Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
The Trevon Diggs Situation
We figured the four-star receiver Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Gaithersburg, Md.) was playing coy when he told Scout’s Brian Dohn he wanted to officially visit LSU, Alabama, Clemson, UCLA and West Virginia before selecting a college. Fact is, we’ve had multiple coaches close to Diggs and his family let on the Avalon product was close to popping to Maryland.
Yes, Diggs has backed out of at least two previous decision dates, but we’re pretty confident he’ll follow through this time. After Avalon takes on Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.) Nov. 7, Diggs said he'd be announcing his college decision (it will probably be somewhere around halftime of the Maryland-Wisconsin game). And no, folks, we don’t expect the words “Geux Tigers” or “Roll Tide” to spill out of his mouth. (Word is Diggs’ SEC suitors wouldn’t accept his pledge now anyway).
Ever since Mike Locksley took over as UMD interim head coach Oct. 11 and offered Diggs as a receiver the next night, the legacy recruit’s been steadily trending back towards Maryland. Locksley and the Diggs family have been tied tight since the former began recruiting Stefon Diggs seven-plus years ago at Good Counsel (Olney, Md.). The Diggses never really connected with former Maryland head coach Randy Edsall for a variety of previously-discussed reasons (most recently, Edsall’s insistence that Trevon Diggs line up at cornerback rather than receiver), but they’ve long had a rapport with Locksley. That relationship, coupled with the steam DMV-to-UMD’s gaining, should be more than enough to seal the deal.
Now, Diggs would assuredly reopen his recruitment if Locksley isn’t on staff (he's still taking official visits to LSU Nov. 14, in addition to UCLA; WVU and possibly Alabama), so don’t count on the four-star catching passes from Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.) until the UMD coaching situation is resolved. But as long as the interim headman stays in College Park, Md., the talented receiver should be signing with the Terps in February.
Note: I will be at Diggs’ game against Calvert Hall Nov. 7, so I’ll have a full scouting report on him as both a receiver and cornerback (there’s always the possibility he could switch to defense after arriving in College Park). Scout’s Brian Dohn actually evaluated Diggs at a game in New Jersey earlier this year, so you can view his comments on the receiver HERE.
Defensive Back News
Myles Wolfolk, CB, Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.): The Maryland staff is attempting to add two more cornerbacks to its 2016 class, and Nov. 4 the Terps identified their second target (Khalil Ladler, who we discuss below, is the first target). UMD interim head coach and Prince George’s County recruiter Mike Locksley extended an offer to Virginia Tech commit Myles Wolfolk, a 6-1, 180-pounder who has been a Hokies’ pledge since last December. But with Va Tech headman Frank Beamer set to retire and the Blacksburg, Va., school’s coaching situation unclear, Wolfolk’s about to reopen his recruitment.
And the Terps are right there, ready to pounce.
While ex-UMD coach Randy Edsall was reluctant to offer Wolfolk, it’s a different story with Locksley running the ship. The interim already had a rapport with Wolfolk and his coaches (despite the lack of a Maryland scholarship), and now that Locksley’s pursuing in earnest, the recruit’s giving his hometown school a much closer look.
“It was definitely a joy to have the offer, just knowing the hometown school wants you, it means a lot,” Wolfolk said. “It’s obviously great to have other offers, but when the school that’s seen you up close and is right in your backyard thinks you’re capable of helping their program, it means a lot.
“Coach Locks has been up at our school before and he’s always down here. He’s a funny guy, I love how straightforward he is and I feel like he’s a good coach.”
The fact Maryland is minutes from Upper Marlboro, would allow Wolfolk to play in front of his family, and the chance to join DMV-to-UMD all hold appeal as well. Wolfolk hasn’t had a formal tour of the school, nor does he know the ins and outs of the program, but he’s been on campus a couple times and said, “It definitely caught my eye, I’m not going to lie.”
That may be so, but don’t expect Wolfolk to flip just yet. He said he wants to finish his senior season (Wise is 9-0 and the class 4A favorites to win a state title) before delving into his various college options. Wolfolk, who could be enrolling early, wants to embark on several official visits, with Maryland being one of several. The Wise corner is also considering Wisconsin, UNC, Kentucky and Va Tech, all of which have been in touch.
