Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Terps On The Verge Of Landing Multiple Five-Star Florida Recruits
OK, that was a cruel April Fools' joke at 5 a.m. The rest is real. I swear.
Terps Host Multiple Four & Five Stars March 26
The day before Easter, the Maryland staff held a team scrimmage, which many local, and several out-of-state, recruits attended. In total, there were more than 20 prospects with Terps’ offers in College Park, Md., March 26.
Kasim Hill, QB, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): The four-star Hill has now been in College Park three times since head coach D.J. Durkin’s ascension, including twice in one week. Hill was on campus March 19 with his family for a sitdown with Durkin and offensive coordinator Walt Bell, and he returned March 26 for the scrimmage in Maryland Stadium.
The ex-Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) standout isn’t given to overstatement, measuring out his comments accordingly, so you won’t read much effusive praise from him. But, even so, we’re growing increasingly encouraged about Maryland’s position with the dual-threat. Hill seems to have taken to Durkin and Bell, believing he could potentially thrive in the latter’s offensive system. The gunslinger also has a solid rapport with both Bell and his UMD-area recruiter, Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, Hill noting their vigor.
Moreover, Hill’s keen on the idea of building the hometown school into a winner with a foundation of DMV recruits, while he likes Maryland’s academics as well (he wants to major in finance). It only helps the Terps’ chances that Hill’s parents both respect the Maryland coaches and the direction they’re taking the program.
Hill insists he will be gauging a few of his other suitors, however. He was at Michigan State March 31, and figures to return to UVA, Wake Forest, Syracuse and maybe Northwestern as well.
For what it’s worth, Hill said the college coaches he talks to most are UMD’s, Wake’s, MSU’s, Vandy’s, UVA’s, Syracuse’s and Rutgers’. (He left out Penn State and Michigan, two former contenders that seem to have fallen off).
Expect Hill to make a spring decision, after he’s taken in a few more locales. We’re leaving him “warm” on the hot board for now, but are inching towards upping the temperature.
You can read more about Hill HERE.
Markquese Bell, ATH, Bridgeton (N.J.): This jack-of-all-trades, who is being recruited for both offense and defense, took his initial College Park trip March 26. Afterwards, the 6-3, 200-pound multi-offer talent said the Terps “are in a great spot” for his services.
“I got to see the intensity down there, and it was just a great experience,” said Bell, who holds offers from UMD, Florida, Clemson, Georgia, Kentucky, UNC, BC, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers, Temple, Va Tech, Wake and Wisconsin. “I was watching both sides of the ball because I’m trying to play both sides in college, and I loved how the defense flew all around and how fast-paced the offense was. It was just intense all-around and I loved it.
“And Coach Durkin … he was talking to me about how they’re building the program back up to where it should be, and how they want to win championships there. He said they need guys like me to help them get there. I was honored to hear that. It sounded great.”
Bell has been in regular communication with Maryland recruiter and running backs coach Anthony Tucker (which probably gives some indication where the Terps envision Bell playing). The Jersey product said Tucker is a “great guy” and counts the coach as one of his favorite recruiters. Bell also had positive comments for College Park itself, the school’s location near Washington, D.C., and the player dorms/facility upgrades. The Bridgeton prospect was so enamored with New Cole he called the indoor fields and under-construction tunnel “a sight to see.”
A couple days later, Bell placed Maryland on his initial leaderboard, joining the likes of Rutgers; Michigan; UNC; Wisconsin; Va Tech; Georgia; Florida; Temple; and Penn State. Of those 10, Bell admitted he speaks to coaches from RU, UNC, UGA, Michigan, UF and UMD the most, labeling the six “some of the main ones for me.” But when Clemson offered March 30, however, the Tigers promptly vaulted up the totem poll and into the conversation.
So far, Bell has visited the RU, Temple, NC State, UF and UMD, and wants to check out Michigan, UGA, Clemson and UNC in the near future. He does not intend to commit until embarking on official visits later during the fall.
The vibe here is Bell is probably favoring the Bulldogs, Tigers, Heels, Wolverines, Gators and the hometown Scarlet Knights. He does have Maryland affinity, but Bell seems starry-eyed and more inclined to the country’s elites.
You can read more about Bell HERE.
Anthony McFarland, RB, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): The five-star McFarland returned to UMD March 26, and it sounds like the Terps do have his eye. McFarland didn’t respond to interview requests, but our DeMatha sources have let on the versatile athlete left campus talking up Maryland.
Offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s scheme, head coach D.J. Durkin’s stay-home pitch and area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim’s rapport all have the runner’s mind on UMD. Plus, McFarland’s comfortable on campus, likes the various facility upgrades, is keen on the idea of joining his teammates-turned-Terps in College Park, and believes the Terps are on the verge of a turnaround.
The DeMatha recruit, however, will entertain his other suitors. Alabama, Florida, Miami Georgia, TAMU, Clemson and more are in the thick of things and should be receiving visits this spring/summer. In fact, McFarland went on a Sunshine State swing after visiting UMD, trekking through Coral Gables, Fla.. Miami, along with UF, figure to be prime players moving forward.
The DeMatha product will undoubtedly take several officials before announcing his college destination next winter. The hometown school, however, should be right there in the end, among McFarland’s top two or three suitors.
Jon Lovett, RB, Cherokee (Marlton, N.J.): The 6-1, 200-pound power-back Lovett landed a Maryland offer following his initial College Park foray Feb. 27, and a month later he returned for the team scrimmage. Lovett called his second jaunt “a lot of fun” and said he “loves Maryland, I like what’s going on there.”
“Maryland’s sweet,” Lovett said. “They’re one of my tops right now.”
The main reason they’re one “his tops” is Lovett’s rapport with the staff. He’s known Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry for more than a year, while he’s building a relationship with UMD-area recruiter Matt Barnes. Lovett also believes he could seamlessly transition into offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s spread, even though the Marlton product plays in a power-I system.
“We’re real tight,” Lovett said of Barnes. “Coach Barnes is a great guy, he’s real honest and he’s down to earth. We have a great relationship, and he’s just telling me how much he wants me there.
“I also talked to Coach [Marcus] Berry; I’ve know him since he was at Rutgers. He’s real straight, just like the whole staff. He’s a great guy and doesn’t sugarcoat anything. The whole staff is that way. They’re great.”
The Cherokee recruit complimented the football dorms and facility upgrades too, calling the former “like houses” and the latter “state of the art.”
Yes, Lovett may be singing UMD’s praises, but he admitted hometown Rutgers had his ear and could lead for his services. The Jersey back has been in Piscataway, N.J., on numerous occasions and likes how headman Chris Ash is changing the program. Boston College, which Lovett’s visiting in April, is also a primary contender.
You can read more about Lovett HERE.
Iverson Clement, RB, Rancocas Valley Regional (Mount Holly, N.J.) (2018): The sophomore back Clement is already blowing up on the recruiting trail, but the Terps have made solid inroads here. The 5-11, 190-pounder, who added a Maryland offer Feb. 29, has visited College Park twice in the last two months, noting how much he loved the atmosphere; facility upgrades; and vibe surrounding the program. He’s also high on offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s offense -- specifically how the coach uses running backs -- and the staff’s overall on-field energy.
On top of that, Clement has known UMD Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry for more than a year, the two developing a rapport when the latter was at Rutgers. Meanwhile, Clement’s also been building a relationship with running backs coach Anthony Tucker.
