TTDave's Inside The Shell

Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.

Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.

In this special Inside the Shell, we discuss the potential commitments of quarterback Kasim Hill, defensive tackle Cam Spence and linebacker Ayinde Eley to Maryland, all within the next 48 hours.

QB Commit Coming

Last week in this space we let you know four-star quarterback Kasim Hill (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.) was trending towards Maryland in a major way. Then, earlier this week, we told you a commitment was imminent, Hill’s announcement commencing at any moment.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound dual-threat ended up confirming our suspicions, letting on via Twitter he would be selecting his school April 9 at 2 p.m.

The ex-Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) standout has been in College Park, Md., three times this offseason, allowing Hill and his parents to acclimate themselves to head coach D.J. Durkin; the rest of the staff; offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s offense; the various facility improvements; and the school’s business program. All parties readily took to Durkin, UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and offensive coordinator Walt Bell.

After his latest March visit, for a spring practice, Hill let on how much he liked the overall energy on display; the coaches’ enthusiasm; and the up-tempo spread, which fits the quarterback to a “T.” Hill has also been relatively keen on the idea of DMV-to-UMD and rallying the locals to College Park. He said he believed in Durkin’s stay-home message and the direction the headman is taking the program.

“Mainly [Durkin] was talking about building around DMV guys and making a strong base [locally], and just really have a strong impact with the locals in the 2017 class,” Hill said before. “My parents liked what they were saying, and for me, I  know there’s a lot of talented guys in the DMV. It would be really interesting to see if everyone came together [at Maryland].

“And [Abdul-Rahim and I] have a pretty good relationship and it’s developing even more. He’s really excited about me and has high interest in me. [The coaches] tell me I fit the offense really well and how they’d love to coach me. Coach Bell is a really good coach and has run some very good offenses in the past. … I do think I’d fit well [in the offense].”

It only helps Maryland’s chances at securing Hill that one of the dual-threat’s primary suitors, Penn State, fell out of contact after the Nittany Lions filled their 2017 quarterback vacancy. Michigan, another principal contender, also backed off recently.

Hill did have Michigan State (he visited East Lansing, Mich., last week), Syracuse, Northwestern, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt and UVA in play, but the Terps have the latter programs trumped.

Hill’s probable UMD commitment represents the most significant recruiting development for Maryland this offseason. Not only will Hill become the second-highest-rated prospect in UMD’s 2017 class, but the fact he’s a signal caller adds even more cache.

Granted, Hill’s not the type to begin blowing up Twitter with turtle emojis a la former 2016 Maryland quarterback pledge Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.), but the St. John’s product’s potential commitment, coupled with that of Cam Spence and Ayinde Eley, should generate a stir in the DMV -- and maybe beyond.

As we know with the locals, they aren’t given to following others -- heck, not even Haskins was successful after months of pandering -- but when a four-star signal caller commits (along with a four-star defensive tackle and linebacker, both of whom are discussed below), it certainly can’t hurt UMD’s standing among DMV recruits.

Receivers, in particular, like to know who’s going to be throwing them passes, so a Hill pop could push someone like Cameron Sullivan-Brown (Pallotti/Laurel, Md.) Maryland’s way. Other prospects on the edge like Tariq Castro-Fields (Riverdale Baptist/Upper Marlboro, Md.), Vic Dimukeje (Boys’ Latin/Baltimore, Md.), Johnny Jordan (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.), Tayon Fleet-Davis (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.), Lawtez Rogers (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.), Marcus Bowman (Douglass/Forestville, Md.) and maybe even Tyree Johnson (St. John’s) and Josh Kaindoh (IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.) could take the cue and jump on the hometown bandwagon as well.

(We do not expect the elites like Anthony McFarland, Chase Young, Jordan Anthony, Jordan McNair, Marcus Minor, Deon Jones, etc. to end their recruitments sooner than they intend. Each of them will probably acknowledge Hill’s pop, but then proceed about their business.)

DT Commit Coming

Well, that escalated quickly.

Just hours after Kasim Hill announced his decision date and time, his former Gilman teammate, Cam Spence (IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.), did the same. In fact, the 6-4, 290-pound Spence elected to one-up the quarterback, “dropping the big one,” as the defensive tackle’s Tweet suggested, April 8 at 8 a.m. And yes, like Hill, we fully expect Spence to pledge to Maryland on said date. (Which, really, is the reason this Shell is coming out on Thursday, April 7, instead of it’s traditional spot on a Friday).

It wouldn’t shock us if Spence and Hill discussed their “co-commitments” earlier this week. The two four-stars may have decided since both were inclined towards the Terps anyway, well, why not get on board early and try to get some momentum rolling?

That, after all, is the mantra the UMD staff has been harping on to recruits throughout the DMV. And it sounds as if head coach D.J. Durkin’s, area-recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim’s, defensive line coach Mike London’s and offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s consistent pitch to Spence and Hill has broken through.

It’s unclear how quickly the other DMV elites will move with the two ex-Gilman studs on board -- again, past history suggests the top locals will “do their own thing” -- but the Maryland mojo is building, for sure.

Also, remember, Durkin and Co. can only take 25 prospects in one class, so if spots begin to fill, the fence sitters could easily be coaxed into a pop regardless if they’re completely ready to or not.

As for Spence in particular, we had him sitting “hot” on the hot board and forecast to College Park before the 2017 list was even posted. After spending the last year at IMG, it was clear he wanted to return to his Bowie, Md., home and stay nearby for college.

Spence’s feelings towards new-look UMD in particular, however, grew stronger after he returned to campus during spring break in late March. The plugger visited Maryland at least four times in a week, taking in multiple spring practices; sitting in on position meetings; familiarizing himself with every coach on staff; and learning the ins and outs of Durkin’s program.

Spence also raved about the atmosphere in College Park, noting the 180-degree change from the previous regime. The four-star ate up the energy emanating from the coaches and the intensity during workouts. He went on and on about London and his coaching prowess, describing how the ex-UVA head coach could take the tackle’s game to another level. Spence then spoke to numerous current Terps he knew personally, all of whom vouched for Durkin and Co.

Plus, Spence and his father believe UMD is the right fit academically, the tackle noting the school’s internship opportunities and location near Washington, D.C.  The upcoming facility upgrades, improved dorms and renovated weight room only helped Spence’s perception of the hometown school.

And don’t forget about Spence’s late uncle, Larry Stewart, a Terps’ great whom Spence is seeking to follow in the footsteps of.

Add it all up, and every tealeaf reader and stargazer could tell the prospect was all about Maryland -- even as Spence insisted he wanted to check out Penn State, Ohio State, Florida and TAMU before embarking on official visits.

