Welcome to our next edition of Inside The Shell, the weekly Maryland football-recruiting roundup.
News On Top Targets
Anthony McFarland, RB, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): The running back McFarland always shows up at Maryland events, which is evidence the four-star’s Terps’ interest is genuine. He’s been in College Park, Md., as much as any other uncommitted recruit this offseason, so, naturally, he’ll return July 30 for the UMD cookout.
The DeMatha prospect has established a close-knit bond with UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, running backs coach Anthony Tucker, headman D.J. Durkin and the rest of the staff. He’s said time and again he has a better relationship with Maryland’s coaches than any other group of recruiters.
McFarland is feeling the hometown pull too, the runner trusting in Durkin’s overarching stay-home message and the direction he’s taking the program. It only helps that numerous UMD commits have been after McFarland, both via Twitter and in person.
But, as Shell readers know by now, the above may only be enough for a silver or bronze medal.
McFarland is favoring Miami and maybe Alabama, with the former holding steady at No. 1. The DeMatha star is all about Canes’ head coach Mark Richt and running backs coach Tommy Brown, both of whom McFarland has known for two-plus years. Moreover, McFarland loves the Coral Gables, Fla., vibe and the program Richt’s building.
With Bama, McFarland extolled his summer Tuscaloosa, Ala., trip, talking up the staff; the Tide tradition; the campus; the facilities; and the player development. It remains to be seen how ardently headman Nick Saban pushes for McFarland down the line, but, for the time being, the four-star’s smitten with the Crimson Tide.
McFarland plans to officially visit each of the above universities, in addition to Texas A&M, this fall. The programs vying for the final trip include Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Florida and South Carolina.
But unless there’s a change of heart, this will be a three-team, UM-UMD-ALA race until right around Signing Day. Right now, the tealeaves read Miami, but realize McFarland could fall into the Terps’ laps the longer this recruitment drags on. It’s conceivable the Tide backs off or fills McFarland’s spot, while the Hurricanes -- with a glut of running back/athlete types already committed -- become less attractive if they keep adding primetime offensive skill players.
Tayon Fleet-Davis, RB, Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.): From the sound of things, the Maryland staff has succeeded in turning the tables on Syracuse, Fleet-Davis’ longtime frontrunner. Word is the Potomac back is all but sealed to the hometown school, with his decision imminent and perhaps coming as early as the July 30 cookout.
The three-star and his family stopped by College Park July 27, the first time Fleet-Davis’ parents had met the UMD staff. And apparently headman D.J. Durkin, area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, running backs coach Anthony Tucker and offensive coordinator Walt Bell had them sold. Fleet-Davis’ parents loved the coaches’ energy, the direction they’re taking the program, the plan for their son, the academic emphasis and more.
Personally, Fleet-Davis has had a strong rapport with multiple UMD staffers, namely Abdul-Rahim, and readily took to their overarching message. He’s also keen on the idea of the hometown movement, which has been boosted by the presence of teammate and Terps’ pledge Deon Jones. It was the latter recruit who may have helped nudge Fleet-Davis over the edge, Jones hyping the Terps practically every day.
If what we’re hearing is true, it’s quite a turn of events for Fleet-Davis, as Syracuse seemingly had a stranglehold on him for some time now. Even after Jones committed to Maryland, Fleet-Davis admitted he still had SU atop the totem poll, noting his relationship with the coaches and headman Dino Babers. Fleet-Davis then said the Orange would get last dibs with an August visit.
But now that New York trip has been called off, per our contacts. Fleet-Davis is supposedly down to one final foray through College Park July 30 before selecting his future destination.
And, as we like to say in this space, the tealeaves read Maryland.
Tahj Capehart, WR, Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach, Va.): The four-star Capehart could be closing in on his college decision, and the sense after speaking to our Virginia colleagues this week is it’s a Virginia Tech-Maryland battle, with Penn State running third. Capehart is also mulling over Alabama, although the Tide offered him as a defensive back and the four-star may be more inclined to try his talents on offense.
At first blush, this sounds encouraging for Terps’ purposes, especially since Capehart was expected at UMD’s July 30 cookout. But a couple days before the event Capehart let on he probably wouldn’t be attending after all, sapping some of the Maryland mojo.
Even so, Maryland-area recruiter Chris Beatty has known the Capehart family for years and certainly has their respect. Plus, Capehart liked head coach D.J. Durkin and the rest of the staff during his two previous offseason trips to College Park. The four-star believes offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s offense would fit him perfectly, while be thinks Beatty would readily develop him. Furthermore, Maryland’s academic reputation hit home with Capehart’s mom, a primary reason the Terps have remained a true threat for the receiver’s services.
At the same time, our colleagues who know the recruit well are telling us it would be a “real surprise” if Capehart didn’t ultimately pick hometown Tech.
“I’ve talked to several folks, and Capehart’s a ‘heavy’ VT lean,” we were told earlier this week.
