Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Class of 2016 Targets
Abdul Adams, RB, Hillside (Durham, N.C.): In a much-anticipated move, former Woodson (Washington, D.C.) running back Abdul Adams reneged on his Michigan State pledge Nov. 11. Although Adams publicly remained steadfast in his Spartans’ commitment, those who know him well suggested otherwise. Lending credence to their comments were Adams’ on-the-record hints he might want to explore other campuses, which would’ve eventually necessitated a decommitment. (MSU head coach Mark Dantonio has a hard and fast rule about not allowing Spartans’ pledges to visit other schools).
So with Adams back on the open market, the path is seemingly clear for the Terps to scoop him up. He is set to officially visit College Park, Md., Dec. 4 with many of the Terps’ 2016 commits, and there’s a solid chance he could pop before he leaves (he might even give the staff a “silent verbal” before visiting).
We’ve been predicting an Adams-to-Maryland flip for months now, our D.C. sources letting us know the running back was homesick -- he was forced to transfer to Hillside due to a family situation -- wanted to be part of the hometown movement, and had been in close contact with UMD interim head coach Mike Locksley.
Speaking of Locksley, he is the key piece in this whole scenario. The three-star may miss D.C., and he may want to reunite with former teammate Parnell Motley and the rest of the DMV-to-UMD pledges, but if his recruiter’s not there the likelihood of Adams winding up in College Park diminishes exponentially. And even if Adams does commit to Maryland on or before Dec. 4, he’d probably flip again if Locksley isn’t retained.
It’s also important to note that Maryland’s coaches won’t be the only ones pursuing the Hillside product. Alabama head coach Nick Saban has stayed in contact after the running back lit up his camp during the summer, while assistants from Oklahoma, Michigan (offered Adams Nov. 12) and a couple others are in touch as well. Adams could potentially take official visits to Tuscaloosa, Ala., Ann Arbor, Mich., and Norman, Okla., although at this point we don't see it. The Terps are trending ... in a major way.
Myles Wolfolk, CB, Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.): It wasn’t a particularly positive sign (for UMP purposes) when new Terps’ cornerback target Myles Wolfolk backed out of a Maryland visit Nov. 7 in favor of a North Carolina official. The longtime Virginia Tech pledge had told me earlier he wouldn’t be taking any trips whatsoever until after his senior season, but UNC’s Nov. 5 offer altered his thinking.
Wolfolk informed our Scout colleagues he wouldn’t have another opportunity to experience the Chapel Hill, N.C., gameday atmosphere, so he wanted to drive down and see UNC’s rivalry match against Duke. (Wolfolk was previously at North Carolina last year for its game against Va Tech.)
The consensus following the official? The Tar Heels are firmly of Wolfolk’s brain and have as good of a chance as any to flip the recruit. Wolfolk talked up head coach Larry Fedora; the UNC facilities; the fans; and the team itself, which trounced Duke, 66-31. Furthermore, Wolfolk respected how the Heels are recruiting him for both corner and safety, taking full advantage of his versatility.
But Wolfolk isn’t going to end his recruitment just yet. He insisted he would be embarking on all five allotted officials, with Wisconsin and Va Tech next on the agenda. Wolfolk should also be officially visiting Maryland at some point, but will wait to see what happens with area recruiter and interim head coach Mike Locksley before trekking up.
As long as Locksley’s rooted in at UMD, the Terps should have a real shot at landing the three-star corner. If not, Wolfolk will probably wind up at UNC or maybe another late offeree.
Rahshaun Smith, DE, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Maryland’s No. 1 defensive end target did not take his third official visit last weekend, but he was on Clemson’s campus for the Tigers’ victory against Florida State. The four-star edge rusher returned to South Carolina for the first time since decommitting from CU, and he couldn’t have been more effusive in his praise.
A Clemson website, TigerNet.com, interviewed Smith post-unofficial, the Baltimore native telling the reporter there’s, “a lot of love there;” the “game atmosphere is second to none;” the “coaches always show love;” and “I could definitely see myself there.” Smith went on to describe the “chills” he got whenever taking in a Clemson game and how much he appreciated the staff’s continued support, even in the wake of his decommitment.
Our feelings on the matter?
Well, based on Smith’s previous interviews, he tends to lionize each of his trips to the point of hyperbole. Recall, he had similar comments following officials to Oregon and LSU earlier this year. With that in mind, Clemson fans probably can’t pencil him back into their 2016 class just yet.
