Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Landon, Douglass Reports
This week I was able to take in two high school games featuring Terps’ targets/pledges, starting with Landon (Bethesda, Md.) versus Loyola (Towson, Md.) Sept. 18 and then Douglass (Upper Marlboro, Md.) against Friendly (Ft. Washington, Md.) a day later. At the former bout, I scouted and chatted with senior linebacker Keith Simms, who, in spite of his team’s mishaps, showed out with 10 tackles; two pass breakups; three tackles for loss; and a sack. Then, on Sept. 19, I honed in on UMD safety commit Devin Butler, who tallied five tackles in a 32-22 Douglass victory.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Simms, for his part, showed vast improvement compared to last season, and was clearly the most dominant defensive player on the field. He makes tackles up the line; in the backfield; and down the field. He has a rapid-fire first step, plenty of athleticism, solid quicks, active hands, advanced rush moves and above-average field awareness. Simms also does a great job defending the flats, ably changing direction and taking tight closing angles. He does need to continue adding power, while improving his drops in coverage, but Simms is fairly far along for a high school linebacker.
Best Case Scenario: Simms, who can play both inside and outside, enters the program (likely Maryland) and readily fills in where he’s needed. He’s advanced enough to help on special teams immediately, earning a few snaps at linebacker in the process. Then, after his first year, Simms assumes a larger role in the defense, perhaps ascending to the lead gig. During his latter years on campus, Simms’ ability to cover, tackle and rush the passer warrant all-conference honors.
Worse Case Scenario: Simms has difficulty fighting through blocks in the Big Ten, which limits his effectiveness as a tackler. He’s exposed in coverage too, failing to recover quick enough to defend the deep zones. And though Simms possesses numerous solid skills, he doesn’t have one outstanding trait that separates him from other solid-but-not-spectacular linebackers. Simms still contributes as a sometimes-starter/rotational player, but doesn’t reach his potential.
With Butler, the 6-3, 190-pounder certainly passes the eyeball test. He’s long, sinewy, has decent arm length and possesses large hands. And watching Butler run, he’s definitely athletic, displaying enough raw speed to potentially cover sideline-to-sideline. He has a fast first step, drives hard at the snap, and shows the ability to undercut routes/make plays in the box. Butler is also active in the air, aggressively pursuing the ball. Finally, he looks to have satisfactory field awareness and anticipation skills, developed from his time spent at quarterback.
But Butler, unlike Simms, has a ways to go before he’s college ready. Namely, his fundamentals are off-kilter, in particular his footwork in coverage. At times he gets crossed up, takes circuitous closing angles or fails to transition properly. Butler must loosen up his hips, improve his change-of-direction speed, and become more deft/nimble. Furthermore, we’d like to see Butler become a better tackler. He ‘s given to the ‘ol alligator-arm technique, while you’ll see him drop his head from time to time as well.
Best Case Scenario: Butler spends his first year at Maryland building his body and improving his fundamentals under secondary coach Darrell Perkins. Once his “foot faults” are ironed out, the rest falls into place and he’s able to cover deep; transition on and off receivers; and stick with wideouts who cross his face. Also, Butler’s added strength gives him more confidence as a tackler, so he’s able to bring down runners in the open field. By his third year, Butler is part of the defensive back rotation, eventually becoming a starter during his final season/seasons in College Park.
Worst Case Scenario: The fundamental issues are too great to overcome, even for someone as athletic as Butler. While he works to improve, Big Ten wideouts prove too quick and college offensive schemes too complicated for Butler to handle. Butler’s tackling problems persist, so the coaches can’t rely on him on special teams, either. He fails to rise above third string on the depth chart.
As for recruiting news, Simms didn’t say much we didn’t already know. Frequent Shell readers are aware of where the Terps stand, the Landon backer taking to the Terps’ staff; their current commits; the hometown movement; and the academics. Simms, who has already attended two UMD games this year (Richmond and South Florida), plans to be in College Park multiple times this fall before embarking on his Maryland official Dec. 4 (with the rest of the Terps’ 2016 pledges).
Simms will be taking an official visit to Oregon in early October, but that’s about the only hurdle Maryland has to overcome. The Bethesda native is publically keeping the Ducks and Terps even in the pecking order, but we’re led to believe UMD is in the driver’s seat (barring a last-minute snag).
