Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
McDonogh, Gilman Reports
TT was able to attend a pair of MIAA games last week, with Keith Cavanaugh taking in the Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) – Loyola (Towson, Md.) bout Sept. 25, while I saw the McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) – Mount St. Joseph’s (Baltimore, Md.) affair Sept. 26. We’d already scouted and spoken to four-star Gilman defensive tackle Ellison Jordan -- a Penn State pledge who the Terps are actively pursuing -- earlier this fall, so the idea this time around was to evaluate/interview the Greyhounds’ two stud underclassmen linemen.
Recruitniks know the name Taron Vincent by now, the 6-foot-2, 295-pound class of 2018 defensive tackle who claims about 15 or so FBS offers. The son of former NFL All-Pro Troy Vincent, Taron Vincent is extremely athletic for his size. He possesses nimble feet, short-area quicks, and has the ability to “get skinny” in the holes. Not to mention he’s powerful at the point of attack, can make plays up and down the line, and has an above-average get-off, all of which allow him to actively bust up the backfield.
Vincent must continue learning his keys and building up his body, but he’s going to have his pick of schools by the time his senior year comes around.
The second lineman who caught Cavanaugh’s eye isn’t as well-known as Vincent . . . yet. Give it another few months, though, and most of the Mid-Atlantic will know who Ja’mion Franklin is. This 6-3, 305-pound class of 2018 guard not only passes the eyeball test, but his skills far exceed what one would expect from a sophomore starter.
Franklin can drive block and knock guys off the ball, sure, but he’s also athletic enough to pull down the line; push to the second level; and readjust to blitzing linebackers. He gets off the ball well, immediately enters his stance and knows how to use his hands. Franklin’s fundamentals still need improving, while he must play with better leverage, but the upside is undeniable.
A day later, I watched Mt. St. Joe’s upset McDonogh in double-overtime, 36-33. Nonetheless, the two Eagles’ primetime recruits, class of 2017 left tackle Jordan McNair and class of 2018 defensive end P.J. Mustipher, both played well, namely the 6-5, 290-pound offensive lineman.
A borderline five-star talent, McNair made his case for being the No. 1 prospect in the local ’17 class. I’ve had a chance to scout numerous linemen this year, from four-star DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) senior Terrance Davis to Gilman senior Devery Hamilton to Terps’ pledge Michael Clark (Downingtown East/Exton, Pa.), and McNair topped them all -- save maybe Hamilton.
What’s most impressive about McNair is how well he moves in pass protection for someone his size. He has a basketball player’s feet, allowing him to quickly readjust and guide edge rushers them past the pocket. Moreover, he has a rapid-fire first step, consistently gains extension, and understands how to shift his weight. McNair also runs well in space, can finish linebackers at the second level, and can execute high-level blocking techniques.
The McDonogh tackle must build up his body and become a more potent drive blocker, but that will come with another year in the weight room. The hard part -- fundamentals and pass blocking -- McNair has down pat (at least, at the high school level).
As for Mustipher, he flashed potential on both sides of the ball, as a left guard next to McNair and as a 5-technique/3-technique on the D-Line. He projects as a defensive end in college, however, with his size (6-5, 275 pounds) and length readily translating to an FBS D-line.
Mustipher isn’t quite as powerful or athletic as his Gilman counterpart Taron Vincent, but he’s certainly no slouch. The younger brother of Notre Dame guard Sam Mustipher, P.J. Mustipher fires off the ball; uses his long arms to disengage; and shows the ability to sniff out ball-carriers. He possesses a potentially potent bull-rush, in addition to a feint-and-go technique, the latter not always common in high school. Mustipher has deft feet and solid lateral agility too.
He does have to become more powerful, learn to play with better leverage and become a more potent tackler, but there’s time for him to develop.
Considering three of the four recruits we honed in on last weekend were 2018 prospects, we were most interested in what the ’17 stud McNair had to say. The prime UMD target now has offers from Maryland, UNC, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Boston College, Duke, Illinois, Tennessee and others. He’s claiming no definitive favorites at this point, but it seems like the Terps, Nittany Lions, Buckeyes, Wolverines and Hokies are on the brain.
Penn State, a school McNair has seen several times, will likely be in contention until the lineman ends his recruitment. OSU should remain firmly in play as well, and McNair is visiting Tech Oct. 3 for the first time. McNair is in the process of scheduling a trip to Ann Arbor, Mich., too.
