Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
New Offers Out
Time was when the Shell’s “New Offers Out” section consisted of two, maybe three names each week. That’s no longer the case under Terps’ head coach D.J. Durkin, whose staff seems intent on offering every 2017 recruit with a pulse. Here’s the lowdown on the most recent offerees, from Feb. 19-25:
Tommy DeVito, QB, Don Bosco (Ramsey, N.J.): Tommy DeVito became the sixth junior quarterback Maryland’s staff has offered thus far. The Terps were DeVito’s first power-five verbal, and, naturally, the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder was thrilled about it. DeVito had been in touch with UMD offensive coordinator Walt Bell, who let the gunslinger know about the look Feb. 22.
And it was Bell himself who garnered the most adulation.
“To me, the thing that really sticks out about Maryland is Coach Bell,” said DeVito, who also holds offers from Temple, Bucknell, Bowling Green, UPenn, Yale and Monmouth. “If I decide to go there, I really feel like I could develop under him. I really like his system and how he goes about quarterback development. The way he described it to me is they find their guy, they identify his strength and weaknesses, and then they work to develop those strength. That sounded really great to me.
“And I really like Coach Bell as a person too. I’d been talking to him on Twitter, but after speaking to him I can tell he’s a high-energy guy; he really cares about the program; and I feel like I’ll get along with him great. I had a high school coach I had a very close relationship with, and I feel like I could form the same type of bond with Coach Bell.”
DeVito actually visited College Park three days prior to the verbal materializing. Not only did the Garden State native meet Bell and several staffers, but he took to the environment; location; and facilities. He dubbed the forthcoming upgrades, namely the indoor tunnel, “better than everyone else’s,” while DeVito called the campus itself “higher on the totem poll” than the other school grounds he’d seen (Rutgers' and Temple's).
DeVito talked up UMD’s academics too. Education is of the utmost importance to him, and the fact the Terps’ staff is stressing both the books and the gridiron hit home.
Moreover, the pro-style DeVito said he could adapt to Walt Bell’s spread, the signal caller mentioning he could play in any scheme.
“If I had to say right now, yes, Maryland would be the favorite,” DeVito said.
Look for DeVito to return to College Park for another sitdown with coach D.J. Durkin later during the spring. Provided the headman will accept a pledge -- remember, there are plenty of other quarterbacks on Maryland’s board -- it’s possible DeVito pledges on campus.
An offer from Syracuse, which is interested, could potentially delay matters, but the Terps look to be in the pole position. Now the question is, Will Durkin tell DeVito to hold off on committing, or will the headman push for a pop?
You can read more about DeVito HERE.
Deon Jackson, RB/Slot, Pace Academy (Atlanta, Ga.): An under-the-radar recruit, the 6-0, 190-pound Jackson landed an initial power-five offer from Maryland Feb. 24. Interestingly enough, though, he didn’t hear from UMD running backs coach Anthony Tucker or one of Maryland’s Georgia recruiters, Mike London or Walt Bell. Instead, it was Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry who informed of said scholarship.
Not that it mattered to Jackson all that much. He was simply buzzing over the major offer.
“I was actually kind of shocked at first, because it was my first power-five offer. I was really excited and I plan on visiting sometime soon with my mom,” said Jackson, who previously claimed verbals from Fresno State, Troy, Colorado State, Mercer and Georgia State. “I’m looking forward to getting to know the running backs coach [Anthony Tucker] and the other staff members too. I’m interested in Maryland, for sure. It sounds like a great fit.”
Indeed, Jackson would fit well into Walt Bell’s no-huddle spread. A versatile back, Jackson can line up at running back, H-Back, slot or wideout. He has no preference for position, so long as he’s making plays.
Whether Jackson makes those plays for Bell and Maryland remains to be seen, however. While the Georgian is intrigued by the offense, the Big Ten affiliation, the $150 million facility and the Under Armour connection, he’s willing to wait out his recruitment.
In due time, Jackson should have more than a few power-five offers in tow. He’s currently receiving interest from UNC, South Carolina, Auburn, Georgia, Ga Tech and various others in the SEC and ACC. Jackson counts Florida, which is where he’s originally from, as a “dream offer,” although besides the Gators he has no favorites or frontrunners.
We’ve listed Jackson as “cool” on the hot board for now, but will elevate his temperature if he visits College Park as he intends.
You can read more about Jackson HERE.
Sean Savoy, Slot, Wilson (Washington, D.C.): There was only one DMV offer that went out this week, the just-emerging Savoy adding the hometown school Feb. 24. Savoy held an initial verbal from Temple during his sophomore year, but hadn’t secured another until the Terps’ Aazaar Abdul-Rahim pulled the trigger.
“I’m just blessed, very blessed to have an opportunity to play for my local school. Before, I wasn’t feeling it from the old Maryland staff, but now I’m feeling the Terps,” Savoy said.
Savoy, who visited College Park in mid-February at Abdul-Rahim's request, extolled the local program, in particular its staff. He had a chance to interact with both receivers' coach Chris Beatty and Abdul-Rahim on campus, in addition to meeting many of the other coaches (head coach D.J. Durkin wasn't around). Savoy said he had "great respect" for Abdul-Rahim, whom the recruit knew from the coach's previous stint in D.C. (at Friendship Collegiate Academy), while he talked up Beatty's knowledge and personality as well.
Aditionally, Savoy lauded the facility upgrades, the campus and, perhaps most importantly, DMV-to-UMD. The D.C. native wasn't at "DMV Day" Feb. 13, but he's all about representing the nearby program.
"It’s a great, young staff over there now. I like what they have going on at Maryland. They set you up for success," Savoy said. “Coach Aazaar, he built a powerhouse in D.C. when he was at FCA (D.C.), getting a lot of the local kids to go there. And now he’s going to do the same thing at the college level. Maryland, it’s going to be big, real big.”
Savoy will have to be recruited, however. Even though he's all about Maryland, he’s willing to wait to see what else materializes during the evaluation period and camp season. Coaches from Georgia, Miami, Indiana, Wake Forest, NC State and North Carolina are all intrigued and could offer in time. Savoy - who has only journeyed through UMD, Temple and NC State -- said he "definitely" wants to get down to Coral Gables, Fla., Chapel Hill, N.C., and Athens, Ga., this summer.
But given Abdul-Rahim’s D.C. connections and pull in the District, Savoy is probably the Terps' to lose. Provided the staff keeps pushing and the offer remains committable, Savoy could be a Terp before it's all said and done.
You can read more about Savoy HERE.
Hezekiah Grimsley, WR, Lafayette (Williamsburg, Va.): Maryland was the third suitor and second of the power-five variety for the 6-0, 170-pound Grimsley. Iowa State and Marshall extended verbals earlier during the winter, and UMD entered the picture Feb. 22.
Terps’ receivers coach Chris Beatty and defensive line coach Mike London are on the Virginia native, who said he’d be trekking north to College Park this spring. But, in truth, Grimsley didn’t exactly give off the most pro-UMD vibes.
“I honestly don’t really know how to feel about the offer, because I don’t know much about the school yet,” Grimsley said of Maryland. “I am happy about it, because it is another big offer for me and it kind of puts me more on the map. But I have to look more into [the Terps] and get to know the coaches more. I’m looking forward to it, though.”
