Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Weekend BBQ Brings Out Big Names
In addition to many of Maryland’s current class of 2016 pledges, the Terps hosted several remaining senior targets Aug. 8 for a pre-fall-camp barbecue. It was a significant get-together, because it directly exposed these highly-rated recruits to both the UMD staff and a glut of “name” commits already on the Maryland Pride bandwagon. Which, in effect, made Aug. 8 a mini-official visit.
Unfortunately for Maryland, prospects like five-star defensive end Rahshaun Smith (IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.), four-star corner Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Gaithersburg, Md.), four-star guard Terrance Davis (DeMatha), four-star guard Richard Merritt (Carroll/Washington, D.C.) and three-star running back Abdul Adams (Hillside/Durham, N.C.) weren’t in attendance. But four-star edge rusher Terrell Hall (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.), three-star safety/linebacker Aaron Hansford (St. John’s), three-star linebacker Keith Simms (Landon/Bethesda, Md.) and four-star class of 2017 athlete Anthony McFarland (DeMatha) were all able to trek over to College Park, Md.
The above attendees were joined by Maryland pledges like quarterback Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.), running back LoLo Harrison (DeMatha), slot D.J. Turner (DeMatha), lineman Brian Plummer (South Carroll/Sykesville, Md.), defensive end Joey Fisher (Clear Spring, Md.), linebacker Keandre Jones (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.), safety Mike Viti (Camp Hill, Pa.), safety Silas Kelly (South Carroll), safety Devin Butler (Douglass/Upper Marlboro, Md.), corner Parnell Motley (Woodson) and corner Travon Stott (Good Counsel).
No one popped Aug. 8, but Simms certainly generated the most compelling headlines. The three-star outside linebacker all but conceded Maryland was the frontrunner, dropping pro-UMD hints galore. Simms mentioned how head coach Randy Edsall assured him the Terps would be keeping a spot open, while the Bethesda native suggested he was only hesitating on pledging because, “Coach Edsall doesn’t like guys taking visits after they commit.” The Landon product also said he’d be taking an official visit to College Park in December -- after he’s chosen his future destination, which is practically a dead giveaway (typically many of Maryland’s commits officially visit on the same December weekend, and that’s probably the date Simms was referring to).
Now, Simms didn’t want to publically claim leaders, but it’s obvious the hometown movement is resonating. Haskins, Haskins’ father, D.J. Turner and Harrison were all in the backer’s ear Aug. 8, letting him know that “now is the time to join the movement.”
Moreover, Simms said he once again had productive conversations with area recruiter Chad Wilt, whom he has an extremely strong bond with, and Edsall.
Fact is, Wilt and Co. have been after Simms longer and harder than any of his other foremost suitors (Oregon, Duke, UNC), and it seems to be holding weight with the local defender.
On top of that, Simms and his parents respect Maryland’s academic reputation, a main concern in this recruitment. The aesthetic qualities (i.e. facility upgrades, Under Armour gear and the like) only add to UMD’s appeal.
Then there’s this: Following the Aug. 8 visit, Simms returned to College Park three days later -- for the seventh time this offseason. Simms said he wanted to get a firsthand glimpse of the Terps’ defense, deciphering how he’d fit into the 4-3 scheme. He was able to watch outside linebackers coach Lyndon Johnson and defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski in action, as well as how the current UMD backers interacted and competed.
By this point, Simms has vetted Maryland inside and out, from the coaches; to the players; to the defense; to the academics. He’s about as high on the program as one can get without committing.
Yes, Simms still wants to check out Oregon officially sometime in September, but unless the Ducks really wow him, the Landon product could very well be a Terp later this fall. (Simms said he’s also looking at Duke and UNC, but we don’t see either hopping Maryland or Oregon). (ARTICLE).
As for Hall, the 6-5, 255-pound edge rusher has Maryland in mind after his Aug. 8 foray through College Park. He told me the Terps are “definitely resonating” what with DMV-to-UMD in full effect, giving Maryland a future shot at becoming “like Miami” back in the day.
Furthermore, Hall said he’s been in close contact with Mike Locksley, the recent visit allowing him to reconnect with his area recruiter; Randy Edsall; and defensive line coach Chad Wilt too. Maybe more importantly, Hall spent plenty of time with Haskins and the other pledges, the Bullis quarterback putting forth his best recruiting pitch. “[Haskins] was telling me about the guys they have coming in, guys he’s talking to, and some other guys that are leaning towards Maryland… so [staying home] is something I’m thinking about,” Hall said.
Whether Haskins’ overtures will be enough to convince Hall remains to be seen, but at least the borderline five-star is giving the hometown school some consideration.
