Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
Maryland Signs 28
In this post-Signing Day Inside The Shell special, let’s start by running down the list of signees one last time before moving onto the 2018 class. The Terps, under head coach D.J. Durkin, ended up with 28 signees in this year’s class, including seven scholarship early enrollees (Markquese Bell, Bryce Brand, Tyran Hunt, Deon Jones, Fofie Bazzie, Alex Woods, Nick Underwood). The class included 10 Scout.com four-stars, 16 three-stars and two two-stars, putting Maryland 12th nationally. The Terps finished third in the Big Ten, ahead of established programs like Penn State, Michigan State, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin.
In general, Durkin and his staff did exceptionally well considering they’re only in their second season, are coming off a 6-7 campaign, and lost a key recruiter (Mike London) before Signing Day. The staff, led by Durkin and D.C.-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, has established a strong foothold in the DMV, gaining the ear of high school coaches and prospects alike. Sure, the Terps’ coaches missed on their share of in-state talents -- not every local buys into the hometown school -- but, bearing in mind what the relationship between Maryland and in-state recruits was like pre-Durkin, 2017 was a major stride forward. The Terps’ coaches ended up bringing in 15 DMV recruits, including two from Northern Virginia, and many of them had other attractive options available to them.
Additionally, the staff continued to make inroads in the talent-rich South (Florida, Georgia) and Virginia Beach, while cherry-picking in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, two other states of emphasis. Maryland was not able to stretch into the Midwest, however.
Unlike last year, when Durkin’s crew had to scramble to assemble a class, the coaches had time to establish relationships and emerge victorious in some recruiting battles. Assistant Walt Bell and Abdul-Rahim nabbed Kasim Hill before he blew up in his senior season; Abdul-Rahim, Bell and Anthony Tucker won a stiff battle with Miami for Anthony McFarland; ace recruiter Chris Beatty swiped Tahj Capehart from Virginia Tech, Bryce Brand from Arizona, and kept the Breyon and Brandon Gaddy away from the SEC; Abdul-Rahim, Andy Buh and Co. worked to keep defensive linemen Cam Spence in tow despite overtures from Florida, Kentucky and Louisville.; Dave Borbely’s reputation helped win over the likes of touted linemen Marcus Minor and Jordan McNair; Matt Barnes and Abdul-Rahim kept Kenny Bennett away from Pitt and other late suitors; Bell and Beatty closed on a steadily-emerging Jalen Browder; Beatty reeled in M.J. Jarrell over South Carolina, Duke, NC State and others; and so on and so forth.
The coaches even got a little lucky this time around, having the likes of four-star safety Markquese Bell and four-star corner Deon Jones fall into their laps.
Naturally, though, the class was not without its disappointments. Five-star defensive end Josh Kaindoh (FSU) backed away in favor of a power program; talented corner Dazz Newsome (UNC) ended up decommitting after saying he was 100 percent loyal to UMD; underrated BUCK Kofi Wardlow couldn’t turn down the allure of Notre Dame; and greyshirt kicker Jonathan Doerer, who had been all about the Terps for half a year, suddenly flipped to UND after landing a late offer. Plus, the staff wasn’t able to close on a few other foremost targets, including four-star local corner Tariq Castro-Fields, which are detailed below.
But, all in all, it was a successful year, and the coaches upgraded the squad’s talent and filled some key needs.
Maryland had to add defensive backs, offensive tackles and defensive linemen, first and foremost, and the staff did that with five corners/safeties (in addition to a couple more receivers who could convert to defense); six edge rushers/interior D-linemen; and two offensive tackles and one swing-tackle.
Of course, the coaches did have to “settle” at times, and they did lose some aforementioned commits. It’s something Durkin and Co. will hope to improve as the program grows and becomes more visible.
Without further ado, here is the final 2017 hot board:
Running Down The Hot Board
Kasim Hill, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.)
Projection: Likely a backup his first year behind Caleb Henderson or a transfer. Has a chance to quickly rise up the depth chart, however, with a bead on the starting spot in 2018. Should excel in Walt Bell’s spread offense.
Anthony McFarland, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)
Projection: Depending how he bounces back from injury, McFarland should contribute right away as a slot/running back. Has a chance to start early during his career. All-conference potential.
Javon Leake, Page (Greensboro, N.C.)
Projection: Maryland’s depth at running back means Leake won’t start, but he’s talented enough to contribute his first year. Perhaps the most underrated recruit in Maryland’s 2017 class. Could be a future every-down back and one of the best in the Big Ten.
Tayon Fleet-Davis, Potomac(Oxon, Hill, Md.)
Projection: A likely backup his first year, but should, at the very least, carve out a niche as a grinder-type in 2018 and beyond. Has enough pop, moves and versatility to have an expanded role and maybe even start at some point. May also convert to linebacker if running back isn’t a fit.
Jalen Browder, East Pauding (Dallas, Ga.)
Projection: Missed much of his senior season and figures to redshirt his first year. Could be a future defensive back if receiver doesn’t work out. Should be a significant contributor on either side of the ball down the line -- if he works and realizes his potential.
M.J. Jarrell, Timber Creek (Orlando, Fla.)
Projection: Has a high upside and could be a significant contributor right away. Underrated on a national scale. Jarrell figures to start at some point during his career.
Tahj Capehart, Bishop Sullivan (Virginia Beach, Va.)
Projection: Could be a rotational piece initially, though playing time will be limited at first. Should have an expanded role after a couple years given his speed, quickness, instincts and versatility. Might transition to defensive back. Projects as a starter at either WR or DB during latter stages of career.
Carlos Carriere, Alpharetta (Ga.)
Projection: His length is imposing, but Carreiere is going to need a year to refine his fundamentals and add bulk. He’s someone to watch two years down the line. Initial projection is a good depth prospect, but he’s someone to watch as he fills out.
Sean Nelson, Langston Hughes (Fairburn, Ga.)
Projection: Will likely need a redshirt year before he’s ready. Could end up on defense eventually. A solid depth piece with a chance to expand his role later during his career.