Capehart has had Va Tech running first or second for some time now, and his most recent trek through Blacksburg, Va., only solidified those feelings. The four-star knows the Hokies’ staff wants and needs him, and Capehart believes he could thrive in head coach Justin Fuente’s offense. And perhaps more importantly, Capehart’s mother, who is key in this recruitment, is coming around more and more to the Hokies too.
Capehart could possibly elect to take official visits, but it sounds like an August pop is in the cards. Word is, unless Beatty can turn this around, the four-star may be a Hokie before September.
Note: Penn State and Georgia could still make some noise with Capehart, but the four-star did not attend PSU’s Lasch Basch and hasn’t scheduled a UGA trip either.
Noah Igbinoghene, WR, Hewitt-Trussville (Trussville, Ala.): With the likes of Tahj Capehart (discussed above) and Cameron Sullivan-Brown (Pallotti/Laurel, Md.) perhaps headed to universities not named Maryland, we decided to check back in on the four-star receiver Igbinoghene.
The Alabama native, who landed a UMD offer way back in February, had been off our radars for quite some time, the Hewitt-Trussville product expressing little interest in the months following the verbal. But apparently some of Igbinoghene’s sought-after major suitors never materialized, and now the 6-0, 185-pounder has Duke, Notre Dame (not a committable offer), Mizzou, Va Tech and Maryland on his board.
Of those, Igbinoghene said he was favoring Duke and Notre Dame, although the Irish staff would have to miss on its other targets to have room for the Alabama wideout. The Blue Devils, though, have already hosted the four-star once and figure to hold the pole position. Igbinoghene praised Duke’s education most of all, while also lauding the budding football program and the coaches.
If Notre Dame’s a viable option, the Irish could easily hop the Devils, however. Igbinoghene couldn’t say enough about the academic-football balance at UND, as well as the school’s tradition.
As for the other three, Igbinoghene hasn’t seen any of Mizzou, Maryland or Tech. But each program has his attention, the Tigers for their SEC affiliation; Tech for its offense and the coaches’ ardent pursuit; and UMD for its spread and the receivers the program’s produced.
Interestingly, though, Terps’ area recruiter Anthony Tucker hasn’t had a ton of contact with Igbinoghene recently. But evidently Igbinoghene’s trying to gain their attention once again.
“Maryland is one school I really don’t know too much about yet, because I think the coaches thought I didn’t have much interest and they hadn’t been in touch recently. But I’m trying to build a relationship with them again.
“Coach [Anthony] Tucker, he recruited me at Arkansas State and then offered me when he got to Maryland. He’s a good guy, and I like him a lot. Also, Coach [Walt] Bell, he was at Arkansas State too and he runs a great [spread] offense that I think would fit me perfectly. And the receivers they’ve produced like Stefon Diggs, that stands out about Maryland too. I’m like the same size as [Diggs], so that kind of caught my eye about Maryland. I’m excited to visit there too.”
That’s all well and good, but the sense I got was Igbinoghene probably has the Terps no higher than fourth on that leaderboard. In fact, he could very well bump them altogether if another major suitor materializes.
But we’ll leave Igbinoghene “cool” on the hot board for now in case Tucker and Co. up the ante. You never know what can happen if some of Igbinoghene’s other contenders fall off.
You can read more about Igbinoghene HERE.
Deron Irving-Bey, OT, Southwestern Commencement (Flint, Mich.): I touched base with the Maryland tackle offeree Irving-Bey this week, and the four-star did seem genuinely intrigued by the Terps’ program. The 6-5, 280-pound two-way four-star said he’s been in contact with UMD-area recruiter and position coach Dave Borbely ever since Irving-Bey secured his Maryland offer following a June 24 camp. The Flint native praised Borbely’s coaching techniques, personality and overall message (read: the Terps need tackles and can offer early playing time).
Now, Irving-Bey is seeking to return to College Park sometime this fall for an official visit. He said UMD is one of two schools (Tennessee is the other) he “definitely” wanted to take officials to.
“I want to see Maryland again so I can tour the school and just learn more about it. I liked it a lot there when I was there for the camp, I liked what I heard from the coaches, and they’re one of the schools that’s in touch with me the most,” said Irving-Bey, whose only offer for offense is from UMD.
Of course, Irving-Bey does hold verbals from the two in-state power programs: Michigan State and Michigan. Irving-Bey has been through East Lansing, Mich., on several occasions and will be checking out Ann Arbor, Mich., for the first time July 30.
The Spartans figure to be the early frontrunners, despite Irving-Bey’s insistence that he’s “wide open” in his recruitment. The four-star has a great rapport with MSU’s staff, knows several current Michigan State players and loves the vibe in East Lansing.
Michigan, for its part, would become a true contender if the Wolverines’ staff decided to pursue in earnest. Right now, though, that UM verbal is not legitimately on the table.
The Tennessee offer could be committable, though, and the Vols will be given plenty of consideration due to their SEC affiliation.
