Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football-recruiting roundup.
Checking Out Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
Although Maryland linebacker commit Ayinde Eley was out injured, I still wanted to check out Good Counsel Sept. 9 at Spalding (Severn, Md.) in order to gauge four-star defensive end Josh Paschal and 2018 defensive end Tyler Baylor, a former basketball player at Whitman (Bethesda, Md.) who transferred to the Olney, Md., school last year. Baylor, at 6-feet-5, 220 pounds, reminds a little of five-star Chase Young when he transferred from Pallotti (Laurel, Md.) to DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) after his sophomore year.
Two other underclassmen who have potential are cornerback Treyman Stott, the younger brother of ex-UMD pledge Travon Stott, and two-way star Jelani Foster, a 6-1, 170-pound receiver/corner.
-- The 6.2.5, 255-pound Josh Paschal showed vast improvement from last year, when he looked rather pedestrian coming off the edge. But a season later, the four-star has shown increased physicality, quickness and athleticism. He seems to be more explosive off the ball, both coming downhill and moving laterally. Plus, Paschal’s first step, initial punch and feet have all risen up a notch, to the point where he can wreck havoc in opposing backfields.
Paschal is much stronger too, which certainly helps his cause. Coupled with his long arms and strong hands, he can knock tackles right off the ball.
Moreover, Paschal has proven he can make plays down the line, out in space and in the gaps. He’s agile, nimble and possesses superior short-area quickness.
Granted, Paschal does need to keep his pads down as he still plays high. And he could stand to vary his rush moves, work on his hand placement and become more consistent with his footwork as well.
But once Paschal irons out the fundamental flaws, he could be a significant contributor at the next level. He probably won’t start right away, but if he keeps improving like he did from his junior to senior year in high school, Paschal could have an impact shortly after enrolling in college.
As far as his recruitment is concerned, Paschal seemed a bit lukewarm on Maryland. He failed to mention the Terps when asked what coaching staffs were pushing the hardest for him, while he also said he wasn’t sure he needed to officially visit College Park, Md.
Granted, he did give his props to the UMD coaches, from Mike London to Chris Beatty to D.J. Durkin. And he did say the hometown movement meant “a little” to him, pointing to the commitment of his teammate, Ayinde Eley, to UMD. But, I didn’t get the overwhelming sense turtles were at the forefront of his brain.
Paschal officially visited Oklahoma Sept. 10, and it sounds like the Sooners could be well positioned for the four-star’s services. The Good Counsel product had naught but praise for the Oklahoma coaches, the environment on campus and the Sooners’ defense.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame continues to trend for Paschal as well. He loves the program’s tradition and the fact he has a former teammate, Sam Mustipher, in South Bend, Ind. If he’s a “take” for the UND coaches (we’re not sure he will be), Paschal, who will be officially visiting this winter, could very well wind up at Notre Dame.
A new player for Paschal is USC, with the edge rusher eager to see the Trojans. He said the coaches have increased their pursuit of late, so Paschal will reward them with an official.
Kentucky is also somewhat in play, though we don’t envision Paschal winding up in Lexington, Kent.
Paschal won’t be selecting a school until around Signing Day, so there’s time for Beatty, London and Co. to turn the tide. But, for now, the four-star may be favoring other locales.
You can see the interview and evaluation of Paschal HERE.
-- The Maryland commit Ayinde Eley is out several weeks with an undisclosed injury, but he should be returning before midseason. Regardless, Eley reiterated his stance that he’s all about the Terps, saying he’s in daily contact with the staff. He speaks to the other UMD pledges regularly and mentioned he’s eager to check out a few games in College Park.
Now, Eley did note he wanted to take a couple officials, but he insisted Maryland fans not worry. He said he mainly wanted to get his free steak dinners and wouldn’t seriously entertain a flip.
Normally, we’d be concerned about a commit venturing out. But with the new UMD regime in place, we’re confident they’ll be able to keep the recruits they truly want.
