Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland-football recruiting roundup.
Notes From Sound Mind Sound Body
The Sound Mind Sound Body camp came to Maryland June 24, and coaches from UMD, Penn State and various I-AA programs were in attendance. The event wasn’t quite as loaded as UMD’s Friday Night “Freak Show” June 17, but there were numerous Terps’ targets in attendance. Here are some notes following the event:
-- One of the most notable recruits in attendance was DeMatha’s (Hyattsville, Md.) Anthony McFarland, the four-star running back with high interest in UMD, Miami and Alabama. McFarland didn’t say a whole lot different from last week, when he talked about his Tuscaloosa, Ala., visit, but Scout’s Brian Dohn caught up with him nonetheless.
McFarland reiterated his standout Bama trip, raving about head coach Nick Saban, the Tide tradition and the environment surrounding the program. The DeMatha stud said Alabama was now entrenched for him, and he’d be returning down the road for an official visit.
The DMV athlete also mentioned he had three other officials in mind: Miami, Maryland and TAMU.
The Hurricanes, of course, could have the pole position at this time. Remember, McFarland was all about Mark Richt when he was at Georgia, and now that the coach is at Miami, the DeMatha product is hyped about the Canes. McFarland can’t wait to visit Coral Gables, Fla., unofficially later this summer, before embarking on an official in the fall.
Maryland, meanwhile, remains a principal contender for the local back. The Terps may not top McFarland’s leaderboard, but they’re hanging tough and will have a shot to turn the tide in the coming months. The four-star discussed his outstanding rapport with area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, head coach D.J. Durkin, running backs coach Anthony Tucker and the rest of the staff. He also harped on the DMV movement and all the local Terps’ commits who have been pushing the hometown program. McFarland should be back in College Park, Md., later this summer, and he intends to officially visit as well.
As for TAMU, we’re not quite sure where that one came from. McFarland’s never mentioned the Aggies before, so the coaches have probably been reaching out in earnest of late. McFarland sounded fairly excited about the program, but we’re not projecting him to wind up at TAMU.
It's worth noting, though, that McFarland is going to check out Ohio State since teammate Chase Young has been in his ear about the Buckeyes. It's possible -- probable even -- head coach Urban Meyer gains McFarland's ear after the runner sees OSU.
Notre Dame is another program to watch. McFarland said he’s forming a bond with the Irish coaches and will be getting out to South Bend, Ind., for a looksee.
Our gut? McFarland’s going to end up at Miami or maybe Alabama, but much can change before the four-star selects a school next winter. The Terps have some momentum, and if the DMV movement keeps humming, maybe they can reel the local elite in.
-- I spoke to DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) defensive end Chase Young last week, and June 24 Scout's Brian Dohn caught him. The five-star didn't say much different this time around, but there were a couple additions. First and foremost, Young talked about his coming trips to the West Coast during The Opening. Young said he's eager to check out USC and Oregon, which hasn't offered yet but should once the Ducks’ coaches see him in person.
Beyond that, though, Young continues to hype Ohio State, Alabama and Maryland -- in that order. The DeMatha end loves the vibe in Columbus, Ohio, and the culture headman Urban Meyer has created. Young is also tight with area recruiter and defensive line coach Larry Johnson. The five-star, who has made it clear the Buckeyes are No. 1, will be visiting OSU July 22.
With Alabama, Young praised head coach Nick Saban, saying the pair are building a rapport. Young likes Bama's winning tradition and how the Tide coaches develop their players. He'll be in Tuscaloosa sometime later in July.
As for Maryland, Young pointed to the school's criminology program as a primary reason he has the Terps in play. Young, who is comfortable in College Park after numerous visits, also has a great relationship with area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and defensive line coach Mike London. He did make a peculiar comment in regards to the DMV movement, Young noting he had to do what’s “best for him,” but we wouldn’t read that much into it.
Young mentioned he'd be looking at Florida too. The five-star has spoken to former D.C. star Jalen Tabor about the Gators, the latter doing his part to coax the defensive end down for a visit.
The feeling here is Ohio State and Bama are going to battle this out, but the Terps aren’t giving up the ghost. There's a ways to go, so let's see if anything changes in the months ahead.
-- The local running back Tayon Fleet-Davis (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.) talked to Scout’s Michael Clark June 24, and the three-star informed that Maryland, Syracuse, Iowa and Indiana sat atop his favorites list. But really this is a two-school race between Cuse and Maryland, with the Terps possibly positioned to leapfrog the Orange.
“It’s the home state school, I’ve been around there all my life,” Fleet-Davis told Clark. “It’s a nice school and I’m well connected with the staff. We stay in touch a lot. They come in with a lot of energy and get you fired up. I believe they’re changing things around up there.”
The Potomac product went on to say of all his contenders, he has the best relationship with Maryland’s coaches. Fleet-Davis knows area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim well, the back counting the coach as perhaps his favorite college assistant. Moreover, Fleet-Davis likes the idea of the DMV movement and representing his state at the next level.
