Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football-recruiting roundup.
Checking Out Northern (Owings, Md.), North Point (Waldorf, Md.) & St. John’s (Washington, D.C.)
I took in the Northern-North Point game Nov. 4 in order to watch a pair of 2018 left tackles the Terps’ staff is after: Jaelyn Duncan and Rasheed Walker. The 6-foot-6, 300-pound Duncan has offers from Maryland, Ohio State, WVU, Penn State, Va Tech and Temple, while the 6-5, 280-pound Walker holds verbals from UMD; Michigan; Ohio State; WVU: Florida; UNC; Va Tech and Pitt.
As the above suitors would indicate, both project as impact performers at the top levels of college football.
Duncan’s first college look actually came from the Terps, and he’s maintained heavy interest in Maryland for months now. He reiterated UMD was his clear leader Nov. 4, ahead of Ohio State and his other major offers.
Duncan is forming a steady relationship with UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and likes the coach personally. He has also been able to connect with line coach Dave Borbely and head coach D.J. Durkin during several forays through College Park for camps; games; and random visits. The big left tackle was just at Maryland Oct. 22 for the Michigan State affair, Duncan talking up the staff once again. He lauded the UMD fans, the atmosphere inside Maryland Stadium and the Terps’ overall play as well.
It’s obvious Duncan, who is set to return to Maryland Nov. 12, is comfortable at the hometown school and is keen on the idea of playing in front of family and friends. At the same time, as Duncan’s offer list has expanded, some other programs have his eye to some extent. Namely, the Buckeyes, which the Northern product extolled after his summer came in Columbus, Ohio. Penn State, Virginia Tech and a couple others are on Duncan’s mind too, the DMV tackle seeking to check out each during the offseason. Plus, there are more programs bound to ante up in time, giving Duncan even more options to delve into and potentially visit.
But the sense is Duncan is Maryland’s to lose, and the Terps might be able to coax an early commitment out of the big left tackle.
Strengths: Size, length, athleticism, flexibility, agility, deftness, footwork, strength, quickness, initial step, ability to anchor
Areas of Improvement: Leverage, hand placement, extension, hand quickness, point-of-attack power, finishing, punch, awareness
With Walker, who will be visiting UMD Nov. 12, Maryland continues to trend in a major way. Even as his recruiting profile has expanded, the Terps are resonating thanks to Aazaar Abdul-Rahim’s overtures and his interactions with the staff as a whole. Walker has been in College Park several times, including for a game earlier this fall, and has raved about his experiences. He likes being around the players and coaches, has talked up the atmosphere in and around campus, and believes in the future of the football program. Additionally, Walker is buying into head coach D.J. Durkin’s message about keeping the local talent home and building UMD into a winner on a foundation of in-state prospects.
But, like Jaelyn Duncan, Walker is going to vet his growing options. He’s been to both Penn State (he was there Oct. 22) and Ohio State, Walker gushing over the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes. (He also enjoyed a September trip to Rutgers). Both OSU and PSU are major threats to Maryland for Walker’s services. Moreover, Walker has his eye on Florida, Michigan, North Carolina and others.
The North Point tackle will be embarking on numerous visits during the offseason, with each of the aforementioned programs in mind.
We’re encouraged by the Terps’ position with Walker, but it’s too soon to forecast him to College Park just yet.
Strengths: Size, frame, first-step quickness, hand speed, athleticism, agility, flexibility, punch, quickness, ability to anchor
Areas of Improvement: Strength, point-of-attack power, overall power, finishing, hand placement, leverage, footwork, extension
You can read more about Duncan HERE.
You can read more about Walker HERE.
A day after watching the Northern-North Point game, I stopped by Paint Branch (Burtonsville, Md.) for the St. John’s-Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) showdown to look at Terps’ BUCK target Kofi Wardlow. I didn’t see the need to talk to the 6-3, 240-pounder for an in-depth article since he’s given somewhere around 15-20 interviews the last two weeks, but I did “feel” the situation out.
From what I was able to gather, Wardlow is going to take his time and at least check out a couple of his other suitors like Michigan State and maybe Pittsburgh or Rutgers. He might even make it back to Virginia Tech after taking in a Hokies’ game in October.
The St. John’s edge rusher last visited UMD in late October and came away raving about the academics, the coaching staff, their overarching message, and how they treated he and his family. Wardlow believes the Terps are on the up-and-up under head coach D.J. Durkin and likes the idea of staying home and showing out for his hometown school.
Given that, we do believe Maryland has the inside track, although we’re a tad leery of the Hokies and Spartans. We’ll have to see what he’s thinking after those trips, but we’ll keep forecasting Wardlow to College Park until we hear otherwise.
