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.): For the second year in a row, DeMatha lost one of its foremost playmakers before September began. The four-star McFarland suffered a broken ankle in a scrimmage earlier this week, and it's likely he'll miss almost all of his senior season.
It's an unfortunate turn of events for the DMV runner, although, just like last year when D.J. Turner went down -- precluding the now-Terps' freshman from procuring more offers -- this injury could actually work in Maryland's favor. The UMD coaches, with Aazaar Abdul-Rahim running point, will stand behind McFarland 100 percent, letting him know he's still priority No. 1 and how much they need him in the program. The rest of the DMV, namely the local Terps' commits, will rally behind McFarland as well. That kind of hometown support could eventually push Maryland past Miami and Alabama in the pecking order.
Additionally, it's unclear if the Tide coaches will continue pushing for McFarland, despite what the Bama staff intimates to the DeMatha back. Even without the injury, we were somewhat skeptical McFarland would land in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The four-star's running style doesn't quite fit Alabama's offense, plus the Tide are likely to attract similar talents who could jump on board well before McFarland's ready to end his recruitment.
Miami, whose coaches want McFarland despite having numerous offensive playmakers already committed, could still pose a threat to UMD. McFarland is intent on officially visiting Coral Gables, Fla., this fall, and it's unlikely his interest will wane moving forward. But will the Hurricanes' staff back off just a bit with little to no senior film to go off of?
The latter remains to be seen, but, regardless, we expect Abdul-Rahim and Co. to pursue McFarland more ardently than any other program's coaches.
Let's see if it pays off in the coming months.
Jahmin Muse, WR, Elizabeth (N.J.): Muse pulled a Maryland offer way back in February, but he never made it down to College Park for a visit, reneging on two or three attempts. Then, when the Terps secured three receiver commits, we wrote Muse off altogether.
But evidently he remains in play, albeit as a backup option. Muse told Scout's Brian Dohn this week he spoke to UMD area recruiter Matt Barnes "every day" and "loves" the program. Muse has also been in touch with Maryland receivers coach Chris Beatty on a semi-regular basis.
Now, Muse apparently does want to see UMD for an official this fall. But we'll see if he actually makes it to campus. As aforementioned, he's probably not a clear "take" right now for the Terps' staff, meaning Muse may have to focus on a couple of his other frontrunners for the time being.
Iowa, which Muse is visiting Sept. 10, could be a prime contender, although we're not sure the Jersey wideout ends up in the Midwest. He might only wind up a Hawkeye if his other suitors fall by the wayside.
Boston College could be a more likely option. Muse said he has regular communication with the BC staff and is high on the school's academic reputation.
Temple, for its part, would seem to be a natural fit, but we've heard Muse might not want to attend the Philly school for various reasons.
With the above in mind, if the Terps' staff truly wants Muse, they could probably land him. But we're going to list him "cool" until we hear they're picking up the pace.
D.J. Mack, ATH, Norview (Norfolk, Va.): Mack had been off the grid ever since the Terps landed their one 2017 quarterback, Kasim Hill (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.), back in the spring. But the 6-2, 210-pound Mack, a dual-threat, has broached UMD several times since then, mentioning his regular conversations with area recruiter Chris Beatty. Just this week, for example, he told Scout’s Mike Clark, “[the Maryland coaches] are really showing me that they want to be part of the team.”
Previously we dismissed such comments, but now we’re getting an inkling the Terps’ staff may be trying to bring Mack in as an athlete -- most likely as another receiver. After missing on a couple other wideout options, it’s not inconceivable Beatty and Co. would want Mack for his athleticism and raw potential.
The question is, Would Mack accept that role, or would he rather try his hand under center at a place like Temple or UCF?
The three-star has already taken in the Owls and seems to be favoring them. In fact, Temple is the only program among Mack’s foremost four suitors -- UMD, Temple, UCF and WVU -- he’s seen recently. And since the Norview prospect would like to have his college destination determined before his senior season begins, one would have to surmise he’s Philly bound.
Now, Mack did mention he’d like to check out each of his other three contenders before making any kind of decision, so we’ll monitor his travels the next couple weeks. But unless he actually makes it to College Park and lets on he’s interested in an “athlete” role, Mack’s not going above “cool” on the hot board.
Carter Warren, OT, Passaic (Patterson, N.J.): We’re beginning to think the 6-foot-6, 320-pound Warren might be Maryland’s most realistic shot at landing a true tackle in the 2017 class (DeMatha’s Marcus Minor is a “tweener” type who projects as a guard). The Scout 300 recruit ventured down to College Park Aug. 13 for his second look at the Terps, and afterwards Warren intimated UMD was in a strong spot.
Warren told Scout’s Brian Dohn he enjoyed connecting with line coach Dave Borbely, his primary recruiter. He also mentioned UMD’s need for tackles, Warren sensing an opportunity to contribute early during his career.
“I went to check out the offensive line and size everyone up and see where I fit on the o-line. They need tall guys," Warren told Dohn. "They don't really have the tall, 6-7, long, lanky body. They have a lot guards, and that is their way of trying to pull me in.