Jayden Comma, Roswell (Ga.)
Projection: Figures to redshirt his first year. Projects as a depth receiver down the line.
Andrew Park, Lake Braddock (Burke, Va.)
Projection: A redshirt candidate at first blush, but Park’s length and athleticism suggest good upside. If his route running/fundamentals develop, and he proves to have hands (he played in a run-first offense), Park could be an intermediate threat. Given UMD’s lack of potent tight ends, he has a chance to start at some point.
Jordan McNair, McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.)
Projection: Ideally would redshirt his first year, but may be forced into action if UMD’s O-line struggles. Should be a starter early during his career and could become one of the Big Ten’s better tackles/guards.
Marcus Minor, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)
Projection: Projects as a guard but can also play tackle. Could be a rotational piece as soon as 2017. Should start at Maryland for three years and has all-conference upside.
Johnny Jordan, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)
Projection: A solid center prospect whose tenacity, work ethic and smarts suggest he’ll eventually start. It might take him a couple years to see significant action, however. Size is a concern.
Tyran Hunt, Southampton (Courtland, Va.)
Projection: Has the length to develop into a starting tackle, but needs to work/build his body. Hunt projects as a depth piece, with a chance to rise up during the latter parts of his career.
Breyon & Brandon Gaddy, DL, Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach, Va.)
Projection: The twins will have an opportunity to contribute immediately in College Park. They’re raw, but their size and athleticism suggest a high upside. Could develop into multi-year starters, and could become two of the conference’s elites during the latter stages of their careers. Brandon Gaddy is rated lower, but may actually have a higher upside than Breyon Gaddy.
Cam Spence, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.)
Projection: Could rotate in his freshman year, but figures to redshirt. If he works, Spence has the talent to eventually be a key contributor. Could be a starter down the line, or at least a valuable rotational piece.
Lawtez Rogers, Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.)
Projection: Has upside given his length. Will likely need a couple years to develop. Projects as a rotational player.
B’ahmad Miller, St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.)
Projection: Could either gain weight and become a DT or move to BUCK. Will be a couple years before he’s ready. Projects as a depth piece.
Bryce Brand, Clayton Valley (Concord, Calif.)
Projection: Has a chance to be an immediate contributor at BUCK. Brand’s size, athleticism and versatility suggest he’ll become a multiyear starter before it’s all said and done.
Ayinde Eley, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
Projection: Question marks abound. Terrific upside with length, speed and athleticism, but he missed his senior campaign with an undisclosed ailment. If potential realized, Eley could be a standout outside linebacker (or BUCK if he adds bulk).
Nick Underwood, Riverside C.C. (Calif.)
Projection: JUCO linebacker should contribute immediately. If he impresses in spring ball, he might even start out of the gate. Underrated out of Riverside; a big-time hitter with great instincts.
Markquese Bell, Bridgeton (N.J.)
Projection: Has a chance to see significant action as a freshman. Could win starting job off the bat, or shortly thereafter. Possesses all-conference potential with size, skill-set, smarts.
Deon Jones, Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.)
Projection: Provided he regains form after a season-ending knee injury, Jones could see action his freshman year. Should be starter for two/three years at either corner or safety. Another DB with all-conference upside. A true playmaker who has a knack for finding the football.
Fofie Bazzie, Quince Orchard (Gaithersburg, Md.)
Projection: Has good measurables, but has room for improvement. If he works and develops, Bazzie could be a solid rotational piece in time. Will probably redshirt initially before contributing on special teams.
Kenny Bennett, Academy at Palumbo (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Projection: Length and versatility suggest he has upside, but has to improve mechanics/foot speed. Likely needs a redshirt year. Could start during latter stages of his career. Otherwise, should be a solid rotational piece.
Alex Woods, Lackawanna (Scranton, Pa.)
Projection: Under-recruited since he didn’t play this year. A solid corner who should see valuable time in 2017. Woods has the potential to start with a standout spring.
Here’s a list of each recruit in this year’s class, followed by their primary Maryland recruiters. Head coach D.J. Durkin thoroughly believes in cross-recruiting, so many of the Terps’ 2017 signees had multiple coaches in hot pursuit. (We did not include Durkin himself here, although he had a hand in many of these recruitments).
Kasim Hill: Walt Bell, Aazaar Abdul-Rahim
Javon Leake: Anthony Tucker, Walt Bell
Tayon Fleet-Davis: Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, Anthony Tucker
Anthony McFarland: Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, Anthony Tucker, Walt Bell
Jalen Browder: Chris Beatty, Walt Bell
Tahj Capehart: Chris Beatty
M.J. Jarrell: Chris Beatty
Sean Nelson: Chris Beatty, Walt Bell
Carlos Carriere: Chris Beatty, Walt Bell
Jayden Comma: Chris Beatty, Walt Bell
Andrew Park: Pete Lembo, Chris Beatty
Jordan McNair: Dave Borbely
Marcus Minor: Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, Dave Borbely
Tyran Hunt: Dave Borbely, (Mike London)
Johnny Jordan: Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, Dave Borbely
Breyon & Brandon Gaddy: Chris Beatty, (Mike London)
Cam Spence: Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, (Mike London)
Lawtez Rogers: Aazaar Abdul-Rahim
B’ahmad Miller: (Mike London), Andy Buh
Bryce Brand: Chris Beatty
Ayinde Eley: Chris Beatty, Matt Barnes
Nick Underwood: Matt Barnes
Markquese Bell: Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, Anthony Tucker
Deon Jones: Aazaar Abdul-Rahim
Fofie Bazzie: Chris Beatty, Aazaar Abdul-Rahim
Kenny Bennett: Anthony Tucker, Aazaar Abdul-Rahim
Alex Woods: Aazaar Abdul-Rahim
Signing Day Superlatives
Best Overall Recruit: Anthony McFarland
Best Offensive Recruit: Anthony McFarland
Best Defensive Recruit: Deon Jones
Most Likely To See Significant Time Freshman Year: Nick Underwood
Most Upside: Brandon Gaddy
Best Offensive Skill Playmaker: Anthony McFarland
Best Defensive Skill Playmaker: Deon Jones
Best All-Around Athlete: Anthony McFarland
Fastest: Anthony McFarland
Strongest: Marcus Minor
Most Underrated Nationally: Javon Leake
Biggest Sleeper: Kenny Bennett
Biggest Hitter (Defense): Nick Underwood
Biggest Hitter/Finisher (Offense): Marcus Minor
Fiercest Competitor: Johnny Jordan
Most Sound Fundamentally: Marcus Minor
Most Cerebral: Kasim Hill
Shortest: Anthony McFarland
Tallest: Tyran Hunt
Best Quote: Fofie Bazzie
Best Name: Tayon Fleet-Davis
First Commit: Fofie Bazzie (May 3, 2016)
Last Commit: Tahj Capehart (Feb. 1, 2017)
Biggest Surprise Commit: Tahj Capehart
Best Student: Johnny Jordan
Hardest Get: Anthony McFarland
Class Of 2016 Rankings
As Terrapin Times readers know, I greatly dislike evaluating off of highlights. But since this is a Signing Day breakdown, here is my best estimate of how the class stacks up based on in-person scouting, film, and what I’ve been able to glean from coaches and colleagues.