And that’s without considering this poignant comment:

“[Durkin] said this is my home, this where I’m from and what better place to be than here. He was describing how I could walk out on the field here every day and be proud I’m representing my hometown school, and how that makes you want to give more, play for more. Then after that he showed me and my dad this ESPN ’30 for 30’ clip of Miami in the 1980s and how all the guys from around there went to [Coral Gables, Fla.] and built them into a power.

“So that really just stood out to me and meant a lot. It really made me think a lot about Maryland.”

That’s Cam Spence on DMV-to-UMD. Maybe, this time around, with three nationally-touted locals on the hometown train early, this theory will actually work.

LB Commit Coming

Perhaps there will be more pending announcement dates by the time you finish this Shell…

Less than eight hours after Cam Spence declared his imminent commitment, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) four-star outside linebacker Ayinde Eley said he’d be popping at the same time as Kasim Hill: April 9 at around 2 p.m. And, like the above DMV talents, Eley should be choosing Maryland.

Of the three recruits we’ve discussed here, though, Eley’s coming pledge was the most surprising (yes, even more than Spence’s). When I wrote about the 6-4, 215-pounder before, I used the term “cautiously optimistic” to describe the Terps’ chances at landing him. Following his latest visit to College Park, in late March, I thought about moving him to “hot” on the hot board, but held off when Eley told me he was still looking at Florida; Florida State; Va Tech; WVU; UNC; and Kentucky, in addition to UMD. The Good Counsel backer implied he’d be choosing between one the above before his senior season, but didn’t intend to do so before the summer at the earliest.

How quickly things change.

We’re unsure if Eley’s earlier-than-expected pop resulted from conversations with Spence and Hill or was merely a coincidence, but, nevertheless, it looks like he’ll be joining the latter two in College Park.

Eley has visited Maryland three times this offseason, but his most effusive hometown praise came after that last trek in late March. The Olney native loved the Terps’ defensive intensity during practice and linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes mentality. Eley spoke to Barnes afterwards, and not only connected with the coach on a personal level, but loved how the staffer planned to employ the backer in UMD’s defense.

He also talked about the “great” rapport he has with UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty. Eley mentioned his father actually coached Beatty in the CFL, so they established a connection through that prior relationship.

The four-star talked up head coach D.J. Durkin as well, the headman’s energy and message resonating. Eley liked the fact Durkin’s a defensive-minded coach too.

“The coaches at Maryland, they really believe in what they’re telling everybody, that Maryland is going to compete for championships – and I believe it too,” Eley said before. “I can tell they are going to put 100 percent effort into building up Maryland, and I know they expect 100 percent from their players too. I loved what they were saying.

“Maryland’s just a great place to be. It’s a chance to stay home, be part of the hometown movement, and play in front of family and friends. I believe if all the locals stay home, we can win big at Maryland.”

Sounds like a plan -- and one the locals are finally buying into.

Which Leaves Us …

So, where does that leave Maryland moving forward? Let’s take a look at the hot board with five potential commitments in the 2017 class:

Quarterbacks (0 or 1 spots left)

1.    Kasim Hill

2.      UMD might take a second signal caller down the road, but it’s unclear.

Running Backs (2 spots left)

1.     Anthony McFarland, Warm

2.     Tayon Fleet-Davis, Warm

3.     Jon Lovett, Warm

4.     Deon Jackson, Cool

5.     Malik Davis, Cool

Receivers (3 spots left)

1.     Carlos Carriere, Hot

2.     Cam Sullivan-Brown, Hot

3.     Sean Savoy, Warm

4.     Hezekiah Grimsley, Warm

5.     Jayden Comma, Cool

6.     Brayden Brown, Warm

7.     Sean Nelson, Warm

8.     Justin Marshall, Warm

9.     M.J. Jarrell, Cool

10. Jahmin Muse, Cool

11. Tahj Capehart, Cool

12. Josh Palmer, Cool

13. Michael Harley, Cool

14. Noah Igbinoghene, Cool

15. Corey Reed, Cool

16. Connor Heyward, Cool

Tight Ends (O spots left)

1.    Andrew Park

Offensive Line (4 spots left)

1.     Jordan McNair, Warm

2.     Marcus Minor, Warm/Hot

3.     Johnny Jordan, Warm/Hot

4.     Gabe Houy, Warm

5.     Rob Martin, Cool

6.     Mekhi Becton, Cool

7.     Cody Bowes, Cool

8.     Tyler Knight, Cool

9.     Connor Robbins, Cool

Defensive Line (4 or 5 spots left)

1.    Cam Spence

2.     Tyree Johnson, Hot

3.     Vic Dimukeje, Hot

4.     Lawtez Rogers, Hot

5.     Chase Young, Warm

6.     Josh Kaindoh, Warm/Hot

7.     Josh Paschal, Warm

8.     Robert Porcher, Cool

9.     Curtis Harper, Cool

10. Chris Whittaker, Cool

Linebacker (2 or 3 spots left)

1.    Ayinde Eley

2.     Joe Hunt, Hot

3.     Marcus Bowman, Warm

4.     Nate Proctor, Cool

5.     Louis Acceus, Cool

6.     Brailyn Franklin, Warm

7.     Jordan Anthony, Warm/Hot

8.     Tyshon Fogg, Cool

9.     Jamal Brooks, Cool

10. Keisean Wilson, Cool

11. Dorian Etheridge, Warm

12. Nick Smith, Cool

13. Sterling Jones, Cool

Safeties (1 or 2 spots left)

1.     George Hunter, Warm

2.     Rell Coley, Warm

Cornerbacks (2 or 3 spots left)

1.    Fofie Bazzie

2.     Tariq Castro-Fields, Warm

3.     Troy Simon, Warm

4.     Terrell Jana, Warm

5.     Deon Jones, Warm/Hot

6.     Antwan Collier, Cool

7.     Markquese Bell, Cool

8.     Trajan Bandy, Cool

TTDave’s Way Too Early Projected 2017 Class

1.     Kasim Hill

2.     Anthony McFarland

3.     Tayon Fleet-Davis

4.     Cam Sullivan-Brown

5.     Carlos Carriere

6.     Brayden Brown

7.     Jordan McNair

8.     Marcus Minor

9.     Johnny Jordan

10. Cam Spence

11. Tyree Johnson

12. Chase Young

13. Josh Kaindoh

14. Vic Dimukeje

15. Lawtez Rogers

16. Ayinde Eley

17. Jordan Anthony

18. Keisean Wilson

19. Joe Hunt

20. George Hunter

21. Fofie Bazzie

22. Tariq Castro-Fields

23. Deon Jones

24. Troy Simon

Bazzie On Board

Talk about an invigorated recruit. The local corner Fofie Bazzie (Quince Orchard/Gaithersburg, Md.) waxed hyperbole for more than 10 minutes in my pre-April 3 Maryland commitment interview with him. The 6 -1, 180-pounder, who chose UMD over Iowa State, Iowa, Temple, Marshall and a couple others, spoke with passion about the importance of representing his home state at the next level; the energy surrounding the program with headman D.J. Durkin at the helm; and his belief in the direction Maryland’s heading.