“In my opinion, Maryland is a very good Big Ten school and is on the rise,” Clement said before. “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, though, has numerous programs coming after him. Florida, Kentucky, Rutgers, Temple and BC have anted up, and more schools from throughout the Big Ten; SEC; and ACC are about to join the fray. He’s visited places like RU, Florida, South Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest, UNC and others, talking up the southern elites.
It’s too soon to begin forecasting Clement’s future destination, but the Terps’ coaches have given themselves a shot.
Devyn Ford, RB, North Stafford (Stafford, Va.) (2019): It’s a dozen verbals and counting for the freshman running back Ford, who the Terps offered Feb. 19. The surefire five-star now has looks from UMD, Kentucky, NC State, UNC, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, UVA, Va Tech, Wake, WVU and ODU, with the nation’s bigwigs about to enter the picture.
Given the above, it was a positive development (for UMD purposes) that Ford visited College Park March 26. The 5-11, 170-pound speedster, who has exchanged messages with UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty, had an opportunity to gauge UMD’s spread offense; speak to numerous coaches; and learn more about the program in general. He also toured the campus and checked out video of the $150 million facility upgrades.
It’s too early to predict Maryland’s standing with the elite freshman, but it does sound like the Terps are in the game early. Beatty’s pitch, the fact College Park isn’t too far from North Stafford and UMD’s up-tempo spread should all play in Maryland’s favor moving forward.
But we’ll see if the Terps can hang with college football’s powers down the road.
Note: Ford’s teammate, defensive end Nana Asiedu, was also in College Park March 26. Asiedu, a 2018 recruit, holds offers from Maryland and UVA, with Va Tech and others ready to ante up this spring.
Asiedu’s recruitment is just beginning, but he too seems to like the Terps early.
DeMarcco Hellams, WR, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) (2019): The freshman receiver Hellams picked up a Maryland offer at the Big Show camp last June, and the new Maryland regime has reaffirmed said verbal. Hellams has actually visited College Park numerous times the last few months, giving the receiver loads of exposure to headman D.J. Durkin’s program.
We didn’t conduct a full interview with Hellams following the March 26 stay, but past conversations suggest he’s feeling the hometown school early. Not only has Hellams connected with Durkin, UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and receivers’ coach Chris Beatty, but he’s already heard plenty of Maryland overtures from teammates-turned-Terps LoLo Harrison; D.J. Turner; Tino Ellis; and Terrance Davis.
There’s a distinct probability the Terps will be positioned for Hellams by the time he’s a senior. The staff’s early inroads and Hellams’ consistent presence in College Park suggests UMD’s going to be in play throughout.
Hellams hasn’t claimed any other offers yet, but he’ll have his pick of schools in another year or two. His recruitment is bound to ebb and flow as he gathers suitors and begins taking visits.
Eric Douglas, OL, Mallard Creek (Charlotte, N.C.): We hadn’t paid much attention to the four-star Douglas prior to last week, mainly because he seemed focused on South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida. But Douglas told us March 26 the Terps were firmly in his top five and had plenty going for them. Not the least of which is Douglas’ family, the majority of which resides in Columbia, Md.
“My father is born and raised here in Maryland and I have tons of family up here. So I definitely wanted to get up and check [UMD] out,” said Douglas, who holds offers from UMD, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, PSU, NC State, Kentucky, Cal, Clemson, Mississippi State, Missouri, Vandy, WVU and others. “And I’ll tell you, it was excellent. I loved it at Maryland. It’s was great how the coaches presented the academics, which is very important to me, and also the campus and how the staff was in general. The direction the program is heading, I really like what I’m seeing there. Maryland is great.”
In particular, Douglas pointed to head coach D.J. Durkin’s “exceptional pedigree” and offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s “great no-huddle offense,” which the Mallard recruit saw firsthand during the team scrimmage. But Douglas said he was truly struck by offensive line coach Dave Borbely, who spoke extensively to the Charlotte native and his father following the practice.
“And Coach Borbely is awesome. Just watching him coach and talking to him was the highlight for me,” Douglas said. “It goes without saying how great of a coach he is. Just look at the players he’s put in the NFL. His resume speaks for itself. He’s a really good coach too; he’s fiery and gets into it. I loved his intensity on the field.”
Douglas was impressed with New Cole and the pending renovations/upgrades too. Moreover, he enjoyed being on campus and around Washington, D.C., noting the numerous internship opportunities available in the nation’s capital. Douglas made sure to mention Maryland’s academic reputation too, the recruit counting education as a primary factor in his recruitment.
Douglas, though, does have four other programs on his leaderboard, including UNC; South Carolina; UF; and Penn State. Word is the hometown school and the Gamecocks have the inside track, with the Gators also making noise. Douglas has yet to visit State College, Pa., but will be doing so shortly.
The Mallard product intends to end his recruitment later this spring, and most believe he’ll wind up a Tar Heel or Gamecock.
You can read more about Douglas HERE.
Josh Paschal, DE, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.): The local edge rusher Paschal visited Maryland for the first time since DMV Day Feb. 13, leaving campus with some rather telling comments. Paschal basically admitted he wasn’t “feeling” the former UMD regime, but now, with head coach D.J. Durkin in charge, has the Terps among his foremost contenders.
“Just from watching the players and coaches interacting, you can tell [the coaches] have the players’ respect already,” Paschal said after viewing the scrimmage March 26.
Paschal said the staff’s collective message has resonated in a major way. The Good Counsel backer spoke to not only Durkin, but also defensive line coach Mike London and UMD-area recruiters Chris Beatty and Aazaar Abdul-Rahim.
“They keep telling us [locals] about how we need to stay home and put out for Maryland, because it’s our home state,” Paschal said. “I think it’s a very strong message and it’s going to catch on with a lot of recruits around here. Before [when the old staff] was talking about [DMV-to-UMD] it wasn’t as strong as it is now. It’s a different kind of movement now. Like, it’s more serious and the coaches are really coming at us with it. It has the attention of a lot of guys around here, and it has my attention too.”
The DMV recruit enjoyed watching the defense in action too, calling the unit’s style “fun” and “fast-paced.” And during previous treks through UMD, Paschal’s lauded the campus, renovations and facility upgrades.
But although the Terps are trending for the defensive end, so are Clemson; UNC; Kentucky; and Ohio State. We’re not so sure each of those programs are pushing, however, especially CU and OSU.
Provided Maryland’s staff continues to pursue in earnest, the Terps could very well work their way up Paschal’s favorites list.
Note: Paschal is visiting Florida and FSU March 31-April 5, and if those programs ante up, both the Gators and Noles would become real players here. The Good Counsel product will also be returning to Ohio State April 9.
You can read more about Paschal HERE.
Chase Young, DE, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): The Terps are right there for the four-star Young after three College Park visits in eight days. It’s reached the point where Young’s developed an inherent comfort level with the entire staff and doesn’t really need to hear recruiting pitches anymore. He knows what head coach D.J. Durkin and Co. represent, and respects the direction they’re taking the program. Young’s all about DMV-to-UMD, representing his home state, and teaming up with other locals to help build Maryland into a contender.
But Young, like most top talents from the DMV, isn’t wont to pop without enjoying the process. Not when programs like Alabama and Ohio State are after him in earnest. Young was back in Columbus, Ohio, March 30 for yet another look at the Buckeyes, and he will returning to both Tuscaloosa, Ala., too.