Irving-Bey also hinted there are one or two schools he’s hoping to procure scholarships from once his senior film is evaluated.
That’s all well and good, but there is some sense Irving-Bey could slip through the cracks a bit. During the interview, he made a couple comments that raised some red flags. The statements called into question whether many of Irving-Bey’s more significant offers -- including Maryland’s, Tennessee’s, Michigan’s and Michigan State’s -- would even be committable at this juncture. But, with the Terps in need of offensive tackle help, one could surmise head coach D.J. Durkin and Co. would snap Irving-Bey up if the Michigan States of the world backed off.
It’s not a farfetched scenario by any means. We’ll be monitoring Irving-Bey’s official visit schedule closely during the fall.
You can read more about Irving-Bey HERE.
Marcus Minor, OT/OG, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): The four-star tackle/guard Minor released his top-seven leaderboard July 23, the list including: Maryland, Miami, Florida, Auburn, Va Tech, Michigan State and Rutgers. Since Minor tends to be rather cryptic in interviews, it’s never easy pinpointing exactly which way he’s leaning, but the feeling is the Terps are ringing true, with Miami; Florida; and Va Tech firmly in play as well.
Auburn and Michigan State would be right there too, but neither that Tigers nor the Spartans are likely to accept Minor’s pledge at this stage.
Miami and Florida, meanwhile, could use Minor, but the Gators’ and Hurricanes’ coaches have multiple offensive linemen on their respective boards. It remains to be seen how ardently each staff will pursue the DeMatha tweener.
Now, Minor did just visit Coral Gables, which was his second time at Miami in a four-month span. Minor loves the Hurricanes’ coaches, the atmosphere at UM and the program in general. Provided the coaches keep pushing, Miami could be positioned to swipe the four-star away.
Same goes for Florida, which Minor’s seen before too. Minor said UF’s coaches and the school’s SEC affiliation have his attention. Interestingly, though, Minor did not attend UF’s Friday Night Lights camp July 22, which could be an indication he’s not a priority for the Gators’ coaches (or vice versa).
Virginia Tech, which the lineman visited recently, is another program that’s caught Minor’s eye. The Hokies’ staffers have made consistent overtures to the DeMatha prospect and have left an impression.
But Maryland, which is hosting Minor yet again July 30, remains in a strong spot for Minor given the recruit’s rapport with the staff and area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim; the DMV movement; and the school’s journalism program. (The latter may actually push the Terps over the edge here. Minor really wants to be a sports broadcaster and knows all about the Philip Merrill School of Journalism). Minor also knows multiple Maryland commits and incoming recruits, all of whom have been pushing the Terps. Plus, he likes head coach D.J. Durkin’s pitch about building the hometown school into a winner with a foundation of locals.
Minor does seem inclined to go through the official visit process, however, which means his situation could change a bit down the road. But he’s the type who could change course and end his recruitment at any time; it wouldn’t shock us at all if he opted to pop before the end of the summer. If so, Maryland could very well be his destination, with Miami lurking.
Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Northern (Owings, Md.) (2018): When the DMV tackle Duncan landed a hometown Maryland look following the Terps’ Freak Show camp, he promptly called the Terps his leader. In fact, the burly lineman said he might even commit in short order since he wanted to play near his family in Southern Maryland.
But Duncan just landed an Ohio State offer during the Buckeyes’ Friday Night Lights camp, and it’s safe to say it was a game-changer. Duncan was thrilled with the OSU look and reportedly will have the Buckeyes under principle consideration -- so long as the verbal remains on the table.
Needless to say, Duncan is now inclined to dial back his early-commitment plans and go through the process a bit. The Terps will remain firmly in play throughout, but area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and line coach Dave Borbely will have to work to keep him away from the nation’s bigwigs.
Vic Dimukeje, DT, Boys’ Latin (Baltimore, Md.): Dimukeje was supposed to be in Blacksburg, Va., July 23 for a look at Tech, but he didn’t make it down. The three-star end/tackle does plan to check out the Hokies either July 30 or sometime in August, however. He reportedly has keen interest in head coach Justin Fuente’s program given his relationship with the staff and some of the school’s academic programs.
After taking in Tech, Dimukeje, who would also like to check out UVA before the season begins, may be ready to select his future destination. The three-star could elect to take officials since he enjoys the recruiting process so much, but the feeling is he’ll have seen enough to pick a college by late August.
The programs vying for Dimukeje’s services include Duke, Maryland, Wake Forest, Rutgers, Temple and the aforementioned Hokies and Wahoos. Of those, the Boys’ Latin product probably has the Blue Devils, Terps and Hokies out in front -- and in that order.
I checked in with my Dimukeje contact earlier this week and was told the situation hasn’t changed much since our last update. Duke continues to trend in a major way due to the strong academic reputation and Dimukeje’s standout spring foray through Durham, N.C. We’re told Dimukeje’s mother, who is concerned with education first and foremost, is pushing for Duke as well. On top of that, Dimukeje has family in North Carolina, so a Duke pop would represent a homecoming of sorts.
