Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Locksley Locking It Down
Although interim headman Mike Locksley has been at Maryland the last five years, he had to adhere to former head coach Randy Edsall’s policies, namely on the recruiting trail. Aside from a few “reaches,” the Terps were looking for a certain type of prospect, who fit the mold of a true student-athlete -- sometimes compromising the “athlete” part in favor of high-character individuals.
Which, truly, is the way it should work in College Football Utopia. Problem is, this is far from Plato’s Republic or Augustine’s The City of God. College football, especially at the FBS level, is a major business where winning football games is paramount. Yes, shaping young men and preparing them for life after college is important, but eventually you have to procure and develop enough talented athletes to compete against the crème de crème.
Enter Locksley as interim head coach. Now that he has no one to answer to other than the Maryland administration, expect his DMV recruiting efforts to expand exponentially. Recruits from Prince George’s County (read: Wise, Riverdale Baptist), Southern Maryland (read: Lackey, McDonough), Baltimore County (read: Franklin), D.C. (read: public schools) and other local locales the Terps wouldn’t touch before could now enter the fold.
Plus you can expect the UMD staff to move quicker on offering in-state recruits, even if it’s just “placeholder” verbals or the coaches don’t seriously intend to pursue said prospects. (Remember, Edsall did not like to extend scholarships that weren’t committable). This should help placate high school coaches who begrudged the Terps for not going after their kids (read: Damascus, Calvert Hall, Riverdale, Wise, Franklin). Moreover, junior-college recruits originally from the D.C. corridor will also be given a longer look, as Locksley is more apt to deal with the “issues” surrounding some of them.
Will the new-look style pay dividends? Well, during the Ralph Friedgen era the Terps brought in several touted talents with questionable academic backgrounds who eventually petered out. There is always going to be a risk with such prospects, particularly at an educationally-rigorous institution like Maryland.
But the hope is Locksley and the Maryland staff will be able to provide incoming recruits with enough support and structure that they’ll stay on track. If so, the Terps may finally begin building enough quality depth to hang with the Big Ten’s upper-tier.
Already, the names are flying around, from high schoolers clamoring for a hometown look to JUCO boomerangs who now want in. Granted, the situation could change depending on who Maryland’s administration tabs as its next head coach -- and if Locksley is retained -- but for now there’s a palpable buzz throughout the DMV.
We discuss the initial wave of post-Edsall reactions below:
The Running Back Situation
The Terps have had a running back pledge in LoLo Harrison (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) since July 2014, but the staff has been searching for two (you read that right, T-W-O) complementary class of 2016 runners since then. A few names have surfaced and fallen by the wayside, but one prospect could finally be ready to pop.
Damascus (Md.) running back Jake Funk, who the staff offered Oct. 13, is about as high on the hometown school as you can get without committing.
“When Maryland offered I was really, really excited about it,” said Funk, who also holds offers from Navy, Army, Yale, Ohio, ODU, UPenn, Bucknell and Air Force. “I called Coach [Chad] Wilt during school, and he gave me the good news. I was absolutely thrilled. It’s nothing like playing for your hometown school.
“Maryland definitely stands out among the offers I have. They’re definitely up top. I don’t have a timetable for my decision, but it could be soon. We’ll see. I’m going to talk it all over with my family.”
The 5-11, 195-pound bulldozer is visiting College Park, Md., for the first time since his sophomore year Oct. 25. Funk hinted, strongly, he could give Locksley his word while on campus.
Others in contention include several Ivy schools, along with Navy. Funk's linebacker offer from Wisconsin, however, is no longer committable after the Badgers filled up their spots. Which makes the Terps his most attractive option to date.
Funk has long sought a hometown offer, and the consensus is he’ll jump on it -- sooner rather than later.
“It’s the hometown school, it’s in the Big Ten and it’s a chance for my family to see me play. There’s the whole hometown movement thing going on, which is pretty cool,” Funk said. “I’d say Maryland is in a good position right now.”
You can read more about Funk HERE.
In addition to Funk, primetime running back Abdul Adams (Hillside/Durham, N.C.) is still on the board and is reportedly scheduling an official visit to College Park.
Adams was already considering flipping to his hometown school, but with Locksley in charge he’s giving even more thought to the possibility.
The borderline four-star back has long held a rapport with UMD’s interim, plus he’s all about DMV-to-UMD. On top of that, Adams, who was “forced” to transfer to Hillside before the season, is homesick and would like to play his college ball in front of family and friends.
That said, there’s a couple reasons we’re no longer projecting Adams to be a Terp (at least, not in the 2016 class). Firstly, he has been committed to Michigan State since April and took his official visit to East Lansing, Mich., Sept. 11, presumably firming up his pledge. Since then, the 6-0, 185-pounder has publically stood staunchly by the Spartans, despite rumors to the contrary.
Lending credence to Adams’ words was his former coach at Woodson (Washington, D.C.), who I spoke to for a solid half-hour before the Warriors’ game Oct. 9. The coach originally predicted a Maryland flip, but backed off those comments, now calling the Terps’ chances “slight” or “average.” He noted how “the Michigan State coaches are on Abdul every day” and that “Abdul really likes it up there [at MSU].”
