Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football-recruiting roundup.
Rounding Out 2017
Based on the current state of affairs, with the Terps at 29 commitments (five early enrollees) in the 2017 class, there doesn’t seem to be much, if any, room for some of the staff’s periphery targets. There are a few coveted local elites, however, the Maryland coaches would find a way to take. Those include five-star offensive tackle Calvin Ashley (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.), four-star cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields (Riverdale Baptist/Upper Marlboro, Md.), four-star running back Anthony McFarland (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) and four-star inside linebacker Ellis Brooks (Benedictine/Richmond, Va.).
Of that quartet, we think the Terps’ staff could snag one of them, which is a more optimistic outlook than last week, when we didn’t think any would ultimately wind up in College Park, Md. Here’s a synopsis of where each stands:
-- The linebacker Brooks was leaning the Terps’ way for quite some time due to the early playing-time opportunities, his comfort level around the program, and the school’s academic reputation. But he’s officially visiting his previously-stated No. 1, Notre Dame, Jan. 27, and could commit to the Irish shortly thereafter. Notre Dame’s tradition, national reputation and academic/athletic balance have Brooks smitten.
Northwestern (Jan. 13 official) and Oregon (Jan. 20 official) are involved too, although it’s possible recent offers from LSU and Ole Miss could shake up Brooks’ intended visit list a bit. At the moment, however, the latter programs are probably all sitting behind UND and UMD in the pecking order.
But unfortunately for Terps’ aficionados, Notre Dame figures to have a stranglehold on that top spot. We’ll see if Maryland-area recruiter Mike London and Co., who have a deep rapport with the four-star and his father, can regain Brooks’ ear before Feb. 1.
-- Likewise, McFarland seemed to have the Terps up top heading into late fall, with our DeMatha sources indicating it was only a matter of time before he popped to the hometown school. That may turn out to be the case what with the four-star’s affinity for the Maryland coaching staff and the DMV movement, but that’s not the direction this is trending.
Miami’s staff keeps making a charge, and head coach Mark Richt has long had McFarland’s ear. The four-star had a stellar official at UM, McFarland readily bonding with the players and coaches, and apparently the trip continues to resonate. Plus, there are certain folks in McFarland’s party who would love to see him in Coral Gables, Fla.
Alabama, for its part, was in the running, with McFarland set to see Tuscaloosa, Ala., Jan .13. But after it became clear assistant Mike Locksley, who was the driving force behind the Tide’s push for McFarland, was leaving the school for (most likely) Florida, Bama fell off.
There’s a chance Locksley could make a potent pitch to McFarland at UF, and it wouldn’t shock if the four-star took an impromptu official to Gainesville, Fla. But that’s speculation at this point. For the time being, McFarland is focused on UMD and Miami; he should be selecting one of the two in late January.
Our gut? There are some moving parts here, but many of our contacts are suggesting the Hurricanes have a slight edge over the Terps. We’ll see if Maryland assistant Aazaar Abdul-Rahim can change McFarland’s thinking in the next couple weeks.
-- As for Castro-Fields, he might have to fall into Maryland’s lap for him to wind up in College Park. We keep hearing the Terps sit in the trail position, behind Penn State and Alabama.
The Tide staff loves establishing footholds in the DMV, so there’s some possibility they could find a way to “take” Castro-Fields. But we’ve been told the inn’s full in Tuscaloosa after the Bama coaches landed corner Xavier McKinney (Roswell, Ga.) Jan. 1. That said, keep an eye on Bama’s JUCO pledge, Jhavonte Dean, from Homestead, Fla. If Dean flips to Miami after officially visiting, it could open up a spot for Castro-Fields.
But if Dean remains and the Tide’s current class stays intact, it’s once again down to PSU and UMD.
At first blush, Penn State seemingly wouldn’t have an open spot for Castro-Fields either, but we’re led to believe head coach James Franklin would accept the Riverdale product. Franklin is all about pulling DMV recruits, and the sense is he’s going to push for the Upper Marlboro native when the four-star officially visits Jan. 13.
Castro-Fields, in turn, has much love for the Nittany Lions’ program and staff after multiple treks through State College, Pa. He could jump at the chance to reunite with former teammate Zech McPhearson.
And with Maryland, the Riverdale recruit does have an outstanding relationship with UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and is keen on the coach’s hometown-movement pitch. Castro-Fields has hosted the Terps’ coaches in-home, had a solid December College Park official, and likes being near his mom so she can easily attend his games.