But Terps fans still need to be concerned about Fleet-Davis’ upcoming Syracuse visit this July. The Oxon Hill native loves head coach Dino Babers and his offense, Fleet-Davis telling Clark “they have something big coming up” at Cuse. Fleet-Davis has been in New York a couple times already, so the fact he’s heading back for a third look suggests the Orange certainly have his eye.
Fleet-Davis is also considering Iowa and Indiana, noting how each program has produced solid running backs. But Fleet-Davis hasn’t visited either locale, and we’re not sure he will do so before finalizing his recruitment.
The three-star should have his school chosen later in July or August. We’re encouraged by Maryland’s position here, but we can’t make the call for the Terps until we know what transpires post Syracuse trip.
Note: Fleet-Davis was supposed to visit UMD with his family June 26, but the trip did not come to fruition. He’ll likely reschedule after the dead recruiting period ends mid-July.
-- Four-star cornerback Deon Jones (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.) showed up to watch his teammates in action June 24. A week prior, Jones gave a rather memorable interview in which he heaped all kinds of praise on Maryland. But this time around, with Scout’s Brian Dohn, Jones was more subdued. He really didn’t say much about UMD at all, except that he’s been in constant with the coaches.
Jones spent most of the interview talking about his other four main suitors: Penn State, Florida State, Florida and Va Tech.
Of those, he sounded most excited about the Nittany Lions. Jones, who mentioned he “loved” head coach James Franklin, said he speaks to the staff “all the time,” calling them around three times each week. He then talked up his Happy Valley trip and said he developed a “great bond” while in town.
Jones went on to comment on Florida State, the four-star noting the presence of former Carroll (Washington, D.C.) teammate Jauan Williams. The Potomac product said the last time he was in Tallahassee, Fla., it was “like a vacation,” and he’s seeking to return this summer.
He had similar remarks for Florida, Jones noting his consistent communication with the staff. Jones should be visiting Gainesville, Fla., for the Gators’ Friday Night Lights camp.
Finally, Jones said Virginia Tech’s coaches were picking up the pace and want him down for a visit. The corner said he’d try to see Blacksburg, Va., sometime in July to meet the new staff.
So, what are we to make of that? Well, we haven’t taken Jones off “hot” on the hot board. We still like the Terps’ spot given Jones’ strong rapport with area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and the rest of the coaches. But we’re admittedly leery of Penn State, in particular, and believe the Nittany Lions could pose the greatest threat to UMD.
Expect Jones to make an August college decision.
Note: It remains questionable whether or not Jones is truly a “take” for UF or FSU.
-- The defensive lineman Vic Dimukeje (Boys’ Latin/Baltimore, Md.) opened up at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp, although he remained somewhat cryptic. He refused to name standouts and wouldn’t even give up which staffs were on him the hardest.
That said, Dimukeje did say coaches from Maryland, RU, UVA, Va Tech, Duke, Wake and Temple were in frequent contact. Of those, the Boys’ Latin prospect specifically addressed UMD, RU, Va Tech and Duke.
With Maryland, Dimukeje said he has a terrific relationship with the staff, particularly area recruiter and position coach Mike London. Dimukeje has been in College Park multiple times and will be going back sometime in July or August.
On Rutgers, Dimukeje spoke highly of his first Piscataway, N.J., visit, admitting he liked the direction head coach Chris Ash is taking the program. He said he’d be returning shortly for a second look.
Dimukeje then said he’d be taking a Blacksburg jaunt since he’s heard plenty from defensive coordinator Bud Foster. The Baltimore resident is intrigued by the coach’s player-development reputation and wants to gauge what Tech’s all about.
But of all the programs discussed, Dimukeje sounded most excited about Duke. He was just in Durham, N.C., in early June and said he “loved” his stay. Dimukeje lit up when talking about the program’s staff and the academic-athletic balance.
The vibe is, if Dimukeje does elect to commit soon, he could very well wind up at Duke. We’re keeping him “hot” on the hot board, however, because the Terps are running neck-and-neck, or just a hair behind, the Blue Devils.
It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if Dimukeje opted for the hometown school, but we’re reading blue tealeaves these days.
-- Sticking with the defensive line, BUCK Tyree Johnson (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.) ended his media embargo and granted an interview June 24. He told Scout’s Brian Dohn coaches from Maryland, TAMU and Tennessee were speaking to him the most, while also mentioning Rutgers as a program whose staff had upped the pursuit.
Johnson spoke highly of his spring TAMU visit and said former teammate Aaron Hansford had been pushing for him. The St. John’s edge rusher may return to College Station, Texas, this summer, although it’s doubtful he’ll be able to make it.
Johnson then said the Tennessee coaches were on him in earnest, the three-star appreciating their overtures. The D.C. product has been to Rocky Top before and could trek back if he has time (also doubtful).
As for Rutgers, Johnson noted the Scarlet Knights were one of his first offers and how the coaches have been recruiting him hard for a long time now. He also said RU needs defensive ends, which makes it an attractive option.
