Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
The Terps have had one class of 2016 receiver in tow in Darryl Turner (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) since late January, but by the end of the day July 31 it’s conceivable they could have two more (and at least one).
By now you know Turner’s teammate, Tino Ellis, is set to announce his college intentions July 31 at 6 p.m. via Comcast Sports Net. The four-star will be in the Bethesda, Md., studio for a live broadcast, and is expected to choose Maryland over Virginia Tech.
Unlike the last two weeks, we haven’t heard of any sudden, last-minute visit plans or changes in Ellis’ status. He never embarked on a final trip to Blacksburg, Va., and hasn’t trekked anywhere outside of DeMatha since visiting College Park, Md., a couple times in June and once in July. Head coach Randy Edsall, area recruiter Mike Locksley, receivers’ coach Keenan McCardell and Terps’ pledges Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.), D.J. Turner and LoLo Harrison (DeMatha) have all done their part here. Not to mention UMD’s academics, close proximity to home and various aesthetic qualities (read: upgraded facilities) have also caught Ellis’ eye.
The Hokies made things interesting a few weeks back, but we’re led to believe Ellis has had Maryland on the mind for quite some time now. (We’ve heard the Tech coaches know this too. Our analysts have told us the Hokies have turned their attention to Virginia wideout Phil Patterson instead, conceding Ellis to Maryland). So, we’re sticking with the school we’ve forecasted the Stags’ star to from the jump.
If Ellis follows through, he should become another DMV-to-UMD cog, immediately adding to the Terps’ local recruiting efforts. Look for him to jump right on yet another DeMatha Stag, prime UMD guard target Terrance Davis, in addition to some of his younger teammates like four-star athlete Anthony McFarland; potential four-star defensive end Chase Young; three-star guard Marcus Minor; class of 2018 lineman Austin Fontaine and others.
The second potential July 31 receiver popper is still on the fence about his announcement date, but, regardless, he could be a Terp in short order.
Evan Fairs (Foster/Richmond, Texas), who arrived in College Park July 29 with his mother, has been on campus a full 48 hours. The 6-2, 182-pounder has had his flight booked since early July, excited to see his most prominent suitor (New Mexico, Texas State and Sam Houston are the others) for the first time. Fairs has maintained consistent contact with area recruiter and position coach Keenan McCardell, intimating that UMD head coach Randy Edsall would accept his pledge should he want in at the end of the stay July 31.
In all likelihood, Fairs will indeed want in after he told me it’s a “strong possibility” he commits to Maryland. The Texas product hinted he could pop before he leaves campus, though there’s a chance he’ll take a few extra days to talk it over with his Foster coaches before doing so. Either way, he sounded fairly sold on Maryland -- sight unseen.
Fairs has researched the program during the months since snagging the offer, noting how UMD has produced receivers like Stefon Diggs; has a four-star quarterback coming in in Dwayne Haskins; boasts plenty of post-graduate opportunities given its Under Armour connections; is in the process of upgrading its football facilities; and had a successful first year in the Big Ten. Mostly, though, Fairs and McCardell have formed a strong bond, the receiver eager to learn from the former NFL Pro Bowler. (Plus Fairs has relatives that live near Maryland, which can only help the transition to the East Coast).
The only real question here is whether Edsall will accept the receiver’s pledge. Fairs has some limitations to his game (thus, just the one major Division I offer), so there’s a chance the headman could ask him to hold off on committing. Moreover, with the reemergence of wideout Marcus Simms (Sherwood/Sandy Spring, Md.) on Maryland’s radar, there’s speculation Edsall would prefer the local receiver to the Texas one.
But would Edsall and McCardell really have Fairs up to campus, pay for a flight and a hotel room, and then tell him, “Thanks, but no thanks?” That doesn’t sound like Edsall’s way.
Our feeling is Simms had his chance to be a Terp months ago. He chose West Virginia instead. Now, it’s Fairs’ turn, so we’ll see what he decides at the conclusion of his visit.
Grayson Stover, OT, Hudson (Fla.): I wrote about the Hudson lineman Stover back during the spring when he received a Maryland offer, but removed him from the hot board after he listed UVA as the decided favorite. Later on, as expected, Stover ended up popping to the Wahoos July 1 over verbals from Indiana, Iowa State, UMD, FIU, FAU, Uconn, Temple, Marshall and others.