Grimsley did say the new indoor facility, which he viewed online, looked “pretty cool,” while he’d like to establish a relationship with both of his UMD-area recruiters. He said London and Beatty were “cool guys,” but Grimsley didn’t know either while they were at UVA last year and hasn’t communicated with them on a personal level yet.
We’ll see if the two Terps’ assistants can gain inroads, but it sounds like Grimsley’s more focused on in-state Va Tech, which offered Feb. 25. He said the Hokies were “an offer I was looking for." The wideout counted Pitt as another standout following a Panthers’ junior day earlier in February.
Grimsley also let on that he’s willing to wait his recruitment out until after the fall. He’s fairly certain he’ll procure his share of FBS verbals once his senior film is released.
You can read more about Grimsley HERE.
Connor Heyward, WR, Peachtree Ridge (Suwanee, Ga.): Connor Heyward is the son of the late NFL great Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, and younger brother of current Steelers’ defensive end Cameron Heyward and Georgia Tech hoopster Corey Heyward. Connor Heyward has an expanding offer list that includes Arizona State, BC, Ga Tech, Iowa, Louisville, Pitt, Vandy, Kansas State and, as of Feb. 22, Maryland.
Heyward’s Terps’ look came courtesy of UMD receivers’ coach Chris Beatty, and the pair are in the process of getting to know one another. The Georgian didn’t know much about UMD, or the current state of its program, but it’s conceivable Beatty can cull out a visit considering Heyward treks north often enough to see his brother in Pittsburgh.
Of course, Cameron Heyward played his college ball at Ohio State, and if the Buckeyes, who Connor Heyward has supreme interest in, pursue, that could very well be the recruit’s destination. Connor Heyward’s been to Pitt a couple times too, the Panthers seemingly in position early in the game.
In-state Georgia Tech can’t be discounted, either; Heyward’s taken a liking to the Jackets following a jaunt through Atlanta, Ga. Heyward has checked out Vandy and Arizona State too, both the Commodores and Sun Devils drawing praise.
For the moment, the receiver/safety/linebacker doesn’t have a leaderboard as he’s still in the evaluation stage.Heyward wants to see as many suitors as possible, so we probably won’t have a clear idea what he’s thinking until after that. But watch out for Ohio State and the country’s elites. If they come calling, Heyward’s likely headed in their direction.
Corey Reed, WR, Mays (Atlanta, Ga.): Yet another receiver offer out in the Peach State. Reed, who had been in contact with UMD-area recruiter Mike London, saw his offer list reach double-digits when the Terps’ assistant followed through with a verbal Feb. 21.
But Reed has only had brief exchanges with London, and has just begun delving into Maryland. The 6-3, 200-pounder could visit College Park later during the summer, but he’d have to fit it in among numerous other proposed trips.
The feeling on this end is Reed may have other suitors trumping the Terps for now. Kentucky, Reed’s first SEC suitor, holds some water and should get a look soon. So should Miami, a recent offer that garnered Reed’s attention. And potential offerees like Georgia, Georgia Tech, UNC, NC State and Clemson could be graced with Reed’s presence this offseason too.
The Mays product was supposedly at Wake Forest and Louisville for recent junior days. The Cardinals, for their part, are thought to be a primary contender at the outset of Reed’s recruitment.
We’ll see if London can make up some ground in the future. For now, Reed’s going on the hot board as “cool.”
Justin Marshall, WR, Salem (Conyers, Ga.): At the start of February, the 6-3, 195-pound Marshall had nary a power-five look, his single offer coming courtesy of Charlotte. Less than a month later, the Georgian has double-digit scholarships from the likes of Cincinnati, Louisville, USF, West Virginia, Western Kentucky, Georgia Southern, Presbyterian, Middle Tennessee and Maryland. Four of those verbals actually came on the same day, Feb. 24: Georgia Southern, UMD, WVU and Cincy.
Of that quartet, and, really, of all the programs that have offered, one in particular stood out:
“Maryland is actually my second dream school, next to Clemson,” Marshall said. “Maryland has just always caught my eye. First off, the uniforms. Growing up, I just always tuned into Maryland because I loved the uniforms and Under Armour so much.
“But the main reason I love Maryland is Stefon Diggs. I watched him from a freshman all the way up until he got drafted [by the Vikings]. I saw him develop, become a better route runner, become a better receiver and just make big play after big play. I saw all the highlights on SportsCenter and things like that. So I just always thought about being at Maryland and making plays like him.”
Will Marshall follow in the ways of the Maryland great Diggs? Well, he certainly is high on the program at this juncture. Marshall's enthusiastic about forming a relationship with receivers’ coach Chris Beatty and visiting College Park as soon as possible.
But count us as somewhat skeptical until Marshall follows through with that trip. It seems out-of-state recruits the Terps are after tend to hit a “snag” when the floodgates open and the offers start flowing.
True, Marshall insisted he wouldn’t think any differently of Maryland if the SEC began pursuing in earnest. But let’s see if he’s singing that tune if/when the Floridas and Alabamas (and Clemsons) come after him.
In the meantime, Marshall said he’s procuring interest from UNC, South Carolina (March 12 visit), Duke, Georgia (Feb. 26 visit), NC State (Feb. 27 visit) and more.
You can read more about Marshall HERE.
Xavier Williams, WR, Chaminade-Madonna (Hollywood, Fla.) (2018): This sophomore four-star is adding offer after offer from the nation’s crème de crème. In a two-day span Feb. 19-20, Williams picked up Alabama, Florida State and Georgia.
Maryland, with receivers’ coach Chris Beatty running point, entered the fray Feb. 21, joining the likes of Tennessee; LSU; Miami; Kentucky; NC State; West Virginia; and Illinois; in addition to the Tide; Noles; and Bulldogs.
Williams declared WVU an early leader back in January, but that was before hometown Miami, FSU and the SEC stalwarts offered. Our colleagues believe Williams will either opt for an in-state program, or head to an SEC power.
Andrew Park, TE, Lake Braddock (Burke, Va.): The 6-5, 230-pound Park visited Maryland Feb. 23 at the behest of UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty, who first came in contact with the tight end in mid-February. The assistant had had communication with Park via Twitter, expressing interest in the under-the-radar tight end, who only held Division I-AA offers at that point.
That changed Feb. 23 following Park’s stay at Maryland. The Lake Braddock prospect received his first FBS scholarship when head coach D.J. Durkin let the tight end know he fit the mold of a potential Terp.
“Coach Durkin’s message was he wants to find guys who compete every day in school and on the field, and he wants to build something really special at Maryland,” Park said. “I felt really close to his values of accountability and honesty, and it was really something good.
“I think all the Maryland coaches are really enthusiastic about what they’re doing. They’re all about the future and building the program. They all have the right mindset and are very positive. I’ll probably be talking to Coach Beatty and Coach [Pete] Lembo a lot in the future, because you have to build relationships with all of the coaches to really get to know who you could be playing for. I’m looking forward to it.”
