Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
The Spring Game
The Terps’ red-white spring game is April 16, and there figures to be recruits galore in College Park, Md., for the occasion. Here are some of head coach D.J. Durkin’s primary 2017 targets who have confirmed their attendance:
Deon Jackson, RB, Pace Academy (Atlanta, Ga.): When Terps’ Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry let Jackson know the Terps had an offer for him Feb. 24, it represented the jack-of-all-trades’ most noteworthy verbal to date. Jackson previously held Colorado State, Georgia State and Fresno State looks, so he was ecstatic to receive the Big Ten scholarship. And although Jackson’s since picked up offers from the likes of West Virginia, Rutgers, Oregon State, Louisville, Boston College and others, his mind has remained on his initial power-five verbal.
Indeed, Jackson has been in touch with Maryland running backs’ coach Anthony Tucker and UMD-area recruiter Mike London on a consistent basis. He’s learned all about the soon-to-be-constructed facility upgrades, the school’s Under Armour connections and the Terps’ up-tempo spread offense. And with UMD in need of dynamic playmakers to fit into offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s scheme, Jackson’s been pining to visit College Park.
April 16 is his first opportunity to do so.
“I’m definitely excited to get up there with my mom,” Jackson said. “I’m interested in Maryland, for sure.”
Jackson, though, isn’t claiming early leaders and wants to check out as many programs as possible this summer. Moreover, he’s waiting to see if the likes of Florida (his stated dream school), South Carolina, Georgia and a few other SEC schools enter the fray. If so, the 6-foot, 190-pounder could wind up at a southern elite, which is where our colleagues have predicted he’ll wind up.
For now, we’re keeping Jackson “cool” on the hot board, but we’ll see what kind of impression the Terps’ staff can leave April 16.
M.J. Jarrell, WR, Timber Creek (Orlando, Fla.): We’re not completely surprised Jarrell’s visiting Maryland given UMD receivers’ coach Chris Beatty’s recruiting prowess in Florida. But Jarrell didn’t seem like someone who would be heading to College Park anytime soon after Scout’s Corey Bender interviewed him last week.
Jarrell, who picked up a Terps’ verbal April 4, told Bender he was “definitely” looking forward to seeing Wake Forest and Va Tech, but would only be trekking through Maryland “if I have time.”
Evidently he has time.
Jarrell -- who is on his way back from an Ohio swing, where he took in Toledo and BGSU -- and Beatty have quickly connected, and now the Timber Creek prospect wants to see what UMD’s all about. Beatty’s resume, offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s offense, and the Terps’ need for wideouts are enough reasons for Jarrell to check College Park out. The fact Stefon Diggs shined at Maryland doesn’t hurt either.
But Beatty’s going to have some work to do to convince Jarrell to return down the road. Jarrell’s recruiting profile, which consisted of three power-five offers from Va Tech, Wake and Maryland on April 4, has now doubled to include Duke; NC State; and Iowa State. He’s bound to add even more as the spring evaluation period moves along, with the Florida mainstays and the SEC chomping at the bit.
If the latter occurs, as anticipated, Jarrell might be out of Maryland’s grasp by the summer. We’ll see what kind of inroads Beatty can gain here, however.
Jordan McNair, OT, McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.): Hosting the borderline five-star McNair is one of the most significant weekend developments for Maryland’s staff. The McDonogh tackle was supposed to return to Penn State April 16, but opted for his second spring jaunt through UMD instead.
“I had a choice,” McNair texted in, “and I wanted to go to Maryland.”
McNair, who met D.J. Durkin and Co. March 19, has been high on the hometown school since that first trip. He detailed each Terps’ staffer he met that day and how their overall energy and enthusiasm resonated. Plus, the tackle has continued to heed Durkin’s words in regards to DMV-to-UMD, McNair firmly believing Maryland can turn into a winner with a foundation of local recruits.
Furthermore, McNair left impressed with the coming facility improvements, upgraded player dorms and various other aesthetics. He talked up the academics too, pointing to the internship opportunities around Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
Granted, McNair still intends to venture back to Ohio State and Penn State, and an initial jaunt through Auburn is in the works. While McNair hasn’t publically said so, it’s believed UMD; OSU; PSU; and AU are foremost on his mind. A couple other programs could potentially enter the mix, but, for the time being, it’s the aforementioned quartet.
Either way, it could take McNair awhile to finalize his recruitment. But we like Maryland’s spot moving forward.
Marcus Minor, OG, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): Minor’s one of those on-the-fence recruits who could elect to attend Maryland’s spring game, or choose to stay home. In any case, it’s probably not going to affect the four-star’s status all that much.
Minor’s met the UMD staff, has taken in a practice, has learned about the school’s renowned journalism program, has seen the video of the coming facility upgrades, and has toured the dorms during prior trips. The DeMatha recruit’s offered up his share of praise for new-look Maryland and considers the hometown school a prime contender. Moreover, his parents have been through College Park as well, the family giving headman D.J. Durkin their nod of approval.
But Minor’s not going to tip his hand until he’s seen all the schools he wants to. So far, he’s been through Rutgers, Wake, Duke, Pitt, WVU, UVA, PSU, Va Tech, UNC, Auburn and, most recently, Miami. Next up, he wants to check out two more prominent suitors: TAMU and South Carolina.
After that, Minor should be releasing a leaderboard, which probably won’t be as extensive as DeMatha teammate Chase Young’s. The feeling on this end is Maryland, Auburn, UNC, Duke and Penn State will be squarely in the mix, with TAMU possibly rising up the list following Minor’s Aggies’ jaunt.
The Hyattsville prospect said he wanted to take some official visits, but don’t be surprised if he chooses a school this summer.
Our gut? Minor’s not an easy read, but we think Durkin, UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and line coach Dave Borbely have his attention. The hometown mojo is alive and well too, and don’t think the DeMatha product hasn’t taken notice.
