Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football-recruiting roundup.
December 2-4 Official Visitors
Anthony McFarland, RB, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): The four-star McFarland did not take his much-anticipated Alabama official Nov. 25-27. The Tide staff, as expected, backed off the injured runner, and McFarland elected not to head to Tuscaloosa, Ala., over Thanksgiving weekend. (We’ve heard he might still head to Alabama anyway Dec. 9, but that’s not a given).
Next up: Maryland Dec. 2, with McFarland shifting his College Park, Md., official up a week at the Terps’ staff’s urging.
As stated time and again, UMD has a real chance to cement itself atop McFarland’s leaderboard during this upcoming trip. Head coach D.J. Durkin, Maryland-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, running backs coach Anthony Tucker and more have been all over McFarland and made sure to see him in-home earlier this week. That aggressive pursuit means something to the DeMatha back, who has appreciated the unyielding support. McFarland also knows he can shine as a freshman at Maryland, while he’s eager to line up alongside his former teammates and friends now playing at UMD.
But Miami, which McFarland officially visited in October, will remain firmly and play and poses the greatest threat to UMD in this race. Head coach Mark Richt and Co., who the DeMatha star said he had the “best relationship” with, continue to press for the four-star and made yet another potent in-person pitch Nov. 28. Heading into the upcoming Maryland official, Miami may actually have a slight lead in this race.
Penn State is somewhat involved after McFarland’s late October official, but the Nittany Lions are likely running third. That could change with head coach James Franklin and some other PSU players in McFarland’s ear, but we don’t envision the four-star in State College, Pa.
For now, we still like the UMD staff’s chances at keeping McFarland home, though there’s bound to be at least a couple twists and turns before this situation is settled. Miami’s coaches aren’t going to back off, making this an interesting battle throughout the winter.
Expect McFarland to finally commit around Singing Day.
Emmanuel Greene, Slot, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): There had been very little Terps’ buzz surrounding Greene of late, which is why we removed the UCF commit from the hot board a couple weeks back. But Nov. 28, after UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty and Co. trekked through IMG Academy, Greene popped right back up on the radar. Greene, who mulled a Maryland official several months ago, said he would be joining his teammate Bryce Brand (discussed below) in College Park Dec. 2-4.
But we’re somewhat skeptical the trip will sway the Florida native. After discussing Greene with out colleagues, he seems to be a hard UCF pledge and doesn’t want to journey far from home for college. “He’s a real family-oriented kid. He wants his parents to see him play, and he’s very loyal to UCF,” I was told. Greene already reneged on one intended official to Nebraska, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he did so again.
Even so, we’ll place the 5-foot-9.5, 160-pound slot back on the hot board as “cool” in case he does show in College Park and Maryland catches his eye. Greene does like Beatty a good deal and is well aware of the receivers’ coach’s player-development reputation.
Sal Cannella, TE, Scottsdale C.C. (Ariz.): The junior college tight end Cannella will be in College Park for his official Dec. 2, the first visit he’ll take this offseason. The 6-6, 230-pounder from Chicago has been in contact with UMD assistant Brawley Evans, tight ends coach Pete Lembo and offensive coordinator Walt Bell, the recruit lauding the staff’s efforts. On top of that, Cannella knows Maryland needs tight ends, which has his attention; likes the school’s Big Ten affiliation; and believes he’d fit well into the Terps’ offense.
Cannella isn’t someone who is expected to commit while on campus, however. He intends to take at least one more official after UMD before ending his recruitment later in December (he’s a January enrollee). The former St. Viator (Arlington Heights, Ill.) star is waiting to see if Auburn, whose coaches have been in touch, antes up, while he’s thinking about taking in Rutgers; Kansas; or Minnesota.
Maryland has the lead over the latter three schools, but if AU comes calling, it could complicate matters. For the time being, however, we likes UMD’s position and believe the Terps’ staff has a legitimate chance to secure Cannella’s commitment before Christmas.
Deron Irving-Bey, OL/DE, Southwestern Academy (Flint, Mich.): The four-star Army All-American Irving-Bey is on track to officially visit Maryland Dec. 2-4. He said he’s excited to return to College Park after a summer-camp foray and wants to learn the inner-workings of the program.
The 6-5, 285-pounder has been in touch with line coach Dave Borbely, defensive line coach Mike London and Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry, who have all preached UMD’s need for trenchmen. Irving-Bey has been offered as an offensive tackle, but the Terps could give him a look on both sides of the ball, which appeals to the four-star. Furthermore, Irving-Bey, who wants to play early during his college career, enjoyed working with both Borbely and London during the summer.