With Maryland, Johnson had plenty to say about the coaches and the hometown movement
“It’s the hometown school and most of my coaches went to Maryland. I have a lot of connections at Maryland. There’s Under Armour, and Kevin Plank went to my school,” Johnson said. “And [teammate] Kasim Hill wants me on board and says it would be special if we [the local recruits] came together and won a championship.”
Based purely off the interview, it seems like the Terps are maintaining the edge for Johnson. That could very well be the case, but realize Dohn did not ask him about his recent UNC trip, nor about his upcoming visit to Va Tech.
The sense following Johnson’s foray through Chapel Hill, N.C., was the Tar Heels’ staff left a distinct impression and could have the defensive end’s ear. In fact, the Heels might be running first or second for Johnson at this juncture.
Va Tech, for its part, has a chance to move up the leaderboard following Johnson’s stay in Blacksburg. Like some other area defenders, Johnson’s intrigued by defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
Look for Johnson to choose his future destination in August. We’re going to continue projecting him to Maryland, but we’re keeping a wary eye on the Tar Heels.
-- When I spoke to Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) defensive end Josh Paschal following the June 17 Friday Night Freak Show, he hadn’t taken his trip to Notre Dame yet. Scout’s Brian Dohn, however, spoke to Paschal after the South Bend excursion, and the four-star admitted he now had Irish eyes. Paschal said UND’s combination of standout academics and elite football had him thinking about attending school in Indiana. Now, we’ll see if Paschal’s a “take” for the Notre Dame staff -- Paschal gave Dohn the infamous, “they’re not pushing me to commit” line, which sometimes indicates a slow-play -- but, if so, it sounds like that could be his destination.
The rest of the Dohn interview pretty much mirrored mine, Paschal saying he speaks most frequently to staffers from Maryland, Oklahoma, Michigan State and Va Tech.
Of those, the Sooners seem to be trending in a major way. Paschal said the Oklahoma coaches have been comparing him to former Baltimore star Charles Tapper, while at the same time urging the DMV end to take an official to Norman, Okla.. Paschal will undoubtedly comply come the fall, provided the Sooners still have spots available.
Maryland is sitting right there for Paschal too thanks to his strong relationship with area recruiter Chris Beatty, defensive line coach Mike London and the rest of the staff. Paschal talked up the energized atmosphere in College Park and the hometown movement that’s taken hold in the area as well.
Michigan State and Va Tech are also in the thick of things, though, as I noted last week, Paschal may have the Spartans and Hokies slightly behind the Irish; Sooners; and Terps. Paschal should be giving Tech and MSU a look, however, so there’s a chance both programs could move up later in the game.
But Paschal will not be taking any more trips the rest of this summer. He’s busy all of July with a missionary trip, and August with Good Counsel’s training camp.
That means Paschal will probably select five schools to officially visit during the fall (likely Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Maryland, MSU and Va Tech) before ending his recruitment sometime in the winter.
At this very moment, Paschal looks destined for South Bend or Norman, but there’s a ways to go here. If those respective staffs back off, which isn’t unlikely, maybe Paschal will fall right into the Terps’ laps.
-- The final senior of note was four-star corner Tariq Castro-Fields (Riverdale Baptist/Upper Marlboro, Md.), who didn’t say much different than what he told us two weeks ago. Castro-Fields raved about Alabama once again, saying there’s “nothing like” sitting down with head coach Nick Saban. The corner couldn’t say enough about Bama’s tradition and coaches, while mentioning he’d “definitely” be returning for an official visit.
Castro-Fields also said he’s in consistent communication with staffers from Maryland, PSU, Va Tech and UNC. Of those, he had the most to say about the Terps, Heels and Nittany Lions.
Castro-Fields has a strong connection with the PSU staff and stated that former teammate Zeke McPhearson’s presence in Happy Valley is influencing him. The Riverdale product has been in State College, Pa., several times and will be returning for the Lasch Basch July 16.
The four-star then said he has family near North Carolina and has several connections to the program. One of them is friend Myles Wolfolk, a former Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.) cornerback, whom Castro-Fields has spoken to about the Heels.
And with Va Tech, which Castro-Fields is visiting July 23, the corner said he likes defensive coordinator Bud Foster and his defense. The four-star hasn’t been in Blacksburg yet, so we’ll be interested to hear what he thinks afterwards.
Maryland, meanwhile, remains at the forefront of the DMV recruit’s mind. When asked which schools he talked to the most, Castro-Fields immediately proclaimed, “Of course Maryland.”
“Coach Aazaar [Abdul-Rahim] is a real cool guy, he understands where you’re coming from and he really connects with the guys. He’s real with you,” Castro-Fields said.
Castro-Fields was at UMD for the Friday Night Freak Show and we expect him back in College Park before the summer’s out.
The vibe is Maryland, Bama and Penn State are the frontrunners, but there’s a ways to go here. Castro-Fields will take multiple officials, possibly all five, before deciding on a school in late fall. If the Bama offer is still on the table, that could be his choice, but we’re not discounting the Terps or Nittany Lions by any means.
