Turner and LoLo Harrison have all done their part in convincing Ellis to join the Movement. Add in his prior relationship with new Maryland Director Player of Personnel Cory Robinson, and the tea leaves are reading UMD.

"Maryland has been on me real hard, real hard. They’ve made it known they want me there. I’m always in touch with Coach [Mike] Locksley, and I have a great relationship with Coach [Keenan] McCardell and Coach [Randy] Edsall too. And now Cory Robinson is up there as like the [Director of Player Personnel], and he’s my guy. Cory and I go way back, so that’s great that he’s at Maryland now," Ellis said. “[And] Dwayne, D.J., LoLo, they’re hitting me up all the time, all the time. Dwayne’s telling me we can be a great tandem at Maryland, and Lo and D.J. are saying how great the offense will be if we’re all there making plays. So that sounds really good, and it’s something I’m thinking a lot about.”

So unless we hear otherwise in the next week, we’ll project Ellis to announce for UMD at the Comcast Sports Net studios in Bethesda, Md., at 6 p.m. (ARTICLE.)

Davis, Diggs & Adams Visit Alabama, Others

Three of Maryland’s primary class of 2016 targets, offensive guard Terrance Davis (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.), cornerback Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Gaithersburg, Md.) and running back Abdul Adams (Woodson/Washington, D.C.), all ventured down to Tuscaloosa, Ala., July 15-17 for a look at the Tide. Each of the trio claims Alabama offers and have the national power under prime consideration. (We’re not sure which offers are actually committable. It’s possible none of them are/will be.)

The guard Davis actually visited a couple locales last week, starting with Bama before hitting Georgia for Dawg Night July 18. The 6-foot-2, 300-pounder thoroughly enjoyed both trips and promptly placed both SEC institutions among his (unofficial) top five contenders.

The DeMatha guard, who was at Dawg Night last year as well, couldn’t say enough about Georgia’s offensive line coach, Rob Sale, while he immediately took to the Bulldogs’ fans; the atmosphere; and the current players too. He offered up similar praise for Bama, lauding head coach Nick Saban; line coach Mario Cristobal; and the entire “Alabama experience.”

Davis will return to both Athens, Ga., (Dec. 11-13) and Tuscaloosa (Jan. 8-10) this winter for official visits. He also has an official to UCLA set for Jan. 15 and Michigan Nov. 28, with the fifth location to be determined.

First, though, Davis will take in recent offeree Ohio State July 24 and Tennessee July 25, the former of particular intrigue. Davis said he’s looking forward to the Buckeyes’ Friday Night Lights camp, and we could easily see OSU working its ways into the DeMatha product’s graces afterwards.

So, with all these nationally renowned schools in the running, how does Maryland stack up?

Well, Davis has always been infatuated with the traditional elites; it’s not surprising he has Michigan No. 1 on his leaderboard and Bama and Georgia firmly in the mix. UCLA is also in Davis’ early top five, and OSU very well could claim that final spot following his July 24 foray through Columbus, Ohio.

The above may be disconcerting for Terps fans, but it’s not time to panic yet. Maryland has been a longtime player with Davis and will continue to hang tough. Area recruiter Mike Locksley, head coach Randy Edsall, and UMD pledges Dwayne Haskins; D.J. Turner; and LoLo Harrison keep reaching out, Davis heeding their words.

Admittedly, if Davis had to commit today, he’d probably choose Michigan (or possibly Bama or Georgia). But, fortunately for UMD, he’s not popping until the Under Armour All-American game, giving Locksley and the Terps plenty of time to close the gap. It’s going to be a rough battle going against the Wolverines and the SEC’s upper-tier, however, so we’ll have to see how it plays out.

Diggs, for his part, recently called Alabama his leader, with Maryland probably running a close second. His latest jaunt through Tuscaloosa apparently reminded Diggs how much he liked Nick Saban’s program in the first place, and it seems like Alabama’s prestige and history have the corner/receiver seeing stars.

Of course, Diggs tends to be quite mercurial and may have changed his mind four or five times since I penned this column. Recall, Diggs was all set to pop to UMD July 4, both he and his family fully on-board with Randy Edsall’s program. But instead of taking the plunge, Diggs opted to wait the process out. Then, several days after reneging on his original Independence Day plan, he named the Tide No. 1 again.

So now we’ll see what he’s thinking after this upcoming round of visits. Next up for Diggs is a trek through LSU, followed by intended trips to Maryland, Clemson and possibly WVU.

There’s a chance Diggs could be ready to end his recruitment later in August, but he’ll probably wait until after his senior season. In all likelihood, Diggs will embark on a few official visits, adding even more drama to the situation.