Vic Dimukeje, DT, Boys’ Latin (Baltimore, Md.): Even as Dimukeje’s added offers from BC, WVU and Duke, we’ve kept the local defensive tackle “hot” on the hot board, projecting him to Maryland. And now it sounds like the Boys’ Latin product could be the next DMV recruit to join the hometown movement. Dimukeje let on earlier this week he’d “definitely” be at Maryland’s spring game and hinted at a possible commitment afterwards.
Which, really, has been a long time coming. Dimukeje has been in College Park on numerous occasions this offseason, and after each foray he’s left raving. He loves the overarching attitude surrounding the program, he’s tight with UMD defensive-line coach Mike London and the other staffers, and he can’t wait to use the soon-to-be-completed facilities. Moreover, Dimukeje’s bought into headman D.J. Durkin’s DMV-to-UMD pitch and wants to stay close to home for college. If that weren’t enough, Dimukeje’s parents are all about Durkin and the university’s educational advantages.
The Baltimore plugger has traveled around to compare Maryland against a few other locales like WVU, Duke, Temple and Wake Forest, but he’s the Terps’ to lose. Provided the UMD staff accepts his pledge -- and we’re led to believe they will -- Dimukeje could be on board by the end of the day April 16.
Note: Cam Spence’s (IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.) commitment to Maryland likely expedited the process. Dimukeje is aware the Terps have another defensive tackle in tow and may only have room for one, maybe two, more.
Josh Paschal, DE, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.): The Terps landed Paschal’s teammate, Ayinde Eley, April 9, and the staff’s on the trail of the four-star end too. No, Paschal’s probably not going to pop early like Eley (unless he’s squeezed), but Maryland is near the top of the totem poll.
April 16 will represent the four-star’s third time in College Park since February, and after each of his two prior trips -- for DMV Day and later a spring practice -- Paschal’s tossed out effusive praise. The Good Counsel end acknowledged he wasn’t “feeling” Maryland under the Randy Edsall regime, but now considers the hometown school a distinct possibility for him.
“Before [when the old staff] was talking about [DMV-to-UMD] it wasn’t as strong as it is now,” Paschal said in March. “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.”
Paschal has readily taken to his two UMD-area recruiters, Chris Beatty and Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, as well as defensive line coach Mike London and headman D.J. Durkin. He loved Maryland’s intensity and how the staff interacted with the players during the mid-March team scrimmage. Paschal said he could tell the coaches had “earned the players’ respect,” which hit home with the local recruit.
The three-star is gauging a few other suitors besides UMD, however. Clemson has been a longtime standout (although we’re not sure Paschal’s not a “take” for the Tigers), while Paschal counts UNC; Kentucky; Ohio State; and Florida as contenders as well. The Good Counsel prospect also noted that Tennessee, Oklahoma, Rutgers and Alabama want him to visit, which Paschal would like to do this summer. In the meantime, he’ll be heading to OSU and FSU coming up after his Maryland jaunt.
At this juncture, Paschal wants to go through the official-visit process before selecting a destination, but we’ll see if that remains true later this summer. It’s conceivable he could commit earlier if teams begin filling their spots.
Lawtez Rogers, DL, Roosevelt (Greensboro, Md.): Since I began covering football recruiting, Roosevelt prospects have typically taken a bit longer to get the process humming in earnest. Even a five-star like Isaiah Prince took a deliberate approach, choosing not to visit out-of-state locales until later in the summer and during the fall.
The three-star defensive end Rogers is in the same boat. The 6-4, 245-pounder still holds just two offers from Maryland and ODU, and much of that stems from a lack of movement in terms of trips and communication with other schools. But once Rogers begins venturing out he figures to add a few more regional looks, giving him some other options.
Of course, Rogers may not need those options before it’s all said and done. He’s been singing Maryland’s praises ever since ex-interim coach Mike Locksley was in charge, and those feelings didn’t dissipate in the wake of D.J. Durkin’s takeover.
Rogers was last in College Park for DMV Day, and afterwards he gave a 15-plus minute interview about why he liked the new staff so much. He talked about Durkin’s energy, defensive line coach Mike London’s detailed approach, and area-recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim’s ability to relate to young players. Rogers praised the defensive system, the under-construction facility upgrades, and, most importantly, the stay-home movement. If that weren’t enough, Rogers’ mother loved Durkin and Abdul-Rahim and wants her son around town for college.
Rogers likely won’t pop until he explores some other schools, but he may not have that luxury if he truly wants in at UMD. With Cam Spence on board and Vic Dimukeje possibly ready to join the hometown university, the Roosevelt lineman -- who projects as a defensive tackle in college -- could be out of luck should he wait too long. Stay tuned.
Curtis Harper, DT, McKeesport (Pa.): Harper and his father visited Maryland for the first time April 1, and 15 days later the 6-2, 291-pound Terps’ offeree will be back for the spring game.
“My dad and I loved it down at Maryland, and I wanted to get back to see them in action,” Harper said. “I loved the environment there and the coaches there. Maryland’s a school I like a lot.”
During his previous stay, Harper, who has been in touch with UMD-area recruiter Dave Borbely, lauded head coach D.J. Durkin and the program he’s building. He called the coaches “real” and “straight with me,” which Harper appreciated. The Pennsylvania product spoke highly of the upgraded dorms, the under-construction facilities, the Under Armour connections and the family atmosphere on campus too. Harper also pointed to UMD’s distinguished academics, which caught his father’s eye.
The McKeesport defensive tackle isn’t thinking about ending his recruitment soon, but it sounds like the Terps will be players -- so long as the staff keeps pursuing. Remember, UMD has a glut of defensive line targets on its board and is positioned for many of them, meaning Harper may not be a priority right now.