You can see the interview with Eley HERE.
-- The defensive end Tyler Baylor holds one offer from Louisville at this stage, but he’ll start racking them up in earnest once his junior film is evaluated. Fact is, the edge rusher’s a superior athlete with loads of quickness and raw talent. He has a rapid-fire first step, he closes well and he can catch runners in backside pursuit. Add to that Baylor’s long arms, 6-5 frame and his build (he can pack on serious muscle), and the Good Counsel product has a very high ceiling.
Sure, Baylor’s footwork, hand placement, rush moves, lateral movement and leverage all need work. But, in a year, when his game is more refined, he could be a force in the WCAC.
Baylor is already in touch with the Maryland staff, and we suspect an offer will be materializing shortly. He has no early favorites or leaders, but Baylor was all smiles when I broached UMD and the idea of the hometown movement.
You can see the interview with Baylor HERE.
Checking Out Riverdale, Douglass (Upper Marlboro, Md.)
The Riverdale-Douglass affair didn’t turn out to be much of a game, with the private school triumphing 41-0 over its crosstown rival. But the score was of little concern since I was able to get a look at Crusaders corner Tariq Castro-Fields and Eagles’ defensive end/inside backer Marcus Bowman.
-- Tariq Castro-Fields has all the tools necessary to be a lockdown corner at the next level. He’s long (6-1, 180 pounds), physical, quick, athletic and smart. He operates ably in man and zone, and possesses an innate feel for the game.
In press, Castro-Fields is an effective jammer, pesters his man throughout the route and allows little separation. He flashes fast feet, loose hips and active hands.
In zone, he has a smooth backpedal, actively reads routes and shows terrific anticipation skills. He excels at planting his foot and driving forward to undercut patterns.
Down the field, Castro-Fields high-points the ball and challenges receivers in the air. He has sticky fingers and a wide catch-radius as well.
The main concern with the Riverdale corner is his speed. He isn’t challenged deep much in high school, but there are questions about his recovery and closing speed.
Castro-Fields could stand to shore up some technical areas (hand placement, footwork) and his tackling too. Plus, it would behoove him to add muscle and get even stronger.
As far as his recruitment is concerned, Castro-Fields maintained the status quo. He’s a good quote, but, ultimately, it doesn’t amount to much.
Basically, he’s looking at the same four schools and has them all on an even plane. Alabama (Nov. 26 official visit), Penn State (Oct. 22 unofficial visit), Maryland and Va Tech are in line for unofficial visits for games this fall, followed by officials after the season.
Castro-Fields said each of the above want him and are recruiting him heavily. He has great relationships with all four staffs and believes every program has something to offer him.
The borderline four-star had plenty of positive comments for the hometown school and assistant Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, but it’s difficult to gauge exactly where UMD sits in the pecking order. That’s probably because Castro-Fields himself doesn’t know.
And it’s going to be awhile before he does.
Don’t expect him to choose a destination until Jan. 14, 2017, which is his birthday.
You can read more about Castro-Fields HERE.
-- Marcus Bowman has his hand in the dirt for Douglass, but he projects as an inside backer in college.
Physically, Bowman looks the part at almost 6-3, 230 pounds. He gets downhill in a hurry, shows a good first step, closes well and hits hard. Bowman ably navigates the gaps with his nimble feet and terrific strength, while using his long arms to corral backs in traffic.
He gets off blocks effectively, can make plays down the line and can funnel runners back inside. Bowman is athletic enough to play in space and take down backs in the open too.
But Bowman has some work to do to transition to linebacker. He has to improve his range first and foremost, as right now he's far from a sideline-to-sideline defender. His lateral agility, speed and footwork all must be taken up a notch. Bowman must prove he can cover too, as he's had limited experience picking up tight ends who cross his face.
Also, Bowman has several technical areas to shore up, including his leverage; his hand placement; and his tackling. He has to take tighter closing angles and also become more precise with his movements.
