Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
The Abdul Adams Situation
Abdul Adams, RB, Hillside (Durham, N.C.): The former Woodson (Washington, D.C.) running back Adams figured to be fading from Maryland's grasp given his academic situation. In fact, our D.C. sources let us know he might have been headed to prep school for a year, precluding him from signing with the school he's currently committed to, Michigan State.
But after speaking with our contacts again this week, it sounds like Adams is back on track to qualify and should be eligible to sign in February. And that's not all. We were also told Adams, who was "forced" to transfer to Hillside, is homesick and seeking a return to D.C.
Adams remains an MSU pledge, but word on the street is he's trending back towards Maryland in a major way. He has been in contact with numerous DMV recruits currently committed to UMD, including Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.) and his former teammate, Parnell Motley. On top of that, the three-star back has continued to exchange messages with Terps' interim head coach Mike Locksley, who has never ceased recruiting Adams in earnest.
Adams does not have any visits scheduled, but indications are that won't preclude him from flipping. He could possibly renege on his Spartans' pledge and pop to the hometown school at any time. Stay tuned.
Note: It's important to note that Adams and four-star defensive end Terrell Hall (St. John's/Washington, D.C.) are good friends and communicate often. If Maryland is able to flip Adams, it will improve its chances of landing Hall as well.
The Keith Simms Situation
Keith Simms, LB, Landon (Bethesda, Md.): Scout.com’s Brian Dohn caught up with the newly-minted four-star linebacker Simms, who informed he would indeed be considering other suitors besides Maryland and Oregon. The Landon backer was on schedule to pop to the Terps soon after completing his Oct. 10 official visit to Eugene, Ore., but he opted against it in the wake of Randy Edsall’s firing.
Now, instead of ending his recruitment in mid- to late-October and embarking on just one more official, to College Park, Md., Dec. 4, Simms is considering trips to Duke; California; and Virginia Tech. Each of the latter three were primary contenders prior to Simms’ public declaration that Maryland, along with Oregon, led for his services.
Of that trio, the Blue Devils figure to pose the greatest threat to the Terps’ chances at landing the Bethesda native. Duke’s academics and budding football program hold prime appeal for Simms, as well as his family. Va Tech could potentially make some noise, although the Hokies are entering the game a little late. Either way, we don’t foresee the four-star playing his college ball far from home, precluding a Cal or Oregon pop.
Now, per Dohn, UMD might still be in the driver’s seat for Simms, which also corroborates with our feelings. While he did have a rapport with Edsall and appreciated the ex-coach's education-first message, Simms also readily connected with Terps’ area recruiter Chad Wilt; now-interim head coach Mike Locksley ; and several other DMV-to-UMD recruits, namely Dwayne Haskins. Plus the chance to play in front of family and friends, continue the hometown movement and attend a solid academic institution holds water with Simms too. So as long as Locksley and Wilt are in College Park, and commits like Haskins remain on board, we think Simms will come back around to UMD.
But right now he’s in a holding pattern, waiting to see the direction the Terps go with their new head coach. In the meantime, the deliberate recruit will check out a few other locales just to be sure he’s making the right decision.
Christian Colon, DT, Independence (Charlotte, N.C.): The four-star defensive tackle Colon decommitted from Penn State Oct. 22 and promptly told Scout’s Michael Clark he wanted to officially visit UMD, UCLA, Miami and Pitt. Colon said recruiters from those four schools remained in contact, and he was eager to venture out to each later this fall.
At the time, it sounded like a positive development for the Terps, who are in search of defensive linemen to shore up their soon-to-be-barren front. (Maryland is so much in need of trench help that interim head coach Mike Locksley even considered giving wayward two-star decommit Jeff Pooler another look.) But after digging further into Colon’s “situation,” it seems like Maryland might take a pass.
We verified that Colon was removed from his high school team late last week for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. Apparently his behavior gave Penn State’s James Franklin some pause as well, prompting the Nittany Lions’ head coach to move on from the touted tackle.
So while Colon may want to check out College Park, we doubt interest is mutual at this time. UMD-area recruiter Chad Wilt may maintain contact with Colon just in case the Terps can’t land their other top D-line targets, but we don’t envision the North Carolina product winding up at Maryland. Thus, Colon has been removed from the hot board altogether.
Colon could end up going to prep school for a year, or he might wind up at a defensive-line-needy university closer to home that’s willing to take a chance on him (Clemson? UNC? NC State?). We’re unsure how hard Pitt, UCLA or Miami are currently pursuing.
