Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football-recruiting roundup.
Notes From The Opening
A handful of Terps’ targets were in Beaverton, Ore., July 8-10 for the Nike Opening, including running back Anthony McFarland (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.), defensive end Chase Young (DeMatha), BUCK Jordan Anthony (IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.) and defensive end Josh Paschal (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.). UMD pledge Josh Kaindoh (IMG Academy) also participated in the annual event near the University of Oregon. Here are some notes provided by our Scout colleagues:
-- The outside linebacker/BUCK Jordan Anthony won’t be an easy pull for UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty, linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes and head coach D.J. Durkin, but the Terps are going to be in the thick of things throughout.
The four-star Anthony told Scout he is in regular communication with multiple UMD staffers, who are selling the hometown movement and the idea of building the Terps into a dynasty with a foundation of locals. Anthony, so it seems, is buying in, the IMG recruit talking up the hometown school whenever given the opportunity.
It only helps Maryland’s chances that teammate-turned-Terp Josh Kaindoh, former teammate-turned-Terp Cam Spence (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.), and former teammate-turned Terp Ayinde Eley (Good Counsel) are all over him about joining DMV-to-UMD.
Anthony was just in College Park, Md., in mid-June for the Friday Night Freak Show and should be back for an official during the fall.
But UMD isn’t the only program whose coaches are going all-out for Anthony’s services. Michigan’s, Oklahoma’s, Clemson’s and Penn State’s staffs are pushing hard and should be the recipient of visits at some point (he’s already seen PSU and CU multiple times). Anthony then said he’ll be taking an OU official “for sure,” the Sooners making a strong bid to rise up the ex-Good Counsel backer’s leaderboard. LSU, meanwhile, could enter the picture as well with Anthony considering trekking down to Baton Rouge, La.
Our gut? It’s too soon to make a definitive call, but it sounds like it’s going to come down to Maryland, Oklahoma, Michigan and maybe Penn State. We like the Terps’ chances here with Beatty running point, but the Sooners and Wolverines make us wary.
-- The five-star defensive end Chase Young didn’t say much different from the last few weeks, when we caught up with him at the Friday Night Freak Show and at Sound Mind Sound Body. He told Scout he had Ohio State and Alabama firmly in play, with a host of others vying for position (USC, Florida, Oregon, Notre Dame, Maryland). The Terps, for their part, are probably running third.
Young will be in Tuscaloosa, Ala., July 16 for another look at the Tide, followed by a return to Columbus, Ohio, July 22 for the Friday Night Lights camp.
The Alabama staff, with head coach Nick Saban and DMV recruiter Mike Locksley on him, have a chance to win Young over, but the Buckeyes are the clear leader. Young has a terrific rapport with OSU headman Urban Meyer and defensive line coach Larry Johnson, the DeMatha product calling the coaches two of the best in the business. The five-star also loves the vibe in Columbus and is in touch with several current Buckeyes’ pledges. There is a slight chance he could pop to Ohio State on campus, though Young will probably go through with the official visit process.
Regardless of Young’s decision, expect the Terps’ staff to continue its ardent pursuit. Assistants Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and Mike London have been after Young, along with a coterie of DMV-recruits-turned-Terps and current players. Young’s been in College Park on numerous occasions and should be returning before the school year begins, possibly for the July 30 prospect-day cookout.
Ultimately, though, Maryland’s collective efforts may only be enough to place second or third in the race.
-- Another defensive end, Josh Paschal, reportedly has Oklahoma, Maryland and Notre Dame at the forefront of his mind, while Michigan State, Va Tech and maybe USC and UNC are somewhat in play as well. He didn’t call the former trio “favorites” in his Scout interview, but he said each of the Sooners, Terps and Irish would “definitely” make the cut when he released a narrowed-down leaderboard.