And from what we’re told, the Terps remain the team to beat so long as interim head coach Mike Locksley’s on staff, Director of Player Personnel Cory Robinson stays around, and DMV-to-UMD keeps humming. Smith is set to officially visit College Park Dec. 4 with most of the current Maryland commits, and if the coaching situation is resolved by then (and it includes Locksley) the upcoming hometown jaunt could very well solidify the four-star’s status.
Next up, though, is an official to Auburn Nov. 27 for the Iron Bowl. He’s also supposed to be officially visiting Clemson Dec. 11, the last of his five officials. (For what it’s worth, those who cover CU believe Smith will pop to the Tigers during that final trip).
Smith will announce his college destination Jan. 2 at the Under Armour All-American game. He’s set to enroll in whichever program he chooses later that month.
Keith Simms, LB, Landon (Bethesda, Md.): Last week, we let you know Simms was trending towards Maryland, despite the school’s shaky coaching situation. The sense was he wanted to be a Terp bad enough to the point of being on the verge of popping. But we also added a caveat: If UMD-area recruiter Chad Wilt and interim head coach Mike Locksley left the program, and DMV-to-UMD began losing steam, Simms would simply flip to another contender.
Which begs the question, Why not wait to commit?
After catching up with Simms this week, the vibe is he still wants to commit in short order. . . but maybe not to Maryland. With spots filling up at some of Simms’ other prime suitors, he’s considering securing a spot at North Carolina or Duke while the Terps’ administration decides what to do with their football staff. (That would explain Simms’ eagerness to pop sooner rather than later).
We previously thought the Landon backer could opt for Duke anyway if the tenuous state of affairs at Maryland scared him. But it’s not the Blue Devils who are rising up the leaderboard. With Duke’s recent struggles, including an embarrassing loss to North Carolina last week, we’re told the Tar Heels are positioned to pounce. Simms visited Chapel Hill during the summer, so he’s familiar with the campus; coaches; and the team itself. Given that, he could give headman Larry Fedora his word before he even sets an official visit.
An eventual flip to Maryland would be possible if Wilt, Locksley and Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.) and Co. reside in College Park, but for the time being Simms seems to be having reservations about UMD. Of course, Simms does tend to waver back and forth -- again, he was thisclose to committing to Maryland last week -- so it wouldn’t shock us if he suddenly popped to the Terps.
Yes, it’s a volatile situation causing much angst for fans and recruiting writers. At this point, it’s best to sit back and let the chips fall where they may.
Note: If Simms falls by the wayside, the Terps will undoubtedly begin searching for another linebacker target. Rutgers commit Elias Reynolds (Poly Prep/Brooklyn, N.Y.) remains on the hot board, and last we heard he wanted to officially visit College Park. Reynolds has gone mum recently, however, so his status is unclear. Some of the other linebackers UMD's staff looked at, including Ali'i Niumatalolo (Broadneck/Annapolis, Md.) and David Reese (Farmington, Mich.), are no longer options.
KeAndre Jones, LB, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.): Of all the prospects committed to Maryland, the four-star Jones may be the most likely to explore other options. The highest-ranked UMD pledge has been consistently hearing from several “name” schools and is in the process of scheduling official visits (none have been set in stone). Florida and Florida State are two southern programs on Jones’ brain, as is USC out west. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer went after Jones in earnest during the summer, but we haven’t heard if the headman’s renewed his pursuit this fall.
But, as we’ve written in past editions, it’s not time to kiss Jones goodbye quite yet, UMD fans. The Good Counsel backer is firmly committed to Maryland (he reconnected with the Terps’ coaches at the UMD-Wisconsin game Nov. 7), and we’re led to believe he’ll sign with the Terps if UMD recruiter Mike Locksley’s a Terp too. In the meantime, Jones is simply doing his diligence in case Locksley isn’t on staff.
Realize that Jones won’t be the only Maryland pledge beginning to look around at other schools. Expect a couple others (Parnell Motley? Terek Zingale? Dwayne Haskins? Evan Fairs? Tyrone Hill? Devin Butler?) to follow suit until Maryland’s coaching situation is resolved. For now, though, Jones is the one commit who’s generating the most buzz in recruiting circles.
