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.

Terps Targeting Another CB?

Last week we reported that Maryland and its No. 1 cornerback priority, Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Gaithersburg, Md.), may not have been seeing eye to eye. This week, we’re even less confident the Terps will land the local legacy.

Maryland is still hanging around in this recruitment, but is clearly on the outside looking. Trevon Diggs’ preference of playing receiver in college is just one issue (the Terps are intent on bringing him in as a corner), while family rumblings are another. On top of that, Diggs is back to being starry-eyed, the glamour programs holding his attention.

Alabama, which Diggs is officially visiting Jan. 8, remains at the forefront of his mind.  Other programs the Gaithersburg native will be checking out include Georgia (Dec. 11 official), Michigan (Nov. 27 official) and UCLA (Jan. 15 official).

We’ll see if the Terps and area recruiter Mike Locksley can turn the tide later this year, but, in the meantime, UMD is turning its attention elsewhere.

Four-star Aaron Mathews (Clairton, Pa.), who Maryland and area recruiter Greg Studrawa originally wanted as a receiver, is now being tabbed for defense. Mathews told Scout’s Brian Dohn UMD defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski had reached out recently, the prospect suggesting he was considering an official visit to College Park, Md.

Remember, before Maryland filled up its final receiver slot when Tino Ellis (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) committed, Mathews was down to Pittsburgh and UMD. We figured after the Terps backed off, however, he’d simply pop to the Panthers. But Mathews remains uncommitted, and now has Maryland under prime consideration once again.

The Pennsylvanian may still wind up at hometown Pittsburgh (the Panthers have long been his forecasted destination), but you never know what can happen if he follows through with a Terps’ official. Stay tuned.

We’re in the process of uncovering which other corners are emerging on Terps’ radar.

We did hear there may be some interest in Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) defensive back Devin Judd, a current Harvard pledge, although it’s questionable how hard UMD will pursue. I saw Judd in action a couple weeks back, and while the 6-foot, 160-pounder looked OK (he’s quick and has light feet), he didn’t exactly force my attention.

There’s also been some speculation the Terps could jump back on DeMatha cornerback Robbie Robinson, who Maryland recruiter Chad Wilt had contact with during the spring (when the 5-9 defensive back was at Phoebus in Hampton, Va.). Robinson took to Wilt quite well, eventually placing the Terps among his foremost three or four suitors.

But when UMD’s interest waned (too small? assumed they’d get Trevon Diggs?) so did Robinson’s. Thus, he ended up popping to Arizona State.

We’ll see if Maryland’s staff reinitiates contact, but so far Robinson has heard nary a peep.

South Carroll, Clear Spring, Downingtown East Reports

We were able to scout three games involving Terps’ commits last week, including a pair of offensive tackles in Brian Plummer (South Carroll/Sykesville, Md.) and Michael Clark (Downingtown East/Exton, Pa.); safety pledge Silas Kelly (South Carroll); and defensive end commit Joey Fisher (Clear Spring, Md.). I personally watched Plummer and Kelly in the South Carroll-North Harford (Pylesville, Md.) bout Sept. 11, and a day later took in the Downingtown-Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.) game to see Clark. Meanwhile, TT’s Mark Clem trekked over to Clear Spring Sept. 11, taking a look at Fisher against Brunswick (Md.).

Unlike the last couple Shells, I’m not going to do a top-performers list, because, quite frankly, there weren’t enough Division I prospects participating to warrant one. And, honestly, all four of the future Terps we scouted had some questions surrounding their games as well.

Of the quartet, the left tackle Clark may be the furthest along in his development. Although he has a ways to go with pass blocking (kick step, hand placement and footwork need honing, plus he lunges too much), and must develop more point-of-attack power, Clark has Big Ten tools. The Downingtown product is quick off the ball, plays with solid leverage, gains extension, moves well in space and can execute higher-level blocking techniques.

Furthermore, he has an impressive frame (6-foot-7, 265 pounds), complete with long arms and big, strong hands -- traits that readily translate to the next level. Intangibly speaking, Clark has a keen understanding of the game, picking up defensive tendencies and pointing out his linemates’ responsibilities.

Best Case Scenario: Clark works out the kinks and continues packing on pounds during his first year in College Park. He’s on the three-deep by his redshirt freshman year and eventually becomes a quality left tackle later during his career.

Worst Case Scenario: Clark can’t keep up with Big Ten edge rushers, failing to match their power or speed off the ball. His pass protection becomes an issue as a blindside blocker, forcing him to right tackle or perhaps guard. He sees the field as a rotational lineman during his upperclassmen years.

You can check out Clark’s scouting report and interview HERE.