Jeff Pooler, DT, Dunbar (Dayton, Ohio) & Chinendu Odeogu, DT, Georgetown Prep (North Bethesda, Md.): Christian Colon wasn’t the only recent hot-board addition we scratched this week. Both the former Terps’ commit Jeff Pooler and the local tackle Odeogu came off too, as we’ve heard Maryland will not push for either interior lineman.
Pooler has expressed plenty of interest in re-upping with Maryland, namely because his two other main suitors, West Virginia and Louisville, aren’t ready to accept his commitment. While the Terps’ staff did listen to Pooler’s plea last week, they’ve pretty much moved on and won’t take the two-star tackle.
Pooler is insisting he’ll be visiting College Park, either officially or unofficially, but we doubt such a trip will actually come to fruition. At this rate, he might be lucky to find a home at any Division I school.
As for Odeogu, the Terps did seem to be kicking the tires on the Georgetown Prep prospect after UMD-area recruiter Chad Wilt stopped by his school during Maryland’s bye week. Odeogu even visited College Park for the Michigan game, indicating the DMV tackle was also intrigued by the hometown school.
But interim head coach Mike Locksley has yet to extend an offer, and, at this point, we don’t believe one will materialize. The staff seems focused on higher-rated, instant-impact recruits such as Ellison Jordan (Gilman/Baltimore, Md.), Rahshaun Smith (IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.) and Terrell Hall (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.) rather than developmental prospects such as Odeogu or Pooler.
Maybe Odeogu will get another look if Jordan sticks with Penn State and Hall heads to Alabama or another SEC suitor, but for now it’s safe to scratch him.
Terrance Davis, OG, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): Scout’s Brian Dohn caught up with the four-star DeMatha guard Davis this week after he announced he’d be changing his Alabama official date. Dohn explained how Davis’ shift from an early-January visit to Jan. 22 was significant for two reasons: 1) It gives the Tide last dibs and 2) It allows Davis time to assess the status of offensive line coach Mario Cristobal, his main point of contact at Bama.
Cristobal is apparently on the short list for the Miami head gig, so if he bolts Tuscaloosa, Ala., Davis may think twice about joining the Tide. That is, if Alabama still wants the guard by that point.
It’s also possible (quite conceivable, actually) the Tide fills up their offensive line spots before Davis’ intended visit, meaning his offer would no longer be committable (it’s already questionable whether head coach Nick Saban will accept his pledge right now).
On the other hand, if Saban does truly covet Davis (remember, former D.C.-area coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim is on the Tide’s staff and is undoubtedly urging Saban to take the DeMatha guard), Bama would have the chance to leave a final, lasting impression.
We’ll see how it plays out, but before he heads to Tuscaloosa, Davis has officials lined up for Michigan Nov. 27, Georgia Dec. 12 and UCLA Jan. 15. He’ll likely take an official to Maryland as well, perhaps Dec. 4 when many of the other Terps’ pledges will be on campus. Florida is also in contention for a trip, but the feeling is Davis will opt for College Park over Gainesville, Fla.
Regardless, the Wolverines remain the clear front-runner for Davis’ services, the DeMatha four-star reaffirming his status per Dohn. Davis and his family are all about UM headman Jim Harbaugh and his staff, making Michigan tough to top.
That said, Maryland is also resonating -- even moreso with Mike Locksley rising to interim head coach. Davis’ UMD-area recruiter Locksley has had a rapport with the guard since his youth-league days, the two forming a close bond. Not to mention Davis has had DMV-to-UMD shoved down his throat by teammates LoLo Harrison (Davis’ cousin), D.J. Turner and Tino Ellis for the better part of a year now. While Davis won’t say so publically, there is pressure on him to choose Maryland.
Davis’ recruitment will undoubtedly twist and turn leading up to Signing Day, but this could very well turn into a Wolverines-Terps battle. Stay tuned.
Richard Merritt, OG, Carroll (Washington, D.C.): After interviewing the local guard Merritt last week, I suggested the Terps remained in play for the four-star prospect. Then after digging even deeper this week, it seems there could potentially be a match here.
UMD’s interim headman and area recruiter Mike Locksley has ratcheted up the interest of late, the coach urging the D.C. native to visit College Park. That’s a fairly clear indication the Terps have Merritt high on their board and will continue pursuing in the months ahead. Granted, Merritt might not be No. 1 on said board, but if Locksley can’t pull in, say, Terrance Davis, the Carroll guard wouldn’t be an unsatisfactory option.