Look for Simms to end his recruitment shortly after returning from Eugene, Ore. And, yes, we expect him to announce for UMD.
You can read the scouting report and see the interview with Simms HERE.
Butler, meanwhile, reiterated how he’s “100 percent” committed to the Terps. The Douglass prospect now claims offers from North Carolina and Toledo, but said he “isn’t paying [any] mind to other schools.”
Beyond that, Butler didn’t have a whole lot interesting to say. He’s not actively recruiting anyone to College Park, nor does he stay in close contact with the other 2016 pledges. Butler converses with UMD-area recruiter Mike Locksley once in awhile, and will attempt to attend a couple Byrd Stadium bouts this year (he was at the Richmond game). He’ll be taking his UMD official in December.
You can read the scouting report and see the interview with Butler HERE.
DeMatha, Roosevelt, Carroll Reports
Scout national recruiting analyst Brian Dohn ventured down from Jersey this weekend, giving him an opportunity to see recruits from DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), Carroll (Washington, D.C.) and Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.).
Since I was just at DeMatha for the season-opener, there wasn’t much in the way of groundbreaking news, but there were some telling nuggets unearthed.
During Dohn’s conversation with Terrance Davis, the four-star senior guard reaffirmed that Michigan led for his services, head coach Jim Harbaugh’s pitch ringing true. Based off Davis’ tone and telling pro-Wolverines comments, it really does seem like UM will be difficult to top.
That said, Davis is going to give all five of his primary suitors a shot, including Alabama; Georgia; UCLA; and Maryland. As we’ve written time and again, Bama and Georgia are currently running second and third, with the Terps and Bruins having some ground to make up.
Davis will officially visit Michigan Nov. 27, Georgia Dec. 11, Alabama Jan. 8 and UCLA Jan. 15. He plans to take one final trip, which will likely be to College Park (he told Dohn his mother is urging him to see Maryland, which doesn’t sound encouraging for Terps’ purposes).
There’s time for the Terps and area recruiter Mike Locksley to turn this one around, but it’ll be an uphill battle all the way until Signing Day. UMD fans have to hope DMV-to-UMD, in addition to Davis’ teammates-turned-Terps’ overtures (LoLo Harrison, Tino Ellis, D.J. Turner), ultimately ring true.
Next, Dohn spoke to two of DeMatha’s nationally-known underclassmen: Anthony McFarland and Chase Young. Both the running back/receiver McFarland and the defensive end Young seem to be linked as they’re taking similar college visits and trending towards the same schools. Each attended a Penn State game a couple weeks back, and this weekend they’re heading to Athens, Ga., for a Georgia bout. Alabama is another program on both recruits’ radars, the Tide’s tradition winning them over.
At this point, McFarland is infatuated with the Bulldogs, the speedster heaping praise on the UGA coaches and program in general. Young is also coming around to Georgia, with Bama, his supposed “dream school,” sitting pretty too.
But while the Stags’ duo are starry-eyed, they do have Maryland on the mind. Dohn asked McFarland and Young about the Terps, and once again their comments were encouraging. The former mentioned DMV-to-UMD, the chance to represent his home state, his relationship with the staff and his comfort level on campus. The latter talked up Mike Locksley, Maryland’s close proximity to home, and UMD’s No. 1 criminal justice program, Young’s prospective major.
We do believe UMD is firmly in the running for both elite recruits, but there’s going to be plenty of twists and turns moving forward. Much could depend on the shape Maryland’s program is in heading into the winter months.
Taking advantage of his time in Prince George’s County, Dohn also stopped by Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.) to meet class of 2017 defensive end Lawtez Rogers, who we’ve written about several times. Rogers, a 6-3, 235-pounder with a single offer from Maryland, continues to talk up the Terps. The Roosevelt edge rusher told Dohn he likes the idea of playing for the hometown school, has a budding rapport with recruiter Mike Locksley and defensive line coach Chad Wilt, and loves the atmosphere in and around Byrd Stadium. Already this fall Rogers attended the UMD-Richmond game, and should be back in College Park for the Michigan affair Oct. 3.
For what it’s worth, Dohn said UMD has a “huge lead” for Rogers, which coincides with our line of thinking. But before forecasting Rogers to Maryland, we would like to see what other programs ante up once his junior film is evaluated (Rutgers, UVA, Notre Dame and others are interested).