Additionally, Young should be visiting both Florida and Florida State later during the summer, and word is both the Gators and Noles have his attention. USC and UCLA are also in line for trips and could eventually enter onto on the edge rusher’s radar.
Regardless of where he stands now, Young figures to take four to five officials next fall before deciding on a future destination in the winter.
We like Maryland’s chances here, but just don’t expect him to be the first four/five-star local to jump on the bandwagon.
Josh Kaindoh, DE, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): It’s been difficult to get a true gauge on Kaindoh as he isn’t given to interview requests, beyond a couple texts here and there. We attempted to catch up with the Baltimore native during his return home earlier this week, but Kaindoh proved elusive.
But after visiting Maryland three times in one week, it’s pretty obvious the Terps are a true player. Kaindoh took his initial foray through College Park under the D.J. Durkin regime March 26, followed by a return March 28 and then again March 30.
Kaindoh has readily taken to the new staff’s energy, and he likes defensive coordinator Scott Shafer’s aggressive scheme, per our sources. He’s been in consistent contact with multiple UMD staffers too, from defensive line coach Mike London; to Maryland-area recruiter Chris Beatty; to Shaffer; to Durkin.
Plus, we’re told Kaindoh wouldn’t mind returning home for college so his family can easily see him on college football Saturdays. Maryland’s academic reputation doesn’t hurt the Terps’ position with the five-star, either.
Honestly, though, Kaindoh’s recruitment will remain in its middle-stages until he can journey through a few other locales. Thus far, he’s been to Maryland, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State, but has many more on his radar like Alabama; Florida State; Notre Dame; Clemson; Nebraska and potentially others. Additionally, Kaindoh wants to venture back to the likes of OSU, PSU, MSU and UMD.
Penn State, which has been on Kaindoh’s radar for over a year, is still a real possibility as a landing spot, along with Michigan State and potentially other Big Ten squads like OSU; Michigan (visiting April 1); and NU. Maryland, however, has made up ground and could be positioned to pounce later during the game.
We should have a better idea where Kaindoh stands following the spring.
Marcus Bowman, LB, Douglass (Upper Marlboro, Md.): Bowman finally made it to College Park March 26, the last of the Terps’ 2017 DMV targets to do so. Along with his mother and grandmother, the Bowman family easily connected with head coach D.J. Durkin and his assistants, namely recruiter Matt Barnes, whom the backer dubbed “a real cool guy.” Furthermore, the local linebacker loved the Maryland staff’s coaching methods during the team scrimmage.
“I think Maryland has a real good staff now, and they have so much energy. It’s a lot different than how it was before. I like how they’re playing with high intensity and all that. They really get after it there,” said Bowman, who holds offers from UMD, NC State, Temple, Syracuse, Iowa and Marshall. “I really liked how the defense attacked. I mean, they were just getting after it, just playing with energy. I was sitting there in the stands like, ‘I want to get out there and hit someone (laughs).’ It was great.”
Bowman went on to praise the under-construction facility upgrades and renovated player dorms, both of which he viewed for the first time. He also said his mother and grandmother enjoyed their stay, Bowman suggesting his mom would like for her son to stay close by for college.
I did get the sense, however, that Bowman’s words rang of a little lip service. The feeling here is the backer may have been the recipient of some negative Maryland vibes courtesy of former Terps’ 2016 pledge Devin Butler. Recall, Butler, who eventually signed with Syracuse, was one of Durkin’s “castoffs” last December.
So while Bowman does seem to like Maryland, he might be more inclined to look elsewhere. The Douglass product admitted Cuse was firmly on his radar, in addition to NC State.
But let’s see what transpires down the road. (Bowman insists he wants to go through the official visit process, but he may not have that luxury unless his recruitment explodes). For now, Bowman’s saying the right things and keeping an open mind.
You can read more about Bowman HERE.
Ayinde Eley, LB, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.): After multiple Maryland trips the last couple months, the vibe is Eley’s warming up to the hometown school. The Good Counsel backer has an expanding offer list that now includes UMD, OSU, MSU, UNC, PSU, Iowa, Michigan, South Carolina, Va Tech, WVU, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Temple, Indiana and Rutgers, but the Terps are likely among Eley’s foremost three or four contenders.
“I really like Maryland right now. They’re one of my tops, definitely,” Eley said. “I loved the scrimmage and got to see the defense in action. They looked real good and real fluid. I liked it and how it was real fast-tempo. It’s a great system, and I feel like I’d fit well there. Maryland is right there for me in the race. I can see myself as a Terp, definitely.”
Eley counted the post-scrimmage coach interactions as the day’s highlight March 26. The local linebacker extolled head coach D.J. Durkin’s energy and UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty’s demeanor, while he called linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes “one of my favorite coaches.” Eley also talked up coordinator Scott Shafer’s defense, the linebacker lauding the attacking/ball-hawking scheme.
Eley, though, has several other suitors on his mind. Va Tech, UNC, WVU and Kentucky are considered standouts following jaunts through all four. Ohio State, Michigan State and Rutgers are in play too, although it’s unclear how ardently the Buckeyes and Spartans are pursuing.
In addition, the Good Counsel recruit will be trekking through the Sunshine State March 31-April 5 to see Florida and Florida State, both of which could join the fray should those programs’ respective coaches deem Eley offer-worthy.
Expect Eley to commit sometime during the summer, although there’s a possibility he could hold off his college announcement until embarking on a few officials this fall.
You can read more about Eley HERE.
Brailyn Franklin, LB, Battlefield (Haymarket, Va.): Franklin, who added a Maryland offer March 11, saw College Park for the first time March 26. Joined by his father, the Texas native couldn’t say enough about the UMD staff and the vibe surrounding the program. He and his father thoroughly enjoyed interacting with head coach D.J. Durkin and UMD-area recruiters Chris Beatty and Mike London.
“If I were to commit to Maryland, it would be because of Coach Beatty, Coach London and Coach Durkin. I love those guys,” Franklin said. “It’s just so cool talking to them.”
Franklin proceeded to detail exactly what was so “cool” about each respective coach. His most poignant comments, though, were reserved for Durkin.
“They have a lot to offer for me at Maryland,” Franklin said. “My thing is, I want to be playing either receiver or on defense as a corner or safety, and Coach Durkin was like, ‘You can play rush-linebacker, drop back and cover, and play receiver also.’…He was like, ‘We’re all about that.’ He’s all about guys developing in different spots. And actually, they just took a quarterback and put him at linebacker, so that kind of proves it. He’s all about trying guys at new spots and thinking outside the box…he’s open to it. I love that about Coach Durkin.”
Like most recruits on campus March 26, Franklin spoke highly of the intense scrimmage and how the defense flew around the field. He was also in awe of the $150 million facility upgrades and other renovations on campus.
On top of that, Franklin chatted with UMD corner Will Likely, who the Battlefield product said “opened his eyes” to Maryland.
The Terps, though, will have to do battle with Tech for Franklin’s services. For now at least, the Battlefield prospect has the Hokies sitting even with UMD atop the totem poll.
That said, Franklin probably won’t be choosing between just those two schools. He’s content to wad through the process and see which programs ante up later during the spring and after his senior film is evaluated. And, remember, Franklin’s from Texas, so if the Lone Star State standouts and Big 12 stalwarts come calling, he’ll likely head home for college.
