Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Park On Board; First 2017 Popper
Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin secured his first 2017 commitment when Lake Braddock (Burke, Va.) tight end Andrew Park popped during his second College Park, Md., visit in two weeks. The 6-foot-5, 238-pound three-star had previously brought his father to campus Feb. 23, and returned March 3 with his mother.
Park had a growing offer list and had just secured verbals from Pittsburgh and Miami of Ohio, but he said he knew going into his second foray he was going to be a Terp.
“I could’ve waited and looked around, but I knew Maryland was the place for me. I thought about it for awhile, but Maryland just had everything I wanted in a school,” said Park, who mentioned the Terps are taking just one tight end, meaning he's the guy. “The coaches there are great, I fit in well in the offense, the academics are awesome, the facilities are going to be awesome and it’s just a great feel there. … I’m happy to be a Terp.”
During his initial trip, Park easily connected with position coach Pete Lembo, offensive coordinator Walt Bell and UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty too. Moreover, he lauded headman D.J. Durkin’s values (accountability and honesty) and his plan for “building something really special at Maryland.”
He reiterated those feelings March 3.
“It’s just a great program overall. The coaches are really enthusiastic about what they’re doing, and I really like Coach Durkin and the rest of the staff,” Park said. “The coaches have an awesome message, they really care about their players, and I just like their values about accountability, honesty and working hard each and every day. … I talked to Avery [Edwards] and he was just telling me Maryland’s a great place to be and he loves the new staff, and that meant something to me.
“My parents loved the school too, and they had the same feelings I did. We all liked Maryland a lot, and they thought I should commit too.”
The question with early poppers, however, is whether or not they’ll stick. Previously, Park told me he coveted a Tennessee offer, and admitted a Penn State look would be nice too. Pittsburgh then caught his eye after the Panthers anted up in late February.
But Park was insistent he wouldn’t be taking anymore visits and had shut down his recruitment. In fact, he cut me off halfway through my question.
“No, no, I’m done,” Park said. “I’m a Terp.”
Park's pledge is an important one, even if he's not the flashiest recruit. First of all, he's a tight end, a position the Terps have had trouble recruiting recently -- Avery Edwards falling into their laps due to extenuating circumstances aside. Since Andrew Isaacs popped a few years ago, the former Maryland regime pushed for a number of intriguing tight ends, only to be rebuffed when more prestigious suitors pursued in earnest. The fact D.J. Durkin and his staff were able to snag a budding tight end, who would have assuredly landed more ACC and Big Ten offers during camp season, is a testament to their recruiting prowess.
Also, Park is the highest-rated prospect UMD has pulled out of Northern Virginia in recent memory (yes, at three-stars he's the highest rated, well ahead of Daniel Ezeagwu). NoVa, along with the 757, have been recruiting deadzones for the Terps, so the Park pop could be the first dent in a wall built up by the likes of UVA; Va Tech; UNC; Clemson and other southern schools that have traditionally locked down the area.
Now, can Park play? You betcha.
No, he’s not the next Eric Ebron, but Park should emerge as a solid starter a few years down the road. Per Scout’s Michael Clark, who has seen Park live, he’s “long and athletic with huge upside.”
Park runs fairly crisp routes for a high school tight end, gets in and out of his breaks well and possesses soft hands. He has enough speed to get down the seam, and enough short-area quickness to operate in tight spaces. Moreover, he can play in-line, split out wide or move into the slot, proving to be a versatile weapon a la Avery Edwards. On top of that, he’s a willing blocker who chips well as a pseudo-tackle.
The main area of concern here is Park’s weight. He needs to add significant bulk and strength to hang in the Big Ten. It’s also important to realize that while he has all of the above traits, he’s not at an “elite” level. In other words, he’s not going to take the top off the defense, grab a wayward pass in-between two defenders or break a safety’s ankles on a post-corner route. But Park should be a good Big Ten tight end, and a real threat inside the red zone given his length and hands.
You can read more about Park HERE.
New Offers Out
Maybe one week soon the New Offers Out section won’t be one of the lead sections of the Shell. But with head coach D.J. Durkin and his assistants continuing to dish out verbals, some committable and some of the place-holder variety, we’ll keep you abreast of the latest targets out of College Park, Md.:
John Lovett, RB, Cherokee (Marlton, N.J.): On a whim, Lovett and his 7-on-7 team decided to head down I-295 to Maryland Feb. 27 for an initial foray through College Park. Turns out the trip paid off, because Lovett landed his first power-five offer from the Terps’ staff a day later.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder, who previously held verbals from Monmouth and ODU, was shocked and excited about the Big Ten look. He’d only begun to hear from UMD assistant Anthony Tucker via Twitter and had no idea the running backs coach thought that highly of him.
With the offer in tow, Lovett said he’d be delving deeper into the program, especially since he had a standout visit Feb. 27. Although the group didn’t have a chance to meet Tucker or any position coaches, Lovett respected what Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry had to say. The Cherokee product called the new facility upgrades “mind blowing,” the academic support “excellent,” and the program vibe “pretty cool.”
So cool, in fact, that Lovett’s looking to return to UMD in March with his family.
“We’ll be back at Maryland for sure,” Lovett said. “Right now Maryland is my top option. It’s a Big ten school, and that’s one of the toughest conferences in college football. I’d love to play in the Big Ten.
“Maryland is a great school, and I’ve always had interest in Maryland. It’s nice uniforms, a nice new staff, nice facilities. Everything about Maryland is pretty cool.”
Lovett isn’t inclined to pop just yet, however. In an ideal world, he’d like to procure a few more Big Ten and FBS options, giving him several suitors to visit and research. For the time being, Lovett’s receiving interest from Rutgers, Syracuse and Va Tech. Of those, Lovett said he’s seeking a hometown offer after an eye-opening RU visit.
“And Ohio State would be nice too,” laughed Lovett, who has been to UMD, RU and SU, with Va Tech coming up next. “But I do like Maryland.”
Note: The Maryland staff could conceivably string Lovett out a bit until they have a clearer idea what their No. 1 running back targets will do. Remember, the locals are the priority, and both Tayon Fleet-Davis (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.) and Anthony McFarland (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) hold UMD offers.
You can read more about Lovett HERE.
Iverson Clement, RB, Rancocas Valley Regional (Mt. Holly, N.J.) (2018): For a sophomore, the running back/athlete Clement was rather introspective and well-spoken. Unlike many of the recent offerees I’d chatted with, when I talked to Clement about his Maryland offer Feb. 29, it was obvious he’d researched the program and had an idea what he was talking about.
“I love the Big Ten and the football they play in that conference, so it’s great to have an opportunity to play in that kind of league,” said Clement, who held one prior verbal from Temple. “In my opinion, Maryland is a very good Big Ten school and is on the rise. Every program is going to have to build up from time to time, but with the [coaches] they have there now and the [recruits] they’re bringing in, I believe they can be among the top teams in the Big Ten. And, really, by the time my year comes around, I believe Maryland can be a national contender.”
Clement had been in touch with UMD’s Director of Recruiting from when Marcus Berry was at Rutgers last year. The two ended up reuniting when Clement visited College Park back in January, shortly after Berry was hired.
While on campus, the Jersey product had a chance to ask Berry questions, view the facility renovations and take in the school grounds. Afterwards, Clement said he loved the atmosphere and environment at Maryland, noting that UMD’s “going to be looking real nice” by the time the 2018 class arrives.