QB Kasim Hill: ****
RB Javon Leake: ****
RB Tayon Fleet-Davis: ***
RB/Slot Anthony McFarland: ****
WR M.J. Jarrell: *** ½
WR Tahj Capehart: *** ½
WR Sean Nelson: ***
WR Jalen Browder: ***
WR Carlos Carriere: ***
WR Jayden Comma: ***
TE Andrew Park: ***
OL Jordan McNair: ****
OL Marcus Minor: ****
OL Johnny Jordan: ***
OL Tyran Hunt: ***
DL Cam Spence: *** ½
DL Lawtez Rogers: ***
DL B’ahmad Miller: **
BUCK Bryce Brand: *** ½
LB Ayinde Eley: *** ½
LB Nick Underwood: *** ½
S Markquese Bell: ****
CB Deon Jones: ****
CB Alex Woods: ***
CB Kenny Bennett: ***
CB Fofie Bazzie: **
McFarland On Board
The Terps’ coaches won a stiff recruiting battle for DeMatha’s Anthony McFarland Jan. 27. After favoring Miami for a long stretch, UMD headman D.J. Durkin, area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, running backs coach Anthony Tucker and offensive coordinator Walt Bell turned the tide late. The crew went in-home with McFarland Jan. 24 and convinced him and his family to stick with the hometown school. McFarland admitted it was difficult to tell Miami assistant Thomas Brown, who went in-home Jan. 26, and head coach Mark Richt he wasn’t coming, but the four-star is confident in his choice.
McFarland had a longstanding, terrific rapport with multiple UMD coaches, mentioning “there’s not one coach on the staff I haven’t talked to, including the strength coach, Rick Court.” The staff’s ardent pursuit gave the Terps a leg up, but McFarland also mentioned the group made him feel “needed” in College Park. In other words, a program such as Miami can find a similar-caliber player nearby, but the Terps truly coveted and could use McFarland’s services.
True, the DeMatha runner called choosing the Terps “a risk” considering they’ve finished under .500 the last few years, but he’s optimistic Durkin has the program on the come-up. He wanted to be part of Maryland’s Big Ten rise and help build the Terps into a winner with a foundation of DMV recruits. The chance to create a legacy at the home school a la Stefon Diggs resonated too.
What’s more, McFarland knows he can shine right away at Maryland, and play a variety of roles. He believes Bell will find ways to get him the ball all over the field, allowing McFarland to take advantage of his athleticism and open-field prowess.
McFarland went on to say his parents are convinced about the Terps’ direction as well. He allowed that his mom was “all Miami” for a long stretch, while his dad was “iffy” about Maryland, but Durkin and Co. appeased their concerns. Now, per McFarland, they’re excited to watch him develop and grow at the school down the street.
McFarland’s commitment is significant, even if he doesn’t completely realize his potential. The fact a nationally-touted four-star chose Maryland sends a message to other ranked recruits, particularly those in the DMV, that it’s perfectly acceptable to take a chance on the Terps. Expect the DeMatha product’s decision to hit home with UMD’s targets for years down the line, much like Diggs’ did -- and continues to do.
So, what is Maryland getting in McFarland?
The DeMatha runner missed his senior year with a broken leg, so we’ll have to see how he bounces back. But before the injury, McFarland showed plus acceleration, terrific quickness and ankle-breaking open-field moves. He’s a balanced runner, cuts back well, changes direction on a dime, and has above-average vision.
To boot, McFarland’s more physical than perceived, showing the ability to grind between the tackles and churn out yards. He has a sold base and runs low, allowing him to break through arm tackles and generate yards after contact.
If that weren’t enough, McFarland has natural hands and is comfortable taking passes out of the backfield. He could easily transition to slot receiver at the next level.
The main question with McFarland is his top-end speed. He’s able to pull away from high school defenders, but may not have the burst to take the top off college defenses. Another area of concern is McFarland’s penchant for dancing in the backfield rather than taking the one-cut-and-go route. Sometimes he’ll lose yards in an attempt to make a big play. Finally, McFarland could stand to improve his pass blocking.
Regardless, we expect him to be an immediate contributor in College Park (provided he reverts to form).
You can hear more about McFarland HERE.
You can read the analysis of him HERE.
You can hear what his coach had to say about him HERE.
Capehart On Board
Maryland receivers’ coach Chris Beatty and headman D.J. Durkin pulled off a Signing Day flip with the addition of Tahj Capehart. Capehart had been pledged to Virginia Tech since August, showing nary a sign of wavering. But Beatty had a bond with Capehart and his mother that dated back to the four-star’s ninth grade year, and the Terps’ assistant never fell out of contact with the family -- even after he committed to the Hokies.