Our gut? While the Terps’ staff has positioned itself well, we do think Franklin’s a “blowup candidate” and may eventually procure those coveted southern offers. But Beatty and London aren’t considered ace Virginia recruiters for nothing, so let’s see if they can keep Franklin’s mind on Maryland.
You can read more about Franklin HERE.
***POP ALERT*** Fofie Bazzie, CB, Quince Orchard (Gaithersburg, Md.): The Terps are about to land the local corner Bazzie, who visited Maryland four times in March. Bazzie added the hometown offer March 2, and since then he’s developed a strong rapport with the new UMD staff and loves the atmosphere they’re creating in College Park.
“I really do like Maryland right now. They’re very high up there for me,” said Bazzie, who also claims verbals from Temple, Iowa State, Marshall and ODU. “I really like the vibe and energy there now. It’s great. I’m thinking a lot about Maryland and what they have to offer me. I’m hoping to have a great year this year, and then maybe I could come in and earn early playing time as a freshman.
“[Head coach D.J. Durkin] wants me to be part of something special at Maryland. He’s just really excited about what’s going on there, with the facility renovations and the stay-home movement. He thinks Maryland can be very special, and I do too. I’m excited. It sounds great.”
If that wasn’t enough, Bazzie also praised the intensity of the scrimmage March 26, mentioning defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim’s style and the unit’s overall play. The Quince Orchard product reconnected with his UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty too, Bazzie detailing how “chill” their relationship has become.
The DMV corner then returned to campus with his family March 31. He said his parents immediately connected with the staff and believe Maryland would be a great fit for Bazzie.
Following the latter trip, Bazzie said he'd likely be committing to Maryland April 3. Unless there's a drastic change, look for a "pop, pop pop" around 3 p.m. on the aforementioned date.
Note: I will break down Bazzie's game further in the next Shell. I was not able to see Quince Orchard live last season, and readers know how much I detest evaluating recruits without seeing them in action. But I'll do my best to secure raw game footage from the QO coaches before the next Shell and see what I can cobble together.
You can read more about Bazzie HERE.
Johnathan Lewis, QB, St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, N.J.): This three-star dual-threat and his father made their way down to Maryland’s spring practice March 29. The 6-3, 200-pounder doesn’t hold a UMD verbal yet -- offensive coordinator Walt Bell has to see him throw first during the spring evaluation period -- but that didn’t stop Lewis from extolling the Terps. Namely, their coaching staff.
Lewis talked up head coach D.J. Durkin’s energy, offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s offense, and even Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry’s honesty.
“Coach Bell, I talked to him before practice and he’s a fiery, energetic guy. I really liked how outspoken he is during practice and how he’s hands-on with the quarterbacks,” said Lewis, who holds verbals from Rutgers, Iowa, BC, Wake, UGA and Temple. “I like his style, and how his offense is an up-tempo spread. It’s exactly what we do at Prep. And Coach Marcus, he’s not going to feed you lies like some coaches at some other schools might. Like, you get told all the time, ‘Oh, you can come here and play right away,’ but Coach Marcus isn’t going to say something like that. He’s going to give it to you straight.”
The Garden State quarterback liked the upcoming facility upgrades and the weight room/locker room renovations too.
But one of the main reasons Lewis is pining for a UMD look is the fact it’s just a couple hours down I-295, close enough for his mother to see most home games.
“Maryland’s a school I definitely am looking at,” said Lewis, who let on his father ‘really liked’ UMD too. “One thing is when I got back home, my mom was like, ‘That’s a great school down there.’ And a key thing for me is, I want my mom to see me play and don’t want to go to school too far from home. I don’t want my mom to be able to see like one game a year; I want her to see most of my games. So the fact she likes the school and that it’s only a couple hours away, that’s big for Maryland.”
Of course, hometown Rutgers is about as close as you can get to Jersey City, so it’s little wonder Lewis said he’s “definitely” looking hard at the Scarlet Knights. He’ll be returning to Piscataway, N.J., for another trek through RU April 1.
Another nearby program, Temple, also has his eye, in addition to Boston College. Plus, Lewis is hoping for a Syracuse offer following a trek through New York, while Penn State (no offer yet) was a favorite growing up.
Expect Lewis to choose his future destination somewhere around late spring or the summer.
The vibe is Rutgers is probably the team to beat for now. Even if UMD’s staff does decide to ante up later during the spring, Scarlet Knights head coach Chris Ash and Co. may have already cemented Lewis in.
Of course, both RU and Maryland have higher-rated options on each of their respective boards, so it’ll be interesting to see which programs Lewis will even be allowed to commit to.
You can read more about Lewis HERE.
Jairus Grissom, QB, River Rouge (Dearborn, Mich.): Joining gunslinger Johnathan Lewis in College Park March 29 was another dual-threat, this one from Michigan. Jairus Grissom, who is being recruited as a quarterback but may wind up as a safety in college, ventured down to Maryland with his teammates.
“I think Maryland was great. I loved it down there,” said Grissom, who holds offers from Syracuse, Rutgers, Wake Forest, Ohio, Toledo, NC State, Houston, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and others. “I love the system the run there, and I like the tempo. The quarterbacks coach, Walt Bell, he’s very hands on and energetic, and he looks like he knows what he’s doing. It’s very similar to what we do [at River Rouge] and how our coaches are. So I just really liked that about Maryland…. I’m looking at Maryland very hard.”
The River Rouge contingent, which was some 20 strong, couldn’t stay for the post-practice tour and coach chats, so Grissom’s point-of-contact was Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry. The Michigan product called Berry a “cool guy,” and liked how the coach suggested the Terps’ staff would initially recruit him as a quarterback but would be amendable to safety too should that prove Grissom’s best spot.
Grissom also praised the campus, mentioning he’d love to return for an extended stay in the future. The River Rouge product said he’s looking forward to keeping in contact with Walt Bell and head coach D.J. Durkin should the two ante up.
But if the Terps opt not to toss Grissom a verbal, the Dearborn native will likely concentrate on offerees Syracuse and Rutgers, two programs he’s seen before and who have been pushing for him. Michigan State’s staff, meanwhile, is in touch, and if the Spartans pursue, East Lansing, Mich., (Grissom’s been there twice) could be his destination. Staffers from Indiana (Grissom’s been there twice too), Iowa, Pitt and Iowa State are maintaining communication too and might potentially gain Grissom’s ear if they offer.
The feeling here is, for Maryland purposes, Grissom’s probably a backup option to the likes of Kasim Hill and some of the Terps’ other main quarterback targets. We’re not expecting a UMD offer to come to fruition unless multiple signal callers fall off Maryland’s board.
You can read more about Grissom HERE.
Tayon Fleet-Davis, RB, Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.): The local runner Fleet-Davis was back at Maryland March 29 for the first time since DMV Day Feb. 13. The 6-1, 200-pounder talked up the intensity of spring practice, the coaches’ fire and energy, and how the running backs were employed. Fleet-Davis then offered up compliments for both assistants Anthony Tucker and Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, pointing to the former’s attention to detail and the latter’s overall pitch. The Potomac prospect said he and Abdul-Rahim have had a “great relationship” for months, Fleet-Davis counting the defensive back coach as one of his favorite recruiters.