The Terps, meanwhile, were Dimukeje’s stated favorites a couple months back. He’d visited College Park numerous times and was all about new-look Maryland and DMV-to-UMD. The coaching staff, with defensive line coach Mike London running point, had left a distinct impression on Dimukeje and his mom too.
But Dimukeje did not visit Maryland for the Freak Show camp in June, and he’s not scheduled to check out the July 30 cookout either. That’s a bit disconcerting for UMD aficionados, with Dimukeje’s absence giving an idea where his mind’s at.
We’re not writing the defensive end off yet, however. London has made deep inroads here, and we’re led to believe Dimukeje remains highly intrigued about joining the hometown school.
But first thing’s first: Getting Dimukeje and his parents back on campus.
Tyree Johnson, DE/BUCK, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): In last week’s Shell, we surmised Johnson’s July 23 Texas A&M visit could vault the Aggies up to second -- or maybe even first -- on his leaderboard. And that’s pretty much what happened after the three-star’s second stay in College Station, Texas.
Johnson returned home raving about the Aggies and their coaches. He loved their player-development pitch, believing he could become a top-flight defender under the staff’s watch. Plus, Johnson liked the campus, the atmosphere in College Station and the fact it’s an SEC school.
But Johnson held off on committing (at least for now), mentioning he’d like to embark on official visits before choosing a school. Which is good news for Terps’ fans, because it means the hometown school has a chance to solidify its spot.
Fact is, Maryland has held the edge for Johnson for awhile now, and, if UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and defensive line coach Mike London keep hammering away, they could be positioned to land the St. John’s product. The D.C. native has enjoyed each of his many forays through College Park, Johnson dropping in on random days to hang out with teammates-turned-Terps Cam Spence and Kasim Hill, as well as Abdul-Rahim and Co. Johnson, who should be returning to College Park for the July 30 cookout, likes head coach D.J. Durkin’s stay-home mantra; the DMV movement; and the chance to shine in front of friends and family.
But Johnson does sound like he’s going to delay his commitment until after taking a couple officials, meaning TAMU and others will get another crack at him. Johnson figures to see both College Park and College Station this fall, along with two of his other top contenders, Tennessee and North Carolina.
It’s possible the Vols and Tar Heels could rise up the totem poll, but, for the time being, this looks like a Maryland-TAMU race.
Our gut? The Terps’ staff’s efforts eventually pay off, and Johnson chooses to stay local for college.
Malik Horton, BUCK, Langston Hughes (Fairburn, Ga.): Change of plans for the Georgia hybrid linebacker/defensive end Horton, who is deciding between Maryland and Colorado. Horton was supposed to visit Boulder, Colo., July 24 for the Buffaloes’ barbecue, but financial constraints prevented him from flying out. Instead, the three-star said he intended to use an official to Colorado in September, but only if he’s still uncommitted.
And he might not be.
Horton, who pulled his Maryland offer June 24 courtesy of UMD-area recruiter Mike London, hinted he could pop in College Park this weekend. The Langston Hughes product said he would indeed follow through with his July 30 Terps’ trip -- “the plane ticket was chap enough,” he joked -- and then let on, “you never know, I might just commit.”
Horton, recall, is the teammate of 2017 Terps’ receiver pledge Sean Nelson, who also be on campus July 30. Nelson has evidently told Horton all about the Maryland program, and apparently the receiver’s words have hit home. Moreover, Horton’s been in regular communication with London, the recruit taking to the defensive line coach’s personality and pitch.
The question is, Will head coach D.J. Durkin accept Horton’s pledge at this juncture? In last week’s Shell, we were somewhat skeptical Durkin and Co. would push in earnest, but now, with defensive end Chase Young (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) committed to Ohio State and a couple other defensive end/outside linebacker targets potentially favoring other locales, maybe the Terps’ staff will be more inclined to snap Horton up.
The sense here is if Horton wants in, he’ll be a Terp in short order -- maybe before leaving the cookout July 30.
Nathan Proctor, BUCK/OLB, Lackey (Indian Head, Md.): I stopped by Lackey this week to catch up with the four-star Proctor, who rarely grants interviews unless they’re in person. The outside backer is taking his time with his recruitment, but it’s been a busy summer for him, complete with trips to UMD; Pitt (twice); Penn State; Tennessee; UNC; Michigan; Ohio State and, most recently, Florida July 21.
But Proctor gave little indication what visits stood out to him, saying each locale had something to offer. Furthermore, he couldn’t say what programs’ coaches he’s been in touch with the most, nor whose staffs he has the best relationship with. Even when I asked Proctor specifics about particular schools, he refused to go in-depth, opting instead for politically correct answers.
So, with that in mind, it does sound like Proctor is truly wide open and willing to entertain an array of suitors. Schools like Va Tech, Penn State, Florida, Maryland, Florida State, UNC and Pitt all figure to be in play. But others could potentially enter the fray down the line if they up the pursuit.