Since then, Clement’s started to build a bond with running backs coach Anthony Tucker, who extended the offer Feb. 29. Expect Clement to return to Maryland several times as Tucker and Maryland’s Jersey-area recruiter, Matt Barnes, gain inroads.
The sophomore back is a blowup candidate, though, so there figures to be stiff competition ahead. Clement and his 7-on-7 squad are actually embarking on a southern tour starting March 5, hitting the likes of South Carolina; UNC; NC State and some Florida schools. It’s entirely possible Clement adds a couple SEC and ACC offers in the next few weeks.
Regardless, it was a shrewd move for the Terps to ante up early -- even before hometown Rutgers.
You can read more about Clement HERE.
Carlos Carriere, WR, Alpharetta (Ga.): The Terps became the first to offer the Georgia receiver Carriere, a savvy move considering the 6-5, 170-pounder should secure more than a few verbals once camp season hits.
Carriere heard from both UMD offensive coordinator Walt Bell and receivers’ coach Chris Beatty March 2, the former’s up-tempo spread and the latter’s player-development prowess holding water. The wideout also said Maryland’s Under Armour connection, Big Ten affiliation and, most of all, the fact the Terps offered before any other program, piqued his interest.
“It meant a lot that they believed in me first. Some other schools were looking at me, but Maryland was the first to take a chance on me,” Carriere said. “They thought enough of my game to offer me, and because of that I think they’re going to always be one of my top schools.”
With that in mind, Carrier’s ready to see College Park sometime in April or May. He said he’d likely be trekking north with his good friend, Milton’s (Alpharetta, Ga.) Troy Simon (discussed below), who also holds a Maryland offer.
Carriere is keeping his options open, however, saying he’s “humbled” and “blessed” for every opportunity he’s given. He has been receiving interest from North Carolina and Wake Forest, which are the only two schools he’s visited this offseason.
The Georgian has many more campuses to trek through, and offers to procure (Elon and Jacksonville State have also anted up), before he can form any decisive conclusions. But the Terps have assured themselves a spot at the table thanks to Bell’s and Beatty’s early overtures.
You can read more about Carriere HERE.
Noah Igbinoghene, WR, Hewitt-Trussville (Trussville, Ala.): Typically, Maryland’s Alabama offers have come courtesy of either offensive coordinator Walt Bell or area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, but Igbinoghene picked his Feb. 26 UMD verbal up from Maryland running backs coach Anthony Tucker. Apparently, when Tucker was coaching at Arkansas State, he was able to meet Igbinoghene both at Hewitt-Trussville High and later at a summer camp.
Tucker and the then-sophomore didn’t form a true bond per se, but the receiver had shown enough to garner the coach’s attention. The Howl running backs coach then ended up handing Igbinoghene his first scholarship offer -- and a little less than a year later the now-Maryland staffer tossed the receiver a UMD verbal.
“The Maryland offer was a big one. That’s one I was really excited about and really liked,” said Igbinoghene, who also counts offers from Wake Forest, Duke, Iowa State, Troy, Southern Miss, Memphis and others. “It’s a Big Ten school, which is a great conference, it’s a good school academically, and I know they have a new staff that has them heading in the right direction.
“[The coaches] weren’t really talking to me before the offer, so I don’t know too much in-depth yet, but I would go on a visit there for sure. I want to learn more and see what it’s like out there.”
So far, Igbinoghene has only visited Duke and Alabama what with track season consuming much of his time. He said he loved his Blue Devils’ trip, mainly because of the academics.
Alabama, meanwhile, would represent a game-changing offer for Igbinoghene, who wants the opportunity to show out at the hometown powerhouse. It follows that the Trussville native is also seeking an Auburn verbal, another program Igbinoghene is receiving interest from. (Coaches from Michigan State have had contact with the wideout as well.)
A caveat to note in this recruitment: Igbinoghene wants to run tack and play football in college. He loves both sports equally and is seeking to compete at the highest level in each endeavor. The institutions providing him that opportunity would seemingly have a leg up.
You can read more about Igbinoghene HERE.
Darryle Simmons, WR, St. Joseph’s (Philadelphia, Pa.) (2018): The Terps became the fifth major offer for this sophomore receiver Feb. 26. The 6-2, 188-pounder previously held Pitt, Rutgers, WVU and Penn State verbals.
Although his recruitment is in its infant stages, many analysts believe Simmons is a Nittany Lions’ lean. Simmons has been in State College, Pa., on several occasions and seems to be infatuated with James Franklin’s program.
The Philly product does have some interest in checking Maryland out, however. Since he doesn’t live too far from College Park, he’ll likely make it down for a practice or game this fall. He has had initial contact with UMD assistant Anthony Tucker, and the two should be developing a rapport moving forward.
Matt Sichterman, OT, Kings (Kings Mills, Ohio): Maryland and assistant Dave Borbely were the latest to toss an offer out to the three-star Sichterman, who had 19 previous verbals. The Terps joined the likes of Pitt, Kentucky, Nebraska, Rutgers, Illinois, Indiana, UVA, Cincinnati, BC, Purdue, Wake, WVU, Oregon State, Memphis and more.
Sichterman is in the process of making the rounds, visiting many of his suitors for junior days. He was at Pitt Feb. 28, and is hitting Kentucky March 5, Indiana March 6 and Illinois March 12.
The Panthers captured his attention following his stay, but it’s too soon to forecast Sichterman to Pitt. He’ll likely check out as many offerees as he can before forming any type of favorites list.
In regards to Maryland, Sichterman gave off plenty of pro-UMD vibes and said he’d like to journey through College Park this spring. Maybe so, but realize Sichterman is one of those “love every school, love every offer” recruits.
It’s possible Borbely and Co. can win Sichterman over if/when he visits UMD, but we’re not going to place him on the hot board unless he makes it east. Our colleagues, for their part, believe the Ohio tackle is sticking in the Midwest.
Thayer Munford, OT, LaSalle (Cincinnati, Ohio): Munford has seen his recruiting steadily increase as the winter has moved along, and eventually he’ll procure offers from the Big Ten elites like Ohio State, Michigan and more. For now, though, his list consists of Kentucky, Louisville, Illinois, Memphis, Cincinnati, Pitt and most recently Maryland.
Terps’ offensive line coach Dave Borebely extended the UMD verbal March 3, and from here on out he'll attempt to gain ground. But Munford isn’t too privy to the Maryland program, and although he could consider visiting, it’ll take one heck of a recruiting pitch to pry him out of the Midwest. For now, Munford’s high on Louisville and Kentucky after trekking through each, but that’ll probably change when the bigwigs come calling.
Munford won’t be added to the hot board unless he does make it to College Park.
Connor Robbins, OT, Pedro Menendez (St. Augustine, Fla.): The Maryland staff initiated contact with the emerging tackle Robbins' coach in early February, and on March 3 the offer came through courtesy of UMD assistant Anthony Tucker. Predictably, Robbins wasn't too privy to the Maryland program yet, nor had he spoken to Tucker in-depth. But the 6-9, 330-pounder did suggest he'd like to visit College Park this summer. If the trip materializes, it'll be the next step towards potentially winning Robbins over.
"It was awesome to get a Maryland offer. I wasn't expecting it," Robbins said. "I was very blessed. I honestly didn't even know about it until I saw my coach Tweeted it out. But I can't say I know much about them yet. I might be able to get up there for a visit. We'll see."