After a couple years of ironing out the kinks, though, Bowman could be an effective contributor in college. The talent is there; it just needs to be molded.
With Bowman’s recruitment, he seems to be focused on the same handful of schools: Maryland, Syracuse and Marshall. (He keeps talking about South Carolina, but that’s not going to happen). It’s clear the Douglass backer wants in at either College Park or the New York school, but the question is 1) his transcripts and 2) where he sits on the Terps’ and Orange’s respective boards.
Bowman has visited UMD and SU and wants to return for officials after his season. Both staffs have maintained contact and expressed interest in having Bowman on board.
But the Terps, for their part, may be eying up Ellis Brooks (Benedictine/Richmond, Va.) for their inside backer spot. They might only come around to Bowman if it’s obvious Brooks is heading elsewhere.
Either way, look for UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim to continue recruiting Bowman in earnest. Bowman has taken a liking to Abdul-Rahim and counts him as one of his favorite coaches.
The Orange, meanwhile, are prioritizing Bowman and do have a spot for him currently. But they’re waiting on his academics and want to see if he’ll qualify. Bowman personally told me he had raised his GPA and should be fine, but we’ll know for sure down the road.
If Maryland and Syracuse fall through, Marshall could be Bowman’s best option. The Herd coaches have been on Bowman hard, and the interest seems somewhat reciprocal.
You can read more about Bowman HERE.
More News On Top Targets
Anthony McFarland, RB, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): Scout’s Ed O’Brien caught up with the four-star McFarland after DeMatha took on McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.) in Pennsylvania last week. McFarland maintained the same top five suitors -- Maryland, Bama, Miami, Tennessee and Florida -- but now his official visits are coming into focus.
The four-star, who plans to see all five schools at some point, will embark on his first official to Tennessee Sept. 24 and then head to Miami Oct. 8 for its game against Florida State. McFarland will also likely head to Alabama for the Iron Bowl in November. That leaves two December trips to Florida and hometown Maryland, both of which McFarland is in the process of finalizing.
Previously, we didn’t believe the Gators were a true threat for McFarland’s services since he hadn’t really mentioned them before. But he told O’Brien UF was a “dream school” of sorts and he was excited to see the Swamp. Now, it’s possible McFarland might have overstated his interest while on camera, but the comment did give us some pause.
The feeling here is Miami is probably a more serious player given McFarland’s rapport with headman Mark Richt. That said, it’s odd he’s taking his Coral Gables, Fla., trip so early. It may or may not make a difference in the end, but the DeMatha runner will be exposed to three more programs after seeing the Hurricanes. (Often times, recruits wind up at the schools freshest in their minds. But that’s not always the case.)
One of which will be Alabama. The Tide were trending at one time, but we’re maintaining our stance that McFarland won’t be a “take” for headman Nick Saban. Again, McFarland’s shifty, scat-back style doesn’t fit the Tide’s power offense. Plus, Saban’s bound to find a similarly-talented runner who isn’t coming off a season-ending injury like the DeMatha product.
The Terps, for their part, remain in a strong spot. They could very well be the beneficiaries of McFarland’s final official, which is always an envious position to be in. Even during this recent interview, McFarland gave Maryland its due, mentioning his relationship with the staff and the fact it presents an opportunity to shine at the local school.
Look for McFarland to end his recruitment sometime in January, shortly after his UMD and UF trips.
Our gut is he could very well be a Terp, but let’s see how his initial officials go before jumping the gun.
Note: Tennessee is probably running fifth in this race. McFarland’s not going to the Volunteers unless his other suitors fall by the wayside.
Trey Creamer, WR, Cartersville (Ga.): Scout’s Chad Simmons touched base with Creamer this week, and the three-star’s on the verge of taking four official visits. Creamer wants to see Michigan State, Minnesota, Maryland and Purdue coming up before choosing a destination Oct. 15.