After Clark, there was a bit of a dropoff from our vantage point. But the defensive end Fisher showed some upside potential per Mark Clem. The Clear Spring prospect flashed a certain suddenness; violent hands; and solid power. Moreover, Fisher lined up as a stand-up end, a true 5-technique, and a 3-technique, showing off his versatility. Better yet, he played with a mean streak and displayed toughness in the trenches, performing particularly well in the gaps.

Of course, there’s still a ways to go considering Fisher hasn’t been tested against the stiffest completion. It’s clear his fundamentals need work (leverage, hand placement, footwork, etc.), while he must learn new rush moves and improve his lateral agility and overall athleticism.

Best Case Scenario: After arriving at Maryland, Fisher works hard to hone his fundamentals, while becoming quicker and a more proficient all-around end. After two years learning from defensive line coach Chad Wilt, Fisher works his way into the rotation, perhaps making an impact during the latter stages of his College Park tenure.

Worst Case Scenario: Coming from a small school, Fisher can’t adjust to the uptick in competition. He fails to unlearn “bad habits” formed in high school, while injuries (he tore his labrum last year and popped out his shoulder this year) continue to flare up, stunting his progress.

You can check out Fisher’s scouting report and interview HERE.

Next up, the safety Silas Kelly. The 6-5, 200-pounder was surprisingly powerful and athletic, showing off some in-the-box gumption against North Harford. Kelly’s a solid open-field tackler, unafraid to stick his nose in the pile or challenge stronger backs. He also has a fast first step, takes tight closing angles and can cover hashmark-to-hashmark.

Which is why we like Kelly more as a linebacker than a safety. Fact is, Kelly wasn’t nearly as effective dropping into deep center as he was coming forward. His backpedal was a bit mechanical, his change-of-direction speed a little methodical, and his hips a tad too tight. On top of that, Kelly wasn’t tested much downfield, so he has to prove he can offer over-the-top help; switch on and off receivers; and recover.

Best Case Scenario: Kelly improves his speed and coverage skills during a redshirt year, allowing him to stick at safety. Then, combined with his instincts, athleticism and tackling prowess, Kelly turns into a quality centerfielder during his third or fourth year in College Park.

Worst Case Scenario: Kelly can’t hang with Big Ten receivers, forcing him to bulk up and become a linebacker. It takes him awhile to learn the defensive scheme, however, while his physical tools aren’t quite up to snuff. He’s smart enough and athletic enough to draw praise in practice, but is exposed during Big Ten affairs.

You can check out Kelly’s scouting report and interview HERE.

Last but not least, the tackle Plummer. For a big guy (6-8, 280), Plummer has solid fundamentals in terms of hand placement, footwork and blocking technique. He also flashes a mean streak and scraps through the whistle, key traits for an offensive lineman. Plus you can’t teach size, and Plummer’s a legit 6-8 with pole-length arms; huge hands; and a sturdy base.

But for Plummer to succeed, he has to become quicker and more athletic. At times, it looked like he was playing in slow motion, his setup; steps; initial strike; and arm extension taking a tick too long to execute. In addition, Plummer has to play lower, develop a more potent punch and work on his pass protection.

Best Case Scenario: Following a redshirt season and another year learning the ropes, Plummer works into the rotation. With his feet noticeably more nimble and his strength much improved, Plummer eventually becomes a dependable drive blocker and an adequate pass protector.

Worst Case Scenario: Plummer’s movements are too deliberate for the Big Ten, and he can’t quite hold up against the conference’s potent linemen. Powerful edge rushers get into his body and win the leverage battle, while quick-twitch ends beat him off the ball.

 You can check out Plummer’s scouting report and interview HERE.

In terms of recruiting news, there wasn’t too much gleaned. Mostly, Fisher, Plummer, Kelly and Clark discussed the Maryland games they have (or will be) attending; the other UMD commits they’re harping on; and what the Terps’ staff has been relaying. All four should be on campus multiple times this fall, while they’ll more than likely be taking their Maryland official visits Dec. 4.

Here are a few other notes from our conversations:

Clark told me he spent a good amount of time talking to class of 2017 UMD guard target Ryan Solt (James Coughlin/Wilkes Barre, Pa.) during the Richmond game Sept. 5. The Downingtown product intimated his fellow Pennsylvanian “liked Maryland a lot,” which falls right in line with our line of thinking. Solt, the son of former Terps’ lineman Ron Solt, is content to go through the recruiting process, but UMD (his only offer so far) is in the driver’s seat.

Kelly and Plummer, meanwhile, said they spoke extensively to senior outside linebacker Keith Simms (Landon/Bethesda, Md.) Sept. 5. Both sensed Simms would eventually be a Terp, Plummer going as far as to suggest the three-star was practically in the bag.