While Wolfolk remains committed to Tech and isn’t ready to decommit, the vibe is Maryland has the momentum. If Locksley’s a Terp moving forward, there’s a solid chance Wolfolk could be one too.
Note: A Wolfolk flip would be akin to Jake Funk’s (Damascus, Md.) late-October UMD pledge. Just like at Damascus, relations between Maryland and Wise have been somewhat tense the last few years. Under the Edsall regime, the Terps were slow to offer safety Marcus Allen (Penn State), didn’t look at tight end Micah Till (NC State), and showed only cursory interest in Antonio Harris (Towson), Trevor Brown (JMU) and others. (No, Harris and Brown didn’t end up at FBS schools, but the Wise staff still thought the Terps should’ve shown more love).
But if Wolfolk opts for Maryland, it would likely erase any lingering ill will between the PG County stalwart and the nearby university. Wise usually produces at least one Division I recruit every year, so it’s an important fence for the UMD staff to mend.
You can read more about Wolfolk HERE.
Khalil Ladler, CB, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Myles Wolfolk isn’t the only one about to renege on his Virginia Tech pledge. Khalil Ladler was considering taking multiple official visits anyway, but when news surfaced that Hokies’ head coach Frank Beamer would be retiring, it all but guaranteed Ladler would be venturing out. Ladler didn’t want to conduct a full interview this week, but he did answer several questions via text.
First, he insisted he remained “100 percent” committed to Tech, although it obviously was one of those “100 percent . . . for now” deals. Soon after his initial comments, Ladler texted in he would indeed be considering more visits, with Maryland a likely destination. Then, 24 hours later, Ladler confirmed he’d set up a College Park official for Dec. 4, which is when numerous Terps’ pledges and teammate Rahshaun Smith are set to be at Maryland too.
If that last statement doesn’t indicate this recruitment’s direction, please slowly reread it.
Khalil Ladler. On campus with Dwayne Haskins, D.J. Turner, KeAndre Jones and Co. Also in attendance, his teammate, Shaq Smith, a heavy Maryland lean. Hint, hint, hint.
If that’s not enough, interim head coach Mike Locksley has been after Ladler -- who is out for the season with a torn ACL -- in earnest for the last month or so, stopping by IMG personally and staying in close contact via Twitter. Ladler will undoubtedly monitor Maryland’s coaching situation, but if Locksley is at UMD in some capacity, their relationship is strong enough to maybe coax out a commitment even if the Floridian weren’t visiting Dec. 4.
Besides Maryland and obviously Va Tech, it’s unclear what other suitors are involved, because most of Ladler’s top SEC options backed away when he tore his ACL. In any case, a flip to UMD is becoming more and more likely.
That said, we’ll refrain from elevating Ladler to “hot” on the hot board until he decommits from Va Tech. It is recruiting after all, and you never know what kind of “stops” the Hokies’ new staff could pull leading up to Signing Day.
Aaron Mathews, CB, Clairton (Pa.): In last week’s edition, I hinted hometown Pittsburgh might be “slow playing” the local receiver/cornerback Mathews. This week, not only did I verify those inclinations, but it turns out Mathews’ other suitors aren’t ready to take him either. Evidently Mathews’ on-field play has been less than stellar this year, both at his natural receiver spot and at safety.
The hometown Panthers already have a four-star 2016 wideout commit and may not be willing to extend a second receiver scholarship to a “project recruit.” Mathews has made no secret his affinity for Pitt, but he’ll have to wait before head coach Pat Narduzzi lets him in.
Maryland is pretty much in the same boat. While Mathews has remained in touch with UMD-area recruiter Greg Studrawa and continues to insist he’ll be officially visiting College Park, we’re not so sure interim head coach Mike Locksley would accept his pledge right now. There are significant concerns about Mathews’ viability at corner (he’s 6-4, which typically suggests safety or receiver), and the Terps don’t need another wideout with Trevon Diggs trending or another safety with three currently in tow.