But, when all the rigmarole is finally through, we’re led to believe Diggs will eventually come back around to Maryland. Thus, we’re leaving him “hot” on the hot board until further notice.

Last but not least, there’s the running back Adams, a Michigan State verbal who we think will eventually flip to Maryland.

Basically, Adams joined his friends in Tuscaloosa to compete in the Tide’s camp, gambling his skills would catch the staff’s eye. Apparently they did as Adams pulled the Bama offer while on campus.

But, according to our sources, Adams isn’t about to join the Tide anytime soon (Saban’s offer could have been one of those “take it or leave it” deals). In fact, the Woodson back is insisting he’s “100 percent committed” to MSU and will officially visit East Lansing, Mich., to firm up his pledge.

Maybe so, but we’ve been told Adams remains a prime Maryland flip candidate -- even in the wake of the recent Alabama news. Adams didn’t grant an interview this time around, but he personally let us know last week he might have turtles on the brain following teammate Parnell Motley’s UMD pop (his coaches corroborating that sentiment). He said Maryland area recruiter Mike Locksley remained in touch, while he’d been hearing quite a bit from Dwayne Haskins and Co. too.

It could take time for Adams to come around, but don’t be surprised if he officially visits Maryland later during the year. We’ll let you know if we hear differently down the road.

More Terps’ Target Rumblings

Keith Simms, LB, Landon (Bethesda, Md.): Maryland’s No. 1 linebacker target finally decided to journey some place other than College Park this summer, taking four out-of-state visits this week. In order, the three-star recruit stopped by Virginia Tech (July 21), Wake Forest (July 22), Duke (July 23) and North Carolina (July 23).

The Hokies’ and Deacons’ trips were interesting choices considering Simms didn’t have either among his leaders last we spoke with him. But evidently the staffs from both had been urging Simms to see their respective campuses, and the linebacker opted to do just that (he’d seen Winston Salem, N.C., once before). Simms reported positive comments on both schools, first complimenting Tech’s defense; the coaching staff’s stability; the academics; and the campus. He then spoke highly of the Deacons, noting the educational values and the close-knit vibe from the community and coaches.

Of the two, Simms is likely to keep Va Tech in mind moving forward, although we’re not sure the Hokies -- nor the Deacons for that matter -- will become true contenders unless other options fall by the wayside.

Venturing further south, Simms stopped by two of his most ardent pursuers, Duke and UNC, later during the week. The Blue Devils’ and the Tar Heels’ staffs have been pushing for Simms, and the linebacker’s interest is apparently mutual.

Simms was last in Durham, N.C., back in March, the Landon product speaking to the school’s top-notch academics and budding football program under Dave Cutcliffe. Simms believes he’d fit well into the Blue Devils’ defense and said he’s “very comfortable” on campus. But the primary reason Duke is resonating are the educational benefits. Following this latest visit, the Devils may very well reside among Simms’ main three or four suitors due to said academics.

As for UNC, Simms didn’t seem fazed by the recent NCAA allegations and impending penalties. His interest in the Heels is genuine, Simms lauding the coaches; defensive scheme; campus; and more. He said the UNC staff has made him a priority, maybe the No. 1 reason Simms is keeping North Carolina firmly in play. The Heels, like the Devils, might be No. 3 or No. 4 on the leaderboard.

The question now is, Did these latest four trips alter Simms’ recruitment?

The vibe is they did give the linebacker more to think about heading into his senior season, although we can’t say any markedly changed his situation. Simms may still have Oregon and Maryland in the driver’s seat, with official visits pending to both, while Duke, UNC and maybe Va Tech are jockeying for position.

Wisconsin and Baylor could be involved to an extent, and Simms won’t publically rule out Stanford yet (remember, the Cardinal can’t accept his commitment without Simms taking required AP courses), but none of those figure to be his ultimate landing spot.

With July coming to a close, Simms is probably finished with summer visits and will spend August preparing for the 2015 campaign. Look for him to take those two aforementioned officials to UMD and Oregon sometime during the fall -- it wouldn’t shock us if he officially visited Duke or UNC too -- and then choose between the Terps and Ducks later during the year.

Currently, we think Maryland, with Chad Wilt anchoring the recruitment and DMV-to-UMD ringing true, is in a very good spot. Simms is taking a deliberate approach and will weigh all his options, but the Terps have been after him longer and harder than any other program he’s considering, which is something the Landon backer is well aware of.

We’ll see if the situation changes in the months ahead.