Don’t expect to hear much more from Proctor this fall, either. He’s shutting down his recruitment -- no, he’s not attending UMD’s July 30 cookout -- until his senior season is complete. Then, around December, he’ll begin setting his official visits, of which he plans to take the full allotment.
For our part, we’d guess Penn State, Maryland, Florida, Va Tech and UNC could be in line for those five winter forays. But given where Proctor’s at in the process, that list could easily change.
You can hear what Proctor had to say HERE.
Note: While at Lackey, I also spoke to the 6-5.5, 310-pound 2017 tackle James Tunstall, who we heard from back in the spring. At the time, we didn’t pay much attention to him since the Terps’ staff was, and has been, recruiting at such a high level. But with Maryland scratching for tackles, Tunstall may be someone to watch this fall.
At the moment, he only holds offers from Toledo and Bowling Green, but he said staffers from UMD, Penn State and a couple others had had contact. Tunstall camped at Maryland back in June and apparently showed enough to draw the eye of offensive line coach Dave Borbely. The two have been in communication since then, Borbely letting the Lackey tackle know he’d be monitoring his progress this fall. And if Tunstall shows improvement, well, it’s conceivable Borbely might just ante up.
If so, the Terps would easily become the frontrunner for Tunstall’s services. The DMV lineman loves the hometown vibe at UMD and called Borbely a “great coach.”
We’re leaving Tunstall off the hot board for now, but don’t be surprised to see his name crop up again.
You can hear what Tunstall had to say HERE.
Marcus Bowman, ILB, Douglass (Upper Marlboro, Md.): Maryland is still in the game for the inside linebacker Bowman, who could be warming up to the hometown school once again. The local backer, who called UMD his No. 1 suitor following multiple winter/spring visits, is set to return to College Park July 30 for the first time since April. Bowman said earlier this week he remained in close contact with area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and considers him one of his favorite coaches.
“I’m excited to get back to Maryland to see all the coaches again,” Bowman said. “I haven’t been up in awhile, and I have a chance to get back. Maryland’s still one of my top schools.”
Don’t expect Bowman to commit July 30, however. He keeps saying he wants to embark on multiple officials before ending his recruitment next winter. Bowman may not last that long if/when spots begin to fill, but he’ll likely take at least a couple fall trips.
Those jaunts, for now, might consist of Syracuse, Minnesota, Marshall, Iowa and UMD. The Orange usurped the Terps atop Bowman’s leaderboard following the recruit’s New York trip, and SU figures to remain the favorites for the foreseeable future. The Syracuse staff wants Bowman badly, and the three-star has readily taken to multiple Orange coaches. Plus, he has a former teammate, Devin Butler, hyping Cuse.
Marshall has quietly entered the mix of late too, Bowman responding to the Herd staff’s consistent pitch. The Thundering Herd are a darkhorse contender if the likes of UMD and SU fall off (i.e. they fill their spots).
Bowman said he wants to officially visit Minnesota and Iowa as well, but we don’t see him attending school in the Midwest. He might only become a Gopher or a Hawkeye if the Terps or the Orange aren’t options for him.
Marquis Waters, S, Atlantic (Delray Beach, Fla.): The Florida three-star Waters released his top-five leaderboard July 25, but, as Shell readers know, Duke’s been trending for quite some time. Waters loved Durham during his initial spring trip, and his feelings were solidified further following a return in mid-July.
The Atlantic safety has a deep bond with the staff, first and foremost, but he felt at home on campus and senses there are opportunities to shine early in his career as well. Most importantly, however, is Duke’s prestigious degree, which appeals to the academic-oriented Waters.
The program likely running second for Waters’ services is Virginia Tech. The Delray Beach native had a productive trip to Blacksburg and appreciates the coaches’ persistent pitch.
Maryland, for its part, may be sitting third in the pecking order. Waters has a rapport with UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, the recruit taking a liking to his area recruiter as a person and as a coach. The safety had heard pro-Maryland overtures from former-teammates-turned-Terps Antwaine Richardson and Dion Goldbourne too before the two reported to College Park..
But Waters never followed through with an intended UMD visit, preferring to see some Southern locales instead. That in and of itself is an indication Waters probably isn’t going to wind up at Maryland, but we’ve also questioned how hard Abdul-Rahim has been pushing of late. Remember, head coach D.J. Durkin is only inclined to take maybe one safety in 2017, and since Deon Jones (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.) might wind up as a free safety down the road, that spot may already be filled.
West Virginia and Iowa State are the other institutions listed on Waters’ favorites list, but neither are considered threats to land him.
We’ll keep Waters on the hot board just in case Abdul-Rahim makes a move or the Atlantic three-star actually ventures north to College Park. But we’re not banking on it; he’ll probably be a Blue Devil later in August.