With that in mind, Mathews could give his most recent offeree, NC State, a look. But we’ve heard not even the Wolfpack are pushing hard for the Clairton product.
We’ll know more about Mathews’ situation later on; perhaps the Terps will reconnect if Ladler doesn’t flip from Va Tech. In the meantime, Mathews is in a wait-and-see mode.
Patrice Rene, CB, Episcopal (Alexandria, Va.): A few Shells ago I mentioned Maryland interim head coach Mike Locksley and Director of Player Personnel Cory Robinson had put out some feelers for former UMD cornerback target Patrice Rene. The Canadian native has been committed to Rutgers since August, but was thought to be wavering with Scarlet Knights’ head coach Kyle Flood’s status rather tenuous. But after checking in with our Scout analysts, it sounds like Rene’s sticking with his RU pledge and won’t be embarking on other official visits.
The Episcopal corner did show some interest in Maryland when ex-UMD assistant Lyndon Johnson was recruiting him and former head coach Randy Edsall resided at the program’s helm. He even visited College Park about three times the last couple years. Rene hasn’t had much contact with the Terps recently, however, save for a few message exchanges with UMD’s Northern Virginia recruiter Keenan McCardell and Robinson.
Maybe Maryland’s coaches will push harder if they aren’t confident about flipping Khalil Ladler, but for now Rene’s coming off the hot board.
More News On 2016 Terps Targets
Naseir Upshur, TE, Imhotep (Philadelphia, Pa.): This one raised more than a few eyebrows earlier this week. Four-star tight end Naseir Upshur was thought to have faded from Maryland’s grasp months ago, the 6-2, 240-pounder publically eliminating the Terps from consideration in favor of Michigan; Florida State; Arizona State; USC; Miami; South Carolina; Alabama; and even Temple. He eventually committed to FSU Sept. 1, although left open the possibility he would take official visits to a select group of remaining finalists. Maryland was not thought to be anywhere close to those finalists, despite overtures from Upshur’s good friend, Terps’ pledge Dwayne Haskins. (Remember, Upshur reneged on at least three intended summer UMD visits, including once when the tight end chose not to join 15 of his Imhotep teammates in College Park).
But sometimes Maryland interim head coach Mike Locksley can work a little magic on the recruiting trail. Although Terps’ tight ends coach John Dunn is the point-man in Upshur’s recruitment, it was Locksley’s ascension that piqued Upshur’s interest. Now, the four-star’s in the process of finalizing a December 4 official visit date to College Park.
Don’t get overly excited just yet, Terps fans. Just because Upshur wants to check out Maryland doesn’t mean he’s a lock to sign. In fact, there’s just as much of a chance Upshur backs out of yet another College Park trip as there is him actually making it down I-83. (It’s important to note his team is in the playoffs, meaning it’s possible many of his December weekends will be booked).
But, at the very least, the Terps are in the conversation, along with FSU; Arizona State (December official set); USC (December official set); and possibly one more program. Let’s see what kind of inroads Locksley and Dunn can make here.
Grayson Stover, OT, Hudson (Fla.): The Sunshine State native Stover is on track to officially visit Maryland, but it won’t be Nov. 7 as originally planned. Stover isn’t naïve; he’s aware there’s a possibility his UMD recruiter Mike Locksley isn’t a lock to be in College Park. The Florida tackle wants to be absolutely certain the Terps’ interim headman is on staff before trekking to Maryland. He also wants to see who the offensive line coach is if Greg Studrawa isn’t retained, and make sure whoever the head coach is he’s still willing to accept Stover’s commitment.
Regardless of when the trip occurs (possibly Dec. 4 when many of the current UMD commits will be on campus), it will probably be Stover’s last before announcing where he’ll be attending college. An Illinois official is a possibility, but Stover didn’t sound overly enthused about the Illini, who are also head-coachless. The recruit has already seen Vanderbilt and Indiana, tentatively calling the Hoosiers his No. 1.