In the meantime, Robbins is collecting offers and visiting nearby universities. Missouri became the Floridian's first SEC verbal Feb. 16, while he also claims Memphis; USF; ECU; FAU and a couple more. Robbins has visited South Carolina and FAU and will be trekking through Mizzou; Memphis; and ECU in late March/early April. Whether or not he makes it to Maryland will depend on how much time he has.
Robbins is unsure who will offer next (he said the verbals have materialized at random), but he's seeking a look from Va Tech. He said his entire family attended Tech, and he'd love to follow in their footsteps.
We weren't going to place Robbins on the hot board, but it does sound like he's open enough where he might actually follow through with a Maryland trip. We'll list him as cool and revisit his situation later during the offseason.
Tyler Friday, OG, Don Bosco (Ramsey, N.J.) (2018): The sophomore Friday has had loads of early exposure playing at powerhouse Don Bosco, and his initial offer list proves it out. The 6-3, 255-pounder, who projects to be one of the nation’s foremost guard recruits next year, has secured verbals from Michigan, UNC, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers and now Maryland.
Friday’s coaches informed him of the Terps’ March 2 offer, so the 2018 guard hasn’t had any true contact with the Maryland staff yet. But both UMD’s Jersey recruiter Matt Barnes and O-line coach Dave Borbely figure to be on him.
Friday, however, projects to a Big Ten power at this stage. Let’s see how his recruitment develops down the line.
Emil Ekiyor, OG, Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind.) (2018): A future five-star guard, Ekiyor added Maryland to his expanding list March 2. The Terps’ staff joined Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee and Notre Dame in pursuit of the 2018 recruit.
Needless to say, UMD’s offensive line coach, Dave Borbely, has his work cut out for him.
Curtis Harper, DE, McKeesport (Pa.): It’s quite interesting how the Maryland staff has been handling contacting various recruits. Sometimes, it’s the position coach who makes the initial overtures. Sometimes, it’s the area-recruiter who does the duties. And sometimes it’s Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry who informs of said UMD verbal.
Given that Curtis Harper was a defensive end, we assumed Maryland’s defensive line coach, Mike London, would have taken the call. Instead, it was the Terps’ Keystone State recruiter, Dave Borbely. Harper said Borbely let him know the UMD coaches liked the recruit on both side of the ball, but would be recruiting him for defense.
Either way, Harper was excited about the look. He held offers from Iowa State, Boston College, Bowling Green and Kent State before Borbely contacted him via Twitter March 2, so Maryland represented the edge rusher's initial B1G scholarship.
“It was great to get a Big Ten offer, to show what I really could do with my athletic ability in that conference,” Harper said. “It was pretty big, and I’m thankful Coach Borbely thought enough to offer me. He sounded like a cool guy. I’m looking forward to getting to know him more.”
Harper acknowledged he knew little about the Maryland program and would have to foray through before making a judgment call. He does have family in the area, however, which he counted as a positive.
But, really, Harper’s in the research stage and is in the process of checking out all interested parties. He visited Kent State Feb. 27 and WVU earlier in February; he’ll hit Boston College March 18-19 before trekking through BGSU, Kent State and Iowa State.
Harper has no standouts at this time, although he admitted he’s seeking major Big Ten and Big 12 offers, specifically mentioning hometown PSU (the likely favorite if the Nittany Lions become involved); WVU; and Michigan State.
The McKeesport prospect has been listed “cool” on the hot board, though we’re skeptical he makes it down to College Park.
You can read more about Harper HERE.
Kurt Hinish, DT, Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.): The 6-3, 283-pound Hinish picked up his 17th offer from Maryland Feb. 26. This four-star defensive tackle has seen his recruitment skyrocket during the last month, reaching another level entirely when Notre Dame’s staff anted up Feb. 25. He also holds SEC offers from the likes of Tennessee, Ole Miss and South Carolina; Big 12 verbals from programs like Baylor and WVU; and Big Ten scholarships from Nebraska, PSU, Pitt, Rutgers and UMD.
Hometown PSU (he attended the Feb. 27 junior day) and Pitt made early inroads and have Hinish’s ear, while Baylor and Ole Miss could get long looks too. But the Irish offer will be difficult to turn down.
Maryland, for its part, has area-recruiter Dave Borbely on Hinish. We’ll see if Borbely can gain any traction with this one, but we’re not inclined to place Hinish on the hot board at this juncture.
Matthew Butler, DE, Garner (N.C.): A North Carolina three-star, Butler landed a Maryland offer from UMD-area recruiter Pete Lembo and Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry March 2. The 6-4, 260-pounder has just begun to learn about the Terps’ program, however, and though he gave cursory lip service, we’re pessimistic he’ll make it out of the south -- even for a visit.
Butler has hometown/nearby options galore, and most analysts believe he’ll head to a southern elite or an in-state ACC suitor. NC State, which Butler’s been to several times, had his attention at the outset, but now UNC and Duke -- he trekked through each for junior days -- are on the brain too. Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Va Tech, Wake, UVA, Vandy, Pitt, Penn State and more are also in touch. Furthermore, it’s entirely possible Florida State, Stanford, Georgia and the rest of the SEC come calling.
Butler has not been place on the hot board.
Hunter Echols, DE, Cathedral (Los Angeles, Calif.): The four-star Echols committed to UCLA less than a month ago, but that didn’t stop the Maryland staff from offering March 2. In fact, it hasn’t stopped any staff from pursuing as both Baylor and Nebraska tossed scholarships Echols’ way in the wake of his Bruins' pop. The 6-4, 220-pounder also claims verbals from the rest of the Pac-12 and various Big 12 and Big Ten programs.
Regardless of who’s in pursuit, Echols isn’t backing out of his UCLA pledge anytime soon. And we’re not placing him on the hot board unless UMD’s defensive line coach Mike London, who is handling the recruitment, can somehow convince Echols to fly cross-country for an official visit.
Joe Hunt, LB, Cosby (Midlothian, Va.): Before Feb. 26, hardly anyone outside of Cosby High and Midlothian, Va., knew who Joe Hunt was. He didn’t have a profile on any of the major networks, and there was little written on him from the hometown newspapers.
But Terps’ fans certainly are aware of him now. Hunt, a jack-of-all-trades who could be a cover outside linebacker or maybe even an H-Back, secured his very first scholarship from UMD assistant Mike London Feb 26. Following the unexpected look, Hunt immediately declared UMD his No. 1 school and hinted at a possible commitment when he and his family visit College Park this spring. He didn’t know a ton about UMD, but evidently London’s words were enough to hit home.
“I’m a big fan of Coach London’s, and I knew what he did at UVA. I think Coach London is a great guy and a great coach,” Hunt said. “From where he comes from and his reputation, he’s great. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to play under him and he’ll be able to mold me into a great player in the future.
“I know they have a great new coaching staff that wants to get things done. To play with the best, you have to build up to compete with the best, and I know the Maryland staff is looking to do that. I know the new staff is looking to mold players like myself to be the best they can be and compete with the best [in the Big Ten].
“Also, I know it’s a great school and a great university. And actually one of my family’s friends went there, and he started talking about Maryland and made me even more excited about it. Hopefully I can get up there soon and make a decision one day.”
If he opts not to pop this March, Hunt may wait until the summer before ending his recruitment, but he doesn’t want to drag the process out beyond August. He did say he intended to venture out to a few locales such as Vandy (March 25), UVA, Va Tech and possibly others.