Maryland, which the McDonogh product has seen on numerous occasions, including for the Terps-Richmond game this fall, figures to reside among his foremost suitors throughout. McNair has readily taken to UMD-area recruiter Keith Dudzinski, and he lit up when I mentioned former-teammates-turned-Terps Josh Woods and Ellis McKennie. He also talked up the hometown movement, Maryland’s academic reputation and his desire to play close to family and friends. On top of that, McNair mentioned how his mother, a key consultant, “really likes Maryland.”
Whether the Terps can top PSU remains to be seen, but at least Maryland is in the game.
You can read our scouting report and see an interview with McNair HERE.
Mustipher, meanwhile, has offers from Maryland, Duke, Penn State and Tennessee. I’ve spoken to him several times, and the sophomore never fails to offer up his share of Terps’ praise. He’s enjoyed his times in College Park, has already spoken to Keith Dudzinski on several occasions, and mentioned how he’s head plenty of positives from Woods and McKennie.
Of course, his brother, Sam Mustipher, did the same thing, only to focus on the bigwigs when it came down to crunch time. And, indeed, P.J. Mustipher said it would be “really cool” to play at Notre Dame, a school he saw for the umpteenth time Sept. 19. We do think Mustipher will keep Maryland in mind, but let’s see what he’s thinking after he checks out Penn State and inevitably receives offers from the likes of UND, OSU, Michigan and the like.
You can read our scouting report and see an interview with Mustipher HERE.
We have similar feelings in regards to Taron Vincent, the Gilman defensive tackle. Vincent has told us a couple times the Terps are standing out, the sophomore mentioning his initial rapport with recruiter Mike Locksley and his affinity for the campus. He’s been in College Park a few times and will be at the Maryland-Michigan bout Oct. 3.
But Vincent has the Buckeyes, Wolverines, Badgers and Crimson Tide after him, in addition to UCLA; Texas; Nebraska and others. OSU may have his ear initially, with Wisconsin, his father’s alma mater, a prime player too. At this point, Vincent’s pro-UMD comments may ring of lip service.
You can read our report on Vincent HERE.
The Terps should have a better chance at landing Vincent’s teammate. The under-the-radar guard Franklin, an Eastern Shore native who played his freshman year at North Carolina (Ridgely, Md.), has plenty of hometown affinity. An early UMD offeree, Franklin likes the idea of representing his state school and called Maryland “a great feeling.” Like with Vincent, Terps’ recruiter Mike Locksley has already established inroads.
Michigan, Ohio State and others throughout the Big Ten will be involved as well, but we like UMD’s current position.
You can read our report on Franklin HERE.
The Michigan Game
The Oct. 3 affair between Maryland and Michigan in Byrd Stadium had been circled on numerous recruits’ calendars since the 2015 schedule was released. Regardless of the outcome, it was an opportunity for the Terps’ coaches to connect with some of their main targets, while the fans create a Big House-esque environment in College Park.
But after the game was resheduled from 8 p.m. to noon due to inclement weather, many of those who planned to attend will now be unable to. Prospects from DeMatha (Terrance Davis, Anthony McFarland, Chase Young), Carroll (Deon Jones), Avalon (Trevon Diggs), St. John's (Terrell Hall), Good Counsel (Josh Paschal), Roosevelt (Lawtez Rogers) and others will now not be in College Park Oct. 3. Meanwhile, out-of-state targets like junior guard Ryan Solt (James Coughlin/Wilkes Barre, Pa.) and B.J. Daniels (Melbourne, Fla.) won't be there either. Here's who we've heard will be in attendance.
Jamari Logan, DT, Booker T. Washington (Norfolk, Va.): Logan currently claims offers from Va Tech, ODU, Marshall, NC State, Tennessee and others, though we're not sure which ones are actually committable. He said he's been in touch with Terps' area recruiter Chad Wilt, and while that may be true, it's questionable how interested Maryland really is (Logan has some issues surrounding his game). That said, the Terps need defensive tackles, so perhaps they'll take a flyer on Logan. If so, the Virginia native would promptly place UMD among his foremost contenders, along with Va Tech, NC State and ODU. Don't expect him to pop immediately, however. He said he's content to go through the process of taking official visits (he may not have that luxury).
Tyshon Fogg, LB, Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.) (2017): Fogg has UMD in play thanks to his connection to Maryland Director of Player Personnel Cory Robinson. He did admit, however, that offers from Michigan State, Stanford, UNC, Va Tech, Clemson and Rutgers (his hometown school) have caught his eye. Getting him back in College Park several times this fall/winter will be key for UMD’s chances. Otherwise, he’s probably bound for another locale (remember, the Terps have had some issues with Calvert Hall in the past).