Paschal visited South Bend, Ind., for the first time back in June and said it was “way better” than expected. He thoroughly enjoyed working with the Irish coaches, connecting with former teammate Sam Mustipher and taking in the school itself. He’s now seriously considering returning for an official during the fall. (That is, if the Irish coaches still want Paschal by that point. The feeling on this end is he might not be a “take” for UND at this juncture).
Oklahoma, meanwhile, has long had Paschal’s attention. Each time we’ve interviewed Paschal since he landed the Sooners’ offer he’d spoken highly of the OU coaches and program. Former City College (Baltimore, Md.) defensive end Charles Tapper’s success at Oklahoma has some influence over Paschal too.
Expect the Good Counsel four-star to follow through with a Norman, Okla., official at some point.
As for Maryland, there’s not much more Paschal can say that he hasn’t already. He’s all about area recruiter Chris Beatty, defensive line coach Mike London and headman D.J. Durkin. He likes the idea of DMV-to-UMD and teaming with fellow locals at Maryland. And Paschal is keen on the school’s close proximity to home, the coming facility upgrades and the various changes Durkin’s instilled as well.
Given that, we do believe the Terps will remain in the conversation throughout the process. But this could be another situation where Maryland falls just short -- unless some of Paschal’s other suitors like UND and OU back off.
-- The four-star running back Anthony McFarland has remained consistent the last couple months, placing Miami, Alabama and Maryland atop the totem poll. TAMU, Ohio State, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Michigan and Florida are some others he’s considering, but each probably trail the previously mentioned three. In Beaverton, McFarland hinted the Canes and Tide are battling for the No. 1 spot, and the Terps are currently sitting third.
With Alabama, McFarland loved his mid-June Tuscaloosa trip, extolling the Tide’s tradition; player development; and staff. He’s obviously known Bama assistant Mike Locksley for years, and it sounds like the former UMD coach does have the four-star’s ear. Expect McFarland to return to Alabama for an official during the fall, with the Nov. 26 Iron Bowl the circled date.
Miami is right there alongside the Tide, however. McFarland also tripped through Coral Gables, Fla., recently, allowing him to reconnect with head coach Mark Richt and running backs coach Thomas Brown, both of whom have an established rapport with the DeMatha runner. Look for McFarland to officially visit Miami at some point in December for a deeper look at the Hurricanes.
And Maryland, well, the Terps’ coaches have done a great job with McFarland, especially considering UMD was an afterthought under the previous regime. McFarland enjoys hanging out in College Park and has easily jelled with head coach D.J. Durkin, area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, running backs coach Anthony Tucker and offensive coordinator Walt Bell. The DMV product loves the idea of the hometown movement and possibly joining former teammates-turned-Terps and current UMD pledges at Maryland as well.
"Maryland is one of the schools I have the best relationship with position coach-wise,” McFarland told Scout’s Brian Dohn. “It’s like with coach Aazaar (Abdul-Rahim), I don’t play defensive back, but I have a strong relationship with the defensive backs coach. I’ve known him since I was (a young kid).”
But will it be enough to trump the Tide and Hurricanes?
Maybe not at this time, but you never know what can happen down the road.
Note: Remember, Miami already has two running back pledges, so the Terps offer a chance for McFarland to be “the man” in the 2017 class as opposed to a second or third rung at UM. Moreover, Alabama scholarships don’t stay on the table forever; if another five-star back comes along, McFarland’s spot could get taken. Which means the Terps aren’t out of the picture by any means.
-- The defensive end Josh Kaindoh told Scout’s Brian Dohn that he’s a solid Maryland commit and is “real comfortable” with the school and the direction head coach D.J. Durkin is taking the program. He also said he was a bit homesick and sought to play at a program closer to his family in Baltimore.
Kaindoh did hint he could embark on official visits during the fall, but Terps fans probably don’t need to read much into that. The DMV recruit is a “hard” commit and is doing his best to draw his friends like Josh Paschal, Jordan Anthony and Chase Young to Maryland.