Eventually, in a last-gasp effort, Beatty convinced Capehart to officially visit College Park Jan. 27. And after 48 hours on campus, the 5-11 wideout/corner was convinced he needed a new home.
Mostly, Capehart felt appreciated at Maryland. Whereas Virginia Tech’s staff continued to recruit and bring in receivers after Capehart jumped on board, perhaps signaling the four-star’s imminent switch to defensive back, the UMD coaches detailed how the Bishop Sullivan prospect would be a central focus in their offense. Speaking of the offense, Capehart took to coordinator Walt Bell’s up-tempo system and believes he could thrive in the slot or out wide. Capehart thinks under Beatty’s and Bell’s watch, he may develop into a top-flight weapon a la Beatty disciples Tavon Austin and Percy Harvin.
Capehart enjoyed being around the current Terps too, who made the wideout feel like he was already part of the team. The players let Capehart know how “real” the UMD coaches are and how easy they are to suit up for.
It’s worth mentioning that Capehart was privy to the Maryland program prior to Jan. 27. He’d visited College Park three times before, talking up the D.C. area; the game-day atmosphere; the coming facility upgrades; and how UMD is only a couple hours from his home. Plus, Capehart’s parents had seen Maryland previously and thoroughly enjoyed being on campus and interacting with Durkin, Beatty and Co.
Add it all up, and the Terps had a lot to sell and proved a perceivably better fit than Virginia Tech.
Realize, however, that many of Capehart’s initial suitors did back off some, which allowed him to fall to the Hokies in the first place. Once deemed a foremost national talent with offers from Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, South Carolina, UNC, Georgia, Tennessee and others, Capehart’s stock took a bit of a hit this fall.
But although Capehart may not project as a surefire starter as his initial rating would suggest, he’s definitely a welcome addition to UMD’s class. Adding someone of Capehart’s national stature -- and from the talent-rich 757 at that -- will only help the Terps’ efforts in the region moving forward.
What’s Maryland getting in Capehart?
If he plays to his potential, Capehart is a quick-twitch, dynamic receiver who has a shot to be a true playmaker in the Big Ten. He is one of those wideouts who can take a short screen, split the seam and take it to the house.
Capehart runs crisp routes, catches naturally and has loads of make-you-miss in the open field. In the air, he’s physical; possesses above-average body control; and, helped along by his strong hands and plus-vertical, can make the circus catch. Capehart also has a knack for finding holes in-between defenses, and has been known to throw his weight around as a blocker.
The questions surrounding Capehart begin with his size. He’s not the tallest or strongest wideout around, so he will need to add mass to hang in the Big Ten. Capehart must work on his explosiveness and acceleration too, especially with his get-off and when attempting to break away deep downfield. Finally, while Capehart is a smooth route runner, his tree is limited to simpler routes at this time.
As aforementioned, it’s possible Capehart could move to defense eventually, but he’s a good enough athlete and a smart enough football player to have an impact on either side of the ball.
It’s difficult to determine exactly which recruits a staff “missed” on since there are so many extenuating circumstances. Did the coaches back off? Was the offer real in the first place? How hard did they actually pursue? But, for whatever it’s worth, here are some key, realistic names we believe the Maryland staff would’ve liked to have had on board, but who didn’t wind up in College Park.
Lindell Stone, QB, Woodberry Forest (Va.): Virginia
Jack Coan, QB, Sayville (N.Y.): Wisconsin
Taylor Powell, QB, Fayetteville (Ark.): Missouri
D’Andre Swift, RB, St. Joseph’s (Philadelphia, Pa.): Georgia
Damon Williams, RB, Gadsden City (Gadsden, Ala.)
Adarius Lemons, RB, Clearwater (Fla.):
C.J. Holmes, RB, Cheshire (Hampden, Conn.): Notre Dame
Josh Palmer, WR, Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): Tennessee
DJ Matthews, WR, Trinity (Jacksonville, Fla.): Florida State
Sean Savoy, WR, Wilson (Washington, D.C.): Va Tech
Cam Sullivan-Brown, WR, Pallotti (Laurel, Md.): Penn State
Tarik Black, WR, Cheshire (Conn.): Michigan
Jaevon McQuitty, WR, Battle (Columbia, Mo.): Nebraska
Hezekiah Jones, WR, Stafford (Texas): TAMU
Corey Reed, WR, Roswell (Ga.): Louisville
Mark Webb, WR, Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.): Georgia
Taariq Johnson, WR, Buena Park (Calif.): Cal
Mike Harley, WR, Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): Miami
Justin Marshall, WR, Newton (Covington, Ga.): Louisville
Noah Igbinoghene, WR, Hewitt Trussville (Ala.): Auburn
Sal Cannella, TE, Scottsdale C.C. (Scottsdale, Ariz.): Auburn
Alex Marshall, TE, Proctor (Andover, N.H.): Florida State
Kurt Rafdal, TE, Carmel (Ind.): Nebraska
Jeremiah Hall, TE, Vance (Charlotte, N.C.): Oklahoma
Calvin Ashley, OT: Auburn
Gabe Houy, OT, Upper St. Clair (Pittsburgh, Pa.): Pitt
Tyler Knight, OT, Northside Christian (St. Petersburg, Fla.): Indiana
Cesar Ruiz, OC, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Michigan
Isaiah Wilson, OT, Poly Prep (Brooklyn, N.Y.): Georgia
Carter Warren, OT, Passaic County (Wayne, N.J.): Pitt
Josh Lugg, OT, North Allegheny (Wexford, Pa.): Notre Dame
Desmond Holmes, OT, O’Hara (Springfield, Pa.): Penn State
Kai-Leon Herbert, OT, American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.): Miami
Robert Hainsey, OT, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Notre Dame
C.J. Thorpe, OG, Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.): Penn State