Afterwards, Fleet-Davis -- who viewed UMD’s pending facility upgrades, dorm renovations and the campus itself during a previous stay -- said the hometown school would assuredly be a chief contender for his services.
“For me right now, Maryland will always be in my top five. They’re always going to be there for me. It’s still a journey and a process, but I’m comfortable with them and I like them,” Fleet-Davis said. “When it comes down to decision time, I’m going to be thinking about Maryland. I really enjoyed it there.”
But here’s the kicker:
Fleet-Davis’ comment on DMV-to-UMD
“I’m with it, but it takes the whole DMV to make it work. I do believe it could work, but it’s going to take a couple guys to jump on board [at Maryland] to get it rolling,” Fleet-Davis said. “And I’m not going to lie to you, I’m probably not going to be first (laughs). I’m waiting to see who else [commits] there.”
Well, at least he’s refreshingly honest.
Fleet-Davis admitted he’s not about to end his recruitment until he checks out the likes of Iowa, Cincinnati, Ohio State, Pitt, Penn State and Wake Forest. Moreover, he wants to return to two of his top suitors, Syracuse and West Virginia, along with Iowa.
Fleet-Davis doesn’t intend to commit until next winter, although he’ll probably be squeezed well before then. The question is, Will it be D.J. Durkin who’s able to execute said squeeze?
At this point, it’s a tough call, but we’re cautiously optimistic about UMD’s chances.
You can read more about Fleet-Davis HERE.
Tahj Capehart, WR, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach, Va.): The four-star Capehart visited one of his primary contenders March 29, trekking over to Blacksburg, Va., for the first time under the Justin Fuente regime. And word emanating from Hokieville is Fuente and his assistants hit it out of the park by pitching their high-powered offensive system. The local school is now trending for Capehart, and could have the inside track for the receiver’s services.
Tennessee and North Carolina are also contenders thanks to Capehart’s rapport with the Vols’ and Heels’ respective staffs. Meanwhile, Alabama just offered March 30, and regardless of whether or not the Tide go after Capehart in earnest, the look could open the receiver up to the rest of the SEC. Indeed, Capehart is planning to visit Georgia, South Carolina and Bama later this spring/summer, all three firmly on the receiver’s radar.
But the Terps aren’t dead in the water yet, UMD aficionados. Capehart returned to College Park for the second time this offseason March 31. The four-star hasn’t responded to media requests yet, but it’s a positive sign he journeyed back for a look at Maryland’s up-tempo spread and another meeting with the coaches.
The Terps left quite an impression during Capehart’s late-February foray through College Park. The four-star enjoyed interacting with the staff and reconnecting with receivers’ coach Chris Beatty, who pursued Capehart when the coach was at UVA. The 757 product also felt he could thrive in offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s system.
But even after complimenting pretty much every aspect of College Park, Capehart acknowledged he “wasn’t sure” whether or not Maryland would be included on his favorites list. Which typically means, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Even so, we’ve kept Capehart on the hot board just in case Beatty made a power push, which it looks like he’s attempting to do.
We’ll see what Capehart’s thinking as soon as he returns a call, but the vibe is he could be Tech’s to lose (if the Hokies don’t fill up their receiver spots before the Ocean Lakes product is ready to pop).
Daniel George, WR, Oxon Hill (Md.) (2018): The four-star DMV receiver George has become of the most coveted local sophomores, the 6-2, 195-pounder claiming offers from UMD; Iowa; Boston College; NC State; Temple; UVA; Va Tech; WVU; and others.
The Terps were one of his first verbals, with then-UMD-area recruiter Mike Locksley anteing up. George had a close rapport with Locksley and had Maryland under prime consideration when the now-Alabama staffer was at the helm.
Now, he’s in the process of getting to know the new Terps’ coaches, with March 31 his first opportunity to do so. George had a chance to view the offense during practice and chat with receivers’ coach Chris Beatty; offensive coordinator Walt Bell; area-recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim; Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry; and head coach D.J. Durkin. The Oxon Hill prospect came away raving about the group, specifically pointing to their relative youth and energy. George also loved Bell’s offense, the receiver believing he could put up big numbers in the spread system.
“I had a real good time up at Maryland. I think the coaches are bringing the program up,” George said. “They’re moving in the right direction. That’s obvious.”
George, though, will take his time with the process and explore his growing list of suitors. WVU, Va Tech and Iowa are all on his radar, and he’s pining for an Ohio State look (the Buckeyes’ coaches have been in touch).
But given Maryland’s growing reputation in the DMV, anticipate the hometown school being in the running throughout.
Cesar Ruiz, OL, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): The nation’s No. 1 center recruit hinted he could take a look at Maryland back in the winter, and lo and behold he showed up in College Park March 28. Ruiz, a Jersey native, doesn’t answer his phone all that often, so we weren’t able to reach him for comment, but it’s never a negative when a five-star shows up on campus.
Ruiz previously told Scout’s Corey Bender the Maryland staff “was all over him,” with multiple coaches in touch via Twitter. The 6-3, 315-pounder said he was “definitely” interested in seeing what new-look UMD was all about and checking out the campus.
But although Ruiz undoubtedly enjoyed his stay in College Park, realize the Terps’ trip was just one stop on a spring-break tour, with Ruiz also hitting hometown Rutgers and Michigan last week. Our Florida analysts believe the Wolverines currently lead for his services, although there are plenty of programs pushing. Alabama, Clemson, UNC, Oklahoma, Florida, LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee are all on Ruiz’ mind as well.
We placed Ruiz back on the hot board as “cool” just in case, but unless he intends to officially visit Maryland, UMD aficionados probably shouldn’t get too excited yet.
Mekhi Becton, OL, Highland Springs (Va.): Apparently Becton doesn’t like to speak on the phone that often, but is open to engaging in prolonged text-message conversations (which is better than nothing). I had to settle for the latter March 28, following the three-star target’s first trip to College Park.
It’s a bit more difficult to decipher recruit reactions via text, but based on this interview and previous interactions it does seem like Maryland’s in contention.
Becton didn’t have a chance to see the spring practice March 28, but he let on he loved the campus, the facility upgrades and the player dorms. More importantly, the tackle reconnected with UMD offensive line coach Dave Borbely and area recruiter Mike London, both of whom Becton knew from when the assistants were at UVA. Becton said he had a “very close” rapport with both previously and had been eager to renew that relationship now that both coaches were in College Park.
That player-coach bond, coupled with Becton’s “great” College Park jaunt, has the Highland Springs product thinking Terps heading into the summer months. He placed UMD among his initial three standouts, along with two other programs he’s seen: UVA and Pitt.
Becton, however, will be trekking through North Carolina soon to check out suitors such as ECU and NC State, along with UNC (no offer yet). Meanwhile, West Virginia is now involved and in line for a trip. (Becton’s claiming a Michigan State offer too, but we’re not so sure the Spartans’ scholarship is committable).
Right now, we do believe the Terps are positioned well, but Becton’s willing to wait to see if the likes of Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Michigan and more ante up. The hometown Hokies, who Becton’s visited before, hold prime appeal and could be the team to beat.
Note: Becton’s teammate, safety Rell Coley, a Terps’ offeree, was supposed to visit College Park as well, but he was unable to attend. Coley, who has Maryland as an early frontrunner, intends to be at UMD’s spring game April 16, however.
You can read more about Becton HERE.
