Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
New Receiver Targets?
The Terps are attempting to add length to their receiving corps and have reached out to a couple local wideouts:
Kellon Taylor, WR, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): Local power DeMatha is loaded with Division I playmakers, but one of the Stags’ most productive cogs this year has actually been under-the-radar receiver Kellon Taylor. Taylor’s emergence, coupled with his size (he’s 6-feet-5) and athleticism, has opened the eyes of FBS coaches. Recently, he’s been hearing more and more from top-level college assistants.
Temple and Boston College have had offers out for awhile now, and just a week or so ago the hometown Terps reached out. UMD interim head coach Mike Locksley hasn’t offered yet, but receivers’ coach Keenan McCardell has let Taylor know the staff is intrigued and believes he could be a fit in College Park, Md.
Which was rather compelling news for the DeMatha wideout. Taylor grew up a Terps’ fan, has been on campus numerous times (including Nov. 14 for the Stags’ playoff game) and has at least three teammates already committed to UMD (Tino Ellis, D.J. Turner and LoLo Harrison). On top of that, his mother is a Maryland alum, and Taylor would love for her to potentially attend his home games.
That said, Taylor insisted it would take some convincing before he joined the hometown movement. First of all, he’d have to be sure DMV-to-UMD remained intact what with Locksley’s uncertain future. Despite several reports to the contrary, there is no guarantee Locksley’s on staff moving forward, either as head coach or offensive coordinator. Second, Temple and BC have been with Taylor throughout, whereas Maryland entered the game late. Taylor is visiting the Owls Nov. 28 and the Eagles in December; the sense is he’ll give both programs their due.
But Taylor should be officially visiting College Park too, perhaps Dec. 4 with the rest of Maryland’s 2016 class. Maybe such a trip will convince the receiver to stay local.
Of course, first thing’s first: Taylor must procure the UMD offer. We’ll see if one’s extended shortly.
Note: In addition to its preference for taller wideouts, Maryland’s renewed interest in Taylor -- the staff first took note of him during a summer 7-on-7 -- could be insurance in case Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Gaithersburg, Md.) does not flip from Alabama and/or current UMD pledge Evan Fairs (Foster/Richmond, Texas) decommits down the road. Although Fairs insists he’s 100 percent a Terp, he’ll probably look at a school closer to Texas if his Maryland-area recruiter, McCardell, isn’t retained when a new head coach is hired.
You can read more about Taylor HERE.
Dae’lun Darien, WR, Dunbar (Baltimore, Md.): The Baltimore product Darien was someone we identified way back in the spring after the 6-4, 210-pounder caught our eye at a Nike camp. Since then, Darien’s procured a couple offers and taken several visits, although the Terps hadn’t really been in contact, despite the receiver’s College Park forays throughout the summer/fall.
Which, honestly, wasn’t a major surprise. Darien looked the part, but hadn’t shown much on the field prior to this season. Plus, there were some questions regarding his academic situation. (The latter has since been ironed out; we now believe he’ll qualify).
But UMD’s interim head coach Mike Locksley is searching for rangier receivers, and apparently he’s giving Darien a closer look too. Maryland’s headman even invited the wideout to campus a week or so ago for a sitdown with Director of Player Personnel Cory Robinson, another Baltimore native who knows Darien and Dunbar well. Locksley didn’t give the Poets’ standout a scholarship yet -- he has to make sure the transcripts check out -- but there does appear to be some mutual interest.
Darien previously told us he sought to leave the area for college, but that was before he realized schools throughout the Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 (read: West Virginia) and SEC wouldn’t be anteing up. Right now, his only firm Division I scholarship is from Temple, which Darien committed to in mid-November.
For now, Darien is content with his Owls’ pledge, but we’ll see what transpires if the hometown school and the Big Ten come calling. We’re not including him on the hot board just yet, but keep his name in mind in case Kellon Taylor doesn’t work out for UMD.
Nate Craig-Myers, WR, Tampa Catholic (Tampa, Fla.): Folks, we have ourselves this year’s Byron Cowart. Craig-Myers isn’t a new name (we wrote about Mike Locksley’s foray through Tampa Catholic Oct. 16), but there is some new intel with the five-star Florida wideout. The former Auburn pledge will be officially visiting College Park sometime in December at the behest of his area recruiter, Locksley.
Granted, Craig-Myers does not project to sign with the Terps (he’s not even on the hot board), but it’s never a negative development when a five-star visits your school. Maybe it’s a way for Locksley to wield his recruiting prowess, proving to the Maryland administration he can pull top prospects from the nation’s richest talent beds. Or maybe it’s to show other “on the fence” recruits (read: Trevon Diggs) the Terps mean business.