News On Top Targets
Deon Jackson, RB, Pace Academy (Atlanta, Ga.): We had a feeling the three-star Jackson might be favoring Duke, and now we’re surer of it. Scout’s Va Tech reporter, Jason Stamm, caught up with Jackson last week, and the 6-0, 203-pounder told him of all the visits the three-star has taken, Durham, N.C., had his attention.
“Probably the Duke visit stood out,” Jackson told Stamm. “It was a family-based staff, made me feel like a family and a priority. Everything seems like family, walking around the campus and everything, meeting some of the players. I like that about the trip. The academics speak for itself. To go up on the campus and get the family feel and feel comfortable is real big for me.”
Jackson took in the Terps back in June and heaped praise on the Maryland staff following the one-day camp. He talked up offensive coordinator Walt Bell, running backs coach Anthony Tucker, headman D.J. Durkin and area recruiter Mike London. Jackson also liked the campus and the vibe surrounding the program, suggesting he wanted to return for a second look later in the summer.
But per Stamm, Jackson’s only planned trip coming up is Missouri July 23, with a possible visit to Va Tech in August. Jackson will then select his future destination before his senior season begins.
Word is the Blue Devils have the inside track, followed closely by UMD and Mizzou. Louisville and Va Tech are in the game too, though we don’t envision Jackson winding up at those two locales.
Malik Davis, RB, Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.): The running back Davis released his top-seven leaderboard this week, and there weren’t any surprises given his current offer list. The 5-11, 190-pounder didn’t secure coveted looks from Florida, Tennessee, Georgia or others in the SEC, so his favorites list consists of: Maryland, UNC, Miami, Kentucky, Pitt, Illinois and Indiana. (Minnesota’s staff offered July 11, so the Gophers could enter the equation too).
Of those, though, the ones to pay attention to are the Heels, Terps and maybe the Wildcats. And if you want to narrow it down further, it’s North Carolina and Maryland out front, with Kentucky in third.
Why no Miami? The Hurricanes have secured two running back pledges this year, in addition to a couple other hybrid “athlete” types, meaning Davis probably isn’t a “take” for head coach Mark Richt. (Miami will make room for an elite back like Anthony McFarland, however). Even so, Davis will be back at UM July 16 for another look at the Canes.
As for UNC, we’re told the Heels’ staff would still accept Davis’ pledge at this juncture, making Carolina the frontrunner. The Jesuit back called his spring North Carolina offer “breathtaking,” intimating he had a great relationship with the coaches. He visited Chapel Hill, N.C., back in June and couldn’t say enough about the school and the environment surrounding the program.
But if UNC headman Larry Fedora can secure running back Javon Leake (Page/Greensboro, N.C.), which is a distinct possibility, Davis is out of luck. The Heels, like the Canes, already have two backs committed and certainly won’t take more than three.
If the latter scenario comes to fruition, Davis could very well fall into Maryland’s lap.
The Tampa native has had consistent contact with running backs coach Anthony Tucker and area recruiter Chris Beatty, Davis noting the UMD staff has “made me a priority.” He’s been pining to visit College Park for some time and should be at UMD later in the summer or in the fall for an official.
Davis will try to see Kentucky and possibly a couple others too before the school year begins.
We’ll know more later this month, with a close eye on the situation at UNC.
Note: We do believe UMD head coach D.J. Durkin would accept Davis’ pledge if the runner wants in. He may not be No. 1 on the Terps’ board, but with Tayon Fleet-Davis (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.) leaning Syracuse; Deon Jackson leaning Duke; and Javon Leake leaning UNC, Davis might be the best available option.
You can read more about Davis HERE.
Tahj Capehart, WR, Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach, Va.): Previously, we’d indicated the race for the four-star Capehart was going to come down to Va Tech, Maryland and Alabama, with the Hokies holding the edge. But Va Tech’s Scout analyst, Jason Stamm, who is about as clued into Capehart’s recruitment as can be, suggested there’s a fourth suitor that’s gaining steam.