Bazzie delved into the staff’s overall demeanor and his growing rapport with defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and  area recruiter Chris Beatty. He noted how their message, along with Durkin’s, has been consistent throughout, the staff stressing DMV-to-UMD to each local target. Plus, Bazzie readily took to Abdul-Rahim’s coaching methods, the corner believing he could develop into a lockdown defender under the defensive backs coach’s watch.

The Quince Orchard product also talked up the various facility upgrades, the dorm/weight room renovations and the Under Armour connection, detailing how each is going to aid the Terps’ recruiting efforts. He mentioned the school’s academic prowess, the internship opportunities and its aesthetic qualities too. On top of that, Bazzie said his parents are all about Maryland and love the fact he’ll be sticking around town for college.

The Gaithersburg native concluded by saying his recruitment had officially ended and he wouldn’t be considering other suitors. He said his intention now is to begin luring other top DMV talents to College Park.

As far as what Bazzie brings to the table, he’s a long, athletic corner with a fairly high ceiling. He has some technical areas to shore up, and he needs to show consistent effort every down per his coach, but down the road Bazzie could develop into a dependable defensive back.

First and foremost, Bazzie’s physical at the line and isn’t afraid to jam. He’ll stay on a wideout in press, working to throw him off the route. Bazzie then shows the ability to turn and run, displaying solid fluidity; loose hips; and decent speed.

The Quince Orchard product also possesses above-average in-the-air skills. He high points the ball, rises up like he’s the intended receiver and uses his length/vertical to sky above wideouts.

It follows that Bazzie understands the position and seems to diagnose well, actively anticipating routes. Moreover, Bazzie drives hard downhill, can shed blocks and is a sound form tackler.

For the local corner to improve, though, he’s going to have to hone his technique. He needs to develop nimbler feet in order to transition, change directions and stick with quick-twitch receivers. Also, Bazzie doesn’t have elite quickness/speed, so he could have trouble recovering or tracking deep against speedy pass catchers. Finally, Bazzie has to continue building his body and adding strength in order to deal with FBS wideouts.

You can head my interview with Bazzie HERE.

You can read what his coach had to say about him HERE.

The Latest Round Of Visitors

Carlos Carriere, WR, Alpharetta (Ga.): The Georgia receiver Carriere, joined by his mother, had a chance to visit Maryland for the first time April 5. Afterwards, the 6-5, 170-pounder came away raving, dubbing UMD his leader for the time being.

“I liked Maryland a whole lot,” said Carriere, who holds offers from UMD, Navy, Kent State, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Tulane and others. “I guess you could say Maryland is No. 1 for me right now. They’re showing more interest and pushing for me more than any other school that’s on me. They’re really pushing hard. I like them a lot right now.

“What struck me was just how interested [the Terps’ coaches] are in me. Maryland doesn’t have any tall receivers right now, and they were saying how much they need me there…. I just liked everything they were saying. It all sounded good.”

The coaches Carriere was referring to included offensive coordinator Walt Bell, the receiver’s primary recruiter, wideouts’ coach Chris Beatty, and head coach D.J. Durkin. Carriere had extended sitdowns with Beatty and Bell and loved how the coaches showed him how he could help the offense, develop into a top-flight receiver, and potentially play early during his career. The Alpharetta prospect also mentioned how much he liked each staffer’s personality, noting their energy and enthusiasm.

Carriere went on to talk up the fast-paced practice, the various facility/dorm upgrades, the campus and the school’s academics. He said his mother harped on the latter, pointing to Maryland’s support system and the internship opportunities around Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

Carriere even met ex-Terps’ great Stefon Diggs, which left the recruit awestruck.

“That was really cool,” Carriere said. “I followed Stefon Diggs at Maryland.”

The Peach State receiver isn’t ready to pop just yet, however. While he has UMD sitting atop the totem poll, he’d like to see what suitors emerge following the upcoming evaluation period.

Moreover, Carriere -- who has only visited UMD, Vanderbilt and Tennessee -- wants to check out NC State next, and potentially a few more programs this spring/summer. But he should be ready to end his recruitment sometime before his senior season begins.

Our gut? Well, unless Carriere’s stock skyrockets this spring, it does sound like he has the Terps at the forefront of his mind. We’ve shifted him to “hot” on the hot board and believe he could be the first wideout in Maryland’s 2017 class.

You can read more about Carriere HERE.

Hezekiah Grimsley, WR, Lafayette (Williamsburg, Va.): While not quite as high on Maryland as Carlos Carriere (discussed above), the receiver Grimsley, who visited College Park the same day as the Georgia wideout, also has the Terps atop the totem poll. In fact, post April 2 trip, the 6-0, 170-pound Grimsley dubbed UMD and Va Tech his co-leaders.

“Everything was just great at Maryland,” said Grimsley, who holds verbals from UMD, Va Tech, Iowa State, Marshall, Syracuse and ODU. “The coaches, the field, the people there, the campus and the opportunities I would have there – that all stood out about Maryland. I’d say [the Terps] and Virginia Tech are even at the top for me right now. Before, it was just Tech, but Maryland’s even with them right now.”

The Virginia prospect liked offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s spread offense, the receiver believing he could thrive in the scheme. Plus, the Lafayette product feels he could develop under coach Chris Beatty, who just so happens to recruit Grimsley. The Williamsburg native said he, Beatty and area recruiter Mike London have a close relationship that dates back to last fall. Grimsley said he’s known both staffers since they were at UVA and was eager to see them again in person.

The receiver liked D.J. Durkin too, speaking to the head coach’s energy and the direction he’s taking the program. Grimsley praised the player dorms, pending facility upgrades and Maryland Stadium too, calling the under-construction indoor fields “very impressive.”

The Lafayette recruit had similar compliments for Va Tech, however. Provided Hokies’ head coach Justin Fuente continues to pursue -- Tech is filling up its spots fast – this could be a stiff Maryland-Tech battle, with the hometown school perhaps holding a slight edge.

Grimsley, however, is in no rush to decide on a college. He’s hoping Louisville and Duke eventually offer since coaches from both programs have had contact, while he wants to take a few more offseason trips as well (he’s only seen UMD, Tech and Pitt thus far).