Either way, the chances of Craig-Myers committing to Maryland are slim. This figures to be a Florida-Ohio State-Florida State battle, with the in-state Gators holding an edge. He has yet to officially visits any of those locales but should be following through shortly.
We’ll let you know when Craig-Myers finalizes his College Park trip.
Defensive Line Notes
Ellison Jordan, DT, Gilman (Baltimore, Md.): Previously we’d mentioned that four-star defensive tackle and Penn State pledge Ellison Jordan could be having some reservations about his commitment. We touched base with our Gilman contacts throughout the fall, and they let on the fireplug tackle had been in touch with UMD interim head coach Mike Locksley; former teammate-turned-Terp Melvin Keihn; and various Maryland 2016 recruits such as Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.).
Word was Jordan had enough interest in the hometown movement that he would at least consider officially visiting College Park. But with Gilman’s season in full swing, it was difficult to gain anything more definitive. This week, though, we were able to delve a little deeper with Jordan’s senior campaign completed.
The vibe? Well, we’re a bit less confident about Maryland’s chances of flipping the four-star. Jordan is maintaining a firm commitment to Penn State and said he’s not entertaining any other suitors, including Maryland. He’s insisting his lone official visit will be to State College, Pa.
It’s possible Locksley and Co. can continue hammering away here, but even our Gilman connects have suggested Jordan might be a tougher pull than originally believed. With Maryland’s coaching situation precarious, coupled with the Terps’ mounting losses, Jordan may be content to stick with the traditional Big Ten stalwart rather than take a chance on potentially up-and-coming UMD.
Maybe if Locksley’s entrenched and DMV-to-UMD is solidified the Terps can at least cull that official visit out of Jordan. But, at this point, the outlook is rather bleak. For the time being, we’ll continue to list Jordan “cool” on the hot board.
Terrell Hall, DE, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): Scout’s Brian Dohn caught up with Hall this week, but, really, not much has changed since I spoke to him a few weeks ago. The St. John’s edge rusher hasn’t taken any officials since his September Gainesville, Fla., jaunt, and has the same schools under consideration: TAMU, Ole Miss, Maryland, Alabama, Georgia and Florida State.
Hall, a former Buckeyes pledge, was supposed to visit Auburn for the Iron Bowl Nov. 27, but he reneged on it. He’s currently in the process of scheduling officials to four of the aforementioned contenders, with Bama; FSU; and Georgia likely destinations.
It’s conceivable the Terps could get a gander, but, as we’ve mentioned previously, Maryland’s sitting behind the SEC elites and Florida State. The Tide, which Hall trekked to earlier this year, are the favorites, with FSU and Florida firmly in play.
UMD interim head coach Mike Locksley would have a better shot at landing Hall if it could first pull in the defensive end’s friend, Abdul Adams (Hillside/Durham, N.C.). Then, Hall would have to be assured Locksley’s on board and the DMV movement kept humming. After that, Locksley would have to trump Bama head coach Nick Saban in a recruiting battle, which is never an easy task.
Simply put, there’s a lot that has to fall into place for Hall to end up in College Park. He’s staying “cool” on the hot board.
Note: Besides Terrell Hall and Ellison Jordan, the only other clear-cut defensive line target on Maryland’s board is Rahshaun Smith (IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.). The Terps remain in solid shape for the four-star Baltimore native Smith as long as Locksley’s in College Park, but they aren’t in a particularly favorable spot for Hall or Jordan. Problem is, the realistic talent pool, which was thin to begin with, has pretty much dried up (aside from “project recruits.”)
Maybe the Maryland staff will delve deeper into the junior college ranks if neither Hall nor Jordan come around to the hometown school. We’ll keep our ears open for any potential names.
More 2016 Recruiting Notes
Abdul Adams, RB, Hillside (Durham, N.C.): Scout’s Michael Clark stopped by Hillside to interview three-star running back Abdul Adams in the wake of his Michigan State decommitment. The former Woodson (Washington, D.C.) standout explained that he had four suitors in mind and would be taking official visits to each: Oklahoma, Alabama, Indiana and Maryland.
Adams is set to see Norman, Okla., Nov. 21, but he has not scheduled the other three. However, our D.C. sources have indicated he’ll be trekking to College Park unofficially during Thanksgiving break. Then, a couple weeks later, he’s supposed to be officially visiting Maryland Dec. 4, although the latter date is more of a question mark.