Evan Gregory, OT, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) (2018): We haven’t initiated contact with the rising-star Gregory yet, but he’s one to watch for sure. He caught our eye on Gilman’s (Baltimore, Md.) offensive line last year, the 6-4, 275-pounder starting at guard and rotating at defensive end for the Baltimore power. He’s since transferred to DeMatha and should be lining up next to senior tackle Marcus Minor this year.
We’ll find out soon enough which programs are after him, but the Terps do have an offer out following his March 29 campus visit. Expect Gregory to venture back over to College Park several times during the summer/fall as area-recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and offensive line coach Dave Borbely gain inroads.
Tyree Johnson, DE, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): Another frequent College Park visitor, Johnson was back at UMD March 31 for the fourth time this offseason. Johnson had already run the gauntlet of what new-look Maryland had to offer, but this time he got to see a spring practice.
The St. John’s edge rusher left campus raving about the defensive intensity, defensive line coach Mike London’s techniques, and the staff in general. In particular, he lauded London for how he interacted with the players and adjusted their various moves. Johnson also commented on his longstanding relationship with UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and how he told head coach D.J. Durkin he “believed in what he was doing.”
Johnson had previously lauded the university’s football facility upgrades, renovations, location new Washington D.C., academics and proximity to home. Additionally, Johnson’s parents have taken to the hometown school as well.
“[Maryland is] my the top school,” Johnson said. “Maryland is No. 1. I do have to take a couple more visits, and some other schools can work up the list, and there may be new offers that come in that can get in there. So things can be adjusted, but I really like Maryland right now.”
The other programs in play, for now, are Miami; TAMU; Tennessee; UNC; and Ole Miss. Coming up, Johnson is visiting Rutgers April 2, TAMU April 9 and UT April 16, before trekking through Ole Miss and Miami during the summer. He should also be returning to Maryland.
After the aforementioned summer jaunts, the defensive end should be ready to choose a college. The feeling on this end is that college could very well be Maryland. We're almost ready to move Johnson to "hot" on the hot board.
You can read more about Johnson HERE.
Cam Spence, DT, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Three College Park trips in one spring break for the four-star Spence. We reported on the former Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) plugger last week following his March 22 trek to UMD, his first under the D.J. Durkin regime, and March 28 he returned with his IMG teammates before heading back again March 31.
Truly, there’s not much more to say that hasn’t already been written here. Spence has the Terps trending in a major way, and we expect him to pop to the local university sometime next winter.
As a reminder, Spence waxed hyperbole about his recent UMD trek, noting how the school “felt like home” as soon as he arrived. He talked up the “new energy” surrounding the program, his rapport with defensive line coach Mike London, and headman D.J. Durkin’s message about “being proud to represent my hometown school.” Maryland’s academic reputation and the fact his late uncle, Larry Stewart, donned the red and white back in the day resonated with Spence too.
Now, the IMG prospect is looking to see TAMU, UNC, Miami and Florida later during the spring/summer. Plus, Ohio State and Penn State, both of which Spence has been to before, remain on the radar as well.
But when the dust settles and Spence completes several official visits this fall, word is turtles will be on the brain. He’s sitting “hot” on the hot board for a reason.
Austin Fontaine, DT, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) (2018): The sophomore stud Fontaine has actually been in College Park a couple times this offseason, although we hadn’t spotted him until the March 29 spring practice.
“I had a great time up there. I loved the energy,” Fontaine said. “Maryland’s a great school. The coaches are great.”
The 6-2, 280-pounder, who holds offers from UMD, Louisville, Clemson, Georgia, Penn State and Virginia, has had more than his share of early exposure to the nearby program. Not only has he attended games and forayed through campus each of the last two years, but he’s heard plenty of pro-UMD vibes from teammates/Maryland signees LoLo Harrison, Terrance Davis and D.J. Turner.
Fontaine did have a budding relationship with former-UMD coach Mike Locksley, but he’s in the process of forming one with new area-recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, whom the DeMatha product met March 29. He’s also had opportunities to chat with Maryland offensive line coach Dave Borbely and headman D.J. Durkin. Like most DMV prospects, Fontaine has taken to the new regime’s energy and ability to relate to local recruits.
But Fontaine’s going to have everyone and their brother after him by this time next year. Georgia, the defensive tackle’s very first verbal, holds appeal, as do Clemson and Penn State. He’ll undoubtedly entertain his other significant suitors once they materialize as well.
Note: Another potential Maryland target from DeMatha, sophomore outside linebacker John Morgan, was also on campus March 29. Morgan recently added his first offer from Syracuse and should be picking up the hometown look soon enough.
Jordan Anthony, LB, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): The former Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) four-star Anthony visited Maryland for the first time under head coach D.J. Durkin’s regime March 28. Anthony, along with his father and four IMG teammates, had the opportunity to sit down with various coaches; view the pending facility upgrades video; and check out the renovated weight room/locker room.
So impressed were the Anthonys that Maryland, a suitor that barely registered on the linebacker’s radar prior to Durkin’s takeover, is now counted as a foremost contender.
“They definitely jumped into my top schools,” Anthony said. “They’re definitely up there now, towards the top.”
Anthony and his dad met with UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty, linebackers coach Matt Barnes, administrative assistant Brawley Evans and Durkin himself. The Olney native enjoyed speaking to them all -- he noted how each coach stays in touch via Twitter -- but saved his most effusive praise for Barnes and Durkin.
Anthony detailed how Barnes broke down the IMG backer’s film and showed him exactly where he could improve, which the recruit appreciated. The four-star then described Durkin’s potent stay-home pitch.
“Coach Durkin told me I need to come back home and build my legacy in my home state,” Anthony said. “He was saying how a lot of people know me here, my family is here and the pride I would have representing the state I grew up in.
“And that’s definitely something I hadn’t really thought about before, and it’s definitely something I’m thinking about now. It’s a great pitch, but just the way he put it, it just really sounded good.”
Anthony went on to talk up the various facility improvements, which he said would help Maryland recruiting in a major way.
But while the March 28 trek improved the Terps’ standing with the ex-Good Counsel standout, there’s a ways to go in this recruitment. Clemson, Ohio State, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Michigan and South Carolina are all on the brain. Anthony visited OSU after UMD and is at Michigan April 1. He’ll then attempt to hit Clemson, a school he’s visited a couple times before, and South Carolina in-between baseball games in Georgia (Anthony also plays baseball at IMG).
Anthony would like to visit some of his other prime suitors during the summer before embarking on officials this fall/winter. He doesn’t intend to select a school until after his senior season.
Our gut? Maryland’s vaulted itself into contention and could be anywhere from first to fifth in the pecking order before it’s all said and done. It’s too early to make a definitive call, but at least UMD’s in the conversation.
You can read more about Anthony HERE.
Elvis Hines, CB, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): The Jersey native Hines joined his fellow mid-Atlantic transplants at IMG -- Cam Spence, Josh Kaindoh, Cesar Ruiz, Jordan Anthony -- on their trek north during spring break. One of Hines and Co.’s stops was to College Park March 28, giving the cornerback his first look at Maryland.
Hines didn’t respond to inquiries this week, but realize the Terps’ staff has not targeted the 5-10, 160-pound three-star. The Garden State product holds offers from ODU and Temple at this point, and there’s been no indication UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty will be next to ante up.