Look for Grimsley to end his recruitment around mid-fall, after he’s embarked on a couple officials. For what it’s worth, Grimsley did say UMD and Tech were two schools he sought to take officials to.

You can read more about Grimsley HERE.

Brayden Brown, WR, Fort Hill (Cumberland, Md.): Provided the 6-2, 180-pound Brown shows off his hands and is deemed offer-worthy later this spring/summer, Maryland may very well have another Fort Hill product headed to College Park. Brown is close friends with Terps’ sophomore running back Ty Johnson and is eager to join him at the next level.

“Oh yeah, Ty being there is big,” said Brown, who holds Army and Albany offers thus far. “We used to work out every day and got really close. We’ve always said it would be really cool to play college ball together. So hopefully we can make that happen; we’ll see.

“Maryland would probably be the No. 1 option for me [if they offer]. It would definitely be No. 1 for my family since they’ve always followed Maryland and would love for me to stay close by.”

Brown, who is being recruited as a slot receiver, said he’s firmly on UMD’s radar following an April 2 campus visit. He spoke to offensive coordinator Walt Bell after a team workout, the coach letting Brown know the staff loved his game but just needed to make sure he could catch. (Brown mainly ran the ball last year, so his receptions were limited.)

And the feelings are mutual, extending beyond the Ty Johnson connection. Brown has been pining for a Maryland offer for more than a year, the Cumberland native developing a rapport with then-UMD-area recruiter Chad Wilt. He’s since taken a liking to new-area recruiter Dave Borbely and the rest of the staff.

But April 2 was Brown’s first opportunity to meet the coaches firsthand. He left calling them, and their coaching methods, “electrifying.”

Brown lauded Bell’s offense, the practice’s fast-paced tempo and the overall intensity. The Fort Hill prospect also extoled the dorm/weight room renovations and facility upgrades, the campus itself, and Maryland’s nationally-touted kinesiology program. Brown said his mother was impressed too, and wouldn’t mind if her son stayed close by for college.

Brown has checked out a few other locales like WVU and Syracuse, while he wants to see NC State and Penn State this summer. Of those, the Mountaineers would pose the greatest threat to Maryland should the WVU staff opt to pursue.

For now, we’re listing Brown “warm” on the hot board. Of course, the temperature would quickly rise to “hot” should the scholarship materialize, while it would drop to “cool” if Bell and Co. elect to hold off (or if West Virginia’s coaches ante up).

You can read more about Brown HERE.

Gabe Houy, OT, Upper St. Clair (Pittsburgh, Pa.): Maryland’s staff offered Houy back in February, and almost two months later he and his mother visited College Park for the first time. Apparently the trip hit home, because now Houy has UMD trending, along with hometown Pitt.

“I think the highlight of the visit for me was seeing how amazing the campus was and just meeting the coaches,” said Houy, who has offers from UMD, Louisville, Pitt, Miami of Ohio and Toledo. “The coaches were awesome. I spoke with Coach Durkin and Coach [Dave] Borbely, and they were both great to talk to. I really like what’s going on at Maryland. For me right now, Maryland and Pitt are the two schools standing out.”

Houy spoke highly of the linemen in general and how they got after it during practice. He praised both UMD trenchmen coaches, noting Borbely’s and Mike London’s attention to detail.

The Upper St. Clair product also talked up the campus, the renovated player dorms and the pending facility upgrades. Houy said he liked the school itself too, namely its academics and location near Washington, D.C.

Besides Maryland, Houy has also visited Louisville recently, counting the Cardinals as a standout. It sounds like UL, UMD and Pitt are the three programs at the forefront of the tackle’s mind.

Look for Houy to choose from one of the aforementioned three -- unless his recruiting profile expands in earnest after the spring evaluation period -- later this summer. The feeling here is hometown Pitt has the inside track, but let’s see what Borbely and Co. can do here. If they can convince Houy to return to College Park, there’s probably a chance the Terps can hop the Panthers in the pecking order.

You can read more about Houy HERE.

Curtis Harper, DT, McKeesport (Pa.): One of Maryland’s primary defensive tackle targets took his initial College Park trip April 2. Harper and his father both thoroughly enjoyed meeting the Terps’ coaches and touring the campus, and it sounds like UMD will now be a contender for the plugger’s services.

I loved it down at Maryland. My dad and I both loved it,” said Harper, who holds offers from the likes of UMD, Iowa State, Kent State, Boston College and others. “I loved the environment there and how everything was set up there. It was just a great place to be. That’s a school I like a lot.

“The way [the coaches] are, it’s not just about football, but about life and just chilling too. It’s a real positive atmosphere, and I liked how they broke down my game and told me where I needed to improve. They were real with me. I liked that about the school. I like what they’re about at Maryland.”

Harper arrived too late to see the team practice, but he had a chance to view the facilities and sit down with the staff. He couldn’t say enough about the coaches’ personalities, the upgraded dorms/weight room and the “awesome” Under Armour gear.

Afterwards, Harper said he will be returning to College Park April 16, perhaps solidifying UMD’s status as a true player. But the McKeesport product has a number of programs on his radar. He was just at Michigan State, which could offer in time, and will be checking out BC; Wake Forest; Toledo and others. He’s also pining for looks from the college football elites, some of which are bound to ante up later this spring.

Harper plans to end his recruitment at some point this summer. The feeling here is Maryland’s staff has a shot, but maybe only if Harper’s recruitment doesn’t take off as we anticipate.

You can read more about Harper HERE.

Offensive Recruiting Notes

Deon Jackson, RB, Pace Academy (Atlanta, Ga.): Jackson was part of Maryland’s Georgia offer binge back in February, and at the time this dynamic three-star seemed enamored with the look. The Terps were Jackson’s very first power-five offer, and although he didn’t know much about Maryland, he was interested enough to research the school and consider a College Park foray. Since then, Jackson’s had communication with UMD Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry and running backs coach Anthony Tucker, but he’s yet to schedule a Maryland trip.

On this end, we’re skeptical Jackson’s going to make it north. Jackson recently told our colleagues he was hoping for SEC/ACC offers and will be camping at hometown UGA, South Carolina, North Carolina and Clemson this summer in an attempt to cull the verbals out. Plus, Jackson has his eye on recent offeree Louisville due to his previous bond with co-offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway, formerly of West Virginia.

Based on the above, it sounds like Jackson wants to stay in the south for college. We’ll keep him on the board, though, because the Atlanta native has yet to state any firm leaders.