That said, the Terps don’t seem to be Castro-Fields’ No. 1 choice. Sure, a couple analysts have indicated the four-star could fall to Maryland anyway given the tenuous scholarship situations at Bama and Penn State. But numerous trusted sources have suggested otherwise. At the very least, we’re inclined to believe Franklin and Co. will go full bore for Castro-Fields.
We’ll see how it plays out, but our gut is Castro-Fields will find his way to Happy Valley. He’s set to announce his destination a week after taking in the Nittany Lions, on Jan. 23.
-- Last but not certainly not least, there’s the five-star tackle Calvin Ashley. During the previous two Shells, we’ve forecast the St. John’s product to Auburn, the school he’s currently committed to and will be officially visiting Jan. 20.
But during the week of the Under Armour All-American game, Terps’ commits like Kasim Hill (St. John’s) and Markquese Bell (discussed below) were constantly in Ashley’s ear. Bell, for his part, went as far as to say he “knows” Ashley is coming to Maryland. Moreover, recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and the rest of the Maryland staff continue to plug away, selling immediate playing time and the chance to build a program into a contender.
It remains to be seen if their collective efforts will pay off, but our latest intel suggests the Terps have his attention. Ashley said he's not going to decommit, but we'll see if that holds.
Now, it should be realized that even if Ashley does decommit, he’s still scheduled to be in War Eagle Country Jan. 20. But, even so, there is more Terps' buzz surrounding the five-star, who has taken a liking to the D.C. area and his teammates-turned-Terps Hill and Cam Spence, than before the New Year.
We'll monitor the situation closely, because of the four Terps' targets, Ashley remains the most likely to head to Maryland. Ashley may have publicly put the kibosh on the "flip" buzz for now, but we're leaving him "hot" on the hot board per our intel.
The above four prospects are the priorities, but there is one alternative option who the Maryland staff could push for right before Signing Day. If Ellis Brooks (discussed above) pops to Notre Dame as anticipated, we do think the Terps’ coaches would push for linebacker Louis Acceus (St. Joseph Regional/Montvale, N.J.). Acceus is scheduled to officially visit Maryland Jan. 27, which seemingly gives the staff time to assess the Brooks situation.
Problem is, Acceus is embarking on officials to Virginia Tech (Jan. 13) and Indiana (Jan. 20) the next two weekends, and he is a “take” for both programs’ coaches. The Jersey native has UMD in front of the Hokies and Hoosiers at the moment, but he might change his thinking if the Tech or IU staffs put on the squeeze play.
If Acceus remains uncommitted heading into his Terps’ trip, however, there’s a very good chance he pops to Maryland on Signing Day (provided Brooks opts for Notre Dame, of course). The St. Joseph product and his older brother have a tight-knit relationship with linebackers coach Matt Barnes and the rest of the Terps’ staff, while Acceus has thoroughly enjoyed each of his previous College Park stays.
We’re keeping him “hot” on the hot board until we hear otherwise.
It’s worth repeating that Maryland’s situation could change in the weeks leading up to Signing Day. We’re monitoring the commitment statuses of Breyon and Brandon Gaddy (Bishop Sullivan Catholic/Virginia Beach, Va.), who are threats to flip to Florida after the twins’ Jan. 20 Gainesville official. Furthermore, UMD cornerback pledge Dazz Newsome (Hampton, Va.) is on Virginia Tech’s official visitor list for Jan. 20, and if that trip materializes, the Hokies’ legacy could make the move to Blacksburg, Va. Newsome is taking a look at North Carolina Jan. 13 too.
So, if the Terps do lose two or three commits, they’d obviously have more slots to work with.
It’s unclear if the coaches could uncover a defensive lineman to replace the Gaddys with many of the Terps’ “alternatives” heading elsewhere. True, local lineman Vic Dimukeje (Boys’ Latin/Baltimore, Md.) and one-time tackle target George Ellis (American Heritage/Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) remain on the market, but we’re not sure they’d be receptive to a late Terps’ pitch. Dimukeje is currently leaning towards Va Tech, and Ellis could be headed to TCU or USF. Maybe the UMD coaches could even make another overture to junior college defensive tackle Hozey Haji-Badri (Virginia Sports Academy/Chantilly, Va.), who has made it known he wants to be at Maryland.