-- Moving to the 2018 class, quarterback Devin Leary (Timber Creek/Sicklerville, N.J.), who Terps’ offensive coordinator Walt Bell offered during the spring evaluation period, had a chance to throw in front of UMD head coach D.J. Durkin June 24. Leary is considered a primary target for the Maryland headman, and there appears to be some mutual interest.
“Maryland is a great program. I visited there going into my ninth grade year and I plan on visiting this summer,” Leary told Scout’s Brian Dohn. “I have a great relationship with Coach Bell. I like how he can relate to his quarterbacks a lot. He’s a great guy and down to earth.”
But Leary’s recruitment is starting to take off, so he’s not going to be an easy pull. He has offers from UMD, RU, Wake and BC, but coaches from PSU; UNC; and Duke are showing strong interest. Leary admitted a Penn State scholarship would be a “dream,” the quarterback pointing out that his older brother just graduated from PSU. Plus, Leary talked up the Blue Devils and Tar Heels too, mentioning he speaks to coaches from each “all the time.” If those latter verbals are presented, each of PSU, Duke and UNC would rise up the totem poll.
But let’s see what kind of an impression the Terps’ staff can leave following Leary’s visit later this summer.
-- A new recruit on our radar is Avalon’s (Gaithersburg, Md.) Noah Taylor, a 6-4, 190-pound 2018 outside linebacker. Taylor doesn’t hold a Maryland offer yet, but the coaches are interested and the verbal should be coming in time.
The local linebacker said if the hometown school’s coaches anted up, he’d be honored and would be giving UMD plenty of consideration. Taylor’s been on campus before and loves the new vibe created by headman D.J. Durkin and his staff.
For now, though, Taylor holds Pitt and UVA offers. He gave both programs their props June 24 and said he’d be exploring Charlottesville, Va., and Pittsburgh, Pa., in the near future.
Penn State’s staff is also showing strong interest and could be offering.
-- Rising junior running back Leddie Brown (Eastern Christian/Elkton, Md.) was one of the first 2018 recruits the new Maryland regime identified and offered, and at Sound Mind Sound Body they had a chance to work with him on a more personal level.
"The Maryland coaching staff is great," Brown told Scout’s Brian Dohn. "I like how they interact with the players. They help with running routes, holding the ball."
Brown was specifically referring to UMD running backs coach Anthony Tucker, who happens to be the ECA prospect’s area recruiter. The two are in the process of developing a rapport, and Brown should be in College Park at some point to tour the school and learn more about the program.
But Brown, a Philadelphia native, figures to be one of the most sought-after backs in the region. West Virginia’s and Louisville’s staffs have offered as well, and RU; Michigan State; and more should be coming in soon.
Brown’s had West Virginia on him since last winter, and ECA obviously has plenty of connections to WVU what with having sent about four recruits the Mountaineers’ way the last few years.
Besides WVU, Brown is taking a hard look at some Big Ten stalwarts like OSU, Michigan and MSU, all of which he’s trekked to before.
-- Last but not least, Scout’s Brian Dohn caught up with the the DMV elite Shane Lee, formerly of Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) and now of St. John’s (Washington, D.C.). Lee is only a 2019 recruit and really didn’t have much to say in regards to his recruitment, but it’s clear UMD has his eye early. Lee’s been in College Park on several occasions and has already established a connection with area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and a few other staffers. It’s way too soon to project three years into the future, but we’re encouraged by Maryland’s early position with Lee.
Lee also has offers from Michigan, Syracuse, Rutgers and UNC, with many more to come. The Wolverines, like the Terps, figure to be prime players throughout the process.
More Terps Recruiting News
Curtis Harper, DT, McKeesport (Pa.): The once-talkative Harper has gone quiet since the spring, and after surveying the landscape earlier this week, we have a pretty good idea why: Many of Harper’s stated contenders may not be ready to accept his pledge.
Which, really, we assumed anyway, particularly in regards to Maryland. Even after Harper landed his UMD offer and subsequently visited College Park twice during the offseason, it didn’t seem like the Terps’ staff had him prioritized. The McKeesport prospect dropped hints such as he only had brief interactions with the Maryland coaches on campus, and didn’t connect with headman D.J. Durkin because the latter was “busy” (presumably with other recruits).
There was also no indication UMD-area recruiter Dave Borbely trekked through McKeesport during the evaluation period. Truth be told, when I asked Harper recently if he still had contact with Borbely, the Pennsylvanian did not respond.
Harper, who dubbed Maryland his leader following the spring game April 16, may be receiving similar messages (or lack thereof) from offerees like Boston College, Syracuse, UConn and Iowa State. If so, the plugger may have to settle for one of his many MAC suitors.
That is, unless some of the aforementioned programs are in need of another defensive lineman down the line. The Terps shouldn’t have that issue as they are positioned for numerous interior D-linemen, but we’ll keep Harper “cool” on the hot board just in case. If Borbely and Co. do eventually push, they could probably land the McKeesport two-star.