It’s possible the upcoming official could elevate Maryland even more in Irving-Bey’s eyes, but we’re not sure it’ll be enough to top the two frontrunners. Both Michigan and Michigan State have had a bead on the in-state lineman for some time now, Irving-Bey raving about jaunts through both Ann Arbor, Mich., and East Lansing, Mich. The Southwestern Academy product is in the process of scheduling officials to both in January.
The Wolverines, for their part, have the inside track thanks to the coaching staff’s overtures; Michigan’s national reputation; and the atmosphere in and around the program. Irving-Bey’s mother likes UM a good deal too, and apparently she has significant influence in this recruitment.
The Spartans, meanwhile, are running neck and neck with the Wolverines, Irving-Bey extoling the staff’s push and his standout stays in East Lansing. So it wouldn’t shock if Michigan State’s coaches landed Irving-Bey if they can wow him during his official.
Regardless, it sounds like both the Spartans and Wolverines would have to fall off for Irving-Bey to wind up at Maryland. Which isn’t totally inconceivable (read: unlikely, but not impossible).
We’ll be monitoring if other defensive ends commit to Michigan and Michigan State during the next month to see if perhaps Irving-Bey falls through the cracks. In the meantime, it’s up to the UMD staff to roll out the red carpet for Irving-Bey and his mother Dec. 2-4.
Bryce Brand, BUCK, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Maryland-area recruiter Chris Beatty and head coach D.J. Durkin offered Brand way back in May, and the Terps’ staff never lost touch with the three-star Michigan native. Now, after meeting with Brand in person Nov. 28, the BUCK target is set to officially visit College Park.
“Maryland has always been a school I’ve liked,” Brand said. “And when I was talking to Coach Durkin before, he was saying how he saw me in their defense, and how I reminded him of Dante Fowler, who [Durkin] coached at Florida. [Durkin] said he could see me doing similar things to [Fowler] at Maryland. So I was just real excited about that.”
True, Brand ended up committing to Arizona during the summer, but he’s entertained the possibility of taking multiple officials this winter. Maryland will be his first, with a couple others (Mississippi State? Louisville?) possible.
Brand, whose family now resides in California, will also give the Wildcats’ coaches every chance to keep him in tow. Remember, Brand originally committed to Arizona so he could be closer to his relatives, so it’s not going to be easy to flip him.
But let’s see what Brand’s thinking after this upcoming College Park trip. It’s clear the Maryland staff’s overtures and in-person pitch does have him pondering turtles.
Jon Lovett, S, Cherokee (Burlington, N.J.): Lovett, a Rutgers decommit, took his first official to Iowa Nov. 12; will embark on his second to Maryland Dec. 2; and has at least one more to Rutgers Dec. 9. Penn State did offer Lovett and was proclaimed an immediate leader, but from what we’ve been able to glean the Jersey athlete isn’t a “take” for the Nittany Lions’ staff.
So, between the Hawkeyes, Terps and Scarlet Knights, it’s not an easy call at this stage.
Iowa is recruiting Lovett as a running back, which appeals to the Cherokee prospect. In addition, Lovett loved his stay in Iowa City, Ia., talking up the welcoming atmosphere; how the coaches received him; and the Hawkeyes’ potent rushing attack.
With Rutgers, yes, Lovett decommitted, but he still has the Scarlet Knights under primary consideration. He’s extremely close to the RU coaches, has numerous friends in Piscataway, N.J., and is comfortable around the program. And RU’s staff, like Iowa’s, wants Lovett on offense.
As for Maryland, Lovett has remained in contact with UMD-area recruiter Matt Barnes and Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry, who has actually known the Garden State native for a couple years now. Barnes, who trekked through Cherokee to see Lovett this week, has a close bond with the recruit dating back to the winter.
Furthermore, Lovett has visited College Park twice before, praising the upgrades facilities/dorms; the Terps’ coaches; and the program itself. He likes that Maryland is only a couple hours from home too.
With the above in mind, one could surmise the Terps’ staff has a decent shot to close the deal on Lovett, perhaps before the holidays. But that’s probably not going to be the case.
Although Penn State’s coaches may have backed off, there are other notable programs considering anteing up. If so, Lovett could take another official or two in January. The latter is a distinct possibility, because the Jersey prospect doesn’t intend to commit until right around Signing Day anyway. He’s pining for a Big Ten bigwig to pull through after the New Year.
For now, we’re listing Lovett “warm” on the hot board.