Aaron Mathews, CB/WR, Clairton (Pa.): We get the distinct feeling the Terps are no longer going after the Pittsburgh product Mathews. He's yet to visit College Park, despite numerous opportunities to do so, and hasn't scheduled a previously-intended official either. Maryland's top two cornerback targets are Myles Wolfolk and Khalil Ladler (IMG Academy), so perhaps the coaches are content to let Mathews head elsewhere.
This weekend, Mathews will be checking out recent offeree West Virginia at the behest of the Mountaineers' staff. That's probably an indication hometown Pitt, the Clairton product's clear frontrunner, isn't ready to accept his commitment. We wouldn't be shocked if Mathews committed to West Virginia in the meantime. NC State is another potential landing spot.
Diggs Spurns Terps For Tide
Where to start with this one? In hindsight, perhaps Trevon Diggs’ (Avalon/Gaithersburg, Md.) commitment to Alabama Nov. 7 shouldn’t have been an altogether surprising development. After all, the Diggs family has been given to hijinks in the past. But this was an almost -- there’s no other way to put it -- remarkable facade, even for the Diggs crew.
Let’s lay it all out, as clearly as possible, starting with last summer:
1. The four-star receiver/cornerback had been favoring Alabama ever since the Tide offered and Diggs subsequently visited Tuscaloosa. He called Bama his No. 1 in multiple interviews following the trip.
2. Diggs, however, opted not to pop, even when he returned to Bama during the summer.
3. After choosing not to commit, our Alabama sources said Diggs’ offer would only be on the table for a short while before it became uncommittable.
4. All the while, Diggs publicly kept Maryland alive, Terps’ recruiter Mike Locksley staying in close contact and working to appease the Diggs family. At one time, Diggs even came close to ending his recruitment July 4 and popping to the Terps.
5. Diggs ultimately elected to take multiple visits, exploring his various options before coming to a decision. LSU, Florida, Georgia, Florida State, Miami, UCLA, West Virginia and Va Tech, in addition to Maryland and Bama, were the programs he sought to delve into.
6. As the fall moved along, word trickled out the Diggs family wasn’t pleased with ex-UMD headman Randy Edsall, who presided over Stefon Diggs’ injury-riddled tenure at Maryland. Edsall’s insistence that Trevon Diggs play cornerback rather than receiver didn’t help matters.
7. When Edsall was fired Oct. 11, however, the Trevon-Diggs-to-Terps vibes began gaining steam as interim head coach Mike Locksley took over. Diggs -- who Locksley promptly offered as a receiver -- stayed relatively mum on the matter, but local coaches and those close to the family hinted at an eventual Maryland commitment.
8. Diggs remained coy about his status. He told the media he had LSU, Bama, WVU, UCLA, Maryland and Va Tech in play and would be officially visiting Baton Rouge, La., Los Angeles, Calif., Tuscaloosa and Morgantown, W.Va. He said he wouldn’t be popping until the winter.
9. Behind the scenes, our multiple sources called Diggs’ bluff, insisting he’d be committing before his senior season ended. On top of that, they maintained Diggs would be a Terp.
10. Diggs finally let on that he would be choosing his college destination Nov. 7 when Avalon played Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.). We checked in with our sources each day leading up to the announcement, and not once did they waver on Diggs-to-Maryland.
11. Our sources at LSU and Alabama told us Diggs’ SEC offers were not committable, making a Terps’ pledge even more likely.
12. On the day Diggs was set to commit, we received a text from a coach saying the Avalon receiver had already called Locksley, letting him know he wanted in at College Park.
13. Whether or not that conversation ever took place didn’t matter: Diggs ended up committing to Alabama at halftime of his game.
14. Afterwards, Diggs admitted he hadn’t called Tide coach Nick Saban yet. Even so, he claimed Bama would accept his pledge. Our Alabama sources said otherwise, suggesting Saban could “encourage” a flip down the line. They let on that Saban has done this multiple times in the past.
15. Diggs acknowledged on camera he may have chosen Maryland over Alabama if he knew for sure Mike Locksley would remain in College Park. He called UMD’s coaching situation “confusing,” so he elected to go with the SEC stalwart over his brother’s alma mater. (He also talked about “carving his own path” and not wanting to follow in older brother Stefon Diggs’ footsteps. But the sense is that was more of a convenient “out” rather than the real reason he didn’t pick Maryland).
16. Our contacts have told us Diggs could very well flip to Maryland later this winter if Locksley’s retained. Many of our sources are still shocked at what transpired Nov. 7.