Jordan Williams, DE, Cox (Virginia Beach, Va.) (2017): A primary out-of-state offeree who has high affinity for the Terps. Williams has a strong relationship with UMD-area recruiter Chad Wilt, has been on campus a couple times and likes the school’s academics. The Terps are in a very good position with him and could very well be the favorites.
Damani Neal, S, Bullis (Potomac, Md.) (2017): Neal is unsure if he'll be at the Oct. 3 game, but for now he's in. But, either way, Penn State probably leads as Neal has been in Happy Valley several times, developing a deep connection with the staff. Stanford is another top suitor that Neal’s set to see this offseason. Maryland’s in play, but we’re not positive the Bullis safety is as high on the Terps as his senior teammate, UMD commit Dwayne Haskins.
Cameron Sullivan-Brown, WR, Pallotti (Laurel, Md.) (2017): Like Neal, Sullivan-Brown is on the fence about attending due to the time change. We spoke to Sullivan-Brown last week after he visited College Park for the USF bout. The budding local receiver doesn’t hold a Terps’ offer yet, but could be receiving one in short order. If so, expect Maryland to vault to the top of his initial leaderboard, ahead of Kansas; UVA; NC State; Temple and others. Sullivan-Brown loves the idea of the hometown movement and would like the opportunity to represent his state in college.
Elijah Conliffe, DE, Hampton (Va.) (2017): Conliffe has been talking to UMD-area recruiter and defensive line coach Chad Wilt, and apparently the two have a developing relationship. The Hampton edge rusher has been eager to visit College Park since picking up his Maryland offer a month or so ago. The Terps have a shot to leave an impression, but Conliffe is a surefire “blowup” recruit who has UNC; UVA; NC State; Georgia and more after him. We’re not going to hype his Maryland interest until Conliffe’s recruiting profile is fully realized.
Avery Roberts, LB, Concord (Wilmington, Del.) (2017): Roberts was at Maryland for the season opener, and he’ll be back a month later for the Michigan showdown. He’s had consistent communication with Terps’ area recruiter Keenan McCardell and linebackers coach Keith Dudzinski, and likes what Maryland is about in terms of its academic-athletic balance. It doesn’t hurt that UMD’s only a couple hours from his Delaware home. Roberts, though, can pretty much name his future destination with offers from PSU, Oregon, Nebraska, Stanford, Clemson, Miami, Pitt, Va Tech and more. The Big Ten mainstays have his eye at this time.
Lamont Wade, CB, Clairton (Pa.) (2017): It’s never a negative when a five-star recruit checks out your school. Wade, who was last at Maryland for the June 27 Big Show, does seem to have genuine UMD interest, talking up the staff; the current recruiting class (he and Dwayne Haskins talk regularly); and the academics. But Ohio State, Michigan, PSU and hometown Pitt are all over him and probably sit ahead of Maryland. We’re not projecting him to wind up in College Park.
Gabe Houy, OG, Upper St. Clair (Pittsburgh, Pa.) (2017): An under-the-radar lineman (so far), Houy holds offers from Pitt and Toledo, but is on the boards of numerous Big Ten, ACC and some Big 12 schools. Maryland area recruiter Greg Studrawa has been in touch and has Houy’s ear. Thus, the Pittsburgh product will be trekking to College Park Oct. 3 to meet Studrawa in person and learn more about the program. We’ll see where that leads, but for now it seems like hometown Pitt has Houy’s attention. Meanwhile, Penn State would immediately become a top contender should the Nittany Lions (who are in touch) ante up.
Taron Vincent, DT, Gilman (2018): See above.
Ja’mion Franklin, OG, Gilman (2018): See above.
Zack Kuntz, TE, Camp Hill (Pa.) (2018): Kuntz holds a Maryland offer and will be checking out College Park for the first time. He's considered Penn State's to lose, however, and the hometown Nittany Lions have anted up. Numerous other schools are bound to get involved as well (Va Tech and WVU already have).
Of the above 2017 recruits, we’d be inclined to list Solt and Williams as “hot” on the hot board. Sullivan-Brown would/will go on that list if/when he receives his Maryland verbal. Obviously much can (and will) change for class of 2017 recruits, but the Terps have done well with the aforementioned quintet.
Maryland also has a realistic chance (read: possible “warm”) to bring in Fogg and Neal. Meanwhile, the Terps have work to do on Wade, Conliffe and Roberts.
The WVU Loss
After a lopsided defeat, such as the 45-6 debacle Maryland suffered at West Virginia Sept. 26, it’s natural for fans to wonder how it will affect the losing team’s recruiting class. Now, we know one game isn’t going to sway a pledge’s thinking, but what if the trend continues? What if the Terps can’t rebound with the heart of the Big Ten schedule ahead of them? And what if head coach Randy Edsall is let go before February?