Deron Irving-Bey, OT, Southwestern (Flint, Mich.): Michigan
Robert Martin, OT, St. Joseph’s (Montvale, N.J.): Penn State
Andrew Steuber, OT, Darien (Conn.): Michigan
Mekhi Becton, OT, Highland Springs (Va.): Va Tech
Cordavien Suggs, OT, Fletcher (Neptune Beach, Fla.): Mississippi State
Micah Clark, OT, St. John Vianney (Holmdel, N.J.): Rutgers
Jordan Tucker, OT, Roswell (Ga.): UNC
Matt Sicherman, OT, Kings (Kings Mills, Ohio): Nebraska
Joshua Kaindoh, DE, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Florida State
Chase Young, DE, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): Ohio State
Kofi Wardlow, DE, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): Notre Dame
Yetur Matos, DE, Chancellor (Fredericksburg, Va.): Penn State
Jonathan MacCollister, DE, Bishop Moore (Orlando, Fla.): Notre Dame
Matt Butler, DE, Concord (N.C.): Tennessee
Jordan Wright, DE, Dillard (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): Kentucky
Stephon Zayas, DE, Dillard (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): UCF
Zach Carter, DE, Hillsborough (Tampa, Fla.): Florida
Vic Dimukeje, DE, Boys’ Latin (Baltimore, Md.): Duke
Robert Porcher, DE, Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.): Va Tech
Tommy Christ, DE, Sterling (Va.): UVA
Jordan Williams, DE, Cox (Virginia Beach, Va.): Clemson
Jacob Lichtenstein, DE, Cypress Bay (Weston, Fla.): USC
Chris Whittaker, DE, Chaminade Madonna (Hollywood, Fla.): Kentucky
Josh Paschal, DE, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.): Kentucky
Tyree Johnson, DE, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): Texas A&M
TyJuan Garbutt, DE, Riverbend (Fredericksburg, Va.): Va Tech
Hunter Echols, DE, Cathedral (Los Angeles, Calif.): USC
Luigi Vilain, DE, Episcopal (Alexandria, Va.): Michigan
Darnell Ewell, DT, Lake Taylor (Norfolk, Va.): Notre Dame
Donovan Jeter, DT, Beaver Falls (Pa.): Michigan
Dalyn Wade-Perry, DT, Pope John XXIII (Sparta, N.J.): Stanford
Elijah Conliffe, DT, Hampton (Va.): Florida
Eric Crosby, DT, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach, Va.): Tennessee
Kurt Hinisht, DT, Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.): Notre Dame
Ellis Brooks, LB, Benedictine (Richmond, Va.): Penn State
Louis Acceus, LB, St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.): NC State
Dylan Rivers, LB, Sherando (Stephens City, Va.): Va Tech
Jordan Anthony, LB, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Michigan
Rayshard Ashby, LB, Bird (Chesterfield, Va.): Va Tech
Gary Johnson, LB, Dodge City C.C. (Kans.): Texas
Nate Proctor, LB, Lackey (Indian River, Md.): Va Tech
Brelin Faison-Walden, LB, Grimsley (Greensboro, Md.): Penn State
Davonne Bowen, LB, Woodmont (Piedmont, S.C.): South Carolina
Brailyn Franklin, LB, Battlefield (Haymarket, Va.): Penn State
Nick Smith, LB, Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.): Florida
Davonne Bowen, LB, Woodmont (Piedmont, S.C.): South Carolina
Sterling Jones, LB, St. James (Montgomery, Ala.): UCF
David Adams, LB, Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.): Notre Dame
Jamal Brooks, LB, Bessemer (Ala.): Missouri
Dorian Etheridge, LB, Capital (Charleston, W.Va.): Louisville
Avery Roberts, LB, Concord (Wilmington, Del.): Nebraska
Derrek Pitts, S, South Charleston (Charleston, W.Va.): WVU
Daniel Wright, S, Boyds Anderson (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): Alabama
Jonathan Sutherland, S, Episcopal (Alexandria, Va.): Penn State
Hamsah Nasitildeen, S, Concord (N.C.): Florida State
Devon Hunter, S, Indian River (Chesapeake, Va.): Va Tech
Marquis Waters, S, Atlantic (Delray Beach, Fla.): Duke
Lamont Wade, CB, Clairton (Pa.): Penn State
Randall Haynie, CB, Cardinal Gibbons (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): Vanderbilt
William Poole, CB, Hapeville Charter (Atlanta, Ga.): Georgia
Dazz Newsome, CB, Hampton (Va.): UNC
Marcus Williamson, CB, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Ohio State
Kobe Bryce, CB, Lake Dallas (Corinth, Texas): Texas
Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.): Penn State
Jonathan Doerer, K, South Mecklenburg (Charlotte, N.C.): Notre Dame
Off The Board
Ellis Brooks, ILB, Benedictine (Richmond, Va.): Brooks strung his recruitment out until a national program coveted his services, and when Penn State’s staff anted up and pressed, it was inevitable the four-star would land there. The Happy Valley official Brooks embarked on Jan. 27 was a mere formality; we already figured he’d wind up there so long as head coach James Franklin had a spot open.
The Maryland coaches did as well as they could to convince Brooks to jump on board. Even when area recruiter Mike London left, Brooks maintained close contact with head coach D.J. Durkin and linebackers coach Matt Barnes, who had a very good relationship with the Benedictine product. Barnes and Co. went in-home with Brooks, established a bond with his family, and hosted the Brookses for games; prospect days; and an official. That persistent pursuit, coupled with Maryland’s academics and early-playing time opportunities, led Brooks to place UMD atop his leaderboard for an extended stretch.
But, at the same time, Brooks always mentioned the likes of Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Clemson and others of that ilk as schools firmly on his radar. That, despite not being immediate “takes” for those programs’ coaches.
Later, after it became clear there was no room at the UM’s and OSU’s of the world, Brooks had his eyes on LSU, Notre Dame (again) and finally Penn State. The Tigers’ and Irish’s coaches eventually filled their available spots, but the Nittany Lions’ staff made a major push.
And that’s all Brooks needed to buy into Franklin and Happy Valley.