Not that Merritt would immediately drop his other suitors in favor of UMD should such a scenario occur. Despite seeing several of his more intriguing options fall by the wayside (Alabama, Michigan, etc.), Merritt is looking hard at UCLA; Va Tech; Arizona State; Florida; and FSU, with the former three the most viable contenders (we’re unsure the Seminoles or Gators would accept his pledge).
But if the hometown school comes calling earnest, Merritt will surely listen. He’s known Locksley since middle school and readily admitted he’s more apt to consider the interim’s overtures now that Randy Edsall’s no longer at the helm (Merritt and Edsall did not see eye to eye).
Merritt’s in the process of scheduling postseason officials, with trips to UCLA, Va Tech and ASU sure to occur. It’s conceivable he could check out Maryland as well, provided the Terps do need him (read: they've conceded Davis to Michigan).
Na’Ty Rodgers, OL, Iowa Western C.C. (Council Bluffs, Ia.): There were plenty of rumblings about a possible return home for the former McDonough (Pomfret, Md.) Under Armour All-American Rodgers, who went the JUCO route after a falling out at South Carolina. Rodgers was/is currently committed to Houston, but the sense was Maryland interim head coach Mike Locksley, who pursued heavily during the recruit’s high school days, had the talented tackle’s ear.
But this week our Iowa Western contacts informed us Rodgers wasn’t even suiting up for the Reivers. Moreover, we heard Rodgers may be dealing with some personal issues that might preclude him from signing with Houston or any other Division I program.
With that in mind, we do not expect Locksley and the Terps to continue recruiting Rodgers. He has been dropped from the hot board entirely.
Oct. 24-25 Visitors
Several “name” recruits made their way to Baltimore Oct. 24 for the Terps-Penn State showdown, and a day later a couple more trekked down to College Park for a closer look at Maryland. In addition to the various commits at M&T Bank Stadium, the likes of senior receiver Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Gaithersburg, Md.), junior tackle Jordan McNair (McDonogh/Owings Mills, Md.), junior safety Derrek Pitts (South Charleston/Charleston, W.Va.), junior receiver/safety Brayden Brown (Forth Hill/Cumberland, Md.), junior running back Devin Darrington (John Carroll/Bel Air, Md.), junior athlete Adrian Collins (O’Connell/Arlington, Va.) and junior tackle Daniel Horne (Hylton/Woodbridge, Va.) all saw UMD fall 31-30 Oct. 24. A day later, Pitts, junior cornerback Deon Jones (Carroll/Washington, D.C.) and UMD-pledge Jake Funk (Damascus, Md.) made their way to campus for a sitdown with the staff.
-- We detailed Diggs’ status last week, letting readers know he continued to trend towards Maryland, despite his comments to the contrary. Diggs didn’t respond to media inquiries following the PSU-UMD affair, but we’re told he spoke extensively to interim head coach Mike Locksley beforehand. The Avalon four-star has been in close contact with his recruiter the last few weeks, UMD’s offensive-coordinator-turned-headman assuring Diggs he’d have an opportunity to play receiver in College Park (as opposed to cornerback, the original position former head coach Randy Edsall recruited him for).
Fully placated and assured of UMD’s direction for now, Diggs is thought to be Maryland’s to lose -- so long as Locksley remains. Diggs will undoubtedly mull over his other options until Locksley is entrenched, however, so don’t expect any public “tells” in the meantime. Even if Diggs gives the Terps his word in the next couple weeks -- it’s possible, once he and his family visit College Park later this month -- his recruitment won’t truly end until right around Signing Day.
Diggs is taking an official visit to LSU Nov. 14, and thinking about trips to UCLA, Alabama, Clemson and WVU, in addition to UMD. We’ll see what’s on his mind as fall moves into winter.
-- Besides Diggs, we were most intrigued what the four-star safety Pitts had to say. The Maryland staff offered the Baltimore native (he lived in Owings Mills until he was seven years old) back in August, but the West Virginia product hadn’t had a chance to view a game or meet the coaches yet. Oct. 24-25 was his first opportunity to do so, and Pitts left with some positive comments.
At the game itself, Pitts praised the atmosphere inside M&T Bank; noted Maryland’s effort and energy despite the loss; and said he had a good time interacting with Terps’ pledges like Dwayne Haskins and KeAndre Jones. Pitts said Haskins, UMD’s pseudo recruiting coordinator, has been talking up Maryland via Twitter, hyping the program’s bright future.