Hunt was just at NC State’s junior day Feb. 27, although the Wolfpack coaches haven’t initiated contact yet. The only staffs in touch as of now are Maryland’s, JMU’s, Richmond’s and Charlotte’s.
A question to ponder here: Will head coach D.J. Durkin accept Hunt’s commitment at this juncture?
We’re not so sure he will. While Hunt’s an intriguing recruit, the Terps have a slew of touted talents on their board, including several DMV linebackers and H-back types. Durkin may wait to see what transpires with his priority targets before pushing for Hunt.
You can read more about Hunt HERE.
DeMarco Artis, OLB, Seminole (Fla.): Artis, a Kentucky decommit, picked up a Terps’ verbal from UMD linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes Feb. 26, the recruit offering up cursory praise for Maryland. The Seminole product said he was grateful to have the offer, thought UMD was a solid program, and so on and so forth. But Artis didn’t know much about the school itself, and has only had initial conversations with Barnes.
We’re not positive if Artis is going to be trekking up to College Park anytime soon, either. He seems focused on Florida/southern institutions for the time being. UCF has been on Artis hard, and the Knights have his attention early. Va Tech and North Carolina are on the linebacker’s brain too.
Meanwhile, Artis is receiving interest and could eventually procure offers from the likes of FSU, Miami and some SEC schools. Any of those programs would promptly become contenders if/when they ante up.
We won’t include Artis on the hot board unless he sets a College Park visit date.
Ventrell Miller, OLB, Kathleen (Lakeland, Fla.): A Floridian with an ever-expanding offer list, Miller acquired a Maryland offer Feb. 26. He now claims verbals from the likes of UNC, South Carolina, Va Tech, USF, UCF, Miami, Nebraska, Louisville, Iowa State, Illinois, Indiana and more. The power programs in Florida and throughout the SEC should be joining the fray in short order.
Some believe hometown Miami is the leader in the clubhouse, and that’s entirely plausible considering Miller’s been in Coral Gables, Fla., a couple times and likes the new staff a good deal. But publically Miller’s claiming no standouts, so it’s conceivable the Maryland staff, with linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes running point, can make up some ground. Miller, however, isn’t too familiar with the Terps and has just begun conversing with the coaches.
We’re not placing him on the hot board unless he decides to visit College Park.
Fofie Bazzie, CB, Quince Orchard (North Potomac, Md.): The lone DMV offer this week went out to the two-way athlete Bazzie, who the Terps' coaches are recruiting as a corner. The 6-0, 180-pounder forayed through College Park March 2 with his older brother, and after meeting with defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and headman D.J. Durkin, he secured his fifth verbal from the hometown school. Marshall, Iowa State, Temple and ODU had anted up previously.
Bazzie said it felt “great” to be offered by his state school, the scholarship representing the highlight of the Quince Orchard product’s visit.
(Me: So, Fofie, what did you like best about your trip to Maryland?
Bazzie: The offer.)
Not that Bazzie didn’t enjoy the rest of his UMD stay. He dubbed the facility upgrades “dope,” the Under Armour uniforms “real nice,” and the vibe on campus “different” with the new staff. Bazzie respected the academic aspects of Maryland as well.
But Bazzie saved his highest compliments for Abdul-Rahim, his position coach.
“Coach Aazaar, I just think he’s a great coach,” said Bazzie, who had been in College Park several times prior to March 2 for games and camps. “I’ve known him since my freshman year when he was at Friendship [Collegiate in Washington, D.C.]. I played against one of his DBs, Jalen Tabor, and knew him from that. And then I saw that video they did of him years ago, and it just showed me what kind of man he is. I know he wants his players to succeed and be great, so I feel like he’d be great to play under. I’ll actually be up there [March 8] to see him coach for the first time, and I’m really looking forward to that.”
Even though Bazzie was just on campus and will return March 8 for a spring practice, it's not an indication he's ready to pop. Like most recruits, the Quince Orchard product's “going through the process” and wants to explore any and all options that may come his way.
Bazzie has trekked through UMD, PSU, Rutgers and Temple, and will hit whatever programs offer or show prime interest later this spring. He said numerous college coaches, including those at Penn State, were in close contact and could extend verbals during the evaluation period.
Bazzie has no standouts at this time, nor is he sure how long he wants to drag out his recruitment.
Note: We don’t believe Bazzie would be able to commit to Maryland now anyway. The Terps have numerous cornerback targets on their board, many that are probably ahead of Bazzie in the pecking order.
That said, it’s always a good idea to pursue a prospect at a local stalwart like Quince Orchard.
You can read more about Bazzie HERE.
More Offensive Recruiting Notes
Tommy DeVito, QB, Don Bosco (Ramsey, N.J.): Scout's Brian Dohn caught with the Maryland quarterback offeree DeVito after the gunslinger visited Syracuse Feb. 27. As anticipated, DeVito landed the coveted SU offer on campus, and afterwards said the trip left a significant impression. While the Bosco product certainly enjoyed all the aesthetics, it was head coach Dino Babers who garnered the most praise. DeVito called Babers one of the coolest head coaches he knows, while lauding the new headman for his quarterback background.
But DeVito told Dohn he still thought just as highly of Maryland, his very first power-five offer. The Jersey prospect, who visited UMD in mid-February, extolled offensive coordinator Walt Bell's system; the College Park facility upgrades; and mentioned that he and his family were "really impressed" with the program. DeVito said he planned to return to Maryland for a spring practice, which is always a positive sign.
Rutgers, meanwhile, should be entering the picture March 5 after the quarterback treks through Piscataway, N.J. DeVito commended head coach Chris Ash, his staff and believes RU is changing its culture.
We'll have to see what other offers DeVito procures, but based off the Dohn interview, it sounds like it's a UMD-SU race for now.
Kasim Hill, QB, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): The four-star local quarterback Hill returned to Maryland March 3 for the second time in less than a month. Remember, he attended “DMV Day” Feb. 13 and left with favorable impressions of offensive coordinator Walt Bell, Bell’s spread attack, head coach D.J. Durkin’s message regarding building a winner with nearby athletes, and the facility upgrades. Moreover, he seemed keen on the idea of DMV-to-UMD and potentially representing his home state.
We weren’t able to interview Hill again before this edition of the Shell, but the fact he was back in College Park indicates legitimate interest on the quarterback’s part. No, Hill’s not ready to name leaders and is publically keeping every suitor on an even plane, but we’re led to believe Maryland will be in the thick of things.
Now the question is, Can they trump Penn State, a longtime standout, and other attractive offerees like Northwestern and Michigan? Hill has forayed through Happy Valley several times and has been in close contact with the PSU staff for more than a year. Same goes for Northwestern and Michigan, both schools graced with Hill’s presence more than once.
Syracuse, which Hill visited Feb. 20, has the quarterback’s attention too thanks to head coach Dino Babers and his signal caller background.
Of course, Hill’s situation is subject to changes once he sees a few more locales. Vandy and Utah were his latest suitors, and it’s possible he makes it down to Nashville, Tenn., at some point. Other programs with offers out include MSU, Nebraska, Rutgers, UVA, UConn, BC, Temple and Wake.
Hill hasn’t given a definitive decision date, but since he’s a quarterback we’d have to think a spring or summer commitment is in order.
Tayon Fleet-Davis, RB, Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.): Syracuse played host to several DMV recruits for its Feb. 27 junior day, including this Maryland target. Fleet-Davis couldn’t say enough about his New York stay, lauding his position coach; the campus; the atmosphere inside the Carrier Dome (the recruits took in a hoops game); and the program in general.
