Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
The College Park Visitors
Tayon Fleet-Davis, RB, Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.): The local Fleet-Davis returned to College Park, Md., June 11, and he called it his best UMD visit yet. The 6-foot, 215-pounder, who was joined by teammate and Terps’ target Deon Jones, said he had personal sitdowns with area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, running backs coach Anthony Tucker and headman D.J. Durkin.
“When I was up at Maryland, I enjoyed myself more than any other time I’ve been there,” Fleet-Davis said. “I really got a chance to sit down and talk with the coaches on a personal level. I really enjoyed it and got to know them, and they got to know me more too.
“Basically, the coaches were talking with me and [teammate] Deon Jones, we were up there together, and they were saying we could be the guys to continue the DMV takeover in 2017. They were saying how they have a great recruit class already and we need to keep the momentum going. And that’s something that I’m thinking about, and I know Deon is too. We both like Maryland a lot. They have a lot of good things going on there with the program under Coach Durkin.”
Additionally, Fleet-Davis lauded Tucker’s coaching techniques during the camp, while he also talked up his relationship with Abdul-Rahim. The Potomac back, who has visited Maryland four times this offseason, then said the Terps were in a solid position for him and under heavy consideration.
But Syracuse still looms, and the Orange could very well get the last crack at Fleet-Davis later this month. The Oxon Hill native -- who attended camps at Ohio State, Temple and Pitt with his team after seeing Maryland -- holds head coach Dino Babers in high regard and raves about his program whenever the back’s in New York. Fleet-Davis will be returning to Cuse June 25 and hinted it could be the final trip he takes before announcing his college decision.
The three-star might get to Indiana and Iowa sometime in July, but said he’s “not sure” he’ll be able to make it to the Midwest.
As we’ve stated in past Shells, Fleet-Davis does seem to be favoring SU. But we’re not ready to write the Terps off yet. Let’s see if Abdul-Rahim can turn the tide and then gauge what the local runner’s thinking in July.
You can read more about Fleet-Davis HERE.
Josh Palmer, WR, St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): The three-star receiver Palmer began a rather ambitious summer tour this week, he and his family driving up the East Coast for a three-day, three-school road trip before making it back to their home in Ontario, Canada. Palmer began at Pitt June 12, made his way down to Maryland June 13 and finished at Syracuse June 14. All three programs have offers out, and all three are on Palmer’s radar.
At Pittsburgh, Palmer lauded head coach Pat Narduzzi, the campus and the surrounding area too. In particular, he liked the facilities and how the Panthers share them with the Steelers.
At Cuse, the three-star couldn’t say enough about head coach Dino Babers and his offense. He noted the Orange’s indoor field and academic support as well.
As for Maryland, Palmer raved about the coaching staff in general. He already knew offensive coordinator Walt Bell and area recruiter Chris Beatty, both of whom trekked through Aquinas and have stayed in touch. But June 14 he had a chance to meet head coach D.J. Durkin and connect with Beatty on a more personal level.
Moreover, Palmer extolled Bell’s spread system and Beatty’s player development, the receiver believing he could thrive in UMD’s offense. Palmer liked the atmosphere in and around College Park, the coming facility upgrades and the player dorms too.
Afterwards, the sense is Syracuse, Pitt and Maryland are ringing true and could both be positioned to battle it out for Palmer’s services.
The Aquinas receiver is also considering NC State, Nebraska and Louisville, but each may be trailing UMD, Pitt and Cuse. Palmer has never been to Raleigh, N.C., Lincoln, Neb., or Louisville and mentioned he “wasn’t sure” whether or not he’d be able to make it to any of those three locales.
Michigan, meanwhile, was thought to be the far-and-away frontrunner, but the Wolverines’ staff isn’t pushing for Palmer any longer, opening the door for other programs.
Palmer would like to end his recruitment this summer, although it’s possible he’ll hold off and embark on a couple officials. But if he follows through with a July/August decision, we’re optimistic about the Terps’ chances. We currently have the three-star listed “warm” on the hot board and could move him to “hot” if the positive vibes continue.
Note: We do believe Palmer is a “take” for the Maryland staff, even with three wideout commits on board. Although they’re only inclined to take four receivers in 2017, they will make room for a fifth if two more top targets want in.
You can read more about Palmer HERE.
Johnny Jordan, OC, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.): Jordan’s summer tour kicked off in Charlottesville, Va., and College Park June 11-12, the DMV’s No. 1 center hitting the two programs thought to reside atop the totem poll. The D.C. native once again talked up Virginia’s academics and the strong bond he’s formed with the staff. But he had similar comments in regards to Maryland.
Jordan, whose entire family joined him at UMD, said he finally had a chance to see the upgraded player dorms and the progress the school is making on its new indoor fields. But he saved his most heartfelt praise for the staff. Jordan had extensive conversations he had with headman D.J. Durkin, area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and offensive line coach Dave Borbely.
“Coach Aazaar was saying how Maryland is home and it’s always good to stay home and represent your hometown school. And that’s the message I keep hearing from them, and it’s something I’m considering,” Jordan said. “Coach Borbs, he was talking about my future and how it would look at Maryland. He was talking about how he coaches and approaches the work week, so I learned a little more about him. I think he’s a great coach and has a great reputation for developing linemen.