As for Newsome -- and Tariq Castro-Fields for that matter -- if he heads elsewhere, the Maryland staff may stick to the four corners already committed and leave it at that. Perhaps the staff would consider jumping back on Tancey Richardson (South Aiken, S.C.) or O.J. Tucker (Vanguard/Ocala, Fla.), but both told me earlier this week they were no longer officially visiting College Park Jan. 13 and hadn’t heard from the Terps’ coaches in awhile. At one time, each called Maryland a favorite and couldn’t wait to see College Park, but they were never the staff’s main targets.
For now, Tucker is projected to Wake Forest or UCF, and Richardson could be Colorado State or Georgia State bound.
Markquese Bell On Board
This one has been a foregone conclusion ever since we confirmed Ohio State wouldn’t have a scholarship for the Bridgeton (N.J.) four-star in mid-December. But it was certainly a positive for the Terps when safety Markquese Bell followed through on his Maryland commitment Jan. 1. The 6-foot-2, 201-pounder popped during the fourth quarter of the Under Armour All-American game, telling Scout afterwards he was proud to be a Terp.
“I just feel comfortable at the school and I feel like I can excel there on and off the field,” said Bell, who will arrive in College Park Jan. 20. “The coaches were real excited when I told them [around mid-December]. I talked to every coach on the staff, and they were so happy. They talked about how I could come in the first day and make an impact on the team. The opportunity to play early is really [big].
"And, honestly, everybody there is just happy every time I come up [to UMD to visit]. Every day you can tell the coaches are bringing it in practice, and Coach [D.J.] Durkin is just a great guy, and Coach Aazaar [Abdul-Rahim] and Coach [Anthony] Tucker, they've been recruiting me since the fist day I got there, and I really appreciate that."
Bell wound up at Maryland through a combination of the staff’s unrelenting efforts and other suitors falling by the wayside.
First and foremost, UMD-area recruiter Anthony Tucker deserves a tip of the cap for his work. Tucker’s been on Bell for almost a year, maintaining contact through text, Twitter and in-person visits. Meanwhile, head coach D.J. Durkin, whose December foray through Bell’s home ultimately sealed the prospect to UMD, did his part as well, impressing both the four-star and his grandmother. Bell also had semi-regular contact with defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, linebackers coach Matt Barnes and defensive coordinator Andy Buh.
Additionally, Bell’s trips through College Park sold him on the school. He first checked out Maryland last March, and returned twice more for an October official and a November unofficial.
After each trip, Bell lauded the coaches’ overarching energy and enthusiasm, while making sure to note the welcoming environment provided by both the staff and players. Bell quickly bonded with Abdul-Rahim during position meetings, the recruit not only taking to the coach personally, but believing he could shine in Maryland’s secondary.
The safety/outside linebacker loved the College Park area too, harping on its location near Washington, D.C., and the opportunities that will provide him. Plus, the school’s renowned journalism program hit home since Bell wants to major in communications.
Most importantly, though, Bell sensed the chance to contribute immediately in UMD’s defense. The coaches, as a whole, kept harping on early playing time, which some of Bell’s other contenders couldn’t offer.
All of the above, collectively, gave the Terps a leg up over the likes of Rutgers and Virginia Tech, two schools that hosted Bell officially and made a strong run at the four-star. But the Maryland staff needed some help from the Jersey native’s nationally-known offerees before it could bring him in.
At one time, Bell was forecast to the likes of Clemson, Michigan, Florida and Ohio State, with others such as Penn State; Georgia; and UNC also resonating. But, as the months moved along, each of those suitors’ coaches backed off some, mainly because they ran out of spots.
The Buckeyes remained the one true threat to Maryland, with Bell officially visiting OSU and hinting he wanted in in Columbus, Ohio. But head coach Urban Meyer couldn’t find a scholarship for the Jersey recruit, which allowed the four-star athlete to fall to the Terps Jan. 1.
Thus, Bell became the 29th commit and the sixth early enrollee in the Terps' 2017 class.
"I'm all set, ready to be a Terp, and now I'm going to be working to bring more guys in," Bell said. " This is a great class we have going [at UMD], and we're going to keep the momentum going."
So, what is Maryland getting in Bell?
He’s an athletic, versatile defender with plenty of talent and upside. Bell runs well, gets a good jump on the ball and has above-average acceleration. He also possesses loose hips, showing the ability to turn and run and quickly change directions. Bell doesn’t have sideline-to-sideline speed, but he’s fast enough to roam a typical safety’s coverage area.