Although the coach acknowledged Locksley has continued to pursue Adams, Maryland’s interim might not be able to take him anyway -- regardless of whether or not the Hillside back wants in. After digging around, it appears Adams’ academics might preclude him from enrolling at a four-year university (including MSU). Unless his SATs/GPA takes a jump, Adams might be bound for prep school or junior college.
With the latter news in hand, we’ll list Adams as “cool” on the hot board, but he could be removed at any time. Perhaps we'll be able to include Adams on the 2017 hot board if he does indeed go the prep route.
Even though the Terps’ staff would like to add two more running backs, we don’t envision them tracking wayward back Robert Washington (East Gaston/Mount Holly, N.C.). The four-star runner held a Maryland offer at one time, and was thought to be seriously considering the Terps before popping to Syracuse in April. But earlier this fall a number of issues cropped up (see: family problems, conflicts with college coaches, conflicts with high schools) that not only led to Washington’s Orange decommitment, but precluded other suitors, including Maryland, from reengaging him. Thus, Washington may end up going to JUCO. He has been removed from the hot board altogether.
So, given the above, we’re led to believe the Terps will take Jake Funk and continue searching for a third back. No other names have surfaced heading into late October.
The Cornerback Situation
The Terps have three cornerbacks in tow in Parnell Motley (Woodson/Washington, D.C.), Tyrone Hill (Don Bosco/Ramsey, N.J.) and Travon Stott (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.). The coaches have been trying to add a fourth to round out the 2016 class, with several recruits popping up and falling off for the last couple months. But the situation, and the staff’s direction, seems to be more defined as October moves along.
First, cross off Trevon Diggs as a possible cornerback candidate. The Avalon (Gaithersburg, Md.) four-star and UMD legacy is back in Maryland’s graces, but as a receiver rather than as a defensive back.
With that in mind, the three primary targets are Khalil Ladler (IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.), Aaron Mathews (Clairton, Pa.) and junior college corner D’Andre Payne (Arizona Western/Yuma, Ariz.).
Ladler, who we’ve discussed the last couple Shells, committed to Virginia Tech following an official to Blacksburg, Va., Oct. 3. But we’re led to believe the Georgia native is open to taking more visits, with College Park atop his list.
UMD-area recruiter Mike Locksley hasn’t ceased chasing Ladler, contacting him several times in the wake of his Hokies pop. The Terps’ interim head coach has visited IMG Academy a couple times recently and returned again this week, basically convincing Ladler to follow through with the trek north (no date has been set yet).
If Ladler does agree (we think he will), the Maryland staff will have a real shot at flipping him.
Fact is, many of Ladler’s top contenders (Georgia, Miami, LSU, FSU) dropped off after he tore his ACL, leaving Va Tech and UMD as his two most ardent pursuers. So this could very well be a Terps-Hokies battle, with Locksley perhaps getting final dibs later this winter. Stay tuned.
Whether or not a Ladler pop comes to fruition, we don’t believe it will adversely affect D’Andre Payne’s position. The D.C. resident was supposed to be at Maryland anyway, transferring from Tennessee to UMD last spring. But a conflict of interest with former head coach Randy Edsall led to Payne’s departure before the summer even began.
The former four-star corner has been at Arizona Western since then, biding his time in hopes of eventually returning home. Well, with Locksley -- who recruited Payne in the first place -- now in place, it sounds like the ex-Woodson star could be welcomed back to College Park. We’ll see if all the logistics work out, but there seems to be mutual interest between the two parties reuniting.
Finally, there’s the Pittsburgh product Aaron Mathews, who we’re close to writing off. The four-star corner/receiver has been tabbed for his hometown school, Pitt, ever since he added a Panthers’ offer last year. For whatever reason, he hasn’t popped yet, but all our sources indicate it’s only a matter of time.
Mathews has stated he’d like to officially visit Maryland, placing the Terps among his main two contenders thanks to UMD-area recruiter Greg Studrawa’s overtures. But we’ve been told time and again, “Clairton kids go to Pitt,” so that’s what we’re going with unless we hear otherwise.
Note: We also checked in on DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) cornerback Robbie Robinson, who held a Maryland offer at one time. But Robinson said he hasn’t heard from the Terps’ staff since his commitment to Arizona State back in the summer. The thinking is Robinson, who is barely 5-8, might be too small for UMD’s liking (even with Mike Locksley now in charge) and the staff prefers someone with more length like Ladler.
The Defensive Line Situation
The Terps need at least one more defensive lineman, and probably two, to go along with springtime pledge Joey Fisher (Clear Spring, Md.). By now, though, frequent Shell readers know who the UMD coaches covet.
Baltimore native Rahshaun Smith (IMG Academy) has been forecast to Maryland for months now, regardless of who’s coaching the team. And so long as Mike Locksley and Director of Player Personnel Cory Robinson are on staff, that remains true.