With Brooks Penn State-bound, look for Durkin to add two inside backers in the 2018 class, or maybe identify a transfer candidate. (There’s also a chance the Terps could convert someone to inside backer if there’s a true need).
Kofi Wardlow, BUCK, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.): Wardlow seemed inclined to stick with his Maryland commitment even after officially visiting Notre Dame in mid-January, but evidently the Irish coaches’ subsequent in-home and hard sell changed the DMV three-star’s thinking. In desperate need of edge rushers, headman Brian Kelly and his staff sold Wardlow on the chance to play early at a national program like UND. The school’s tradition, prestige and atmosphere rang true with Wardlow and his family as well. Moreover, Wardlow couldn’t turn down Notre Dame’s academics, post-graduate opportunities, and the numerous connections the school boasts.
The Maryland staff certainly didn’t make Wardlow’s departure an easy one. They stayed after him throughout, with area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim in daily communication. The coaches trekked through St. John’s, visited Wardlow in-home and maintained a rapport with his parents too. Wardlow even had two teammates heading to College Park in Kasim Hill and Cam Spence, who routinely discussed how they would continue their careers at Maryland and build the Terps into a winner.
But even though Wardlow appreciated the coach/player efforts, the idea of the DMV movement, and the stay-home pitch, he couldn’t say no to a program with Notre Dame’s reputation -- regardless of football team’s current state.
Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.): The Maryland staff almost worked all the way back from the depths of fourth place to pull this one off. For the majority of his recruitment, the four-star corner Castro-Fields seemed to be more inclined to take his talents outside the DMV, to locales such as State College, Pa., Tuscaloosa, Ala., and maybe even Blacksburg, Va. But the Terps’ coaches never gave up the ghost and made this as close as it could be before coming up short Feb. 1, when Castro-Fields sent in his Letter of Intent to Penn State.
In the days leading up to Signing Day, Castro-Fields wavered back and forth between the Terps and Nittany Lions, and for a period it seemed like UMD had the edge. But James Franklin and the PSU staff’s last-gasp effort pushed the Nittany Lions back out front.
Indeed, Castro-Fields had a close bond with the PSU staff, first and foremost, which was strong as strong as the one he had with Maryland’s coaches. He also wanted an opportunity to compete for a title and potentially play a key role in PSU’s pursuit for a playoff berth (just like DMV safety Marcus Allen is doing for Penn State now).
Additionally, Castro-Fields talked up the environment in Happy Valley, letting on how comfortable he was and how well he fit in. The DMV corner loved the PSU players too, headlined by his former teammate, Zech McPhearson, who had been pushing the Nittany Lions on the four-star for months.
Castro-Fields went on to laud the football program’s rise in the ranks, the fan support and the school’s academics.
But the Terps did make this interesting. Castro-Fields knew the Maryland coaches didn’t have a fancy Rose Bowl trophy to show him -- that’s what Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin brought during his in-homes -- but they let the four-star know how much he would be valued in College Park. Head coach D.J. Durkin harped on the idea of representing your home state at the next level and how satisfying it would be to help lead said home school to a title. The opportunity to spur a program’s ascent, rather than join an already-established one, resonated as well. Plus, Castro-Fields liked the sound of creating a legacy at UMD and possibly being remembered as someone who helped build the team back up.
It just wasn’t enough to stave off PSU’s late charge to re-win Castro-Fields over.
Naytron Culpepper, CB, Carol City (Miami, Fla.): We didn’t dig into which programs actually had room for Culpepper after learning the Maryland staff wouldn’t push for the three-star, but it wasn’t much of a shock when he opted for USF on Signing Day. Culpepper was smitten with the hometown school after officially visiting Jan. 20, talking up headman Charlie Strong and Bulls’ future under him. In addition, Culpepper had a connection on Strong’s staff in defensive backs coach Corey Bell, who was the recruit’s former head coach at American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.).
The Terps were Culpepper’s stated leader for upwards of two months, and Maryland solidified that position after the Carol City prospect’s December College Park official. But the UMD staff elected not to visit Culpepper in-home and didn’t ardently push, even after losing corner Dazz Newsome.
Thus, the three-star focused in on the likes of Michigan State, USF and Kentucky, all of which he officially visiting in January. Ultimately, the in-state school won him over.
Jonathan Doerer, K, South Mecklenburg (Charlotte, N.C.): There was always a chance Josh Kaindoh was going to decommit. It was inevitable when Dazz Newsome backed away from Maryland. And it wasn’t a total shock when Kofi Wardlow flipped to Notre Dame.
But the kicker Doerer? That’s one we didn’t anticipate, even with the kicker’s greyshirt status.
Doerer, in effect, shut down his recruitment after committing to UMD in late summer. He was really only in contact with Terps’ special teams coach Pete Lembo and sometimes offensive coordinator Walt Bell. Plus, Doerer visited College Park on several occasions before embarking on his official earlier this winter. Then, just to make sure Doerer was good to go, Bell and Lembo trekked through Charlotte in January for an in-home.
But apparently the lure of Notre Dame football and the chance for a full-ride out of the gate was too strong for Doerer to resist.
The Irish coaches, who were scrambling to save their class, tossed Doerer a late offer, coaxing the South Mecklenburg prospect into officially visiting. Doerer complied, taking in South Bend, Ind., Jan. 27 without letting the Maryland coaches know he was heading out.
So, after learning of that covert development, it was only a matter of time before Doerer announced his decommitment and imminent flip to Notre Dame.
There were certainly greater losses for Maryland this year, but, truth be told, the Terps needed a kicker. Doerer had a potent leg and probably would’ve had a legitimate chance at winning the starting gig out of camp.
Now, head coach D.J. Durkin and Lembo may try to identify a transfer candidate to push current starter Adam Greene. Or, perhaps they’ll uncover the next Brad Craddock booting rugby balls somewhere in the Outback.
New Offers Out
Miles Friday, RB, Peachtree Ridge (Suwanee, Ga.) (2020): The freshman Friday landed a Maryland offer on Signing Day.