Indeed, Park saved his most ardent praise for the staff itself, namely Lembo and offensive coordinator Walt Bell. Park, along with his father, had extended sitdowns with both staffers, each leaving favorable impressions. Park explained how Bell felt the tight end would be perfect for the coordinator’s scheme, the Lake Braddock product’s versatility standing out.
Park also talked up the campus itself (he liked the architecture), the $150 million facility upgrades (he called them “amazing”), and the university’s academic reputation (a major factor since Park’s an honors student).
Post visit, Park promptly placed the Terps No. 1 in the pecking order.
“Maryland is at the top right now, because it is my biggest offer,” Park said. “I like it there a lot. I’ll definitely be back for a spring practice and a game.”
But pump the breaks just a bit, UMD aficionados. Park mentioned he wanted to check out more suitors and see what offers come to fruition before popping. Tennessee, Penn State and Duke have been in close contact, while he’s heard from Temple; Cincinnati; and Miami of Ohio too.
Park called the Vols a “dream school” or sorts, and also said PSU and Duke would be counted as standouts too should either extend scholarships.
The Burke native has already seen Tennessee, Penn State and Duke before; he will return to each this spring/summer (he’ll be in Happy Valley Feb. 27). Cincy, Temple and Miami of Ohio could receive visits too.
After taking in these respective schools, Park said he should be ready to select his college destination by June or July. Ideally, he wants to complete his recruitment before his senior season.
You can read more about Park HERE.
Kurt Rafdal, TE, Carmel (Ind.): A Midwest tight end who is beginning to gain steam on the recruiting trail, Rafdal picked up his most recent offer from Maryland Feb. 22. UMD’s tight ends coach, Pete Lembo, proffered the scholarship to the 6-7, 230 pounder, who knew the assistant from when the coach was at Ball State. Lembo, the former headman in Muncie, Ind., was the first to recruit and offer Rafdal.
“When [Lembo] was [at Ball State], he told me I’d be a power-five guy, but he wanted to get in the hunt first because no one had offered me yet,” Rafdal said. “And then [Lembo] remembered who I was when he got to Maryland, and he brought my name up to the staff. He showed them my tape, and they all liked it. He’d been talking to me on Twitter, keeping me updated, and then [Feb. 22] he told me I had the offer from Maryland. So that was really cool, and it was great talking to Coach Lembo again. I was excited that he’s now offering me at a power-five school.”
Rafdal was intrigued enough by the coach’s pitch to consider visiting College Park this spring or summer. The two didn’t discuss offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s offense, but Maryland’s business program; campus (Lembo sent him pictures); and Big Ten affiliation have piqued Rafdal’s interest.
Rafdal also holds verbals from Indiana, Purdue, Louisville, Illinois, BC, Iowa State, Ball State and Miami (Ohio), conventional wisdom suggesting the Big Ten powers will eventually become involved. But per our Midwest analysts, who have seen Rafdal play, they’re not so sure (although Nebraska did offer Feb. 24). They surmised this recruitment will probably come down to whether Rafdal wants to stay closer to home and play at an Indiana, Illinois, Purdue or Louisville, or trek east to Maryland.
IU, for its part, has Rafdal’s full attention for now. He stopped short of calling the Hoosiers a leader, but he’s visited multiple times and wants to return to Bloomington, Ind., again.
Moreover, Rafdal said Michigan State’s staff had shown interest and could offer once he re-visits East Lansing, Mich. If so, the Spartans could vault to the top of the totem poll.
The Carmel product has also been to Illinois and Purdue, and will be returning to each this spring. Iowa State is on the docket for a trip too.
There’s a ways to go, so we’ll see how this situation develops, but it does sound like the Terps should be involved with Rafdal throughout.
You can read more about Rafdal HERE.
Brandon Gaddy, TE, Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach, Va.): The Terps and area recruiter Chris Beatty offered this Virginia Beach athlete Feb. 20, the 20th school to do so. Gaddy projects as a tight end in college, but actually plays quarterback; running back; defensive line; and a variety of other spots too. He is the twin brother of four-star defensive tackle Breyon Gaddy, who has his pick of schools (the Terps offered Breyon Gaddy previously). The two are a proposed package deal and will undoubtedly attend the same college.
Clemson is in a strong spot for Brandon Gaddy initially, mainly because the Tigers are on Breyon Gaddy heavy. Florida State is also firmly in the game, and Notre Dame would be too if the Irish offer. Ole Miss and Nebraska are involved to an extent.
One factor that could work in Maryland’s favor, though, is it’s unclear how many programs will be able to take both Gaddy brothers. If the two drag their recruitments out, as anticipated, Clemson; FSU; and others could fall by the wayside.
We’re not listing the brothers Gaddy on the hot board yet, but let’s see if their names crop up in association with Maryland down the line.
Mekhi Becton, OT, Highland Springs (Va.): Becton is about to blow up on the recruiting trail, so it was a prudent move by Maryland assistant Mike London to get the Terps in the game now as opposed to later. The 6-6, 300-pound Becton already held Michigan State; Pitt, UVA, NC State and Cincinnati verbals prior to the Terps’ offer Feb. 22.
Regardless of the offer list, London and offensive line coach Dave Borbely should have at least a shot to impress Becton. The budding tackle recruit is keeping an open mind and is willing to listen to all comers. The fact Maryland is just a couple hours from Highland Springs holds appeal, while Becton likes what he’s heard from London thus far in terms of UMD’s need for offensive tackles.
“I was blessed and excited to get the Maryland offer, and Coach London told me he loved my explosiveness and character,” Becton said. “I learned a lot from Coach London when he was coaching at UVA, and I think he’s a great coach and person. I’m excited to get to know him more.”
Moreover, Becton’s teammate, safety Rell Coley, has a Terps’ offer as well, and the two want to visit College Park together. If the trip comes to fruition, it will give the UMD coaches a chance to win the pair over and perhaps talk package deal.
Becton’s currently planning out his spring visit schedule and will hit several regional programs in the coming months, including Pitt; UVA; and perhaps Maryland.
Expect Becton to take his recruitment well into next fall, or maybe even the winter.
“I really don’t have a school that’s stood out to me yet,” Becton said. “I’m still breaking down this recruiting process.”
Eric Douglas, OT, Mallard Creek (Charlotte, N.C.): Maryland assistant and Carolina-area recruiter Walt Bell offered the four-star Douglas Feb. 23, the tackle’s eighth verbal to date. It’s going to be tough sledding just to get Douglas up for a College Park visit, however.
The Mallard Creek product has already claimed an initial favorites list consisting of UNC, Florida, Clemson, South Carolina and NC State. He was at North Carolina’s junior day Feb. 17, intimating the Tar Heels were in prime position. South Carolina, meanwhile, which Douglas visited Feb. 13, has the tackle’s ear too.
Douglas has yet to visit Clemson or Florida, but both should have a shot to win him over when he treks through each later this offseason. On top of that, Douglas holds offers from Cal, PSU, WVU, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Vandy, with more power programs ready to enter the fray.
We did not place Douglas on the hot board, and will only do so if he shows up in College Park.