Smith, who Locksley visited earlier this week, should be popping to the Terps in mid-December, if not sooner.
The four-star has taken one official to Oregon (Sept. 25), and next up are trips to LSU (Oct. 17), Auburn (Nov. 13), UMD (Dec. 4) and Clemson (Dec. 11). Even if he doesn’t say so publically, we expect Smith to give the Terps’ staff a verbal either during his Maryland official, or maybe before then. Evidently Smith is even more hyped about his hometown school with Locksley at the helm, Robinson in his ear, and DMV-to-UMD continuing to move along.
While Smith has been trending towards Maryland for some time now, two other locals could very well give the Terps a closer look too. During the bye week, both Locksley and defensive line coach Chad Wilt reached out to St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) defensive end Terrell Hall and Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) defensive tackle Ellison Jordan, arguably the top two overall recruits in Maryland-D.C.
Hall, for his part, has been favoring Alabama first and foremost, with Florida (he officially visited there in September); FSU; Ole Miss; TAMU; and Tennessee vying for position. Maryland was on the four-star’s radar, but probably no higher than fifth or sixth in the pecking order.
But now we think UMD could be moving up the leaderboard. We’re not sure the Terps can jump the Tide and a couple of Hall’s main SEC contenders, but it’s worth monitoring his status moving into the winter months. Hall isn’t set to commit until January, so there’s time for Locksley and Co. to work their magic.
As for Jordan, the Gilman product has been 100-percent committed to Penn State since June, with little outward indication of wavering. But we do know from talking to other recruits and various coaches Jordan is keeping the hometown school in mind.
The Terps finished a close second for his services back in the summer, and since then Maryland has secured a good friend and former teammate (Melvin Keihn); added a noted local trainer who has known Jordan for years (Cory Robinson); and seen Locksley take over as interim head coach. Not to mention Jordan’s always been intrigued by DMV-to-UMD, and the more steam it gains (Rahshaun Smith? Trevon Diggs? Terrance Davis?), the more likely the Gilman prospect is to contemplate flipping.
Jordan, per instructions from his head coach, has gone mum since the season began, but look for him to open up around December. We could easily see him scheduling a College Park official for Dec. 4 with Shaq Smith and Co.
Besides the aforementioned trio, other recruits recently broached as possible D-line candidates include ex-UMD pledge Jeff Pooler (Dunbar/Dayton, Ohio) and Oct. 3 visitor Jamari Logan (Booker T. Washington/Norfolk, Va.). Neither, however, are currently on the radar, nor are they listed on the hot board.
Logan was supposed to hear back from the UMD staff last week in regards to a possible offer, but, as we predicted, he hasn’t been contacted. There’s a reason Logan’s only verbals are from the “mid-major” level; he may not have the athleticism, motor or build (he’s 340 pounds) Big Ten programs are looking for.
Even so, Logan has been actively pining for a Terps’ scholarship, going so far as to suggest he’d commit on the spot. But unless the Maryland coaches strike out on their other options, we don’t see an offer materializing.
With Pooler, he told our Ohio analyst, Dave Berk, he was keeping Maryland in play, despite reopening his recruitment two weeks ago. That’s all well and good, but we’re told the Terps have moved on from the mercurial recruit. Not surprising considering Pooler has decommitted from two schools (he originally committed to Toledo), misled the UMD staff, lied to reporters and deceived other Terps’ recruits. The Ohio product has all kinds of red flags surrounding him, and, in reality, he’s probably not good enough for many programs -- including Maryland’s -- to deal with all the rigmarole.
More than likely Pooler’s going to wind up at West Virginia (Dec. 11 official), or maybe Louisville or Purdue. We don’t expect him to follow through with an intended Dec. 4 official to College Park.
Note: We’ve been hearing more and more that castoff defensive tackle Adam McLean should be reenrolling at Maryland this spring. Word is his academic issues are being ironed out, and he’s eager to return to the team. McLean, who would still be considered a freshman, should immediately boost the Terps’ defensive line.
The Offensive Line Situation
Depending on what happens with current UMD pledge Terek Zingale (Nordonia/Macedonia, Ohio), who has gone silent since rumors surfaced about Randy Edsall’s job status, the Terps will attempt to add two or three more offensive linemen to their 2016 class. Leading the pack are two-star tackle Grayson Stover (Hudson, Fla.) and four-star guard Terrance Davis (DeMatha), a pair of recruits we’ve written about numerous times.
Neither the 6-6, 290-pound Stover nor the 6-2, 311-pound Davis had much new to say this week, but both did chime in regarding Edsall’s exit. Of the two, we were most concerned about Stover, but the Florida tackle promptly texted: “I was a fan of Coach Edsall, he wasn’t winning games and I understand changes had to be made. I still love Maryland and will be [officially] visiting [Nov. 7].”
Given that, we’re inclined to keep Stover “hot” on the hot board, although we’re slightly less confident about projecting him to College Park. We’re hearing Vandy could be resonating, even though Stover has been calling Maryland his leader dating back to July, when he decommitted from UVA. Furthermore, he’s officially visiting Indiana Oct. 17, suggesting he’ll be giving the Hoosiers more thought as well. (For our part, we don’t see IU jumping Maryland or Vandy).