Brailyn Franklin, LB, Battlefield (Haymarket, Va.): The Terps resided among Franklin’s foremost two contenders all the way through the spring, but when a mid-June Penn State offer materialized, it changed the linebacker’s thinking. Franklin earned the look following a camp, and stopped just short of calling the Nittany Lions his new leader.
Franklin will be back at PSU for the Lasch Basch July 16, and, provided he’s a “take” for head coach James Franklin (unclear at this juncture), it wouldn’t totally shock if he popped on campus.
Of course, nearby Virginia Tech remains firmly in play, and the Hokies have been considered the favorite for quite some time. Franklin, a Texas native, visited Blacksburg numerous times this offseason, talking up head coach Justin Fuente; defensive coordinator Bud Foster; and the atmosphere at Tech. Most analysts believed it was only a matter of time before he committed to Fuente and Co. But word is the Hokies’ staff might be focusing its attention elsewhere with Franklin deliberating.
The same may be true of Maryland. Franklin told us he’s kept up communication lines with UMD-area recruiter Mike London, but we get the sense the defensive line coach might have backed off of late.
Moreover, Franklin has not returned to College Park after a standout initial trip back in March. He had several opportunities to do so, including for the recent Friday Night Freak Show, but opted not to attend.
We’re keeping Franklin on the hot board, however, in case Penn State and Va Tech fall through and London renews the pursuit.
Kenny Bennett, CB, Simon Graz (Philadelphia, Pa.): Last week, after Bennett became the lone senior to pull an offer at the Terps’ Friday Night Freak Show, we wondered how much of a push the Maryland staff -- and other power-five programs’ coaches -- would truly make for the late-emerging corner.
A week later, I think we have an answer: A fairly formidable one. Bennett is another one of those combine all-stars, who lands offer after offer after proving he could indeed cover as a 6-2, 199-pound corner.
Following Temple and Maryland verbals, Bennett went to Pitt’s camp and nabbed that scholarship as well. The Philly recruit said the Panthers’ coaches were highly impressed with his athleticism, footwork and length.
And they’re not the only ones. Penn State’s staff is also showing interest, as are a few more programs in the Big Ten (Rutgers), ACC (Syracuse) and even the SEC (Georgia).
Some schools may hold off on offering until they can evaluate Bennett’s senior film, but the Simon Graz product could be on his way to “blowup” status. Bennett’s well aware of this too, which is why he has no intention of committing until after his tape is released.
For now, Bennett has Maryland, Pitt and Temple atop his leaderboard. He called the Terps his No. 1 following the June 17 offer, but backed off that statement when the Panthers came through June 24.
Regardless, we do expect UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and area recruiter Anthony Tucker to maintain regular contact with Bennett. He could well be a priority for the staff.
Randall Haynie, CB, Cardinal Gibbons (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): Haynie visited Vanderbilt June 24, and now he has just one more trip to take before choosing his college destination shortly thereafter. The three-star will be taking in Duke after the dead period ends in mid-July, and the sense is this is the visit Maryland fans need to pay close attention to.
Haynie insists he’s considering five programs -- UMD, Duke, Vandy, BC and Michigan -- but this is probably a two-team race between the Terps and Blue Devils, with the Commodores the darkhorse candidate. Boston College is running fourth, and Michigan’s staff isn’t going to accept Haynie’s pledge (if they were, he’d already be committed to the Wolverines).
Haynie has been in close contact with the Duke staff and has been eager to visit Durham, N.C., for some time. The school’s superb academics have his eye first and foremost, along with headman Dave Cutcliffe’s budding football program.
But Haynie has much love for the Terps too. He visited College Park June 17 and went on and on about the coaches’ overarching message, their collective personalities and their player-development reputations. Haynie, who has area recruiter Chris Beatty and defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim after him, not to mention former teammates-turned-Terps Elisha and Elijah Daniels, loved the dorm renovations; the pending facility upgrades; and the educational opportunities as well.
Vanderbilt’s coaches also did well with Haynie, preaching the top-notch academics and the SEC affiliation. Plus, Haynie knows he could step in and play early at Vandy.
But when Haynie sits down with his family later this month, it’s likely going to come down to Duke and Maryland. We like the Terps’ spot, which is why the Gibbons product is listed “hot” on the hot board, but we’ll have to closely gauge that upcoming Durham trip.
New Offers Out
Kyle Pitts, TE/WR, Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) (2018): Pitts projects as one of the top rising juniors in the East region, and June 28 he secured his fifth verbal from Maryland. Pitts heard from UMD-area recruiter Anthony Tucker, who watched the 6-4.5, 225-pounder in action at a June one-day camp in College Park. Pitts then said he’d like to return to Maryland at some point so he can learn more about the program and meet the rest of the coaches.
But before Tucker anted up, Pitts had already performed, and subsequently pulled offers from, Penn State; Syracuse; Pittsburgh; and Temple. He sounded highly intrigued by the hometown Nittany Lions’ offer, praising head coach James Franklin and the staff as a whole.