Justin Marshall, WR, Salem (Conyers, Va.): This Maryland receiver target, who included the Terps on his initial top-seven favorites list, intended to take his initial College Park trip April 9, but said transportation issues will preclude him from doing so. Now, Marshall’s targeting later in April or May for his trek through UMD.

Regardless of  the date, he’s been eager to visit the program he dubbed his “second favorite dream school” since landing a UMD verbal in late February. Marshall, recall, had an affinity for former Maryland great Stefon Diggs, and routinely checked the Terps out when their games were televised. A few years later, the 6-3, 195-pounder has developed a relationship with UMD receivers’ coach Chris Beatty, who has maintained regular contact with Marshall via social media.

“I’m just excited to get up there and meet the coaches and learn more about Maryland. It’s definitely a school I’m interested in,” Marshall said. “I think I could make big plays in that offense.”

The Terps are just one program on Marshall’s radar, however. Joining the Terps in that aforementioned top seven are Louisville, West Virginia, NC State, Western Kentucky, North Carolina and Cincinnati. Of course, the leaderboard is subject to change should more suitors enter the fray such as Georgia or some other SEC mainstays.

Marshall’s already seen the Wolfpack and plans to be at UMD April 9; Purdue April 16; Louisville a day later; and Georgia Tech April 23. Marshall also wants to check out UNC, UGA and Cincy at some point this summer. 

At this juncture, we’re listing Marshall “warm” on the hot board, but we’re somewhat pessimistic the UMD staff will be able to pry him out of the south. Although he heaped praise on Maryland, the Georgian’s had similar comments for Louisville (the Cardinals could be the early leaders); NC State; UNC; and WVU.

Marshall doesn’t intend to end his recruitment until next winter, anyway, so his situation is bound to ebb and flow.

Sean Nelson, WR, Langston Hughes (Fairburn, Ga.): Nelson is yet another Georgia receiver who still intends to visit UMD. The three-star, who picked up his first power-five look from Maryland way back in early February, told me earlier this week he had College Park circled. The 6-2, 180-pounder isn’t sure exactly when his parents will be able to take him up, but Nelson indicated it would be sometime this month.

“Maryland was my first big offer, and I’ve been talking to Coach [Mike] London and like what he’s been saying to me,” said Nelson, who previously mentioned UMD’s academics and Under Armour connection as two reasons the school intrigued him. “I still want to get up there.”

Besides UMD, Nelson also wants to take in Georgia Southern, West Virginia and Arizona, all of which have offered. The only university Nelson’s been able to see thus far is Troy since basketball season has consumed much of his time.

Since Nelson hasn’t received much exposure yet, his offer list could potentially expand during the evaluation period. So, until his profile is fully realized, we’re hesitant to make any calls here. But if the Langston Hughes receiver does get to College Park, we do think the Terps will have a real shot.

Cameron Sullivan-Brown, WR, Pallotti (Laurel, Md.):  The DMV three-star Sullivan-Brown has been quiet recently with track season going on. He hasn’t reported any recent visits and, as far as we know, has not returned to Maryland since February.

Earlier this week, though, we finally got a peep out of the Pallotti product. Sullivan-Brown said he hasn’t been on any college campus “in like a month,” but this week would be trekking to State College, Pa., for a look at the Nittany Lions. And after said April 6 visit, Sullivan-Brown landed the coveted scholarship.

The Pallotti product couldn’t say enough about PSU post offer, and it sounds like the offer may have thrown a wrench into things (for Maryland purposes). That said, we do expect Sullivan-Brown back in College Park at some point, and we still believe the Terps are trending.

Previously, Sullivan-Brown was all about representing his home state and the new Maryland regime’s overarching message. He also had a developing rapport with UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and receivers’ coach Chris Beatty, the recruit connecting with both staffers. Sullivan-Brown even hinted at an early pop, perhaps before the end of the spring.

Now, the three-star might take a bit longer to decide, but there’s been no indication his feelings towards Maryland have changed. Our gut is the Terps hold the poll position, although PSU is probably right there alongside them.

It’s also worth noting that Sullivan-Brown’s high on Duke after visiting the Blue Devils earlier this year. West Virginia and Louisville are in the thick of things too, the Pallotti prospect likely to check out both programs this summer.

A.J. Lytton, ATH, Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.) (2018): In the past, Maryland might have dropped off a prospect like this after Lytton’s most recent comments. But we fully anticipate the new UMD coaches, with area-recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim acting as point man, to keep pushing for the sophomore stud. Perhaps, by this time next year, Lytton will be more open to the hometown school -- provided he keeps heeding Abdul-Rahim’s words and if the Terps are able to put together a strong 2016 campaign.

In the meantime, though, Lytton’s grown starry-eyed. He’s seen his stock rise considerably from when Abdul-Rahim offered back in early March, and now holds offers from two of his dream schools: Florida State and Clemson.

Indeed, Lytton told me April 2 the Seminoles had his eye for sure. He’ll be trekking to Tallahassee, Fla., later this summer, and it’s conceivable Lytton could give the Noles’ coaches his word then (if the staff’s ready to accept his commitment). The Wise product will also be taking a look at Clemson and a few of his other suitors like Penn State and Iowa.

But Lytton should be back in College Park several times too.

In late March, the Upper Marlboro native had a chance to see his first UMD practice and loved the staff’s energy and Abdul-Rahim’s attention to detail. Lytton said he and Abdul-Rahim have a “real good” relationship, the recruit taking to the coach’s message about staying home for college.

But Lytton also admitted he’d have to see if the much-ballyhooed hometown movement actually came to fruition before he started considering it seriously. Plus, Lytton will be gauging how the Terps perform on the field in 2016.

You can read more about Lytton HERE.

Robert Martin, OT, St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.): A month after Martin visited College Park for the second time, saying he “absolutely loved” his stay on campus, the three-star Jersey tackle seems to be focusing elsewhere. Martin’s now infatuated with Penn State following a Nittany Lions’ visit and subsequent scholarship, while hometown Rutgers is ringing true too. Martin’s returning to Happy Valley April 16 in lieu of attending UMD’s spring game, and he should be back in Piscataway, N.J., as well. Louisville and Purdue are involved too, Martin considering treks through each.

But Martin hasn’t formed a true favorites list yet, nor will he be popping until after his senior season. He’s content to see what offers materialize later this offseason and into the fall, and then hash out which institutions he wants to officially visit.

We do believe Maryland remains somewhat in play given Martin’s bond with UMD-area recruiter Matt Barnes and line coach Dave Borbely. Plus, the Montvale native genuinely likes College Park and what the program’s about under headman D.J. Durkin.

