Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football-recruiting roundup.
Terps Host Hunt
Three-star offensive tackle Tyran Hunt (Southampton/Courtland, Va.) is closing in on a late-November/early-December college decision, and the Terps’ staff had their crack at the Virginia product Nov. 11-13. The 6-foot-6, 275-pounder rescheduled his Maryland official visit for the weekend of the UMD-Ohio State game, and following his first trip to College Park, Md., since July, Hunt had naught but praise for the program. This despite the team’s 62-3 loss at the hands of the surging Buckeyes.
“Maryland is a great school. I like what they’re doing with the program and respect the coaches to the utmost. I’m really glad I went on the visit, because a lot of my questions were answered,” said Hunt, who is also considered Virginia Tech and Syracuse. “The money Maryland is getting, the new facilities they’re building, and what they’re planning there for the future, it sounds great, And the recruiting class they’re bringing in on top of that, things are really looking up there.
“But, ultimately, I love what they can do for my education, with the great degree there; the internship opportunities; and the school being near D.C. and Baltimore. There are so many connections and networking opportunities available, and that makes Maryland very attractive I know even if I don’t it to the NFL, I’ll be good to go with a Maryland education.”
Hunt, who attended the game with his mother and father, said he realized the Terps are depleted and believes the program will improve under head coach D.J. Durkin’s direction. Moreover, Hunt could tell Maryland needs help up front, the tackle sensing a chance to elevate the depth chart quickly.
Furthermore, Hunt felt a sense of community among the fans, players and coaches. The Southampton product easily bonded with the various Terps he hung out with (Adam McLean served as his host), dubbing it a “very positive environment.” Hunt also felt the staff did well welcoming he and his mother in, the two bonding with Durkin; line coach Dave Borbely; and recruiter Mike London. The three-star noted the trio’s coaching resumes, while making sure to mention their collective passion, attitude and enthusiasm.
Hunt went on to extol the campus, the facilities, the atmosphere in College Park, and, most importantly, the academics. The Courtland native is concerned about his education first and foremost, so the school’s communication major; internship opportunities; and location near Washington, D.C., and Baltimore grabbed his attention.
Hunt’s mom was impressed with the presentation as well. The tackle said his mother likes Maryland’s academics and the Terps’ football program a good deal, and would be comfortable with her son residing at UMD.
But Hunt has one final official visit remaining, and it’s a significant one. He’ll be in Blacksburg, Va., for Va Tech’s game against UVA, and it’s possible the trip could cement the Hokies’ position atop the totem poll.
Hunt had been maintaining a top-two favorites list of Maryland and Syracuse, with Tech running third -- for a period, the Hokies’ coaches weren’t pushing for the tackle, so they dropped a bit -- but that’s seemingly changed. The Virginia Tech staff needs a tackle and wants Hunt in the fold, and the current thinking is the Hokies are probably right alongside the Terps and Orange in the pecking order. Hunt has been in Blacksburg several times already, loves the school and area, and has readily bonded with the coaching staff as a whole. He’s also keen on the idea of staying in-state for college.
Syracuse, meanwhile, remains a threat to pull Hunt too. The tackle raved about his September official in upstate New York, pointing to the SU staff’s ardent pursuit; need for offensive tackles; and the vibe around the program. Additionally, Hunt and his mother have formed a personal connection with several Orange coaches.
But our gut is this is going to be to a Virginia Tech and Maryland battle. The Hokies may have the edge since they get last dibs, but we’re keeping Hunt “hot” on the hot board -- with an eye on any news trickling out of Blacksburg after the three-star’s Nov. 26 foray.
You can read more about Hunt HERE.
More Nov. 12 Senior Visitor Notes
Anthony McFarland, RB, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): McFarland rarely grants phone interviews these days, but from all we’ve heard he had another productive visit to Maryland Nov. 12. Naturally, the team’s performance left much to be desired, but anytime McFarland can be exposed to the Terps’ staff and the other DMV recruits, it’s a positive for UMD.