Again, that’s further confirmation of our previous reports, which have noted the Landon recruit’s overarching affinity for Maryland. Simms could be the next cog in DMV-to-UMD later this fall.

Various Terps Recruiting Notes

Grayson Stover, OT, Hudson (Fla.): One of Maryland’s final offensive line targets took an official visit to Vanderbilt Sept. 11-13, watching the Commodores fall to 0-2 with a loss to Georgia. Regardless, Stover reportedly thoroughly enjoyed himself in Nashville, Tenn., talking up the intimate setting; the staff’s attitude; and especially the academics. He was also exposed to several current Vanderbilt pledges, many of whom were urging Stover to commit. He obviously didn’t do so, but, after returning home, Stover said Vandy remains firmly in the running for his services, the lineman suggesting he “could see myself” at the SEC school.

That’s all well and good, but the sense is Maryland remains the team to beat -- especially since the Commodores didn’t secure a pop while Stover was on campus. Remember, the Terps are set to host the Florida product officially Nov. 7, Stover hinting he could commit while in College Park.

Stover couldn’t say enough about UMD after his late July unofficial trip (he lauded the staff, head coach Randy Edsall’s emphasis on academics, the campus atmosphere and the direction of the program). Meanwhile, Terps’ area recruiter Mike Locksley has remained in close contact since then, Stover acknowledging their rapport.

Stover may take a look at Indiana too, but the Hoosiers are probably third in the pecking order. Barring a snag, Stover is on track to be a Terp, and, if so, would be enrolling early in College Park.

Jeffery Pooler, DT, Dunbar (Dayton, Ohio): A few folks pointed out the Maryland commit Jeff Pooler’s cryptic Tweet following the Terps’ meltdown against Bowling Green (it read, “some things to think about.”). But after exchanging a few texts with Pooler, he said it had nothing to do with recruiting and was in reference to a personal matter. “Don’t worry, I’m 100 percent UMD,” Pooler texted in.

Pooler’s statement can pretty much stand for the rest of Maryland’s 2016 crop too. From Dwayne Haskins to Terek Zingale (Nordonia/Macedonia, Ohio), no one has indicated they’re wavering on their pledges at this point.

In fact, we’ve written time and again individual wins and losses mean little in the grand scheme of things. Reality is, a few commits I talked to postgame said they were even more eager to arrive so they could help turn things around. 

Does that mean no one in the current class is going to fall off the Pride bandwagon down the road? Hardly. Since I’ve been covering this beat, Maryland has had at least one decommitment every year. Just don’t expect it to happen because of a single loss.

Deon Jones, CB, Carroll (Washington, D.C.) (2017): Other than a few Terps’ pledges, headlined by Dwayne Haskins, there weren’t too many “name” Maryland offerees in attendance for the Bowling Green game Sept. 12. But one primetime target, from nearby Carroll, made it to town for the first time since a winter junior day.

Deon Jones, who boasts more than 30 offers to date, took in the 48-27 Terps’ defeat with several of his teammates (four-star guard Richard Merritt wasn’t one of them). Unfortunately for the UMD staff, Jones left in the third quarter and didn’t interact with the coaches before or (obviously) after the game

Either way, he’s someone UMD-area recruiter Mike Locksley has high on his priority list, Maryland’s offensive coordinator reaching out shortly after the contact period opened midnight Sept. 1. In turn, Jones has spoken highly of the hometown school, pointing to the Terps’ intriguing 2016 class; DMV-to-UMD; and the chance to have an immediate impact in Maryland’s secondary.

But this recruitment is going to be an uphill battle for Locksley and Co. Jones may have turtles on the brain, but not at the forefront. Whenever I’ve spoken to him, he’s always sounded more excited about some of his other suitors, namely Clemson; Florida State; Michigan State; Miami; Auburn; Florida; Ohio State; Tennessee and Penn State. CU, in particular, seems to be resonating for the time being.

It’s early in the process, however, so maybe Locksley can change Jones’ thinking down the line. It would only help matters if the Movement continues coming to fruition.

Josh Paschal, DE, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) (2017): After reneging on an intended visit last weekend, the Maryland offeree Paschal should be in attendance for the South Florida game Sept. 19. As I've written previously, Paschal doesn't have any leaders or standouts at this point, but it's clear he has affinity for the hometown school. Paschal's been on campus numerous times and has heard plenty from the likes of teammates-turned-Terps commits KeAndre Jones and Travon Stott. Sept. 19 will be yet another chance for him to interact with Maryland recruiter Mike Locksley and head coach Randy Edsall.