Other suitors involved include BC, Wake, Toledo and potentially more that could ante up this spring (Michigan State is an offer Harper’s hoping for).
Look for Harper to select his future destination sometime during the summer.
Robert Porcher IV, DE, Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.): The Terps have had an offer out to Porcher, the son of the former NFL great by the same name, since February, and since then the defensive end’s maintained contact with UMD defensive line coach Mike London and linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes. Porcher labeled both staffers “cool” and “chill” and said he likes what they’re been intimating via social media. The Dr. Phillips product said UMD’s Under Armour affiliation, soon-to-be-constructed facilities, academic reputation and need for pass rushers have him thinking about the Terps.
Most analysts don’t believe Porcher’s going to wind up at Maryland, but getting the defensive end on campus is the first step to winning him over. Once Porcher meets head coach D.J. Durkin and interacts with the rest of the staff, perhaps he’ll even consider taking a College Park official later during the fall.
Realize, however, that UMD is just one stop on a long spring/summer tour. Porcher wants to see suitors such as Tennessee, Cal, Nebraska, Va Tech, Indiana, Louisville, Mississippi State and potentially others that might offer (UNC, Duke, Clemson, FSU, Georgia, Oregon, South Carolina).
Porcher will then take several official visits. He has no intention of selecting a school before his senior season.
Note: Porcher’s teammate, linebacker Nick Smith, will not be visiting Maryland April 16. Smith also holds a UMD offer and previously expressed some interest in trekking through College Park.
Marcus Bowman, LB, Douglass (Upper Marlboro, Md.): The DMV linebacker Bowman will be returning to College Park for his second look at the hometown school under headman D.J. Durkin. He, along with his mother and grandmother, were previously on campus March 26 for a sitdown with the new staff.
“I think Maryland has a real good staff now, and they have so much energy,” said Bowman, who has offers from UMD; NC State; Temple; Iowa; Syracuse and Marshall. “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.
“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 knows several UMD staff members, but he’s connected with linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes. The Douglass product said he and Barnes “have a real good relationship,” Bowman speaking highly of the coach’s style and mentality. Bowman has been also impressed with UMD’s pending facility upgrades, dorm renovations and campus environment. He likes the idea of DMV-to-UMD too, mentioning how his mother and grandmother want him to stick around “so they don’t have to drive too far for my games.”
But Bowman’s also taking a hard look at Syracuse, which just signed his 2016 teammate, Devin Butler, as well as NC State. Furthermore, the Douglass linebacker wants to see if any other prominent suitors materialize during camp season before making any definitive statements about possible college destination.
We’ll see what happens if the Maryland staff decides to squeeze Bowman, however. If so, maybe it’ll speed up the process.
Louis Acceus, LB, St. Joseph’s Regional (Montvale, N.J.): Due to transportation issues, the three-star Acceus is on the fence about whether or not he’ll be in College Park April 16. But he told me he’s “trying his hardest” to be there, because Maryland’s become a true contender following an early-March trip.
Acceus, remember, went on and on about UMD-area recruiter and linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes, who has been after the Garden State product in earnest. The St. Joseph’s prospect likes Barnes’ plans for his linebackers, as well as UMD’s defensive scheme/mentality in general.
Acceus also talked up head coach D.J. Durkin and the direction he’s taking the Terps. On top of that, the Montvale recruit called New Cole “amazing,” and noted Maryland’s academic reputation and internship opportunities too.
Acceus allowed, however, that he had several other programs in mind, namely North Carolina, which he recently visited; Boston College; hometown Rutgers; Wisconsin; and a couple others. He’s not inclined to choose a school until December either, which means his recruitment could very well ebb and flow.
We thought about shifting Acceus to “warm” on the hot board, but before doing so we want to see how his profile develops later this spring/summer. Also, it’s important to note the backer’s given to hyperbole, so his previous pro-UMD comments could’ve been a bit overstated.
We’ll see what Acceus is thinking down the line, although we are encouraged the three-star will be visiting College Park again.
Dorian Etheridge, LB, Capital (Charleston, W.Va.): The Terps’ coaches have a shot to make up ground on Etheridge April 16. Currently, in-state West Virginia resides atop the totem poll, followed by Va Tech, with Maryland seemingly running third. But the former two programs have had a chance to host Etheridge already, while this will be D.J. Durkin and Co.’s first attempt at impressing the Capital product.
It’s been awhile since Etheridge added his UMD offer in mid-February, but apparently the Northern Virginia native still has turtles in mind. Etheridge said he’s had regular contact with linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes since then, the recruit noting the staffer’s positive attitude and energy.
Plus, Etheridge grew up just a half-hour from College Park and attended numerous Terps’ games in his younger years. He said he still has connections to the area and loves the atmosphere in and around the university.
That’s all well and good, but the feeling on this end is it’s going to take one colossal effort from Barnes, Durkin and the rest to hop WVU. Etheridge might not be a West Virginia native, but the Mountaineers’ staff has made the backer priority No. 1. They’ve hosted him several times, with Etheridge beaming after each successive trip.
Word is the Capital prospect could pop to WVU before the summer’s out.
Rell Coley, S, Highland Springs (Va.): When Maryland assistant Mike London let Coley know he had his first Big Ten offer from Maryland Feb. 22, the Virginia safety was ecstatic. Coley said UMD’s conference affiliation, the fact it wasn’t too far from home and his previous relationship with London all held prime appeal. Coley had developed a rapport with London when the coach was at UVA, the safety calling UMD’s area recruiter a “father figure” of sorts.
The Highland Springs recruit has offers from Marshall, Cincinnati and Appalachian State as well, but, at this stage, it sounds like Maryland has the edge. Provided the staff pursues in earnest (not clear at this moment), the Terps could be positioned to land the Highland Springs product.