Note: Fellow Garden State native and Terps’ target, Louis Acceus (St. Joseph Regional/Montvale, N.J.), should be officially visiting UMD as well, with Dec. 9 a possibility. Acceus, though, is fully focused on his team’s Dec. 2 title game, so he hasn’t yet set any trips in stone. The three-star linebacker is down to Maryland, UNC and Va Tech (he dropped Rutgers), with the Terps holding the edge.
Naytron Culpepper, S, Miami Carol City (Miami, Fla.): The three-star safety Culpepper pushed back his Michigan State official into January due to his team’s playoff run, and he was going to reschedule his Maryland trip for the same reason. But, at the behest of UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, who went in-home with Culpepper Nov. 29, the Carol City prospect will be in College Park Dec. 3-5 instead of Dec. 2-4.
Either way, Culpepper’s status doesn’t change. He still has the Terps trending given the offer of immediate playing time. Plus, he has a strong bond with Abdul-Rahim, Culpepper taking to the defensive backs coach’s personality.
The wildcard here is South Carolina, which sat atop the totem poll for months. Even now, Culpepper lists the Gamecocks as a favorite, citing the SEC affiliation and his connection with the coaches.
Now, our Florida sources have indicated the three-star isn’t an immediate “take” for the USC staff. But it’s possible, however, head coach Will Muschamp and Co. could jump right back on Culpepper after the New Year if the Gamecocks’ staff can’t secure its other targets. If so, the Carol City prospect might very well wind up at the school he’s been forecast to since the spring.
But, if not, Culpepper could fall right into Maryland’s lap. From what we’ve been able to glean, the three-star favors UMD over Michigan State, but we’ll see what the safety’s thinking in January after embarking on an intended trip to East Lansing.
Additionally, monitor what other programs enter the mix late. Culpepper is a starry-eyed recruit, so if an SEC mainstay makes a run, that could alter the Miami native’s recruitment.
For now, we’re listing Culpepper “warm” on the hot board, although we’re encouraged by Maryland’s position and are leaning towards shifting him to “hot.”
Alex Woods, CB, Lackawanna (Scranton, Pa.): The junior-college corner and ex-WVU pledge Woods is set for his Dec. 2 College Park official, and the jaunt should at least solidify UMD’s status as leader. As mentioned several times prior, Woods is drawn by Maryland’s lack of secondary depth and thinks he could contribute immediately after arriving on campus. Plus, he likes UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim -- the recruit believes he could improve his game under the assistant’s watch -- and has a rapport with Maryland-area recruiter Pete Lembo, the latter going in-home with Woods Nov. 29. Woods also enjoyed his first trip to College Park during the fall, when Director of Recruit Marcus Berry gave him the lowdown on the program.
With that in mind, there is a chance Woods’ second UMD visit results in a commitment.
But, at the moment, Woods intends to follow through with an East Carolina official, and the Pirates do hold some water. ECU’s coaches have been pressing for Woods since before he committed to West Virginia, and playing in Greenville, N.C., would allow the corner to return home. We don’t envision East Carolina having the same kind of pull Maryland does, however.
Truth be told, the tealeaves have been reading “Terps” on this one ever since he backed away from WVU. Don’t be shocked if he ends up popping to UMD Dec. 4.
Tavyn Jackson, CB, James Rickards (Tallahassee, Fla.): The Terps’ coaches have been pursuing the South Carolina commit Jackson since August, with the three-star hinting he’d like to officially visit Maryland. He’ll finally do so Dec. 2-4 after UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim convinced him to trek north following a foray through James Rickards earlier this week.
Jackson has been in touch with Abdul-Rahim fairly consistently, and is heeding the coach’s plea for corners. The Tallahassee native knows he can contribute right away in College Park, which certainly resonates. Furthermore, Jackson is friends with Terps’ safety Qwuantrezz Knight, who has let on how much he likes the school; campus; and staff at Maryland.
If that weren’t enough, Jackson’s status with South Carolina is somewhat shaky, despite a standout official to Columbia, S.C., back in October. He was going to decommit earlier in the fall so could head out to other schools -- Gamecocks’ head coach Will Muschamp doesn’t like when pledges venture out to other locales -- but opted not to do so. But now that he’s seeing College Park, it might only be a matter of time before Jackson is asked to back off his South Carolina pledge. (For what it’s worth, the Gamecocks’ coaches all went in-home with Jackson and are attempting to keep him in the fold).
Jackson could still check out schools like Indiana, UCF and possibly more, but UMD would appear to have the inside track on flipping the three-star if he doesn’t stick with USC.