“And Coach Durkin, he was talking about what he believes in and the direction of the program. I like that he’s going to tell you what you do well, but he’ll criticize you when it’s needed. He’s very honest and straightforward. He also said I’m a priority for them, which is great to hear.”
Jordan said Maryland’s close proximity to home and the educational benefits stood out too. Moreover, the Gonzaga product mentioned his parents were thoroughly impressed with UMD as well.
Now, we’ll see if Jordan is truly a priority for the Maryland coaches as the recruit indicated. But the sense is, if he does want in, Durkin probably won’t turn him down. Durkin wants to add tackles first and foremost, although the headman will likely make room for an interior lineman like Jordan.
That is, if Jordan wants in.
From the sound of things, he’s keeping an open mind and taking a deliberate approach. Previously, Jordan wanted to end his recruitment sooner rather than later, but now he’s intent on seeing all his top suitors and then evaluating them further during the fall.
Next up, Jordan’s hitting Va Tech June 17, UMD June 18 for the Lineman Challenge, Boston College June 19-20 and Pittsburgh June 25-26. After that, he’ll weigh the pros and cons or each school -- Syracuse is also involved, though likely on the outside looking in -- before watching them closely during the season. Jordan said he wants to gauge each program’s coaching style since most of his contenders have new head men at the helm.
Our gut? Well, before conversing with Jordan, we would’ve said Virginia had the pole position, followed closely by Maryland. But now it’s a more difficult call. We’ll have to see what Jordan’s thinking post-summer tour before predicting a destination.
You can read more about Jordan HERE.
Ja’Mion Franklin, DT, North Carolina (Ridgeley, Md.) (2018): The rising junior Franklin received an offer from Maryland’s former regime when then-area recruiter Mike Locksley anted up, and the new UMD staff under D.J. Durkin will likely reaffirm the verbal in short order.
The 6-2, 312-pounder, who transferred from Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) back to North Caroline a few months ago, has been in College Park several times and has the Terps sitting pretty early. June 14 was his most recent trek through UMD.
“Man, Maryland’s incredible. They’re definitely at the top. They’ve always been up there, but seeing what it’s becoming now makes it stand out even more,” Franklin said. “You can just tell the atmosphere has changed there with the new staff. I love it up there.”
Franklin’s keen on the idea of DMV-to-UMD, knows several former-teammates-turned-Terps, and would love to represent his hometown school at the next level. He’s easily bonded with the staff too, extoling area recruiter Matt Barnes, defensive coordinator Andy Buh, defensive line coach Mike London and secondary coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim. Plus, the interior lineman truly enjoys being in College Park and is excited for the pending facility upgrades.
Not that Franklin would be ready to pop on the spot when the UMD offer is inevitably presented. The North Caroline prospect is also receiving interest from schools throughout the Big Ten. He doesn’t have any power-five offers yet, but figures to procure his share in time.
But given his comments and the inroads the Maryland staff has already made, the Terps are probably the team to beat.
You can read more about Franklin HERE.
Tyree Johnson, DE/LB, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): The three-star BUCK Terps’ target Johnson was back in College Park yet again June 11. The local edge rusher opted to hang out at UMD’s camp along with new St. John’s teammate and Maryland pledge Cam Spence.
“I just decided to come up and hang out. I like being up here at Maryland. It’s cool, and Cam was coming up so I decided to join him,” said Johnson, who has visited UMD about six times this offseason, including twice in June. “As you know, Maryland’s a school I like a whole lot. I have a great relationship with the coaches here.”
The fact Johnson took a second impromptu College Park trip this month is another positive development for Maryland purposes. As we’ve been intimating in past Shells, it’s obvious the hometown school is ringing true, Johnson talking up DMV-to-UMD; the vibe from the staff; the Terps’ defensive style; and the chance to build the local program into a winner. Plus, Spence and Terps’ commit Kasim Hill are constantly in Johnson’s ear, the end/linebacker heeding their words.
Johnson’s going to take a deliberate approach, however, making sure he sees all his foremost options. He’ll be at North Carolina June 18, Va Tech the week after and is considering South Carolina and Syracuse jaunts. If he has time, Johnson may also return to Tennessee and TAMU, the two schools sitting directly behind Maryland in the pecking order.
It’s possible Johnson will end his recruitment this summer, but after talking to him June 11, he may be inclined to take a few official visits.
Either way, he’s staying “hot” on the hot board.
Ryan Thaxton, DE, St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Alexandria, Va.): The DMV edge rusher Thaxton has been hearing from UMD defensive line coach Mike London, although he doesn’t hold a Maryland offer just yet. However, one could be forthcoming -- even if it wouldn’t be committable quite yet.
Fact is, Thaxton’s seen his stock increase since showing out during the evaluation period and in the current camp season. Tennessee was the latest school to offer, and various programs throughout the Big Ten; SEC; and ACC are monitoring him. The Terps’ coaches may offer just to keep themselves in the game in case they need to make a move if their prime defensive end/BUCK targets fall by the wayside.
If the latter scenario comes to fruition, the Terps could be in a solid spot for Thaxton. The 6-5, 250-pounder visited College Park June 14 and reportedly enjoyed himself thoroughly. He’d been on campus before when the previous regime was in place, but the mid-June foray was his first time meeting with head coach D.J. Durkin and London. Thaxton liked both coaches personally, noting the headman’s message about locking down the DMV. Maryland’s academic reputation, the fact it’s close to home and the opportunities the D.C. corridor represents outside of football all resonate as well.