Now, Coley told us before he wanted to wait out the recruiting process to see which programs anted up this spring and into the fall. But you never know what can happen when a recruit arrives on campus. And you never know what can happen if a staff puts the squeeze on.
Let’s see which direction the Terps’ coaches decide to go here. A potent push could amount to a pop.
Daniel Wright, S, Cardinal Gibbons (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): One out-of-state headliner in attendance April 16 will be the four-star safety Wright, the teammate of UMD signees Elisha and Elijah Daniels. The brothers Daniels have done their best to recruit Wright to College Park, and it sounds like they’ve broken through.
Of course, Wright has been in touch with several Maryland staffers too, who are pitching an attacking-style defense and UMD’s need for safeties, two factors helping the Terps’ chances.
But we’re not projecting Wright to follow in the Danielses footsteps. Florida State has been after Wright for awhile, and the four-star’s been in Tallahassee, Fla., several times. The Noles have a bead, with Wright admitting FSU is at the forefront of his mind. It’s also worth noting that Wright’s brother, Major Wright, starred at UF, giving the Gators a perceived edge.
The feeling here is if Wright makes it out of the Sunshine State, it’s probably because Alabama, Clemson or LSU pried him away.
Antwan Collier, CB, Miami Southridge (Miami, Fla.): Maryland may very well have a shot to snag the Florida corner Collier, whom UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim offered back in February. When the verbal was presented, recall, Collier promptly proclaimed the Terps an early frontrunner, pointing to the defensive scheme; Abdul-Rahim’s overtures; UMD’s Big Ten affiliation; and the school’s academic prowess. Collier said he was eager to visit, with April 16 circled for well over a month.
At the same time, Collier admitted was seeking offers from three “dream schools:” Florida, Florida State and Clemson. But, in the month-and-a-half since then, Collier’s yet to pull in one of those coveted verbals, despite visits to FSU and UF. And after conversing with our colleagues, it doesn’t sound like any of the aforementioned trio is inclined to push for Collier’s services.
Which leaves the door open for Maryland’s staff to pounce. Collier insists he’s “going through the process,” but fact is the only offers he’s procured so far are UMD; Illinois, ECU, UCF; and Southern Miss. Unless Collier blows up this spring, the Terps represent his most significant offer to date.
Perhaps, with the momentum UMD’s gathered early on, Abdul-Rahim and Co. can coax out a pop this weekend.
The Latest Round Of Visitors
Anthony McFarland, RB, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): There’s a ways to go before the borderline five-star McFarland is ready to commit, but Maryland is in favorable position. The DeMatha back’s now been on campus four or five times this offseason, his most recent trek coming April 9. McFarland, who was joined by UMD 2016 signee D.J. Turner, didn’t see the team scrimmage, but spent an hour or so chatting up the Terps’ coaches.
And it’s those coaches who have McFarland’s mind on Maryland.
“I told everyone else, the school atmosphere is different now at Maryland. Going up there now and feeling the family atmosphere, I mean, I just never got that before from the old coaches,” McFarland said. “It was like things were separate and not close. But with Coach Durkin, it’s changed, and how the players get along with the coaches has changed. Like, I’m real close with Coach Durkin, and when I go up there, I can just start talking to him and joke with him in the hallways and stuff. When I do stuff like that, it’s a good sign.
“So Maryland has changed for me. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t really high on Maryland at first. I liked it, but I honestly didn’t think I’d actually end up going there [for college]. But now they’re right there for me. When you think about the institution you’re going to be at the next four years, you have to be comfortable there. And I definitely feel comfortable at Maryland now. It’s the home school, it’s right down the street and it’s a great vibe there now.”
McFarland offered the highest praise for Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, his UMD-area recruiter. He said he’s developing a rapport with offensive coordinator Walt Bell, receivers’ coach Chris Beatty, running backs’ coach Anthony Tucker and Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry as well. The Hyattsville product appreciates the staff’s “chill” personality and how the coaches harp on life after football.
In addition, McFarland believes he could thrive in Bell’s up-tempo spread, dubbing the offense “a great scheme.” The DeMatha prospect talked up the pending facility upgrades, renovated player dorms and the idea of DMV-to-UMD too.
Indeed, McFarland witnessed Kasim Hill (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.) and Ayinde Eley (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.) pop to the Terps April 9, while he also noted Cam Spence’s (IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.) UMD pledge April 8. McFarland said each of those four-stars’ respective commitments “opened my eyes” to Maryland. The Prince George’s County native said he’s thinking long and hard about staying home and helping build the local university into a title contender.
But UMD aficionados will probably have to wait until January before welcoming McFarland in. For all his pro-UMD comments, the four-star’s not even ready to place Maryland, or any other program for that matter, on a favorites list yet.
However, McFarland allowed that he’s been in consistent contact with UMD, Clemson, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, USC, Miami, Florida, Alabama and Oklahoma. Those schools will undoubtedly be included on his initial leaderboard.
The DeMatha recruit’s only visited Maryland and Miami this offseason, but coming up in May he’s looking to foray through UGA; Tennessee; Alabama; Clemson; and South Carolina. Expect McFarland to see even more programs during the summer before embarking on officials this fall.
But while McFarland’s not inclined to end the process sooner than expected, word is the Terps are trending. The tealeaves are certainly giving off encouraging signs.
You can read more about McFarland HERE.
Johnny Jordan, OC, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.): The DMV’s No. 1 center recruit finally made it back to College Park April 12 for a spring practice. Jordan was last on campus Feb. 13, so he’d yet to see one of his top contenders in helmets and pads.
“I loved how intense [the practice] was. The players were into it, the coaches were into it, and there was so much energy all around,” said Jordan, who was joined by his mother. “I had a chance to talk to Coach Aazaar [Abdul-Rahim], Coach [Dave] Borbely and Coach [D.J.] Durkin. They’re great. I love the energy I felt from all the coaches and players. My mom liked it a lot too.”