“What stood out to me the most was (offensive line) coach (Dave) Borbely interacting with the players. He has great relationships with them, and I thought that was pretty cool. It was one of the places I really wanted to see so I had to take a visit.”
Warren should be back at UMD later this fall as well, perhaps for an official.
Now, the feeling is the Terps reside somewhere among Warren’s top three suitors. In-state Rutgers is in the thick of things and could lead after the tackle’s multiple treks through Piscataway, N.J. Moreover, Warren has come around to the idea of staying home and building up the Scarlet Knights’ program.
Virginia Tech is right there too, Warren letting on previously he’s been in regular contact with the staff. Pitt, meanwhile, is in the conversation after Warren’s trek through Steel Town Aug. 17.
Some of Warren’s other offerees, however, have fallen by the wayside. UNC, Penn State, Tennessee, South Carolina, MSU, Michigan and Miami are not thought to be viable landing spots due to a variety of factors. Thus, the door is open for schools like UMD, RU, Va Tech and Pitt to pounce. (There is some concern over Warren’s transcripts for all programs involved, including Maryland).
Let’s see what transpires this fall, as Warren isn’t picking a school until he embarks on officials.
Calvin Ashley, OT, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): The five-star Florida transplant visited Maryland for the second time Aug. 13. Ashley didn’t grant an interview post foray, but we’re led to believe the 6-6, 310-pounder’s UMD interest is growing, and now it’s a school he’s seriously considering. Multiple Maryland staffers, led by head coach D.J. Durkin and area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, have been trying to gain Ashley’s ear -- and word is they do have it. . . . to an extent.
Granted, we’re not ready to project Ashley to College Park just yet, although it’s a name we’re now listing on the hot board.
Truth be told, the St. John’s prospect remains firmly committed to Auburn and figures to remain so unless another suitor blows him away. Ashley maintains regular contact with the AU staff, likes the vibe surrounding the school and believes in the program’s direction.
If Ashley were to be swayed, though, hometown FSU and Florida would figure to have the inside track. Both the Noles’ and the Gatos’ coaches have been on the Sunshine State native, trying to convince him to stay local.
The Terps are in the conversation, though, and it only helps that he has two teammates currently committed to Maryland -- Kasim Hill and Cam Spence -- in his ear daily.
Vic Dimukeje, DL, Boys’ Latin (Baltimore, Md.): Dimukeje was perhaps the most significant UMD visitor last week, the Boys’ Latin product ending his College Park hiatus in order to take in an evening practice Aug. 13. Recall, the 6-1.5, 255-pounder had missed each of Maryland’s last two major prospect days, meaning the local had been absent from campus since the spring. But the Baltimore resident said he wanted a chance to reconnect with the UMD staff one last time before locking down and going full-bore into camp mode.
Following the visit, which Dimukeje took with his defensive line coach (his parents chose not to attend, which is somewhat disconcerting for UMD fans), the Boys’ Latin product said he enjoyed watching Mike London work. Dimukeje believes London is a terrific defensive line coach and he could readily develop under his watch. The local trenchman also mentioned his longstanding rapport with London, the two in close contact since the assistant happens to be Dimukeje’s area recruiter.
Furthermore, Dimukeje noted that both head coach D.J. Durkin and graduate assistant Brawley Evans have been on him about joining the hometown school too. Plus, Dimukeje said his parents were previously impressed with the school’s academic reputation, a primary concern in this recruitment.
But, at the same time, Dimukeje gave off the vibe Duke held the slight edge for his services. Dimukeje admitted the university’s renowned education has hit home with both himself and his family, who are personally favoring the Blue Devils. On top of that, Dimukeje continues to broach the fact he has family in North Carolina, which would make his college transition easier.
Virginia Tech, for its part, is probably running third in the pecking order. Dimukeje visited Blacksburg, Va., for the first time in late July and said he had a solid trip. He now wants to possibly return for an official during the fall.
The Boys’ Latin prospect will also be officially visiting both Duke and UMD for one last look at the Blue Devils and Terps.
If we’re to take Dimukeje at his word, Duke has the inside track, but our gut is the Blue Devils’ coaches may be slow playing this one just a bit. Not that the Duke staff wouldn’t accept Dimukeje’s pledge if he truly wanted in, but the feeling is if headman Dave Cutcliffe and Co. were making an ardent push, the three-star would’ve already been on board.
Maryland’s coaches, on the other hand, have seemingly made Dimukeje a priority. That could pay dividends when it comes time for the defensive lineman to select a school sometime during his senior season.
Needless to say, Dimukeje will remain “hot” on the hot board.
You can see what Dimukeje had to say HERE.
Note: Dimukeje’s teammate, long snapper Brock Sassler, accepted Maryland’s preferred walk-on invitation Aug. 14, as expected. Sassler is regarded as perhaps the best snapper in the region.
You can read more about him HERE.
Olakunle Fatukasi, ILB, Grand Street High (Brooklyn, N.Y.): We mentioned Fatukasi in Maryland circles back in the spring, after UMD assistant Pete Lembo extended an offer and linebackers coach Matt Barnes initiated contact. But the New York three star did not journey down to College Park and ended up popping to Rutgers in late June.