Plus, McFarland is aware he can step right in and contribute at Maryland, evidenced by how many freshmen are currently seeing time. And McFarland knows many of those first years personally, the likes of D.J. Turner; LoLo Harrison; Tino Ellis; and Terrance Davis letting on how much they like it at Maryland and want their former teammate on board.
Look for McFarland’s College Park return Dec. 9 for his official. That, quite honestly, is the date to hone in on, because it’s when the Terps’ staff will host their commits and an array of other top targets. Exposing McFarland to that type of pro-UMD crowd could pay major dividends and might just solidify the Terps’ spot atop the four-star’s leaderboard.
Right now, Maryland may hold a slight edge over Miami for McFarland’s services. The DeMatha recruit did love his official in Coral Gables, Fla., and he said of all the staffs he’s in touch with, he’s taken to Mark Richt’s and the Hurricanes’ the most.
McFarland will be embarking on an official to Alabama Nov. 26, but, again, we don’t foresee him heading to Tuscaloosa, Ala., unless head coach Nick Saban puts on the hard sell.
Likewise, Penn State, which McFarland officially visited in early November, is not considered a threat to land the four-star.
Thus, we’re keeping McFarland “hot” on the hot board until our DeMatha contacts inform otherwise.
Josh Paschal, BUCK, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.): It probably didn’t help Maryland’s chances at landing Paschal that the Terps were drubbed by one of the Olney native’s top contenders Nov. 12. Paschal insisted he wasn’t in Maryland Stadium to see the Buckeyes, but he couldn’t have helped but take note of OSU and its dominant performance.
Either way, Paschal let on he liked being back at UMD and taking in a game with the other Terps’ targets in attendance. Paschal, however, did not have a chance to reconnect with the Maryland coaches, all of whom the four-star has a close rapport with. But, truthfully, the four-star has heard their pitch so much the in-person interactions are more casual than anything else.
The Good Counsel product has now been at the last two Maryland home games, and he might return once more after the season. The key, however, will be for the Maryland coaches to get Paschal on campus for an official. Paschal keeps saying he probably doesn’t need to take an OV to College Park since he’s been there more times than he can count. But if he elects for the 48-hour stay, it would indicate the Terps are at the forefront of Paschal’s mind.
True, UMD is rattling around in the recruit’s brain, but with Notre Dame’s coaches back on Paschal; Ohio State’s staff now in pursuit; and Oklahoma continuing to resonate following a Norman, Okla., official, we’re skeptical he’s going to choose Maryland when it’s all said and done.
The Irish have long been a favorite for Paschal, the recruit smitten with the school’s tradition and national reputation. We expect him to officially visit South Bend, Ind., sometime in December.
Paschal will probably make it up to Ohio State too since defensive line coach Larry Johnson and headman Urban Meyer have been pushing for him. The Good Counsel prospect likes the idea of playing for a power and perhaps joining former teammate KeAndre Jones in Columbus, Ohio.
Paschal could also check out Kentucky, which he visited unofficially in early November. But we don’t see him winding up in Lexington, Kent., despite the presence of Paschal’s brother on the Wildcats’ staff.
Louis Acceus, ILB/SS, St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.): The three-star linebacker Acceus did indeed make it to Maryland Nov. 12, although he was only able to stay 1.5 quarters due to a doctor’s appointment he had in New York later that night.
Of course, Terps’ fans could surmise that was a positive development since Acceus didn’t have a chance to see UMD’s demolition against Ohio State. Acceus, though, said the game’s outcome really didn’t matter to him since he enjoys watching college football, regardless of the score.
Either way, he said he and his brother liked their latest stay in College Park, Acceus speaking to the atmosphere and what he saw in the Terps’ defense (apparently he thought the UMD “D” played OK against Ohio State).