That Oct. 15 decision date is actually the same day he’ll be in College Park for the first time. Creamer said he’ll be taking in the Minnesota game in Maryland Stadium, and he “can’t wait to get on campus and see how it feels.”
At first blush, that sounds like an imminent Terps’ pop. But, as we’ve mentioned before, Creamer’s probably not a “take” for the staff at this stage.
Creamer acknowledged he was trying to get back in touch with offensive coordinator Walt Bell during a previous article, and it doesn’t seem like the two have really connected. The Cartersville product detailed his relationship with every other staff in contact with him, but he failed to mention Bell or the Maryland coaches during the Simmons interview.
Thus, we’re not so sure Creamer follows through with that Oct. 15 UMD official. In fact, he might just end his recruitment a week early if he finds a fit at one of his other suitors, who all want Creamer as a defensive back.
Michigan State could be the frontrunner if the Spartans’ staff truly wants him (highly questionable). Creamer had the utmost praise for MSU and is higher on the East Lansing, Mich., program than any other.
He had positive comments for Minnesota and Purdue too, in addition to Tulane, a school he’s already seen before and couldn’t say enough about (read: Louisiana vibe, coaching staff’s ardent pursuit). In fact, it wouldn’t surprise if Creamer ended up at Tulane if his Big Ten offerees aren’t ready to accept his commitment.
With that in mind, we’re not projecting Creamer to Maryland, but maybe down the line he’d be a fit if other wideouts fall by the wayside. If Creamer does intend to commit Oct. 15, however, it’ll probably be to another institution.
Travis Koontz, TE, Boardman (Youngstown, Ohio): There isn’t much new with the tight end Koontz, who we reported on last week, except that he officially decommitted from Bowling Green Sept. 14. The move was expected, as Koontz had expressed interest in checking out some of his larger suitors for official visits this fall. Those more significant offerees include Maryland and Illinois, with Penn State in play should the Nittany Lions’ staff ante up.
With the Terps, it’s tight ends coach Pete Lembo and UMD-area recruiter Dave Borbely on Koontz, the Boardman product in regular communication with the former. Koontz, who was somewhat familiar with Lembo when the coach was at Ball State, has taken a liking to him as a person. The three-star likes that Maryland’s in the Big Ten, presents terrific academic opportunities and has an offense that uses multiple tight ends.
Illinois has Koontz’ eye thanks to head coach Lovie Smith’s presence in Champagne, Ill. But Penn State, which Koontz camped at back in June in hopes of landing a scholarship, could be the real threat here. Koontz had been hearing off and on from the Nittany Lions’ coaches since then, but once the staff missed out on tight end target Reese Leitao (Jenks, Okla.), talks increased. Now, it’s conceivable Koontz’ coveted PSU offer could materialize. Currently, the Penn State staff is debating whether or not to take a tight end in the 2017 class, or just hold off until 2018.
Either way, Koontz is in the process of finalizing visit dates to all three of the latter locales. There’s a chance he could make it to Maryland and Illinois sometime in October, but, if not, he’ll wait until after his senior season before venturing out.
For the time being, we like the Terps’ position and have him listed “warm” on the hot board. That temperature will increase to “hot” if Penn State falls off and opts not to extend a scholarship.
Tyran Hunt, OT, Southampton (Courtland, Va.): The three-star tackle Hunt took his first official to Syracuse Sept. 9, and he returned home raving. Hunt told Scout’s Michael Clark he and his mother had a terrific time in New York, and now the Orange are one of his four foremost suitors.
That’s all well and good, but we don’t envision Hunt winding up at Cuse. He’s more likely going to Va Tech, Maryland or maybe Duke, three other schools in the running.
Previously, Hunt said the Terps were “standing out” after his July 30 trek to College Park -- and he didn’t back off that statement in the Clark interview. Hunt has a great relationship with UMD-area recruiter Mike London and offensive line coach Dave Borbely. He knows Maryland is in need of tackles and senses the opportunity for early playing time. On top of that, he likes the university’s academics and that it’s not too far from his Courtland home.