But Thaxton could be inclined towards a couple programs that have been on him from the jump. Vanderbilt was one of the Alexandria native’s first major offers, and he’s eager to visit Nashville, Tenn. The school’s educational benefits and SEC affiliation, in particular, have Thaxton’s eye. Meanwhile, hometown UVA has made a strong run and holds many of the same academic advantages Vandy does.
If Thaxton elects to commit during the summer, he’ll probably opt for either the Commodores or Wahoos. But if he holds off, perhaps other suitors could work into the mix.
We’ll monitor the situation to see if the Terps make a move. For now, though, there are too many other targets Maryland’s staff is positioned for to place Thaxton on the hot board.
Terrell Jana, CB, Woodberry Forest (Woodberry, Va.): In past Shells, we were resigned to the corner/receiver Jana heading to in-state Virginia. After all, the three-star had been in Charlottesville, Va., five times, loved head coach Bronco Mendenhall and Co., and had his teammate and quarterback, Lindell Stone, committed to the Hoos.
But we’ve heard Mendenhall is only willing to accept one more 2017 receiver and has several touted options on his board. Thus, Jana might be on the backburner for the time being.
Now, it’s still possible Jana winds up at UVA; if he truly wants in, Mendenhall could very well make room since the two-way star resides in Virginia’s backyard. But if Jana senses a “slow play,” well, maybe that’ll give his stated No. 2, Maryland, a window of opportunity.
Jana, who is from Western Canada, saw College Park for the first time June 15. He’d been pining to visit UMD ever since landing the Maryland offer back in the winter, but was waiting until his parents were available to do so.
The trip finally materialized June 15, and after seeing the campus and meeting head coach D.J. Durkin and the rest of the UMD staff, Jana had plenty of positive comments. The Woodberry product, who the Terps’ staff views as a cornerback, praised area-recruiter Mike London, who has maintained consistent contact with the recruit. Meanwhile, the three-star couldn’t say enough about Durkin’s personality and message.
“Maryland was great,” said Jana, who holds offers from UMD, Virginia, Nevada, Old Dominion, Rice, Ohio and Yale. “The staff was very welcoming, and it was just a great first visit. Me and my parents all really enjoyed it, from the coaches to the campus to the academic aspects. Maryland’s a great school and a great program on the rise.
“It was great meeting most of the staff for the first time and some for the second. I didn’t get to meet Coach [Aazaar Abdul] Rahim, since he had to leave due to an emergency, so meeting him in person will help, but I definitely liked the rest of the staff. It was great to put a face to the people I have been talking to. They’re all very friendly, personable people and easy to talk to. Their message to me is they definitely want me there and they think I can step in and help them. They believe Maryland would be a great fit for me academically and athletically.”
Furthermore, Jana and his family enjoyed being on campus, viewing the forthcoming facility upgrades and seeing the new player dorms. Plus, Jana noted Maryland’s academic reputation and the benefits of the school’s location near Washington, D.C.
Next up, Jana wants to return to UVA June 17 so his parents can see what Charlottesville is all about. He’s also camping at Duke June 18 in hopes of drawing a Duke look, and visiting NC State June 19.
Look for Jana to choose a college soon after that final trip to Raleigh, N.C.
The vibe on this end is Virginia probably holds the pole position, but we’ll see what the situation is with the Cavaliers’ other receiver targets. It wouldn’t surprise us if the Terps, who need multiple corners with just one on board, eventually leapfrogged UVA.
You can read more about Jana HERE.
Deon Jones, CB/S, Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.): The four-star defensive back Jones is now at Potomac, so he joined the Wolverines on their annual summer tour. But before stopping off at Pitt, Temple, Akron and Ohio State last week, Jones, along with new teammate Tayon Fleet-Davis (discussed above), returned to Maryland. The June 11 jaunt was Jones’ third time on campus this offseason, and the first in a couple months.
Previously, Jones seemed content to list the Terps “among” his foremost suitors. But after this latest trip, UMD’s staff could be positioned to pounce. Jones didn’t respond to repeated interview requests this week, but his coaches let us know Maryland’s in a strong spot for the former Carroll (Washington, D.C.) defensive back.
First of all, unlike some of his other contenders such as Clemson, Ohio State, Florida State, Florida and Oklahoma, which are cooling on Jones (he ran a slower-than-expected 40-yard dash time), the Terps’ coaches continue to push.
On top of that, Jones has a terrific bond with UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim. The four-star has known the coach since the latter was at Friendship Collegiate (Washington, D.C.) and likes the fact Abdul-Rahim would be his position coach. Jones loves the attitude and enthusiasm of head coach D.J. Durkin and the rest of the UMD coaches too.
The DMV movement, Maryland’s location near home and the various facility improvements also have Jones thinking turtles.
Penn State, which Jones has visited and will be returning to, could pose a threat, however. And North Carolina is right there as well after Jones trekked through Chapel Hill, N.C. Furthermore, we’re not going to discount Clemson since Jones has long had the Tigers atop his leaderboard. Perhaps, if Jones truly wants in at Death Valley, head coach Dabo Swinney will accept his pledge. (Personally, we think Swinney and Co. have moved on).