The Jersey prospect didn’t have a chance to speak to the Maryland coaches or area recruiter Matt Barnes, but Acceus said he maintains a great relationship with the staff and texts with the linebackers’ coach daily.
The three-star, who has now been in College Park three times, would like to return for an official in December.
And he continues to dub Maryland the team to beat.
“Maryland is the favorite, they’re the No. 1,” Acceus said. “That hasn’t changed. Just what they have to offer, it’s close to home but not too close, what they’re building there with the new facilities – it’s great. It’s great coaching and just the whole atmosphere, I really like it.”
Acceus will also be looking at Rutgers, Va Tech and North Carolina, seeking to visit each officially. We’ll see if he’ll actually make it to all four locales, however, especially if Acceus sticks with his intended Dec. 31 commitment date (his birthday). (Remember, there is a dead period from Dec. 12 through Jan. 11, so that leaves only two weekends for recruits to venture out during December).
Given the above, it would seem like the Terps have the inside track. Previously, we questioned whether Acceus would be a “take” for the Maryland staff with other targets presumably ahead of him on head coach D.J. Durkin’s board. But the thinking on this end is the UMD coaches might be able to carve out room for multiple inside backers/strong safeties, particularly because roster attrition seems inevitable.
We’ll shift Acceus to “hot” on the hot board based off his comments, but will continue digging to make sure the interest is reciprocal.
You can read more about Acceus HERE.
Devon Hunter, S, Indian River (Chesapeake, Va.): The five-star safety Hunter returned to Maryland with Terps’ pledge and fellow 757 native Dazz Newsome (Hampton, Va.) Nov. 12. But while we heard Hunter, who has a longstanding rapport with UMD assistant Chris Beatty, had a good time, the trip isn’t expected to vault Maryland into the safety’s upper-tier.
Scout’s Mike Clark provided some key intel on the situation, and the feeling is Va Tech is the program to beat. Hunter has been in Blacksburg numerous times, is keen on the direction the in-state school is heading, and appreciates the Hokies’ defensive coaches and their ardent pursuit.
Per Clark, Tech now holds the edge over Florida for the five-star’s services. The other prime players are Auburn (he visited recently), Alabama (Nov. 26 official) and North Carolina.
But about the only way Hunter isn’t going to wind up in Blacksburg, from what we’re told, is if the SEC allure is too great.
Look for Hunter to select a school around Christmas. Unless we hear otherwise, he’s not going on the hot board.
Note: I spoke to several new underclassmen visitors after the UMD-OSU game to give readers a different “flavor” and voice, rather than those recruits typically broached in this space. You can read about Terps’ 2018 targets like cornerback Nolan Johnson (Southwest Guilford/High Point, N.C.) HERE; cornerback Daymon Williams (Riverdale Baptist/Upper Marlboro, Md.) HERE; linebacker Khalid Jones (James Byrnes/Duncan, S.C.) HERE; and receiver Amad Anderson (Curtis/New York, N.Y.) HERE.
More Recruiting Notes
Sean Savoy, Slot, Wilson (Washington, D.C.): Savoy was supposed to return to Maryland for the second time this fall Nov. 12, but he opted against it. And from what we’ve been able to glean, Savoy is inclined to stick with his Virginia Tech pledge. He’s been in Blacksburg a couple times this fall, and has a close relationship with the Hokies’ coaches. Savoy also feels like head coach Justin Fuente’s spread offense fits his skill-set perfectly.
Right now, the only official visit Savoy has scheduled is to Va Tech in the winter. As far as we know, he hasn’t set one to College Park, although we expect UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and receivers’ coach Chris Beatty to remain in Savoy’s ear.
We’re keeping Savoy “cool” on the hot board just in case, but we might remove him soon enough if there’s no movement.
Mark Webb, WR, Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.): The four-star receiver Webb committed to Georgia in mid-September, and our colleagues who follow the 6-2, 195-pounder believe he’ll stick with the Bulldogs. But Webb is willing to entertain other suitors, with Penn State; North Carolina; and Maryland in mind for official visits.