T.J. Moore, OG, Mallard Creek (Charlotte, N.C.): Mallard Creek must have one heck of an offensive line. Eric Douglas (discussed above) is a four-star left tackle, and at left guard is fellow four-star T.J. Moore. The Terps’ Carolina-area recruiter, Walt Bell, handed Moore a Maryland verbal a day after offering Douglas. Moore also holds scholarships from WVU, NC State, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, East Carolina and Charlotte.
Like Douglas, Moore has a few early frontrunners, many of them the same as his linemate. Hometown North Carolina and South Carolina head the list, along with NC State. UNC could be primed to secure the package deal, both Moore and Douglas thoroughly enjoying their recent visit to Chapel Hill.
Moore doesn’t have quite as many high-end looks as his teammate, but he is receiving interest from Clemson, Penn State, FSU and programs throughout the SEC.
Given the above, Moore’s probably a longshot to wind up in College Park, although maybe Bell can convince him and Douglas to at least visit together. The latter scenario would get the Terps’ foot in the door and allow the coaches a fighter’s chance down the line.
Again, we will only place Moore on the hot board if he does indeed trek through Maryland.
Billy Ross, OT, Huntington (W.Va.): The Terps’ staff offered the four-star Ross Feb. 25, along with Tennessee and South Carolina. The 6-5, 290-pounder previously held verbals from WVU, Louisville, FSU, Miami, Michigan, NC State, South Carolina and more.
Ross is high on the hometown school, West Virginia, although the recent SEC looks grabbed his attention too. South Carolina and Tennessee both will receive visits, and Louisville could as well.
Jonathan MacCollister, DE, Bishop Moore (Deland, Fla.): This multi-offer Florida recruit added Maryland to his growing resume Feb. 19, hearing from both UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty and defensive line coach Mike London. But, while appreciative, MacCollister has his eyes on the southern elites and programs throughout the SEC.
For now, Auburn holds weight following a trip though War Eagle country. Clemson is a primary contender as well, followed by UNC; Kentucky; Va Tech and potentially others. BC, Duke, Colorado, Miami, Pitt, Louisville, UCF, USF, Wake, Vandy and more have anted up.
MacCollister doesn’t plan to commit anytime soon, but for the Terps to have a shot here other suitors will have to fall by the wayside.
Nana Asiedu, DE, North Stafford (Stafford, Va.) (2018): The Terps became the second school, after hometown UVA, to offer this 6-5, 240-pounder Feb. 25. Asiedu has interest from regional programs for now, but the Big Ten; ACC; and SEC stalwarts will be involved in time.
Given that, it was smart for UMD assistant Mike London to begin developing a relationship with Asiedu. Look for the budding defensive end to make the short drive to College Park this spring or summer, giving him early exposure to UMD and its coaches.
Jayson Ademiola, DE, St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey, City, N.J.) (2018): Maryland’s Jersey recruiter, Matt Barnes, tossed a UMD offer out to this soon-to-be four-star defensive end Feb. 22. Ademiola held verbals from the likes of Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Penn State, UVA, Rutgers, Auburn and BC before the Terps entered the picture.
With an ever-expanding offer list, the sophomore is in a wait-and-see mode. He has been to Rutgers and Michigan, however, and the Wolverines seem to have the upper-hand initially. Ohio State should be joining the fray soon, and would instantly rise up the leaderboard. And Alabama, which Ademiola has visited before too, would become a primary contender should the Tide coaches pursue.
Needless to say, this could be a difficult pull for Barnes and Co.
Justin Ademiola, OLB, St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) (2018): No, this is not a typo, and, no, Justin Ademiola is not the same person as Jayson Ademiola. The two are twins, and have virtually identical offer lists.
Justin and Jayson Ademiola will almost assuredly attend the same college, and they shouldn’t find a shortage of suitors willing to accept them both. Again, Michigan could have the inside track at this juncture.
Brelin Faison-Walden, S/OLB, Grimsley (Greensboro, N.C.): The Terps became the 14th offer for this four-star safety/linebacker, who should have double the looks in another month or so.
Faison-Walden picked up an Alabama verbal after visiting Tuscaloosa, Ala., last year, and the Tide have his eye thanks to their tradition; staff; and player development. Meanwhile, Faison-Walden was just at hometown UNC Feb. 20 and couldn’t say enough about the atmosphere and coaches in Chapel Hill. Georgia, another school the Grimsley product recently checked out, is firmly involved as well. Florida State, USC, Penn State, South Carolina, Va Tech, NC State and more also have offers out.
The four-star has been in touch with Maryland assistant Pete Lembo, who has ties in North Carolina from when he coached at Elon. At this stage, however, Faison-Walden doesn’t know much about the Terps other than the basics.
We’ll see what Lembo can swing here, but most believe Faison-Walden is heading to the SEC or maybe in-state UNC.
Rell Coley, S, Highland Springs (Va.): Terps’ assistants Chris Beatty and Mike London tried their hands at a couple Highland Springs 2016 recruits in Greg Dortch (Wake Forest) and K’Von Wallace (Clemson), but came up a little short. Perhaps London will have a better shot at Coley, a 5-10, 175-pounder who added his first power-five offer from Maryland Feb. 22. Coley also held two other verbals from Cincinnati, which he picked up in late January, and Marshall.
Following his third scholarship, Coley expressed plenty of excitement. The fact Maryland is close to home, is Under Armour affiliated and competes in the Big Ten grabbed Coley’s attention, but he was more taken by London himself. Coley knew London from when the coach was at UVA and said “there’s a lot of mutual respect there.” The Highland Springs prospect called London a “father figure” and is eager to re-establish their rapport now that the ex-Wahoos’ headman is at UMD.
Coley, along with teammate Mekhi Becton (discussed above), should be foraying through College Park this spring, seeking to meet the new staff firsthand. Coley wants to see the campus, facilities and learn more about what head coach D.J. Durkin’s program is about.
Like most recruits at this stage of the game, however, Coley’s taking a measured approach. He would like to check out Cincinnati at some point as well, in addition to other suitors that may crop up. Coley has interest from UVA, an attractive in-state option, along with various other programs.
You can read more about Coley HERE.
DaShaun Jenkins, S, Woodbridge (Va.) (2018): The Maryland staff did well to jump on this sophomore safety Feb. 25, because the 6-1, 195-pounder is going to explode on the recruiting trail. NC State became his first verbal earlier in February, with UMD the second, but the likes of Clemson; UNC; Wake; UVA; Va Tech and more should be offering before the spring is out.
Look for Terps' defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, along with Virginia-area recruiter Chris Beatty, to begin establishing a relationship. Jenkins should be visiting College Park for a spring practice later in March or April.
More Recruiting Notes
Tahj Capehart, WR, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach, Va.): Turns out the Terps are still in the game for the four-star Capehart. We had been skeptical recently, mainly because the Virginia Beach native did not once broach Maryland in a couple interviews he granted the last two weeks.
But apparently UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty must have caught wind, because Feb. 25 the Virginia Beach product said not only were the Terps still involved, but he’d be visiting College Park Feb. 27. Capehart has known Beatty for more than two years now, so it’s no surprise the Maryland receivers’ coach and 757 native was able to pull some strings and coax the receiver north.