Even so, the Hudson recruit has had consistent contact with UMD-area recruiter and new interim head coach Mike Locksley, who continues to press for a pop (Locksley was at his game Oct. 16). It’s still conceivable Stover, who has Maryland in contention due to its academic reputation and Big Ten affiliation, could commit during his official for the Terps-Wisconsin game, although it’s more likely he’ll wait until the winter to see exactly who UMD hires as its next head coach. Whenever there’s a decision delay, we naturally grow skeptical. Stover might opt for the stable staff and the bird in hand (Vandy) rather than linger around to see what transpires in College Park. (Besides the Terps, Commodores and Hoosiers, Illinois is also somewhat in the game. Stover’s pondering a trek through Champaign, Ill., but the Illini are not thought to be serious threats at this time.)
The DeMatha guard Davis, meanwhile, is keeping Maryland near the forefront of his mind, despite the Edsall news. Which, really, was what we expected. Although Davis had a solid relationship with UMD’s former head coach, it was Locksley who established inroads and had the four-star’s ear.
Davis hasn’t set up a College Park official visit yet, but we think he’ll eventually do so, with Dec. 4 as a potential target date. As aforementioned, that’s when many of the other 2016 UMD commits will be on campus, so it would once again expose Davis to the hometown movement’s full effects.
Of course, the Terps will have to overcome stated leader Michigan (Nov. 27 official) and head coach John Harbaugh’s stranglehold on Davis and his family. Plus Georgia (Dec. 11 official) and Alabama (Jan. 8 official) are firmly on the brain too, for now running second and third in the pecking order, while UCLA (Jan. 15 official) is also involved.
Davis probably won’t select his college destination until right around Signing Day, so let’s see if the Terps can make up ground between now and then. A home-run coaching hire, coupled with Locksley’s presence on staff, can only help their chances.
The third name to know should be familiar to Maryland recruitniks. Former McDonough (Pomfret, Md.) Under Armour All-American tackle Na’Ty Rodgers, who signed with South Carolina out of high school, is at Iowa Western (Council Bluffs, Ia.) following a failed one-year stint in Columbia, S.C. Rodgers, who is part of the 2016 class, didn’t mesh with the Gamecocks’ staff and had some off-the-field issues that marred his brief USC stint. Thus, he opted for JUCO in hopes of rebooting his career.
Since arriving in Council Bluffs, Rodgers has procured offers from several intriguing suitors: Ole Miss, WVU, Missouri, Louisville, Arizona State and Houston, the latter securing a commitment Sept. 22. The Terps, despite needing linemen and finishing second for Rodgers’ services a couple years ago, opted not to offer, however.
But now that Locksley’s running the ship, it sounds like the Terps may explore bringing Rodgers home. Locksley recruited Rodgers when he was at McDonough, so the head coach knows the tackle and his family well. If Rodgers’ transcripts check out, and UMD needs another lineman (conceivable if Terrance Davis heads elsewhere and Terek Zingale decommits), he may boomerang back.
We’ll be monitoring the situation to see if it picks up steam. For the time being, we’re listing Rodgers as “cool” on the hot board.
The Receiver Situation
Right now, Maryland has three receiver commits in Tino Ellis (DeMatha), D.J. Turner (DeMatha) and Evan Fairs (Foster/Richmond, Texas), and the staff is looking to add maybe one more to its 2016 crop.
That number could change, however, depending on Fairs’ status. UMD- area recruiter Keenan McCardell, who was the main driving force behind Fairs’ Maryland commitment, journeyed down to Texas earlier this week, making sure the receiver remained in the Terps’ grasp following Randy Edsall’s firing. But while Fairs has stated time and again he’ll be signing with Maryland, we wonder if he’ll change his tune if McCardell himself isn’t in College Park.
McCardell interviewed at other schools last offseason and may do so again this time around. There’s also the (distinct?) possibility the former NFL All-Pro isn’t retained when Maryland announces its new head coach.
If either scenario plays out, the likelihood of Fairs remaining committed greatly decreases. The rangy wideout will probably begin exploring nearby suitors such as Houston, Sam Houston or other programs bound to offer if Fairs hits the open market.I'mWhich means the Terps’ staff would then have to add maybe two more receivers. The good news for UMD aficionados is at least one wideout is trending in Maryland’s direction once again.
Such are the ebbs and flows of recruiting that Trevon Diggs is back in play. Thought to be on life support (for UMD purposes) just last week, Diggs has been placated by new Terps’ interim head coach Mike Locksley.
Recall, the four-star Diggs had backed away from the hometown movement and his older brother’s alma mater for a couple reasons. Mainly, he wanted to be recruited as a receiver rather than former head coach Randy Edsall’s insistence on cornerback. Whether Diggs ends up playing wideout or not (for our part, we project him as a defensive back), several of his more prominent suitors -- Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida -- promised him a shot on offense. Thus, Diggs began talking up the Tide and other SEC schools, placing UMD on the backburner.