But that pledge didn’t stop Maryland area recruiter Mike Locksley, and others, from pursuing the three-star tackle. Evidently the outside push was strong enough to convince Stover to rethink his situation. He ended up decommitting from Virginia July 28, one day after visiting College Park for the first time.
Stover, who trekked north with his family, said the coaches; campus; and, most of all, the academics caught his eye. The Florida product wants to major in criminal justice, and UMD just happens to have the No. 1 program for that field of study. Stover said the aforementioned major “definitely sounded great” after speaking to both a Terps’ academic advisor and professor.
From our standpoint, criminal justice is probably the primary reason the Terps are in contention for Stover’s services. But the coaches did their part selling the program as well. Stover couldn’t say enough about Randy Edsall’s emphasis on education, line coach Greg Studrawa’s schemes/techniques, and Locksley’s recruiting pitch. Meanwhile, he spoke highly of the schools facilities and the upcoming upgrades too.
“I’d say Maryland is definitely very high for me,” Stover said. “I don’t want to say exactly where they rank, because I’m not ready to do that, but they’re definitely high. I’m 100 percent getting back there for an official visit.”
Next up for Stover are proposed trips to Indiana and recent offeree Vanderbilt. After that, the Sunshine State tackle will set official visits, though, other than UMD, he’s not sure which schools he’ll be checking out (our guess is Maryland, Vandy and UVA).
Stover plans to enroll in college early, however, so look for him to take maybe two or three fall trips and then choose his destination shortly thereafter. Given that, the Terps should reside among his main trio of contenders moving forward. Depending on what other programs enter the fray -- Stover said Miami and Oregon were interested -- this could come down to a UMD-Vanderbilt battle.
Now, if Maryland is able to land Stover, we don’t see it affecting the Terps’ pursuit of DeMatha guard Terrance Davis. True, a Stover pledge would give UMD five offensive line commitments, but the staff isn’t going to turn away a local four-star like Davis. Plus, Alex Hall (Louisville, Ohio) is currently a greyshirt, so he’d likely keep the shirt if Maryland somehow pulls in both the Florida tackle and the Stags’ guard. (ARTICLE).
Terrance Davis, OG, DeMatha: There wasn't a whole lot new to report on Davis, except that he made his presumed top-eight favorites list official via Twitter. The leaderboard includes: Michigan (the favorite), Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, UCLA, Ohio State and Tennessee.
We've addressed each of those eight in past editions, so no need to go too much in-depth yet again. But here's a brief run-down of where Davis stands heading into his senior season.
Michigan, a school the guard has visited and will take an official to Nov. 28, has been in the driver's seat for quite some time. Both Davis and his parents are high on Jim Harbaugh's program and believe in its direction. The Wolverines will be tough to supplant.
Georgia, which Davis saw for Dawg Night July 18, is another prime contender, sitting either No. 2 or No. 3 in the pecking order. Davis will officially visit the Bulldogs Dec. 11-13, which will be his third time in Athens, Ga., in the last year.
Alabama, another institution he saw in mid-July, has the DeMatha prospect's attention thanks to its national prestige and his rapport with the Tide's O-line coach. Davis will officially visit Tuscaloosa, Ala., Jan. 8-10, and currently the Tide are either even or right behind Georgia on the leaderboard.
UCLA, which Davis will take an official to Jan. 15, holds water because the DeMatha lineman has had a longstanding rapport with his Bruins' recruiter. The Pac-12 mainstay is anywhere from fourth to six on the list.
Florida, another program Davis saw this summer, is in play too since the Gators need O-linemen and it's another SEC (former) stalwart. The Gators are likely No. 5 or No. 6 for the time being.
Maryland, meanwhile, is in an interesting spot. The Terps could either bow out of this race if Davis becomes too infatuated with the SEC's/Big Ten's elite, or they could vault right to the top. The hometown school, with Mike Locksley leading the recruitment, has been on the Stags' guard longer and harder than any other school in contention. Don't think Davis hasn't taken notice, which is why Maryland has a real chance to escalate from its current spot (No. 5 or No. 6 in the pecking order).
Ohio State and Tennessee are also in play, but we don't see the Buckeyes making a push or the Volunteers getting a serious look. Davis hasn't scheduled official visits to either of the latter two universities.
Look for Davis to choose his future destination sometime next winter, perhaps at an All-American game.