We’ll attempt to touch base with Capehart post-College Park trip, but at first blush this sounds promising. The four-star will be releasing a top-five or seven favorites list later during the spring, and the fact Capehart chose to visit UMD before doing so lends us to believe Maryland will be included.
Some other universities that have caught Capehart’s eye are Va Tech, UVA, North Carolina, NC State, Penn State, Tennessee, South Carolina and Nebraska. The Hokies could be the early leaders after Capehart trekked through Blacksburg, Va., recently to meet new headman Justin Fuente and his staff.
Alexander Marshall, TE, Andover (Mass.): When Maryland tight ends coach Pete Lembo offered Marshall back on Feb. 9, the tight end went on and on about the Terps. He mentioned that “things were going in the right direction” at UMD, liked how offensive coordinator Walt Bell uses tight ends, talked up the facility upgrades, and extolled Lembo himself. Plus, Marshall had been in College Park before and said he loved the area and the various post-graduate business opportunities the D.C. corridor presented.
Marshall’s feelings about UMD remain several weeks later, but since then his recruitment has reached another level. Alabama just offered Feb. 25, opening the tight end up to the nation’s powers. The Massachusetts recruit was stunned by the Tide scholarship, and, predictably, will be visiting the Tide later this offseason.
He’ll surely have even more SEC options to consider in short order (he wants a Florida scholarship). In addition, Notre Dame, which Marshall’s already taken in, would become a primary player if/when the Irish staff offers. Clemson, another program Marshall’s trekked through, would become a top suitor too.
The Andover product could still check out Maryland, but we’re a bit less optimistic post-Alabama offer.
Cody Bowes, OT, Aquinas (Miami, Fla.): Bowes, whom the Terps’ staff offered about a month ago, released an initial top-10 leaderboard Feb. 22. The list included, in no order: Tennessee, Ohio State, Maryland, West Virginia, Wake Forest, Iowa State, Syracuse, Kentucky and Illinois.
The above, as recruitniks know well, is subject to change. Pitt, for example, just offered and could sneak up the totem poll as the Panthers’ coaches establish a rapport with Bowes. And if in-state programs likes UF; FSU; and Miami, plus some other SEC suitors, enter the game, well, that’s likely to change Bowes’ thinking as well.
The Terps, for their part, have Maryland assistant Dave Borbely leading the recruitment. Bowes has taken a liking to the O-line coach, the two in daily contact with each other. And while Borbely's remained in touch with Bowes, UMD wideout's coach Chris Beatty is on his two teammates, receivers Mike Harley and Josh Palmer. All three have said they’d like to visit College Park together this spring or summer. If such a trip comes to fruition, perhaps Maryland can remain in the game up until Bowes is ready to choose a school (not until next winter).
Tommy Christ, OT, Dominion (Sterling, Va.): Christ, which the Terps’ coaches offered earlier in February, is maintaining interest in Maryland. But the two-way lineman’s most recent verbals made the situation more complicated for the UMD staff.
Christ added a Rutgers offer while at the Scarlet Knights’ junior day, and RU figures to be a prime player because the Dominion product’s uncle played left tackle in Piscataway, N.J. The 6-5.5, 255-pounder raved about his stay at RU and should be returning later this spring.
Christ also landed an offer from Pitt last week, the tackle claiming multiple family connections in the Pittsburgh area. After the verbal, the Sterling native immediately placed the Panthers among his foremost suitors and said he was excited to visit.
Hometown programs Va Tech and UVA remain firmly on Christ’s mind as well, each on track for an upcoming visit. Christ’s brother, Matt, is currently on Tech’s roster, which has given the Hokies a leg up.
Christ should still be returning to College Park at some point, however. The Virginia native loved his last visit to Maryland back in January, easily connecting with the new regime. Since then, Christ has been in close contact with his UMD recruiter, Mike London, in addition to offensive coordinator Walt Bell.
Robert Porcher, DE, Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.): We noted Porcher’s Maryland offer in last week’s space, and a few days later we touched base with the 6-3, 250-pounder for a full-scale interview. Porcher, the son of the former NFL great by the same name, said he was “real excited” when UMD assistant Matt Barnes informed him of the verbal, his eighth to date.
The Dr. Phillips product said Maryland’s facility upgrades, first and foremost, grabbed his attention, while the Under Armour connection stood out too. Porcher also called Barnes “a real cool guy,” and he offered up praise for defensive line coach Mike London as well.
But one of the main reasons Porcher wants to check the Terps out firsthand is the fact Barnes also offered Dr. Phillips linebacker Nick Smith. Porcher and Smith are a tentative package deal, and so far there are a smattering of institutions willing to accept them both (Indiana, Louisville, FAU, Cincinnati and Maryland). Of course, package deals rarely come to fruition, but at the very least it’s keeping the Terps in the hunt.
Porcher and Smith should be visiting College Park together later during the spring. Louisville and UNC, the latter of which could be offering the duo during a proposed April 2 trip, are also on the docket.
Porcher, and Smith for that matter, had previously trekked through UCF; Auburn; and Georgia Tech.
Expect Porcher to wad through the recruiting process, refusing to make any rash decisions. Right now, we have Porcher listed “cool” on the hot board, but the temperature could escalate if he, along with Smith, actually make it to Maryland.
You can read more about Porcher HERE.
Cam Spence, DT, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): The four-star Spence was at The Opening tryouts in Orlando, Fla., and Scout’s Corey Bender touched base with him. As anticipated, the Baltimore native and former Gilman star once again brought up hometown Maryland as a primary contender. He lauded the new regime under headman D.J. Durkin and said he’s been in contact with multiple Terps’ staffers like Chris Beatty; Mike London; and Scott Shafer.
During Spence’s spring break, when he’ll presumably return to Baltimore, he should have time to visit College Park. It will be his first opportunity to meet Durkin and Co. in person.
Spence’s other primary suitors include Penn State, Ohio State, Kentucky and Florida. The Terps are the frontrunners at this point, but the Nittany Lions, a program the four-star will revisit during the summer, are a close second. The Buckeyes and Gators, meanwhile, could improve their standing after Spence treks through Columbus, Ohio, and Gainesville, Fla.
Spence, an early enrollee, should be ending his recruitment sometime during the summer.
Josh Kaindoh, DE, IMG Academy (Brandenton, Fla.): The five-star Kaindoh, originally of Mt. Carmel (Essex, Md.), is keeping the Terps among his top contenders, just like fellow Marylander Cam Spence (discussed above). But Kaindoh will take a little more convincing to join DMV-to-UMD.
The Baltimore native has offers from all over the country, including one of his dream schools, Notre Dame. Kaindoh has always been a bit different than most nationally-touted recruits, his focus primarily on academics first, football second. So it's no shock Kaindoh has Irish eyes what with UND's combination of academic and gridiron prowess. Kaindoh should be visiting South Bend, Ind., later during the spring, and we'll have to see what transpires after that.
It follows that if the educationally-renowned Stanford eventually offers, the Cardinal would immediately become another prime player. For now, though, Kaindoh's all about Notre Dame, but it's not like he won't be considering his multitude of suitors. Penn State has long been on his mind, as have Ohio State; Michigan; and Maryland. Kaindoh should be visiting all of the aforementioned universities in due time. (Kaindoh also holds SEC offers, but he hasn't seemed to be as high on LSU, Alabama, Florida and the like.)