Other programs Hall will be monitoring closely include Alabama, Texas A&M, Florida, Oklahoma, TCU, Notre Dame and possibly Tennessee. He’ll assuredly take officials to Bama, UF and probably TAMU, with the final two trips undetermined.
The popular consensus, for the time being, is the Tide lead for Hall’s services (when I interviewed Hall he called his two Tuscaloosa, Ala., visits this offseason “eye opening”). One of the primary reasons Hall decommitted from Ohio State, after all, was his budding rapport with Bama and head coach Nick Saban.
The Terps are making some noise here, but it’ll be a struggle to top the Tide and the nation’s elites. Hall is expected to choose his college destination sometime after his senior season. (INTERVIEW).
Hall’s teammate, Aaron Hansford, has quietly kept Maryland in play, even if it’s on the outer fringes. The SJC safety/linebacker has Penn State, Ohio State, Florida, Notre Dame, UCLA, Oregon and UMD under consideration, with others potentially lurking (he’s reportedly trying to get Stanford involved too). Of the above, though, Hansford is probably focused on OSU, PSU and Notre Dame.
Honestly, when I interviewed Hansford this week, I didn’t get a great Terps vibe at all. Sure, he enjoyed the barbecue Aug. 8 and the back-and-forth banter with Turner, Harrison and KeAndre Jones. And, yes, Hansford acknowledged he had a good talk with Mike Locksley and Randy Edsall. But the D.C. recruit refused to give credence to the Movement, said the UMD commits didn’t really influence him, and wouldn’t commit to returning for a game and/or official visit.
Maryland’s academics and the fact it’s the local school are going to keep it in play, but unless there’s an 180-degree turnaround we’re not inclined to place the St. John’s prospect back on the hot board. Look for Hansford to take several officials this fall (UND?, PSU?, OSU?, Stanford?) and then pick between one of the aforementioned bigwigs this winter. (INTERVIEW).
On a more positive note, the 2017 athlete McFarland seems to be coming around to Maryland more and more. He’s had interest in the Terps since they offered during his freshman year, but the intrigue has ratcheted up following two summer College Park trips.
McFarland was at the Big Show in late June and the cookout Aug. 8, both visits hitting home thanks to Haskins; Turner; and Harrison. Indeed, the UMD pledges, combined with the Terps’ staff, are actively pumping up Maryland, with McFarland actively heeding their words. The electric speedster told me he’s “feeling” the Movement and has UMD entrenched among his top three contenders.
Georgia, Alabama and other primetime SEC and Big Ten programs are on McFarland’s mind too, so he’s not a slam-dunk local lock by any means. But Maryland is certainly in a good spot early.
Expect McFarland to attend a couple games in Byrd Stadium this fall before returning to College Park for a winter junior day. He is considered a high-priority recruit for Mike Locksley and Randy Edsall.
Various Terps Recruiting Notes
Ellison Jordan, DT, Gilman (Baltimore, Md.): The four-star Jordan didn’t attend the Aug. 8 event, but word from other recruits and Gilman sources is he’s giving the Terps plenty of thought. A Penn State pledge since late July, Jordan, who had Maryland running second for his services, has taken note of the momentum DMV-to-UMD has gained since said pop.
While Tino Ellis’ (DeMatha) Maryland commitment resonated throughout the area, it was former teammate and friend Melvin Keihn’s boomerang that hit home. Evidently Jordan and the former Virginia Tech defensive end Keihn talked extensively about the latter’s transfer, the Terps’ sophomore letting the Gilman senior know he couldn’t miss out on the Movement. Keihn apparently told Jordan there’s nothing like representing your hometown school and showing out in front of friends and family six times a year.
Keihn’s words may eventually ring true, but, currently, Jordan is a firm PSU pledge and plans to visit State College, Pa., for a couple home games. But we’ll see what kind of traction the Terps can gain in the months ahead. Remember, Maryland recruiter Mike Locksley was, and is, still after Jordan, so a flip to UMD wouldn’t shock us in the slightest.
Abdul Adams, RB, Hillside (Durham, N.C.): The three-star Michigan State pledge Adams raised a few eyebrows this week when he announced he was leaving H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) for Hillside HS in Durham. But we were told Adams, who has relatives in North Carolina, had to leave the D.C. area due to a family situation. Adams actually returned home a couple weeks ago to deal with a few issues, and now he'll have to stay there for his senior year of high school.