Rashad Wheeler, DT, Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.): This Maryland defensive tackle target just added a Tennessee offer earlier this week, and now it sounds like the Volunteers will be players in his recruitment, along with Pitt; UMD; and WVU. Even so, Wheeler, who will choose his college destination August 10, is expected to announce for the Panthers, a presumed frontrunner ever since Penn State fell by the wayside (too many defensive tackle commits).
But even after he’s committed, Wheeler acknowledged he could take an official visit to UT during the fall, meaning he’s probably not completely sold on the Panthers (or whichever program he chooses) yet. It’s conceivable Wheeler could take multiple fall trips, depending on which schools ante up during the 2015 campaign.
Either way, we don’t expect Wheeler to be a Terp, despite area recruiter Greg Studrawa’s best efforts. The Central Catholic recruit has been moved to “cool” on the hot board.
We’ll see if Maryland identifies another defensive line target during the high school season, or can eventually flip Penn State pledge Ellison Jordan (Gilman/Baltimore, Md.) down the line.
Jamari Logan, DT, Booker T. Washington (Norfolk, Va.): We received word from our Virginia analyst that senior defensive tackle Jamari Logan had interest in Maryland and would be visiting campus Oct. 3. Logan said he holds offers from Marshall, NC State, ODU and Va Tech, and claims interest from UMD, UVA, UNC and Cincinnati, so he wants to check out some of those supposedly inquisitive suitors.
But the key word here is “claims.” After talking to Logan personally, the vibe is he’s more interested in the Terps (and UVA, UNC and Va Tech) than Maryland is in him. Logan admitted he hadn’t had more than cursory conversations with UMD area recruiter Chad Wilt, nor had he personally been invited up to College Park.
But perhaps if Logan displays solid senior film and gets more into shape Wilt and Co. will take a closer look. The Terps do need defensive line depth, so maybe the 6-4, 340-pounder would be worth a late flyer -- but only if UMD can’t flip PSU commit Ellison Jordan or identify another interior plugger.
We’re not banking on it, but we’ll keep Logan’s name in mind just in case.
Richard Merritt, OG, Carroll (Washington, D.C.): Scout’s Brian Dohn caught up with the four-star guard Merritt’s coach this week, and evidently the D.C. product did visit Maryland recently. In all likelihood it was just a courtesy trek through College Park, but maybe there’s a faint heartbeat here (as far as the Terps are concerned).
We do know, at the very least, UMD area recruiter Mike Locksley has maintained communication with the starry-eyed Merritt. But, as Shell readers know by now, we’re not getting our hopes up.
Florida State remains the far-and-away frontrunner provided the Seminoles continue their pursuit. Florida, Virginia Tech and North Carolina -- all programs Merritt recently visited -- along with a few other SEC and ACC schools, remain at the forefront of the Carroll guard’s mind too.
We’re keeping Merritt on the hot board in case Locksley turns up the heat, but we don’t project him to wind up at UMD.
Various Other Terps Target Notes
Traveon Redd, S, Magna Vista (Ridgeway, Va.): As a reminder, Maryland safety offeree Traveon Redd will be committing July 31, but don’t expect him to join Tino Ellis and potentially Evan Fairs as UMD poppers. We’ve been projecting Redd to Vanderbilt for more than a month now, and last week he returned to Nashville, Tenn., for one last look at the Commodores. The trip probably sealed the deal, according to our Vandy analysts, and it would be an upset if he didn’t choose the SEC school July 31.
Wake Forest is considered the runner-up, with Maryland sitting third.
At least, that’s how Redd will probably break it down. In reality, the Terps haven’t actively recruited the Magna Vista prospect since securing safety pledges from Devin Butler (Douglass/Upper Marlboro, Md.) and Silas Kelly (South Carroll/Sykesville, Md.), so Redd probably couldn’t pop to Maryland even if he wanted to. Moving on.
Marcus Simms, WR, Sherwood: The previously mentioned Simms returned to West Virginia July 25 for another foray through Morgantown, W.Va., and a sit-down with the Mountaineers’ staff. Simms still isn’t granting interviews, but the latest trip may have further solidified his commitment to WVU, according to his coach.
The Terps, with pledge Dwayne Haskins in Simms’ ear, may still be on the local wideout’s mind to some extent, however. Nevertheless, it sounds like Maryland’s staff could be content to let him go to West Virginia.
We’ll know for sure after the Evan Fairs situation is resolved.