The July 30 Cookout
With college programs throughout the country hosting mid-summer barbecues and cookouts, the Maryland staff elected to follow suit with an end-of-July event. The July 30 College Park cookout may not be as widely attended as DMV Day or the Friday Night Freak Show, two events that featured the local crème de crème and numerous elite out-of-state targets, but there’s still going to be a number of intriguing recruits on campus. That includes at least three (and maybe four) offerees who could very well pop before leaving College Park.
The in-state prospects -- not including current pledges -- expected to attend the cookout are DeMatha running back Anthony McFarland (discussed above), Potomac running back Tayon Fleet-Davis (discussed above), DeMatha tackle Marcus Minor (discussed above), Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) offensive center Johnny Jordan, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) defensive end Josh Paschal, St. John’s defensive end/BUCK Tyree Johnson (discussed above), Douglass inside linebacker Marcus Bowman (discussed above) and Riverdale Baptist corner Tariq Castro-Fields.
Some of the out-of-towners coming through are Page (Greensboro, N.C.) running back Javon Leake, Cardinal O’Hara (Springfield, Pa.) tackle Desmond Holmes, Langston Hughes BUCK Malik Horton (discussed above), Simon Grasz (Philadelphia, Pa.) corner Kenny Bennett, Greater Johnstown (Johnstown, Pa.) safety Exree Loe and South Mecklenburg (Charlotte, N.C.) kicker Jonathan Doerer. (Four-star receiver Tahj Capehart originally said he was coming, but said it was “unlikely” he’d be able to make it to College Park as of publication).
-- Of those, the running back Tayon Fleet-Davis, the BUCK Malik Horton and the kicker Jon Doerer could very well be Terps by month’s end. Doerer, especially, is destined for Maryland since it’s his only offer and he’s hinted over and over again he’d commit soon after seeing College Park firsthand. He’ll actually be at UMD July 29 for a tour before heading to the cookout a day later.
-- Besides Fleet-Davis, Horton and Doerer, the offensive tackle Des Holmes is someone we’re monitoring closely as well. Holmes thoroughly enjoyed working with Terps’ offensive line coach Dave Borbely at the June 18 camp and said he was excited to return for a formal College Park tour. The Pennsylvania product indicated he’s been in regular contact with UMD-area recruiter Anthony Tucker too, the two developing a close bond.
We’re not so sure head coach D.J. Durkin is ready to accept the O’Hara tackle’s pledge, but, with the Terps searching far and wide for tackles, maybe they’ll take Holmes.
In addition to UMD, the 6-5, 300-pounder is looking at Syracuse, Pitt and Temple, but, of those, only the Owls have pushed in earnest. Holmes wants to choose a destination by the end of August, so if UMD, Pitt or Syracuse aren’t available to him, he might just pop to nearby Temple.
-- The corner Kenny Bennett, meanwhile, is someone we’ve tentatively projected to Maryland, but who is expected to go through with the official-visit process before pledging. The three-star has UMD, Pitt, Va Tech and Temple all in the running, seeking to see each for officials this fall. Bennett also wants to gauge what suitors might emerge after his senior film is evaluated.
There is, however, a slight chance Bennett pops in College Park given his stated affinity for the program and his growing relationship with area recruiter Anthony Tucker and defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim.
-- The center recruit Johnny Jordan is returning to Maryland for the fourth time this offseason. He and his parents have seen all they need to at the local university, but the center is taking the opportunity to reconnect with offensive line coach Dave Borbely; area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim; and the rest of the coaches.
Jordan is down to UVA, UMD, Pitt, BC and Va Tech, all of which he’s trekked though, but the Wahoos and Terps are likely running one-two due to their respective locations (read: close to home) and standout academics.
The Maryland staff may view Jordan as a “luxury” addition -- remember, they want longer tackles and aren’t as focused on interior linemen – but if the local recruit wants in, we’re inclined to believe Durkin would accept his pledge. Jordan, however, has suggested he wants to take official visits before selecting his future destination. If that remains true, his situation could change down the line.
-- The defensive end Josh Paschal is contemplating Maryland, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Clemson, Tennessee, USC and North Carolina, but it’s really between the Terps, Irish and Sooners. As previous Shells have mentioned, if Paschal’s a “take” for the UND staff, he could be bound for South Bend, Ind., before it’s all said and done. The Sooners, meanwhile, reside right alongside the Irish, and the Terps have been in there ever since D.J. Durkin assumed control.
Expect Paschal to take officials to each school in that top trio, plus one or two more (Clemson if the staff wants him) during the fall/winter. The four-star does not intend to select a college until next January.
-- The safety/corner Exree Loe, formerly a Pitt commit, is attempting to garner interest from other programs after a falling out with the Panthers. He's listed Maryland among his top suitors, but we haven't seen much interest from the staff. More than likely, West Virginia and Rutgers will pursue him. We're led to believe the UMD coaches are searching for defensive backs a bit taller and more athletic than the 5-11, 195-pound Loe.