Thus, we wrote him off . . . until Aug. 10.
Fatukasi, along with his parents, took a surprise visit to Maryland, and apparently the Terps are now firmly in play. Fatukasi personally didn’t respond to inquiries, but those close to him let us know he has high interest in UMD after gauging D.J. Durkin’s program firsthand. We’re told the staff’s persistent overtures, the school’s academics and the coaching staff’s enthusiasm has Fatukasi’s attention. Moreover, his parents love the vibe and educational aspects of the university.
That said, we’re also told Fatukasi is inclined to stick with RU as he likes what the Scarlet Knights are doing in Piscataway, N.J. He’s taken to the Rutgers’ staff and believes in the direction headman Chris Ash is taking the program.
But the Grand Street three-star is obviously looking around, so you never know what can happen down the line.. Let’s see if he returns to College Park for an official visit. If so, UMD could be a prime candidate to flip the hard-hitting backer.
He’s currently listed “warm” on the hot board.
Kenny Bennett, CB, Simon Gratz (Philadelphia, Pa.): The corner back Bennett released a top-three leaderboard of Maryland, Pitt and Temple in early-August, and then proceeded to go mysteriously quiet. Two weeks later, he has yet to comment on said favorites list, but I did touch base with his father earlier this week.
Per Bennett Sr., his son intends to embark on official visits to each of the three aforementioned favorites during the fall, with a decision coming shortly after the final trip. Bennett, according to his dad, isn’t favoring one of that trio over another at this time.
Well, naturally that’s what Bennett’s father’s going to say, but it’s clear the Terps are in a solid spot here. Even though the Simon Gratz product didn’t make it back to College Park for the July 30 cookout or an August practice, we’re led to believe he has high affinity for the staff and the program itself.
He’s in close communication with both UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and area recruiter Matt Barnes, taking a particular liking to the former. Abdul-Rahim personally worked with Bennett at a June camp, leaving the recruit impressed, while the coach’s message hit home as well.
Moreover, Bennett likes Maryland’s incoming recruiting class, head coach D.J. Durkin’s philosophy, the coming facility upgrades and the academic support. And it only helps that Maryland was Bennett’s very first major offer.
But don’t underestimate Temple in this race. Although the Owls don’t compete in a conference like the Big Ten, Bennett’s keen on the idea of staying home and showing out in front of family and friends. He’s been to the nearby campus multiple times and has a deep rapport with the staff.
Pitt, for its part, is in play too, although likely running third. Bennett did visit the Panthers and had positive comments for the staff and the program, however.
For now, we’re cautiously optimistic about the Terps’ chances, although it’s a more difficult call without talking to Bennett himself.
Some 2018 Visitor Notes
In addition to the various senior targets who made their way to College Park last weekend were three elite DMV juniors: offensive tackle Jaelyn Duncan (Northern/Owings, Md.), defensive tackle Austin Fontaine (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) and defensive tackle P.J. Mustipher (McDonogh/Owings Mills, Md.). We will interview each of those three during the season when we attend their respective games.
For the time being, though, there’s a sense Maryland is gaining steam with each of the trio. The Terps may not currently lead, especially for Fontaine or Mustipher, but they are in the conversation, which is perfectly fine at this juncture.
Duncan, for his part, holds offers from the Terps and Ohio State, with the latter verbal a potential game-changer. But the Northern lineman has been in College Park multiple times this offseason, has bonded with area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and line coach Dave Borbely, and wants to play his college ball near his family. We’re encouraged by Maryland’s position with Duncan early.
Fontaine, meanwhile, is starry-eyed and keeps talking up Ohio State, Penn State, Clemson, Georgia, Tennessee and the like whenever we speak to him. But it’s obvious the DeMatha four-star has taken a keen liking to the staff in College Park, namely Abdul-Rahim and defensive line coach Mike London. He’s also been hearing from his numerous former-teammates-turned Terps, who routinely pitch the program when they return to DeMatha. It’s going to be a battle to next Signing Day for the four-star, but we do expect Maryland to be there in the end.
Of the trio, the McDonogh product Mustipher is going to be the most difficult pull for UMD area recruiter Mike London and Co. Although the Terps have a pipeline to the Owings Mills school, Mustipher personally seems destined to follow in his brother Sam’s footsteps at Notre Dame. The Terps have hosted Mustipher on a couple occasions this offseason, however, and could be working their way up the leaderboard.
Ohio State, Penn State, Alabama and Tennessee are in the conversation as well.
New Offers Out
Keilan Robinson, RB, St. John's (Washington, D.C.) (2019): The Terps' staff wasted no time with this one, ensuring they entered the game for the 5-9 rising sophomore Robinson before he jumped onto numerous recruiting radars. UMD Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry did the honors Aug. 17, extending Robinson his very first verbal.
Robinson saw limited varsity action as a freshman, but showed enough speed and burst to warrant a long look from the hometown school. The DMV back projects as a multi-offer talent and should have double-digit options by this time next year.