We’ll reach out to Hines again if he reports a Maryland scholarship.
A.J. Lytton, CB/WR, Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.) (2018): The Terps offered the sophomore stud Lytton back in February, and he finally made it to campus for an initial College Park trip March 29. He watched a team practice, chatted with a couple coaches afterwards and then checked out the facilities and coming upgrades.
“It was a great experience up there,” Lytton said. “I had a really great time with the coaches and watching the practice.”
Lytton is developing a bond with UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, and has had contact with receivers’ coach Chris Beatty as well. He likes the idea of the hometown movement and giving his family every opportunity to see him play at the next level too.
But Lytton is another one of those DMV recruits who will have to be shown the love, over and over again, before he pops to Maryland.
Fact is, the Wise recruit holds a Florida State offer, a program he previously dubbed a “dream school,” meaning the Noles could very well hold the early edge. Clemson is another early favorite, with the Tigers extending a verbal March 29. Wisconsin, Penn State, Syracuse and Boston College also have offers out, and Lytton wants to trek through each this summer.
Look for Lytton’s recruitment to ebb and flow during the next year, although we do anticipate Maryland remaining firmly in the conversation.
More Recruiting Notes
Tommy DeVito, QB, Don Bosco (Ramsey, N.J.): Based off Scout.com’s Mike McAllister’s interview with DeVito after the quarterback’s second Syracuse visit this week, the Orange sound like the team to beat. DeVito went on and on about Cuse, from head coach Dino Babers’ offense; to the rest of the staffers; to the school’s location; to SU’s academics. Plus, DeVito has two former teammates at Syracuse, aiding the Orange’s chances at landing the gunslinger even more.
“The visit was a 10 out of 10,” DeVito told McAllister. “They are definitely really high.”
DeVito had similar comments for hometown Rutgers following a second Piscataway jaunt in mid-March. The sense is the Scarlet Knights are probably sitting even with the Orange atop DeVito’s favorites list.
Running third, for the time being, is Maryland.
The Terps, however, will have a crack at shooting up the leaderboard April 9, when DeVito returns to College Park for his next look at UMD. The Bosco product has been in contact with a couple Maryland coaches and likes the idea of playing in offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s spread.
We’ll see what kind of strings head coach D.J. Durkin can pull, but word is DeVito’s choosing between RU and SU in late April.
Johnny Jordan, OL, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.): The D.C. center Jordan was supposed to return to College Park March 26, but his schedule didn’t allow it. Even so, the Gonzaga product wants to check out a team practice as soon as possible, with mid-April as a target date.
“Maryland is definitely sticking out to me a little bit. I like what they have going on there,” Jordan said. “Maryland and Virginia are the only two schools I’ve seen that have really impressed me. I could have a different answer in a few weeks once I see a couple more schools, but for right now it’s Maryland and Virginia. I haven’t really been in touch with Kentucky anymore, and UNC just a little bit but nothing too major.”
The above comments raised an eyebrow on this end. When I spoke to Jordan after DMV Day Feb. 13, which was his last time on campus, the center said that while he liked Maryland a good deal, he had several other suitors at the forefront of his mind too. Those included UNC, Kentucky and possibly Penn State if the Nittany Lions’ staff anted up. But since then Jordan’s contact with the Heels’ and Wildcats’ coaches has dropped off considerably, and PSU’s staff has yet to offer.
So now Jordan’s thinking Terps and Hoos, the latter ringing true following a March 5 Charlottesville, Va., trip and subsequent scholarship.
With Maryland, Jordan’s bought into DMV-to-UMD and area-recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim’s persistent pitch. Jordan also had high praise for offensive line coach Dave Borbely and offensive coordinator Walt Bell, both of whom have stayed in touch. The school’s academics, facility upgrades and its close proximity to home only help matters.
As for UVA, Jordan promptly connected with headman Bronco Mendenhall March 5. Mendenhall’s overtures, coupled with Virginia’s academic reputation and the recruit’s comfort level on campus, have Jordan’s mind on the Cavs. The D.C. native also has a couple former teammates in Charlottesville, each of whom have been pushing the Hoos.
Jordan did admit a couple other programs could enter the mix later this spring, namely Syracuse, which he’s visiting April 2. Jordan’s also been in close contact with staffers from Marshall, Memphis, Temple, BC and Pitt, all of which have offered save the Panthers.
Jordan doesn’t have a definitive timeline for ending his recruitment, but he hinted it could be late spring/early summer. He said it wasn’t necessary for him to go through the official visit process, electing to pop, “whenever it feels right.”
Which means this is probably going to be a UMD-UVA (and potentially SU) race.
It’s too close to call right now, although the Terps have lost Gonzaga targets to the Hoos in the past, making us somewhat leery. This is a new Maryland regime, however, so maybe head coach D.J. Durkin can turn the tide.
You can read more about Jordan HERE.
Marcus Minor, OT, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): While Minor’s two teammates, Chase Young and Anthony McFarland, stopped by College Park March 26, the offensive lineman chose to check out Auburn for the first time. Following his stay in War Eagle country, the four-star proclaimed AU one of principal suitors, suggesting he’d like to return this summer. Of course, we already figured Auburn would be in play considering Minor’s relationship with offensive line coach Herb Hand, who ardently pursued the DeMatha lineman when the assistant was at Penn State.
Speaking of PSU, the Nittany Lions remain high on Minor’s favorites list and likely among his top four contenders. Look for the DeMatha product to return to Happy Valley later this offseason.
Two recent offerees, TAMU and South Carolina, are both in the game and could receive visits as well. Other programs on Minor’s mind include Va Tech, UNC, Miami and maybe WVU.
The Terps, though, are sitting pretty for the DMV recruit. Although he opted not to foray through UMD during spring break, he’s been on campus several times already this offseason. Minor and his parents have offered up positive comments in regards to headman D.J. Durkin, offensive line coach Dave Borbely and UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim. Maryland’s academics (journalism program), the school’s close proximity to home and the pending facility upgrades are some of the other reasons Minor’s high on the hometown school.
Our gut is Minor’s going to wind up in College Park before it’s all said and done.
Curtis Harper, DT, McKeesport (Pa.): Harper added a Maryland offer March 2, and a month later he’ll be taking his initial trek through College Park. The 6-2, 290-pounder is visiting UMD April 2 at the behest of UMD-area recruiter Dave Borbely, who has had regular communication with the Pennsylvania product. Harper, who can play both sides of the ball, said Maryland’s Big Ten affiliation (it’s his only B1G look); the fact it’s not far from home; and the Terps’ defensive style all have his attention.
UMD is hardly the only school Harper’s intent on visiting, however. He was recently at Boston College and Wake Forest (no offer yet), admitting the Eagles hit home after his Chestnut Hill, Mass., stay. West Virginia, which Harper saw in February, would become a player too should the Mountaineers’ staff elect to pursue.
Meanwhile, the McKeesport tackle will be checking out Iowa State and several other institutions later in April. The Cyclones’ coaches have maintained regular communication and have Harper’s eye.
Harper, though, is keeping an open mind and willing to wait for more offers to materialize. In-state Pitt and PSU, two scholarships he’d love to procure, have had contact and could ante up during camp season. Harper’s also been talking to various regional universities like Syracuse, Temple and Toledo.