Expect Hunt to return to College Park for an official either Oct. 1 or Oct. 22 for the Michigan State game.
But Virginia Tech is going to be tough to top. Long believed to be the favorites, the Hokies’ staff has left a major impression on Hunt. He’s had naught but praise for the hometown school and the program Justin Fuente’s building. Hunt will be taking a Blacksburg, Va., official down the line, and the sense is he could pop to the Hokies shortly thereafter.
Duke is a darkhorse in this race, but it certainly wouldn’t shock if the Blue Devils’ coaches turned the tide during Hunt’s Durham, N.C., official later in the fall. Hunt is all about academics, so it’s conceivable Duke’s prestigious degree could win him over.
Hunt is planning to enroll early, so the latest he’d commit would be December. Expect him to conclude his recruitment before then, however.
Harrison Hand, CB, Cherry Hill-West (Cherry Hill, N.J.): The Jersey corner Hand landed a game-changing offer Sept. 11 when Missouri pulled through with a scholarship. Needless to say, the 5-11.5, 183-pound Hand was thrilled with the SEC look and is seriously considering an official visit to Columbia, Mo.
But regardless of whether or not the Tigers become a true player here, the offer is significant in and of itself.
Basically, it just opened the doors to the SEC.
No, the top-level SEC programs aren’t going to come calling, but we could see a South Carolina; a Kentucky; a TAMU and possibly others in the Big Ten and ACC jumping on the Hand bandwagon with late offers.
Of course, we’re not sure it’ll make that much of a difference in the long run. Hand is set to officially visit Virginia Tech Sept. 17, and we’ve heard the Hokies could have the inside track. The Cherry Hill prospect is smitten with Va Tech’s defensive reputation and has a tight-knit bond with the staff.
Hometown Rutgers, which Hand is officially visiting Oct. 8, is also in the game, with headman Chris Ash working hard to keep the local in-state. But we keep hearing the corner would rather play his college ball outside of the Northeast.
The Terps should be the recipients of an official as well, though no date has been set yet. Hand is in touch with UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and area recruiter Anthony Tucker, readily taking to both. Furthermore, he believes he could have an immediate impact in Maryland’s defense.
But let’s see how Hand’s recruiting situation shakes out in the next month or two before predicting a future destination. If he continues to gain steam on the trail, the likes of UMD, RU and maybe even Va Tech could be placed on the backburner.
New Offers Out
Rodney Scott, WR, Miami Southridge (Miami, Fla.): Scott picked up a Maryland offer courtesy of Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry Sept. 13, but the Terps might be a bit late to the game.
Scott is considered a West Virginia lean and will be embarking on a Morgantown, W.Va., official this fall. The Mountaineers’ staff has made a push for Scott ever since the Miami staff parted ways with the Southridge prospect.
Kentucky’s coaches have also been heavily involved, and the Wildcats are likely running second in the race. Illinois and Washington State are in the game too and could be the recipients of officials.
The Terps might receive a trip as well, as Scott did say he had interest in the program. Maybe if he actually turns up in College Park, UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty can gain some inroads here.
But until Scott sets that visit, we’re skeptical Scott’s going to wind up at Maryland. Word is he could pop to WVU shortly after checking out the Mountaineers.
We’ll list Scott “cool” on the hot board for now.
Tancey Richardson, CB/WR, South Aiken (Aiken, S.C.): Richardson claimed a Maryland verbal Sept. 13, but we’re not sure it’s committable quite yet. UMD graduate assistant Brawley Evans evidently tossed the offer Richardson’s way, but it may have been one of those “placeholder” looks meant to ensure the Terps remain in the game in case they need a corner/receiver down the road.
If the UMD staff did push, however, they would probably be well positioned to bring the 6-0, 190-pound three-star in. First of all, Richardson’s good friends with UMD receiver commit Sean Nelson, who has let the South Carolina prospect know all about the Terps. Secondly, Maryland represents one of Richardson’s most significant suitors to date.