Traveon Redd, S, Magna Vista (Ridgeway, Va.): Last week we removed one of Maryland’s remaining safety targets when Tony Butler (St. Edward’s/Lakewood, Ohio) took the Terps off his leaderboard, and this week it’s looking like Redd might be next. Redd is set to commit July 31, and the feeling is Vanderbilt is well out in front for the Magna Vista product (he’s also looking at Maryland and Wake Forest).

True, Redd did visit College Park a few weeks back, pointing to the memorable conversations with head coach Randy Edsall and area recruiter Darrell Perkins. He also liked the school’s Under Armour connection and the fact he could potentially contribute early during his Maryland career.

But both Vandy and Wake have been after Redd for much longer than the Terps. Wake is also close to Redd’s Virginia home, which helps the Deacons’ chances, while Vandy’s academics; the staff’s overtures; and the program’s general vibe hold appeal.

From the outside looking in, the Terps would seem to have a selling-point advantage over those two, but then there’s this: Redd is set to revisit Nashville, Tenn., July 24 and then make his commitment a week later. Most Commodores reporters believe that last trip will entrench Vanderbilt atop Redd’s favorites list.

On top of that, we’re not sure how much Perkins and Co. are pushing for Redd. Since offering him, Maryland has added two more safety pledges, so perhaps Redd is no longer viewed as a “priority” (maybe that’s why Tony Butler didn’t mention Maryland during his latest interview either).

Robbie Robinson, CB, DeMatha: Robinson raised a few eyebrows this week when he announced he would be transferring from Phoebus (Hampton, Va.) to DeMatha for his senior season. We’re not sure this will ultimately change the four-star corner’s recruiting situation, but it certainly makes things more interesting, to say the least.

Robinson now resides in Maryland’s backyard and will undoubtedly have UMD pledges LoLo Harrison, D.J. Turner and probably Tino Ellis in his ear about the Terps. Furthermore, it gives the Maryland staff -- from primary recruiter Chad Wilt to head coach Randy Edsall to DeMatha recruiter Mike Locksley to defensive backs coach Darrell Perkins -- direct access to him.

Considering the above, maybe the Terps can turn the tide down the road, but for now we’re projecting a commitment to Arizona State July 25. Fact is, while Maryland and Wilt made a run earlier this year, we’ve heard the Terps haven’t been pushing as hard of late.

Plus, Robinson reneged on an intended College Park return trip this week, instead flying out to Tempe, Ariz. Robinson spent multiple days at ASU, the visit supposedly sealing him to the Sun Devils. Robinson has a former teammate, Jason Lewis, who is currently at Arizona State, while he has a terrific rapport with his ASU recruiter. Moreover, the Sun Devils’ aggressive defensive scheme appeals as well.

Robinson is also considering Stanford, a school he’s yet to see first-hand, Clemson and Penn State. Our Scout analysts believe the Terps could reside among his foremost three contenders (UMD’s academics, location, his spring campus visit and Wilt’s overtures ringing true), but sit behind ASU and Stanford in the pecking order.

It would be considered an upset if he did not pop to the Sun Devils, and, barring a change down the road, that’s probably where he’ll end up signing.

A.J. Taylor, RB/WR, Rockhurst (Kansas City, Mo.): We received word that four-star running back/receiver A.J. Taylor had Wisconsin, Northwestern and Maryland among his top three contenders and would be choosing between the trio Aug. 1. Which came as a bit of a surprise since Taylor has only briefly brought up UMD following his late-May Terps offer.

Now, it’s certainly possible Maryland area recruiter Darrell Perkins made inroads and had Taylor on campus for an unreported visit, but we haven’t heard of such a scenario. What we do know is Taylor saw Iowa, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Mizzou recently, with the Wildcats and Badgers resonating.

Our Midwest sources told us this was a Wisconsin-Missouri battle, but now it seems the Tigers have dropped out of the running, clearing the way for the Badgers to claim him. Taylor is expected to choose Wisconsin Aug. 1.

Marcus Simms, WR, Sherwood (Sandy Spring, Md.): There have been some rumblings about West Virginia pledge Marcus Simms potentially flipping to Maryland down the line, so I decided to pursue the angle further this week. Simms, however, hasn’t been responding to reporters and didn’t return my texts. Thus, I ventured down to Sherwood for a workout, hoping to catch him before practice. Unfortunately, I was told Simms has been in summer school and wasn’t working out with the team. I then attempted to set up a conference call through his coach, but no dice.

Apparently Simms is lying low with all this Maryland news percolating about.

The visit wasn’t a lost cause, however, as I was able to glean some pertinent information from Simms’ coach. The Warriors’ headman let me know numerous local Terps’ pledges (read: Dwayne Haskins, D.J. Turner, etc.) were “pushing hard” for the Sherwood wideout, giving Simms “a lot to think about with recruiting.”