Next, Pitts will be heading to WVU and UVA, and both the Mountaineers’ and Wahoos’ coaches figure to extend verbals. After that, expect the SEC and the Big Ten bigwigs to enter the fray as well.
Needless to say, Tucker and the Terps are going to have their work cut out for them. Word is Pitts isn’t going to be an easy lure out of the Keystone State, especially with the PSU coaches on him early.
De’Ron Irving-Bey, DE, Southwestern Commencement Academy (Flint, Mich.): Irving-Bey’s recruitment has steadily gained steam, and June 24 he added his latest Big Ten offer from Maryland, courtesy of area recruiter Dave Borbely. The 6-5, 270-pounder said the Terps’ verbal was big for him and he would consider trekking East for a look at College Park.
But Irving-Bey’s going to be a tough pull out of the Midwest. In fact, he’ll be difficult just to get out of Michigan. Irving-Bey holds offer from both Michigan and Michigan State, and word is the Spartans are trending.
The MSU staff identified Irving-Bey early in the process and has been on him for months now. The Flint native has visited East Lansing, Mich., on more than one occasion, and the next time he makes it in, he could well pop.
Malik Horton, BUCK, Langston Hughes (Fairburn, Ga.): The Maryland staff continues to toss out BUCK offers, Horton landing one June 24 from UMD-area recruiter Mike London. It was only the 6-4, 230-pounder’s second power-five look, and it’s safe to say he was absolutely thrilled with it.
Horton called the Terps’ offer the “one I was waiting for,” and not just because it represented his most significant verbal to date. The Georgian is the teammate of current Terps’ pledge Sean Nelson, who had been pumping up UMD well before Horton secured the scholarship.
“Sean definitely wants me there,” laughed Horton, whose only other power-five offer is from Colorado. “He told me it’s an amazing atmosphere, it’s great players, great coaches and a true family. I like to be around a team that’s a true family, so that sounds good to me.
“[Nelson] also said the coaches keep it real, they don’t lie to you, and they really care about you not just as a player, but a person. He said they want you to grow academically and on the field and really develop you as a person. So that sounds great, and Maryland just sounds like a positive place to be. I think I’m going to like it a lot up there.”
Horton went on to laud UMD’s academic reputation and Big Ten affiliation. He spoke highly of London and graduate assistant Brawley Evans as well, the recruit saying he couldn’t wait to meet them and the rest of the staff during his intended College Park visit July 14-31.
Speaking of that UMD trip, Horton hinted he could commit during his visit.
That is, if he’s allowed.
With so many options on head coach D.J. Durkin’s board, we’re not so sure he’d be ready to accept Horton’s pledge at this time. But perhaps down the line, if the Terps are still in need of another BUCK, they could pull Horton in.
The Langston Hughes product will be checking out Colorado July 24, so if Maryland won’t take him, he could wind up a Buffalo. Horton also said coaches from Louisville and Mississippi State had expressed interest, but we’ll have to see whether either staff antes up.
You can read more about Horton HERE.
Sevyn Banks, CB, Orlando Jones (Orlando, Fla.) (2018): I actually forgot to include this one in last week’s Shell, but the rising junior Banks pulled his first offer from Maryland June 23.
The fact the Terps were the 6-1.5, 180 pounder’s initial verbal, though, wasn’t nearly as significant as the circumstances surrounding it. Banks had just had surgery to repair a torn ACL, but UMD linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes and defensive coordinator Andy Buh opted to ante up anyway.
“I felt great; it brightened my day for sure,” Banks said after meeting Barnes and Buh at a satellite camp in Florida. “To get that first offer, and for it to come after I tore my ACL, it meant a lot. For the Maryland coaches to take a chance on me even though they knew I was injured says a lot about them. It shows they trust in me. It’s amazing.”
Banks couldn’t speak to Buh and Barnes for long, but he said both staffers were friendly and he liked their personalities. The Orlando Jones product admittedly didn’t know much about the Terps other than the Under Armour affiliation, but he said he was eager to visit College Park this summer.
Given the Maryland staff’s early inroads, it does sound like Banks will keep the Terps in mind, especially if he follows through with that UMD trip. But realize he should have numerous offers once he proves his knee’s OK. Tennessee, FAU and FIU have already expressed interest in Banks, and many more are bound to once the recruit’s junior film is released.
It’s also worth noting that Banks’ older brother is Florida corner Marcell Harris. Banks, who grew up in Gainesville, Fla., basically acknowledged if the Gators’ staff offered he’d be following in his brother’s footsteps.
But before worrying about Florida, first thing’s first for the Terps’ coaches: getting Banks on campus.
You can read more about Banks HERE.
Jonathan Doerer, K, South Mecklenburg (Charlotte, N.C.): Terps’ headman D.J. Durkin became the first power-five coach to offer Doerer June 25, and in a couple weeks the kicker should be part of the Maryland program. Doerer promptly dubbed UMD his No. 1 suitor -- Army is his only other offer -- and hinted he could pop during his College Park return later in July.