The Terps, for their part, have multiple coaches recruiting Kaindoh at IMG, from head coach D.J. Durkin; to defensive line coach Mike London; to defensive coordinator Scott Shafer. Kaindoh has yet to meet the staff firsthand, but should get that opportunity when he returns to Baltimore during break. The UMD coaches' pitch may not be enough to trump Notre Dame's, but let's see what the five-star's thinking after stepping foot in College Park again.
Dorian Etheridge, LB, Capital (Charleston, W.Va.): We made mention of Etheridge’s Feb. 18 Maryland offer in last week’s Shell, and this week we had a chance to speak to him about it.
Evidently the 6-3, 210-pounder has more connections to UMD than originally surmised.
Etheridge grew up in Northern Virginia and attended numerous Terps’ games growing up. He said he “loved the environment there,” specifically pointing to the fans; the stadium; and the campus itself. So when Maryland’s linebackers’ coach, Matt Barnes, handed him a scholarship, Etheridge was euphoric. The Capital product called it an “awesome opportunity” to have the chance to play for a school he’d seen firsthand as a youngster.
Furthermore, Etheridge easily related to Barnes, who the outside linebacker has been exchanging messages with for a couple weeks now.
“We got to talking, and he’s just full of energy,” Etheridge said. “Every time I’ve talked to him he’s positive and never down. If you don’t have coaches that are positive, you’re not going to be positive as a player, and you’re not going to execute. So I really liked that about him. And when I called him up, he told me the plan they have in place for building the defense. It sounded really good, and he said he just needs players like me to fill it out and make it happen.
“Coach Barnes said it’s an attacking defense, and they want to get after it. He said they want guys who attack, run and just go 100 percent. He said if do that, more often than not you’re going to win the game. And I told him that’s the kind of player I am and I loved the idea.”
Etheridge should be returning to College Park for a spring practice.
But the West Virginian has a few more options than just Maryland. WVU, Louisville, Virginia Tech and Marshall have offers out, while Pitt; UNC; and even bigwigs like Notre Dame and Ohio State have shown interest. Etheridge will be at Tech Feb. 27 and Pitt Feb. 28, likely adding the Panthers’ offer on campus.
If a school such as UND or OSU becomes involved, Etheridge admitted the Irish and Buckeyes would probably become the leaders. Barring that, however, Maryland should have a puncher’s chance here, especially since Etheridge insisted he’s no lock to wind up at hometown WVU.
You can read more about Etheridge HERE.
Nick Smith, LB, Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.): Minutes after Smith’s teammate, defensive end Robert Porcher (discussed above), landed a Maryland offer, the outside linebacker picked up a Terps’ verbal as well.
“When I first got the offer I was pretty excited, but it was even better when I found out that they offered my teammate too,” said Smith, who would like to attend the same college as Porcher.
Smith and Porcher should be visiting Maryland sometime this spring, giving the staff a chance to sell the two on College Park. But even Smith acknowledged the pair have to “do what’s best for us individually,” so that package deal is iffy.
Even so, Smith does have initial Maryland interest. He and UMD assistant Matt Barnes didn’t discuss UMD for long, but Smith likes that it’s an Under Armour school and competes in the Big Ten. The Dr. Phillips linebacker also lived in Baltimore for about a year, when his father, former NFL lineman Fernando Smith, suited up for the Ravens in 1999. From what he could remember, Smith liked the area, but admitted the cold got to him a bit.
Maryland won’t be the lone institution garnering a visit from Smith and his teammate, though. UNC, which could offer the pair, will be graced with their presences April 2. Meanwhile, Smith personally wants to hit Florida and South Carolina. He’s already forayed through Georgia Tech, Auburn, UCF and his uncle’s -- ex-NFL great Robaire Smith -- alma mater, Michigan State.
Smith said he’s wide open in the process and has no current leaders. He’ll likely drag his recruitment out until next winter.
You can read more about Smith HERE.
Jordan Anthony, LB, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): The former Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) star Anthony updated his recruitment with our Florida colleagues earlier this week, and it sounds like the four-star isn’t as keen on DMV-to-UMD as his teammate, Baltimore native Cam Spence (discussed above).
Anthony has long favored Clemson, one of the linebacker’s first suitors, the Tigers’ coaches maintaining a close rapport the last couple years. The four-star should be back in Death Valley for yet another look at CU this spring.
Penn State is a foremost contender as well, and could be running just behind Clemson in the pecking order. Florida, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Michigan are on the brain too, with the nearby Gators making a charge.
We do know Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin and Co. are on Anthony, but the ex-Falcons’ standout seems to be starry-eyed for the moment. We’ll see if he changes his tune if he happens to foray through College Park during his return home to the Old Line State this spring.
Keisean Wilson, OLB, North Point (Waldorf, Md.): Last week, we noted the linebacker Wilson’s presence at Maryland for “DMV Day” and his subsequent interest in the Terps. But UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes haven’t extended an offer yet, so in the meantime Wilson’s focus has been elsewhere.
Wilson took in a Syracuse junior day Feb. 20, adding an Orange verbal before departing. It was the backer’s most significant scholarship to date, Wilson raving about the look. The North Point product, who proclaimed the Orange an initial standout, said he’d “definitely” be returning to New York.
But it’s very early in the game, and the Terps, and other programs for that matter, have time to make a move. Coaches from Northwestern, Kentucky, Rutgers, Stanford, Iowa, Indiana and Maryland are all monitoring the three-star, but haven’t pulled the trigger quite yet.
If the Terps’ staff becomes involved and pushes in earnest, we like their chances at securing Wilson’s services. The Waldorf native is keen on DMV-to-UMD and giving his family every opportunity to watch him play.
George Hunter, S, Atlantic (Delray Beach, Fla.): Maryland defensive backs’ coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim tossed Hunter his first FBS verbal Feb. 18, and the safety was thrilled to the point of tears. He’d been seeking a Terps’ offer ever since his two teammates, Antwaine Richardson and Dion Goldbourne, signed with Maryland Feb. 3, promptly declaring the Terps his No. 1 suitor and probable college destination.
“I’m not going to put it out there too early, but I’m going to be committing there -- that’s a fact. I just don’t want to put it out there yet, but I want to be a Terp. It could be in a month, it could be two months; I’m not sure right now. But I’m going to commit,” Hunter said. “Just hearing about the campus, the organization they’re building, and they have my major. It’s a big school, a good school and they’re on the rise with their program.
“Two of my teammates are already signed at Maryland, and one, Antwaine, is already up there. He was telling me Maryland is the place to be. He said it’s all good up there, and he didn’t have anything bad to say about it. He said [Maryland] is where you need to be, and the coaches here can get you to the NFL.”
Hunter is in the process of scheduling an initial visit to College Park. He said it was likely he’d commit to UMD during that trip. For now, though, Hunter’s familiarizing himself with Abdul-Rahim and researching the school.
But while this sounds like a done deal, we’re just a bit leery if major suitors eventually come calling. Hunter even admitted if programs like Florida State, Florida, Ohio State and others of that ilk ante up it would make his decision “more difficult.”