As far as his game is concerned, Wardlow’s an athletic playmaker, and he should be able to carve out a niche at an FBS program after a couple years. Remember, he’s only been playing football for a short while, so he’s a bit raw fundamentally. But once Wardlow refines his technique he projects as a significant contributor at the next level.
Strengths: Athleticism, agility, flexibility, initial quicks, closing speed, backside pursuit, tacking, disengaging ability, deftness
Areas of Improvement: Strength, point-of-attack power, leverage, hand placement, extension, rush moves, footwork, edge containment, awareness
You can read more about Wardlow HERE.
Notes On Top Targets
Anthony McFarland, RB, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): Scout’s Brian Dohn caught up with the four-star McFarland after his game Nov. 4, and the DeMatha runner let on he’d be officially visiting Maryland Dec. 9. (He’ll be at Maryland’s game against Ohio State Nov. 12). That’s a significant date, because it’s when many of the Terps’ current 2017 commits will be taking their officials, along with target Kofi Wardlow and several others.
We surmised the UMD staff would want to expose McFarland to this type of atmosphere, and it looks like they’ll get their wish. More than likely, McFarland’s friend and former teammate, D.J. Turner, will host him, and the four-star will probably spend the majority of his stay around the other DMV players and commits.
And the sense is that official could solidify UMD’s spot atop McFarland’s leaderboard.
But that’s not a given.
For the time being, McFarland has taken a liking to Miami in the wake of his official to Coral Gables, Fla. We’re not so sure the Canes are going to be trending all the way until February, but McFarland’s longtime affinity for head coach Mark Richt and the Miami staff makes us wary. (McFarland told Dohn he had “the best” relationship with the Canes’ coaches).
Penn State is also somewhat involved, McFarland telling Dohn he had an eye-opening trip to State College, Pa., thanks to the atmosphere inside Beaver Stadium. That said, we don’t believe the Nittany Lions are going to jump the Terps or Hurricanes in the pecking order.
With Alabama, McFarland will follow through with an official for the Iron Bowl. But, as we’ve written time and again, the DeMatha runner doesn’t seem like an ideal fit in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Expect McFarland to finalize his decision at the Under Armour All-American game. We’re keeping him “hot” on the hot board until we hear differently.
Sean Savoy, Slot, Wilson (Washington, D.C.): Talk about an intriguing name we haven’t brought up in months.
Recall, the Terps’ staff had some concerns about Savoy’s academic profile back in the spring/summer, leading them not to push in earnest. Plus, assistant Chris Beatty seemed to have a bead on slot receiver Tahj Capehart (Bishop Sullivan Catholic/Virginia Beach, Va.), which would have precluded the need for Savoy. Thus, Savoy ended up committing to Virginia Tech July 23 and has remained a firm pledge since then.
But apparently Savoy’s grades are in order, and the Terps, despite having five receiver commits, lack a dynamic slot man. So area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and Beatty have kept the communication open, the two attempting to flip the 5-9 playmaker.
And Savoy is heeding their words -- somewhat.
The Wilson three-star quietly trekked over to UMD earlier during the fall for a sitdown with the staff, and we heard it was productive. Now, Savoy is set to return to College Park for the Nov. 12 game against Ohio State, his first time seeing the Terps in action.
The D.C. native hasn’t responded to inquiries of late, probably so he doesn’t cause a stir in Blacksburg, Va., but we’ll attempt to gain more insight following the UMD-OSU affair. At this juncture, though, we’ll simply list Savoy “cool” on the hot board, as he’s given no indication he’s going to flip from Tech.
Sal Cannella, TE, Scottsdale C.C. (Scottsdale, Ariz.): The junior-college tight end Cannella said he’d be officially visiting Maryland shortly after his season ended, and now the date’s set in stone. The Chicago native, who went the JUCO route because he didn’t procure the offers he wanted out of St. Viador High, will be taking in College Park Dec. 2 -- and so far that’s the only trip he has scheduled. Cannella said he’s excited to see what the Terps have to offer and meet the staff in person.
He’s mainly been in contact with UMD assistant Brawley Evans thus far, but he’s had some communication with tight ends coach Pete Lembo and offensive coordinator Walt Bell as well.
Cannella, who has three years of eligibility remaining, knows the Terps need tight ends and senses an opportunity to play early during his career. He’s also intrigued by UMD’s Big Ten affiliation, Under Armour connections and the Terps’ spread offense.
Cannella could take a look at Rutgers, Kansas and Minnesota, his other power-five suitors, though Maryland looks to be positioned fairly well here. (Of course, we’ll have to see if any other coveted offers come in, as Cannella is searching for an SEC look.)