Penn State’s staff has been making a potent pitch, and evidently Capehart will be visiting State College, Pa., later in July. If/when that trip comes to fruition, the feeling is the Virginia Beach native will place the Nittany Lions among his foremost three or four contenders.
Another possible player here is Georgia, which Capehart is also visiting this month. But Stamm doesn’t believe the four-star is going to wind up in the SEC -- at either UGA or Alabama. Rather, he’s suggesting Tech, UMD and PSU will emerge as the clear frontrunners, with Capehart set to select one of the trio in late August/early September.
If Capehart returns to Blacksburg, Va., one more time in August with his family, that could seal the deal for the Hokies. The hometown school has been after the 757 recruit for longer and harder than any other program. But the Terps and Nittany Lions are lurking; it wouldn’t shock if he selected either of the latter programs.
For UMD to swipe Capehart away, though, area recruiter Chris Beatty probably needs to get the Bishop Sullivan Catholic prospect back on campus, either for the July 30 cookout or sometime in August. Let’s see if Beatty, who has had a relationship with Capehart and his family for more than three years now, can work some magic in the weeks ahead.
Ellis Brooks, ILB, Benedictine (Richmond, Va.): When the four-star Brooks decided to decommitt from Duke back in the spring, Maryland linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes jumped right in. Evidently Barnes said enough to convince Brooks to return to College Park in mid-June for his first meeting with the new UMD staff.
"I liked Maryland a lot," Brooks told Scout’s Mike Clark. "It was my first time getting to meet the entire staff. I knew (defensive line) coach (Mike) London from when he was at Virginia, but meeting coach (D.J.) Durkin, (linebackers) coach (Matt) Barnes and everyone else was a good experience. They told me that if we could get everyone from the DMV to stay home, we could really be a powerhouse, and that's something I truly believe.
"Coach Barnes is recruiting me. He has a lot of energy and thinks very highly of me. He also has high goals and is a good coach. While I was there, they were having a camp. So, I got to see him, as well as all the other coaches coach. That was probably my favorite part."
Maryland’s proximity to Brooks’ home, its academics and its Big Ten affiliation all ring true with the Benedictine product.
Now, the word is the Terps could reside among the Virginia’s top-four suitors. But realize there are plenty of other programs in play.
Hometown Va Tech has a clear bead and could have the inside track thanks to the staff’s overtures. The Hokies’ staff will host the four-star again in August.
North Carolina and Duke, both of which Brooks has also visited, are in the thick of things too, along with Auburn (July 14 visit); UGA (July 16 visit); South Carolina (July 18 visit); UVA (August visit); NC State (August visit); and FSU (August visit).
The feeling here is Brooks may end up favoring hometown Va Tech, but don’t discount UNC; Maryland; Duke; or UVA. It’s also worth noting that Brooks isn’t picking his future destination anytime soon, so other programs could enter the fray.
Michael Scott, BUCK, North Florida Christian (Tallahassee, Fla.): The Terps’ BUCK offer Scott announced he’d be selecting a school July 26, and Maryland is seemingly in play. Scott has been in touch with UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and defensive line coach Mike London, and he visited College Park June 21. The 6-3, 220-pounder praised the environment at UMD, head coach D.J. Durkin’s demeanor, London’s coaching style and the school’s academics. Scott also liked the fact the Terps are recruiting him as a BUCK, taking advantage of the Tallahassee native’s versatility.
Previously, we questioned whether Scott would be a “take” for the Terps’ staff considering the number of options on Durkin’s board. It’s still not entirely clear where Scott stands in the pecking order, but if he does want in, our gut is Durkin would accept his pledge.
We’re not so sure Scott is going to opt for the Terps, though. The North Florida Christian prospect is high on UMD, but when we spoke to him he seemed particularly taken with Louisville after a trek through campus.
Others involved include Cincinnati, Illinois, Memphis and Purdue.