The four-star does some of his best work when moving downhill. Bell beelines forward, takes tight closing angles and has been known to deliver the big hit.
To improve, Bell has to become more adept at breaking down in space. He doesn’t always transition smoothly and can sometimes be caught flatfooted.
Bell could stand to work on his in-air ball skills and positioning when tracking deep as well. He needs to make sure he finishes off his tackles too, as sometimes he’ll allow leaky yardage.
It’s possible, if Bell keeps adding bulk, he could move to outside linebacker. But for now he’ll be a strong safety, who can operate both in coverage and in the box.
Bell projects as an immediate contributor in College Park, with the potential to start early during his career.
You can read more about Bell HERE.
You can read analysis of him HERE.
You can read what his coach had to say about him HERE.
A Few 2018 Notes
-- When junior inside linebacker Eriq Gilyard (Trinity Christian/Jacksonville, Fla.) pledged to Maryland sight unseen in November, it immediately became one of the most tenuous Terps’ “commitment” in recent memory.
But Gilyard, who had been in touch with linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes, didn’t even make it two months before reopening his recruitment. With a growing offer list that includes numerous SEC and ACC options, the 6-0, 225-pounder opted to hit the open market and begin exploring those southern powers.
It’s unlikely Gilyard ever makes it to College Park -- even for a visit.
-- With Gilyard back on the market, expect the Terps’ staff to focus on Christchurch (Christiansburg, Va.) inside backer Jamar Darboe. Unlike Gilyard, Darboe’s seen College Park before and has legitimate interest in the program. Maryland-area recruiter Mike London was the first to ante up for the Virginia native and figures to remain in close contact moving forward.
-- I spoke to one of Maryland’s top 2018 tight end targets earlier this week, Elijah McAllister (Rumson Fair Haven/Rumson, N.J.), a three-star who missed his junior year with a torn ACL. The three-star loved his October College Park visit and is someone assistants Matt Barnes and Pete Lembo have made significant inroads with.
McAllister, though, is a prime blow-up candidate and could be bound for a Big Ten bigwig (Penn State or Michigan) or maybe the SEC (Tennessee). He may have some transcript issues to work out as well.
You can read more about McAllister and the Terps’ chances with him HERE.
-- The last two weeks I began reaching out to DMV recruits who don’t have Maryland offers yet, but are on the Terps’ coaches’ radars. Some of these prospects are bound to garner UMD looks during the spring evaluation period or camp season, so I wanted to introduce them to readers now.
Each of the prospects interviewed (save Tola Banjoko) have been through College Park and expressed loads of interest in the hometown school, extoling the staff; the hometown movement; and the state of the program.
You can read more about safety Ray Boone (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.) HERE; safety Demetri Morsell (Wise/Upper Marlboro, Md.) HERE; safety Daesean Winston (Spalding/Severn, Md.) HERE; receiver Jelani Foster (Pallotti/Laurel, Md.) HERE; offensive guard Josh Jefferson (St. John’s) HERE; defensive tackle Tola Banjoko (Episcopal/Alexandria, Va.) HERE;; and defensive tackle Ja’mion Franklin (North Caroline/Ridgeley, Md.) HERE.
Of the above, we’d guess the defensive lineman Banjoko and the safeties Boone -- who is the teammate of 2017 UMD commit Lawtez Rogers -- and Morsell would be the most likely offer candidates. The Terps’ coaches, with Aazaar Abdul-Rahim running point on the safeties, would figure to have the upper hand for the two defensive backs should the staff opt to push. Banjoko, meanwhile, would have some Maryland intrigue if/when the offer materializes, but he’ll be a much more difficult pull given his current list of suitors.
Another local to monitor is the offensive guard Josh Jefferson, who is the teammate of Maryland pledges Kasim Hill and Cam Spence. Jefferson has intriguing size (6-4, 295 pounds) for a guard, and, should he be offered, all but admitted he’d want in at UMD.
For the rest, their respective UMD verbals will depend on how well they run (see: Winston, Foster), how well they move in space, and how they get off the ball (see: Franklin). But, as aforementioned, if the Terps’ coaches do decide to pursue the likes of Winston, Foster and/or Franklin in earnest, the interest would definitely be mutual.