Of those, the Nittany Lions probably have the best shot at flipping Webb. The four-star had been projected to PSU before opting for the SEC program, and since then the Penn State coaches have been all over Webb. Head coach James Franklin and his staff have a deep rapport with the recruit and his family.
UNC’s and Maryland’s coaches have stayed after Webb as well, with Chris Beatty running point on the Terps’ end. Webb has heard consistently from Beatty since last winter, UMD’s receivers’ coach convincing the four-star to visit College Park during the offseason (he attended the Friday Night Freak Show camp). In addition to Beatty, Webb has had some contact with offensive coordinator Walt Bell, head coach D.J. Durkin and Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry.
Evidently the Maryland staff’s overtures have Webb at least mulling over a trip to College Park sometime in December, or perhaps early January, for another look at the school.
We’re not going to place Webb on the hot board, though, until he sets that official in stone. Seemingly both UGA and Penn State would have to fall off for the Terps’ staff to have a shot at flipping the Pennsylvania four-star.
Deron Irving-Bey, OL/DL, Southwestern Commencement (Flint, Mich.): We checked in with our colleagues who cover Michigan to exchange updates on the statuses of a couple targets coveted by both the Terps and Wolverines: Irving-Bey and Jordan Anthony (discussed below).
The 6-5, 285-pound Irving-Bey, who the Maryland staff offered as an offensive tackle but likes as a defensive end as well, is set to officially visit College Park Dec. 2. He’s been in contact with line coach Dave Borbely and Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry ever since attending a Maryland camp back in the summer. During said camp, Irving-Bey enjoyed working with both Borbely and defensive line coach Mike London, the Michigan native bonding with both. In addition, Irving-Bey knows the Terps need help in the trenches, one of the primary reasons he has them under consideration.
But per our colleagues, this remains a Michigan-Michigan State battle, with the Wolverines holding the pole position. Irving-Bey took in MSU unofficially in early November, a trip that boosted the Spartans in his eye, but a return to Ann Arbor, Mich., sometime in December could very well push the Wolverines to the forefront for good.
But let’s see what Irving-Bey is thinking after his College Park official. Maybe if the Wolverines back off, the Terps could leapfrog the struggling Spartans and pry the four-star out of Flint.
Nate Proctor, BUCK, Lackey (Indian Head, Md.): Pay attention here. Terps are more involved than previously surmised. More to come in next week's post-Thanksgiving Shell. Proctor moved to "warm."
Jordan Anthony, OLB, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): The second recruit we discussed with the Scout Michigan folks was the DMV native Jordan Anthony. The four-star outside linebacker took his official to Ann Arbor Oct. 1, will be at Oklahoma Dec. 2 and is set to see College Park Dec. 9. The vibe is Anthony is going to wind up at one of those three locales before it’s all said and done, although Michigan remains the team to beat.
Remember, Anthony’s UM official went so well the former Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) prospect almost committed on campus. He loves head coach Jim Harbaugh and Co.; the staff’s player development; the Big House atmosphere; the program’s tradition; and the academics.
But Anthony has two major officials coming up, and it would be a mistake to discount them.
The Sooners may be running third for now, but Anthony has always spoken highly of the program and has a solid relationship with the coaches. It wouldn’t be a total shock if the Norman, Okla., trip vaulted Oklahoma up the leaderboard.
But that Dec. 9 Maryland trip could be the table-turner. Anthony will be joined in College Park by many of the Terps’ current pledges, many of whom are still in his ear. What’s more, the UMD staff’s other main local targets like Tariq Castro-Fields (discussed below); Anthony McFarland (discussed above); and Kofi Wardlow (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.) will be in town too, giving the pre-Christmas foray a distinct DMV flavor.
Anthony also continues to have regular communication with the Terps’ coaches, including area recruiter Chris Beatty; assistant Aazaar Abdul-Rahim; defensive line coach Mike London and more. Naturally, they’ve been pitching the hometown movement, which Anthony has repeatedly said has his attention.