We didn’t conduct a full-scale interview with Jordan this time since I just spoke to him extensively last week. On top of that, the Gonzaga center talked to our colleagues Brian Dohn and Syracuse’s Mike McAllister too, so the recruit’s pretty much detailed where he stands heading into the evaluation period.
The take after Jordan’s most recent interviews is the Terps probably have the inside track (provided the staff pushes), followed closely by UVA and SU. Jordan’s visited all three programs, but we’re led to believe the hometown movement is resonating for him.
Plus, the D.C. native has an established bond with both Abdul-Rahim and Borbely, Jordan admitting time and again how much he “loves” the latter’s no-nonsense style. Maryland’s academics, $150 million facility upgrades, weight room/locker room renovations and the university’s close proximity to home are also playing in the Terps’ favor.
The Gonzaga center may embark on one or two more trips (BC? Pitt?), but he could pop at anytime (if he’s allowed to).
“I don’t know exactly when I’m making my decision,” Jordan said. “I will be taking more visits in the coming weeks, but I haven’t scheduled them yet.”
Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.): There’s been some speculation Castro-Fields might be the next DMV recruit to jump on the Maryland bandwagon, but we’re not so sure that’ll be the case. The Riverdale recruit told me after his latest UMD trip April 9 he had “no idea” when he wanted to pop, suggesting he had several more programs to explore before ending his recruitment.
Of course, Ayinde Eley said the same thing, and then a week-and-a-half later he committed to Maryland. Perhaps Castro-Fields will do the same, especially after this last interview.
“I’ve been up to Maryland so many times, not much was different for me. But this time my mother came with me, and that was her first time seeing Maryland,” said Castro-Fields, who holds offers from the likes of UMD, PSU, Marshall, UNC, Pitt, Rutgers, Temple and WVU. “And her first time, she loved it up there. She saw the facilities and met the coaches, and she loved it. She’s very comfortable with me at Maryland, and I obviously like Maryland a lot too.
“[The Terps] are still at the top of my list. They’re way up there, for sure. They check all the boxes off. Early playing time, hometown feel, new facilities, coach relationships and life after football – Maryland has it all. They’re really high for me.”
Castro-Fields said he and his mother are seeing eye-to-eye with head coach D.J. Durkin and like his future plans. The Upper Marlboro native talked up UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and his coaching techniques too, calling the defensive backs coach “awesome” and “one of my favorite coaches.”
Castro-Fields then said he enjoyed watching the team scrimmage, taking in the renovated player dorms and learning about the school’s academics. What’s more, the corner had a chance to witness the dual commitments of Kasim Hill and Eley, leading Castro-Fields to proclaim, “they’re doing something big at Maryland.”
But, if the recruit remains true to his word, he’ll be comparing the hometown school against a few out-of-state locales coming up. That includes trips to North Carolina, WVU, Temple, Pitt and a return to Penn State, which is believed to be near the forefront of Castro-Fields’ mind. The corner could entertain other programs that offer this spring as well.
Our gut? Castro-Fields may wind up at Maryland, but it might take him longer to pop than anticipated.
You can read more about Castro-Fields HERE.
More Recruiting Notes
Sean Nelson, WR, Langston Hughes (Fairburn, Ga.): Last week, we let you know the Georgia receiver Nelson still wanted to visit College Park this spring. This week, we have a date for you: April 22.
Nelson, who added his first power-five look from UMD in February, has had consistent communication with Maryland-area recruiter Mike London and graduate assistant Brawley Evans. He dubbed both staffers “cool guys” and characterized their growing relationship as “great.” Nelson has not heard from offensive coordinator Walt Bell, but the 6-2, 180-pounder believes he could thrive in UMD’s spread and develop his game under receivers’ coach Chris Beatty’s watch.
The Langston Hughes prospect said he’ll know more about Maryland following the April 22 jaunt, but he’s already intrigued by the Under Armour connections; the educational aspects of the school; and the Big Ten affiliation.
Some other programs on Nelson’s radar are Troy, Georgia Southern and WVU, all three of which have offers out. But the Mountaineers’ coaches have other wideouts higher on their board and may not push for Nelson’s services, leaving Maryland as Nelson’s top power-five look.
Now, it’s likely the Langston Hughes product adds more FBS offers during the spring evaluation period -- he’s visiting Mississippi State April 16 and thinks the Bulldogs’ staff might ante up while he’s on campus -- so we’ll see if that changes Nelson’s tune later during the offseason. (Nelson said he was seeking looks from Georgia and Tennessee, two programs he’s visited, along with LSU). For now, though, the Terps seem to be in a favorable position for the Georgian.
You can read more about Nelson HERE.
Sean Savoy, WR, Wilson (Washington, D.C.): We’re getting the distinct feeling the local receiver Savoy is receiving the “Damani Neal treatment.” In other words, he could be a DMV recruit the UMD staff offered to appease D.C. connects, but the Terps’ coaches aren’t ready to take in this year’s class.
During recent weeks, Savoy’s hinted he hasn’t had much contact with the Maryland staff and area-recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim. Nor has he ventured over to campus since February, despite living just minutes from College Park. Then, earlier this week, when I asked Savoy if he was attending UMD’s spring game, he replied, “I didn’t even know there was one.”
That last comment pretty much indicates Savoy’s probably not a priority for D.J. Durkin and Co. right now. We’ll keep him on the hot board in case Abdul-Rahim makes a charge down the line, but the vibe is Savoy might look elsewhere for college.
Miami, which the receiver wants to visit June 23, has Savoy’s eye, as does Va Tech after Savoy took in Blacksburg, Va., earlier this year. But we’re not sure the Canes’ or the Hokies’ staffs are willing to accept Savoy’s commitment either.