Doerer, who had been hearing from UMD-area recruiter Walt Bell since March, participated in Maryland’s camp June 11, his leg strength impressing both Durkin and special teams coach Pete Lembo. Afterwards, Doerer said he spoke at length to Durkin, while he’s been in frequent contact with Lembo since then.
“Coach Durkin really puts an emphasis on special teams, which not all teams do. He seems to really understand how important it is, and he has some background in [special teams too],” Doerer said. “He really knows his stuff, so that definitely appeals to me. Playing for a coach that understands that part of the game is very appealing. And he came off as a pretty good guy too; I like him as a person.
“I [also] really like Coach Lembo. He’s good friends with my high school coach, actually, so I knew of him bit just from that. My high school coach’s son actually played for Coach Lembo at Elon, so I heard all about [Lembo] before I even met him. But meeting him, he’s a great guy and I feel like he’d be great to play for. Coach Lembo has been a head coach before, and he knows how these things work.
“Then Coach Bell, we haven’t talked as much, but he’s a cool guy too. He’s a younger guy, and I know his offenses are always successful, so I should have plenty of opportunities to kick there.”
Doerer, who also praised Maryland’s academics, did not have a chance to tour College Park or speak to any advisors during his June 11 stay. Thus, he wants to come back so he can learn more about the school in general.
And if Doerer and his parents like what they see (it’s likely they will), then there’s a strong chance the South Mecklenburg booter will be Durkin’s next pledge.
True, staffs from Clemson and North Carolina expressed some interest following Doerer’s performances at those schools’ respective camps. But neither the Tigers’ nor the Heels’ coaches are expected to offer.
Doerer finished last season 9-of-16 on field goals, with a long of 49 yards. He sent 90 percent of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. Doerer punts too, but he is only being recruited as a kicker.
You can read more about Doerer HERE.
Off The Board
Jon Lovett, RB, Cherokee (Marlton, N.J.): Lovett was a deep option for the Terps, and only would’ve been a “take” for head coach D.J. Durkin if several other runners fell by the wayside. Even so, the three-star had plenty of UMD interest after two College Park visits. The Cherokee product even said last week he was seeking to see Maryland for a third time this July.
But Lovett decided to go with the hometown school June 26, a week after his latest Piscataway stay. Now, he may have succumbed to a bit of a squeeze play, as Rutgers’ head coach Chris Ash wasn’t going to wait forever for Lovett to make up his mind. Like Maryland, Ash had other backs on his board and may have been ready to move on.
Granted, Lovett probably would’ve selected RU anyway. He visited on countless occasions and liked the idea of representing the state university at the next level. He loved the vibe surrounding Ash’s program and had plenty of connections in the way of other RU pledges and players.
Lovett was looking at Boston College, Temple, Va Tech and UMD too, but he went with the bird in hand.
Trey Creamer, WR, Cartersville (Ga.): Creamer, who the Terps offered as an athlete, probably could have come off the hot board when the Maryland staff secured a third wideout pledge in M.J. Jarrell (Timber Creek/Orlando, Fla.). But we kept him on our radars since the three-star let on he’d had contact with offensive coordinator Walt Bell.
When Bell offered Creamer during the evaluation period, the receiver/corner expressed excitement over the look and sought to see College Park in short order. But the trip never occurred, and earlier this week Creamer didn’t mention Maryland in an interview with Scout’s Chad Simmons. In all likelihood, the Cartersville product fell out of communication with Bell and Co.
So, instead, Creamer discussed his high interest in Wake Forest following a Winston Salem, N.C., foray, and then said he wanted to check out the likes of Kansas State and Minnesota coming up. Creamer also said Duke, which the Georgian camped at, would instantly become a primary contender should the Blue Devils’ staff elect to offer.
The Deacons, though, are Creamer’s probable destination. He lauded the family atmosphere on campus, the staff’s unrelenting pursuit and the academics. Not to mention Winston Salem isn’t too far from Creamer’s home.
The Cartersville product ended the interview by suggesting he could commit later this July or early August. He has no current plans to visit UMD before doing so.
Andrew Stueber, OT, Darien (Conn.): In last week’s space I classified Maryland’s position with the tackle Stueber as “hanging by a thread.” Now, the Connecticut tackle is completely off the board after popping to Michigan June 25.
The 6-6, 290-pounder landed a highly-coveted Wolverines’ offer at a mid-June camp, afterwards dubbing it a “dream.” It took Stueber about six days to discuss the situation with his family before ending his recruitment and committing.
“Michigan has always been a dream school for me and I thought it was the best school academically and football wise,” Stueber told Scout’s Josh Newkirk. “I had a great feeling with all the coaches and I could really see myself there.”
Stueber was also considering Penn State, which was likely running second, North Carolina and Duke. He was seeking a Notre Dame offer, but he elected not to wait to see if the Irish staff would pursue.