There was some speculation the Terps’ staff might only “take” Cannella, however, if target Blake Williams (Canada Prep/St. Catharines, Ontario) didn’t opt in. But it looks like Cannella has suddenly become the Maryland’s staff’s No. 1 tight-end target, and we do expect the Maryland coaches to push for the Chicagoan (more below).
Blake Williams, TE, St. Catharines (Ontario): As recently as late October, the Oklahoma tight end Williams was practically a Terps’ lock. Williams had visited College Park twice unofficially, couldn’t say enough about offensive coordinator Walt Bell and his offense, and absolutely loved interacting with the UMD coaches and players. On top of that, Williams didn’t secure the coveted offers from Big 12/SEC programs near his Oklahoma home, leaving Maryland as the obvious choice.
But we started to grow somewhat skeptical after the Terps’ coaches extended an offer to tight end Sal Cannella (see above) last month. At first, we figured the scholarship was insurance in case something went awry with Williams, and then we thought maybe the UMD staff would be willing to take both with the lack of production from current Maryland tight ends.
This week, however, we dug a bit deeper after Williams didn’t respond to inquiries regarding his status. The thinking now is Bell and Co. may no longer be after Williams in earnest. The St. Catharines three-star missed all of last season due to a medical condition, and this year a knee injury has precluded him from playing a single down. Thus, the Terps’ coaches may be leery about taking a chance on the athletic playmaker since he’s produced no film since the 2014 season at Mustang High (Okla.).
We’ve shifted Williams to “cool” on the hot board. In the meantime, we’ll continue to monitor the situation in case there’s any movement on either end.
Josh Paschal, BUCK, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.): We had a feeling this might happen. Quality defensive linemen are annually in short supply, and thus the established stars or high-upside talents are often scooped up by big-name suitors.
And now the national programs are back on the four-star Paschal.
Notre Dame recently lost a commitment from Donovan Jeter (Beaver Falls, Pa.), and the Irish staff needs a defensive end. Naturally, they’ve reinitiated contact with Paschal and have the four-star’s ear once again.
“The school is amazing,” Paschal told our colleagues who cover UND. “Coach (Brian) Kelly always says it's a 40-year decision, not a four-year decision.”
The Irish aren’t the only contender for Paschal. Oklahoma, which he officially visited in September, remains firmly in play and could be running anywhere from first to third in the pecking order.
Plus, Paschal is hearing more and more from Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson, per Scout’s Brian Dohn. The Buckeyes’ staff hadn’t been pressing for Paschal until recently, but it would be a mistake to underestimate head coach Urban Meyer and Johnson on the trail, regardless of when they enter the picture. It wouldn’t shock us if Paschal ended up taking an official to Columbus.
Kentucky, meanwhile, hadn’t been broached in conjunction with Paschal in quite awhile, but apparently his brother is on the Wildcats’ staff. Paschal was just in Lexington, Kent., too for the Kentucky-Georgia game, and it sounds like he saw enough to at least place the Wildcats among his main five contenders.
But Maryland is still in the thick of things, and Paschal will be taking in yet another game in College Park. He told Dohn he wanted to check out the Terps in a “big-game environment” against Ohio State Nov. 12. That’s a positive sign for Maryland and an indication Paschal’s interest in the hometown school is genuine.
The four-star has a close bond with multiple UMD coaches and has thoroughly enjoyed each stay in College Park. Paschal has also bought into head coach D.J. Durkin’s message about building the hometown school into a winner.
But we’re becoming a bit less optimistic about Paschal winding up at Maryland with the four-star willing to entertain the bigwigs. We’ll be closely monitoring which programs the Olney native sets officials to, with an eye on a potential date in South Bend.
Vic Dimukeje, DE/BUCK, Boys’ Latin (Baltimore, Md.): Based on interviews alone, it’s difficult to make any sort of call on Dimukeje. Scout’s Brian Dohn was the latest to touch base with the DMV three-star, Dimukeje giving no hints whatsoever which program he was leaning towards. In fact, the recruit actually added a contender to his leaderboard, making this a more complicated situation to decipher.
Here’s what we know:
Dimukeje has Maryland, Duke, Va Tech, Wake Forest and Rutgers in play, though at least one of those can probably be eliminated off the bat. The Blue Devils, at one time a surefire landing spot, likely don’t have room for the Boys’ Latin prospect at this juncture. It’s possible a slot could open up this winter, but for now we’re not sure Dimukeje is a “take” for Duke’s staff.
The rest of the schools, though, still have an opening or two and would accept the Baltimore resident’s pledge.
Virginia Tech, thanks to its defensive reputation and defensive coordinator Bud Foster, had been trending for awhile, but the Dohn interview suggested otherwise. The Hokies are on Dimukeje’s mind, and the three-star does want to officially visit Blacksburg, but the Tech coaches may have other targets in mind. If the Va Tech staff does push for a pop, however, that could be Dimukeje’s destination.