-- The Terps’ staff handed out eight new local offers last week to H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) receiver Ed Hendrix, safety Noah Boykin, corner Vincent Flythe and running back Mychale Salahuddin; Paint Branch (Burtonsville, Md.) outside linebacker Durell Nchami; Freedom (Chantilly, Va.) receiver Robert Mayo; Dominion (Sterling, Va.) defensive lineman Jayde Pierre; and DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) corner Judson Tallandier. All eight are discussed in the “New Offers Out” section below.
New Offers Out
Kirby Bennett, RB, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) (2018): The Maryland staff handed out a slew of local offers, but this out-of-state look to Bennett came out of left field.
Bennett is a borderline five-star talent at 6-0, 195-pounds with 4.5 speed, so it made sense for the UMD coaches to toss out a verbal. But the chances of Bennett even visiting College Park are slim. The Bishop Gorman product has his pick of schools and could opt for a West Coast program, or pretty much any SEC institution save Alabama.
For now, his recruitment is in its infant stages and Bennett is open to all comers.
Donnovan Moorer, WR, Hebron Christian (Suwanee, Ga.) (2020): Moorer is going to be a five-star by the time he reaches his senior year. Right now, he’s a 5.8, 140-pound jitterbug freshman with elite speed and athleticism.
Maryland became the latest FBS school to identify the 2020 recruit, the staff extending a verbal Jan. 5. Illinois, Miami and FIU also have offers out.
Needless to say, Moorer is going to have a plethora of options to consider the next couple years.
Robert Mayo, WR, Freedom (Chantilly, Va.) (2018): The Maryland coaches were particularly active Jan. 4, extending new junior offers right and left. New UMD Virginia-area recruiter Walt Bell, for his part, identified the receiver Mayo, giving the 6-3, 200-pounder his first FBS verbal.
“This was huge – just huge,” said Mayo, who also has offers from ODU and UNC Charlotte. “This was my first major offer. I’ve been talking to Coach Bell for a bit before [Jan. 4], and I think he’s a good guy and a good coach. I feel like he can get me to where I need to be as a receiver. And in his offense they kind of do a spread like us, and they get the ball to their receivers. Obviously that’s attractive to a guy like me.”
Mayo had a chance to see that offense in action when the Terps hosted Rutgers in the fall. That was the Freedom prospect ‘s first time in College Park, and Mayo praised not only the team and the offense, but the atmosphere; the campus; and the renovated facilities. The receiver felt welcomed in by the staff and Terps’ fans as well.
But Mayo’s recruitment is just beginning, and he’s bound to have more than a few options to explore. Virginia Tech’s coaches could be next to offer, while the Chantilly native should be hearing from others shortly. (For what it’s worth, Mayo called Florida State his dream school).
Look for Mayo to check out an array of colleges and attend several camps this offseason. We’ll have a better idea where he stands with Maryland later during the summer.
You can read more about Mayo HERE.
Jayde Pierre, DL, Dominion (Sterling, Va.) (2018): Maryland’s second Virginia offer Jan. 4 went out to the 6-0.5, 295-pound defensive tackle Pierre, the Terps joining UVA early in the game. Pierre was thrilled with his initial Big Ten look, noting how close he lived to College Park and his mother’s affinity for the school.
Before landing the offer, the Dominion prospect had been in communication with UMD-area recruiter Walt Bell, Pierre mentioning how “cool” the Terps’ offensive coordinator is. The two have been exchanging messages for about a month, and Bell actually met Pierre briefly during a December trek through Sterling.
Pierre hasn’t had as much contact with Maryland assistant Mike London, but the prospect did work with the defensive line coach at a summer camp.
“At the camp, I talked to the coaches and Coach [Mike] London, the D-line coach. Coach London knew a lot about the game and was full of excitement and just really energetic,” Pierre said. “The way he demonstrated things was great and really informative. It was a great camp overall.”
The camp was Pierre’s second time in College Park; his first trip came a year prior for a Terps’ basketball game. Before heading to Xfinity, Pierre toured around the campus, the recruit speaking to the school itself and the area. He’ll be back again later this winter.
Like Robert Mayo, though, Pierre will take the recruiting process slowly. He’s been hearing from Duke, Notre Dame, Va Tech, Pitt, Wake Forest, Purdue and more, so we’ll have to gauge his mindset after his offer list is fully realized.
Pierre seems like a prospect who could easily become starry-eyed in time.
You can read more about Pierre HERE.