The D.C. product also holds offers from ODU, Syracuse and Temple, with several other regional programs showing interest.
Cameron Sullivan-Brown, WR, Pallotti (Laurel, Md.): The DMV receiver Sullivan-Brown was downgraded from "hot" to "warm" on the hot board after Scout's Brian Dohn caught up with him April 14. The three-star wideout still holds the Terps in high regard, but it's fairly obvious he has a few other suitors running even, or maybe even ahead of, UMD.
Sullivan-Brown recently released a top-10 leaderboard, although the sense is Penn State; Maryland; Duke; Syracuse; Temple; and WVU are the schools worth paying attention to. The Pallotti product said he speaks to coaches from each of the latter six extensively, Sullivan-Brown talking up each.
The wideout recently trekked through Happy Valley and told Dohn he "loved" his initial foray to Penn State. Provided he's a take for head coach James Franklin (unclear at the moment), it sounds like the Nittany Lions could very well sit at or near the top of Sullivan-Brown's favorites list.
The Laurel native had similar praise for Syracuse, another school he's taken in, while Duke is right there due to the Blue Devils' academic reputation. Meanwhile, Sullivan-Brown's visiting West Virginia in lieu of checking out Maryland's spring game April 16. After that Morgantown, W.Va., trip, it's likely the Mountaineers will have the receiver's primary attention.
This may sound ominous for UMD purposes, especially since Sullivan-Brown has reneged on several opportunities to return to campus, but the Pallotti prospect did offer up his share of Terps' praise.
"Maryland is on me a lot," laughed Sullivan-Brown in the interview with Dohn. "Coach Aazaar [Abdul-Rahim] and Coach [D.J.] Durkin, I like those guys, and I just like the Movement and how they're putting it into action. [The new staff] is recruiting the DMV much harder ... And [the Terps] just got three big commitments, and that's big for them and means a lot."
Sullivan-Brown said he'd like to chose his future destination sometime this summer. Our gut is Maryland will remain in the thick of things due to Abdul-Rahim's overtures and the recruit's desire to play close to home, but we wouldn't be shocked if Sullivan-Brown opted for a program that will assure him he'll be playing offense (Syracuse, Duke, WVU, Penn State if he's a take). The Terps have offered Sullivan-Brown as an "athlete" and may be more apt to try him on the defense. Whether that causes the local to look in a different direction remains to be seen.
Bryson Speas, OT, Dudley (Greensboro, N.C.): Scout’s Michael Clark caught up with this North Carolina offensive tackle last week, and the 6-4, 265-pounder is apparently on Maryland’s radar. The Dudley product doesn’t hold a UMD verbal yet, but he’s been in contact with area recruiter Pete Lembo and could be trekking through College Park this summer.
"I like the program and location," Speas told Clark. "I've visited the state a few times and I really like environment. (Tight ends) coach (Pete) Lembo is recruiting me. We've talked on the phone a couple times and he's a cool guy. He coached in North Carolina for five years at Elon, so he's familiar with the area. He told me they really enjoyed my film and that they really want me to visit.
"I'm looking forward to getting up there soon. I'm excited about the trip and looking forward to interacting with the coaching staff. I also want to see the campus and just learn more about the school."
We’ll see if Maryland makes a move or not, but, until the Terps actually offer, we’re leaving Speas off the hot board.
Speas, after all, already has several offers in tow, including UVA; Marshall, ODU; and a few I-AA schools. Virginia, whose staff has been on Speas hard, holds the edge early after the tackle trekked through Charlottesville, Va.
But let’s see what Speas is thinking after he visits UMD. If the offer’s subsequently presented, the Terps could vault up the leaderboard.
Joe Hunt, LB, Cosby (Midlothian, Va.): Hunt’s been sitting “hot” on the hot board since February, and for good reason. The 6-4, 220-pounder, who will be visiting College Park for the first time April 18, has been effusive in his Terps’ praise -- to the point of hyperbole.
Hunt waxed lyrical over his first scholarship offer courtesy of UMD-area recruiter Mike London, the recruit admitting he was “blown away” by the Big Ten look. The Cosby prospect knew London personally when the assistant was at UVA, the linebacker talking up the defensive line coach’s reputation and personality. Maryland’s academic reputation, internship opportunities and the fact it’s not far from Midlothian grabbed Hunt’s attention too. Plus, Hunt has a family connection at UMD, making the school even more appealing.
This week, Hunt hinted he could very well commit to Maryland during his initial campus trip. Of course, that’ll depend on whether or not head coach D.J. Durkin will be ready to accept Hunt’s pledge, especially with several other touted linebackers on Maryland’s board. It’s conceivable Durkin could tell Hunt to hold off for now, before reconvening with the Cosby backer should some of the Terps’ foremost targets fall off.
Right now, the only offers Hunt holds are from UMD, ECU, JMU and Navy, so the Terps aren’t in danger of losing the Virginian to another power-five suitor. At least, not yet. Hunt has procured interest from NC State and Vandy after visiting each, although neither program has presented an offer at this stage.
We’ll know more about Hunt’s situation following his April 18 College Park foray.
Mike Ruane, LB, Rumson-Fairhaven (Rumson, N.J.): A classic MIKE linebacker, the Jersey product Ruane has started to garner FBS attention, per Scout’s Brian Dohn. The 6-1, 220-pounder just added his first look from Navy and has interest from Maryland, Rutgers, Temple and a few others.
Evidently Ruane visited College Park recently and called it “awesome.” He told Dohn he liked the facility upgrades, the renovations and the campus. But Ruane also allowed that UMD linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes let the recruit know the Terps had other targeted backers ranked higher. Which means the Rumson-Fairhaven product probably won’t procure a Maryland verbal unless he first shines at camp and then some of those offered linebackers fall by the wayside.