Rutgers, for its part, is new to the favorites list. The Scarlet Knights’ coaches need D-line help, and thus they’ve ramped up the pursuit. The edge rusher, in turn, appreciates their efforts and seems inclined to check out Piscataway, N.J. Dimukeje didn’t say too much enlightening about the school during the Dohn interview, but he does like that RU is in fairly close proximity to his Baltimore home.
With Maryland, recruiter Mike London continues to pursue in earnest. UMD’s defensive line coach and Dimukeje have been in touch for months now, and there’s plenty of mutual respect between the two sides. Additionally, Dimukeje is comfortable in College Park, is keen on playing near his family and believes in the direction head coach D.J. Durkin has taken the program.
Although Dimukeje has reneged on a couple intended Maryland trips, it sounds like his interest remains genuine. He could be officially visiting Dec. 9 with the Terps’ other top DMV targets.
But of the above institutions, Wake Forest still looks like the best fit for Dimukeje. Not only is Winston Salem, N.C., near where the recruit is originally from, but it fits the small-school, academic-oriented atmosphere Dimukeje covets. Plus, the Deacons can offer immediate playing time, which appeals to the Boys’ Latin product.
But, again, this is a somewhat difficult call with Dimukeje maintaining an open mind. We’ll know more after he embarks on official visits.
As far as a commitment date, Dimukeje said he could pop at any time if he finds the right fit. This is a prospect who might end his recruitment out of the blue, so we’ll be paying close attention to his official visits this December and January.
P.J. Mustipher, DT, McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) (2018): Scout’s Brian Dohn stopped by McDonogh late last week, and he touched base with the four-star defensive tackle Mustipher for a complete rundown. The 6-5, 285-pounder discussed Notre Dame, the presumptive favorite; Penn State; Ohio State; Tennessee; and Maryland. Mustipher isn’t claiming any leaders at this stage, but it’s clear those five schools are on the brain, with the Irish holding the early edge thanks to the McDonogh product’s familiarity with the school and program. (For the uninitiated, Mustipher’s brother, Sam, attends UND).
Mustipher hasn’t been to South Bend, Ind., this fall, but he should be attending the Irish’s game against Virginia Tech. The junior said he speaks to the staff daily and is eager to keep the relationship going.
With PSU, Mustipher has been praising the Nittany Lions for quite some time, and he had a chance to see a game earlier during the fall, which resonated in a major way. He said the coaches “want me bad” and have made him a top priority.
As for Ohio State, Mustipher has a longstanding bond with defensive line coach Larry Johnson, and said he hears from headman Urban Meyer “daily.” He’s been in Columbus for a game and should be returning during the offseason.
Next up, the McDonogh four-star discussed his visit to Tennessee for its game against Alabama. He mentioned how he’s now seen the Vols twice, and on both occasions he’s thoroughly enjoyed himself. Mustipher wants to head back to Rocky Top so his mom can see the school as well.
And Maryland, well, Mustipher always speaks highly of head coach D.J. Durkin’s program:
“I see a lot in Maryland,” he said. “It’s the home school, it’s right around corner, and my mom would love it if I went there too. Coach Durkin, I can tell he’s serious about it, he’s going to be there, and he wants to build the program up. I appreciate what he’s doing for Maryland.”
The latter sounds encouraging, but, again, we’re somewhat skeptical Durkin and area recruiter Mike London are going to be able to convince Mustipher to stay local. The Terps will remain in play throughout the process, though, so let’s see if they can work up the totem poll as the year moves along.
Louis Acceus, OLB, St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.): The three-star outside linebacker Acceus, who can also play inside linebacker or potentially safety, said he was “trying” to make Maryland’s game against Ohio State Nov. 12. As has been the case with the Jersey product in the past, his attendance is predicated upon his brother’s ability to get off of work.
But even if Acceus can’t attend, it’s a positive sign he wants to return to College Park. He’s been at UMD twice before, and after his second jaunt, in the spring, he dubbed the Terps his leader. Acceus has a tight rapport with linebackers coach Matt Barnes, loves the campus and the coming facility upgrades, and believes he’d fit well into Maryland’s defense. On top of that, Acceus said his older brother, whom he confides in often, readily took to UMD as well.
True, the St. Joe’s linebacker is not the Maryland coaches’ No. 1 target at outside or inside backer, but if one or two primary recruits fall off, the Terps’ staff would gladly jump on the Montvale native.
But they’d have to stave off a couple other suitors before doing so.
Acceus no longer has the Terps atop the totem poll, instead placing Rutgers; UNC; Va Tech; and UMD on an even plane. The hometown Scarlet Knights have a bead, mainly because it would allow Acceus to stay close to his family, but he likes the Tar Heels a good deal too.