There will be plenty more where that came from.
The 5-11, 172-pounder is an elite southern back and will have his pick of schools in the next couple years. UMD assistant Brawley Evans did a good job identifying the speedy, shifty runner before the SEC comes calling.
Now, let’s see what kind of early inroads the Terps’ staff can make to remain in the game.
Dontay Demus, WR, Friendship Collegiate (Washington, D.C.) (2018): Add another local receiver offer to the list.
The Maryland coaches obviously won’t be able to “take” all the wideouts they’ve offered, even if they only concentrate on those in the DMV, so we’ll have to see exactly where Demus lands on their board. But, at first blush, the 6-4, 205 pounder looks like a potential big-timer.
Given Demus’ size and production last season, it was somewhat surprising the Terps were first to ante up Jan. 30. But more programs should come in once the evaluation period hits. Demus admitted schools such as Va Tech, Pitt and Temple had coaches showing interest, with more his coach knows about.
As for Maryland, Demus was naturally excited to have his first offer from the hometown school. He attempted to temper his enthusiasm, but it was obvious the look meant a lot to him. Demus said the chance to play in front of family and be part of the DMV movement would be primary factors for him throughout the process.
Demus, though, hasn’t taken a formal visit to College Park yet and doesn’t know as much about UMD as some other locals. He is, however, familiar with area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, who Demus heaped praise on.
“I met Coach Aazaar before and he’s talked to me about Maryland and how I was on their radar,” Demus said. “And he said the offer was coming, so kept his word. And from what I know about him, I know he’s from the area, I know he’s a very hardworking person, he expects a lot of his players, and he has a motor when he’s coaching. I respect him a lot.
“But by the time I got to high school, he was already off in college, so I didn’t really know him before this year. I’m looking forward to building a bond with him.”
We’ll have to gauge how much Demus’ profile expands -- he’s seeking SEC looks and was a bit starry-eyed -- and how the Maryland staff prioritizes him before projecting the receiver to College Park. For now, we’d probably list Demus “warm” on the initial 2018 hot board.
You can read more about Demus HERE.
Darryl Jones, WR, Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) (2018): Maryland-area recruiter Chris Beatty dipped back into his old stomping grounds and offered the underrated Jones Jan. 31. The 6-2, 180-pound speedster only had verbals from ODU and Charlotte before Beatty anted up.
“Man, I was really excited. Maryland is a Big Ten school and it’s crazy, the day before I was talking to my friends about getting my first big offer. And then it happened a day later,” Jones said. “Like I said, I was really excited and it was awesome. I didn’t expect it at all. I was in awe to tell you the truth. This is the first big school to give me a chance.”
Jones went on to say it was “something special” the Terps were his initial FBS offer. He said UMD would “always” be a player for him because of that.
Jones also said Maryland’s Big Ten affiliation and spread offense were interesting too.
But, like most of UMD’s early 2018 offers, we’ll have to see how Jones’ profile expands and how the Terps’ staff ultimately views him before making any assumptions.
Currently, Jones is hearing from universities’ coaches in ACC and SEC country. He covets looks from West Virginia (Jones has visited there once) and Clemson, with the Mountaineers’ staff likely to offer eventually.
Expect Jones to embark on multiple visits coming up, with College Park being one of them.
You can read more about Jones HERE.
Blake Zubovic, OT, Belle Vernon (Pa.) (2018): Zubovic is going to blow up on the trail, so in that sense line coach Dave Borbely and offensive coordinator Walt Bell did well to get involved before the big boys get involved. The Terps were Zubovic’s second overall offer Jan. 31, with Pitt being the first earlier that same day.
The 6-6, 285-pounder said Borbely offered him from Maryland, and the two immediately connected. Zubovic noted how Borbely informed him about the Terps' program, which left the recruit impressed.
“Coach Borbely told me about the money they’re putting into the program, the facilities they’re building and how things are changing more towards football down there,” Zubovic said. “It sounds pretty exciting. It sounds like a great school and program.”
He had equal praise for Pitt. The Panthers are the hometown school, and while Zubovic wouldn't call them an early leader, it does sound like Pitt may have an initial bead.
Other programs interested in Zubovic include Penn State, Syracuse, NC State and Wake Forest. The Ohio States, Michigans and more bigwigs could enter the fray as well.
The feeling here is Zubovic will project to one of the Keystone State powers, unless an elite like OSU or Michigan swipes him.
But you never know what can happen after a visit, and Zubovic should be in College Park this March.
Jalil Irvin, OG, Stephenson (Stone Mountain, Ga.) (2018): The four-star offensive tackle Irvin has been on the Maryland staff’s radar for quite some time, and Jan. 31 the offer finally came through. The 6-4, 280-pounder already had much of the SEC and Big Ten on him, however, with Michigan; Auburn; Tennessee; Georgia; Mississippi State; Ole Miss; Mizzou and more all on him.
For the moment, the Wolverines and a couple SEC programs like the Vols and Tigers have his eye. Irvin has also taken a liking to some nearby ACC schools like Clemson, Va Tech and UNC.
The Terps’ coaches, with line coach Dave Borbely and others in pursuit, have their work cut out for them.
Nick Fulwider, DE, Sandy Creek (Tyrone, Ga.) (2018): Fulwider pulled his second Big Ten offer from Maryland Jan. 30, the Terps joining Purdue. They won’t be the last two to ante up, however. The 6-7, 230 pounder has high upside and is on the radar of schools in the ACC, SEC and Big Ten.
Fulwider seems to be inclined towards southern schools and upper-tier Big Ten programs at this juncture, but we’ll see how his recruitment develops. He did allow he’s been in regular contact with UMD assistant Brawley Evans and would like to see College Park at some point.
Maybe, if Evans can coax him north, the Terps will have a chance to stay in the game with Fulwider.
You can read more about Fulwider HERE.