At the moment, FAU is Hunter’s only other offer, however. So, barring a major blowup, Hunter could very well wind up in College Park later during the spring.
You can read more about Hunter HERE.
Anthony Lytton, S, Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.) (2018): We noted Lytton’s Maryland offer and subsequent interest last week, but this week the 2018 prospect granted a full interview. The sophomore sensation, who may eventually become one of the top three DMV recruits in the 2018 class, said he was ecstatic about the hometown look and assistant Aazaar Abdul-Rahim’s offer.
“I’m thankful I have an offer from the hometown school. I was real excited about it,” said Lytton, who also claims verbals from Wisconsin, Penn State, Syracuse and Boston College. “I think the coaches there now are doing a good job recruiting kids in Maryland and getting the local kids to go to Maryland. I know they’re trying to keep a lot of players from around here home with the whole DMV-to-UMD thing. That’s a major key, and it can show the whole country what the DMV kids can do if we all come together at one school.”
Lytton, though, is going to explore before making any definitive statements in regards to leaders or standouts. He wants to check out PSU (Feb. 27 visit), Wisconsin and many more before forming any type of opinion. Institutions such as Michigan State, Va Tech, NC State, Clemson, FSU and more should be offering in time, giving Lytton even more options to consider.
But Lytton figures to be in College Park this spring and again during the fall. The Terps should be in the running throughout, among Lytton’s foremost contenders.
You can read more about Lytton HERE.
Deon Jones, CB, Carroll (Washington, D.C.): The four-star local Jones was back at Maryland for the second time in a week Feb. 22. Jones attended UMD’s “DMV Day” Feb. 13, and then returned to College Park with his mother Feb. 22 for a one-on-one stidown with head coach D.J. Durkin and defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim.
Afterwards, word was both Jones and his mother readily connected with the coaches, all parties seeing eye-to-eye. Jones was reportedly very comfortable around the staff, while his mother liked Abdul-Rahim personally, along with the academic support.
This is a promising development for the Terps, and in the end we do believe Maryland will sit among Jones’ two preeminent suitors.
But don’t get too excited just yet. We’re perpetually leery of Clemson when discussing Jones, mainly because the Tigers have been after him longer and harder than any other program. Jones was in Death Valley earlier in February and continues to hold CU in high regard.
Meanwhile, Florida State and Florida, two universities Jones saw last year, are in line for return trip. Michigan State has Jones’ ear too, the four-star contemplating a trek through East Lansing.
But Jones will be returning to Maryland too, for a spring practice and later during the fall for a game. Which means Abdul-Rahim will have plenty more in-person opportunities to win the four-star over.
Regardless of his destination, Jones will likely choose his school in November or early December since he’s an early graduate.
Antwan Collier, CB, Southridge (Miami, Fla.): Maryland defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim handed Collier an offer Feb. 18, the corner’s third in as many days, joining Southern University and Southern Mississippi. The 6-2, 185-pounder expressed excitement over the offer, although he knew little about the program other than its academic reputation and Big Ten affiliation.
Collier said he had to get to know Abdul-Rahim better and begin researching before making a definitive call on UMD. That said, Collier does want to visit College Park at some point, so it appears his interest is genuine.
“I’d say my dream top four right now would be Clemson, Florida, Florida State and Maryland,” Collier said. “I’m not sure which of [CU, UF and FSU] will offer, but I have the one from Maryland. That was a great one for me to get.”
And it is conceivable the Tigers, Gators and Noles could all give Collier a look down the line, throwing a wrench into this recruitment (for UMD purposes). Collier said the Tigers’ coaches had been in touch, in addition to staffers from Miami; FAU; and a couple others. Hometown Miami is the lone program Collier’s seen thus far, and the corner is intrigued by the Canes too.
Collier won’t be popping anytime soon, regardless of who offers. He’s intent on taking official visits and “going through the process.”
You can read more about Collier HERE.
Off The Board
Bo Melton, RB/WR, Cedar Creek (Egg Harbor City, N.J.): The Terps’ Jersey-area recruiter, Matt Barnes, offered the emerging Melton a couple weeks back, the four-star showing some initial interest in the Terps. But, earlier this week, Melton told our Garden State colleagues the programs that had his attention early were Rutgers, Michigan, Ohio State, Kentucky and Boston College. Each of those schools have extended scholarships, although it’s unclear if OSU’s is committable.
Either way, Melton is focusing on RU after attending the Scarlet Knights’ junior day. Head coach Chris Ash made a potent pitch and has Melton feeling the hometown school. But Michigan, Kentucky, BC and Ohio State should all receive visits later this spring, with a legitimate chance to leapfrog the in-state favorite.
We are not expecting Melton to check out College Park.
Nico Collins, WR, Clay-Chalkville (Pinson, Ala.): UMD signee Tyrell Pigrome’s go-to receiver probably won’t be following the quarterback to College Park. The five-star wideout Collins added his coveted Alabama offer Feb. 19, and it’s probably only a matter of time before he pops to the hometown school.
If not, or if for some reason Tide headman Nick Saban reneges, Collins will focus on other national powers like Clemson; Florida; Georgia; and Florida State.
Maryland has not cropped up during Collins’ conversations with reporters.
Jaevon McQuitty, WR, Battle (Columbia, Mo.): Maryland’s previous regime offered this Missouri receiver, but it wasn’t clear if the Terps’ current staff ever pursued.
It’s unlikely to make much difference either way.
McQuitty’s offer list has expanded to much of the Big Ten and several Big 12 suitors. The latter list now includes hometown Mizzou, which has vaulted into the lead for McQuitty’s services.
In all likelihood, McQuitty’s going to wind up staying local, or end up a national elite.
Evidence Njoku, TE, Cedar Grove (N.J.): Two-plus weeks ago, this Jersey tight end had zero power-five offers before landing his first from Maryland Feb. 11. Following the verbal, Njoku extolled UMD assistants Walt Bell and Chris Beatty, targeting the April 16 spring game as a potential visit date.
Seventeen days later, Njoku’s exploded on the trail, picking up verbals left and right. He now has Georgia, Penn State, Pitt, Iowa State, Tennessee, Miami and Rutgers scholarships in tow.
Following the offer binge, Njoku said he wanted to check out Miami, where his brother, David, plays tight end (which makes the Canes the favorites); Tennessee; Penn State; Georgia; and some West Coast programs. Njoku made no mention of UMD in his most recent interviews.
Kevin Jarvis, OL, Maine South (Park, Ill.): One of Jarvis’ initial power-five offers came courtesy of Maryland, but since then he’s added the Big Ten and SEC stalwarts. Subsequently, the four-star tackle released an initial leaderboard earlier this week, listing Arkansas atop a list that also included Auburn (Feb. 17 offer); Michigan (Feb. 22 offer); and Alabama.
Jarvis has not broached the Terps to reporters.
Robert Hainsey, OL, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Maryland has around 20 offers out at IMG Academy, extending one to this four-star tackle earlier in February. But Hainsey has his pick of schools and recently told our colleagues he’s focused on the best of the Big Ten. A Pennsylvania native, Hainsey obviously has interest in Penn State, which could be the leader in the clubhouse. Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State are under consideration as well.