The Terps had offensive line coach Dave Borbely and area recruiter Pete Lembo on Stueber and did host him for an April visit. Stueber extoled Maryland following the trip, but his interest waned as his offer list expanded.
Cody Bowes, OL, Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): The Florida three-star Bowes popped to West Virginia, a longtime leader, June 30. Bowes had been in contact with the Mountaineers staff more than any other, and he loved the Morgantown, W.Va., atmosphere.
Bowes had had communication with UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty, who offered the Aquinas lineman back in the winter. Then, during the spring, Bowes even listed Maryland among his foremost seven contenders and expressed interest in seeing College Park. But he elected not to join teammate Josh Palmer on a UMD trip, an indication Bowes wasn't all that intrigued.
Stephon Zayas, DE, Dillard (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): Last week we noted the defensive end Zayas was favoring Louisville and Pitt, with the Cardinals out in front. We left Zayas on the hot board in case UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty and Aazaar Abdul-Rahim could cull out a visit, but no dice.
Zayas will be in Louisville later in July, and the overwhelming sense is he’ll commit on campus. The Dillard product said the Cardinals’ staff’s push and the research he’s done on the program has them sitting pretty.
Tyshon Fogg, LB, Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.): Fogg had been fading, fading, fading for Maryland purposes for quite some time now. The last time he was in College Park was back in February for DMV Day, and even then he had a lukewarm response to the much-hyped occasion. Fogg remained in contact with UMD-area recruiter Mike London, but it was clear the backer had his attention focused elsewhere.
Namely, back at his hometown school, Rutgers. Fogg had trekked through Piscataway numerous times and took a liking to head coach Chris Ash and his assistants. Then, on June 25, the Calvert Hall product decided he would indeed like to return home for college, Fogg popping shortly after declaring Rutgers his leader.
Fogg had a Stanford offer and many believed he’d commit to the Cardinal after visiting Palo Alto, Calif.. But we’re not so sure the four-star was an immediate “take” for the staff (sometimes it takes awhile for Stanford to admit student-athletes what with the school’s strict admission standards).
Olakunle Fatukasi, ILB, Grand Street High (Brooklyn, N.Y.): Once Fatukasi realized he wasn’t going to land some of his coveted upper-tier Big Ten and SEC offers, it was only a matter of time before he committed to nearby Rutgers. Fatukasi had been in Piscataway several times, including an early-June trip, and felt that it was his best option.
"Rutgers is a good school, I love the coaches, I love the school, I love the campus and I love the team," Fatukasi told Scout’s Brian Dohn. "I was like, 'What am I waiting for?' So I just committed [June 28]."
The inside backer held other offers from BC, Indiana, Syracuse and Maryland, but the only true contender he’d seen besides RU was Boston College. Fatukasi said he would be checking out Maryland after UMD-area recruiter Pete Lembo anted up during the spring evaluation period, but it never happened. Fact is, Fatukasi’s pro-Terps comments back in May rang of lip service, as he never sounded all that thrilled about the look. It was fairly obvious he either wanted to stay in the Northeast for college – unless an SEC program or a program like Michigan came calling.
Terrell Jana, CB, Woodberry Forest (Woodberry, Va.): The only question surrounding Jana was whether UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall would be ready to accept the two-way star’s pledge at this juncture. Apparently so, because Jana popped to the Cavaliers a day after he and his parents visited Charlottesville, Va., June 28.
Jana, who the ‘Hoos want at receiver, had visited UVA five times this offseason, making it clear he sought to continue his career at the nearby school. But he wanted his parents, who live in Western Canada, to see the school before popping. The Janas finally made it East in mid-June, and after checking out Charlottesville for the first time, they gave their approval.
Jana, for his part, loved the school’s academics, campus ground and the staff in general. Plus, the British Columbia native jumped at the opportunity to unite with his teammate, 2017 quarterback pledge Lindell Stone, at Virginia.
The Terps, who were recruiting Jana as a corner, finished second for the Woodberry product. Jana visited College Park for the first time with his parents June 15, and he praised headman D.J. Durkin and area recruiter Mike London. He enjoyed taking in the campus, learning about the university’s educational aspects and viewing the coming facility upgrades. Jana also said he had a great relationship with London and defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, leading us to believe he was a “take” for the staff.
But Maryland just didn’t have as much working in its favor as UVA, which is kind of like an extension of Woodberry Forest in terms of atmosphere and academics.
Chris Ingram, CB, Mooresville (N.C.): This one is sort of an inconsequential removal, as Ingram was a tentative hot board addition to begin with. For those that remember, the Terps and defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim offered the longtime NC State pledge back in April, attempting to coax out a summer visit.
I spoke to Ingram after the verbal was presented, and he did sound somewhat intrigued about heading to Maryland. But he has yet to make it north, and after checking back in this week, it sounds like he’s going to stick with the Wolfpack, which he committed to in July 2015.
About the only way Ingram’s going to renege on his pledge is if UNC’s or Clemson’s coaches come calling.