Secondly, there were Diggs family rumblings about Edsall in general, some stemming from Stefon Diggs’ injury-riddled tenure at Maryland. Word is the family didn’t want to send another Diggs the Terps’ way so long as Edsall was headman.
But with Edsall released and Diggs’ primary UMD recruiter, Locksley, in charge, the Terps have more than a puncher’s chance at landing the Avalon recruit (Locksley visited Diggs at Avalon earlier this week). They still have to deal with the likes of Alabama and LSU, which is never easy sledding, but Maryland is back in the game in a major way.
Diggs and his family should be visiting College Park unofficially very soon, before finalizing an official for later this fall. He might even commit before said official, maybe by late October/early November. Diggs has been moved to "hot" on the hot board for a reason.
The Avalon product might still take in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Baton Rouge, La., Knoxville, Tenn., and Gainesville, Fla., but UMD is resonating, for sure.
A second new wideout just entered onto the radar earlier this week. When Mike Locksley made his way down to Florida, he stopped by Tampa Catholic (Tampa, Fla.) and offered elite receiver Nate Craig-Myers. The 6-2, 205-pound five-star held about 50 offers prior to UMD jumping in the game Oct. 14, so the Terps are probably a little late to the game. In-state Florida State and Florida have been all over this guy, while Ohio State and North Carolina (Sept. 18 official visit) are in the game too.
But Locksley has deep ties in the Sunshine State and may have a connection to Craig-Myers’ coaches or family. We’re not about to project the Tampa Catholic product to wind up a Terp (he’s not going on the hot board, either), but we’ll keep the name in mind just in case.
Another receiver on the Terps’ board is four-star Adewale Omotosho (Plano East/Plano, Texas), who told Scout.com last month he wanted to officially visit College Park. While in Texas this week, McCardell stopped by Plano East, presumably to ensure such a trip would indeed take place.
Omotosho rarely responds to media inquiries, so it’s unclear what actually transpired between the receiver and Maryland’s Lone Star State recruiter. But, again, it may not matter anyway if McCardell bolts (or isn’t retained). Omotosho’s only knowledge of Maryland comes courtesy of UMD’s receivers’ coach, so if McCardell’s not in College Park, the wideout won’t be either.
Not that we’re projecting Omotosho to wind up at Maryland anyway. He has more than a few options at his disposal and is focused on the likes of TCU (officially visiting), Oklahoma, Texas Tech, SMU, Nebraska and UCLA, among others.
Also keep your eye on DeMatha wideout Kellon Taylor, who has been discussed often enough on Terrapin Times. The 6-5 under-the-radar star holds offers from Temple, Appalachian State and others of that ilk, but lacks power-five scholarships. That could change based off the senior campaign he's putting together, however.
We know Maryland and recruiter Mike Locksley are keeping tabs on Taylor's progress, although the jury's out on how hard the staff will push. If Fairs opens his recruitment, though, a hometown offer very well could come to fruition.
KeAndre Jones, LB, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.): The longtime Maryland commit generated some headlines this week when Good Counsel coaches let loose the four-star was considering taking visits to Florida, Clemson and USC. Granted, the coaches also said these were “fun” trips and Jones remained “100 percent Maryland,” but we’ll see what transpires. I’m always skeptical when committed recruits begin venturing out -- especially when they take officials. Jones may be all-Maryland for now, but what happens when head coach Jim McElwain gets in his ear down in Gainesville, Fla., or Dabo Swinney works his magic at Clemson?
However, we’re not ready to kiss Jones goodbye by any means -- not with recruiter Mike Locksley and other DMV-to-UMD recruits constantly on him. Sure, it’s a volatile enough situation worth paying close attention to, but we’re thinking this could mirror the Yannick Ngakoue recruitment from a few years ago (he took a couple officials, many thought he was South Carolina bound, but he never wavered on Maryland).
For the Terps’ sake, they have to hope Locksley’s entrenched and Jones follows through with a final Dec. 4 College Park official, giving the new staff an opportunity to solidify the linebacker’s pledge.
Keith Simms, LB, Landon (Bethesda, Md.): Simms finally embarked on his much-anticipated Oregon official visit Oct. 10, flying cross-county for a look-see at one of his principal contenders. Simms might eventually deem Eugene, Ore., too far from home, but he certainly made the most of his two-day stay.
Although Oregon lost to Washington State, Simms had effusive praise for the atmosphere inside Autzen Stadium, noting the Ducks’ electric fanbase. He also had plenty of positive comments for head coach Mark Helfrich and Co., the various Oregon players he met, and the overall environment in and around campus. Simms talked up Nike, the glitzy facilities, and even Oregon’s academics/academic buildings.
Was the official enough to vault Oregon to the top of his favorites list? Per the Landon backer, not quite, but Simms is now more open in his recruitment than he has been in months -- and it’s not just because the Ducks wowed him.
At one point (read: less than two weeks ago), the Terps were rooted in at No. 1. It was, in fact, only a matter of time before he popped to the hometown school.