But we’ve had Stover sitting “hot” on the hot board for months, and there’s a reason for that. He’d repeatedly called the Terps his favorite, and though he backed off that statement in the wake of ex-head coach Randy Edsall’s departure, the vibe is UMD has the inside track. Locksley visited Hudson High during Maryland’s bye week, first checking in with Stover before seeing his game the next night. Evidently Locksley quelled any reservations the recruit had about Maryland moving forward.
Also working in the Terps’ favor is Stover’s affinity for College Park following his summer trip. Stover and his family lauded the school’s educational values; the upcoming facility upgrades; the character of the UMD coaches; and the university grounds. Plus Stover wants to major in criminal justice and likes the fact Maryland boasts a top-flight program in that respective field.
Add it up, and the signs point towards Stover winding up in College Park. But if Locksley’s not around, well, he could opt for Indiana (the school he heaped massive praise on following his Bloomington, Ind., official) or Vandy.
Note: Stover told me he wasn’t sure he’d be enrolling early or not. He said the Indiana coaches probably wouldn’t let him arrive in January, while Vandy outright denied him. Stover’s unsure where the Terps stand on the matter.
You can read more about Stover HERE.
Keith Simms, LB, Landon (Bethesda, Md.): There isn't too much new to report on Maryland's No. 1 linebacker target, although we're hearing increased buzz his college decision could come sooner rather than later. Simms is evidently conflicted about waiting to see who the Terps hire as their next head coach, or just ending his recruitment now and banking on his compatibility with the new headman. He also wants to make sure his UMD-area recruiter, Chad Wilt, whom Simms is particularly close to, remains on staff.
But even with those questions lingering, the sense is Simms wants to be at Maryland bad enough he could pop anyway (heck, it's pretty telling that he's bee-lining down to UMD after his game Nov. 7 in order to catch the end of Terps-Badgers). The Landon backer speaks daily to Terps' pledges like Dwayne Haskins and Jake Funk (Damascus, Md.), the former harping on the four-star Bethesda native for half-a-year now. Plus Simms is all about DMV-to-UMD, has an inherent comfort level in College Park and wants his family to see him play at least six times a year.
Simms told me earlier this week he wanted to officially visit the likes of Duke and Virginia Tech, but those trips are thought to be of the "covering his bases" variety (read: alternatives in case the Terps' coaching situation isn't to his liking). Either way, we're not so sure Durham, N.C., or Blacksburg forays will prevent him from committing to UMD in the meantime. The four-star knows how this recruiting game works; if for some reason interim head coach Mike Locksley and Chad Wilt aren't on staff down the road, he could simply reopen his recruitment and possibly opt for Duke.
Abdul Adams, RB, Hillside (Durham, N.C.): Adams remains status quo, but it’s worth repeating last week’s Shell for those who have selective memories. The former Woodson (Washington, D.C.) star is supposedly academically qualified and should be eligible to sign with a team this February. Moreover, our D.C. sources, who speak to Adams daily, have informed us the Hillside back is growing more and more homesick. On top of that, the three-star is in regular communication with both Maryland interim head coach Mike Locksley and UMD-commit-turned-recruiting-coordinator Dwayne Haskins.
Adams is still a Michigan State pledge, but he could be on the verge of flipping to the Terps -- sooner rather than later. We’ve been told he could even announce his decision prior to officially visiting College Park, perhaps by mid-November. (It would not surprise us if Adams decided to check out Maryland Dec. 4 with Haskins, Shaq Smith, Khalil Ladler and the rest of the UMD commits).
Last week, we moved Adams back to “hot” on the hot board. Let’s see if he follows through with a pre-Thanksgiving pop.
Note: I mentioned this last week too, but figured it should also be repeated. Abdul Adams and four-star St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) defensive end Terrell Hall are close friends. If/when Adams flips, Maryland’s chances at landing Hall would improve exponentially. Granted, Hall wouldn’t become a Terps’ lock, but he’d assuredly give them more consideration than he currently is.
Reports From Calvert Hall
Having scouted almost every local senior prospect associated with Maryland, I turned my attention to one of the Terps’ foremost class of 2017 targets: Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.) outside linebacker Tyshon Fogg. Although Fogg and his Cardinals were trounced at Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) Oct. 30, I was impressed with the prospect’s potential.