Durell Nchami, OLB/BUCK, Paint Branch (Burtonsville, Md.) (2018): Nchami could be the Fofie Bazzie (Quince Orchard/Gaithersburg, Md.) of Maryland’s 2018 class. The BUCK product is a DMV recruit from Montgomery County whose most ardent and active pursuer figures to be the hometown school. In turn, Nchami could very well hop on the Terps’ bandwagon in the spring, jumpstarting the staff’s 2018 efforts.
“To get my first offer, and for it to be from the hometown school, it was a real blessing,” said Nchami, who has yet to hear from any other school’s coaches. “Maryland is definitely the early leader for me.
“I really like Maryland, because I like being near my family and friends. And Maryland’s coaches are really building up the program, and I want to be part of that. I see all the local recruits going there like Fofie [Bazzie], who I know, and guys like Kasim Hill, and it would be really cool to join them there.”
True, Nchami does figure to get a few more looks than Bazzie. But as long as linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes stays on the local recruit, the Terps should have edge.
Nchami has already built a relationship with Barnes stemming from a camp last summer. The pair have been exchanging messages since then.
Moreover, Nchami attended two UMD games during the fall and came away raving after each. He called the environment “real fun” and mentioned how much he enjoyed connecting with the fans and coaches.
Nchami made sure to praise the campus, pending facility upgrades and the school’s close proximity to home too.
Look for Nchami to return to College Park several times this offseason. He’ll probably explore some other locales as well -- as any recruit should -- but Nchami could be on board sooner rather than later.
You can read more about Nchami HERE.
Judson Tallandier, CB, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) (2018): The DeMatha corner Tallandier is someone who caught my eye this season. After scouting him, I figured it was only a matter of time before the Terps’ coaches came calling.
They finally did Jan. 4, joining Syracuse and Pitt as Tallandier’s early suitors.
The 6-2, 180-pounder admitted he wasn’t shocked by the look, but he was still appreciative. Tallandier said it felt “good” to know the hometown school sought his services.
The DeMatha corner has been in regular talks with UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, Tallandier mentioning he and his area recruiter are “pretty close.” The local corner described how Abdul-Rahim is always present at the school and perpetually in contact with its recruits.
Tallandier then said he’d love to learn from Abdul-Rahim and play in Maryland’s defense, perhaps alongside some of his former teammates now in College Park.
“What make it attractive is they play in the Big Ten. I love the competition in that conference,” Tallandier said. “And the way the defense is set up, and I feel like it would fit me. I like how active they are and how they move around. I know Maryland might not have always done great this season, but I can tell they’re coming up. They have a lot of good pieces in place.
“And [the DMV movement] definitely attracts me too. It’s nice the coaches love the local guys and the DeMatha guys. To see some of my former teammates go there and have success there, and now [the coaches] want me there too, that’s great. It’s great to know the coaches want me to be part of the program too and think that much of me.”
Indeed, the hometown movement and the fact Tallandier’s friends such as Tino Ellis, D.J. Turner and LoLo Harrison are already on the team only help UMD’s chances at landing the budding corner.
But, like most Stags’ prospects, this recruitment won’t be over quickly. Tallandier will go about the process methodically, doing research; taking visits; waiting for certain offers; listening to overtures; taking more visits; establishing leaderboards; embarking on officials; and so on and so forth.
On top of that, Tallandier acknowledged his three dream offers were Florida, Michigan and Clemson, which automatically indicates he won’t be an easy sell for Abdul-Rahim and Co.
Let’s see where Tallandier stands later in the summer, after he accumulates more scholarships. Programs such as Va Tech, Penn State, UVA, Clemson, WVU, Michigan State and more are bound to ante up, and it’s possible SEC bigwigs get involved too.
You can read more about Tallandier HERE.
The H.D. Woodson Offers
Mychale Salahuddin, RB, H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) (2018): The Terps’ Aazaar Abdul-Rahim offered Woodson’s two big-timers, Noah Boykin and Ed Hendrix, in late December, and a week later the assistant honed in on the D.C. school’s up-and-comers. The 5-10, 190-pound Salahuddin had offers from Toledo, Eastern Kentucky and Ohio before Abdul-Rahim gave the back his first major verbal Jan. 4.
As expected, Salahuddin was thrilled, going on and on about the chance to play in front of friends and family.
“It’s always a thought to stay home and put out for your city. It’s always something I’ll consider,” Salahuddin said. “And now all four of us [Woodson recruits] have Maryland offers, and it’s something we’re excited about. We’re talking [about staying home]. We’re not pulling any decisions right now, but we are talking about it.”