Don’t expect Adams to commit during his upcoming Maryland trip, though. Like most recruits on UMD’s radar, the D.C. native will wait to see what transpires with interim head coach and Terps’ recruiter Mike Locksley before making a decision. Yes, Adams is homesick, and, yes, he would like to play in front of family, but if his DMV friends (and Locksley) aren’t around, it’s sayonara College Park.
“I have a former teammate – Parnell Motely – we’re real close, and he’s committed there,” Adams told Clark. “We once talked about playing together in college, but I have to make my decision on what school is best for me. I also want to wait and see who the head coach will be. Like each of the school I’m considering, there is possibility I could end up there, but I’m still evaluating all my options.
“[Interim] coach [Mike] Locksley and [running backs] coach [Terry] Richardson are recruiting me and I have a nice relationship with them. I talk with coach Locksley often and he’s a real genuine guy, who’s looking out for the state if Maryland and wants to make that program better.”
We’re unlikely to hear much from Adams in the near future considering he rarely answers his phone. Given that, we’ll continue relying on our D.C. sources for the lowdown. For the record, they’re maintaining Adams to Maryland . . . if things stay status quo in College Park.
If not, Adams will probably end up with the Tide, per our contacts. Adams has already been to Tuscaloosa, Ala., a couple times and loves the tradition, staff and the staff’s penchant for producing pros.
We’ll know for sure where Adams is heading by early January, which is when the running back wants to finalize his recruitment.
D’Andre Payne, CB, (Arizona Western C.C./Yuma, Ariz.): There’s been some recent rumblings in D.C. regarding former Woodson (D.C.) cornerback D’Andre Payne, who is now at Arizona Western after a false start at Tennessee and a falling out at Maryland with ex-head coach Randy Edsall. Our District connects have let us know the Terps are, at the very least, keeping tabs on Payne and staying in contact.
UMD interim head coach Mike Locksley hasn’t offered the former four-star recruit, but he could make a move this winter if the Terps’ cornerback situation doesn’t improve (read: the staff fails to flip IMG Academy’s Khalil Ladler or land Wise’s Myles Wolfolk). Even if the Terps do pull a couple high school studs, Locksley might still take a chance on Payne given the lack of quality depth in Maryland’s secondary.
We know for sure Payne would love to reunite with the Terps (if Locksley’s in tow), but, for now, the jury is out on which direction UMD will go. There’s debate over how good Payne actually is after a subpar season at Arizona Western. Will he be able to hang in the Big Ten?
Regardless, we’ll place Payne back on the hot board as “cool,” though we’re not expecting anything to happen with him too soon. Maybe if Locksley’s on board for the long run Payne’s temperature will elevate.
With the high-school football season winding down, I decided to stop by Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.) for a closer look at Maryland’s newest cornerback target, Myles Wolfolk. The Pumas ended up thrashing Bowie (Md.), 42-0, in a first-round playoff matchup, and the 6-0.5, 195-pound Wolfolk certainly did his part. The three-star recorded three tackles, an interception and two pass breakups. He also had a touchdown reception as a receiver.
Of all the senior defensive backs I’ve seen live this year, Wolfolk ranks at the top. He doesn’t possess overwhelming physical traits (i.e. decent length, decent speed, average vertical), but he’s a playmaker and should hold up as an FBS boundary corner.
Wolfolk’s physical and aggressive both at the line and down the field, actively jamming and challenging receivers. He can hang in press and zone, showing the ability to turn and run; mirror; fire forward; and transition. He’s quick, changes direction well and possesses deft feet. Wolfolk is also active in the air -- he works for inside position, shields away the wideout and high-points the ball. He’s a willing tackler and has plus field awareness too.
Wolfolk does have to become looser and more fluid, while he could stand to continue mastering his fundamentals -- namely his footwork -- as well. He also has to keep building up his body and improving his explosiveness/burst. And since he’s not the fastest corner around, Wolfolk could have difficulties pitted against fleet-footed FBS receivers. But as long as Wolfolk is used correctly and not asked to shadow a 4.3 wideout, he has solid upside.
Note: I also took note of another Wise athlete Nov. 13. Sophomore A.J. Lytton (5-11, 170 pounds) looks the part of a potential stud. He has an impressive frame for a 2018 recruit, and possesses plenty of speed and athleticism. Lytton already holds early offers from Wisconsin and Boston College and should procure double-digit verbals after college coaches evaluate his sophomore film. Expect the Terps join the fray at some point this offseason.