Alim McNeill, DE, Sanderson (Raleigh, N.C.) (2018): McNeil added his ninth offer from Maryland-area recruiter Walt Bell Jan. 30. UMD represented one of the 6-1, 262-pounder’s larger verbals to date, although the recruit admitted he didn’t know much about the Terps beyond the basics.
Currently, it sounds like Va Tech and Duke have his eye initially (he’s been through both), though there’s a ways to go in McNeil’s recruitment. Programs’ coaches throughout the South, including FSU, UNC, Tennessee, Ole Miss and more, are intrigued and could ante up in time. If they do, McNeil’s probably bound for one of them.
Let’s see if Bell can convince McNeil to at least visit College Park.
Caleb Tannor, BUCK, Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) (2018): The 6-3, 225-pound Tannor secured a Maryland offer Feb. 1. It was his largest verbal to date after UMass, Georgia Southern, Jacksonville State and Middle Tennessee came in.
Tannor told me he was “really excited” about his initial FBS offer, and that he “definitely” wants to see College Park. He also said it was “real big” that the Terps now have around 10 Georgia natives on the roster, which Tannor said will entice him to give UMD a deeper look.
Maybe so, but our sense is Tannor’s not going to be an easy pull for recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and assistant Al Seamonson. Tannor has a host of ACC/southern schools monitoring him and acknowledged he “wants to go somewhere in the ACC or SEC.”
Truman Jones, OLB, Westminster (Atlanta, Ga.) (2018): Jones was one of the more intriguing new Terps’ offers this week what with him being a two-sport star with offers for football and lacrosse. The 6-5, 195-pounder isn’t sure which route he’ll go at this juncture, but, at any rate, Maryland became his very first football look Jan. 31 courtesy of assistant Brawley Evans.
“Coach Evans talked about how he wanted me to visit and he knew more offers would be coming for me, so he was glad to offer me fist,” Jones said. “He likes my speed at outside linebacker and thinks I’d be a great fit at Maryland. He sounded like a really nice guy. I look forward to getting to know him more.
“I’ve heard great things about the program in general from some other guys down here. I know a few [recruits] from [Georgia] are going up to Maryland, so that’s pretty cool.”
Jones’ knowledge of UMD is limited beyond the basics, however. He said he might be able to check out College Park this offseason to learn more, but we got the feeling Jones would be honing in on other institutions if their coaches choose to offer. Stanford is a coveted scholarship given the school’s academics, and we sensed if some southern suitors (think Duke or the SEC/ACC elites) and Notre Dame came in he’d be attracted to those as well.
But we’ll keep an eye on Jones in case Evans can convince him to visit College Park. If so, maybe Maryland’s academics and business connections will grab Jones’ attention. (Yes, this is one of those rare recruits where education is the first priority).
You can read more about Jones HERE.
Xavier Peters, OLB, Lakota West (West Chester, Ohio) (2018): Peters is a future four-star outside linebacker who should have numerous Big Ten and Big 12 suitors after him post spring-evaluation period. Already, one bigwig has pulled the trigger on an offer in Penn State, and more are bound to follow.
The Terps’ Ohio-area recruiter, Dave Borbely, tossed Maryland’s name into the hat Jan. 29. But we’re not expecting UMD’s staff to gain much traction here unless Peters falls through the cracks a bit.
Cam McGrone, OLB, Lawrence Central (Indianapolis, Ind.) (2018): UMD, with Terps’ area recruiter Pete Lembo getting into the act, became offer No. 15 for the four-star elite McGrone Jan. 31.
McGrone isn’t someone we expect to wind up in College Park, however.
The outside backer is steadily gaining traction on the trail, attracting offers from Wisconsin, Vandy, Louisville, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern, Syracuse and more. Plus, both Notre Dame’s and Ohio State’s coaches are interested and might toss scholarships out in time.
And if the Irish come in, that could very well be McGrone’s destination.
Chris Smith, CB, Hapeville Charter (Atlanta, Ga.) (2018): At first glance, the Maryland staff’s Jan. 31 offer to Smith seemed rather futile. After all, the 6-0, 165-pound four-star already claimed verbals from stalwarts like Alabama, USC, Wisconsin, Georgia, Auburn and Louisville, in addition to Duke; Kentucky; Michigan State; NC State; Oregon; South Carolina; Oregon State and others. But it’s questionable which of those “offers” are actually on the table for Smith (we’re guessing the SEC ones aren’t quite there yet).
So, maybe someone like Smith could be a prospect who falls to a program at Maryland’s level down the road. But for now, it’s up to defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, assistant Brawley Evans and the rest of the coaches to forge a relationship and get Smith up to College Park.
D.J. Crossen, CB, Dudley (Greensboro, N.C.) (2018): Crossen pulled in an offer from Maryland on Signing Day, the Terps representing the 6-2, 180-pounder’s seventh verbal to date. UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim did the honors, giving Crossen his initial Big Ten look.
Crossen, though, has taken a liking to Virginia Tech and Kentucky, two other early suitors, initially. The Dudley product has visited both and reportedly loved each trip.
Crossen was committed to North Carolina at one point, but he backed out of the pledge Jan. 26. The Tar Heels remain firmly in play, but Crossen’s going to explore his growing list of options.
We expect him to wind up in the SEC or ACC.
Terrell Smith, CB, South Gwinnett (Snellville, Ga.) (2018): The three-star Smith pulled a Signing Day offer from Maryland assistant Walt Bell. But although Smith was appreciative of the look, his knowledge of UMD and headman D.J. Durkin's program was limited to the basics. It's possible Bell and defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim can coax out a visit in the future, but at the moment Smith seems smitten with some nearby suitors.
SEC schools Kentucky and Mizzou have both offered, and Smith is interested in both (the Wildcats in particular). He also has offers from Indiana, Iowa State, UMass, Navy and a few more, but others in the SEC and ACC are keeping tabs. If the Florida States, Georgias and North Carolinas of the world make a run (all three have sent coaches through to see Smith), the South Gwinnett product is likely bound for a southern standout.