Although showing out in front of the hometown fans appeals, the main driving force behind Salahuddin’s UMD interest is his relationship with Abdul-Rahim. Salahuddin said he and Maryland’s area recruiter can relate on a personal level.
“Coach Aazaar is a cool dude and good to talk to. I look at him as a brother -- for real for real,” Salahuddin said. “He’s from where I’m from and knows how it is here. He knows where I’m coming from when we talk about certain things. It’s great to have that kind of connection.”
The Woodson runner has interacted with Abdul-Rahim and several other Maryland staffers during Salahuddin’s various visits to College Park. He’s taken to running backs coach Anthony Tucker, headman D.J. Durkin and the coaches in general.
Salahuddin, who attended UMD’s game against Michigan State, praised the atmosphere in College Park; the campus; New Cole; and the Terps’ offense. The Woodson runner watched current Terps running backs Ty Johnson and LoLo Harrison gash MSU, Salahuddin letting on he could see himself doing the same thing under offensive coordinator Walt Bell.
With the above in mind, it sounds like the Maryland staff has a bead on its new No. 1 running back priority. But before forecasting Salahuddin to College Park, let’s see how much his offer list expands.
The D.C. back said assistants from Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, Va Tech, Tennessee, Michigan and UVA have all had some degree of contact. If OSU or PSU, both of which Salahuddin has seen before, come through with scholarships, well, the Woodson product isn’t going to turn them down. Salahuddin is also going to vet other nearby programs such as Va Tech, Pitt, WVU and several more.
Our initial thought is to list Salahuddin “warm” on the hot board.
You can read more about Salahuddin HERE.
Ed Hendrix, WR, H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) (2018): The Terps became the latest offer for the fast-rising receiver Hendrix, UMD joining the likes of Clemson; Pitt; Syracuse; Iowa State; and Michigan State. The 6-4, 200-pounder landed the hometown scholarship Dec. 29 from UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim.
“I was really excited to get the offer. I like Maryland very much and think it’s a nice school,” Hendrix said. “I like the uniforms, the offense they run, the campus and the coaches. Maryland is up there for me.”
Hendrix has been in College Park about four times, although he didn’t attend a game last fall. He’s trekked through for camps and a tour, however, which have hit home with the D.C. The Woodson recruit extoled the idea of the DMV movement that’s taken hold in the area too.
But Hendrix saved his most ardent praise for Abdul-Rahim, who the recruit has known for several years. The two have bonded over their D.C. roots, and Hendrix views Abdul-Rahim as a friend of sorts.
While Hendrix’ UMD affinity seems genuine, he’s wide open in his recruitment at this stage. He should have his pick of programs after the spring evaluation period, and Hendrix, who insists he has no dream school, plans to explore many of them. Clemson and Michigan State figure to receive offseason trips, in addition to schools out West and in the Midwest.
Our initial hot board reading for Hendrix would be borderline “warm,” although we’re admittedly a bit skeptical about this one. Hendrix could be one of those starry-eyed recruits.
You can read more about Hendrix HERE.
Noah Boykin, S, H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) (2018): The second Woodson recruit to pull an offer from UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim Dec. 29 was the safety Boykin. The 6-2, 170-pounder previously had looks from Syracuse, Pitt, Iowa State and Toledo, but he said the Terps’ verbal was the “one I was waiting for.”
Boykin loves having the option of playing his college ball right down the street from home. He talked up the DMV movement, the talent in the D.C. corridor and the Maryland staff’s emphasis on recruiting locals.
Furthermore, Boykin discussed his affinity for Abdul-Rahim, who is from D.C. as well.
“I’ve known Coach Aazaar for awhile and he’s like an inspiration. It’s like talking to someone I know and am really close to,” Boykin said. “We’re from the same city, and he relates to kids from here very well. Coach Aazaar is my guy.”
The Woodson product, who has taken in College Park about four times, went on to praise UMD’s campus; the coming facility upgrades; and the current state of the squad. He said despite the Terps’ losing record, he can tell Maryland has a bright future ahead of it.
Boykin, though, will go through the recruiting process and research all his suitors. He’s been to locales such as Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Pitt, returning with compliments for each. Plus, Boykin seems to have his eye on the SEC and is eager to check out some southern schools this summer.
If we had to put a hot-board reading on Boykin, we’d list him “warm,” with a wary on the SEC if those programs’ coaches do eventually ante up (they will).