Well, we already saw one 2016 “casualty” in the form of defensive lineman Jeff Pooler (Dunbar/Dayton, Ohio), who had been wavering for some time now. Although he insisted he was “100 percent UMD,” there was plenty of smoke surrounding him. And when there’s smoke, well, you know . . .
Pooler received offers from West Virginia and Louisville following his UMD commitment, and is taking a trip to Morgantown, W.Va., Oct. 10. The Mountaineers, a team Pooler had been actively seeking a scholarship from, may be the new leader in the clubhouse. Wisconsin is also considering extending a scholarship.
Not that Terps fans particularly care at this point. Pooler’s a goner, and while it’s never a positive to lose a commitment, it wasn’t like he was a “core” recruit. His film looked OK, and perhaps UMD defensive line coach Chad Wilt could have culled out more, but Pooler didn’t ring of a program changer.
We’ll see who the Terps identify next. They’ll obviously need more defensive lineman besides Joey Fisher (Clear Spring, Md.) and IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) four-star Rahshaun Smith.
As for the rest of the 2016 class, we honestly can’t guarantee the 17 commits will stay intact through thick and thin. As I’ve written before, there’s never been a year since covering this beat when UMD hasn’t had a couple pledges renege. And you can bet if the defeats pile up opposing coaches will begin negatively recruiting Maryland like crazy.
That said, we’re still feeling fairly confident about the main DMV pledges. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.), running back LoLo Harrison (DeMatha), receiver Tino Ellis (DeMatha), receiver D.J. Turner (DeMatha), lineman Brian Plummer (South Carroll/Sykesville, Md.), defensive lineman Joey Fisher (Clear Spring, Md.), linebacker KeAndre Jones (Good Counsel), safety Silas Kelly (South Carroll), safety Devin Butler (Douglass/Upper Marlboro, Md.) (we detect a little “shakiness” here), cornerback Parnell Motley (Woodson/Washington, D.C.) and corner Travon Stott (Good Counsel) have all reaffirmed their statuses (either themselves or through their coaches).
Thing is, these DMV talents, with Haskins under center and leading the hometown movement, firmly believe they can come in and change the culture in College Park. So, basically, Maryland’s 2015 record probably doesn’t mean a lot to them. We’ll see what happens if Edsall’s no longer around (most of the pledges will probably wait to see who they’d bring in and what happens with key assistants Mike Locksley and Cory Robinson), but for now we haven’t heard any rumblings.
As for the out-of-state guys, receiver Evan Fairs (Foster/Richmond, Texas), lineman Mike Clark (Downingtown East/Exton, Pa.), corner Tyrone Hill (Bosco/Ramsey, N.J.), safety Mike Viti (Camp Hill, Pa.), tackle Terek Zingale (Nordonia/Macedonia, Ohio) and lineman Alex Hall (Louisville, Ohio) have said they’re still riding the Pride Bandwagon.
But, again, we’ll see if some of them are singing the same tune come the winter. Pooler was always rather mercurial, but we’ll be interested what Zingale and Fairs will think if more offers come rolling in. If a big-time Midwest program calls on Zingale, will he jump like Pooler? What if a Texas/Big 12 suitor pursues Fairs in earnest, and what if Fairs’ UMD recruiter, Keenan McCardell, leaves? Will Hill be like the last Jersey corner the Terps recruited, Kareem Ali?
Not trying to be doom and gloom, but it’s some food for thought.
Various Terps Recruiting Notes
Terrell Hall, DE, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): The four-star defensive end Hall went on the first of five officials to Florida Sept. 26, taking in UF’s 28-27 victory against Tennessee. Hall said he loved the atmosphere in Gainesville, Fla., and had a good time hanging out with linebacker Dan McMillian and D.C. native Jalen Tabor. The main selling point for the Florida staff, though, was the Gators’ immediate need for defensive line help. It’s conceivable Hall could come in and play right away in the Swamp.
But for now we don’t envision Hall winding up at Florida. Although he’s not publically claiming leaders, Alabama is probably No. 1, followed by Texas A&M; Florida State; and maybe Auburn. He’s yet to schedule any other officials, but will likely trip to each of the latter quartet.
What are Maryland’s chances of sneaking up the leaderboard? The Terps are on Hall’s mind, and area recruiter Mike Locksley, along with Dwayne Haskins, have been in touch, but it’s going to be an uphill battle. If UMD can secure an official from Hall we’d think more of the Terps’ chances. For now, they’re probably no higher than fifth in the pecking order.