But the coach still insisted Simms was firmly on-board with West Virginia and set to visit Morgantown, W.Va., July 25 for another meeting with the staff. When I asked if Simms was taking other visits or considering other options, however, the coach smirked and said, “you’ll have to ask him that.”

We’ll attempt to dig deeper, but there might just be some smoke here. And when there’s smoke, there’s typically a fire. Stay tuned.

Class of 2017 Terps Target Notes

Jordan Anthony, LB, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): One of Maryland’s primary class of 2017 linebacker targets, four-star Jordan Anthony, announced via Twitter July 20 he was transferring from Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) to IMG Academy due to “family circumstances.” We’re not really concerned what those circumstances are -- just what they mean for Terps’ recruiting purposes.

In a nutshell, not much.

Maryland probably had just as good of a chance of pulling Anthony out of Good Counsel as it will at IMG Academy. Sure, the Terps had a nice little pipeline going to the nearby Falcons, and, yes, Anthony will no longer be in UMD’s backyard, giving him easy access to College Park and area recruiter Mike Locksley. But Maryland’s connection should be just as strong at IMG now that Cory Robinson, a former IMG assistant, is Maryland’s Director of Player Personnel.

And you can be sure Locksley will remain in touch with Anthony, visiting Bradenton during open recruiting periods and messaging him often enough via Twitter. Plus there’s the fact IMG already has two prospects with deep Terps ties in five-star defensive end/outside linebacker Rahshaun Smith and class of 2017 defensive end Cam Spence.

All of that doesn’t mean Anthony will definitely be a Terp, however. The 6-1, 220-pounder has plenty of options, namely Penn State (a personal favorite), Clemson (another personal favorite), Auburn, Michigan, Va Tech, UNC, Syracuse, Iowa, Kentucky and more.

But the former Falcons’ star routinely talks up DMV-to-UMD, and he’s loved pretty much every College Park visit he’s taken. So Maryland should remain in the thick of things throughout, just as it will with Spence and Smith.

Anthony McFarland, RB, DeMatha: Arguably the No. 1 recruit in the DMV’s 2017 class, McFarland joined his teammate Terrance Davis at Georgia and Alabama last week. The visits were significant because McFarland holds offers from both and raved about the two SEC stalwarts during my latest interview with the running back/receiver. For those who don’t remember, McFarland told me Georgia had been pushing the hardest for him, while Bama’s tradition and name recognition held prime appeal.

Naturally, McFarland left Athens and Tuscaloosa downright smitten. He ate up Dawg Night (pun intended), praising the coaches and the family atmosphere. Meanwhile, he was in utter awe of Alabama’s facilities and coach Nick Saban.

It’s way too soon to forecast McFarland to either one of these locales, but it’s safe to say both the Bulldogs and Tide will be players in this recruitment.

As far as the Terps are concerned, McFarland has much admiration for Maryland given the Movement and the fact it’s the hometown school. Then during his latest trip to College Park, for the Big Show, he renewed his relationship with area recruiter Mike Locksley and Randy Edsall.

But, like with many four/five-star recruits coveted by the country’s powers, it’s going to be a bumpy road ahead. A big year in the Big Ten could go a long way in convincing McFarland to stick around for college.

Joshua Kaindoh, DE, IMG Academy : Yet another DMV product heading to IMG. A day after Jordan Anthony announced his transfer, the Baltimore product Kaindoh said he was leaving Mt. Carmel (Essex, Md.) for the Florida power.

Again, this type of move could potentially work in Maryland’s favor given the Cory Robinson connection. But we sense Kaindoh, individually, will be harder to lure than someone like Jordan Anthony or Cam Spence. Kaindoh was already infatuated with Penn State and some of his national offers like Ohio State and Alabama, so the Terps had work to do, regardless of his high school location.

Granted, Kaindoh was in College Park for the Big Show June 27, and he does seem to have a solid rapport with UMD recruiter Keith Dudzinski. So we’ll see what kind of traction the Terps can gain now that he’s at IMG.

Travis Levy, RB, Sherwood (Sandy Spring, Md.): I stopped by Sherwood in order to get the lowdown on Terps’ wide receiver target Marcus Simms, and while in Sandy Spring I spoke to the Warriors’ budding running back, Travis Levy. The 5-11, 187-pounder looks every bit the part of a big-time back, possessing a wide, thick frame and a 4.6-second laser-timed 40-yard dash. Not surprisingly, Levy has about a half-dozen offers in tow, including those from Vandy; Buffalo; Toledo; UMass and Army.