The 6-2, 220-pounder looked the part getting off the bus, Fogg’s thick frame; stout base; long arms; and mitt-sized hands immediately catching the eye.
Turns out, he can play a little too.
While Gilman did a number on the CHC defense, it was through no fault of Fogg’s. The Cardinals’ backer had a suddenness to him, firing forward at the snap; flashing a fast first step; and gaining momentum as he attacked downhill. He showed nimble footwork in the gaps, agility out in space, and plenty of athleticism in coverage. Fogg also used his long arms and active hands to disengage, catch backs in the hole, and to deny receivers in coverage. Furthermore, he set the edge well, proved to be a sure tackler and showed he could rush the passer.
Fogg does need to work on his speed (he’s not a sideline-to-sideline guy), tighten up his angles and vary his rush moves, however. He also must become even more decisive, particularly when closing in for a hit. But with another year spent building his body and improving his mechanics and field awareness, Fogg should be among the region’s premier linebacker recruits.
As for Maryland’s chances at landing the Calvert Hall product, well, let’s just say the Terps have work to do. Fogg did have positive comments for UMD-area recruiter Keith Dudzinski, and noted how he had a good time interacting with the coaches and other Terps’ pledges like Dwayne Haskins at the Maryland-Michigan game Oct. 3. But it just didn’t seem like UMD resided at the forefront of his mind.
Fogg, who is from New Jersey and has only lived in the Old Line State for a couple years, did not initially mention the Terps when asked about some of his more “significant” offers (he said Stanford, Michigan State, Clemson and hometown Rutgers). He also isn’t a “true” DMV-to-UMD recruit and won’t be drawn to College Park just because Marylanders and D.C. natives are heading there.
Now, the Calvert Hall product did say UMD is “definitely one of my top schools,” but in the same breath said, “It was a big coaching change and I definitely liked [former] Coach [Randy] Edsall.” He admitted he didn’t really know interim head coach Mike Locksley and wanted to see which direction the Terps went with their new headman before forming any strong opinion on them.
Regardless of what transpires with Maryland’s coaching situation, we probably won’t have a true feel for Fogg’s recruitment until he takes offseason visits. He has locales like Stanford, Notre Dame and others on the docket, while it’s possible he’ll return to Michigan State, Rutgers, Duke, UNC and Maryland.
Note: Realize that Fogg is an important recruit for Maryland on several levels. Not only is he an instant-impact type, but landing Fogg would undoubtedly help the Terps’ standing with MIAA stalwart Calvert Hall.
The relationship between Maryland and CHC was unquestionably shaky when Randy Edsall had the reins at UMD. The Terps did not readily recruit touted prospects such as Lawrence Cager, Dionte Austin, Delando Johnson, Trevor Williams and others, and it drew the Cardinals’ ire. Some around CHC questioned how Maryland could offer “reach recruits” at Gilman, Good Counsel and DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), but wouldn’t do the same at CHC.
You can read my evaluation of Fogg, as well as see the interview, HERE.
The Adam McLean Situation
This was addressed extensively in the wake of defensive tackle Adam McLean’s visit to Auburn Oct. 30, but I’ll repeat it for emphasis.
The wayward Maryland signee, who left school in September due to an NCAA eligibility issue, had been hearing from the Eagles’ staff since his College Park departure. So, he decided to check AU out for its game against Ole Miss. Despite Auburn’s 27-19 loss, McLean apparently had a great time in War Eagle country, speaking to the school’s atmosphere; coaches; and facilities.
But, as we mentioned multiple times, McLean is on track for a January return to Maryland. We touched base with McLean a week or so ago, and he said he intended to rejoin the Terps’ as soon as his academic issues were ironed out. He certainly did not sound like someone who would be entertaining other suitors.
But, as was pointed out on the message board, McLean wants to be sure interim head coach Mike Locksley remains in College Park before the defensive tackle re-ups. So, in the meantime, McLean’s covering his bases, securing alternative options in case Locksley’s not around.
Don’t be surprised if the former Under Armour All-American takes in another university or two this winter. But, unless he hear otherwise, we’ll continue forecasting him to Maryland.