I spent a good deal of time with Wolfolk prior to his game Nov. 13, hitting him on everything from his recent North Carolina official; his status with Virginia Tech; his affinity for Maryland; decision timelines; upcoming visits; and more. The feeling is this:
While Wolfolk remains committed to Virginia Tech, he probably won’t be signing with the Hokies in February. UNC has his eye now, and Maryland could very well be in position to pounce if UMD-area recruiter Mike Locksley’s on board. Wisconsin is also in the running, while it’s conceivable Wolfolk could entertain Wake Forest or Kentucky too.
I wrote about Wolfolk’s UNC official last week, so we won’t rehash that again. Basically, if the Wise product had to pick a school today, we’d predict a Carolina pop. Fortunately for Terps’ aficionados, he’s not ending his recruitment anytime soon.
Wolfolk will embark on three or four more officials, with trips to Madison, Wis. (Nov. 21), College Park and Blacksburg, Va., coming up.
Tentatively, Wolfolk should be at Maryland Dec. 4, which is when the other 2016 UMD pledges and the likes of Rahshaun Smith; Khalil Ladler; and Abdul Adams are set to be in College Park. It’s possible the Terps could secure a Wolfolk verbal commitment shortly thereafter.
Indeed, the hometown Terps have Wolfolk’s attention for sure, Locksley’s late-October offer and subsequent overtures ringing true. Wolfolk said he understood why UMD didn’t offer previously (former head coach Randy Edsall wouldn’t sign off on a scholarship), and holds no grudge against the local university. More importantly, Wolfolk likes the idea of playing near home, joining the DMV-to-UMD movement, and potentially contributing early during his career.
We like Maryland’s chances here, but if the Terps’ murky coaching situation isn’t cleared up, Wolfolk could opt for North Carolina or maybe stick with Va Tech.
Look for the Wise corner to announce his future destination in late December or early January, as he’s set to enroll at a school Jan. 18.
You can read more about Wolfolk HERE.
The Indiana Game
We didn't figure there would be too many significant recruits attending the Maryland-Indiana game Nov. 21, and our intuitions proved correct. In addition to a few current commits, there will be a smattering of locals in attendance, headlined by Calvert Hall's (Towson, Md.) Tyson Fogg and Oxon Hill's (Md.) Daniel George. Both the 2017 linebacker Fogg and the 2018 cornerback George hold Maryland offers.
Fogg, who we wrote about last week, has Maryland in the running, but seems to be favoring other suitors. The four-star junior is from New Jersey and has only lived in the DMV for two-plus years, so he has no true affinity for the region. Schools such as Rutgers (the hometown favorite), Stanford, Duke, Notre Dame (no offer yet), Clemson, Michigan State, UNC and others are involved.
That said, Fogg does have a relationship with UMD-area recruiter Keith Dudzinski and liked what he saw in College Park previously. If Maryland's able to continue DMV-to-UMD and retain interim coach Mike Locksley, it would give the Terps a leg up with Fogg. For now, though, we're not especially confident about Maryland’s chances.
As for George, the sophomore corner now holds offers from UMD, Iowa, Boston College, UVA, Va Tech and WVU. He's a hometown guy who loves the idea of the hometown movement, but he's only a 2018 recruit. Maryland is the only school he's seen in-depth thus far (he's been to multiple games), so his recruitment is bound to ebb and flow the next couple years.
George already has a rapport with Locksley, so if the interim's on board that could aid the situation. In fact, given Locksley's relationship with Oxon Hill head coach Craig Jeffries, we'd almost assure George would be College Park bound.
But with UMD's coaching situation up in the air, George is bound to explore his ever-mounting options. It's too early to tell which direction he's leaning.
Off the Board
Elias Reynolds, LB, Poly Prep (Brooklyn, N.Y.): Reynolds resided on the hot board based off his early-fall comments regarding a proposed Maryland official visit. The Rutgers’ pledge said he remained in contact with Terps’ defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski and was interested in giving College Park a look. But Reynolds went underground soon after his senior campaign began, and we’ve heard nary a peep since.
This week, however, Reynolds emerged from his shell, letting on his communication with Maryland’s staff had petered out in the wake of ex-head coach Randy Edsall’s departure. Evidently UMD-interim head coach Mike Locksley and Co. were less-than-thrilled with Reynolds’ senior tape and opted to back off. So, Reynolds probably won’t be venturing down to College Park anytime soon -- even if the Terps need another linebacker if No. 1 priority Keith Simms (Landon/Bethesda, Md.) opts for North Carolina or Duke over Maryland.
The New York native was back at Rutgers Nov. 14. Now, it seems like Reynolds is content to sign with the Scarlet Knights.