We’ll see if it’s enough to top the No. 3-ranked Wolverines, however.
Gary Johnson, ILB, Dodge City C.C. (Dodge City, Kans.): The four-star junior-college linebacker Johnson released his top 10 leaderboard Nov. 14, and Maryland made the cut. The former Alabama pledge -- who was forced to decommit due to a transcript complication that will preclude Johnson from attending SEC schools – has been in communication with UMD assistant Aazaar Abdul-Rahim for awhile now.
But unless Abdul-Rahim can convince Johnson to officially visit College Park, we’re not sure the Terps are going to leapfrog a few of the Dodge City product’s other suitors. Those include Ohio State, the presumptive favorite, West Virginia; TCU; Oklahoma State; Louisville; Arizona; Arizona State; and Iowa State.
Johnson wants to take all five officials before concluding his recruitment around the New Year. He hasn’t scheduled any jaunts yet, but OSU; WVU; and Louisville are surefire destinations. The Buckeyes figure to have the inside track unless head coach Urban Meyer opts to back off.
We have Johnson listed “cool” on the hot board for now.
Lynn Bowden, S, Warren G. Harding (Youngstown, Ohio): The Ohio native Bowden was scheduled to be at Maryland Nov. 12, but he didn’t make it in. Thus, the short-lived Bowden courtship appears to have stalled before it began.
The Kentucky reporters continue to forecast the Ohio product to the Wildcats after Bowden’s Nov. 5 Lexington, Kent., trip. Michigan State, meanwhile, is likely running second.
It’s possible other programs like Maryland could be more involved than perceived, because Bowden hasn’t publically imparted his feelings. The four-star recruit, who rarely speaks to the media, does have a direct connection to UMD head coach D.J. Durkin (they’re from the same hometown), so that could help the Terps a smidgeon.
But we’re not placing Bowden on the hot board until we hear something definitive -- and the four-star actually visits College Park.
Markquese Bell, OLB/SS, Bridgeton (N.J.): Scout’s Brian Dohn updated Bell’s status this week, and evidently Virginia Tech is now in the mix for the four-star athlete. Bell unofficially visited Tech Nov. 12, and the Blacksburg trip hit home with the Garden State recruit. It’s unclear exactly where Va Tech sits in the pecking order after the initial foray through campus, but it’s safe to say the Hokies are probably among Bell’s top three or four favorites.
The rest of Bell’s recruitment, though, remains almost status quo.
Two weeks ago, we let on staffs from Ohio State, Michigan and Clemson had dropped off the Jersey product a bit. That may or not remain true, but Bell is going to embark on an OSU official for its game against Michigan. We’re still not sure the recruit’s a definite “take” for the Buckeyes’ staff, but Bell is certainly interested in the school and would probably opt in if allowed to do so.
The other contenders are Rutgers, Maryland and, to some extent, Nebraska. As aforementioned, the hometown Scarlet Knights have Bell’s ear in a major way. The RU coaches have been after the in-state product longer and harder than any other program, which Bell appreciates. Plus, heading to Rutgers -- the four-star officially visited in October -- would allow Bell to play alongside his friends and in front of his family, which is very important to him.
The Terps are still in the thick of things too after Bell’s October official to College Park. Both Bell and his grandmother were impressed with the coaching staff and the atmosphere at UMD, the recruit letting on how welcome he felt. Bell also praised Maryland’s defense, the players he met and the fact College Park wasn’t far from his Jersey home.
At this stage, Rutgers or maybe Ohio State seem like the most likely destinations, but the Terps can’t be counted out.
Bell is sticking to his Dec. 1 commitment deadline, so we should know fairly soon where he’s heading.