We won’t know where he truly stands, however, until he begins embarking on officials. His situation could change depending on which schools’ staffs truly want him, but expect Acceus to take officials to each of Maryland, RU and UNC before choosing his destination sometime during the winter.
Ellis Brooks, ILB, Benedictine (Richmond, Va.): Brooks said he wasn’t going to take official visits until after his senior season, but he backed off that statement and opted to head to Northwestern Nov. 4-6. Brooks hadn’t broached the Wildcats much during previous interviews, mainly because he didn’t even have an offer from them until Nov. 1. But apparently the Northwestern coaches urged him to come out and the school’s education caught his eye, so the Benedictine product complied.
After the foray, it sounds like the Wildcats are going to be a factor for Brooks. They probably don’t lead for his services, but the official certainly vaulted them up the leaderboard. Brooks spoke highly of the Northwestern coaches, how they treated him and how easily he connected with the players. He likes the campus, the facilities, the school’s location in Chicago and, of course, the academic aspects.
Next up, look for Brooks to set officials to Virginia Tech, Maryland and maybe one or two other schools. (He’s seeking a Michigan offer, but at this point we don’t envision it materializing). As we mentioned a few weeks ago, the Terps are currently leading the Hokies for Brooks since Va Tech’s staff backed off a bit. The Hokies’ coaches would still accept Brooks’ commitment if he wanted in, but apparently they’re fairly set at linebacker.
Maryland’s staff, on the other hand, needs Brooks and has been in hot pursuit. UMD-area recruiter Mike London has an established rapport with the recruit and his father, giving the Terps a leg up. Moreover, Brooks has been up to College Park several times, including for a game in September, and has praised the campus; upcoming facility upgrades; and the academics. He’s close with the rest of the coaches, knows he can contribute early during his career and thinks the Terps are on the rise in the Big Ten.
Expect Brooks, who would’ve been at UMD’s game Nov. 12 if not for his high school playoff, to take his Maryland official sometime in early December. We’ll continue projecting him to UMD before the New Year, with Brooks set to enroll in January.
Marcus Bowman, ILB, Douglass (Upper Marlboro, Md.): The local defensive end/BUCK/inside linebacker Bowman will be attending the Terps’ game Nov. 12, the first time he’s been in Maryland Stadium this fall. Most of Bowman’s high school games this year were on Saturdays, precluding from heading over to College Park, while the one occasion he was free on a weekend, when the Terps played Michigan State, he had a transportation issue.
The Douglass edge rusher said he’s still in contact with UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, but it might just be courtesy communication at this point. Bowman isn’t the Maryland staff’s priority at either inside linebacker or BUCK, plus his transcripts may be a bit shaky.
But Abdul-Rahim will keep the communication lines open in case the Terps can’t reel in Ellis Brooks (discussed above) or whiff on their multiple BUCK options. If that scenario comes to fruition, maybe the Terps’ coaches can take Bowman and hope he qualifies late a la Richard Merritt last year.
Either way, the Terps’ coaches can afford to wait, because Bowman doesn’t have other power-five suitors right now. Syracuse, once thought to be the favorites, has moved on, per our contacts, and it’s questionable whether Temple’s and Marshall’s staffs remain in the game.
Devon Hunter, S, Indian River (Chesapeake, Va.): The five-star safety Hunter was someone we wrote off months ago, but UMD recruiter Chris Beatty has remained on the Hampton Roads product. Beatty has known Hunter since the coach was at Wisconsin and the two have a solid bond.
And evidently Hunter feels strongly enough about his rapport with Beatty to trek north to College Park for the Maryland-Ohio State game Nov. 12. Hunter, who will be attending with Terps’ pledge Dazz Newsome (Hampton, Va.), was last at UMD back in the spring, giving some pro-Terps comments afterwards.
“Coach Beatty and Coach [D.J.] Durkin told me I could help turn the whole program around and make history at Maryland,” Hunter said previously. “They told me I was a very important recruit to them.”
That’s all well and good, but after checking in with our Virginia sources, the chances of Hunter ultimately choosing Maryland are slim. The five-star just released a top-five favorites list Oct. 30, listing Va Tech; Florida; UNC; Auburn (visited Oct. 22); and Alabama (visiting Nov. 26) as his foremost contenders.
Of those, the hometown Hokies and the Gators are trending, according to Scout’s Mike Clark. We’re led to believe it would be a surprise if he didn’t pick one of those two schools.
Jon Lovett, S, Cherokee (Marlton, N.J.): Maryland area-recruiter Matt Barnes and Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry went after the Garden State prospect Lovett during the spring, when the Terps were in need of a running back. But the UMD coaches backed off in favor of Tayon Fleet-Davis (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.) and Javon Leake (Page/Greensboro, N.C.), allowing the three-star back to head to Rutgers.