But then Randy Edsall was fired.
Although Simms texted in the move didn’t necessarily change his stance on Maryland, evidently the Edsall news did give him at least some pause.
Now, Simms will give Duke a longer look just to be sure of his intentions. The Blue Devils have been among Simms’ foremost three contenders, but trailed Oregon and Maryland by a fair margin prior to Edsall’s departure. (Simms admitted last month he was practically down to the Oregon and UMD). If he does indeed trek through Durham, N.C., Duke might supplant both the Ducks and Terps.
UNC and Virginia Tech may also work into the game, with Simms pondering official visits through Chapel Hill, N.C., and Blacksburg as well.
But it’s not all doom and gloom yet, Terps’ fans. Simms continues to have a strong relationship with UMD-area recruiter Chad Wilt, while interim head coach Mike Locksley and defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski have touched base frequently too. The local linebacker is also connected to the hometown movement and its respective recruits, quarterback pledge Dwayne Haskins continuing to reach out. Moreover, Maryland’s standout business school, its location near his family, and the staff’s consistent overtures the last two-plus years are all resonating.
Simms is on track to officially visit College Park, although he may push back the original Dec. 4 date. He wants to see who the Terps’ new head coach is before setting the trip in stone.
For the time being, the Landon backer has been dropped from “hot” to “warm” on the hot board. But he could very well be elevated once the new Maryland staff reinitiates contact and appeases his various concerns.
Class Of 2017 Recruiting Notes
Jordan Williams, DE, Cox (Virginia Beach, Va.) (2017): Last week, we let Shell readers know Williams had the Terps sitting pretty following his second trip to College Park Oct. 3. Despite Maryland’s loss to Michigan, Williams couldn’t say enough about UMD-area recruiter Chad Wilt; the facilities/upgrades; and the school’s academics. Moreover, he appreciated how Maryland was the first to offer back at the June 27 Big Show, Williams acknowledging how much he enjoyed working with the staff.
But, as we know in recruiting, circumstances change as profiles grow and prospects are exposed to other programs. Williams will undoubtedly keep the Terps in play, but now they have the Nittany Lions to deal with. The Virginia Beach product trekked up to State College, Pa., Oct. 10 and left with a PSU offer in tow. Needless to say, Williams was absolutely thrilled, hinting Penn State practically led for his services. He lauded the electric atmosphere inside Beaver Stadium, the campus/Happy Valley area, and the PSU coaches.
The Nittany Lions won’t be the only offer Williams procures this fall, either. UVA offered Oct. 15, and Michigan State; Va Tech; Purdue; and others throughout the Big Ten and ACC are in touch, with the Cox recruit set to visit several of them later this year.
We’ll see if Wilt can work the Terps back atop Williams’ favorites list, maybe convincing the 757 prospect to check out College Park once again for a junior day.
Cameron Sullivan-Brown, WR, Pallotti (Laurel, Md.) (2017): In the staff’s travels during the bye week, Mike Locksley stopped by Pallotti to see this emerging receiver. Sullivan-Brown, who we’ve written about before, holds offers from Boston College, UVA, Temple, NC State, Ken State, Illinois, Kansas and others. Maryland hasn’t offered yet, but after Locksley trekked through, it could be materializing in short order.
If so, expect Sullivan-Brown to promptly place the Terps among his foremost contenders. He’s previously spoken highly of the Movement, the coaches and the atmosphere in College Park. Furthermore, Sullivan-Brown has attended two Terps’ games this year and will be back again for the Penn State bout Oct. 24, indicating his affinity for the school.
He’s only a junior and his profile will continue to grow, but the Terps seem to be positioned early. Sullivan-Brown is taking numerous visits this offseason, so his recruitment could ebb and flow, but he could be a summertime UMD popper provided Locksley keeps up the pursuit.
Cam Spence, Jordan Anthony & Josh Kaindoh, IMG Academy (2017): In addition to his local stops, Mike Locksley flew to Florida to see powerhouse IMG Academy and its multitude of Terps’ targets. We mentioned seniors Shaq Smith and Khalil Ladler above, but UMD’s interim head coach also touched base with underclassmen stars Cam Spence, Josh Kaindoh and Jordan Anthony.
The defensive end Spence, originally of Gilman, and the linebacker Anthony, originally of Good Counsel, both have Maryland under prime consideration given their longstanding relationship with Locksley at their former high schools; their rapport with DMV-recruits-turned-Terps; and their belief in the school’s overall direction. Spence and Anthony have been through College Park multiple times for games and junior days, and should be returning once again this winter.
There’s loads of options for both four-stars to mull over, but with Locksley in charge and Director of Player Personnel Cory Robinson (formerly a coach at IMG) present, the recruits’ chances of winding up at the hometown school increase exponentially. And if DMV-to-UMD keeps humming (read: Shaq Smith winds up in College Park), the odds improve even more.
Spence, in particular, has taken a liking to Maryland and may have the Terps among his top two initial suitors (Ohio State is also right up there). Anthony, meanwhile, has UMD in his foremost four, along with Clemson; Oklahoma; and Michigan.