The Good Counsel edge rusher is also considering Clemson, Kentucky, Iowa, Pitt and UVA (he's claiming an Ohio State offer, but we're not sure it's a "real" verbal). Look for him to take in several nearby college venues this fall, including games at PSU, UVA and VA Tech, in addition to Clemson.

Travis Levy, RB, Sherwood (Sandy Spring, Md.) (2017): Recall, I visited Sherwood and interviewed the emerging running back Levy back in the summer. The 6-0, 195-pound bulldozer raved about Maryland and said the Terps could very well be the team to beat if they offered. Levy said the hometown movement, the chance to play near home (that is, his current home; he’s actually lived in six different states), the academics (he’s an honors student), and the atmosphere all held prime appeal.

Levy further demonstrated his UMD affinity by attending both of Maryland’s games thus far. He’s had a chance to check out the campus, chat with the staff and delve deeper into the program in general.

But the jury’s out on whether or not head coach Randy Edsall will extend an offer. Levy’s a big back, but he’s not the fleetest of foot, nor does he possess standout burst/acceleration.

Levy has been in contact with area recruiter Chad Wilt, however, so we do know the Terps will be monitoring him. The Sherwood back holds offers from Vandy, Toledo, Army, Buffalo and UMass for now, but has numerous ACC and a few Big Ten squads keeping tabs.

Austin Fontaine, DT, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) (2018): Along with Deon Jones (above), Fontaine was another ballyhooed recruit who made his way to Maryland for the Bowling Green game. The star sophomore has been in Byrd Stadium before, but Sept. 12 was his first opportunity to meet the staff one-on-one and see more of the campus.

The visit itself probably won’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but the fact Fontaine chose to spend his off day (DeMatha had a bye week) in College Park is a positive sign. The 6-3, 280-pounder  had expressed plenty of Terps’ interest previously, mentioning how his teammates-turned-Terps LoLo Harrison and D.J. Turner “always” talk about Maryland.

Fontaine has offers from Georgia, Penn State, Clemson and UVA, in addition to Maryland, however, and his profile is bound to grow steadily. His recruitment will inevitably take a variety of twists and turns, so we’ll see if UMD-area recruiter Mike Locksley’s early inroads pay off.

 Tejada Mitchell, OLB, Bayside (Virginia Beach, Va.) (2018): Scout’s Michael Clark ran a story on this class of 2018 linebacker, who picked up his latest offer from Maryland recently. It’s way too soon to begin prognosticating possible destinations, but it was encouraging to read his comments regarding the Terps.

“I always watched Maryland on TV growing up,” Mitchell said. “They have a very good program. It’s a blessing to have received the offer.

“[Defensive line] coach [Chad] Wilt is recruiting me. I’ve only talked to him once, but he seems like a cool coach. I’m going to try to set up a visit, but I’m not sure when yet.”

If nothing else, it’s a sign Chad Wilt is continuing to hammer away at a Maryland trouble area: Virginia Beach.

As for Mitchell specifically, he now holds offers from Clemson, FSU, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Ohio State, UVA, Va Tech, NC State, UMD, Miami and UNC. Based off that initial list, there’s a strong chance he’ll turn his attention to the glamour programs. We’ll see what develops.

New Offers Out

Markquese Bell, S, Bridgeton (N.J.) (2017): Bell hasn’t sprung onto the national radar yet, but he figures to in short order. After the Terps anted up, the 6-3, 190-pound athlete listed offers from UMD, Michigan, Rutgers and Temple. But  schools throughout the Big Ten and ACC are monitoring him closely, according to his coach.

Bell said he’s open to pretty much any suitor at this point, but is infatuated by elites like Alabama and other traditional Big Ten/SEC powers. The Michigan offer, in particular, seemed to hold appeal, Bell saying he “definitely” wanted to check out the Big House.

As for the Terps, Bell admittedly didn’t know much other than their conference affiliation (Big Ten); Under Armour connection; and Stefon Diggs attended the school. Bell did say he could trek down to College Park after the season, but we didn’t get an overwhelmingly positive UMD vibe.

We’ll see if Terps’ area recruiter Keith Dudzinski can make some noise, at least developing a rapport with Bell (Dudzinski hadn’t contacted Bell when we spoke to the recruit).

You can read more about Bell HERE.

Stuart Head, S, Etowah (Woodstock, Ga.) (2017): A potential “blowup” recruit, Head claims verbals from Cal, Clemson, Duke, Ga Tech, UNC, Stanford, Vandy and now Maryland. He’ll add even more in short order, as a number of renowned programs have been in contact. Etowah has said he’s wide open in his recruitment, but admitted those two West Coast scholarships (Stanford and Cal) are rather intriguing. Needless to say, he’ll be a tough pull for Maryland and area recruiter Darrell Perkins.

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