The South Charleston prospect then spent the night in Baltimore before he and his mother headed to College Park the next day. Although he’d seen the school before, Pitts once again spoke highly of the campus itself; the new facility upgrades; and the coaches. He said he had productive conversations with interim head coach Mike Locksley, Director of Player Personnel Cory Robinson and the rest of the staff as well.
Robinson, Pitts’ former trainer with Next Level Nation, is the point-man in this recruitment. He is perhaps the main reason Pitts has UMD under prime consideration.
“[Robinson] being at Maryland definitely helps them,” Pitts said.
But Pitts isn’t going to choose the Terps just because of Robinson’s presence. He’s currently wide open in his recruitment, perusing all options. Hometown West Virginia is on him heavy, while Notre Dame (no offer yet); Va Tech; Oklahoma; Tennessee; Clemson; Auburn; Nebraska and Louisville are on the brain too.
The sense is Maryland has a chance given the Robinson connection, but Pitts is no lock to wind up in College Park. You can read more about what Pitts had to say HERE.
-- The next recruit who chimed in was someone we interviewed on camera a few weeks ago, right before Randy Edsall was let go. Offensive tackle Jordan McNair has been high on the hometown school for more than a year now, ever since he first started exchanging messages with UMD-area recruiter Keith Dudzinski.
He attended the season-opener against Richmond, and then made the 20-minute drive over to Baltimore for his second look at the Terps this season. McNair had an opportunity to speak with Dudzinski prior to the game, the McDonogh tackle saying it was “great to see Coach Dud again. He’s a great guy; I’ve known him forever.” The big tackle also said he believes Maryland is heading in the right direction, although McNair “really hopes” Mike Locksley remains on staff.
Penn State and Ohio State are the Terps’ main competition for now. McNair visited both State College, Pa., and Columbus, Ohio, and is smitten with both Big Ten standouts. His situration will become clearer this spring, after McNair attends junior days and takes a couple more trips.
-- The cornerback Deon Jones, meanwhile, was unable to be in M&T Bank Oct. 24 since he had a game of his own. But the D.C. native had been wanting to visit Maryland for awhile now, so he and his mother hit up College Park Oct. 25. Jones texted in he had a great time chatting with Mike Locksley and Co., his first opportunity to do so in person this year. (Jones was at Maryland’s season-opener, but he ended up leaving early and did not interact with the staff.) The Carroll prospect noted how he “loves” Locksley and believes the coach will “lock down” the DMV. He said the Terps, with the incoming 2016 recruits (he specifically mentioned Dwayne Haskins), are primed to rise up the Big Ten ranks.
But we’ll know in time if Jones’ words are genuine or mere lip service. While he always offers up plenty of pro-UMD comments, Jones is admittedly high on Clemson (his very first offer); Va Tech; and Florida State. Fact is, the four-star has 25-plus verbals to date, with more bound to trickle in.
It does seem like Locksley has Jones’ ear, but the corner won’t be an easy pull.
-- As for the rest of the underclassmen attendees, none of them hold Maryland offers, although we could see the Fort Hill athlete Brown eventually procuring one. The 6-2 Cumberland native looks the part of a potential Division-I safety or receiver, and he’s been in relatively regular contact with Terps’ area recruiter Chad Wilt.
If Brown continues to impress on Friday nights, and follows up with a standout summer camp, he could very well be another Ty Johnson-type. Like the former Fort Hill star, Brown is aching for a hometown look, so if the UMD staff chooses to pursue an on-the-spot pop later during the spring/summer is not out of the question.
As for Darrington, Collins and Horne, all three are probably “camp” guys. Each have some intriguing qualities, but aren’t surefire offerees at this time.
Note: I also touched base with Jake Funk following the Oct. 24 affair and his subsequent visit to College Park. Recall, Funk committed to Maryland before meeting Locksley and seeing the school in-depth, so I wanted to gauge his thoughts afterwards.
Funk, who I evaluated live Oct. 23, was effusive in his praise for Lockley; running backs coach Terry Richardson; the current Maryland players; the campus; and the facilities. He’s been fully ingratiated into the UMD program and has taken to calling the Terps “we,” despite only being committed for a couple weeks.
You can read the interview and my scouting report HERE.