Thus, we’re at least keeping Martin “cool” on the hot board. But we don’t foresee his temperature rising unless some of his other suitors (see: PSU, RU, potential bigwigs) fall by the wayside.

Defensive Recruiting Notes

Chase Young, DE, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): Scout 100 defensive end Chase Young released his top 15 favorites list April 5, and the Terps, as anticipated, made the cut. The others in play are Alabama, Arizona State, Clemson, Florida, FSU, LSU, Miami, Michigan, MSU, Notre Dame, OSU, Tennessee, TAMU and USC. 

Of the final 15, only a handful are firmly in play for the four-star defensive end, however. For our part, we believe Maryland, Bama, Clemson, Ohio State, Florida and maybe FSU and USC have the inside track.

Young was just in Columbus, Ohio, for his first Ohio State visit, and he called the trip “eye-opening” in an interview with Scout’s Brian Dohn. The DeMatha prospect spoke highly of both head coach Urban Meyer and his area recruiter, Larry Johnson, who has been on Young in earnest.

Next up, Young’s returning to Tuscaloosa, Ala., followed by potential summer jaunts to UF, Clemson and maybe USC. He’ll also be returning to Maryland, although College Park is so close he could simply show up at any time.

Speaking of UMD, Young been on campus at least three times since headman D.J. Durkin’s ascension. The edge rusher has a strong rapport with much of the defensive staff and is heeding their stay-home mantra. Young knows he can play early at Maryland, line up alongside numerous former teammates and friends, and develop into an NFL-caliber end under defensive line coach Mike London. UMD’s close proximity to home, academic reputation and Young’s inherent comfort level on campus are three more factors working in the Terps’ favor.

There’s a ways to go before we can begin forecasting Young to the hometown school, though. Although he told Brian Dohn he wanted to end his recruitment before his senior season ended, Young also hinted he could take multiple officials. Which he inevitably will, meaning the DeMatha product likely won’t be selecting a destination until next winter.

Regardless of when he’s ready to pop, we’ll have a better gauge on Young after his spring/summer forays through Bama; Clemson; and the Sunshine State.  

Vic Dimukeje, DT, Boys’ Latin (Baltimore, Md.): Dimukeje has been making the rounds, and he’s added a couple more power-five offers along the way, namely those from West Virginia and Duke. Dimukeje was in Morgantown, W.Va., in late March and Durham, N.C., April 2, adding the verbals while on campus.

Following those respective trips -- he also took in Wake Forest and Temple during the last week or so -- Dimukeje said both the Mountaineers and Blue Devils had his attention. The Boys’ Latin tackle/end loved the atmosphere and staff at West Virginia, and the coaches; academics; and campus vibe at Duke.

So, it sounds like Maryland now has some stiff competition for Dimukeje’s services. Even so, we’re led to believe the UMD staff has the stuff to stave off the Mountaineers’ and Blue Devils’ charge. Provided the UMD staff continues to push, Dimukeje could very well be a Terp later this spring/summer.

The local recruit is keen on the idea of playing close to home, balling out at the local school and the stay-home movement. He has a deep bond with numerous Maryland coaches, and it’s continued to grow with each successive campus visit. Plus, Dimukeje’s parents have been impressed by Maryland, namely the staff’s pitch and emphasis on academics.

Given the latter, Dimukeje should have turtles back on the brain once he returns to College Park later this month.

Evan Gregory, DT, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) (2018): We noted Gregory’s Maryland offer and visit in last week’s Shell, and this week we caught up with the 6-4, 280-pound sophomore. Gregory, a Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) transfer, raved about his first scholarship offer and heaped praise on the Maryland coaching staff. He and his father took to head coach D.J. Durkin’s message about staying home and representing the home state in college.

“Coach Durkin was just excited for me and excited about Maryland football,” Gregory said. “His big thing is he’s looking to keep all of the top DMV kids home, making sure they stay local. He was saying how there’s like 55 guys from the DMV over the last five years that are in the NFL now, and imagine if those 55 guys all stayed home at Maryland. Think about what Maryland would be like. So that was his message, and it really kind of opened my eyes. It’s something to really think about.”

Gregory proceeded to laud defensive line coach Mike London and his teaching methods. The DeMatha prospect loved how London’s linemen fought for reps and played with energy throughout practice. Moreover, Gregory liked the campus itself, the pending facility upgrades, and the school’s academics.

The sophomore plugger will go through the process and figures to secure more than his share of verbals, however. Witness: Gregory visited Rutgers April 2 and snagged an RU verbal while on campus. He’ll likely land many more later this spring and after his junior tape is evaluated.

It’s way too soon to project Gregory’s destination, but we like Maryland’s chances early.

You can read more about Gregory HERE.

Terrell Jana, CB, Woodberry Forest (Woodberry, Va.): Maryland became the first major offer for the athlete Jana back in February, with UMD-area recruiter Mike London extending the verbal. Jana, a Canadian native who has been at Woodberry for just over a year, has stayed in contact with the Terps’ defensive line coach for several months, although he’s yet to visit College Park.

That should change in short order. Jana said he’d be checking out UMD “as soon as I can get a ride up there,” with April 9 or the April 16 spring game as target dates.

While Jana’s familiarity with Maryland is limited, he has known London since the coach was at UVA, the two forming a relationship during the last year-plus. Moreover, Jana’s intrigued by the Terps’ Big Ten affiliation and Under Armour connections.

But until Jana visits and comments on Maryland further, it’s difficult to determine exactly where he’s at. He tripped to UVA (offered) and Rutgers (no offer yet), but stopped short of declaring either a standout. Jana should be at Va Tech soon too, but the Hokies’ staff hasn’t anted up -- and we’re not sure they will.

Jana is content to take the recruiting process slowly, but this is a recruit we’re keeping a close eye on. He is the type the Maryland staff -- should it truly covet his services -- could put the “squeeze” on as some of the Woodberry prospect’s other suitors/potential suitors fill their spots.

New Offers Out

M.J. Jarrell, WR, Timber Creek (Orland, Fla.): The Terps became the latest suitor for the budding receiver Jarrell April 4 when UMD wideouts’ coach Chris Beatty let the three-star know he had a Maryland verbal. Jarrell then told Scout’s Corey Bender he was appreciative of the scholarship and intrigued by the UMD offense because he’d watched ex-UMD great Stefon Diggs thrive in College Park. 

At the same time, Jarrell seemed to be favoring two of his other recent suitors, Va Tech and Wake Forest, over Maryland. Jarrell said he “definitely” would be visiting Blacksburg, Va., and Winston Salem, N.C., but “might” fit College Park in if he had time.