How does that affect his recruiting status? Well, we'll find out more in the coming weeks/months, but our sources let us know the transfer shouldn't change much. In other words, the flip to Maryland is still in play, Adams expressing a desire to join DMV-to-UMD and play in front of his D.C.-area friends.
At the same time, our guy did allow that since he'll no longer have direct access to Adams he can't predict what the running back will be thinking leading up to Signing Day. The latter comment leaves us a bit leery the flip will come to fruition, but, until we know more, we're leaving Adams "hot" on the hot board.
Chinedu Udeogu, DL, Georgetown Prep (North Bethesda, Md.): We hadn’t heard much Terps’ traction with this under-the-radar local, but Udeogu has started to hear from UMD defensive line coach Chad Wilt, according to Scout’s Brian Dohn. In fact, Udeogu, a Chicago native who boards at Georgetown Prep, is set to visit Maryland for the first time this offseason Aug. 14. And since the raw plugger is a high-academic recruit with an eye on a strong business school, there’s a very good chance he readily takes to the Terps.
But we’re not sure an offer will materialize during the campus stay. Udeogu may be someone Wilt needs to evaluate further before recommending a scholarship. Plus the Georgetown Prep recruit might be viewed as more of a fallback option in case the Terps can’t flip Ellison Jordan, or fail to lure Rahshaun Smith. We’ll know more after Udeogu’s visit Aug. 14.
For the moment, the interior plugger holds offers from Rutgers, Pitt, Cal and Yale, and recently visited the Bears and Scarlet Knights. California’s business program and the school’s prestige surely have Udeogu’s attention, but RU has been on him longer and harder than any of his other offerees.
Udeogu and his father already visited Piscataway, N.J., coming away highly impressed with the staff and the school’s educational opportunities. The defensive lineman should be checking out Rutgers again either in late August or early September, and the sense is it might put the Scarlet Knights over the top.
Udeogu still wants to see Pitt later this month, however, so it’s conceivable the Panthers could jump RU with a potent pitch from head coach Pat Narduzzi. Cal also has a solid shot should Udeogu truly want to play on the West Coast, while a Maryland offer could alter his thinking too.
Regardless of who is truly involved, Udeogu would like to end his recruitment sometime in early September. So if the Terps don’t make a move soon he’ll probably end up at Rutgers or Pittsburgh.
Aaron Mathews, WR, Clairton (Pa.): I removed the four-star receiver Mathews from the hot board after Evan Fairs (Foster/Richmond, Texas) and Tino Ellis committed to Maryland last week, but apparently the Clairton product believes there’s a spot for him at UMD. He told Scout’s Brian Dohn earlier this week his two leaders were Maryland and Pitt, with a decision coming before the season.
We’ll spare you the drama.
Mathews has been projected to Pitt for something like half a year, and now it’s crystal clear where he’s headed. The Terps aren’t taking a fourth class of 2016 wideout, so their inclusion in the Pennsylvania prospect’s final two is mere window dressing. Non-story.
Khaleke Hudson, S/RB, McKeesport (Pa.): I wrote about the former Terps’ target Hudson last week, mentioning how he was keeping Maryland in play but wasn’t projected to wind up in College Park. Then this week Scout’s Brian Dohn provided another update, letting us know the Key Stone State recruit was considering Pitt, WVU, UVA, UMD, Illinois, PSU, Michigan State and UCLA.
Again, not feeling Hudson to College Park.
Hudson told Dohn the schools he’s in touch with the most are PSU, Pitt, Va Tech and WVU, one of that quartet being his likely destination. The McKeesport product has visited State College numerous times and has been forecast to the Nittany Lions for awhile. It may only be a matter of time before he pops to PSU, but, in the meantime, he’s checking out Pitt and WVU Aug. 15. Hudson would also like to take several officials during the fall, including one to UCLA following his senior campaign.
The Pennsylvanian hasn’t been to Maryland since the spring and gave no indication he’d be returning anytime soon. Hudson did say he’s in touch with UMD-area recruiter Greg Studrawa, but we wonder to what extent. We haven’t sensed a potent Terps’ push since they landed safeties Devin Butler and Silas Kelly.
Hudson, who may not select a school until next winter, hasn't been added to the hot board.
Elias Reynolds, LB, Brooklyn Poly Prep (Brooklyn, N.Y.): Frequent Shell readers will remember Reynolds, from when UMD area recruiter Lyndon Johnson and the Terps pursued this stud middle linebacker from New York last year. Well, the Poly Prep product ended up committing to Rutgers in June, but evidently he's still open to his other suitors.