Moreover, since Rogers hasn’t been on any other campus besides UMD’s, he has nothing to compare it against. So although the Terps have the inside track, let’s see what Rogers is thinking in the months ahead. (Remember, former Roosevelt tackle Isaiah Prince, who is now at Ohio State, had Maryland out in front early as well, but once he started venturing out his thinking changed. Rogers isn’t going to be a national recruit like Prince, but he should have some intriguing options).
You can read more about Rogers HERE.
Before leaving the Old Line State, Dohn headed over to Carroll as well in order to chat with elite 2017 cornerback Deon Jones and 2016 guard Richard Merritt.
I actually caught up with Jones after he attended the Terps-Bowling Green game, letting readers know that while the multi-offer talent liked UMD, he seemed to be favoring other suitors.
Dohn felt the same after speaking to Jones in person. Jones does have a relationship with Terps’ area recruiter Mike Locksley, and he will be at the UMD-Michigan game Oct. 3, but Maryland can’t be considered a favorite at this point. Universities throughout the South are at the forefront, with Virginia Tech (he was recently in Blacksburg, Va., for a game); Clemson (he’s visited on a couple occasions); Alabama (he’s been there several times); and Florida State (he visited FSU over the summer) the standouts.
There’s a ways to go before Jones selects a school, but it’s clear Locksley and Co. have ground to make up.
You can read more about Jones HERE.
With Merritt, hot board readers know he's been sitting "cool" on the list for awhile now, suggesting the four-star guard remains somewhat in play for Maryland. But apparently Merritt isn't really looking at the Terps at all anymore. He didn't attend the UMD-USF game with his teammates and hasn't been in touch with area recruiter Mike Locksley in awhile. So, we chose to remove him from the board altogether.
Merritt is primarily focused on Arizona, UCLA, Va Tech, FSU and several others.
Note: Dohn also interviewed Terps’ commits LoLo Harrison and D.J. Turner. The former discussed his season thus far and how he’s improved; Turner talked about his recovery from ankle surgery and how the Terps’ staff is standing by him. (Turner mentioned he’s actively recruiting Penn State defensive end pledge Shane Simmons to Maryland too).
You can see the interview with Harrison HERE.
You can see the interview with Turner HERE.
Various Terps Recruiting Notes
Terrell Hall, DE, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): The senior edge rusher Hall returned to Alabama, the leader for his services, last weekend. The unofficial visit allowed the four-star recruit a chance to reconnect with the coaches, hang out with a couple current Tide pledges, learn more about the school in general, and take in the Tuscaloosa, Ala., game-day atmosphere. Despite ‘Bama’s loss to Ole Miss, Hall came away raving about the latest experience, all but proclaiming the SEC stalwart the team to beat.
Hall is going to thoroughly evaluate all his options and go through the official visit process, however. He’ll embark on his first official to Florida Sept. 25, the Gators holding solid appeal. The St. John’s stalwart is also considering trips to Florida State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Maryland, UCLA, Notre Dame and Oklahoma, but doesn’t have any other officials scheduled. If we had to predict which programs he’ll be trekking through, though, it sounds like FSU, UT, TAMU and Bama are the frontrunners.
It’s unclear exactly where UMD sits in the pecking order, but we don’t sense the Terps are near the top of Hall’s leaderboard. That said, the D.C. product is consistently hearing from area recruiter Mike Locksley and Maryland commit Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.), so we’ll see if their inroads pay off. He’s listed as “cool” on the hot board for now.
Chris Clark, TE, UCLA Transfer: The No. 1 tight end in the 2015 class generated some buzz among Maryland aficionados last week when UMD-quarterback pledge Dwayne Haskins Tweeted about a potential Clark-to-College Park transfer. Clark, who UMD and area recruiter Keith Dudzinski ardently pursued last year, didn’t reveal much when we spoke to him, but he told Scout’s Brian Dohn he’s seriously considering Pitt, UVA, N.C. State and Maryland (Michigan is also in the picture). Clark has official visits scheduled for Pittsburgh, Pa., (Oct. 10), Charlottesville, Va., (Oct. 17), and Raleigh, N.C., (Oct. 31), while he might be setting one up to College Park.
Now, where this leads remains to be seen. Remember, Clark committed to three different schools coming out of high school, which is always a red flag. UMD headman Randy Edsall may not want to deal with a mercurial transfer right now, despite the talent level. Plus Edsall might feel he already has a young, rising star tight end in freshman Avery Edwards, precluding the need for another until next year.