Those feelings could change as Jarrell begins establishing a relationship with Beatty -- and coaches from other schools -- however. Indeed, the Timber Creek product’s profile will undoubtedly expand with more and more ACC, Big Ten and even SEC programs anteing up during the evaluation period. If/when that occurs, Jarrell could go the way of some of Maryland’s earlier Florida targets, who showed some Terps’ interest but backed off when the SEC came calling. 

But let’s see what kind of inroads Beatty can gain here. We’ll list Jarrell as “cool” on the hot board for now.

Jahan Dotson, WR, Nazareth (Pa.) (2018): This sophomore stud added a Maryland offer April 4, his seventh to date. Dotson heard from UMD-area recruiter Anthony Tucker, who initiated contact with the Pennsylvania product via Twitter.

Dotson’s wide open in his recruitment at this point, but he already has a number of significant suitors. Hometown Penn State was on him early and has his ear following a Happy Valley visit, while Alabama; TAMU; WVU; Wisconsin; Temple; and Rutgers also have offers out.

Needless to say, Dotson’s not going to be an easy pull for Tucker and Co.

Jamal Brooks, ILB, Bessemer City (Bessemer, Ala.): The Terps extended an offer to this emerging Alabama backer April 4, with UMD linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes doing the honors. Afterwards, the 6-1, 220-pound three-star expressed interest and said the Terps would be a program he’d be taking a close look at. Brooks said UMD’s academic reputation, need for linebackers and Barnes’ pitch as some of the reasons he could trek east to College Park.

“I thought very highly of the offer,” Brooks said. “It’s a school that is going to be highly considered.”

That’s all well and good, but, per our Alabama colleagues, Brooks is going to procure offers from the bigwigs following the spring-evaluation period. In fact, our main Bama guy dubbed Brooks “a beast” and couldn’t believe he didn’t have more prominent verbals already.

So far, the likes of Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Cincinnati, Vanderbilt and Wake have anted up, but our co-workers predict Bama; Auburn; Georgia, Mississippi State; Ole Miss; Oklahoma; and more could become involved. If so, they don’t expect Brooks to make it out of SEC or Big 12 country.

We’ll add Brooks to the hot board based off his pro-UMD comments, but we’re not moving him above “cool” unless he actually visits College Park.

PA Prospects On The Radar

I attended a 7-on-7 event at Wise April 2, and while there weren’t a ton of major DMV recruits participating, Team Evolve from Pittsburgh, Pa., was in attendance. Evolve boasts numerous FBS talents, and I was able to touch base with 2017 corner Exree Loe (Johnstown, Pa.); 2017 corner Dajone Averett (West Catholic/Philadelphia, Pa.); 2017 safety Paris Ford (Steel Valley/Pittsburgh, Pa.); 2018 safety Kwantel Raines (Aliquippa, Pa.); and 2018 receiver Julian Major (Penn Hill/Pittsburgh, Pa.). All five multi-offer prospects discussed their recruitments, along with their April 2 visit to Maryland, the first College Park trip for each of them.

The interviews may not have rung of positive Terps’ vibes, but it was informative to hear how out-of-state talents view Maryland. For the most part, while these recruits were impressed with the staff and liked the school, UMD has a ways to go before it begins registering in earnest. Many of their comments were along the lines of, “I like Maryland, but … “

Of course, the corner Loe and the safety Ford are currently committed to Pitt. We got ahold of Loe a few weeks back after he was spotted in College Park, and his most recent interview went along the same lines.

Loe told me he’s a firm Pitt pledge and isn’t inclined to look elsewhere right now. He might take official visits later on, but it would only be to, say, an SEC or Big Ten stalwart. Of all the Pennsylvania products I interviewed, Loe, who has a UMD offer, was the least complimentary of the Terps.

As for Ford, he seemed genuinely intrigued by Maryland. UMD headman D.J. Durkin actually offered the safety when the coach was at Michigan, so the two had a previous rapport. Plus, Ford enjoyed watching the Terps practice April 2, noting the team’s intensity and energy. He also knows UMD’s secondary is limited and senses the opportunity for early playing time.

But if Ford reopens his recruitment (which sounds like a distinct possibility), he might be more inclined towards Florida State, which offered April 1, or Ohio State. Ford also said he’s seeking an Alabama look -- and the Crimson Tide coaches have been in touch.

With Averett, for whatever reason (academics? injury-shortened 2015 season?) he only has two FBS offers from Purdue and Temple. That shouldn’t be the case; he’s a 6-3, 195-pound corner with 4.46-40-yard-dash speed. Schools from throughout the ACC, Big Ten and maybe even the SEC should be looking at this Philly prospect.

Maryland is one of the programs monitoring Averett after he visited campus April 2, but there’s been no indication an offer will come to fruition.

Either way, Averett had cursory praise for UMD and would likely take a longer look should the Terps’ staff pursue in earnest. But Averett didn’t mention Maryland as a program he was particularly interested in at this point, instead pointing to WVU; BC; Rutgers; Pitt; and a couple others.

As for the sophomores Major and Raines, both offered up their share of pro-Terps’ comments.

The receiver Major enjoyed the April 2 practice, meeting the coaches and the various facilities he saw. He liked the campus itself, the school in general and the vibe surrounding the program.

But the Penn Hills product, like his Team Evolve teammates, has his eyes set on the country’s elites. Major claims a couple early offers, but it’s clear he’s thinking SEC.

Same with Raines. The 6-3, 190-pound safety loved his Maryland visit and said he could definitely see himself there. At the same time, though, he talked up offerees WVU and in-state PSU, while admitting he was hoping for scholarships from the county’s elites.

So, what to take away from this?

Well, Maryland needs to win some games in 2016 and establish itself as a squad on the rise. If the Terps can accomplish that, maybe the staff will be able to pull in some of these crème de crème talents from nearby Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey.

The Andy Buh Influence

In the wake of Scott Shafer’s departure, Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin hired Kentucky outside linebackers coach/special teams coordinator Andy Buh to be the new defensive coordinator April 4. After the announcement, I spoke to our Kentucky analyst, Pat Loney, to gain a bit more insight into Buh.

Buh spent just one season in Lexington, Kent., but evidently he was a “big hit,” per Loney. His affable personality and ability to relate to his players endeared him to the Wildcats. But Loney admitted it was difficult to ascertain how much Buh impacted the defense or player development since he was only there one year and didn’t have a direct say in play calling/style.

Prior to Buh’s arrival in Kentucky, he served as defensive coordinator at Cal in 2013. But under Buh’s watch the Bears registered the worst statistical defensive season in the program’s history, and thus he was let go.