Notes Part II: While most of the committed attendees Oct. 24 hailed from nearby locales, Louisville (Ohio) tackle Alex Hall also made the six-hour drive to Baltimore. With ex-headman Randy Edsall out, Hall wanted a chance to meet interim head coach Mike Locksley and talk about Maryland’s future. After the game, Hall texted in he remained “100 percent a Terp" and is looking forward to his College Park official in December. He is not considering reopening his recruitment.
More Recruiting Notes
Aaron Mathews, CB/WR, Clairton (Pa.): The 6-4 Mathews is still in play for the Terps, but they are on the outside looking in. Scout’s Brian Dohn contacted the Pennsylvania product earlier this week after Mathews landed an NC State offer, and now it sounds like the Wolfpack have become prime challengers for longtime favorite Pittsburgh. The Panthers could be slow-playing Mathews a bit, the main reason he hasn’t committed to them yet.
Thus, Mathews is considering three official visits this offseason, instead of two. The Clairton two-way star continues to want in at Pitt, so he’ll return to Pittsburgh this weekend and again during the offseason in the hope the staff will take him. If the coaches renege, however, Mathews should also be trekking down to College Park and Raleigh, N.C., giving the Terps and Wolfpack a look.
While Maryland -- which is recruiting Mathews as a cornerback -- is in play, the vibe is the Pittsburgh native isn’t as keen on the Terps as he’s letting on. That became more evident this week after Mathews hinted NC State may be running second for his services, even though UMD-area recruiter Greg Studrawa has been on the four-star for more than half-a-year.
Reading the tealeaves, Mathews seems to be searching for reasons not to attend college in College Park. Expect him to wind up at Pitt or perhaps another late emerger such as NC State.
Adewale Omotosho, WR, Plano East (Plano, Texas): Despite listing Maryland among his foremost suitors before the season, and then indicating he wanted to officially visit College Park, we never felt particularly confident Omotosho would actually trek east -- much less commit to the Terps. We’ve kept the four-star Texas receiver on the hot board just in case, but he could be removed at any time.
Earlier this week, Omotosho told our Scout Texas analysts he was close to naming a firm top-five favorites list, with the frontrunners presumed to be California; TCU; UCLA; Oklahoma and possibly Oklahoma State. Omotosho has already taken an official to TCU, and next up are trips to Berkley, Calif., and Los Angeles, Calif.
It’s conceivable Omotosho follows through with a Maryland foray after UMD-area recruiter Keenan McCardell stopped by Plano East during the Terps’ bye week. But based on Omotosho’s most recent comments the chances of such a trip occurring appear slim.
D'Andre Payne, CB, Arizona Western (Yuma, Ariz.): Turns out Na'Ty Rodgers isn't the only potential junior-college transfer who won't be reuniting with Maryland interim head coach Mike Locksley. Unlike Rodgers, however, this has nothing to do with personal problems or any type of falling out.
The D.C. native Payne would love to transfer back to College Park after leaving in the spring, but we've heard the Terps are cooling on him. Payne has reportedly been less than impressive on the field this year, and there are questions about his viability as a major-college corner. Although Payne looked OK during spring ball at Maryland, there's a reason he wasn't on scholarship.
Maybe Locksley will reengage Payne down the line if the Terps need cornerbacks, but at this point the former Woodson (D.C.) star isn't a "take."
Terps Looking At A Transfer QB?
We’ve heard about potential boomerangs and junior college transfers (see: D’Andre Payne and Na’Ty Rodgers) since Mike Locksley took over as interim head coach, and now the Terps could be looking to add a transfer quarterback too.
With junior Caleb Rowe’s status tenuous after a failed stint as UMD’s lead signal caller, there’s a strong chance he will depart. Which means Maryland could use another signal caller with (presumably) only Dwayne Haskins, Perry Hills, Gage Shaffer and Wildcat quarterback Shane Cockerille projected to be in College Park.
Earlier this week, we heard from Syracuse publisher Mike McAllister that Orange freshman A.J. Long, a 6-0, 177-pounder from Bethlehem, Pa., wanted out of New York. Evidently Long has suffered multiple concussions, forcing team doctors to “medically disqualify” him, meaning Long will have to transfer to continue his career. Long hasn’t set up any visits yet, but said he’s heard from the Terps; Temple; Fordham; and Colgate.
OK, so maybe Long did have some initial contact with Maryland interim head coach Mike Locksley, although we don’t envision the headman making a push for this particular gunslinger. Even so, it’s an indication the Terps are on the lookout for another quarterback. We’ll see if any legitimate transfer options surface in the weeks ahead.