But the Terps have the momentum, and it’s enough for us to shift Jones to “hot” on the hot board.
More News On Top Targets
Javon Leake, RB, Page (Greensboro, N.C.): Leake has had Maryland among his top-four contenders since the spring, but we weren’t positive he would actually give College Park a look. But apparently he will follow through, with June 21-24 as the suggested target dates, per our Scout colleagues in the Carolinas.
Leake has had consistent contact with not only UMD-area recruiter Walt Bell and running backs coach Anthony Tucker, but also a couple other Maryland staffers via social media (Pete Lembo, Brawley Evans, Marcus Berry). The Page product is aware he’s a priority, so he will honor the coaches’ potent pitch by visiting College Park.
Bell, for his part, has personally been through Page and let the 6-0, 190-pounder know all about the Terps’ dynamic spread. Leake believes he could be a feature back and potentially thrive in that offense, another reason he’s journeying north.
Now, you never know what can happen following a campus foray, but we’re still not ready to elevate Leake above “cool” on the hot board. Leake just returned to the hometown favorite, North Carolina, in early June for yet another look at the Tar Heels. Even though UNC already has one four-star runner committed, it hasn’t dampened Leake’s Chapel Hill infatuation. He’s close with the staff and running backs coach Chris Kapliovic, loves being on campus, knows several current Heels, and likes the idea of showing out in his home state.
South Carolina, though, is sitting almost even with Carolina at this juncture. Leake has been through Columbia, S.C., a couple times too and likes the direction the Gamecocks are headed. Moreover, USC has the advantage of playing in the SEC, which would allow Leake to compete against the nation’s best.
The third player is Tennessee, which Leake saw back in May. Leake took to the staff and the environment in Rocky Top, while he has a close bond with position coach Robert Gillespie. But the Vols are probably just behind the two Carolina frontrunners in the pecking order.
Before deeming Maryland fourth, however, let’s see what kind of impact this upcoming College Park trip has on the Greensboro native.
Emmanuel Greene, Slot, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Greene’s name hadn’t surfaced in Maryland circles until June 11, when the receiver released a top-seven leaderboard and the Terps made the cut. The other six schools on the list were Louisville, WVU, Nebraska, UCLA, UCF and TAMU.
Of those seven, the only school Greene’s trekked through is hometown UCF, and the feeling is the Knights have the receiver’s attention. UCF’s coaches have made Greene priority No. 1, which the IMG product appreciates.
But West Virginia is also hot on the trail and could very well usurp the Knights following a Morgantown, W.Va., trip. Greene seemed most excited about seeing the Mountaineers due to their offense and penchant for producing receivers.
Louisville is thought to be firmly on Greene’s brain too, though it remains to be seen how ardently the Cardinals’ coaches will push with other targets on their board. Same goes for TAMU, UCLA, Nebraska and even Maryland.
UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty has established a rapport with Greene and has been in contact for awhile now. Beatty’s ability to mold receivers has piqued Greene’s interest, along with the pitch from IMG teammate-turned-Terp Josh Kaindoh.
But since the Terps already have three 2017 receivers on board and aren’t apt to accept a slot unless it’s Tahj Capehart (Bishop Sullivan Catholic/Virginia Beach, Va.), it’s unclear if Greene’s a “take” right now. But perhaps if Capehart ends up at Va Tech or Alabama, Beatty will hone in on Greene down the line. (Coincidentally, Capehart released his favorites list the same day as Greene. The Terps predictably made the cut for the four-star too.)
Greene has no intentions of committing sans officials, so there’s plenty of time for ebbing and flowing.
We’ve listed him on the hot board as “cool” for now.
Sean Ryan, WR, Erasmus Hall (Brooklyn, N.Y.) (2018): We made note of Ryan’s Maryland offer last week, and this week Scout’s Brian Dohn caught up with him.
"One of my favorite players played for them, Stefon Diggs," Ryan told Dohn. "I enjoy watching him. I know about their uniforms. I checked them out online and was looking at the school."
Ryan should be visiting College Park for the first time later this summer. He’s in the process of developing a relationship with UMD-area recruiter Pete Lembo.
But Ryan also holds an offer from Rutgers, and word is the nearby school has the early bead. The Erasmus Hall product has trekked through Piscataway, N.J., numerous times and loves head coach Chris Ash and the program he’s building.
RU and UMD won’t be the only suitors Ryan has to consider, however. Ohio State has taken notice, while schools throughout the Big Ten and ACC will do so in time.
But since Lembo identified Ryan early, it sounds like the Brooklyn native will give the Terps their due. We’ll see what kind of inroads the assistant can gain down the road.
Desmond Holmes, OT, Cardinal O’Hara (Springfield, Pa.): The Pennsylvania tackle Holmes has been high on Maryland ever since receiving the offer from UMD-area recruiter Anthony Tucker in early May. And on June 18th he’ll be taking in College Park for the first time. The 6-5, 299-pounder said he couldn’t wait to meet the staff in person and take in the campus.
“One thing that stood out was how Maryland needs offensive tackles. I know they don’t have many there right now, so it would be a great opportunity for me,” Holmes said before. “And another thing that really stood out to me was how they really help the student-athletes there. Like, Coach Tucker was saying how they give you all you need to succeed on and off the field.”