J.C. Jackson On Board
After what seemed like months of deliberating, the much-anticipated J.C. Jackson-to-Maryland transfer finally came to fruition July 24. The 5-11, 195-pound cornerback comes over from Riverside C.C. (Calif.) by way of Florida and will be able to play immediately. The Immokalee, Fla., native has three years of eligibility remaining after not playing a down for the Gators, which he signed with in 2014.
The former Under Armour All-American entered UF with a pre-existing shoulder injury, forcing him to redshirt his first season in Gainesville, Fla. Then, during the offseason, he was charged with multiple felony counts (robbery, breaking an entrance) and left the program. Jackson ended up going the JUCO route, spending the 2015 campaign at Riverside, where he racked up 25 tackles, two breakups and two forced fumbles.
Numerous Division-I suitors then pursued Jackson during the offseason, but the Terps and South Carolina had the upper hand. Both UMD head coach D.J. Durkin and USC headman Will Muschamp were at Florida when Jackson signed with the Gators. But, for various reasons, Jackson was unable to transfer to South Carolina, leaving Maryland as the frontrunner.
Thus, Jackson, who was cleared of all his felony charges, will now compete for a starting corner spot opposite Will Likely. He is a sturdy, quick-twitch, athletic corner with skills that translate well to the NFL.
Jackson can operate ably in press and zone, showing the ability to shadow receivers throughout their routes in the former and transition smoothly in the latter. He’s physical at the line and down the field, unafraid to jam or challenge wideouts for jump balls. Jackson, who could’ve been a receiver himself coming out of high school, also has sticky fingers and strong hands. Best of all, he possesses true “Florida” speed, which allows Jackson to track elite receivers deep and recover if beaten by a step.
Jackson’s addition is significant not only because he brings elite talent to Maryland’s secondary, but it lessens the need to add four 2017 corners. Several of the Terps’ foremost 2017 defensive back options have fallen off, and targets like Tariq Castro-Fields (discussed above) and Kenny Bennett (discussed above) are no guarantees to wind up in College Park. So, adding a JUCO like Jackson mitigates some of the losses.
New Offers Out
Quantino Allen, WR, Glades Central (Belle Glade, Fla.): Allen committed to Oregon State back in May, but he’s hardly a firm pledge. At least, not after procuring offers from the likes of Louisville, Purdue, Syracuse, WVU, Illinois and, most recently, Maryland. The 5-11 wideout from Will Likely’s alma mater landed his Terps’ verbal courtesy of UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty July 27. (The offer likely came about once Beatty and Co. realized receiver targets Tahj Capehart and Cam Sullivan-Brown aren’t likely to choose Maryland).
Afterwards, the three-star Allen said he had the Terps in mind and would consider officially visiting during the fall.
“I know one of their star players, William Likely; he's from down here," Allen told Scout’s Corey Bender. "It's a nice program and I will be taking one of my official visits there. They like my game, and think I could do big things If I came there."
Allen will be officially visiting Louisville and Oregon State as well, in addition to a couple more yet-to-be-determined destinations. He said he’s inclined to remain a Beavers’ pledge regardless of what schools he takes in, but we’re not buying it.
For now, we’ve listed Allen “cool” on the hot board. He’s gaining steam on the trail and could land another significant suitor or two before it’s all said and done. We do think Beatty and the Terps can gain the inside track, but let’s see if Allen sets that College Park official in stone first.
K.J. Hamler, Slot, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): The Michigan native Hamler, who recently transferred to IMG, reported a Maryland offer courtesy of graduate assistant Brawley Evans July 24. The 5-9 Hamler, though, had already formed a favorites list and knows schools he wants to officially visit. Given that, it might be rather difficult for UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty to get the Terps involved here.
Hamler landed a coveted Tennessee offer at The Opening, and it sounds like the Vols are either the favorites or close to it. The slot will be checking out Rocky Top later this summer before returning for an official.
The other schools heavily involved are hometown Michigan State, Penn State and Oregon, with Iowa State sitting on the outer fringes. The Spartans were the frontrunners pre-UT look, and MSU remains a primary contender after Hamler’s multiple trips through East Lansing. Penn State is in the thick of things after an eye-opening visit to Happy Valley, while Oregon is a program Hamler’s always been intrigued by due to the Ducks’ offense.
In all likelihood, the four-star is going to wind up at one of those four schools, so Hamler’s not going on the hot board. But we’ll keep his name in mind in case Beatty can work Maryland into the game.
Pat Freiermuth, TE, Brooks School (North Andover, Mass.) (2018): The Terps became the latest school to throw their names into the hat for the emerging four-star 2018 tight end Freiermuth. The 6-4, 225-pounder previously claimed offers from Penn State, Duke, Syracuse, Wake, BC, Rutgers and more, with the UMD look coming July 27.
Maryland tight ends coach Pete Lembo and offensive coordinator Walt Bell had both initiated contact with Freiermuth via Twitter. And after the offer was presented, the Massachusetts native said he was excited and liked what the Terps’ coaches had been telling him. UMD’s academic reputation, Big Ten affiliation and Bell’s tight-end-oriented offense all caught the recruit’s eye.