More Recruiting Notes
Quantino Allen, Slot, Glades Central (Belle Glade, Fla.): The three-star slot Allen took his Oregon State official Nov. 25-27, and it sounds like that trip solidified his pledge. Allen said he loved the atmosphere in Corvallis, Ore., and had a terrific time reconnecting with the Beavers’ staff and interacting with the players.
The 5-10, 200-pound slot did take an official to Maryland Oct. 1, rating the jaunt highly. He bonded with most of the staff, liked UMD’s location near Baltimore and D.C., and talked up the College Park environment. Allen also mentioned his rapport with Terps’ receivers’ coach Chris Beatty, who has maintained communication with the Florida slot.
“I’m real close with Coach Beatty, and he’s a great coach. He’s produced a lot of great players,” Allen said in October. “I’ve known him for awhile, and he always checks in to see how I’m doing.”
But since then the Terps added a fifth receiver pledge, and although Allen is technically still a “take” for head coach D.J. Durkin, we heard the staff wouldn’t be actively pushing for his services. Whether or not Allen senses this is unclear, but, either way, he’s content with his original pledge. Allen is no longer scheduled to see Illinois, WVU or Louisville, so, in essence, he has shut down his recruitment.
We’ll keep him “cool” on the hot board just in case the Terps’ coaches decide to make a late push, but we don’t foresee Allen winding up in College Park.
Tyran Hunt, OT, Southampton (Courtland, Va.): Some new information came to light this week that could possibly affect the three-star Hunt’s status. The 6-7, 280-pound tackle listed a top-three favorites list of Maryland, Syracuse and UVA, which wasn’t a surprise, but he let on he’d be taking one final official to Duke Dec. 9-11.
The Blue Devils’ staff does covet Hunt’s services, so, if the recruit wants in, he’ll be allowed to commit. The school’s renowned academics have the Southampton prospect’s attention, and the fact Duke will get last dibs might shake things up a bit. After checking around with various colleagues, it wouldn’t be a total shock if that Duke trip shot the Blue Devils straight up the leaderboard, ahead of the Terps; Orange; and Wahoos.
But that’s purely speculation. We likely won’t know where Hunt truly stands until after that Durham, N.C., foray.
For the moment, we’ll continue to give Maryland the edge, banking on UMD-area recruiter Mike London’s strong rapport with Hunt ringing true. London, who went in-home with Hunt last week, has been after the three-star longer than any other assistant still involved here.
Moreover, Hunt’s Nov. 11-13 College Park official hit home, namely the educational values; networking opportunities; and its location near Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. He liked the staff as a whole, the current Terps and the environment on campus as well.
Syracuse, as aforementioned, has a legitimate shot to win Hunt following his eye-opening October official, although we’re led to believe the Orange are currently behind Maryland in the pecking order. Meanwhile, UVA, which Hunt didn’t officially visit, is sitting third.
Nour-Eddine Seidnaly, OL, ASA (Brooklyn, N.Y.): The Terps hosted this 6-5, 295-pound junior-college lineman Nov. 26 for their game against Rutgers. Afterwards, Seidnaly said the Maryland coaches were considering offering, and, at the very least, wanted him to officially visit Dec. 9.
The former Bethesda-Chevy Chase (Bethesda, Md.) standout said it was an “honor” to hear from the hometown school, so he’s hoping the scholarship materializes. Seidnaly has been in touch with Maryland Director of Recruiting Marcus Berry and area recruiter Pete Lembo, while at the RU game he spoke to offensive coordinator Walt Bell and line coach Dave Borbely. The ASA product said he “really liked” the UMD coaches and would love to play for them.
Seidnaly had similar praise for the program as a whole.
“I loved Maryland. It was real good,” Seidnaly said. “It was a great environment, it was a good game, and I liked how Maryland played. It’s a great program, and they’re on the rise. It’s a team I grew up watching, so it was great to see them in person. I had a lot of fun.
“I know a lot about Maryland. I love their uniforms, their stadium, and I have a lot of friends that go there. Not just friends who play football, but because I’m from there, I know a lot of kids who go to college there. It’s a place I’m comfortable at and familiar with. I really thought it was great.”
Currently, Seidnaly has offers from ECU, Bowling Green, UNC Charlotte, UT Martin, Eastern Illinois, NC A&T and others of that ilk. He said he is hearing from Texas Tech’s staff and is going to officially visit there Dec. 2, but we’ll see if that comes to fruition or not.
If the Terps’ offer comes through, though, circle that intended Dec. 9 College Park visit date. Seidnaly, a December grad with two years of eligibility remaining, could very well pop on campus.