But Lovett also plays defense, and at 6-1, 190 pounds, projects just as well as a safety or linebacker as he does a running back. And with the Terps in need of athletic, lengthy defenders, the coaches are seemingly back on the Cherokee recruit.
Granted, Lovett is a firm Scarlet Knights’ commit and may or may not entertain such overtures. But he did visit College Park twice during the winter and spring, talking up the UMD coaches; the team; the facilities; the renovated dorms; and the direction the program is heading.
Nothing is imminent here, but keep Lovett’s name in mind heading into the winter months. Don’t be shocked if he decides to officially visit College Park.
We’re listing him “cool” on the hot board.
O.J. Tucker, CB, Vanguard (Ocala, Fla.): Tucker created some social-media buzz earlier this week when he began re-tweeting Maryland material, suggesting a flip could be imminent. But, really, nothing much has changed with the three-star Georgia Tech pledge.
Remember, back when the 6-1, 190-pounder landed his Terps’ offer from defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim in mid-September, he basically intimated UMD and Nebraska had his attention first and foremost. Tucker admitted he committed to the Yellow Jackets a tad early, making a somewhat rash decision after a summer trip to Atlanta, Ga.
The mindset remains the same almost two months later.
Tucker will be officially visiting College Park sometime in December or after the dead period ends in January, and he’ll be trekking to Lincoln, Neb., around the same time. The Vanguard prospect could allow the Yellow Jackets’ coaches a chance to keep him in tow with an official, but we didn’t sense that was a given.
“Maryland’s a great program and it looks like a great opportunity. I like Coach Rahim and that [the Terps] need corners,” Tucker said this week. “I like what Coach [D.J.] Durkin did at Florida and Michigan [too]. And I like Coach [Brian] Stewart at Nebraska, and I have a great relationship with him too.
“But I’m not flipping or decommitting or anything like that until I take some visits, you know? I have to see the schools first.”
With the above in mind, we’re encouraged by Maryland’s chances at prying Tucker away from Tech. If he has a standout trip to College Park in December, we think he could flip on campus, before trekking to Lincoln.
Tucker has been shifted to “hot” on the hot board.
Nov. 12 Visitors
The Terps have a significant home date against Ohio State Nov. 12, and numerous elite prospects will be in attendance. They include:
Class of 2017
Anthony McFarland, RB, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): Discussed above
Sean Savoy, Slot, Wilson (Washington, D.C.): Discussed above
Josh Paschal, BUCK, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.): Discussed above
Marcus Bowman, ILB/BUCK, Douglass (Upper Marlboro, Md.): Discussed above
Louis Acceus, OLB, St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.): Discussed above
Lynn Bowden, S, Warren G. Harding (Youngstown, Ohio): It’s rather interesting the four-star athlete Bowden, who Maryland wants as a defensive back, will be visiting College Park. Bowden is a 6-1, 190-pound Scout 300 prospect, who has been in touch with UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and head coach D.J. Durkin. Of course, the recruit and Durkin share the same hometown, and the two have bonded over that.
Bowden, however, has not broached the Terps in any interviews the last few months. He was originally forecast to Michigan State, but reneged on a couple intended trips to East Lansing, Mich. So, the consensus among our Midwest analysts is he’s going to opt for Kentucky, which he just saw Nov. 5.
But maybe this trip to College Park can get Bowden pondering turtles. We’ll see what he’s thinking afterwards, but for now, with most reporters believing he’s Lexington, Kent., bound, we’re leaving him off the hot board.
Class of 2018
Leddie Brown, RB, Smyrna (Elkton, Md.): Former ECA prospect from Delaware… Has offers from WVU, Louisville and UMD… Mountaineers have the early edge… Was last at College Park back in the summer.
Amad Anderson, WR, Curtis (Staten Island, N.Y.): The most dynamic skill player in NYC. … Rutgers on his mind initially… Has a Terps’ offer.
Thomas Booker, TE, Gilman (Baltimore, Md.): Local with high interest in Maryland… Also likes Michigan a lot… Academic recruit.
Elijah McAllister, TE, Rumson Fair Haven (Rumson, N.J.): National TE recruit… Tennessee has his eye for now… Penn State heavy on him too…. This is his first trip to College Park, and he’s been in touch with assistant Pete Lembo.
Evan Gregory, OL, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): DMV lineman who has Maryland up top. … Terps in a very good spot at the moment…. Has been in College Park for several games this year.
Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Northern (Owings, Md.): Discussed above
Rasheed Walker, OT, North Point (Waldorf, Md.): Discussed above
Austin Fontaine, DT, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): National defensive tackle who will drag his recruitment out… Likes UMD a good amount and has been on campus numerous times… SEC, Big Ten elites and Clemson on him.