The Terps may enter the “best of” conversation in time, but they haven’t gained a national reputation yet. At least, not for prospects like Hainsey -- out-of-state talents with 20-plus options.
Cesar Ruiz, OC, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Scout’s Corey Bender interviewed Ruiz in Orlando, Fla., earlier this week, and the nation’s No. 1 center mentioned Michigan, Miami, Florida, Clemson, Auburn, UNC, Alabama and Rutgers as some of the schools piquing his interest. He said coaches from UM, UNC, Bama and Clemson were making a potent push. Right now, the Wolverines seem to hold the edge since he has six teammates currently in Ann Arbor, Mich., and is originally from the Northeast.
Ruiz secured a Maryland offer in early February, and he did give the Terps their props. “Maryland, they’re recruiting me pretty crazy,” Ruiz told Bender. “The O-line coach is pretty cool. I like Maryland.”
That’s all well and good, but Ruiz’ ensuing remarks in regards to early standouts and potential visits (UMD wasn’t included) lead us to believe the pro-Terps’ comments were lip service.
Carter Warren, OT, Passaic (Patterson, N.J.): This four-star Jersey tackle updated his recruitment following an offer binge that brought him up to a dozen verbals. Warren, who added a UMD scholarship in late January, now has Michigan; Miami; PSU; Pitt; Rutgers; South Carolina; Va Tech; MSU; and Kentucky too.
Hometown Rutgers, which Warren visited Feb. 13, is in play, but Michigan and Penn State could have the inside track. Warren wants to foray through both Ann Arbor and State College, Pa., in short order.
Warren did not list College Park as a school he sought to see.
Luiji Vilain, DE, Episcopal (Alexandria, Va.): It’s conceivable the borderline five-star defensive end Vilain will make it to College Park for a spring practice since it is so close to Episcopal. Plus, the recruit has a rapport with UMD defensive line coach Mike London.
But we just don’t expect much movement here after conversing with our Virginia analysts. Fact is, the edge rusher has seen his recruitment explode, adding offers from Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Duke and UCLA last week, to go along with Ohio State; UNC; Penn State; Ole Miss; Va Tech; Rutgers; Minnesota; and Syracuse.
Vilain has his eyes on the Big Ten’s upper-tier, but wouldn’t mind giving his SEC suitors and possibly UCLA a look either.
The Canadian native is keeping an open mind, so maybe his name could resurface in UMD circles down the road. Unless that occurs, though, it’s probably safe to scratch Vilain from the hot board.
Ellis Brooks, LB, Benedictine (Richmond, Va.): The four-star linebacker Brooks had expressed some Maryland interest what with the school’s academic reputation (a legitimate primary concern), followed by pitches from UMD-area recruiters Chris Beatty and Mike London. Brooks doesn’t live far from College Park, either, so a trek north to College Park was in the works.
But Brooks landed a game-changing offer Feb. 19 when Notre Dame’s staff approved a scholarship. Afterwards, the Benedictine product said he would be visiting South Bend, Ind., in the coming weeks, eager to check out the traditional power. It would not be a shock if Brooks ended up popping on campus, especially since he called UND an “ideal opportunity.”
Brooks doesn’t have any other trips set in stone, but some of his principle contenders figure to be Va Tech (the leader until Notre Dame entered the picture); UVA; Duke; and Michigan. Stanford would become a real possibility too if the Cardinal’s staff chooses to offer.
Daniel Wright, S, Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.): The four-star safety Wright made the initial hot board launch based off the strength of his relationship with the College Park-bound Daniels brothers and UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim. But Wright hasn’t show much interest in following Elisha and Elijah Daniels to Maryland, the four-star focusing his attention on the southern elites.
Wright was just at Miami for its junior day; he has the Hurricanes under firm consideration after hearing headman Mark Richt’s overtures. But Florida State, which Wright will be returning to soon, probably leads for the safety’s services, while LSU; Bama; and Clemson are heavy in the game too. Wright should be checking out the two Tigers’ squads and the Tide this spring and summer.
Wright has made no mention of a possible Maryland trip during recent interviews.
Devon Hunter, S, Indian River (Chesapeake, Va.): It’s only February and situations can easily change, but the five-star Hunter, who praised Maryland to the point of hyperbole following his College Park visit in January, doesn’t seem to have much interest in UMD any longer. Truth be told, the nation’s crème de crème have been all over the five-star safety of late, trumping many of Hunter’s prior suitors.
Notre Dame’s staff threw its name into the hat Feb. 25, Hunter instantly counting the Irish as a principle contender. The Indian River product said he’ll be visiting South Bend at the earliest convenience.
Some other programs on Hunter’s mind are Florida, Georgia, Miami, Clemson, North Carolina, WVU and hometown Va Tech. Hunter visited UNC Feb. 17 and had plenty of praise for the Tar Heels. Next up, he’ll take in Va Tech (Feb. 27), UGA, Clemson, Miami, UGA and maybe UND.
Hunter has not considered a return to Maryland, nor has he mentioned his UMD-area recruiter, Chris Beatty, since his January visit. Thus, we’re inclined to remove Hunter from the hot board until further notice.
Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Concord (N.C.): We figured the four-star safety Nasirildeen, who Maryland’s staff offered Feb. 13, would blow up on the recruiting trail. In the last week alone, the Concord product has added WVU, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Ole Miss. Each of the four have the safety/receiver’s attention, although the Irish may be the breadwinner of Nasirildeen’s latest suitors. In fact, UND could very well be the team to beat; it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Carolina native popped to Notre Dame during an upcoming visit to South Bend.
Maryland was actually the very first power-five look for Nasirildeen. He said he’d had communication with UMD assistants Chris Beatty and Walt Bell and would consider visiting College Park.
But we’re not so sure that’s going to happen at this rate. Nasirildeen’s eyes are on the SEC and Notre Dame.
Trajan Bandy, CB, Columbus (Miami, Fla.): We didn’t think the four-star Bandy would end his recruitment so soon, but the Columbus product did just that, committing to his stated No. 1, Oklahoma, Feb. 21. Bandy waxed hyperbole in regards to the Sooners, lauding the coaching staff; their cornerback development; the vibe in Norman, Okla.; and the program’s steady rise the last couple years.
Bandy released an initial top-10 leaderboard Feb. 17, but said it was subject to change and extremely fluid. The list, in order, read: Oklahoma, Tennessee, Michigan, South Carolina, Maryland, Clemson, Auburn, Alabama, LSU and USC.
So much for that. Apparently Bandy didn’t need to play the “game,” changing his leaders; whittling them down; expanding the list yet again; and then popping on Signing Day.
The Terps’ staff gave themselves a chance with area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim making early inroads. Abdul-Rahim had a close connection with Bandy dating back to the coach’s days at Alabama, and the assistant picked up the pace soon after arriving in College Park. Bandy even said he was eager to visit UMD and meet the rest of the staff firsthand.
But Bandy was never going to be an easy pull, even if he did trek through Maryland. The four-star had his pick of schools and had been forecast to a national elite from the jump.