Don’t expect Holmes to commit before leaving College Park June 18, however. He has several other schools he wants to see later in June/July, including Syracuse; Pitt; and Temple. Holmes has been to Temple once before and seems to have keen interest in the Owls, while both the Panthers and Orange are firmly on the radar after each staff offered in May. (Holmes will also be at Penn State’s camp June 17 in hopes of drawing a Nittany Lions’ look, but we don’t envision that happening).
It’s possible, after taking in each of the above schools, Holmes will be ready to commit. But he insists he wants to “go through the process” and see what offers he can cull out once his film is evaluated.
Given that, we’re keeping Holmes “cool” on the hot board for now, but we’ll see what’s on his mind after he sees Maryland.
DeMarco Artis, OLB/DE, Seminole (Sanford, Fla.): Last week, we mentioned the BUCK Artis had placed Maryland on his top-13 leaderboard thanks to the pitches he’s heard from linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes; defensive coordinator Andy Buh; and friend-turned-Terp M.J. Jarrell (Timber Creek/Orlando, Fla.). At the same time, we said the Terps probably sat no higher than sixth or seventh on said favorites list.
Then, earlier this week, Scout’s Corey Bender caught up with Artis at a camp in Florida. Artis did mention Maryland as one of the schools that’s prioritized him, along with Ole Miss; Temple; Va Tech; UCF; and Indiana. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Maryland’s a school ringing true.
Later in the interview, Artis spoke glowingly about Ole Miss and the Rebels’ Landshark defense. He said the coaches hit him up “all the time” and have made him feel wanted.
The Floridian then raved about the hometown school, UCF, which Artis has visited on a couple occasions. He said the vibe on campus, the fact he has friends in the program and the staff’s pursuit have his mind on the Knights.
Bender then asked Artis which schools he wanted to see this offseason, and he failed to mention Maryland. Rather, he pointed to Ole Miss, Clemson, South Carolina, Georgia, Va Tech, Wake Forest, Duke and Temple.
Now sometimes, in the heat of the moment, recruits can forget a program or two. But Artis’ slip is probably an indication of where his mind’s at in regards to UMD.
We’re leaving him “cool” on the hot board for now, but aren’t going to elevate him unless he actually visits College Park.
Stephon Zayas, DE, Dillard (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): The Terps offered Zayas in May after UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty and assistants Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and Andy Buh viewed a workout. Zayas immediately called Maryland a contender and said he wanted to visit this summer. Then, a couple weeks later, he placed UMD on his top-10 favorites list, alongside Louisville; Pitt; Iowa State; UCF; Illinois; NC State: FAU; FIU; and Rutgers.
But while Zayas may be intrigued by Maryland, we do not believe the Terps are among his top three contenders. He admitted coaches from Louisville and Pittsburgh were pushing the hardest for his services, and thus those were the two schools he definitely wanted to see. He plans to trek though both campuses this month.
Plus, Zayas was at Florida State June 15-17 in hopes of attracting the Seminoles' coaches attention. If so, the Noles would immediately escalate up the board.
Zayas may still make it to College Park thanks to the staff's overtures, so we'll give the Terps a shot here. But the tealeaves do not point in Maryland's direction at this juncture. In all likelihood, Zayas is going to end up at Louisville or some southern stalwart whose coaches ante up late.
Dillon Harris, LB, Bloomfield (Conn.): A little more than two weeks after pulling a Maryland offer, the linebacker Harris is still beaming. He said he’s been in regular communication with UMD-area recruiter Pete Lembo and is set to visit College Park in late June.
“I’m going over possible dates with Coach Lembo now. I want to get down there bad,” Harris said. “Maryland is like my top school. I’m really excited to see it.”
Harris, who can line up at safety, said Maryland’s defense is one of the primary reasons he has the Terps trending. Furthermore, he likes its location outside of Washington, D.C., the academics, the Big Ten affiliation and Lembo himself. In fact, Harris counts Lembo as one of his favorite recruiters.
Harris is also taking a long look at Rutgers and will be returning to Piscataway this weekend. He’s taken to head coach Chris Ash and likes that RU isn’t too far from Connecticut.
After seeing Rutgers, Harris plans to check out Temple, which recently offered. Boston College may be the recipient of a visit at some point as well.
Meanwhile, Harris has already taken in offeree Syracuse, although the backer’s unsure if he’ll be returning or not.
The feeling here is that while Harris is high on Maryland, he probably isn’t a “take” for the Terps’ staff right now. Head coach D.J. Durkin has several linebackers on his board that are likely rated higher than the Connecticut product. But we’ll see if the situation changes in time. Harris doesn’t intend to commit anytime soon, so it’s possible Durkin, Lembo and Co. could push in earnest later on.
Nate Proctor, OLB, Lackey (Indian Head, Md.): The local linebacker Proctor Tweeted out earlier this week that he’d be taking a wide-scale tour, along with numerous teammates and various Southern Maryland/D.C. recruits the next few weeks. The group started at North Carolina June 15 and Tennessee June 16, and will be at Ohio State June 17; Michigan June 18; Toledo June 19; Pitt June 20; and Maryland June 21.
Of the above, Proctor seems most infatuated with UNC, Tennessee and Maryland. Proctor has a developed rapport with the North Carolina staff and holds the Tar Heels’ defense in high regard. He’s now been in Chapel Hill, N.C., twice and loves the atmosphere surrounding the program. Tennessee, meanwhile, hit home given the school’s SEC affiliation and the Rocky Top vibe.