The vibe is Scott could very well wind up at UL, but the advantage Maryland has over the Cardinals -- and the recruit’s other main suitors -- is its educational opportunities. Academics are a primary concern for Scott, so that could potentially push the Terps to the top of the totem poll.
We’ll see what happens July 26.
Malik Horton, BUCK, Langston Hughes (Fairburn, Ga.): Provided Maryland headman D.J. Durkin is ready to accept his commitment, Horton could be a Terp August 1, which is when the Georgian intends to pop. Horton is set to see College Park for the first time July 30, the Langston Hughes product eager to take in the Terps’ prospect-day cookout.
“I’m amped,” Horton told me earlier this week after setting up his visit. “I can’t wait to get up there. I’m really excited about it.”
Horton, of course, is the teammate of UMD pledge Sean Nelson. Since the linebacker hybrid landed his UMD offer June 24, Nelson has been on Horton, pumping up the Terps on a daily basis. Horton said he’s heard all about Maryland’s coaches, players and the campus, Nelson dubbing the program “a real family environment.”
Furthermore, Horton immediately connected with UMD-area recruiter Mike London and graduate assistant Brawley Evans back in June. He said both staffers like his game and had been talking to him all the way up to the dead period.
Maryland’s academic reputation and Big Ten affiliation appeal to Horton as well.
The main competition for Horton’s services is Colorado, which the BUCK is visiting July 24. The Buffaloes’ staff has been pressing for Horton and do have his attention.
It’s conceivable Horton does opt for Colorado since the Buffaloes have been hard after him, but that scenario might only materialize if he’s not a “take” for the Terps. Durkin has several touted hybrid outside linebackers in play, so we’ll have to see if he goes with the bird in hand (Horton) or elects to push for Michael Scott (discussed above) or rolls the dice on national names like Jordan Anthony (discussed above) and Nate Proctor (Lackey/Indian Head, Md.).
The vibe is the former, though; we’ve projected Horton to the Terps.
Note: Horton is a fairly versatile linebacker. It’s entirely possible he could be shifted to inside linebacker if the Terps’ staff is able to pull in multiple BUCKs.
Chris Pierce, BUCK, Smithfield (Va.): Pierce claimed a Maryland offer back in June, but it wasn’t committable -- and still isn’t. Even so, the Terps reside on Pierce’s recently-released favorites list, alongside Yale; UVA; ODU; Temple; and UCF.
Now, Pierce said he has been in touch with UMD-area recruiter Mike London. The Smithfield prospect mentioned his high school coach had a rapport with Maryland’s defensive line coach, and since then Pierce has personally exchanged messages with the ex-UVA headman.
Pierce hasn’t trekked through College Park this offseason, but he was on campus last year for a camp, lauding the area and the school itself. An education-oriented recruit, Pierce was particularly intrigued by UMD’s academic reputation.
With that in mind, if London and head coach D.J. Durkin did press for Pierce down the line, perhaps they’d be positioned to reel him in. But, for the time being, it’s likely Pierce focuses elsewhere.
In-state UVA has had a bead for awhile, and provided Pierce remains a “take” for headman Bronco Mendenhall, that could be his destination. Virginia’s close proximity to home and standout academics are ringing true.
Pierce has been to Charlottesville, Va., multiple times, and he’s also trekked through Yale; Temple; and ODU this spring/summer. The Ivy school may be running just behind UVA given Yale’s prestigious degree.
It should be noted that Pierce has no intention of committing before his senior season. So it’s possible other programs, including Maryland, could work into the mix after evaluating Pierce’s senior film.
Marquis Waters, S, Atlantic (Delray Beach, Fla.): The Terps’ staff wasn’t going to take a 2017 safety unless it was an elite recruit, and now that they’ve landed corner/safety Deon Jones (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.), headman D.J. Durkin may be even less inclined to grab one. Which means Maryland’s coaches may no longer be pushing for the three-star Waters, who has had an offer since April.