Fleet-Davis then called SU “running back university” in an interview with Scout’s Mike McAllister, noting the Orange’s penchant for producing backs. The Potomac runner even said it crossed his mind to commit on campus. But he refrained from doing so, letting on he had more schools to see and visits to take.
It does sound like Syracuse is going to be a primary contender, but Fleet-Davis won’t be popping anytime too soon. He has offers on the table from Iowa, Indiana, NC State, Syracuse, BC, Rutgers and WVU, in addition to UMD and SU, and interest from more throughout the Big Ten and ACC. Fleet-Davis will be exploring a variety of his suitors and potential suitors moving forward.
As for the Terps, Fleet-Davis is high on Maryland following a Feb. 13 visit and subsequent offer. He should be back in College Park several times for meetings with area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, position coaches Anthony Tucker and Matt Barnes (Fleet-Davis could be a linebacker at UMD), and headman D.J. Durkin. Fleet-Davis is excited about the direction Maryland’s heading and likes the idea of DMV-to-UMD too. He’s currently sitting “warm” on the hot board.
Tahj Capehart, WR, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach, Va.): The Terps remain alive in the Tahj Capehart sweepstakes after all. The four-star Virginia Beach product made his second trip, and first during the D.J. Durkin regime, to College Park Feb. 27, Capehart giving Maryland its share of compliments.
The 5-11, 185-pounder commended the head coach Durkin, offensive coordinator Walt Bell, receivers’ coach Chris Beatty and the rest of the UMD staff. Capehart said he, his mother and his father all thought the coaches were “great guys.” The four-star offered up his most effusive praise for Bell and Beatty, however. Capehart held Bell’s spread offense in high esteem, the receiver lauding the offensive coordinator’s UNC roots; player development; and how the coach takes advantage of his receivers.
Beatty, though, is the key here. The receivers’ coach, who has connections throughout the 757, has been after Capehart for more than two years now.
“Coach [Chris] Beatty, I’ve known him my whole high school career,” Capehart said. “We have a good relationship, and he’s stayed in touch with me now that he’s at Maryland. He’s coached some of the best receivers out there like Tavon Austin, Percy Harvin, Steadman Bailey. For me as a receiver, that’s a big plus; it’s definitely big for me.”
Capehart went on to praise Maryland’s campus, its location near Washington, D.C., and the facility upgrades. In fact, he counted the virtual tour detailing the upcoming renovations as a main highlight.
After the trip, Capehart, who attended the UMD-Michigan game last October, said the Terps had a chance to make his top-eight favorites list, which will be released when summer begins.
“I really like Maryland,” said Capehart, who could return to College Park at some point. “But I have to take some more visits and then see where things stand after that. But I do like Maryland and I think it’s a very good school.”
Yes, that last comment does sound a bit ominous. Most recruits who are infatuated following a college visit say something to the effect of, “Yes, definitely, they’re one of my top schools.”
But the take here is the Terps do have a shot to eke onto that leaderboard, thanks to the Beatty connection and Walt Bell’s offense. It’s just going to take some work to move ahead of in-state Va Tech -- Capehart’s particularly excited about his upcoming Blacksburg trip -- UNC, Tennessee, Penn State and possibly others like UVA.
Capehart has readily taken to new Hokies’ coach Justin Fuente and his spread, and many believe Tech is the team to beat. Tennessee is probably another top contender with receivers’ coach Zach Azzanni in Capehart’s ear. And UNC is in the thick of things after Capehart had a standout Chapel Hill, N.C., visit back in February.
You can read more about Capehart HERE.
Sean Savoy, WR, Wilson (Washington, D.C.): As expected, the local slot/corner Savoy’s recruiting is on the rise. After holding an early offer from Temple during his sophomore year, Savoy has now picked up verbals on back-to-back visit weekends, in addition to a third from Miami.
We detailed Savoy’s Maryland visit and subsequent scholarship last week, and this week he checked out Va Tech before snagging the offer upon departure. The D.C. prospect, who both the Terps and Hokies want on offense, lauded his stay in Blacksburg, Va. He liked the fact headman Justin Fuente brought his offensive staff with him from Memphis, Savoy intimating he could be a real playmaker in the scheme. The Wilson recruit talked up the campus, facilities and the rest of the coaches too. Following his trip, Savoy called Tech “big time” and said the Hokies would be a player for his services.
Same goes for Miami. Savoy was buzzing when the Hurricanes’ staff approved an offer March 1, the receiver suggesting he’d be foraying through Miami this summer.
But that doesn’t mean he’s heading to Blacksburg or Coral Gables when it’s all said and done. Savoy has given the hometown school plenty of props, talking up area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim; DMV-to-UMD; and the new regime in College Park.
Even though Savoy isn’t close to committing -- he wants to wait until after his senior year to choose a destination -- we like Maryland’s position.
Cameron Sullivan-Brown, WR, Pallotti (Laurel, Md.): The three-star Sullivan-Brown snagged an Orange offer while at Syracuse’s junior day Feb. 27. The DMV receiver, who is a prime UMD target, told Scout’s Mike McAllister he was “extremely excited” about the look and that the SU trip went “very well.” Sullivan-Brown said the practice facilities and campus were impressive, but he was mostly taken by the coaching staff, who put a personal touch on the visit.
Predictably, Sullivan-Brown left New York proclaiming the Orange “high on my list.” But we don’t see Cuse as a major threat for the receiver’s services; the Pallotti product has many universities to explore before forming a true leaderboard. Duke, Wisconsin, WVU, Northwestern, UVA, NC State, Kansas, Indiana, Illinois, Temple and UCF have scholarships out, and Sullivan-Brown would like to trek through many of them.
Regardless of which programs he entertains, Sullivan-Brown is still thinking Terps first and foremost. The local school is ringing true after two February forays through College Park, so we’ll continue forecasting Sullivan-Brown to UMD unless we hear otherwise.
Sean Nelson, WR, Langston Hughes (Fairburn, Ga.): The Terps were the first power-five program to offer Nelson back on Feb. 13, UMD’s Georgia-area recruiter Mike London doing the duties. Since then, the 6-2, 180-pounder has steadily grown his offer list, which now includes WVU; Illinois; Arizona; Miami of Ohio; Troy; Toledo; Arkansas State; Western Kentucky and UMD.
The Pac-12 verbal from the Wildcats caught Nelson’s eye right away, although it’s unlikely he’ll be able to visit Tucson, Ariz., anytime soon. West Virginia, however, should be graced with Nelson’s presence sometime this spring. Nelson is well aware of the receivers the Mountaineers have produced and wants to check out Morgantown, W.Va.
Maryland should be the recipient of a Nelson visit too, with April 16 the target date. The Langston Hughes product has hit it off with London and said he’s looking forward to meeting him in person. Nelson also mentioned he’s intrigued by offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s wide-open spread offense, as well as the school’s academic reputation. And it doesn’t hurt that UMD was the receiver’s first major offer, which meant something to Nelson.
The Georgian will wad through the recruiting process, so much will change between now and when Nelson’s ready to choose a school. But at the moment he does seem interested enough in UMD for us to keep him “warm” on the hot board.
Jalen Browder, WR, East Paulding (Dallas, Ga.): We wrote about Browder’s Maryland offer and interest a couple weeks back, the wideout mentioning he liked his conversation with UMD receivers’ coach Chris Beatty; thought the Under Armour uniforms were “really cool;” and said he had a built-in-affinity for the Terps since he’s a fan of the hoops team.