We’ll keep Ruane’s name in mind as one-day season nears, but there’s probably no reason to include him on the hot board just yet. More than likely, Ruane’s going to end up at a school like Navy, which the Jersey prospect visited and raved about afterwards.
George Hunter, S, Atlantic High (Delray Beach, Fla.): I touched base with the Florida safety Hunter, who proclaimed UMD his future destination after landing a Terps’ offer Feb. 18, to see if he would be at Maryland’s spring game April 16. Unfortunately for Hunter, he said transportation issues would prevent him from doing so. However, the Atlantic product let on he’d probably be trekking up to College Park in early May.
Shortly thereafter, Hunter, the teammate of 2016 UMD signees Antwaine Richardson and Dion Goldbourne, said he’d be following through with his oft-stated commitment plans.
“Maryland, that’s my top school.,” said Hunter, who has added offers from Kansas State and Western Michigan. “I’m going to [commit] after my spring game May 21 or May 22. That’s when I’m going to make it happen.
“I was on the phone with Antwaine [April 12], and he just like, ‘Maryland’s taking two safeties in the 2017 class, so just make sure you’re on board before they fill up.’ He’s been telling me Maryland’s where it’s at. He’s been up there for a few months now, and he said it’s the place to be, and he said he loves the coaches up there. And Dion, I talked to him [April 13], and he’s just saying stay on track and stay focused. He said just make sure you’re straight and be ready when you get up there.”
Not only has Hunter been talking to Richardson and Goldbourne, but he said he’s in daily contact with Maryland-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim. Hunter called UMD’s defensive backs coach, who should be journeying down to Atlantic next month, his favorite college coach and said he couldn’t wait to see Abdul-Rahim and the rest of the Terps’ staff this May.
The safety went on to say Maryland has “everything,” Hunter suggesting he doesn’t really need to entertain his other suitors.
But while this sounds promising for Terps’ purposes, there are a could inconsistencies and red flags that gave me some pause. First, Hunter mentioned Abdul-Rahim has been harping on academics. Many times, that’s a sign a recruit needs to pick up the pace in the classroom to qualify.
Secondly, Hunter insisted Abdul-Rahim told the safety he’d be able to officially visit College Park after May 1. But unless there was a rule change we’re unaware of, OVs don’t begin until after Sept. 1. That may seem like small beans, but it suggests there may be some misunderstandings/disconnects between Hunter and his recruiter.
Thirdly, we’re always skeptical when Florida prospects say they’re “definitely” going to do something. Based on past experience, Sunshine State recruits can sometimes be a little, shall we say, “over the top” and given to overstatement.
Finally, we’re not 100-percent sure Hunter’s a “take” at the moment. The Terps may very well be taking two 2017 safeties, but will they accept a Hunter pledge right now, or see what develops with some of their other targets first?
You can read more about Hunter HERE.
New Offers Out
Jordan Pouncey, WR, Winter Park (Fla.): This Florida recruit landed a Maryland offer April 9, with UMD receivers’ coach Chris Beatty cluing Pouncey in. The 6-2, 185-pounder already had looks from about 20 other programs, however, and it sounds like several of them already have his ear.
Pouncey was just at Duke in early April and immediately placed the Blue Devils among his top contenders following the trip. The Winter Park prospect then said he’d be returning to Durham, N.C., later this offseason. Meanwhile, hometown UCF is firmly in play and at one time led for Pouncey’s services (he publically proclaimed the Knights his No. 1 back in March). West Virginia and Louisville are on the brain too, both schools in line for summer trips.
It’s conceivable Beatty can work the Terps into the equation, but we’re skeptical based off the recruit’s most recent interviews. We’re not placing Pouncey on the hot board unless he visits College Park.
Jermaine Eskridge, WR, Jefferson (Tampa, Fla.) (2018): Eskridge is one of the 2018 class’ top-five recruits, and Maryland was his 30th offer to date, courtesy of UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim. Eskridge previously held verbals from Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma, UNC, Cal, Michigan, Miami, FSU, Georgia, Ohio State, USC, South Carolina, Kentucky, Pitt, Duke, Cincinnati, Louisville and more.
The in-state powers are all over Eskridge early, but it’s too soon to predict his destination. Eskridge has his pick of schools, and has been forecast to the SEC or one of the Florida programs.
Olalere Oladipo, DE, Huntley (Ill.): Maryland’s new defensive consultant (and former Terps’ linebackers coach) Al Seamonson made his presence felt on the recruiting trail last week, letting his new colleagues know about this budding defensive end. The 6-4, 235-pound Oladipo had been in regular communication with Seamonson when the coach was at Illinois, and now the Huntley native’s ready to establish a rapport with the UMD staff. Oladipo spoke to Terps’ defensive line coach Mike London April 8, and the two are in the process of building a relationship.
Oladipo had 14 offers prior to Maryland’s, but evidently UMD has his attention. He’s unsure when he’ll be able to visit -- he said finances have to work out -- but will attempt to fly East at some point before the summer.
“Maryland is definitely a school that jumps out, because it’s one of the best schools out there and I know I’d get a great education there,” said Oladipo, whose other suitors include Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Penn State, Miami of Ohio, Toledo, NIU, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, New Mexico, BGSU, Buffalo and Illinois State. “Also, I know they’re Big Ten and big with Under Armour, which is cool. But other than that, the only thing I really know is that my aunt lives out there. I’ve never been out to visit her, though. But I definitely want to get out there.”
The Huntley product doesn’t have any true leaders, but it should be noted that he’s trekked through hometown Illinois and Indiana multiple times. He’ll be returning to Bloomington, Ind., April 16 and Champaign, Ill., April 23. Oladipo’s also visited NIU, Central Michigan, Purdue, Miami of Ohio, Toledo, Iowa State (no offer yet) and Northwestern (no offer yet.)