Waters is being recruited by UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, who pulled in Atlantic corner Antwaine Richardson and defensive end Dion Goldbourne in last year’s class. Abdul-Rahim has maintained contact with Waters, but maybe not as much recently as some other coaches.
Furthermore, it’s telling that Waters has yet to visit UMD, nor does he have a College Park trip planned the rest of the summer. And since he wants to select his college destination by August, that probably suggests Waters is going somewhere he has seen like UCF; Duke; Wake Forest; or NC State. Virginia Tech’s staff, meanwhile, is vying for a trip, and Waters will be at Florida later in July in hopes of culling out a hometown Gators’ look.
We’re keeping Waters on the hot board in case Abdul-Rahim ups the ante, but we’re not projecting the Atlantic product to College Park.
Jonathan Doerer, K, South Mecklenburg (Charlotte, N.C.): The kicker Doerer, who the Terps’ special teams coach Pete Lembo offered June 25, will be visiting College Park July 29 and then staying for the recruit cookout July 30. In all likelihood, he will commit to UMD on campus or shortly thereafter.
Maryland is Doerer’s first and only offer thus far, and when Lembo informed him of it, the Carolina native basically said it was only a matter of time before he popped. Doerer loved working with Lembo and hearing from head coach D.J. Durkin at UMD’s one-day camp in mid-June. The kicker, who has been conversing with Lembo and area recruiter Walt Bell since March, lauded the staff’s personalities and overarching energy. Doerer also enjoyed being on campus and seeing some of the facilities. Plus, Doerer’s high school coach knows Lembo well, so the South Mecklenburg product heard all about the Terps before the offer even came about.
All he needs to see now are the academic buildings, player dorms and New Cole. Doerer is an education-first recruit, so he’s looking forward to learning about Maryland’s sports-medicine program.
After that, the big-legged booter should be good to go with UMD.
New Offers Out
V.J. Johnson, WR, Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach, Va.) (2020): Leave it to 757 recruiter Chris Beatty to make a splash on the first day the dead period ended July 14. Beatty promptly jumped on an incoming freshman from his old stomping grounds, handing the 2020 recruit Johnson his very first offer.
The 5-9, 150-pound Johnson can play receiver or corner, and should have his pick of schools if he develops as expected. Beatty, though, knows how to leave an early impression, and he certainly did that with the July 14 offer.
Off The Board
Dillon Harris, ILB, Cheshire Academy (Conn.): The linebacker Harris was as high on Maryland as could be when UMD-area recruiter Pete Lembo offered during the spring evaluation period. The Connecticut prospect dubbed the Terps his No. 1 suitor and said he wanted to visit as soon as his parents could take him down to College Park.
Now, those pro-UMD feelings have not subsided in the slightest, but Harris dropped me a line earlier this week that changed the situation entirely. He let on that not only did he transfer schools from Bloomfield (Conn.) to Cheshire, but he also had reclassed from 2017 to 2018. Which means his status with Maryland is questionable moving forward; it's unclear whether Lembo and Co. will continue to recruit Harris as a rising junior.
Even so, we do expect Harris to eventually trek through College Park at some point. It just might not be anytime soon.
We'll revisit Harris next offseason to see how his recruitment has developed and if the Terps remain a player for him.
George Hunter, S, Atlantic (Delray Beach, Fla.): We wrote Hunter off a couple months ago, but left him on the hot board just in case he happened to visit and area-recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim made a stronger pitch. Well, neither occurred, and with the Terps landing corner/safety Deon Jones, it’s even less likely they’ll pursue Hunter.
Hunter, who is good friends with 2016 UMD signee and former teammate Antwaine Richardson, claimed a Maryland offer back in February and promptly called the Terps his top school. In fact, he said he’d probably commit as soon as he saw the campus firsthand.
But the scholarship was never committable, and, as the months moved along, Abdul-Rahim’s interest seemed to wane. In turn, Hunter began talking about other programs on his radar, including FAU; Kansas State; and Toledo.