Buh also was Wisconsin’s linebackers coach in 2012, Nevada’s defensive coordinator in 2010-11 and Stanford’s linebackers’ coach/co-defensive coordinator from 2007-09.

As a coordinator, Buh has mainly preached a gap-control, disciplined style, with a foundation in fundamentals. He is not wed to a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme, willing to adapt to his personnel.

But at Maryland, Buh’s not going to have too much say over scheme and personnel. We’re led to believe Durkin will be running Maryland’s defense, which means odd-man fronts and blitzes will be in-vogue.  

On the recruiting trail, Buh has ties in Georgia and New Jersey. He wasn’t the point man on any of Kentucky’s 2016 prospects, but served as lead man on 2017 Georgia commit Jamin Davis, a three-star outside linebacker from Long County High (Lincolnton, Ga.).

“He’s known as a solid recruiter, because he knows how to relate to kids and has a great personality,” Loney said. “He has a lot of ties in Georgia and New Jersey, and he obviously recruited parts of Kentucky while he was [in Lexington] too. He wasn’t the main guy on Kentucky’s recruits, but I know kids generally liked him.”

Off The Board

Jalen Browder, WR, East Paulding (Dallas, Ga.): When Terps’ receivers’ coach Chris Beatty offered Browder back in mid-February, UMD represented the wideout’s most significant verbal to date. At the time, Browder lauded the look, talking up the Big Ten; Maryland’s uniforms; and his affinity for UMD’s basketball team.

More than two months later, however, Browder’s blown up on the trail and now claims offers from South Carolina; Mississippi State; Ole Miss; NC State; and others. Browder just visited Columbia, S.C., and seems to have the Gamecocks sitting pretty. He’ll also be checking out the Rebels and Bulldogs later this spring/summer.

The East Paulding product has given no indication he’ll be trekking north to College Park.

Leroy Henley, WR, Cardinal Gibbons (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): The Terps had an “in” with Henley through his former teammates-turned-Terps Elijah and Elisha Daniels. Furthermore, UMD receivers’ coach Chris Beatty has been on the stud wideout, Henley mentioning the Terps were one of the programs “recruiting me the hardest.”

That’s all well and good, but it’s pretty clear Henley’s mind is elsewhere. Since procuring a Maryland verbal, Henley’s landed verbals from throughout the SEC; Big 12; ACC; Big Ten; and even the Pac- 12. When asked what some of his foremost suitors were, he pointed to the likes of Michigan; WVU; Oklahoma; Florida; and others of that ilk.

Word is the Wolverines have a bead, but it’s early in the process. Regardless, we’re not projecting Henley to College Park.

Eric Douglas, OT, Mallard Creek (Charlotte, N.C.): We placed Douglas on the hot board two weeks ago after he visited Maryland and extolled the Terps. A week or so later, the four-star tackle’s off the board after popping to South Carolina.

Which, quite honestly, was anticipated. Even as Douglas spoke highly of Maryland’s coaching staff, practice routines, facility upgrades and academics -- not to mention he also had a glut of family in the area -- he admitted UMD was probably running fifth of his five main suitors.

Truth be told, he was bound for USC or UNC from the jump, the only drama being whether he’d go Gamecocks or Heels. He ultimately chose South Carolina April 2, picking the Cocks over UNC, PSU, UMD and Florida.

Moving on.

Tommy Christ, OT, Dominion (Sterling, Va.): In a somewhat surprising development, the three-star Christ, who Maryland’s staff offered and hosted back in February, popped to UVA April 2. Even more surprising: Christ said he had his mind on Virginia ever since he visited in March, the Dominion product indicating it was only a matter of time before he committed. Christ was extremely impressed with Hoos head coach Bronco Mendenhall and the mentality he’s bringing to the program.

But Christ has a brother at Va Tech, the Sterling native previously suggesting the Hokies had the poll position. Tech headman Justin Fuente never offered, however, so the two-way tackle began looking elsewhere.

With that perceived opening, we thought the Terps might be positioned to pounce. The three-star spoke highly of UMD-area recruiter Mike London and offensive coordinator Walt Bell, noting London’s resume and Bell’s youth and energy. Moreover, Christ actually visited Maryland three times in the last year, talking up the facility upgrades; the campus; and Maryland Stadium. He even said much of his family were Terps’ fans, which made the university more appealing.

But evidently Mendenhall pushed a bit harder and convinced Christ to stay local.

Moving on.

Cesar Ruiz, OL, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): We placed the nation’s No. 1 center back on the hot board after he visited Maryland a couple weeks ago. Now, we’re taking him off again.

Turns out all those Tweeted pictures and positive UMD comments were mere lip service (as anticipated).

Earlier this week, Ruiz released a top-12 favorites list, and it did not include UMD. The Jersey native instead placed the likes of Michigan, UNC, Bama, Oklahoma, LSU, Clemson, Florida, Auburn, Temple, Miami, Ole Miss and hometown Rutgers on the leaderboard.

Of those, Ruiz seems to be favoring the Wolverines, Tide and Heels, per a national report, although that’s subject to change. Just don’t look for Maryland’s name to be added unless there’s a drastic change of heart.

Elijah Conliffe, DE, Hampton (Va.): It’s possible Conliffe’s name could resurface in Maryland circles down the road, but we’re not feeling him at the moment. While the edge rusher has yet to release a leaderboard, he’s given several hints as to which programs he’s concentrating on. Mostly, it includes southern and in-state institutions such as Tennessee, Va Tech, UVA, Miami, Ole Miss and UNC.

Conliffe’s been talking up the Vols for quite awhile now and should be at Rocky Top later this month. Meanwhile, both hometown programs are on the radar and will be receiving campus visits shortly.

Additionally, Conliffe has reneged on a couple opportunities to see College Park this offseason, an indication he’s not as interested as he’s previously let on. We’re keeping the defensive end in mind because we don’t want to underestimate UMD-area recruiter Mike London’s pull in Hampton, but for now Conliffe’s off the hot board.

Damani Neal, S, Bullis (Potomac, Md.): The new Maryland regime technically offered Neal, but the staff didn’t pursue in earnest, leading the Bullis product to look elsewhere for college. Then, late last week, Neal announced he’d be choosing between six programs -- and the Terps didn’t make the shortlist.

Expectedly, many high-academic institutions were included, including Northwestern; Duke; Vanderbilt; UVA; and Wake Forest. And on April 2, Neal picked the Blue Devils, citing the program’s budding football program and the school’s renowned education.

Maryland, for its part, is looking for lengthier, speedier safeties rather than in-the-box, linebacker types like Neal.

Exree Loe, CB, Greater Johnstown (Johnstown, Pa.): See “PA Prospects On The Radar” above.



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