You can read more about Boykin HERE.
Vincent Flythe, DB, H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) (2018): Maryland assistant Aazaar Abdul-Rahim rounded out his Woodson offer barrage with the 6-0, 170-pound corner Flythe. Per usual, the D.C. prospect heaped praise on his area recruiter, who anted up Jan. 4.
“Coach Aazaar let me know I had the offer, but that really wasn’t even the point of the conversation,” said Flythe, who previously had looks from Iowa State and UVA. “I’ve known Coach Aazaar for way longer than he’s been at Maryland. So it was more like a personal conversation, and then offer was almost secondary. He’s a great coach and a good dude. He’s cool and real easy to talk to and work with. And most definitely he’s easy to relate to. He’s from the city like me. He knows what we’ve [D.C. residents] been through, and he’s been through some of the same things we’ve been through.”
Flythe, likes his teammates who were offered, gave similar complimentary remarks in regards to the Terps’ program. He called the local offer the “one you really want,” saying it was an honor to land a scholarship from the hometown school.
Flythe extoled the stay-home movement (“It’s a good perk”), the coming facility upgrades (“pretty cool”) and the atmosphere surrounding head coach D.J. Durkin’s program (“it’s different than before”). Furthermore, the Woodson corner has trekked through College Park more times than he can remember, noting how comfortable he is on campus. He was most recently at the UMD-MSU bout, which left Flythe particularly impressed.
Flythe isn’t only focused on Maryland, however. He’s been through UNC, Tennessee, Pitt, Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan, and seems to have his eye on the Heels and Vols. Meanwhile, Flythe has been hearing consistently from Wisconsin’s staff and is eager to see Madison, Wisc.
Maryland’s in a good spot early, but Flythe is someone Abdul-Rahim and Co. will have to keep after. He’s a prime blowup candidate.
You can read more about Flythe HERE.
Off The Board
Jalen McKenzie, OT, Clayton Valley (Concord, Calif.): We speculated the Terps’ staff might make a run at the offered tackle McKenzie, the teammate of UMD pledge Bryce Brand, if the coaches couldn’t flip Calvin Ashley (discussed above). But earlier this week we got the sense that wouldn’t be the case, regardless of what Ashley decides. Fact is, the Terps have two tackle commits in this year’s class and don’t have the room for another unless it's someone like the St. John's five-star.
So McKenzie, who had been in touch with UMD assistant Chris Beatty, likely won’t be officially visiting College Park. Expect him to wind up at Utah or maybe Michigan if the Wolverines’ coaches pull through with a late offer.
Naytron Culpepper, S, Carol City (Miami, Fla.): Given Culpepper’s versatility in the secondary, we thought the Maryland staff might be able to “take” the three-star even after safety Markquese Bell (discussed above) committed to UMD. But from what we’ve been able to glean, Maryland -- Culpepper’s stated leader due to his relationship with defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and his standout Dec. 3 College Park official -- just doesn’t have space in this year’s class to accept another safety-type.
Thus, Culpepper looks to be out of luck once again. Recall, he once favored, in succession, South Carolina; Michigan State; and Maryland, but is no longer considered a “take” for any of those programs.
So, it’s possible he could fall to Indiana, which the three-star is officially visiting Jan. 20. If not, maybe the Michigan State staff will find room for Culpepper after he takes in East Lansing, Mich., Jan. 13.
John Lovett, S, Cherokee (Marlton, N.J.): Lovett was Maryland’s third safety option behind Markquese Bell (discussed above) and Naytron Culpepper (discussed above). But when the Terps’ staff landed Bell Jan. 1, Lovett effectively came off the board.
Expect the Jersey safety to reschedule his Jan. 13 Maryland official in short order. In all likelihood, he’ll head to Michigan State that weekend, as the Spartans’ staff has upped the pursuit and offered Lovett at his coveted running back spot. The sense is Lovett could commit to MSU on campus if the three-star enjoys himself in East Lansing.
Lovett is also set to see Virginia Tech Jan. 20, and he could trek to Tennessee Jan. 27. He has already taken officials to Iowa and Rutgers, with the Hawkeyes holding the upper-hand.
Iowa was the frontrunner for Lovett’s services until the Spartans’ coaches came through.
O.J. Tucker, CB, Vanguard (Ocala, Fla.): See the “Rounding Out 2017” above.
Tancey Richardson, CB, South Aiken (S.C.): See the “Rounding Out 2017” above.