Kaindoh, originally of Mt. Carmel (Essex, Md.), is the wildcard here. The five-star linebacker gave the Terps lip service in the past, but it was obvious he had Penn State well out in front of his other suitors. But per the Mt. Carmel coaches, who remain in regular contact with Kaindoh, he’s warming up to Maryland. While he had a budding rapport with UMD-area recruiter Keith Dudzinski at the Essex school, he’s immediately connected with Locksley at IMG.
It’s hard to say if Maryland can jump PSU at this point, but if Locksley and presumed future Terp Shaq Smith stay on him, maybe they can turn the tide.
Reports From Woodson, Cedar Cliff
TT was able to scout a pair of high school games Oct. 9, the Woodson-Coolidge (D.C.) bout and the Cedar Cliff (Camp Hill, Pa.)-Mechanicsburg (Pa.) affair. I went to Woodson to see Maryland cornerback pledge Parnell Motley, while Mark Clem headed up to Pennsylvania to watch Terps’ safety commit Mike Viti.
Before delving into their respective evaluations, realize both recruits reiterated their intentions to sign with Maryland in February. Motley told me he was “100 percent” on board with UMD as long as area recruiter Mike Locksley remained. In fact, the Woodson product said he and the other 2016 Terps’ commits held a massive group chat, each stating their intentions to stick with Maryland in the wake of Randy Edsall’s departure.
Viti, meanwhile, told Clem much the same in a postgame interview. The Cedar Cliff safety doesn’t exactly have many options outside of Maryland, but it was still refreshing for UMD aficionados to hear him reaffirm his commitment.
Now, could Viti change his tune if Maryland-area recruiter John Dunn isn’t retained? It’s possible, but, again, it’s not like the Cedar Cliff recruit has a better opportunity than Maryland.
In terms of what the these two defensive backs bring to the table, both displayed solid if not spectacular skill-sets that could potentially aid the Terps down the road.
I actually did not see Motley play a full game Oct. 9 thanks to a lightning storm over D.C. But Woodson’s head coach made the trip worthwhile, showing me raw footage from all of the Warriors’ games this year. Thus, I was able to zero in on Motley for some 150-odd plays, giving me a clear gauge of his potential.
The consensus? Well, the 6-0, 175-pounder may not be an elite talent, but he looks to be a potential starter provided he irons out the fundamental kinks. Motley can operate ably in press and zone, showing deft feet; short-area quicks; and plenty of toughness -- at the line and in deep coverage. Motley’s active in the air, can get downhill and tackles well in the open field. Moreover, he has above-average football IQ, anticipation skills and field awareness.
But Motley doesn’t possess standout straight-line speed, which could preclude him from offering over-the-top help and tracking deep. Plus his backpedal can be mechanical and his transitions a tad deliberate, while he must develop a faster first step. Given that, Motley probably needs a redshirt year to become Big-Ten ready, but he does have upside.
You can read more about Motley HERE.
Best Case Scenario: After a season spent sharpening up and building his body, Motley works into the rotation as a special teams contributor/backup corner his sophomore year. Then he eventually ascends to a starting role his final two seasons and becomes a decent cover man. Motley’s not an all-conference performer, but he’s mostly dependable and won’t get taken to task.
Worst Case Scenario: Motley’s lack of straight-line speed is exposed against FBS competition, while he fails to improve his fundamental flaws. He sees some time as a nickel-corner, but never becomes a starter as receivers routinely beat him up top.
As for Viti, Clem noted the Cedar Cliff prospect’s loose hips; lateral quickness; sideline-to-sideline range; and penchant for delivering a hit. He also pointed out Viti’s awareness, anticipation, ability to undercut and change direction. Clem did say, however, that Viti lacked top-level speed and athleticism, which may limit his chances of having Big-Ten success.
Time will tell how much progress the Pennsylvania product makes between now and his arrival in College Park, but it will probably take him a season or two to see the field at Maryland.
You can read more about Viti HERE.
Best Case Scenario: Viti’s sound fundamentals, football IQ and quickness mask whatever he lacks in pure speed/athleticism. His ability to deliver a hit and range sideline-to-sideline make him a potent strong safety, who does his best work just outside the box. Viti takes a couple seasons to acclimate himself to Big Ten ball, but becomes a dependable starter during his upperclassmen years.
Worst Case Scenario: Viti can’t turn and run or offer over-the-top help, so he’s picked on in deep coverage. He isn’t able to transition on and off receivers, nor does he have the wheels to hang with elite wideouts in space. Viti’s able to contribute on special teams since he’s a hitter with good awareness, but he never rises above second-string on the depth chart.
The Class Of 2016 Pledges
We addressed this last week when it became evident Randy Edsall would be ousted following the Ohio State game, but, just to be sure, we checked in with the Terps’ current commits once again to gauge their statuses. Basically, the majority of the 2016 class is on-board with interim head coach Mike Locksley and the direction Maryland’s heading, while a few will take a wait-and-see approach to assess UMD’s new headman.