“Man, that was a big one. I’d heard about Maryland, and it’s great that I can now pursue them further,” Richardson said. “Sean [Nelson] was telling me how great of a program it is and how the coaches really know how to use the talent. He said Maryland’s on the rise and it’s a great place to be. He wants me up there with him in their 2017 class. And that’s something I’m interested in; I want to get up there for an official visit.”
Richardson also claims offers from schools like South Carolina, Mississippi State, Illinois, Southern Miss, Colorado State, Charlotte, Kent State and more. But we’re fairly certain the Gamecocks’, Bulldogs’, Illini’s and Sun Devils’ looks aren’t committable. Richardson admitted as much in the interview, saying he wasn’t in regular contact with the latter staffs (Mississippi State being the exception).
Thus, Richardson is listing Colorado State as a top contender, while acknowledging the other two schools pushing hard for him were Kent State and Coastal Carolina. That in and of itself suggests the Terps’ verbal, along with the other major offers, probably aren’t officially on the table.
For now, we’ll list Richardson “cool” on the hot board, keeping an eye out to see if the Terps’ staff ups the pursuit.
You can read more about Richardson HERE.
O.J. Tucker, CB, Vanguard (Ocala, Fla.): Tucker committed to Georgia Tech back in August, but he’s made it clear he’ll be looking around and taking official visits. Evidently since the Jackets have five cornerback commits and numerous underclassmen on the current roster, Tucker’s inclined to look around.
Nebraska, which was the three-star’s very first offer, figures to get an official visit and could be the team to beat. But Tucker is considering trips to Maryland, Wake Forest and possibly more too.
The 6-0, 190-pounder received an offer from UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim Sept. 13, and the recruit appreciated what the assistant had to say about the Terps. Tucker knows Maryland needs corners and senses a chance to contribute early during his college career.
“Even before I committed, Maryland was an offer I was looking for,” Tucker said. “I like the Big Ten; that’s a great conference. And also, Coach Rahim said he has two seniors that are probably leaving after this year, so he needs corners. He was saying he’s bringing in four corners this year and they’re going to get a chance to compete for time. So that was big, and then I know Coach [D.J.] Durkin he did a great job at Florida and Michigan. I like that he’s a defensive-minded [head coach].”
Tucker should be taking his Maryland official sometime in October, perhaps for the Oct. 22 Michigan State game. He’ll be checking out Wake Forest earlier in October, and then Nebraska in late October/early November.
Right now, most believe Tucker is going to flip to Nebraska, but let’s see what happens after he sees College Park. Perhaps Abdul-Rahim and Co. can coax out a pop before he makes it to Lincoln, Neb.
You can read more about Tucker HERE.
Justin Johnson, OT, Imhotep (Philadelphia, Pa.) (2018): The Terps were the latest to offer the 6-6, 330-pound Johnson. It's difficult to gauge where he is however, because there are so many schools after him: UMass, Mizzou,Pitt and more.
We've heard Mizzou might have the edge, but it's early in his recruitment. We'll see if he makes it down to UMD for a visit.
Off The Board
Noah Curtis, DE, American Heritage (Delray Beach, Fla.): Curtis has been off the radar for awhile, but this week I touched base with him just to be sure where he stood. Curtis told me he was mainly concentrating on UNC and NC State, with an official set for Chapel Hill, N.C., in January. He’s looking to take officials to State, Arkansas and FAU as well.
The Heels are considered the frontrunners, but they might not have room for him by the winter. If not, the Wolfpack are primary players and could be Curtis’ destination.
Maryland area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim offered Curtis back during the spring, and the edge rusher said the Terps held appeal. He liked the idea of playing in the Big Ten, and had heard about UMD from current Maryland star and fellow Floridians Will Likely.
But Abdul-Rahim and Co. haven’t pushed since then, and we don’t envision them doing so unless multiple defensive line recruits fall by the wayside.