Maryland and area recruiter Chad Wilt also know all about Levy, the Sherwood back suggesting a UMD scholarship could come to fruition following a standout junior campaign. If so, Levy intimated the Terps would immediately become his No. 1 suitor.

The well-traveled back (he’s lived in seven different states, because his mother is in the military) said he “really likes” the Maryland coaches, the atmosphere surrounding the program, and the whole idea of DMV-to-UMD. Levy believes the Terps are about to take off, noting how they’re going “to do big things.”

And even though Levy’s not a Maryland native per se, he envisions himself residing in the area for years to come and would love the opportunity to play at the nearby university.

At the same time, Levy is also seeking Penn State and West Virginia offers, two programs giving him a long look too. He’s seen both the Nittany Lions and Mountaineers before, and each admittedly holds his attention.

For now, though, Vanderbilt has Levy’s eye since the Commodores have offered and boast a top-notch degree (a primary factor when Levy chooses a college). But his recruitment is just beginning; we’ll know more about his status after the 2015 season. (ARTICLE).

Tyshon Fogg, LB, Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.): I broached Fogg’s name last week, mentioning his connection to Cory Robinson and the backer’s interest in Maryland -- even though the four-star lacked a hometown offer. Well, Fogg followed through on an intended College Park trip July 23, and afterwards pulled that coveted verbal.

Now that Fogg has the offer, the Terps promptly become a primary contender for his services -- and not just because of Robinson. Fogg has genuine interest in the school, citing the hometown movement; the academics; and the chance for his family to see him play in Byrd Stadium. Not to mention the coaching staff, which Fogg interacted with July 23.

Fogg had a chance to speak to head coach Randy Edsall, recruiter Keith Dudzinski and others, saying each staff member’s message hit home. He’s in the process of forming a connection with Dudzinski, mentioning how their relationship is off to a good start after UMD’s defensive coordinator showed him around campus; answered his questions; and gave him the program lowdown.

The Calvert Hall product also praised the College Park area, the upcoming facility improvements, and the upgraded weight room and player dorms.

But Fogg also claims offers from Clemson, Michigan State (he loved his visit there), Rutgers (enjoyed the Scarlet Knights camp), Stanford (loved the Orange visit), Syracuse, Temple and others, so there are a lot of options. (It remains to be seen which of those early verbals will be committable).

We’ll know more about Fogg after his recruiting profile is fully realized and he ventures out to more locales.

Another Transfer Candidate

We heard earlier this week that former Kansas State defensive tackle C.J. Reese, a Bethesda, Md., native, was highly interested in transferring back home to Maryland -- provided the Terps wanted him. The 6-1, 270-pound redshirt freshman, who has resided in Texas since he was four, said he grew up watching UMD games and has “always been interested” in the program. Apparently he returns to Annapolis during holidays and in the summer in order to spend time with his dad’s family (his parents are divorced), so he’s more than familiar with the area.

Reese has reached out to Terps’ defensive line coach Chad Wilt and is waiting to hear feedback. If Wilt and head coach Randy Edsall eventually present a scholarship, Reese said he’d promptly schedule a College Park visit, with a commitment likely materializing shortly thereafter.

“It would just be a great opportunity for me and my family,” Reese said.

In addition to Maryland being his former hometown school, Reese said the university’s Big Ten affiliation and recent success have his attention as well. He also noted how former UMD defensive coordinator Brian Stewart recruited him a couple years back, inviting Reese up for a game and tour (Reese did both).

But if the Terps don’t pursue, Reese has scholarships on the table from Abilene Christian and Stephen F. Austin, with Houston; Rice; Texas State; North Texas and UTSA expressing interest. He might also choose to attend junior college at Trinity Valley should no major Division I scholarships come to fruition.

Should Maryland take him? It’s a tough call at this point. The former James Madison (San Antonio, Texas) three-star recruit is a bit of a tweener and doesn’t seem to possess overwhelming physical skills. But he does have some quickness and athleticism to him, so perhaps Reese could develop into a situational pass rusher with a chance to start later during his career. Either way, Reese will have to bulk up for Big Ten play, adding some 20 pounds to hang against the big boys.

It’s a situation worth monitoring. (ARTICLE).

Note: There's also been some buzz about an even more intriguing defensive line prospect: former Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) defensive end/outside linebacker Melvin Keihn. A freshman at Virginia Tech, we've heard Keihn might want to attend college closer to home.

Remember, Keihn had Maryland and Tech neck-and-neck before opting for the Hokies a couple years back, so the former Greyhounds' star has plenty of Terps' affinity. Evidently there's been some talk/movement between Keihn's party and the Maryland staff about a potential transfer. We'll see if anything comes of it.

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