17. In the meantime, it’s conceivable Diggs could take a couple official visits, including one to LSU. He has no others set in stone at this time.
Given the above, we understand the sentiment Diggs might not be worth the trouble and Maryland’s staff should just give up the ghost. On the other hand, Diggs is quite a player, and he is a legacy recruit, so it would probably be in the program’s best interest to accept his pledge.
Personally, we don’t believe Locksley and Co. will halt their pursuit. Once the Maryland coaching situation is resolved, and if Locksley’s on board, there’s a solid chance (maybe more than solid) Diggs flips to the hometown school. Heck, as aforementioned, he might even be “encouraged” to do so.
In other words, don’t cross Diggs off the list yet. For now, we’re listing him “warm” on the hot board.
You can see my interview with Diggs after his commitment HERE.
You can read my scouting report on Diggs HERE.
The Wisconsin-Maryland Visitors
We originally expected more headliners to attend the Terps-Badgers bout Nov. 7, but with many local high schools wrapping up their seasons that Saturday, it limited the numbers. That said, there were several intriguing recruits (not including current UMD pledges) who witnessed Maryland’s 31-24 loss in Byrd Stadium, namely Imhotep (Philadelphia, Pa.) tight end Naseir Upshur and the DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) trio the Terps’ staff has had circled for some time now.
-- After the Stags knocked off Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) Nov. 6, senior guard Terrance Davis, junior athlete Anthony McFarland and junior defensive end Chase Young made their way to College Park for the third time this fall.
Davis’ status has been hashed and rehashed in this space, and we’ve interviewed him so many times post-Maryland games he’s taken to telling us, “same as before.” Which basically means he had a great time hanging with the recruits, talking to the coaches and being on campus.
Following this latest foray, though, I tried a different tact, hitting up a couple DeMatha coaches who I knew were with Davis (and the rest of the Stags) at the game. Per our contacts, Davis is even higher on the Terps than he’s letting on during interviews. So high, in fact, that Maryland may be in position to hop Michigan, Davis’ longtime favorite suitor, in the pecking order.
Evidently the constant overtures from Davis’ cousin, Terps’ running back commit LoLo Harrison, and UMD quarterback pledge Dwayne Haskins, in addition to interim head coach Mike Locksley’s established rapport, could eventually pay off. We’re told Davis will follow through with all five official visits -- Michigan Nov. 27; Georgia Dec. 11; Alabama Jan. 8; UCLA Jan 15, and likely Florida at an undetermined date -- but as things stand, Maryland could emerge as the team to beat.
That is, if Locksley remains in College Park. If Locksley’s out, Davis is, for all intents and purposes, a goner.
-- As for Davis’ junior teammates, both McFarland and Young continue talking up Maryland, but their recruiting profiles have skyrocketed and they’re getting starry-eyed.
We were told neither Young nor McFarland have witnessed a Maryland victory firsthand this year, frustrating the pair. Moreover, the opposing fanbases infiltrating Byrd Stadium haven’t exactly increased the recruits’ hometown interest.
Meanwhile, both four-star talents have witnessed their foremost SEC and Big Ten suitors in front of packed houses in primetime, catching both McFarland’s and Young’s attention. Now, the programs most often associated with the pair are Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Florida State, Florida, Clemson, Michigan and a few others of that ilk.
There’s a long way to go for the DeMatha studs, however, and their respective recruitments will twist and turn during the next year or so. Maybe if UMD interim coach Mike Locksley is around, and the hometown movement keeps churning, each will take a harder look at Maryland. Either way, the Terps are going to have to battle with the big boys. McFarland and Young aren’t the type of recruits even the SEC’s elites will back off of.
-- With the four-star Upshur, we reported last week the region’s top tight end would be officially visiting Maryland Dec. 4. But the Philadelphia native decided to stop by a little sooner, taking in College Park unofficially to see former teammate D.J. Moore in action. Upshur didn’t interact with the Maryland staff while on campus, but he did talk to a few other recruits, including UMD pledges Tino Eillis and D.J. Turner.
Prior to the trip, Upshur had contact with his Terps’ area recruiter, John Dunn; Maryland’s pseudo recruiting coordinator Dwayne Haskins; and just recently interim head coach Mike Locksley. He considers Haskins a good friend and has known Dunn for more than two years.