Maryland is one of the schools he wants to check out since he has yet to foray through College Park. We're not sure how much mutual interest there really is at this point, but we'll keep our radars up in case a visit does actually materialize (honestly, we're skeptical the UMD staff has even stayed in touch with him). Note that Reynolds just trekked to Nebraska and is seeking an offer from the Huskers, while he's not ruling out Rutgers either.
New Offers Out
Derrek Pitts, S, South Charleston (Charleston, W.Va.) (2017): Of all the new offers Maryland extended this week, the Terps would seem to have the best chance at landing the four-star safety Pitts. Why? Pitts trains with the Next Level Nation workout group and is cousins with new Maryland Director of Player Personnel Cory Robinson. Pitts, who checked out College Park in the spring, doesn't know a ton about UMD yet, but he is in the process of learning more. He might even be in town for a practice later this month or a game during the fall. In time, with Robinson and Maryland area-recruiter Greg Studrawa on him, the Terps could become players in this recruitment.
The key terms above are "seem" and "could." At first blush, yes, Maryland looks to have a legitimate shot (especially since he's Robinson's cousin), but I was told by a source close to Pitts he's unlikely to wind up in College Park.
Pitts, who had 13 offers prior to Maryland's verbal, is considered a West Virginia lean early (Pitts personally said as much when I interviewed him). The Mountaineers have hosted the rising-star safety multiple times, with Pitts calling his home-state school "amazing." Virginia Tech is another institution firmly on the brain, while Clemson; Oklahoma; Auburn; and some power programs that haven't offered yet have his eye too.
So while we think the Terps may be in the mix, we're not ready to project Pitts to UMD just yet. Let's see what transpires down the road, keeping the Robinson connection in mind. (ARTICLE).
Eric Crosby, DT, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach, Va.) (2017): Terps' 757-area recruiter Chad Wilt is attempting to make inroads with Crosby, an elite rising junior defensive tackle. But it's going to be a tough road to haul as Crosby already has Ohio State, FSU, Va Tech, Tennessee, Alabama, Clemson, Miami, UVA, Ole Miss, Texas Tech and others after him. He's seen Columbus, Ohio, and Blacksburg, Va., on several occasions, in addition to visits to Florida State, UT, UNC and others. Crosby isn't claiming favorites right now, but the Buckeyes, Noles, Vols and Hokies seem to have his eye.
Jack Anderson, OG, Frisco (Texas) (2017): The Terps were about the 50th school to offer the five-star guard Anderson. Pretty much every institution in the country wants this 6-5, 285-pounder, with the in-state programs and a few select Big 12 and SEC schools leading the way. He's going to be difficult to lure out of the Lone Star State. Needless to say, we're not projecting him to wind up in College Park.
Micah Clark, OT, St. John Vianney Regional (Holmdel, N.J.) (2017): Maryland became the latest school to ante up for this standout Jersey tackle, joining the likes of PSU; Bama; BC; Clemson; Duke; Miami; Michigan; Iowa, UNC; MSU; OSU; Rutgers; Syracuse; and Temple. Penn State, a school Clark has seen a couple times, has left its mark; as have Michigan and Ohio State, both Big Ten elites making a major push. It will be tough for Maryland to gain much traction, to say the least.
Anthony Hines, ILB, Plano East (Texas): It was actually kind of funny to hear about this offer. Our Scout colleague gave us an "alert" that Maryland had become the (wait for it) 76th offer for the four-star Hines. The 6-2, 230-pound rising senior is projected to wind up at one of the Big 12 powers, or perhaps an SEC mainstay like Alabama.
Hines will release his top 10 favorites list Aug. 15. Maryland is not expected to be included.
Isaiah Robertson, WR, Neuqua Valley (Naperville, IL.) (2017): The Terps got in the game early with this four-star receiver. Robertson now has offers from UMD, Illinois, Iowa, Toledo and Central Michigan, with no early standouts. He is seeking offers from some of the Florida powers like Miami, as well as the SEC mainstays, but UMD did well to get in there before he blew up. The Terps are his most significant offer to date, so let's see what area recruiter Chad Wilt and Co. can do here.
B.J. Daniels, RB, Melbourne (Fla.) (2017): The Terps were the first major FBS program to offer Daniels. He had one other verbal from FAU and figures to secure more, but you have to like the initial inroads Maryland has made. Daniels has't said much in regards to his recruitment, but he's a name to monitor down the road, for sure.
Breon Dixon, OLB, (Peachtree Ridge/Suwanee, Ga.) (2017): This four-star linebacker has about 20 verbals to date. He is projected to wind up at an SEC program like Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn and others. UMD is unlikely to make much noise here.