Dorian Etheridge, LB, Capital (Charleston, W.Va.): The West Virginia linebacker Etheridge was supposed to be back at Maryland for the first time in more than a year March 26, but the three-star did not attend the team scrimmage. He told me he had transportation issues and still intended to visit College Park later during April.
Even so, we’re growing a bit skeptical here. Etheridge has now reneged on several intended UMD jaunts, and we’re getting the impression Maryland resides behind a couple other programs.
The Capital prospect -- who grew up in northern Virginia and attended several UMD games during his younger years -- was just at South Carolina March 20, and if the Gamecocks’ staff offers, USC would promptly become a contender. Etheridge also holds in-state WVU and nearby Va Tech in high regard after multiple visits to Morgantown, W.Va., and Blacksburg.
The Charleston resident’s situation could well change if some SEC programs enter the mix, but at this juncture the vibe is WVU and Va Tech sit out front. Although he’s inclined to wait the process out, we wouldn’t be totally shocked if Etheridge opted to end his recruitment earlier than anticipated, popping to the Mountaineers.
But before writing him off, let’s see if he indeed follows through with a Maryland trip. For what it’s worth, Etheridge has been in contact with UMD’s linebackers’ coach, Matt Barnes, and said he’s eager to meet him and the rest of the staff.
Damani Neal, S, Bullis (Potomac, Md.): We haven’t updated or interviewed the local safety Neal, mainly because we haven’t sensed much mutual interest between him and the Terps. Although Maryland’s staff technically has an offer out to him, we’re led to believe it’s not committable and the coaches haven’t pushed to get Neal on campus.
Thus, the Bullis safety hasn’t visited College Park since the Randy Edsall era. Instead, Neal’s headed to locales such as Duke, UVA, Wake Forest, Northwestern and, most recently, Vandy. The safety’s focused on high-academic institutions, and the Commodores certainly fall into that category. Following Neal’s trek through Nashville, Tenn., it sounds like Vanderbilt’s a leader, along with Virginia; Stanford; and Duke.
We’ll keep Neal on the hot board just in case the UMD staff makes a move, but more than likely the Bullis prospect’s not going to wind up in College Park.
New Offers Out
Shaun Shivers, RB, Chaminade Madonna (Hollywood, Fla.) (2018): This rising star sophomore landed a Maryland offer March 26, his 11th to date. Shivers previously claimed verbals from LSU, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, WVU, FAMU, Cincinnati, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville and Western Kentucky.
The 5-7, 160-pounder seems to have West Virginia on the brain initially, but that could change once the Florida mainstays and more SEC programs ante up.
Shivers has had initial contact with UMD running backs coach Chris Beatty, but doesn’t know much about the Terps’ program yet. Beatty’s best chance at coaxing the Hollywood product north is probably for Maryland to have a strong 2016 campaign, showing off offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s up-tempo spread in the process.
Leddie Brown, RB, Eastern Christian (Elkton, Md.) (2018): The Eastern Shore/Delaware-based power ECA may not be churning out 10 Division I recruits like a few years back, but the Honey Badgers are still producing their share of top talents. The name to know in the 2018 crop is this 6-1, 190-pound back, who has romped over the competition his first two seasons.
Brown added his first offer from West Virginia, which has a pipeline to ECA, a little while back, and his second from Boston College last year. The Terps became the sophomore’s third major verbal March 30.
Brown didn’t know a ton about UMD, but he’s eager to visit for the first time later in April. In particular, he’s intrigued by the school’s sports medicine program.
Regardless of what Brown thinks at the moment, it was wise for UMD to become involved early, because this runner’s going to blow up on the trail. Secondly, the verbal shows head coach D.J. Durkin’s willingness to recruit Eastern Christian, a program the former Terps’ regime did not often deal with. In some ways, the offer represents an olive branch of sorts and could pay dividends down the road as the Maryland staff pursues not only Brown, but ECA’s future top prospects.
You can read more about Brown HERE.
Evan Gregory, OT, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) (2018): Discussed in the “Weekday Visitors” section above.
Malcolm Askew, CB, McAdory (McCalla, Ala.): The borderline five-star Askew added his 49th offer from Maryland March 29. That’s right, big No. 49, courtesy of UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim.
But in-state Auburn is sitting No. 1 after a pair of visits, and hometown Alabama is right there too. Clemson and Stanford are also in play for the two-way stud Askew.
It goes without saying, but Askew’s not going on the hot board.
Off The Board
Taariq Johnson, WR, Buena Park (Calif.): We figured this was going to happen. A month after Johnson pulled a Maryland offer and let on he was in touch with UMD receivers’ coach Chris Beatty and interested in trekking east, the four-star has since backed off those comments.
Johnson, as expected, is now focused on schools closer to his California home like Cal; Arizona State; Nebraska; and Arizona. If USC’s staff offers, the Trojans would become a prime contender as well.
It’s extremely difficult to lure multi-offer left-coast recruits east, but, at the very least, the Terps’ late February/early March Cali push generated some buzz about the program.
Jordan Tucker, OT, Roswell (Ga.): The Terps’ coaches offered the emerging tackle Tucker a month or so ago, but he never really commented on it. We placed him on the hot board anyway, mainly because his offer list was limited at that point and UMD represented one of his more significant verbals.
But since then he’s added a couple SEC looks, with more on the way. Tucker then recently told our Georgia colleagues South Carolina had his eye initially and he’d be trekking through SEC country this spring/summer. The Roswell product’s probably going to wind up at a southern program.
Caleb Chandler, OT, Jefferson (Ga.): Chandler is yet another Georgia tackle we took off the board this week. The big three-star expressed some interest in visiting UMD after the Terps’ staff anted up in early March, but his latest interviews suggest otherwise.
Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, ECU and Louisville are all on Chandler’s mind, the Jefferson prospect seeking to stay south for college. Of those, the Tigers, Bulldogs and Pirates have offers out and are hot on Chandler’s trail. But the big tackle is hoping for a hometown UGA look, and if the Bulldogs’ coaches pursue, that’ll likely be Chandler’s landing spot.
Avery Roberts, LB, Concord (Wilmington, Del.): The Maryland staff gained a bit of steam with the four-star Roberts after hosting him for DMV Day Feb. 13. But, really, the chances of Roberts ending up in College Park were slim, even though the Delaware product took a liking to the new staff.
Roberts had established connections with coaches from the likes Penn State, UNC, Nebraska, Clemson and Stanford well before UMD head coach D.J. Durkin’s ascension. The Nittany Lions, which have hosted Roberts on numerous occasions, are the favorites, followed by a host of also-rans.
The Concord backer will be announcing his college choice April 21. It’ll be an upset if it’s not PSU.
Rayshard Ashby, LB, Lloyd C. Bird (Chesterfield, Va.): A week after visiting Maryland and declaring the Terps a co-leader, along with Virginia Tech, the Lloyd C. Bird linebacker ended up popping to the Hokies March 26. Ashby, who was at Tech when he pledged, said his inherent comfort level in Blacksburg; his relationship with the staff; and Tech’s renowned defense all hit home. The Chesterfield native also said the opportunity for early playing time and defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s reputation played a role in his commitment.
While Ashby held similar sentiments in regards to Maryland, its staff and College Park, this was not a shocking development. Even after speaking to Ashby post-UMD trip, he practically admitted Tech was the team to beat.
We did think he’d hold off on popping until at least the summer, but, either way, the outcome turned out as expected. Moving on.