The vibe on this end is Seidnaly won’t get the coveted Terps’ scholarship unless other options fall by the wayside. But Maryland does need offensive tackles, so it wouldn’t be a complete shock if he pulled the offer.
You can read more about Seidnaly HERE.
Breyon & Brandon Gaddy, DT, Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach, Va.): The four-star defensive tackle Breyon Gaddy and his twin brother, three-star defensive tackle Brandon Gaddy, decommitted from Tennessee Nov. 29. The two are a proposed package deal and opted to decommit in order to explore some of their other options.
Of which one could be the Terps.
UMD-area recruiter and defensive line coach Mike London made a play for the pair last winter and has maintained a connection since before the coach arrived at Maryland. Then, London delivered his in-person pitch to the brothers Gaddy earlier this week, and the two are at least contemplating officially visiting College Park in January.
But Breyon and Brandon Gaddy have plenty of other college coaches coming at them too. Georgia, Clemson, Florida State, Kentucky and potentially others are all involved. Meanwhile, hometown Virginia Tech’s staff is making a run and could have a bead.
But if London can coax out an official visit, well, maybe the Terps have a chance. We’ll list the brothers “cool” on the hot board for the time being.
Hozey Haji-Badri, DE, Chantilly (Va.): We weren’t sure the Maryland staff was going to keep actively recruiting the prep school defensive end Haji-Badri, but it sounds like they may look to bring him in. The 6-4, 270-pounder returned to College Park for the fourth time Nov. 26, and he said UMD-area recruiter Mike London and Co. wanted to extend an offer. Haji-Badri said the scholarship will be dependent on his SAT score, but if the recruit qualifies (he’s “confident” he will), the Chantilly product intimated the offer would be presented.
If that latter scenario comes to fruition, Haji-Badri said he’d be a Terp.
“With where I’m at right now, I’m going to end up committing to Maryland,” said Haji-Badri, who projects as a 3-technique. “Obviously anything can happen and nothing is certain, but that’s where I’m at right now. I’ve been at Maryland four times now, and I just feel like it’s a great fit and I could see myself there. I grew up 40 minutes from [College Park], I’ve watched them on TV my whole life, and my dad is a huge Maryland fan.”
Haji-Badri went on to praise his relationship with London. The defensive lineman has been in touch with London since the spring, and the two have developed a bond. Plus, Haji-Badri appreciates how London and the UMD coaches are willing to wait for the Chantilly prospect to earn the necessary test scores.
Haji-Badri is also looking at Buffalo and Norfolk State, two contingency plans for him. He was tentatively set to see Norfolk State Dec. 2 and Buffalo Dec. 9, but both trips are now on hold. Haji-Badri did not earn the scores he wanted Nov. 29, so he’ll take the SAT again Dec. 3 and then the ACT Dec. 10.
For now, we’re placing Haji-Badri back on the hot board as “warm,” with an eye on the transcript situation. We’ll be gauging whether London’s words were “coach speak” or not as well.
You can read more about Haji-Badri HERE.
Kofi Wardlow, BUCK, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): It was a positive sign for UMD purposes when Wardlow made it to College Park twice in a four-day span, first attending the Maryland-Stony Brook hoops game and then the Terps’-Rutgers affair Nov. 26. But although the local BUCK has the Terps trending, fans can probably rule out an early pop.
“There’s a lot of positives going on at Maryland, a lot of good things going on there. It’s a school I like a lot,” said Wardlow, who has offers from UMD, Michigan State, Missouri, Virginia Tech, Pitt, Rutgers and Boston College. “Like, the whole staff at Maryland talks to me and wants me, so it’s like all of them are recruiting me. I have a great relationship with all those guys. They’re telling me they obviously have something going on there, and of course they want me to commit. They said Maryland is going to be doing really well in the next few years with the guys they’re bringing in, and they want me to be part of that.
“It’s clear Maryland is taking a step in the right direction and Coach Durkin has them moving up. But I want to make sure I make the decision for me and not because my teammates are going there.”
Indeed, Wardlow intends to embark on all five officials before choosing his future destination around Signing Day. He has Michigan State coming up Dec. 2, and the Spartans do have appeal thanks to the coaches’ overtures; the defensive tradition; and the school’s engineering program. Then, after the recruiting dead period, Wardlow wants to see Virginia Tech (“I definitely want to get there,” he said) and take two more officials. At this juncture, Rutgers, Missouri and Pitt are in mind, although it’s possible another late suitor could emerge.