And Maryland is a school Proctor’s trekked through several times, the four-star noting the incoming recruiting class; the different feel under head coach D.J. Durkin; and the opportunity to stay home and play near his family.
Virginia Tech, which Proctor has also been to before, is firmly in play as well. Proctor has taken a liking to defensive coordinator Bud Foster and his style. Plus, Penn State continues to resonate after a couple previous trips to Happy Valley.
Ohio State and Michigan would probably be right in there too, but neither the Buckeyes’ nor the Wolverines’ staffs have offered.
At this stage, Proctor’s keeping an open mind, refusing to tip his hand. We do know UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes have been on the Lackey four-star, but Proctor had remained mum on exactly where Maryland stands in the pecking order.
More than likely, though, the Terps are somewhere in Proctor’s top-four, with a chance to move up when he makes it back to campus June 21. But the DMV recruit isn’t about to pop anytime soon. He’s inclined to embark on all his officials before deciding on a college sometime next winter.
That means loads of twists and turns in the months ahead.
Louis Acceus, OLB, St. Joseph Montvale (Montvale, N.J.): Scout’s Brian Dohn caught up with the outside linebacker Acceus earlier this week, and he backed off his previous statement that Maryland was his No. 1 suitor. Perhaps, that’s because Maryland has so many outside linebackers on the board that Acceus may not be priority No. 1.
Granted, Acceus remains in communication with UMD-area recruiter Matt Barnes and has plenty of Terps’ affinity.
“It's the way they're recruiting me, honestly," Acceus said of Maryland. "They're not like other coaches. They hit me up every day, but they are not forcing it. They are really laid back.
"When I went down there, I really enjoyed my time there. And Coach Barnes, he is really a down-to-earth person. We had a normal conversation. It wasn't only about football."
Barnes, though, probably isn’t pressing for a pop just yet.
Not that Acceus is ready to commit anyway. In fact, he told Dohn he wouldn’t even be releasing a leaderboard until the fall.
The Montvale product has numerous schools he wants to see before ending his recruitment, including Syracuse; NC State; Wisconsin; Tennessee; BC; and Indiana. The only suitors Acceus has taken in so far are UMD, hometown Rutgers and North Carolina.
Acceus lauded Scarlet Knights’ head coach Chris Ash and appreciates that the latter is a defensive-minded individual. The Montvale native said he had a great time in Piscataway and should be returning this summer.
North Carolina, meanwhile, rings true thanks to the presence of former teammate Tommy Hatton. Acceus joined Hatton on trip to Chapel Hill, the linebacker extolling the campus; campus life; and the school itself.
Based on the interview’s tone, Acceus may be back to square one in regards to recruiting. He didn’t sound as if he were favoring any one program -- and he probably won’t until he’s able to check out more locales.
But, ultimately, it may come down to whichever program’s coaches push the hardest for Acceus’ services.
Olakunle Fatukasi, OLB, Brooklyn Grand Street (Brooklyn, N.Y.): Scout’s Brian Dohn touched base with the No. 1 linebacker in New York, Fatukasi, this week. The Terps, with area recruiter Pete Lembo running point, have had an offer out to Fatukasi since May 19, and the recruit told us then he was interested in visiting College Park.
The Brooklyn native reiterated those thoughts in the Dohn interview, but, as we surmised last month, Fatukasi’s mind seems to be elsewhere.
The Grand Street backer camped at Penn State for the third time in hopes of drawing the Nittany Lions’ coaches’ attention. But although the staff’s showing interest, an offer has yet to materialize. At this point, Fatukasi may have to give up the ghost on the coveted PSU scholarship.
Sans Penn State look, Fatukasi seems content with his Rutgers scholarship. He’s been in Piscataway before and will be returning this summer. He likes the Scarlet Knights’ coaches and has a former teammate already at the Jersey school.
After taking in Rutgers, Fatukasi said he intended to see Syracuse, Maryland, Temple and Pitt, all of which have offers out.
“I want to check out the campus and see the academics,” Fatukasi said of Maryland. “I want to go see what it’s like there.”
Perhaps Lembo and the Maryland staff can turn the tide if Fatukasi follows through with that intended trip. But for now the New York product, who is seeking looks from the nation’s traditional powers, sounds lukewarm on the program.
Note: Fatukasi’s quite a talent, so we do believe he’d be a “take” for the Terps and head coach D.J. Durkin. However, if Fatukasi elects to head elsewhere as we anticipate, Maryland has plenty of other options.
Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.): Just when we thought Castro-Fields’ situation couldn’t get anymore jumbled, the DMV corner pulled an offer from Alabama, which he dubbed “game changing.” Castro-Fields, who tripped to Tuscaloosa, Ala., June 14, was apparently “overwhelmed” by head coach Nick Saban’s in-person pitch.
“Coach Saban said he loved [Castro-Fields’] skill-set and fits perfectly for the scheme,” said the Riverdale corner’s coach. “[And] Coach [Mike] Locksley loves him.”
From what we’ve heard -- from those close to Castro-Fields and those who know Alabama -- the offer is indeed committable. It’s unclear how long the scholarship will remain on the table, but at this juncture we’re led to believe the Tide staff likes Castro-Fields’ length; physicality; and athleticism.