Terejada Mitchell, Bayside (Virginia Beach, Va.) (2018): He's only a rising sophomore, but Mitchell now has offers from Clemson, Georgia, Maryland, Miami, UNC, NC State, Tennessee, NC State, UVA, UNC, OSU, South Carolina and more. It's way too early to make a call on Mitchell, but early projections have him bound for an SEC bigwig.
More Class of 2017 Notes
Christian Greaves, WR, Einstein (Kensington, Md.) (2017): This rising junior receiver has been in College Park several times this offseason, including for a June camp, a 7-on-7, and, just this week, for a team practice. Of the latter jaunt, Greaves said he loved watching the Terps in action and meeting the UMD coaches, namely his recruiter, Chad Wilt.
It’s evident Greaves has high interest in the hometown school, but that doesn’t mean the Terps will actively pursue. For now, Greaves is considered a borderline FBS talent (he doesn’t have any offers yet), who has to prove himself this fall.
That said, from what we’ve heard, the 5-11, 165-pound speedster has been impressive in shorts and a T-shirt and could garner more serious attention if he progresses. Greaves said Wilt likes his game, so we’ll see if anything transpires down the road.
Brandon Sebastian, WR, Cheshire Academy (West Haven, Conn.): One of Scout analyst Brian Dohn’s Underclassman of the Day recruits was this emerging receiver from Connecticut, who visited Maryland back in the spring. The 6-1, 165-pounder isn’t a known name yet, but Sebastian is sure to garner plenty of offers following the 2015 campaign.
Of course, Syracuse, Temple and Uconn have already anted up, the Orange resonating early after a SU visit. UMD area recruiter Keith Dudzinski knows all about Sebastian too, and it’s probable an offer will materialize if/when the Cheshire Academy product returns to College Park for a junior day or camp.
A high-academic recruit, Sebastian and the Terps would seem to have mutual interest. Keep his name in mind as the fall moves along.
Off The Board
Rashad Wheeler, DL, Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.): It was a mere formality, something analysts across the board have been predicting ever since Penn State filled up its defensive line spots: Rashad Wheeler would be a Pitt Panther in due time. Well, due time came Aug. 10, the Central Catholic product announcing via a local TV station he’d be sticking with his hometown school. Wheeler chose the Panthers ahead of West Virginia and Maryland.
The 6-4, 271-pound three-star, who told the Pitt staff he was on-board several weeks ago, said he believes in head coach Pat Narduzzi and the direction the program is heading. He talked up the Panthers’ facilities, said the atmosphere around Pitt has changed tremendously and feels he’ll fit well in the defensive scheme.
The Terps made a solid run at Wheeler, area recruiter Greg Studrawa trekking up to Central Catholic a couple times and maintaining consistent contact throughout the process. Wheeler even visited College Park during the spring, speaking highly of the school’s academics and the coaches’ character.
But, in reality, this was a Penn State-Pitt race the whole way, Wheeler expressing a desire to stay in-state. He probably would have chosen longtime favorite PSU if there was an opening, but, sans Nittany Lions committable scholarship, Wheeler opted for Pitt.
For Maryland, it’s time to move on to other coveted D-line targets, namely four-star Penn State pledge Ellison Jordan and five-star end Rahshaun Smith.
David Reese, LB, Farmington (Mich.): Recall, this Michigan pledge visited College Park back in June, expressing loads of interest in flipping to Maryland. The 6-1, 235-pound MIKE went as far as to say he loved the direction UMD was heading and would be returning for an official during the 2015 season. Plus, Reese admitted he had fellow Midwest product Jeff Pooler (Chaminade Julienne/Dayton, Ohio) in his ear, the UMD pledge letting him know the ins and outs of Maryland.
But the prospective flip is now on life support. Reese visited Ann Arbor, Mich., once back in July and again for the Wolverines’ annual commit get-together Aug. 2, the two trips cementing his pledge. Reese said he had a long talk with head coach Jim Harbaugh, who appeased any reservations the recruit may have had.
Following the chat and the Aug. 2 jaunt, Reese said he’s “100 percent” on board with the Wolverines and would be actively recruiting other prospects to Ann Arbor. Reese even suggested he’d be enrolling early at UM, meaning his recruitment has, in effect, ended.
With Reese off the board, it’s conceivable the Terps could identify another inside linebacker target during the high school season. Or, they could opt to pursue Broadneck’s (Annapolis, Md.) Ali’i Niumatalolo, who has forayed through College Park several times and expressed interest in joining the Movement. Niumatalolo has enticing options on the table like Boise State, Utah State and BYU, but a UMD scholarship could change things.
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