But while the Hokies are making us a bit leery, we still think the Terps are the team to beat. Wardlow may not commit during his College Park official Dec. 9, but that trip could very well solidify UMD’s spot atop the totem poll. The local edge rusher appreciates the Maryland coaches’ ardent pursuit, knows he can contribute early during his career in College Park, and believes in the program’s direction.
Let’s see if the Maryland staff -- assistants Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and Mike London stopped by to see the recruit Dec. 1 -- can keep turtles on Wardlow’s brain the next couple months.
You can read more about Wardlow HERE.
Guy Thomas, BUCK, Booker T. Washington (Miami, Fla.): Add another name to Maryland’s Dec. 9 official visitor list. Thomas may not be a local like the other Terps’ targets coming in that weekend, but the Nebraska pledge wants to check out Maryland, and Dec. 9 was the best available time to do so.
Thomas has been hearing from UMD-defensive line coach Mike London for awhile now, and last week, during the Terps’ coaches’ trek through Florida, the assistant stopped in to see the three-star. That meeting was evidently enough to coax the 6-2.5, 200 pounder north to College Park. Thomas said London’s message and resume, combined with an opportunity for early playing time at Maryland, has piqued his interest.
Now, there’s a chance the Terps’ coaches can gain even more inroads on the official. But we’ll have to see how his other official visits play out before projecting a flip. Thomas said he’s set to see Louisville Jan. 13 (the Cardinals’ coaches were in to see the three-star and have made a potent pitch), and he’ll take his Huskers’ official shortly after that. The Miami native said the Nebraska staff was in to see him earlier in the week too, and he remains a firm pledge.
Let’s see if that remains true during the next couple months, however, as there have been some rumblings here.
Vic Dimukeje, BUCK, Boys’ Latin (Baltimore, Md.): Maryland-area recruiter Mike London went in-home with Dimukeje Nov. 30, and we heard it was a productive sit-down. Dimukeje has always had an affinity for London, so the meeting was another personal touch that hit home with the edge rusher. UMD still may trail Wake Forest for the local product, but at least Dimukeje is going to give Maryland a shot with an official visit in January.
Of course, Dimukeje does want to take at least three more officials after the New Year as well, including to aforementioned Wake. Rutgers and Virginia Tech are also in the running and in line for January trips. All three of the latter programs sent staffers through Boys’ Latin last week, and all three want Dimukeje in the fold.
For the time being, the Deacons are standing out due to the small-school atmosphere; the coaches’ constant communication; and the academic reputation. Moreover, heading to Wake would allow Dimukeje to return to his home state of North Carolina.
But the Terps did have Dimukeje’s eye for several months, with the Baltimore resident close to popping to Maryland at one point. He does like the Maryland coaches the idea of the hometown movement, UMD’s educational opportunities and the direction headman D.J. Durkin is taking the program. And with the Terps in need of BUCK/D-line help, Dimukeje has a chance to contribute early during his career.
Let’s see where the Boys’ Latin three-star’s mind is at after a couple January officials.
Olakunle Fatukasi, OLB, Grand Street High (Brooklyn, N.Y.): Another blast from the past who has cropped back up onto Maryland’s radar.
Fatukasi visited Maryland in the summer, after he was committed to Rutgers, but we heard the College Park foray didn’t go particularly well. But evidently UMD-area recruiter Pete Lembo and linebackers coach Matt Barnes smoothed the situation over and regained Fatukasi’s ear. Now, per Scout’s Brian Dohn, the 6-1.5, 210-pounder is in the process of scheduling a Maryland official for sometime in January.
"My parents still want to see it," Fatukasi said of Maryland. "They haven't had a chance to check it out. I remember it's a good coaching staff. They're fast, and they move practice fast."
The Terps’ coaches aren’t the only ones making a run, however. Fatukasi has set an Indiana official for Jan. 13, and it sounds like the Hoosiers have the Jersey prospect’s attention. Last year, the IU coaches were able to flip Fatukasi’s former teammate, receiver Taysir Mack, from Rutgers, so a precedent has been established.
Temple is making a run at the three-star too, while the Rutgers coaches will have their shot to keep Fatukasi in tow Dec. 9. The New York native still has much affinity for the RU staff, so he could stay put.
But, if Fatukasi does waver, Bloomington, Ind., might be his landing spot. If Fatukasi does make it to Maryland and gives the Terps’ staff last dibs, however, maybe a UMD flip will be in order. At this juncture, though, we’re leaving him “cool” on the hot board.
Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.): Castro-Fields went on his Bama official Nov. 25-27, and he returned uncommitted.
Which bodes well for Maryland's chances with the four-star corner.