The Melvin Keihn Transfer
In last week’s edition, we mentioned there were rumblings of a Melvin Keihn boomerang to Maryland. A few days later, it's a done deal.
The former Gilman star, who chose Va Tech over UMD by a narrow margin two years ago, was a bit homesick, while he’d taken note of the recent DMV-to-UMD movement. He's also been impressed with Maryland’s direction and believes the Terps have a chance to compete for a Big Ten title in the future.
Now, we see Keihn (who will have to sit out a year) contributing as a rush outside linebacker. He did play with his hand in the dirt at Gilman and at Tech, but his lithe frame isn't suitable for a Big Ten defensive end. (And, personally, I don't think he'd adapt especially well to packing on 25, 30 pounds. He doesn't have the kind of frame like a Yannick Ngakoue or a Cavon Walker where you could envision them adding weight and dropping down).
A long, athletic, quick-twitch player, Keihn has a fast first step and can explode off the edge. He can scrape down the line, makes plays in space, and he's a sound tackler too, but his forte is getting after the quarterback. Keihn does have limitations, though, namely change-of-direction speed and pass coverage, which could limit his effectiveness as a multi-down backer. But, at the very least, he'll be an ideal third-down pass-rush specialist and special teams ace at Maryland.
But Keihn's impact goes beyond what he can add to the defense. He's the highest rated player out of Gilman to attend Maryland, and that alone could have ramifications down the line. Let's see if it helps in Maryland's pursuit of four-star defensive tackle Ellison Jordan. (ARTICLE).
Note: Another possible transfer candidate we broached last week, Kansas State freshman defensive tackle C.J. Reese, apparently won’t be matriculating to College Park anytime soon. The Bethesda native -- who attended Madison High (San Antonio, Texas) but still has half his family in Maryland -- said he attempted to connect with UMD’s defensive line coach, Chad Wilt, but never heard back.
Reese acknowledged after several days of unanswered messages that perhaps the Terps weren’t that interested. Thus, the former three-star recruit seemed inclined to either stay put at K-State or transfer down a level.
Which probably means the Terps are content with their D-line depth for the next few classes. Sure, Maryland could always use another tackle, but maybe not a tweener type (Reese is 6-1, 265), who would have to sit out a season before attempting to earn a spot alongside current freshmen Adam McLean, Oseh Saine, Brett Kulka and the incoming 2016 recruits.
Class Of 2017 News
Dylan Rivers, LB, Sherando (Stephens City, Va.): One of the region’s top linebacker recruits, Rivers visited Maryland for the first time July 27. The 6-3, 220-pounder -- who holds offers from UMD, Va Tech, Arizona, UNC, NC State, Vandy, UVA, WVU, Pitt, PSU and others -- said he had a “great time” hanging out with area recruiter Keenan McCardell and defensive backs coach Darrell Perkins, calling the two “really fun” and “great to be around.”
Rivers said he enjoyed taking in the campus, checking out the facilities and meeting head coach Randy Edsall too. He noted how honest and forthright Edsall was, and praised the headman’s emphasis on academics. Rivers also mentioned how his father, who joined him on the trip, took to the program and staff as well.
Following the foray, Rivers said he’d like to return for a game this fall, perhaps the UMD-Michigan bout Oct. 3.
The Terps have plenty of competition for the rising-star linebacker, however. Penn State and Va Tech, two other schools he just trekked to, hold prime appeal, and he’s also eager to check out several other contenders.
Rivers doesn’t have any early standouts, but it’s obvious he’s looking for offers from more Big Ten and ACC stalwarts. We’ll see if McCardell and Co. can keep UMD in the picture as the Sherando product’s profile grows.
Isaiah Wilson, OT, Poly Prep (Brooklyn, N.Y.): One of the East Coast’s elite tackle prospects, Isaiah Wilson, released an early top 10 leaderboard that included Auburn; Alabama; Michigan; Ohio State; South Carolina; Rutgers; Nebraska; Miami; FSU; and Maryland. (Penn State, an early offeree, was an interesting omission).
The above list is extremely malleable and likely to change multiple times, but considering the programs after him (it’s more than 30) and Wilson’s national stature, the Terps did well to make this initial 10. How much traction UMD and area recruiter Lyndon Johnson can gain remains to be seen, but it’s certainly possible Wilson checks out College Park for a game this fall or a junior day next winter.