While Upshur has a quality relationship with the Maryland commits and coaches, he’s aware he could have an immediate impact and potentially be catching passes from an elite signal caller in Haskins as well. He’s also familiar with the area, has heard plenty of positives from Moore and likes that College Park isn’t far from Philly.
But if Mike Locksley isn’t around and the 2016 class begins to bolt, don’t expect Upshur to consider the Terps. Of course, the chances of the tight end joining Maryland aren’t tremendous anyway, regardless of future circumstances. Upshur remains committed to Florida State and has Arizona State and USC official visits pending. All three of those contenders seem to sit ahead of UMD on Upshur’s leaderboard. Many believe he'll stick with his original commitment and sign with the Seminoles.
It’s not even a definite Upshur will make it to College Park for his proposed Dec. 4 official. Imhotep could have a playoff game that day, precluding him from heading to Maryland.
So, while the four-star’s on the hot board, we’re not listing him above “cool” until the Locksley situation’s ironed out and we’re positive Upshur will follow through with an official.
-- Besides the DeMatha prospects and Upshur, class of 2017 cornerback and Maryland offeree Taurus Carroll (Fork Union, Va.) trekked up to Maryland for the first time in a year. Carroll, who assured his offer from ex-UMD head coach Randy Edsall remained on the table, couldn’t say enough about College Park. He loved the campus, the upcoming facility upgrades and the atmosphere inside Byrd Stadium. He also enjoyed chatting with defensive line coach Chad Wilt and Director of Player Personnel Cory Robinson, who has taken over Carroll’s recruitment. Carroll has known Robinson since the latter’s Next Level Nation training days, and the two have evidently renewed their relationship.
What’s more, Carroll is from Northern Virginia and considers himself a DMV recruit. He even knows UMD commits D.J. Turner and Dwayne Haskins, both of whom played on Carroll’s 7-on-7 team in past summers.
Add it up, and it wasn’t a surprise when Carroll said, “Maryland is definitely my favorite school right now.”
We’ll see if Carroll’s, or the Terps’ coaches’, feelings change if there’s a significant staff shakeup. But if Locksley’s around and still wants the Fork Union product, the interim could probably pull him in.
You can read more about Carroll HERE.
-- The five previously discussed prospects were the lone UMD targets in attendance, but a couple more interesting names took in the Nov. 7 game too.
Hylton (Woodbridge, Va.) junior guard Daniel Horne saw his second Terps’ home game in a row, and is reportedly very interested in UMD. Horne likes that Maryland isn’t far from Woodbridge, respects the school’s academic reputation and has taken to the area itself. He’s also had communication with the staff via social media.
Horne doesn’t have verbals yet, but he’s someone the staff may look at down the line.
-- Another class of 2017 lineman, defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman (Woodson/Washington, D.C.), was back in College Park for the third or fourth time this fall. The teammate of Terps’ commit Parnell Motley has much love for the hometown school and could become a prime candidate to follow the cornerback to UMD. But for now there are questions surrounding Twyman (is he good enough? are his grades OK?), and the Maryland staff is in the “monitoring” phase.
Twyman is claiming a handful of FBS offers, but they aren’t legitimate. He may have a couple lower-level Division I looks at this point.
-- A smattering of other locals were also in Byrd Nov. 7, but no one who projects as a surefire offer candidate. Two out-of-state prospects did catch our eye, however -- at least initially.
Long snapper Cory Adams (Walsh Jesuit/Cuyahoga Fall, Ohio) drove six hours from Ohio to see the game, an indication the Terps have had some contact with him. It’s possible UMD-area recruiter Greg Studrawa saw Adams during his forays through Ohio and invited the snapper to a game. We haven’t heard an offer will actually materialize, but perhaps Adams is a walk-on candidate.
-- The second eyebrow-raising recruit was junior college cornerback Ozziah Williams (Atlanta Sports Academy/Atlanta, Ga.). Williams originally attended Wharton (Tampa, Fla.), but didn’t procure any major scholarships coming out of high school. Thus, he chose the JUCO route in an attempt to draw interest from an FBS program.
Apparently Williams knows fellow Floridian and current Terps’ receiver Jahrvis Davenport, and the two have been exchanging messages via Twitter. Williams said Davenport piqued his interest in Maryland -- so much so that the former decided to see College Park firsthand.
After checking with our connects, though, we don’t believe the Terps will bite on the JUCO corner, despite his interest level following the trip. Right now, Williams is not someone to track all that closely.