Jon Lovett, S, Cherokee (Marlton, N.J.): In this space last week we let readers know the Terps’ coaches had ramped up the pursuit on their one-time running back target Lovett, who the staff now wants as a safety/linebacker. This week, Lovett ended up decommitting from the program he popped to back in June, Rutgers, and is now taking a closer look at UMD.
Lovett visited College Park twice before, in the winter (junior day) and spring (team practice), and couldn’t say enough about the Terps. He loved the facilities, the campus, the renovated dorms, and the team and coaches. Lovett also had a rapport with area recruiter Matt Barnes and Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry, who knew Lovett from when the assistant was at Rutgers.
Now that he’s back on the market, look for Lovett to visit UMD yet again, perhaps for an official in December or January.
But the Maryland coaches aren’t the only ones in pursuit of the Cherokee recruit. Lovett officially visited Iowa Nov. 12, and that apparently prompted the three-star’s decommitment. The Jersey prospect extolled his stay in Ames, Ia., noting the Hawkeyes’ offense (they want him at running back) and coaching staff.
Besides Iowa, Lovett picked up an offer from Penn State for safety in early November. Lovett was in Happy Valley for PSU’s big upset of Ohio State, which obviously resonated with the versatile recruit. Since then, Lovett has connected with head coach James Franklin and wants to return to State College for an official.
Our gut is the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes have the upper-hand with Lovett, but let’s gauge his thoughts if he visits Maryland. For the time being, we’re listing Lovett “warm” on the hot board.
Naytron Culpepper, S, Miami Carol City (Miami, Fla.): The three-star safety Culpepper should be officially visiting Maryland Dec. 2 after rescheduling an intended Oct. 15 trip. Culpepper has been in regular contact with UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, who has been preaching immediate playing time. Culpepper, who considers Abdul-Rahim one of his favorite recruiters, wants the chance to play right away in college, so the pitch does appeal.
In the meantime, Culpepper will be at Michigan State Nov. 18-20 for his Spartans official. MSU has resided among the Florida safety’s top-three contenders for quite some time, but most believe the Spartans are running third in this race. The official could move Michigan State up some, although he’s probably not going to wind up in East Lansing, Mich., unless his two foremost suitors fall off.
Of course, Culpepper has long called South Carolina his leader, and his early-fall Columbia, S.C., official solidified those feelings. The school’s SEC affiliation, the atmosphere around the program and his bond with the coaching staff all have Culpepper thinking Gamecocks.
But the question is, Will the USC coaches “take” Culpepper at this stage with a couple other safety targets on its board? The word, per Scout’s Corey Bender, is maybe not right now -- which could open the door for Maryland’s staff to pounce. But if the Gamecocks’ coaches jump back on Culpepper during the winter, they’ll likely be positioned to reel him in.
Culpepper doesn’t plan to commit until sometime in January, so there’s sure to be a bit of ebbing and flowing in the next couple months. But perhaps the Terps can win Culpepper over before the holidays, convincing him to jump on board while USC wavers.
Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.): Castro-Fields unofficially visited Virginia Tech Nov. 12, and he told our colleagues who cover the Hokies he had a standout stay. He praised the Va Tech coaching staff, the atmosphere inside Lane Stadium and the environment surrounding the program. But Castro-Fields, as is his M.O., didn’t intimate where Virginia Tech stood with him following the trip. He kept his thoughts close to the vest, reiterating what we already knew: Tech is among his main four suitors, alongside UMD; PSU; and Alabama.
Castro-Fields will be officially visiting each of the latter three programs coming up later in November and into December, while he’s working on a Blacksburg official. He’ll be at Bama for the Iron Bowl, Penn State Dec. 2, and Maryland Dec. 9 for the Terps’ major prospect day.
The Tide are the frontrunners provided head coach Nick Saban is willing to accept Castro-Fields’ commitment. The Riverdale prospect had previously hinted Bama had the edge after his summer stay in Tuscaloosa, but the question has always been how long the Tide would hold a spot for the DMV recruit.