Rahshaun Smith, DE, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Yet another Terps’ defensive line target took an official visit last weekend. The four-star Smith flew out to Eugene, Ore., and reportedly loved his stay in Nike territory. Smith spoke highly of the Oregon coaches, facilities and the various players he interacted with.
But, as I wrote last week, Smith won’t be a Duck -- barring a 180. Oregon is probably behind Maryland, Auburn, LSU and Clemson on the favorites list, mostly because Smith doesn’t seem like he wants to play far from his Baltimore, Md., home.
Next up, Smith will head to AU Nov. 13, College Park Dec. 4 and Death Valley Dec. 11, while he’ll probably trek to Louisiana at some point.
The Terps -- as long as Smith’s confidant Cory Robinson and UMD recruiter Mike Locksley are in place -- continue to be in position to land the four-star end.
A January enrollee, look for Smith to commit sometime in December, soon after he returns from Clemson.
Dylan Rivers, LB, Sherando (Stephens City, Va.) (2017): We’ve chimed in about Rivers, the junior Terps’ offeree, a few times now, noting his presence in College Park and affinity for the school. Scout’s Michael Clark caught up with Rivers again this week, and the Virginia product said Maryland was one of five schools standing out for him. He praised the campus first and foremost, while we know he has a solid rapport with UMD-area recruiter Keenan McCardell.
At the same time, Rivers is going to be a tough pull given his growing offer list and some of the comments he’s offered up about other locales. Rivers recently took in PSU and couldn’t say enough about the atmosphere and coaching staff in State College, Pa. Clemson, another school he’s trekking to, has his firm attention too.
Rivers also has Pitt and Va Tech among his initial standouts, with the Hokies holding appeal since they’re in-state and are a program Rivers has grown up watching.
Rivers will not be in College Park for the Oct. 3 Michigan game, but perhaps he’ll trek back up in the future. If he visits sometime before the season’s over, and then again for a junior day, it’ll be worth paying closer attention to his recruitment.
BJ Daniels, RB, Melbourne (Fla.) (2017): I touched based with Daniels earlier this week to confirm whether or not he still intended to attend the Maryland-Michigan game Oct. 3. Daniels said he would not be able to journey north from Florida, but instead will head to College Park for the first time in December, after his junior season. Daniels initmated that he remains highly interested in Maryland, calling the Terps his No. 1 at this point.
Daniels only has one other offer from FAU, but he has a rapport with UMD running backs coach Terry Richardson and likes what he's heard about the school. The academics, the fact it's a Big Ten program and the Terps' Under Armour connection all have Daniels' attention. We'll see if those sentiments holds true if Daniels begins to add more offers, but it certainly sounds like Maryland is in position here.
Lorenzo Harrison, RB, DeMatha: I wrote about Harrison in last week’s Shell after Scout’s Brian Dohn interviewed him, but earlier this week Dohn gave his two-cents on the Terps’ running back pledge’s game. Dohn basically concurred with our sentiments that Harrison’s vision, acceleration and ability to shoot through small gaps make him an intriguing cut-back runner behind a zone scheme.
But Dohn also really liked Harrison on defense (namely, his aggressiveness in coverage), going as far as to suggest he might be a better nickel back or safety than a running back. Harrison will enter Maryland on offense, but perhaps a position switch could be considered in the future.
Again, just some food for thought.
New Offer Out
Marcus Minor, OG, DeMatha (2017): We had a feeling this one would materialize eventually. The Terps had been in touch with the emerging Stags' guard, who had been steadily adding scholarships this fall. The hometown school finally anted up Oct. 1, joining Wake Forest, UVA, WVU, ECU and Va Tech.
Minor didn't want to delve too deeply into his latest offer since he's mainly focused on his junior season, but it's safe to say Maryland is positioned to eventually pull the local guard in (he previously said UMD would vault to the top of his leaderboard if it offered). The DeMatha lineman wants to major in journalism and has already explored UMD's renowned Philip Merrill School of Journalism in depth. Moreover, he has a rapport with Terps' area recruiter Mike Locksley, is high on the hometown movement and is keen on playing in front of family and friends. On top of that, he has three current teammates already committed to Maryland, Minor perhaps eager to join them in a year.
Now, Minor did note how he wants to "go through the process" and explore all his options, so his recruitment very well could ebb and flow a la teammate Terrance Davis' (another prime UMD target in the 2016 class). But Minor doesn't seem as starry-eyed as the four-star Davis; we're inclined to believe he's more apt to check out a few schools this offseason and then maybe pop next summer. At this point, we like the Terps' chances.
You can read more about Minor HERE.