That said, there are a couple pledges who did not respond to inquiries and are giving us pause, however. And, inevitably, a couple others may renege if their respective recruiters aren’t retained.
Briefly, here’s what we’ve been able to glean:
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Bullis (Potomac, Md.): Reaffirmed commitment. Status tied to interim head coach Mike Locksley.
LoLo Harrison, RB, DeMatha: Reaffirmed commitment. Status tied to interim head coach Mike Locksley.
Tino Ellis, WR, DeMatha: Reaffirmed commitment. Status tied to interim head coach Mike Locksley.
D.J. Turner, WR, DeMatha: Reaffirmed commitment.
Evan Fairs, WR, Foster (Richmond, Texas): Reaffirmed commitment. Status tied to receivers’ coach Keenan McCardell.
Mike Clark, OT, Downingtown East (Exton, Pa.): Reaffirmed commitment. Should be fine unless he doesn’t mesh with new staff.
Terek Zingale, OT, Nordonia (Macedonia, Ohio): Did not respond to inquiries. Concerns he may look elsewhere. If UMD-area recruiter Greg Studrawa leaves too, Zingale almost assuredly will open up his recruitment.
Brian Plummer, OT, South Carroll (Sykesville, Md.): Reaffirmed commitment.
Alex Hall, OT, Louisville (Ohio): Reaffirmed commitment. Status could potentially be tied to that of UMD-area recruiter Greg Studrawa, but may still stick with his pledge anyway.
Joey Fisher, DL, Clear Spring (Md.): Reaffirmed commitment.
KeAndre Jones, LB, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.): Reaffirmed commitment through his coach, but we’re leery. See “Various Recruiting Notes” section above.
Mike Viti, S, Cedar Cliff (Camp Hill, Pa.): Reaffirmed commitment.
Silas Kelly, S, South Carroll: Reaffirmed commitment.
Devin Butler, S, Douglass (Upper Marlboro, Md.): Reaffirmed commitment. Status tied to interim head coach Mike Locksley.
Parnell Motley, CB, Woodson (Washington, D.C.): Reaffirmed commitment. Status tied to interim head coach Mike Locksley.
Tyrone Hill, CB, Don Bosco (Ramsey, N.J.): Reaffirmed commitment, but we’re watching him closely. Has given us some pause. Status may be tied to UMD-area recruiter Keith Dudzinski.
Travon Stott, CB, Good Counsel: Reaffirmed commitment.
New Offers Out
Jake Funk, RB, Damascus (Md.): See “The Running Back Situation” above.
Nate Craig-Myers, WR, Tampa Catholic: See “The Receiver Situation” above.
Cesar Ruiz, C, IMG Academy (2017): UMD’s Florida recruiter, Mike Locksley, forayed through IMG Academy Oct. 14 and offered a couple of the renowned high school’s up-and-comers, including Ruiz. The 6-4, 290-pounder held double-digit verbals before Maryland’s, but given UMD’s ties at IMG (Locksley and Cory Robinson, and potential Terps Shaq Smith, Cam Spence, etc.) perhaps they can gain ground with the nation’s No. 1 class of 2017 center.
At first blush, though, it seems Ruiz may be favoring his bigwig offers. Michigan, a school he’s trekked through, could be standing out. Ruiz has also taken to Penn State and UNC, two other program’s he’s seen firsthand. Alabama, Miami, Pitt, South Carolina, Auburn, Arizona State, Va Tech and Tennessee are also on him.
Note that Ruiz is originally from Camden, N.J., so it’s possible he’ll think about Rutgers and other northeast institutions too.
Emmanuel Greene, WR, IMG Academy (2017): The second IMG offer Locksley extended Oct. 14 went out to this 20-plus scholarship receiver. Greene would seem to be an even tougher “get” than Ruiz, with most of the SEC; Big Ten; and Big 12 elites involved. Indeed, Greene has forayed through, and spoken highly of, Georgia; Ohio State; Miami; Florida State; Michigan; Clemson; and Florida.
As with the other IMG targets, we’ll see if Locksley and Robinson can work on Greene and entice him (and Ruiz) to take a College Park visit. That’s the first step into convincing the budding receiver Maryland might be worth exploring further.
Jaevon McQuitty, WR, Battle (Columbia, Mo.) (2017): The Terps became the latest to offer this emerging Missouri receiver, UMD-area recruiter Darrell Perkins identifying the 6-2, 190-pounder and letting him know of said verbal. McQuitty now holds scholarships from UMD, Nebraska and Kansas, with numerous Big Ten and Big 12 schools about to ante up. Notre Dame has also expressed interest and could offer in time.
In that sense, the Terps did well to enter the fray early. Perhaps they can persuade McQuitty, who expressed initial interest in Maryland, to trek east for a College Park visit. Until he does so, however, we’re inclined to believe he’ll wind up in the Midwest or Big 12 country. McQuitty has visited Nebraska and had plenty of praise for the Huskers, while he’ll be foraying through various other nearby locales in the months ahead.