The Terps will be hosting Castro-Fields Dec. 9, and the feeling is that trip could vault UMD up the leaderboard. Castro-Fields will be surrounded by numerous Terps' commits from the DMV, who will be urging him to stay home. And the UMD coaches, with Aazaar Abdul-Rahim running point, will be putting on the hard sell, harping on the hometown movement and early playing time.
"(Schools) tried to get me to move [the Maryland official] up, but all the guys from the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) are going to be there, so I would rather take it with them,” Castro-Fields told Scout’s Brian Dohn.
Castro-Fields already has much affinity for Maryland, though, and there's not much more he can see or be shown that he hasn't already taken in. So, while the official is significant, we don't expect Castro-Fields to simply drop his other suitors in favor of the nearby institution.
As mentioned in previous Shells, Castro-Fields is probably leaning towards Alabama at this juncture. As long as the Tide staff is willing to accept his commitment -- we think they will -- that may be wear he winds up.
Castro-Fields raved about his stay in Tuscaloosa, the corner speaking to the Tide's national reputation; coaching staff; atmosphere; fans; facilities and more. It's going to be difficult for him to turn down a chance to play at the country's No. 1 program.
Penn State, meanwhile, is sitting right there as well, and Castro-Fields should be at State College sometime in January. The Riverdale product has long had interest in the Nittany Lions thanks to his deep rapport with the staff; the vibe in Beaver Stadium and around the program; and the fact former teammate Zech McPhearson plays there. Penn State's rise in the ranks this season only aids the school's perception.
Virginia Tech is in the game too, although the Hokies are likely fourth in the pecking order. Castro-Fields did have a good time in Blacksburg, Va., during his last unofficial visit -- he loves defensive coordinator Bud Foster and his scheme -- and he wants to return for an official after the New Year.
That may not happen, however, as Castro-Fields could be committed before then. He wants to pop on his birthday Jan. 14, so time could get tight.
We do think Maryland is gaining steam here, but Castro-Fields remains a difficult read. The Tide’s and Nittany Lions’ coaches are not going to simply let the Riverdale four-star stay in-state without putting forth their best pitch.
O.J. Tucker, CB, Vanguard (Ocala, Fla.): The Georgia Tech commit Tucker said he was going to officially visit Maryland in January, and now he has a date in mind. Tucker will be in College Park Jan. 13, right after the dead period ends.
The three-star Floridian has been in close contact with UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, who stopped through Vanguard recently. Tucker, like almost every other corner the Terps’ staff is recruiting, has heard all about Maryland’s need for secondary help. The opportunity to step in and play as a freshman next year is perhaps the main reason Tucker is considering flipping to UMD. Plus, Tucker mentioned head coach D.J. Durkin’s defensive mindset and his resume at places like Florida and Michigan.
Durkin will have a chance to convince Tucker to join his program in mid-January, but the Vanguard product does want to check out a couple more schools before ending his recruitment.
He’ll make it back to Georgia Tech later in January, Tucker giving the Jackets’ coaches their opportunity to keep him on board. The three-star may also hit Nebraska, which, if he’s a “take” for the Huskers’ staff, would also be a threat to flip Tucker. (We’re led to believe the Nebraska coaches are not pushing). Other locales Tucker might visit, depending on which staffs choose to pursue, include Wake Forest; USF; and UCF.
The feeling on this end is UMD is positioned favorably to land Tucker during his College Park official. But, if he does make it to Atlanta, Ga., well, the corner might just remain committed to the Jackets.
Dazz Newsome, CB, Hampton (Va.): Newsome is going to remain a Terps’ commit for the foreseeable future, but will he sign with Maryland Feb. 1?
Maybe not after the recent series of events.
The diminutive dynamo landed a coveted Va Tech offer Nov. 29, and though he didn’t publically comment on it, his enthusiasm was rather obvious. Which made sense since his father played for Tech, he currently has a brother who suits up for Tech, and at one time Newsome called Tech his “dream school.”
Those feelings diminished somewhat when the former Hokies’ staff failed to offer, but it seems the new regime has made amends. Newsome attended the Va Tech-UVA showdown in November, and word is the trip wasn’t just to see his brother in action. So it wasn’t a surprise when, shortly after interacting with the Hokies’ coaches after the game, Newsome received the scholarship.
A couple days after landing the offer, word trickled out that Newsome would be taking an official to Blacksburg Jan. 20.
It doesn’t take Nostradamus to predict what could happen after that.
True, the Maryland staff will have its shot to keep Newsome in the fold Dec. 9, when the corner sees Maryland officially. Area recruiter Mike London, who was in to see the 757 native earlier in the week, has a longstanding relationship with Newsome, and UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim is on the prospect too.