Penn State is right there too, and the Nittany Lions’ standout 2016 campaign has only improved their standing. Castro-Fields has a deep rapport with coach James Franklin and Co., and he’s raved about each stay in State College, Pa., lauding PSU’s tradition; atmosphere; facilities; and academics.
The Terps, though, figure to get last dibs on the local prospect. Castro-Fields has reneged on a couple Maryland games this fall, which was disconcerting, but the fact he’ll be on campus Dec. 9 bodes well for UMD purposes. Castro-Fields isn’t one to follow other recruits, but it can’t hurt he’ll be surrounded by numerous Terps’ commits who will be hyping the hometown movement.
On top of that, Castro-Fields has just as good of a relationship with UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and head coach D.J. Durkin as he does the Penn State staff. Maybe the combination of the Maryland coaches’ final push, coupled with that of the D.C.-area Terps’ pledges and the current UMD players, will push the hometown school out front.
At this juncture, it’s a tough call. As we’ve written numerous times in this space, we’ll have to wait until all Castro-Fields’ trips are completed before predicting a destination.
Note: We heard several different stories regarding Maryland cornerback commit Deon Jones (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.) last week, when the four-star was supposedly set to see Virginia Tech for an official visit. But after the dust cleared, word was Jones, who hasn’t responded to inquiries of late, did not make the trip to Blacksburg. We’re told he remains a firm Terps’ pledge.
O.J. Tucker, CB, Vanguard (Ocala, Fla.): This three-star Georgia Tech pledge caught up with out colleagues who cover the Yellow Jackets this week. Perhaps Tucker knew he was speaking to Ga Tech reporters, because he sounded more inclined to stick with the Atlanta, Ga., school than in previous interviews. He went so far as to say he "made the right decision" when he popped to Tech back in the summer, which is a 180 from what he told me a couple weeks ago. Tucker then said he was going to give the Jackets' coaches "every opportunity" to keep him in tow, with a January official to Atlanta a likelihood.
Even so, Tucker did allow that if he were to flip, it would probably be to Maryland.
“If there was one, it would be Maryland. They are really recruiting me hard right now," Tucker told our colleagues. “They want me to switch, but I have held off doing that because of my relationship with the coaches at Georgia Tech. I like it at Tech.”
Additionally, Tucker has been hearing from coaches from Nebraska and Wake Forest, with the Huskers in line for an official. Other programs that have begun to reach out include Tennessee, Florida, FSU and USF.
For now, Tucker wants to finish out his season and then begin planning official visits. He intends to take all his trips in January before concluding his recruitment around Signing Day.
The vibe on this end is the Terps remain in a strong spot to flip Tucker, but it may not be as much of a given as previously surmised. It sounds like the Tech staff is doing everything possible to keep Tucker on board, and if the SEC becomes involved, that could alter Tucker's thinking as well.
2018 Commit On Board
The Terps secured a commitment from a rising-star 2018 recruit Nov. 17, with Trinity Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) inside linebacker Eriq Gilyard jumping on the Maryland bandwagon. The 6-0, 220-pounder -- a hard-hitting, sideline-to-sideline defender with great instincts -- had just procured an offer from UMD linebackers' coach Matt Barnes and assistant Anthony Tucker a couple weeks ago, and has yet to visit College Park, so his pop came out of left field.
Either way, it's a significant early commitment for Maryland, snagging a recruit with looks from Michigan; Clemson; Alabama; LSU; Nebraska; UNC; South Carolina; Va Tech and more. Most of those weren't committable offers at this juncture, but Gilyard at least had interest from those programs. Virginia Tech, for its part, looked to be in a strong spot after Gilyard's standout stay in Blacksburg earlier this year.
But UMD's need for inside linebackers and the prospects of early playing time, coupled with the instant connection he formed with Barnes, sold him on Maryland. Now, he's in the process of setting up a College Park trip so he can see the school firsthand and meet the rest of the staff.