What is clear, however, is Clark’s homesick, seeking to play closer to his New Jersey abode. The former Old Farms (Avon, Conn.) standout spent one month on the West Coast, participated in the Bruins’ first game against UVA, and then ended up missing practice the next day. Evidently Clark, who suffered from a bout of mononucleosis this summer (that didn’t help matters), didn’t mesh with the UCLA staff either.
So now Clark is home in New Jersey, weighing out his next move. But regardless of which school he winds up at, or when he opts to transfer (likely in January), Clark will probably have to sit out a year due to NCAA rules.
We’ll continue monitoring the situation. If the Terps do indeed recruit Clark in earnest, we think they’d have a good chance at pulling him in. But at this point we haven't heard Maryland's staff is very involved. (If we had a hot board for transfers, Clark would be listed as “cool.”)
Khalil Ladler, CB, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): The Terps are on the lookout for another corner now that Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Gaithersburg, Md.) may be heading elsewhere, and apparently UMD's Florida-area recruiter, Mike Locksley, has identified a couple intriguing defensive backs in the Sunshine State, including Ladler. A four-star who is out for the year with a torn ACL, is one of them. Before injuring his knee, the 5-11, 180-pounder had a leaderboard that consisted of Georgia, Tennessee, LSU, Florida and Miami. But now, in the wake of the preseason injury, he's unsure those schools are still after him.
Thus, Ladler's turned his attention to a couple programs that have been on him: Maryland and Virginia Tech. Ladler will be officially visiting Tech Sept. 26 and is in the process of scheduling one to UMD as well. He has no other trips scheduled.
At this point, we're not sure which school Ladler is leaning towards, but with Locksley on him, coupled with the Terps' IMG Academy connection, we'd have to think they have a real shot. We'll list Ladler as "warm" on the hot board for now, with a chance to move up to "hot" if he follows through with that official visit.
Also, we'll be on the lookout for other Florida corners who may crop up, as we heard from Scout's Corey Bender UMD and Locksley have been monitoring more than just Ladler.
You can read more about Ladler HERE.
Adewale Omotosho, WR, Plano East (Plano, Texas): Evidently this four-star receiver from Texas has been communicating regularly with UMD-area recruiter Keenan McCardell, per an interview with Scout’s Greg Powers. On top of that, Omotosho is looking to officially visit College Park, citing his relationship with said Terps’ assistant and the school’s strong business program.
Which came as a surprise on this end. We noted Omotosho’s Maryland offer back in June, but haven’t heard much since. And after Tino Ellis and Evan Fairs (Richmond, Texas) popped to the Terps, we were led to believe head coach Randy Edsall wouldn’t be accepting anymore 2016 receivers.
Perhaps Omotosho is one of those “stay in touch with just in case there’s a decommitment” prospects. We haven’t heard of any rumblings among Tino Ellis or Evan Fairs about a possible decommitment -- D.J. Turner isn’t going anywhere after his season-ending injury and subsequent rehab -- but you never know. Or maybe Edsall senses some current UMD receivers will be transferring after this season (Will Ulmer? DeAndre Lane? Malcolm Culmer?), necessating the addition of another wideout.
The Omotosho recruitment lends credence to one of those two theories.
(We don’t believe Terps will attempt to sell the Texas receiver on the idea of playing cornerback, since he doesn’t line up on defense at Plano East. UMD is trying to add another corner with Trevon Diggs falling by the wayside, but Omotosho doesn’t fit the bill.)
Of course, the Omotosho news in and of itself has less to do with the individual recruit. But if we’re gauging UMD’s chances at landing him, the Terps probably aren’t atop the favorites list. Fact is, they are one of several teams the Lone Star State standout mentioned in the Powers interview. Omotosho wants to officially visit Cal and UCLA as well, while the nearby Big 12 mainstays (Oklahoma, Arkansas, SMU, Texas Tech, etc.) are on the brain too.
We’ll see if Omotosho does indeed follow through with a College Park official, and in the meantime he’s listed as “cool” on the hot board.
In addition, we’ll be keeping an eye out for more senior wideouts who could crop up on UMD’s radar.
You can see Omotosho's interview HERE.