John Morgan, DE, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): Consistently talks up Penn State, Maryland and Va Tech… Likes PSU a lot… Has been to UMD several times and is close with the staff.
Khalid Jones, ILB, Byrnes (Greenville, S.C.): Received Maryland offer earlier during the fall… First time in College Park… Future four-star is projected to the SEC or a southern school.
Nolan Johnson, CB, Southwest Guilford (High Point, N.C.): Three-star who Maryland offered first… Heavy initial interest in UMD… Could blow up with the Carolina schools, ACC and SEC keeping tabs.
Daymon Williams, CB, Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.): Terps have offered the budding Riverdale recruit. … Not as lengthy as teammate Tariq Castro-Fields, but the 5-11, 175-pounder should be an FBS recruit. … Has solid early interest in hometown school.
Judson Tallandier, CB, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): Syracuse first to offer the 6-2, 180-pounder… A good-looking prospect; Terps should be offering shortly… Has been to College Park before and likes the local school a good deal.
Jarrett Paul, CB, Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.): Should have several regional FBS offers by the spring … 6-1, 190 pounds… Has been to UMD multiple times and is seeking a Terps’ look.
Class of 2019
TyQuan Brown, RB, Freedom (Woodbridge, Va.): Terps were first to offer and Brown will have been to two Maryland games this fall (he was at the Michigan State game too)… Has taken to UMD quite a bit initially… Will blow up, but Terps did well to get involved early.
Myles Miree, RB, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): Budding recruit out of DeMatha… No offers yet, but Terps are keeping tabs.
DeMarcco Hellams, WR, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): Elite local wideout who has had heavy exposure to Maryland… Has been in College Park more times than we can count… Will have his pick of schools, but Terps should be one of his top contenders throughout.
Kevens Grammont, DE, Charlotte Latin (Charlotte, N.C.): Good-looking defensive end at 6-3, 230 and growing… Has been at Maryland twice this fall… High interest in the Terps at this stage.
New Offers Out
Javon Kinlaw, DE, Jones County C.C. (Ellisville, Miss.): Maryland assistant Aazaar Abdul-Rahim has known Kinlaw for years and actually coached him for a season when the Terps’ secondary staffer was at Friendship Collegiate (Washington, D.C.). So, when Abdul-Rahim handed the junior-college defensive end -- who the UMD assistant went after last year as well before academic complications forced the JUCO move -- an offer Nov. 8, Kinlaw was thrilled.
“Man, it was great to hear from Coach Rahim again. I was so excited to hear from him again,” said Kinlaw, who is up to 6-6, 318 pounds . “I’ve known him since I was a baby, for real. He was like a father to me, so to hear from him and to get that Maryland offer, man, it was huge.
“We were touching base, and he said he needed me and I could come in and play right away. And I told him that sounded great. Maryland is my favorite school right now, definitely.”
Kinlaw was born in South Carolina, but he spent most of his life with his mother and older brother in D.C. The former four-star All-American connected with Abdul-Rahim growing up in the nation’s capital, and Kinlaw considers the coach a father figure of sorts.
Kinlaw ended up returning to South Carolina and attending Goose Creek High (S.C.) when Abdul-Rahim departed FCA for the college ranks, but the edge rusher said he still has much affinity for the D.C. area and his former high school coach. He’s eager to return to the DMV and reconnect with Abdul-Rahim, Kinlaw tentatively setting a College Park official visit for Jan. 20.
Considering the above, Kinlaw, who is graduating in May and will have three years of eligibility remaining, should be listed “hot” on the hot board. But we’re not ready to forecast him to College Park just yet, despite his positive Maryland comments.
We checked in with a couple colleagues who have been tracking Kinlaw since he arrived at Jones County and were told, “He’s going to the SEC.”
Which is a distinct possibility since Kinlaw possesses committable offers from Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina, the latter of which he was committed to out of high school. Kinlaw already has an official scheduled to Alabama Jan. 27 and should be finalizing another to USC. It’s entirely possible Kinlaw re-ups with the Gamecocks or becomes smitten with the nation’s No. 1 program during his stay in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
But we’ll see if Abdul-Rahim and Co. can lock in that Jan. 20 official and maybe close the deal when Kinlaw’s in town. For the time being, though, we’re listing him “warm.”
You can read more about Kinlaw HERE.
Gary Johnson, ILB, Dodge City C.C. (Dodge City, Kans.): Johnson had been a solid Alabama commit, but a transcript complication forced him to decommit from the Tide and reopen his recruitment. Now back on the market, a number of programs have jumped on the four-star junior-college inside linebacker, including UMD, whose Aazaar Abdul-Rahim anted up Nov. 7.