Either way, expect the Upper Marlboro native to give Bama plenty of consideration. He told our Scout colleagues he loved his Tuscaloosa stay, harping on the staff’s pedigree and the school’s tradition.
But don’t write off Castro-Fields just yet Terps’ fans. While the corner may have been blown away by his latest look, he’s not going to make a rash decision. Castro-Fields has well-established relationships with the staffs from Maryland, Penn State and a couple others, and he’s not going to simply cast those aside just because the nation’s No. 1 squad came calling.
Castro-Fields will be back at College Park June 17, and he could return to State College, Pa., as well. The Riverdale Baptist product took in Va Tech for the first time recently, and will be checking out North Carolina later in June. Pitt, Syracuse and Michigan State might also be in line for tips, although those are less certain.
Word is the Terps, Nittany Lions, Tar Heels, Hokies and maybe the Spartans are all on Castro-Fields’ brain. But of that group, he may be leaning towards the former three programs, with Alabama fitting in there somewhere.
Again, it’s too early to forecast Castro-Fields’ destination until he ventures out to more programs. But it’s possible, after these upcoming trips, the three-star will be ready to choose his school.
However, the more institutions like Alabama enter the fray, the more apt Castro-Fields could be to hold off on committing. At this rate, it’s entirely conceivable he’ll embark on multiple officials before announcing his future destination after his senior season.
Randall Haynie, CB, Cardinal Gibbons (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): There’s nothing really new to report with the three-star Haynie, other than he went through the obligatory release of a top-10 leaderboard. Which really doesn’t mean anything, because seven of the 10 schools on the list are probably out of the picture.
This is a race between Maryland . . . and, well, maybe Duke and Vanderbilt.
Truth be told, Haynie’s been trending in Maryland’s direction ever since UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty, defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and assistant Mike London offered in the spring. He’s been in touch with Abdul-Rahim pretty much every day, while teammates-turned-Terps Elisha and Elijah Daniels have been pumping Maryland hard.
Haynie’s set to visit College Park for the first time June 21, and there’s a possibility (strong possibility?) he commits while on campus or shortly thereafter.
Now, the Gibbons corner could still check out Vandy June 24 and Duke later in the summer as he originally intended. If so, maybe the Blue Devils’ or Commodores’ staffs can change Haynie’s thinking, but at the moment the tealeaves read “Terps.” He’s sitting “hot” on the hot board.
Note: Haynie claimed a Michigan offer and previously told me they were right at the top of his list, alongside UMD, but the Wolverines’ staff is not pushing for the Florida corner.
Friday Night “Freak Show” Visitors
The Terps are hosting an elite prospect camp June 17 and a team 7-on-7 June 18, and many of their top targets are expected to attend. Those 2017 recruits who are scheduled to compete, not including commits, are:
Anthony McFarland, RB, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) (on the fence)
Tayon Fleet-Davis, RB, Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.)
Cameron Sullivan-Brown, WR, Pallotti (Laurel, Md.)
Markquese Bell, WR, Bridgeton (N.J.) (on the fence)
Mark Webb, WR, Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) (on the fence)
Marcus Minor, OL, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)
Johnny Jordan, OC, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)
Tyree Johnson, BUCK, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.)
Vic Dimukeje, DL, Boys’ Latin (Baltimore, Md.)
Lawtez Rogers, DE, Roosevelt (Greensboro, Md.)
Chase Young, DE, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)
Josh Paschal, DE, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
Jordan Anthony, LB, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.)
Deon Jones, CB, Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.)
New Offers Out
Jordan McCloud, ATH, Sickles (Tampa, Fla.) (2018): Maryland had multiple coaches in Tampa last weekend for a satellite camp, and one of the recruits who grabbed their attention was McCloud, a 6-0, 175-pound quarterback/corner. The offer then came through June 13, representing McCloud’s first.
“I was really excited about the Maryland offer,” said McCloud, whose older brother, Ray Ray McCloud, was a former UMD target who eventually signed with Clemson. “When my brother Ray Ray went up to Maryland two years ago, I really liked it a lot. I loved the atmosphere up there and the campus. It was Coach [Mike] Locksley who was there then, and he’s at Alabama now, but I really liked him and how he made us feel at home. But now I’m excited to get to know the new Maryland coach.”
That coach is Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, who spoke to McCloud on the phone following the camp. McCloud called UMD’s defensive backs coach “a really cool guy” and said he’s eager to meet Abdul-Rahim again in College Park June 21 or June 22.
Of course, the Terps’ offer the first of many for the Tampa native. McCloud has interest from several ACC, SEC and other Florida schools, many of which will likely offer before the summer’s out.
The Sickles product acknowledged UF was his favorite school growing up, while Clemson is his new favorite program since that’s where his brother plays. Naturally, he’s seeking looks from both.
But the Terps and Abdul-Rahim were in there first, and that should count for something. Let’s see how McCloud’s recruitment develops and what kind of inroads the Maryland staff can gain.
You can read more about McCloud HERE.
John Dixon, ATH, Wharton (Tampa, Fla.) (2019): The Terps had four staffers at a satellite camp in Tampa June 16, and afterwards they offered the rising sophomore Dixon, a two-way star who plays both receiver and corner. The 5-10, 175-pounder projects as a top-level talent, one who should be receiving plenty of SEC interest in time.