Rahshaun Smith, DE, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Top Terps’ defensive end target Rahshaun Smith will embark on the first of five proposed official visits this weekend. The four-star lineman is heading to Eugene, Ore., citing a childhood infatuation with Oregon and its fast-paced attack.
That’s nice. We’re sure Smith will have fun at Nike headquarters.
But he’s probably not going to be a Duck.
Regardless of what Smith says publically, we’re still hearing Maryland for the former Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.) and St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.) stalwart. From the Cory Robinson Maryland connection to his desire to play near his Baltimore-based family to his established relationship with the entire UMD staff, the tealeaves read Terps.
Smith, who is set to enroll early, will be officially visiting College Park Dec. 4 (the same day as Keith Simms and other UMD pledges) and should be announcing his college decision in early January. He’ll also be taking officials to Auburn (Nov. 31), Clemson (Dec. 11) and LSU, with AU perhaps sitting second in the pecking order. We’ll let you know if one of those SEC mainstays complicates matters for Maryland down the road, but for now we don’t foresee it.
Cameron Sullivan-Brown, WR, Pallotti (Laurel, Md.) (2017): Sullivan-Brown is a rising star local receiver, holding offers from UVA; Kansas; NC State; Buffalo; Temple and others. The Terps haven't anted up, but Sullivan-Brown has been in touch with area recruiter Mike Locksley and is on the staff's radar. The 6-1, 165-pounder was actually in attendance for the Maryland-USF affair, mentioning how he had a good time chatting with the coaches after the victory. He enjoyed experiencing the game with his teammates, and noted how well UMD's receivers played as well.
Sullivan-Brown indicated he has plenty of interest in the hometown school, so if the Terps do pursue they could potentially be in position to land him. Look for him to return to College Park later this fall, and definitely in the winter for a junior day.
You can read more about Sullivan-Brown HERE.
Jason Brown, QB, Chancellor (Fredericksburg, Va.) (2017): Readers probably won't recall this name, but Brown was the intriguing quarterback recruit we noted at the Big Show camp back in June. He impressed the Terps' coaches to the point where he's had contact with both quarterbacks' coach Mike Locksley and area recruiter Chad Wilt since then. And on Sept. 19 he returned to College Park for the UMD-USF affair, giving him another opportunity to connect with the staff.
Brown doesn't have any firm offers yet, but the Maryland coaches will continue to monitor him the rest of this season and into the spring. Although the Terps have several other class of 2017 signal callers on their radar -- Jack Coan (West Sayville/Sayville, N.Y.), Lindell Stone (Woodberry Forest/Woodberry, Va.) -- keep Brown in mind heading into the May evaluation period.
The Michigan Game
The Oct. 3 Michigan-Maryland showdown in Byrd Stadium is sure to attract numerous top-level recruits, both locally and from boredering states. We'll begin confirming more visitors during the week leading up to the game, but here's an early look at some of the talents who coudl/should be attending (realize that many prospects tentatively say they're coming/not coming and then back out/show up when game day nears):
1. Anthony McFarland, ATH, DeMatha (2017)
2. Chase Young, DE, DeMatha (2017)
3. Terrance Davis, OG, DeMatha
4. Marcus Minor, OG, DeMatha (2017)
5. Keith Simms, LB, Landon
6. Trevon Diggs, CB, Avalon (Gaithersburg, Md.)
7. Deon Jones, CB, Carroll (2017)
8. Josh Paschal, DE, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) (2017)
9. Jack Coan, QB, West Sayville (2017)
10. Dylan Rivers, LB, Sherando (Stephens, Va.) (2017)
11. Tyshon Fogg, LB, Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.) (2017)
12. Ellis Brooks, LB, Benedictine (Richmond, Va.) (2017)
13. Jordan McNair, OL, McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) (2017)
14. Damani Neal, S, Bullis (2017)
15. Jordan Williams, DE, Cox (Virginia Beach, Va.) (2017)
16. Ethan Wiederkehr, DE, Shoreham-Wading (Shoreham, N.Y.) (2017)
17. Elijah Conliffe, DE, Hampton (Va.) (2017)
18. Lawtez Rogers, DE, Roosevelt (2017)
19. Ryan Solt, OG, James Coughlin (Wilkes Barre, Pa.) (2017)
20. Lamont Wade, CB, Clairton (Pa.) (2017)?
21. Avery Roberts, LB, Concord (Wilmington, Del.) (2017)