But Freiermuth’s a blowup candidate and could have his pick of schools by this time next year. Penn State, which he camped at and subsequently secured an offer from, could be an early favorite. But we’ll see what he’s thinking when the SEC comes calling.
For Lembo and Bell, the first step is getting Freiermuth down to College Park for a visit.
Andrew Cunningham, S/RB, Cambridge Christian (Tampa, Fla.) (2018): This junior running back/safety pulled his latest offer from Maryland July 28. UMD area recruiter Chris Beatty is on him, although we'll have to see how Cunningham's profile expands before making any definitive statements. For the time being, he has offers from Kentucky, NC State, Louisville, Indiana, Rutgers, Southern Miss and Maryland, but has attracted interest from many more.
At this juncture, Louisville and Kentucky have his eye, the former due to the coach overtures and the latter for its SEC affiliation. But Cunningham is fairly open for the time being in hopes of garnering big-time looks this fall.
Beatty has ties in Tampa, so we'll see what kind of inroads he can gain here. But our guess is Cunningham's going to garner plenty of SEC looks before it's all said and done, making him a difficult pull out of Florida.
Off the Board
Malik Davis, RB, Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.): The Florida runner Davis had Maryland among his foremost seven leaders, but with the Terps’ seemingly imminent addition of Tayon Fleet-Davis (discussed above), there won’t be any room for the Jesuit back. Davis didn’t visit College Park, but he was eager to see the school officially this fall. The Big Ten affiliation, the spread offense and area recruiter Chris Beatty’s message all hit home with Davis.
But Davis admitted UNC and Miami likely held the upper hand, the runner inclined to stay in the South for college. Kentucky is also a prime contender, and Indiana; Illinois; and Pitt are supposedly getting looks.
Davis could very well wind up at one of his Midwest suitors like IU or Illinois if some of the other schools fill up their running back slots (not an unlikely scenario). Which is just what’s about to happen with Maryland.
Chase Young, DE, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): As anticipated, the five-star Young committed to longstanding favorite Ohio State during the Buckeyes’ Friday Night Lights Camp July 22. He chose OSU over Alabama, which was running second, and Maryland, which was running third.
Young called OSU his leader during the spring, talking up head coach Urban Meyer; area recruiter and position coach Larry Johnson; the Buckeyes’ national reputation; the school’s tradition; and the vibe on campus. He’d been in Columbus, Ohio, prior to July and couldn’t say enough about the atmosphere surrounding the program. Even when SEC suitors like Alabama -- he visited Tuscaloosa July 16 -- came calling, Young continued to speak highly of OSU.
All that said, Young insisted he wanted to go through the official visit process, but evidently Meyer made an appealing enough pitch July 22 to convince the five-star to end his recruitment early. Thus, Young elected not to delay the inevitable. He committed to the school almost every analyst out there believed he’d ultimately wind up at.
We do expect UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, defensive line coach Mike London and others to continue to recruit Young. The Maryland staff did well with the local defensive end and had the Terps positioned well after the recruit’s multiple visits to College Park.
We’ll see if they can convince the DeMatha product to officially visit down the line, but for now we’ve written Young off.
Elijah Conliffe, DE, Hampton (Va.): Even as we placed the defensive end Conliffe back on the hot board following a July visit to College Park, it was a tentative re-addition. After all, the borderline four-star had been favoring several SEC schools and Penn State, with the Maryland trip likely vaulting the Terps no higher than fifth in the pecking order.
But we chose to simply drop Conliffe altogether after he said he'd be reneging on an intended College Park return in favor of a second look at Alabama. The Tide became the clear frontrunner following Conliffe's recent camp offer, and his prompt trek back to Tuscaloosa probably suggests he's about to commit.
If Conliffe remains uncommitted after July 30, it likely means Bama head coach Nick Saban isn't ready to take him, or he still wants to officially visit suitors such as Tennessee; South Carolina; Ole Miss; and PSU.
Either way, we don't envision the Virginia native giving Maryland another cursory look, despite area recruiter Mike London's best efforts.
Michael Scott, BUCK, North Florida Christian (Tallahassee, Fla.): The three-star BUCK offer Scott visited Maryland June 21, and afterwards gave the Terps their share of praise. He extoled head coach D.J. Durkin, area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and defensive line coach Mike London, lauding the latter for his coaching during the camp.
But we didn’t sense Scott was as high on UMD as some of his other suitors, nor were we sure the Maryland staff was itching for the Florida prospect’s commitment. So, it was no surprise when Scott picked a school closer to home and whose staff ardently pursued July 26.
Scott took multiple trips to South Florida and loved the new staff under head coach Willie Taggart. And after his latest look at the Bulls, it was only a matter of time before he popped.
The 6-3, 220-pound hybrid committed to nearby USF over Louisville, UCF, Louisville, Memphis, Northwestern, Purdue and a few others.