The inside backer has been in communication with Abdul-Rahim for some time, the recruit taking a liking to the defensive backs coach. Maryland’s need for linebackers and the opportunity for early playing time have Johnson intrigued and considering an official visit to College Park.
Johnson, though, sounds infatuated with Ohio State. Area recruiter Luke Fickell has been all over the Dodge City product and has his ear. Johnson is excited to officially visit Columbus, and, if he is indeed a “take” for the staff, he could be a Buckeye before it’s all said and done.
Meanwhile, Johnson is considering taking trips to two more recent offerees: WVU and Miami. There are bound to be more programs entering the fray too.
For now, we’ll list Johnson “cool” on the hot board.
Eriq Gilyard, OLB, Trinity Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2018): Terps’ linebackers coach Matt Barnes became the latest assistant to offer the fast-rising junior Gilyard Nov. 7. The 6-0, 220-pounder previously had looks from the likes of Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, UNC, South Carolina, NC State, Va Tech, Duke and more.
Gilyard has already visited Va Tech, Duke, UNC, NC State, Bama, Ohio State, Purdue and Georgia, and he’s eager to see Clemson; Bama; and his other big-time suitors. At the moment, the three-star seems infatuated with the county’s elites, although the Hokies and Heels caught his eye after summer treks through both. And based off previous interviews, Tech could have the inside track after a standout stay in Blacksburg.
Gilyard has yet to trek north to College Park, but we’ll see if Barnes can coax out a visit this offseason.
Kobe Boyce, CB, Lake Dallas (Texas): We’ll keep an eye on Boyce in case UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, who offered the Texan Nov. 6, can gain some ground, but we’re not banking on it. Boyce has been committed to Texas for months, and if he’s going to flip, the consensus is it’ll be to Oklahoma.
Here’s what our colleagues who cover the Sooners recently wrote about the three-star Boyce:
“Boyce has seemingly been an OU commit the last month but still remains technically committed to Texas. Boyce was in Norman last month for OU-Ohio State and was back in Dallas last week for the Sooners’ victory against the Longhorns.
The question is if he’s an automatic take for OU? Signs point toward yes, but then what were to occur if Jaylon Johnson wanted to jump onboard? Johnson is latest in the Fresno connection for the Sooners so would be intriguing to see.”
Basically, it sounds like Boyce is either going to jump on the Sooners’ bandwagon or stick with the school he originally popped to. We’re leaving him off the hot board unless we hear he’s officially visiting College Park.
Bennett On Board
As expected, the defensive back Kenny Bennett (Academy at Palumbo/Philadelphia, Pa.) committed to Maryland Nov. 9, choosing the Terps over Pittsburgh and Temple. The 6-2, 195-pounder said the UMD’s staff’s ardent pursuit, his relationship with assistants Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and Matt Barnes, and the fact headman D.J. Durkin was the very first FBS coach to extend an offer sold him. The Philly product also extoled the Maryland campus, the renovated dorms, the coming facility upgrades, the atmosphere inside Maryland Stadium (he attended the Oct. 1 Purdue game) and the educational opportunities the school presents. Bennett went on to say he felt like he’d fit well into the Terps’ defensive scheme and believes he could have an impact right away in College Park.
As far as his game is concerned, Bennett is a long, sturdy defensive back who uses his height; strength; and wingspan to his advantage. Bennett’s physical at the line and in the air, has above-average ball skills, and knows how to use his body to shield receivers from the ball. He displays solid footwork, transitions decently and is a sound tackler.
Bennett, though, might not have the raw speed, hip flexibility and quick-twitch to hang on an island. Nor does he look to have the acceleration needed to undercut or recover downfield. So, Bennett might be a better fit as a strong safety or maybe even a linebacker.
Regardless of position, he’s a welcome addition to Maryland’s 2017 class, particularly because the Terps need help all over their defense.
Note: Bennett’s addition is not expected to affect the status of Maryland defensive back targets O.J. Tucker (discussed above), Tancey Richardson (South Aiken, S.C.) or Alex Woods (Lackawanna/Scranton, Pa.). All three remain “takes” for the Terps.
You can read more about Bennett HERE.
You can read what his coach had to say HERE.
Off The Board
Rodney Scott, WR, Miami Southridge (Miami, Fla.): Scott picked up a Maryland offer from area recruiter Chris Beatty back in September, and at the time we heard he might consider officially visiting College Park. But apparently the former Miami pledge is focused on other locales.
Scott hasn’t embarked on any officials yet, but he said the two schools he wants to check out first and foremost are West Virginia and Washington State (Kentucky is somewhat in play).
It’s unclear if the Terps’ staff is truly pushing here with five receiver commits in the 2017 class, but, either way, it doesn’t sound like Scott’s going to be coming to College Park.