That’s all well and good, but we noted in the Shell that Browder’s initial comments couldn’t be taken as genuine just yet. At least, not until his recruiting profile was fully realized.
Browder held only one other power-five offer from Illinois when the Terps anted up, but since then he’s secured Ole Miss and NC State. The SEC look certainly grabbed Browder’s attention, while the Wolfpack offer resonated as well.
Browder picked up the NC State verbal when he was in Raleigh, N.C., Feb. 27, the East Pauding prospect lauding the Wolfpack program as a whole. The fact NCS isn’t too far from Browder’s Georgia home held appeal too.
The Dallas, Ga., native would like to check out College Park this summer, but let’s see if he makes it to campus before elevating Browder on the hot board. With a growing number of southern options, we’re somewhat skeptical he’ll leave his comfort zone.
Rob Martin, OT, St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.): The Terps are set to host one of their primary tackle targets March 6. The three-star Martin, who landed a UMD scholarship Feb. 11, has already been in College Park once before and has been itching to return with his family.
Martin said he “loved” his previous trek through UMD last year, including the campus; the facilities; the school’s location near D.C.; and atmosphere in College Park. He talked up the Under Armour uniforms, the academics and the Big Ten affiliation.
So, when Maryland’s new linebackers’ coach, Matt Barnes, offered him, Martin was “all pumped up.” Since then, the two have been in close contact via Twitter, and now Martin will take the opportunity to meet Barnes and Co. in person.
But it’s too early to begin forecasting the Jersey tackle to College Park. Martin’s been picking up offers galore and will be taking numerous trips to regional and Midwest programs. Martin was at Penn State Feb. 17 and Pitt Feb. 18, while he’s been to hometown Rutgers several times. He’s considering jaunts to Nebraska, NC State, Clemson (no offer yet), Duke, BC, Tennessee (no offer yet), Kentucky and others.
The St. Joseph’s prospect previously told me a Nittany Lions offer would be “huge.” And now he has one, leading us to believe PSU could hold an early edge. Martin’s also seeking a look from Tennessee or a top SEC program.
The tackle has no intentions of ending his recruitment this summer. Most likely, he’ll commit after his senior year or next winter.
Note: Martin's teammate, linebacker Louis Acceus, who is another principle Maryland target, said he's trying to join the big tackle at Maryland March 6. But Acceus isn't positive he'll have a ride down and won't know for sure until March 5. If Acceus can get to College Park, it would be a major coup for the UMD staff. Acceus has offers from the Terps, BC, Michigan State, Miami, Nebraska, WVU, Pitt, Rutgers, Wisconsin, Indiana and Temple, but has kept Maryland foremost on the mind since linebackers' coach Matt Barnes anted up Jan. 28. He has yet to visit College Park, so it's imperative for UMD's coaches to get him on campus.
Marcus Minor, OG, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): The four-star DeMatha guard saw his recruitment reach the level of his five-star teammates, Anthony McFarland and Chase Young, Feb. 26. Minor mainly had offers from midlevel ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 programs, but in the span of a couple hours Feb. 26 he landed his first SEC verbal from South Carolina and a major SEC offer from TAMU.
In other words, the floodgates have been opened and Minor’s situation just got a whole lot more complicated.
Minor’s keeping an open mind and isn’t going to make any rash decisions or comments, however. Expect him to explore multiple campuses this spring and summer before announcing any kind of leaderboard or favorites list.
The Terps remain very much involved for the four-star guard. He likes the new staff with D.J. Durkin, line coach Dave Borbely, offensive coordinator Walt Bell and area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim. Plus, he’s keen on the idea of representing his home state at the college level and attending Maryland’s renowned journalism school. He previously said the fact he has four teammates headed to UMD next year will not factor into his decision, but that doesn’t necessarily knock Maryland down a peg. Minor’s been in College Park on multiple occasions and should have tons of exposure to the Durkin regime moving forward.
Tyler Knight, OT, Northside Christian School (St. Petersburg, Fla.): When Knight picked up a Maryland offer in January, he had already been committed to Indiana since November. We surmised, however, that Knight could reopen his recruitment down the road if the Terps, and others, began pursuing in earnest. That could eventually become the case way down the road, but for now Knight’s not budging.
Knight was back in Bloomington, Ind., for a junior day and came away even more impressed with the program. Knight termed himself a “rock solid” Hoosiers’ pledge, despite offers fro UMD; WVU; Wake; UCF; Rutgers; FAU and interest from some nearby power programs.
We’ll keep Knight on the hot board just in case, but don’t expect movement anytime soon.
Rasheed Walker, OL, North Point (Waldorf, Md.) (2018): This 6-5, 280-pound sophomore tackle from Southern Maryland, along with his teammate, 2018 corner Chelen Garnes, were in College Park for a visit March 2. Neither Walker nor Garnes have firm offers as of yet, but each should garner their share of looks once the camp circuit begins.
Walker, in particular, has intriguing size and athleticism. It wouldn’t shock us if he picked up a few verbals before his junior year even begins. Garnes could receive the same treatment following his 2016 campaign.
Look for both Walker and Garnes to return to College Park several times, including for a one-day camp this summer. If the duo performs well, the Maryland staff could hand them their first FBS verbals.
More Defensive Recruiting Notes
Victor Dimukeje, DL, Boys’ Latin (Baltimore, Md.): The Maryland defensive line target Dimukeje is slowly but surely seeing his recruiting rise. He added his second power-five offer from Iowa State in mid-February, and has interest from Pitt; Duke; Penn State; UVA; Wake Forest and other regional programs.
Dimukeje visited Pittsburgh Feb. 27 and hinted the Panthers’’ staff could be offering in the near future. The Boys’ Latin product thoroughly enjoyed his stay at Pitt and could return if the coaches do indeed pursue.
For now, though, Dimukeje is fairly open in his recruitment as he ventures around to various college campuses. We’re inclined to believe the Terps’ staff has a bead, however. Defensive line coach Mike London and headman D.J. Durkin have Dimukeje’s ear, while the budding interior lineman loved his Feb. 13 stay in College Park.
Dimukeje will be back at Maryland several times this offseason, including March 5 for a personal sitdown with the staff. This time, he’s bringing his parents along -- and that’s always a positive development.
Tyree Johnson, DE, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): The three-star DMV defensive end Johnson was back at Maryland yet again, but before we talk Terps, let’s rehash last weekend, which the edge rusher spent in Pennsylvania. First, he took in Penn State’s junior day Feb. 27 before heading to Pitt for an unofficial Feb. 28.
Of the two, Johnson had the most effusive praise for the Panthers, which wasn’t surprising considering Pitt’s staff has offered and PSU’s has not (he is not a priority for the Nittany Lions at this time). Johnson said he enjoyed being in Pittsburgh, liked the coaching staff and believes the Panthers are on the rise.
But Johnson doesn’t project to wind up at Pitt. It’s the next two trips that will be more telling in this recruitment. The St. John’s end is scheduled to see TAMU April 9 and Tennessee April 16, both southern suitors firmly on the brain. TAMU is home to Johnson’s ex-teammate, Aaron Hansford, who has been hyping the Aggies since signing Feb. 3. UT’s coaches, meanwhile, have been after Johnson in earnest and have his ear.