In fact, before Maryland's coaches anted up, Dixon pulled his first offer from South Carolina.
There's more where that came from.
Zion Roland, WR, Admiral Farragut (St. Petersburg, Fla.) (2018): While Maryland's coaches were in Tampa for a satellite camp June 16, the rising junior Roland landed his fourth offer from the Terps. UMD joined Louisville, Cincinnati and Indiana, all of whom tossed out verbals during the winter.
Roland, who doubles as a baseball star and wants to play both baseball and football in college, will begin taking college visits this summer. He's journeyed through several area colleges like Florida, Miami and others, but wants to see out-of-state locales. Maryland is one of the schools on his radar now that the offer has been presented.
Roland will have his pick of schools by this time next year, but with UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty on him, maybe UMD can gain his ear.
Tyreke Smith, DE, Cleveland Heights (Cleveland, Ohio) (2018): The Cleveland native Smith had primarily been focusing on basketball and hadn’t stepped foot on the gridiron since middle school. But at 6-4, 240-pounds, the rising junior certainly looks the part and has opened eyes during camp season.
Including those of the Maryland staff. The Terps’ coaches attended a couple Midwest satellite camps last week, and the raw but athletic Smith was promptly deemed offer-worthy.
The UMD staffers weren’t the only intrigued party, however. In addition to Maryland, Penn State; Cincinnati; Iowa State; Rutgers; Syracuse; BGSU; Toledo; Ohio; Akron and Youngstown State have all jumped on Smith. Meanwhile, the Big Ten elites like Ohio State (Smith attended the Buckeyes’ camp) and Michigan have taken note as well.
A prime blowup candidate, Smith won’t be an easy pull out of the Midwest.
John Morgan, OLB/DE, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) (2018): After UMD linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes identified Morgan at a satellite camp in Baltimore, Md., head coach D.J. Durkin extended an offer to the DeMatha hybrid during a campus visit June 11. The 6-2, 240-pound rising junior was ecstatic about the hometown look and already has the Terps trending.
“The Maryland offer was great. For a guy like me, going to DeMatha, being here in Maryland my whole life, it’s something you dream about,” said Morgan, who also holds Syracuse and Charlotte verbals. “I really like Maryland. It’s early, but I really like what I’m seeing out of them.”
In particular, Morgan and his father raved about Durkin himself. The two had a long chat June 11, and apparently it hit home in a major way.
“Coach Durkin was saying why Maryland would be the best school for me,” Morgan said. “He really pitched it hard, and I liked that a lot. It was like, This is our backyard, you can stay home and you’ll have the whole city’s support, and all your family and friends will see you here. Then [Durkin] was talking about how it’s a top academic university and it’s in the Big Ten, so you’ll be playing against the best teams in the nation.
“And then there’s all the support and connections with Under Armour. There are so many opportunities there outside of football, and for a guy like me, who is academics first, that’s very important.”
Morgan spoke highly of Maryland defensive line coach Mike London and area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim as well. Morgan’s father was a former coach at Morgan State and Bowie State, so the family has actually known the two UMD staffers for years. Morgan called their June 11 meeting a “family reunion” of sorts.
The DeMatha prospect praised Maryland’s campus and forthcoming facility upgrades too. Plus, he noted how teammates-turned-Terps Tino Ellis, D.J. Turner, Terrance Davis and LoLo Harrison harp on Maryland “all the time,” the quartet’s pitch resonating with Morgan.
Of course, Morgan’s just beginning the recruiting process and will be participating in camps and seeing as many schools as possible.
After taking in UMD, Morgan attended a camp at North Carolina June 12 and an Ohio State camp June 16. He’ll be at Maryland’s “Freak Show” camp June 17 and then Syracuse June 18. Later in June, Morgan plans to participate in Penn State and Va Tech camps.
Programs such as UNC, Michigan and NC State are showing interest and could be offering next.
Regardless of what looks Morgan procures, though, we like Maryland’s position at this stage.
You can read more about Morgan HERE.
Kolin Demens, OLB, Detroit Country Day (Franklin, Mich.) (2018): The 2018 prospect Demens landed his fourth offer from Maryland a couple days after several Terps’ staffers watched him at a Detroit-area satellite camp. But the 6-1, 205-pounder previously held verbals from Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska, which probably means the rest of the Big Ten and beyond will enter the fray eventually.
Our Midwest analysts already have Demens forecast to the hometown Wolverines, although it’s early in the process.
Off The Board
Bryce Brand, DE/LB, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): The BUCK target Brand released a top-five leaderboard that consisted of Maryland, Arizona, Temple, Southern Miss and Mississippi State. … And then he proceeded to pop to Arizona without checking out his other leaders.
The IMG product seemed to be favoring the Wildcats even before foraying though Tempe, Ariz., June 10, Brand noting how it was close to his California home. Evidently all he needed was to see the campus to seal the deal. He left Arizona absolutely raving about the environment and coaching staff, and after a couple days of contemplation, he committed.
Maryland’s coaches, for their part, had been after Brand in earnest. They, along with teammates-turned-Terps Josh Kaindoh and (former teammate) Cam Spence, seemed to have his attention, and Brand even told me he would be visiting College Park in late June or July.
But no dice.