Maybe those two can seal the deal by Dec. 11, convincing Newsome to shut down his recruitment before the holidays.
We’re just not banking on that happening given Newsome’s strong legacy ties to Virginia Tech. A flip seems inevitable.
Rogers On Board
OK, so since Lawtez Rogers (Roosevelt, Md.) literally just committed four hours before the Shell was released. I didn't feel the need to recap the whole thing again. So, you can read the article about the three-star defensive end jumping on the Maryland bandwagon HERE, while you can see the scouting report HERE.
And, you can hear my interview with his head coach HERE.
With coaches out in full force this week, here are some of the senior targets the Terps’ staff was in to see:
Anthony McFarland, RB, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)
Emmanuel Greene, Slot, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
Sean Savoy, Slot, Wilson (Washington, D.C.)
Calvin Ashley, OT, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.)
Tyran Hunt, OT, Southampton (Courtland, Va.)
Mekhi Becton, OT, Highland Springs (Va.)
Jake Bolton, OT, Blessed Trinity (Roswell, Ga.)
Jordan Tucker, OT, Roswell (Ga.)
Breyon Gaddy, DT, Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach, Va.)
Brandon Gaddy, DT, Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach, Va.)
Elijah Conliffe, DE, Hampton (Va.)
Javon Kinlaw, DE, Goose Creek (S.C.)
Guy Thomas, DE/BUCK, Booker T. Washington (Miami, Fla.)
Hozey Haji-Badri, DL, Chantilly (Va.)
Tyree Johnson, DE/BUCK, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.)
Vic Dimukeje, DE/BUCK, Boys’ Latin (Baltimore, Md.)
Lawtez Rogers, DE, Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.)
Owen Carney, DE/BUCK, Miami Central (Fla.)
Josh Paschal, DE/BUCK, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
Bryce Brand, DE/BUCK, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
Kofi Wardlow, BUCK, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.)
Nate Proctor, BUCK, Lackey (Indian Head, Md.)
Jordan Anthony, OLB, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
Louis Acceus, OLB, St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.)
Ellis Brooks, ILB, Benedictine (Richmond, Va.)
Naytron Culpepper, S, Carol City (Miami, Fla.)
Jon Lovett, S, Cherokee (Marlton, N.J.)
Markquese Bell, S, Bridgeton (N.J.)
Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.)
Tavyn Jackson, CB, James Rickards (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Tancey Richardson, CB, South Aiken (S.C.)
OJ Tucker, CB, Vanguard (Ocala, Fla.)
Alex Woods, CB, Lackawanna (Scranton, Pa.)
New Offers Out
Jalen Berger, RB/WR, Don Bosco (Paterson, N.J.) (2020): The freshman Berger is an electric athlete and one of the next big thing’s out of powerhouse Bosco. The Terps, with UMD-area recruiter Matt Barnes running point, were the first to ante up Nov. 29. Barnes was in New Jersey checking out several of the state’s renowned high schools, and he ended up offering Berger while at Bosco.
Look for Berger to blow up on the recruiting trail the next two years. He’ll probably have options from throughout the Big Ten, ACC and SEC.
Howard Cross, DE, St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.) (2019): While Matt Barnes was in New Jersey to check in with St. Joe’s Regional linebacker Louis Acceus last week, he extended an offer to this rising star lineman. The sophomore Cross is 6-2, 240 pounds and projects as a high-FBS defensive lineman.
The Terps were the first program to come through for Cross, but he should have plenty of options after more coaches get a look at him during the spring evaluation period.
Off The Board
Javon Kinlaw, DE, Jones County (Ellisville, Miss.): We had a feeling Kinlaw’s over-the-top pro-Maryland comments last month rang of lip service. The four-star junior college defensive end, who grew up in Washington, D.C., and has a strong relationship with UMD recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, told us he had three official visits set up in January.
None of them are to College Park.
Kinlaw was already set to see South Carolina, the school he decommitted from Jan. 28, but this week he scheduled Southern California for Jan. 13 and Texas A&M for Jan. 20. It’s possible he could change one of those officials as various coaches make their respective pitches (think Alabama), and there’s a chance Kinlaw takes a mid-week trip.
But, barring a change of heart, look for Kinlaw to choose between the Gamecocks, Trojans and Aggies (or Tide) Feb. 1. The smart bet is on Kinlaw sticking with South Carolina.
And based on our conversation with Kinlaw, it doesn’t seem like the Terps have a dog in this fight.
Josh Kaindoh, DE, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): In case you’ve been living under a rock …