The Terps, however, remain a premier player, evidenced by the fact the staff had him in yet again March 3 for a sitdown before Johnson heads back to College Park with his parents March 5. We’ll recap both UMD jaunts after the latter stay, but for now realize Johnson has turtles on the mind.
Maryland defensive line coach Mike London and area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim have made strong initial impressions, each maintaining close contact. Additionally, his two most recent treks through College Park (Feb. 13 and March 3) have him confident in the program’s direction. He’s a believer in head coach D.J. Durkin’s message and vision, specifically the idea of staying home and turning Maryland into Miami circa 1985.
But there’s a ways to go before Johnson chooses his future destination. More than likely he’s going to drag things out until next winter, which means plenty of ebbing and flowing in the months ahead. Let’s see if the Terps’ coaches can keep him thinking DMV-to-UMD.
Elijah Conliffe, DE, Hampton (Va.): The Hampton Roads defensive end/tight end Conliffe has seen his recruitment take off since the Terps anted up after the New Year, but Maryland is still hanging around. Both UMD defensive line coach Mike London and area recruiter Chris Beatty have had communication with Conliffe, who told our colleagues earlier this week College Park was a locale he wanted to check out.
Granted, Conliffe absolutely raved about some of his prominent SEC suitors, along with Penn State and Virginia Tech, but at least London and Beatty have the Terps in the conversation.
Conliffe, however, was just in State College for a junior day and now has the Nittany Lions among his top contenders. Meanwhile, hometown Va Tech finally offered, Conliffe dubbing the Hokies an offer “he was waiting for” (he loves Va Tech’s engineering program and new coaching staff). Tennessee, which Conliffe’s visiting April 2, has the defensive end’s eye too, and the Hampton product will be returning to Alabama this summer in an attempt to coax out a Tide look.
Rayshard Ashby, LB, L.C. Bird (Chesterfield, Va.): Scout’s Michael Clark caught up with the Terps’ linebacker target Ashby earlier this week, and the three-star said he was at Pitt Feb. 27 -- the Panthers offered while Ashby was on campus -- and would be at Maryland in the near future. Clark characterized Ashby’s imminent UMD trip as “an important one,” because the backer is quite excited about the Terps’ program in general.
Ashby has been in communication with UMD linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes, the recruit taking a liking to the coach’s enthusiasm. The Bird product also has regard for Maryland’s defensive-minded staff, believing he could thrive under their watch. Plus, Ashby enjoyed a previous game-day experience in College Park, extolling the atmosphere inside then-Byrd Stadium.
But although Ashby told Clark he didn’t have any clear leaders, when we spoke to him it sounded like hometown Va Tech was the team to beat. Ashby’s been in Blacksburg multiple times and is high on new coach Justin Fuente and the Tech defense.
Furthermore, Ashby acquired his first Big 12 offer from West Virginia March 1 and is eager to check out the Mountaineers.
It’s early, however, so we’ll see how Asby’s recruitment develops down the line. We expect him to land numerous regional offers by the spring.
Dorian Etheridge, LB, Capital (Charleston, W.Va.): It’s been a couple weeks since the West Virginia native Etheridge landed a Maryland offer, and, predictably, he’s added on to his expanding resume. Louisville and Pittsburgh are Etheridge’s two latest suitors, the linebacker picking up the latter on campus. Etheridge readily took to Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi at the Panthers’ Feb. 27 junior day, letting the headman know he’d be returning later during the spring. The Capital High prospect said Pittsburgh was “definitely” a primary option for him.
Speaking of primary options, Etheridge visited Va Tech a day after seeing Pitt. The Hokies have had defensive coordinator Bud Foster after Etheridge since last June, and that longstanding rapport has Tech sitting first or second in the pecking order.
Hometown West Virginia, meanwhile, will be a chief suitor throughout, Etheridge journeying through Morgantown on multiple occasions. He’s no lock to wind up at WVU, but the Mountaineers’ coaches have done well with the local recruit.
Etheridge has yet to see College Park this year, but said he’d be trekking through this spring. He’s established a rapport with Maryland linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes, whom Etheridge praised for his positivity. The Terps’ attacking defense, which Barnes described to Etheridge in detail, fits the Charleston product’s style too. Moreover, Etheridge grew up in Northern Virginia, just outside of College Park, and attended several games at then-Byrd Stadium.
“I loved everything about Maryland,” Etheridge told us last week. “It’s an awesome opportunity to now be able to play there.”
The feeling here is Terps are probably among Etheridge’s foremost three options, but Barnes will have to keep pushing to vault Va Tech and WVU. Multiple trips to UMD are imperative, first for a spring practice and later for a game.
Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.): The competition for the DMV corner Castro-Fields has ratcheted up a notch. Now, in addition to Pitt, Rutgers, Temple, Marshall and Maryland offers, the Riverdale product landed Penn State while in State College Feb. 27.
Afterwards, Castro-Fields was ecstatic about both the verbal and the Nittany Lions themselves. He had an excellent junior day, offering up praise for area recruiter Charles Huff, position coach Terry Smith and headman James Franklin. Castro-Fields also enjoyed the Happy Valley vibe and said he should be returning for a game in the future.
But don’t fret yet Terps’ fans. Castro-Fields remains high on the hometown school and does want to give his family every opportunity to see him play on college football Saturdays. The Terps, with assistant Aazaar Abdul-Rahim running point, should be hosting Castro-Fields again this spring, giving the staff yet another opportunity to hammer home DMV-to-UMD.
But while we originally thought Castro-Fields could be an early popper, it now seems like he’ll do some exploring before committing. Regardless, we’re continuing to forecast him to Maryland before the summer’s out.
Troy Simon, CB, Milton (Alpharetta, Ga.): We wrote about the Maryland cornerback target Simon back in January after he procured a Terps’ offer from offensive coordinator Walt Bell. Recall, the corner had a rapport with Bell when the coach was at Arkansas State (Simon’s first offer), and the Georgian was ecstatic when the former Howl coach came through once again at UMD.
“Coach Bell is one of my favorite recruiters,” Simon said before. “He’s a younger recruiter and he has this ‘walk and talk’ to him that’s really cool. He gives you a firm handshake, looks you in the eye, and is just really likeable and cool.
“I was really excited about the [Maryland] offer too, because it’s one of my favorite schools and I’ve always watched their players and followed their coaches on Twitter. I previously had an offer from Maryland when the old staff was there and Coach [Lyndon] Johnson saw me at a spring practice. So I was really glad to get an offer from the new Maryland staff.”
Now, Simon is honing in on his first College Park visit date, perhaps April 16 for the spring game. And that’s not all -- he’s bringing two more Peach State Terps’ targets, receiver Jayden Comma (Roswell, Ga.) and wideout Carlos Carriere (discussed above), with him.
“My good friend Jayden Comma, Carlos Carrier and I have been talking about it, and we’re planning on going up there together,” Simon told me earlier this week. “We’re all really interested in Maryland and want to check it out either in April or maybe May.”
Indeed, Comma told us Feb. 10 the Terps were a prime contender for his services. When Bell anted up, UMD represented the emerging receiver’s very first FBS offer.
“I just want to go to the place that best fits me, and I feel Maryland could be one of those places because they spread the ball out and move it downfield,” Comma said previously. “I’m really excited to get up there and see it first-hand.”
We’ll touch base with both Simon and Comma post-College Park trip, but the feeling here is the Terps should sit high on each prospect’s leaderboards throughout their respective recruitments.