That's all well and good, but we'll see how long Gilyard stays committed to the Terps. Florida prospects, as a rule, can be a bit mercurial, as Maryland fans are well aware (see: Deltron Sands, George Hunter, Kingsley Opara and on and on). Moreover, Gilyard's offer list will increase, and some of those suitors on the fence about him are bound to pursue in earnest down the road. If that weren't enough, once Gilyard begins venturing out to some southern locales like FSU, UF and others in the SEC, he's going to be influenced.
For what it's worth, our colleagues who cover the area don't believe Gilyard will remain a Terps pledge all the way until next Signing Day. But the Maryland staff did well to secure the pop, which should help them maintain momentum with Gilyard over the next year. It's entirely possible the Trinity Christian product falls in love with College Park, forms a close relationship with the staff and decides he can have the biggest impact at Maryland.
We'll be monitoring the situation closely the next 12 months.
You can read the analysis of him HERE.
You can read our conversation with him HERE.
New Offers Out
Warren Ericson, OG, North Gwinnett (Duluth, Ga.) (2018): Maryland-area recruiter Walt Bell extended an offer to the junior Ericson Nov. 16, the recruit’s 10th to date. Previously, the 6-4, 290-pounder had picked up offers from Florida; Ole Miss; Vandy; Iowa State; Kentucky; Louisville; Michigan; WVU; and South Carolina.
Ericson already has his eye on a number of southern schools he’s seen, with the academic-oriented Vandy holding his attention. Florida, Ole Miss and South Carolina are counted as standouts as well.
First thing’s first: Let’s see if Bell can get Ericson to visit College Park during the offseason.
Isaiah Buggs, DE, Mississippi Gulf Coast (Perkinston, Miss.): The Terps threw their names into the hat for this four-star junior-college defensive end Buggs Nov. 15, but this one’s probably not even worth mentioning. Buggs is basically down to LSU and Alabama, with the Tigers thought to have the inside track since the recruit’s a Louisiana native. Ole Miss and Auburn are involved as well.
Now, we were asked if Buggs were to commit to Alabama if it would somehow help Maryland’s chances at landing four-star JUCO defensive end and Tide target Javon Kinlaw (Jones County/Ellisville, Miss.), who has a deep bond with UMD assistant Aazaar Abdul-Rahim stemming from their shared days in D.C. But even if Kinlaw’s spot is taken at Bama, the feeling is his other SEC suitors will be positioned to reel him in.
South Carolina, which Kinlaw just decommitted from, remains firmly in the picture and should receive an official visit. Meanwhile, staffs from Tennessee, Southern Cal, Ole Miss and Louisville are all making a run.
Kinlaw is listed “warm” on the hot board, but we’re somewhat skeptical he becomes a Terp unless his intended late-January College Park official wins him over.
Off The Board
Emmanuel Greene, Slot, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): At one time, Terps' receivers' coach Chris Beatty made a run at the IMG slot receiver Greene. The 5-10, 171-pounder, who has been committed to UCF since the spring, even considered officially visiting College Park. But last we heard Greene hasn't had many talks with the Terps' coaches of late, which isn't surprising considering Maryland has five wideout pledges already.
Meanwhile, Greene has been over to UCF a couple times this fall and seems like a firm pledge. More than likely, he's going to stick with his Knights' pledge.
George Ellis, DT, American Heritage (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.): Maryland isn't completely out of the game for the three-star Ellis, but the Florida defensive tackle hasn't broached the Terps in some time. He never visited College Park, as intended, and it doesn't sound like he's going to be taking a UMD official anytime soon.
Ellis was last at USF, and the hometown Bulls have his eye for the moment. The American Heritage recruit likes the direction South Florida is heading and has bonded with the coaching staff.
Mississippi State continues to be a strong contender due to its SEC affiliation and Ellis' connections to the coaches, while the likes of Wisconsin and TCU are picking up the pace. We're not sure Maryland-area recruiter Chris Beatty has made a major push for Ellis of late.