The defensive end plans to have his recruitment wrapped up by August. He’s not inclined to take official visits, although if he can’t make it to Maryland and his other East Coast suitors this summer, he could consider pushing his announcement date back.
Regardless, the feeling on this end is Oladipo ultimately stays in the Midwest, mainly due to the relationship he has with his mother. But, if he does check out College Park and feels comfortable with the players and coaches, the Terps’ staff may have a real shot.
You can read more about Oladipo HERE.
Keirston Johnson, LB, Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville, Fla.): Johnson has gone from offer-less to around 20 verbals in the span of two months. At first, the Jacksonville native began accumulating looks from the Division I-AA and low Division-I levels, but of late he’s begun adding power-five offers.
Maryland became the latest April 11, with UMD linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes serving as the informant. The Terps join the likes of Syracuse, Memphis, USF, Southern Miss, FAU, USF, Georgia Southern, Marshall and some MAC programs in pursuit of the emerging linebacker.
At this stage, with scholarships piling in left and right, the 6-0, 215-pounder’s content to see what transpires later this spring/summer before making any definitive comments. He did call UMD and Cuse his two most significant offers to date, but also said he’s keeping an open mind.
Johnson admitted, however, if the Florida elites and the SEC stalwarts eventually get involved, they’d likely leapfrog his current suitors. Right now, South Carolina; UF; Miami; FSU; and others of that ilk on the brain.
And, quite honestly, Johnson’s probably going to land a few of those coveted scholarships during the evaluation period. If not, well, maybe Barnes can at least cull out a visit.
You can read more about Johnson HERE.
Matthew Bauer, OLB, Cathedral Prep (Erie, Pa.) (2018): This sophomore backer added his fourth offer from Maryland April 8, with UMD linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes extending the verbal. We haven’t reached Bauer for comment yet, but it sounds like Penn State already has a bead on him. The Nittany Lions’ staff was one of the first to offer the instate backer, and word is Bauer’s likely to wind up in Happy Valley unless a Big Ten or SEC bigwig convinces him otherwise.
Bauer holds scholarships from UVA and Syracuse too, and numerous programs throughout the Big Ten and ACC are about to ante up.
Marquis Waters, S, Atlantic (Delray Beach, Fla.): The Maryland staff has had an offer out to Waters’ teammate, free safety George Hunter (discussed above), for several months now, and the Terps finally anted up for Atlantic’s strong safety April 8. The 6-1, 190-pound Waters heard from UMD defensive backs’ coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, the recruit picking up his 16th offer in the process.
It’s conceivable Waters, who attends the same school as 2016 Terps’ signees Dion Goldbourne and Antwaine Richardson, could visit College Park later this year. But, unlike George Hunter, who has Maryland tending in a major way and is trying to find a way north, Waters might be more difficult to convince.
“I think Maryland is a great team and a great program, and I like watching Will Likely play,” Waters said. “And I think Coach Rahim is a great coach. But I haven’t really talked to George about visiting with him, and Dion didn’t really say anything to me about them. I’m not really sure when I’ll be able to visit.”
Word is Waters is on the radar of the Sunshine State powers and the SEC elites, and if those programs ante up he’ll probably stick in the south. Waters has already visited pretty much every program in Florida, taking a liking to Miami and FSU. Neither the Canes nor the Noles have offered, but very well could in time.
As of now, Waters’ suitors include UMD, WVU, Nebraska, Southern Miss, Rutgers, Iowa State, Duke, Temple, Va Tech, Wisconsin, UCF, FAU, Toledo and Ohio.
Note: For what it’s worth, George Hunter commented on Waters’ status with Maryland. Hunter didn’t sound particularly positive about the Terps’ chances with his teammate.
“I’m trying to get Marquis up there to visit with me. Hopefully I can get him up, and then we can team up again at Maryland,” Hunter said. “But I don’t know what’s going to happen with him. He’s got a lot of big offers on the table and a lot to choose from, so he’s going to be tough.”
You can read more about Waters HERE.
Off The Board
Michael Harley, WR, Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.): Even as Harley’s offer-list expanded, we kept him on the hot board due to his rapport with UMD receivers’ coach Chris Beatty and his stated desire to return to College Park. Unlike most out-of-state Terps’ targets, Harley had actually been to Maryland before (two years ago for the Big Show camp), talking up the environment and campus. The latter fact, coupled with Beatty’s proficient recruiting, figured to be enough to at least convince Harley to trek through College Park this spring.
But the Aquinas product’s mind is elsewhere these days, specifically on the Florida schools. Miami leads the pack, but UF would instantly become a contender should the Gators’ coaches offer. Wisconsin, whose staff is pushing hard, is another prime player, along with WVU; Missouri; Michigan (no offer yet); and potentially more.
Harley probably won’t pop until after embarking on officials, but there’s been no indication Maryland will be the recipient of one.
Troy Simon, CB, Milton (Alpharetta, Ga.): Well, this corner’s tone changed quickly. After more than a month of talking up the Terps and UMD-area recruiter Walt Bell, who knew Simon when the coach was at Arkansas State, the Georgia corner has done a 180. He told me earlier this week he’s no longer inclined to visit Maryland and is now focused on programs closer to home.
“I think the Maryland staff knows they’re probably not going to get me now,” Simon said. “I got a few more offers closer to where I live and high interest from some big programs, so that’s kind of where I’m at now.”
Yes, Simon’s blown up on the trail, attracting the eyes of coaches from Tennessee; Georgia; North Carolina; Missouri; Ole Miss; Kentucky; and others. If one of those SEC programs drops a verbal, the Milton product might just scoop it up. But even if they don’t, Simon hinted he’d rather attend a school closer to the Peach State or out West than head north. In fact, he told Scout’s Chad Simmons this week Cal and Wake Forest were his top two suitors, Simon considering popping to either the Bears and Deacons this offseason.