That is, if Bell, D.J. Durkin and Co. can stave off a growing list of suitors for the Georgia duo.
Simon has added scholarships from California and Oregon State, to go along with UMD; Wake; Illinois; Cincinnati; and Troy. Comma, for his part, now holds Maryland; Illinois; Minnesota; Southern Miss; Miami of Ohio; Western Kentucky; Tulane; Charlotte; and Georgia State verbals.
Each recruit has taken in several local programs recently and will see a number of suitors this offseason.
Simon attended junior days at UNC (no offer yet) and Wake Forest, and will be returning to Winston Salem, N.C., March 18 for an overnight with the players. The cornerback is also heading to Georgia Tech for a spring practice.
Comma has already seen Ga Tech, as well as Wake Forest, and is in the process of setting up more spring jaunts.
Note: In addition to Jayden Comma and Carlo Carriere, the Terps’ staff will attempt to coax Simon's teammate, four-star offensive tackle Jordan Tucker, up for a visit as well. Tucker may be favoring South Carolina and Louisville, which he visited in early February, but if the staff can get the tackle up to campus, maybe the Terps will have a shot.
Recapping The Visitors
In case you lost track slogging through the Shell, here's a reminder of the recent visitors and upcoming visitors for this weekend:
Kasim Hill, QB, St. John’s: March 3
Andrew Park, TE, Lake Braddock: March 3
Rob Martin, OT, St. Joseph Regional: March 6
Vic Dimukeje, DT, Boys’ Latin: March 5
Tyree Johnson, DE, St. John’s: March 3 & March 5
Fofie Bazzie, CB, Quince Orchard: March 2
Rasheed Walker, OL, North Point (2018): March 2
Chelen Garnes, CB, North Point (2018): March 2
Off The Board
Adarius Lemons, RB, Clearwater (Fla.): The borderline five-star running back probably should have come off the hot board earlier, but I was waiting for our Scout analysts to interview Lemons before doing so. And, indeed, Lemons said his main focus is on North Carolina, Auburn and South Carolina. Hometown Florida remains in the picture too after hosting Lemons for a standout junior day.
In all liklihood, Lemons will be a Tar Heel or end up at an SEC program. Beyond acknowledging he had a Maryland offer, he never said much in regards to the Terps.
Mark Webb, WR, Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.): The receiver Webb has been forecast to Penn State since before the New Year, but he did show some interest in Maryland after the Terps' staff offered in January. Even so, it was only a matter of time before PSU, or other major suitors, won him over. Which is basically what happened last weekend when Webb took in the junior day in State College.
Webb may take a look at some of his more recent suitors like UNC and Miami, but the Nittany Lions are trending.
Alexander Marshall, TE, Proctor Academy (Andover, Mass.): Maryland is only taking one tight end in the 2016 class, so with Andrew Park (discussed above) on board, there won't be a potent push for Marshall. Regardless, Marshall would've been one difficult pull out of Proctor Academy anyway.
Marshall, who, since adding a Maryland verbal Feb. 9, has garnered offers from college football royalty. Alabama, LSU and Florida State were his three most recent scholarships, while Florida; Nebraska; Kentucky; South Carolina; Pitt; Wake; NC State; BC; and others are on the 6-7, 230-pounder too.
Scout’s Brian Dohn touched base with Marshall earlier this week, and the sense is the Florida programs are ringing true. The Massachusetts product seemed especially eager to check out UF and FSU this summer. Alabama obviously holds major weight, and Marshall told Dohn Nebraska is another program he “definitely” wanted to see.
As for Maryland, Marshall had a budding rapport with UMD recruiter Pete Lembo and liked how offensive coordinator Walt Bell uses his tight ends too. He still intended to trek through College Park as well, eager to see the school. But we don't believe that's going to happen now, which is why we're removing him from the hot board until further notice.
Kurt Rafdal, TE, Carmel (Ind.): Rafdal had a bond with Maryland tight ends coach Pete Lembo and was considering trekking through College Park, but that's not going to happen now. With Andrew Park (discussed above) on board and the Terps taking one tight end, Rafdal's likely off the board. Even if Lembo maintains contact, Rafdal will probably look elsewhere to one of his Midwest suitors (Indiana, Illinois, Purdue), or perhaps Iowa State or Nebraska.
Braden Atkinson, TE, Boys' Latin (Baltimore, Md.): The local tight end Atkinson loved his visit to Maryland and made it no secret how much he wanted a hometown offer. He hinted he might even commit if the scholarship were presented. But the Terps landed their man in Andrew Park (discussed above) and aren't taking a second tight end, per Park.
Thus, Atkinson's off the board unless something goes awry with the current tight end commit in the future.
C.J. Thorpe, OG, Pittsburgh Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.): Thorpe was a priority for Maryland’s former regime, and the new staff jumped on the Pittsburgh four-star in mid-February. Thorpe had initial contact with line coach Dave Borbely and expressed some interest in UMD.
But Maryland’s chances seem slim based off Thorpe’s recent comments and recruiting developments. In-state Penn State is after the Pittsburgh Catholic product, hosting him for a Feb. 27 junior day. Post-trip, the Nittany Lions are now considered the leaders for Thorpe’s services. Meanwhile, Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss and Tennessee have all tossed their names into the hat, each on track for possible visits.
We’ll see what Borbely can accomplish here, but it’s probably safe to remove Thorpe from the hot board for the time being. The Pittsburgh product will reenter onto our radars if he visits College Park.
Kai-Leon Herbert, OT, American Heritage (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.): The four-star Herbert, who has held a UMD verbal since January, hinted hometown Florida currently leads for his services. He’s been in Gainesville, Fla., several times and seems infatuated with headman Jim McElwain’s program, per our Florida colleagues. Another in-state program, Miami, is also in the game after Herbert visited Coral Gables in mid-February. The Canes’ ACC rival, FSU, would become a principle player should the Noles offer up, as would programs throughout SEC.
Herbert has not broached Maryland in interviews thus far.
Jordan Williams, DE, Cox (Virginia Beach, Va.): It’s reached the point where Williams has so many major suitors to consider that he’s no longer listing Maryland when asked about early standouts.
The four-star defensive end, who UMD’s previous staff pursued before the D.J. Durkin regime picked up the slack, was just at Clemson for a visit Feb. 27. Following his stay, he basically called the Tigers the team to beat. Williams ate up the Death Valley vibe, extolled the coaching staff and lionized Clemson’s player development.
The Cox product also has his eye on Tennessee, which he’s set to see March 5, and Notre Dame, whose staff has offered and should be hosting Williams this spring. Penn State, meanwhile, has been a longtime contender, and UVA is a sentimental in-state favorite.
Derek Pitts, S, South Charleston (Charleston, W.Va.): The Terps had a bead on the four-star safety Pitts when Cory Robinson was a Maryland employee. But when the coach left for Toledo earlier this offseason, Maryland lost its main connection.
Since then, we’re not even sure current defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim has attempted to contact Pitts. If the assistant has, Pitts hasn’t acknowledged it publically.
The four-star granted an interview with Scout’s Brian Dohn this week, letting on that he attended Penn State’s junior day Feb. 27. Pitts waxed hyperbole about the Nittany Lions’ program, and now has PSU among his top contenders. West Virginia, the hometown school, has long been a favorite, and the Mountaineers remain so, per the Dohn interview.
Other schools Pitts mentioned were Florida, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, LSU and Alabama, all of which have offered.