Right now, Wilson’s recruitment is still in its infancy, so the 6-7, 325-pounder is scheduling tons of visits to familiarize himself with his many contenders. The borderline five-star has seen South Carolina, Rutgers, BC, Syracuse, Clemson and a couple others thus far, so we’ll see if he makes it to Byrd Stadium too.
Alexander Marshall, TE, Proctor Academy (Andover, N.H.): One of Scout analyst Brian Dohn’s “Underclassman of the Day” features highlighted New Hampshire tight end Alexander Marshall, an intriguing, yet under the radar, recruit who the Terps have checked in on. Marshall, who reclassed to 2017 and transferred from Andover High to Proctor Academy, is 6-7, 225-pounds with a long, muscular frame and plenty of athleticism.
Numerous schools know about him, but so far the only offers accrued are NC State; UMass; Uconn; Pitt; Wake; Miami of Ohio; and Buffalo. New Hampshire isn’t a state that’s actively recruited, but it might behoove UMD’s Keith Dudzinski to venture up and check the tight end out. Marshall’s a potential blow-up candidate, so if the Terps jump on him early perhaps they can secure a College Park visit this fall or during the winter.
Off The Board
Robbie Robinson, CB, DeMatha: As expected, former Phoebus (Hampton, Va.) three-star cornerback Robbie Robinson popped to Arizona State July 25, a couple days after a 72-hour stay in Tempe, Ariz. Robinson -- whose former teammate, Jaason Lewis, is a freshman at ASU -- heaped praise on the environment, the school’s academic reputation (he’ll be in the Barrett’s Honor College and liked how ASU has a sports law graduate program), and the coaching staff (he called the Sun Devils’ staff a “brotherhood”). He also noted how the Sun Devils will graduate five defensive backs, giving him a prime opportunity to contribute early during his career.
Last week, Robinson intimated he had ASU, Stanford, Maryland, Clemson and Duke among his final suitors before ultimately choosing Arizona State. But we were led to believe the Terps, Cardinal and maybe even the Tigers weren’t pushing for him.
Robinson said he had maintained a rapport with UMD recruiter Chad Wilt, while talking up his spring College Park visit, though it appears to have been lip service. The DeMatha transfer never did return to Maryland as he intended, and apparently the Wilt-Robinson contact had lessened considerably after the Terps secured pledges from cornerbacks Tyrone Hill (Bosco/Ramsey, N.J.) and Parnell Motley (Woodson/Washington, D.C.).
UMD is likely saving one final cornerback spot for Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Gaithersburg, Md.) and wasn’t inclined to add Robinson too. But for those who believe Robinson could be a flip candidate down the road should Diggs choose Alabama (his current leader), we’re not banking on it.
“I’m shutting down my recruitment,” Robinson told Scout. “I’m not taking official visits or going to see games at any other schools.”
Aaron Hansford, S, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): No, the DMV safety Hansford didn’t commit anywhere yet, but it doesn’t sound like he’s going to come around to the hometown school. Hansford updated his status with Scout’s Brian Dohn this week and neglected to mention Maryland as a contender.
According to Dohn, Hansford is in the process of setting up official visits, and the schools on the radar include Ohio State (the favorite); Notre Dame; Florida; UCLA; and Oregon. Other programs that could enter the mix, per Dohn’s interview, are Penn State; Duke; and North Carolina.
Even though the Terps have three safety commits, they wouldn’t turn down a local star like Hansford. But the St. John’s defensive back has never seemed all that receptive to DMV-to-UMD, aside from lip service for area recruiter Mike Locksley and head coach Randy Edsall.
Hansford is off the board until further notice.
Tymar Sutton, LB, McKeesport (Pa.): Sutton is being grouped in the “former” Terps’ target category. The undersized outside linebacker has gone silent in recent weeks, probably because many of his primary suitors have backed off. West Virginia, Sutton’s No. 1, has almost filled up its linebacker slots, and so has Wisconsin.
Maryland, for its part, does have an outside linebacker opening, but it’s being reserved for Landon’s (Bethesda, Md.) Keith Simms. But even if Simms eventually heads elsewhere, we don’t sense much UMD interest in Sutton. The McKeesport recruit hasn’t had regular communication with area recruiter Greg Studrawa for awhile now, nor has he been invited to campus in recent months.
It’s possible the Terps’ staff could revisit Sutton down the road, but we’re not betting on it. More than likely, he’ll wind up at Illinois, one of his most attractive remaining options.
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