Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football-recruiting roundup.
Maryland Dives Head First Into 2018
The Maryland staff had its first major prospect visit day Feb. 4, and it turned out to be a who’s who of mostly-local elites descending on College Park, Md. Just like last year’s winter recruit events, which set the stage for the Terps to sign 17 DMV players in 2017, the visit hit home with the area’s crème de creme.
Some of the coaches’ foremost targets in attendance were running back Mychale Salahuddin (Woodson/Washington, D.C.), receiver Daniel George (Oxon Hill, Md.), receiver Ed Hendrix (Woodson), receiver Tyree Henry (St. Frances/Baltimore, Md.), receiver Dontay Demus (Friendship Collegiate/Washington, D.C.), receiver Randy Fields (St. Frances), offensive lineman Jaelyn Duncan (St. Frances), offensive lineman Rasheed Walker (North Point/Waldorf, Md.), offensive lineman Aidan Rafferty (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.), offensive lineman Devonte Gordon (Maret/Washington, D.C.), defensive lineman Evan Gregory (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.), defensive lineman Eyabi Anoma (St. Frances), defensive lineman P.J. Mustipher (McDonogh/Owings Mills, Md.), defensive lineman John Morgan (DeMatha), BUCK Durell Nchami (Paint Branch/Burtonsville, Md.), outside linebacker Chance Campbell (Calvert Hall/Towson, Md.), safety Ray Boone (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.), safety Noah Boykin (Woodson), safety Demetri Morsell (Wise/Upper Marlboro, Md.), corner Vincent Flythe (Woodson), corner A.J. Lytton (Wise) and corner Judson Tallandier (DeMatha). Additionally, quarterback Devin Leary (Timber Creek/Sicklerville, N.J.) made his way down from New Jersey for another look at the Terps, while defensive tackle Jalen Alexander (Western Branch/Chesapeake, Va.) ventured up from the 757.
I conducted full-length interviews with many of the above recruits, spoke to a few others in general and probed various coaches/contacts to get a feel for the event. Generally, the recruits all gave similar accounts, praising the Maryland staff; the vibe on campus with all the elite recruits present; the virtual tour of the coming facility upgrades; and the like. Which, to be quite honest, was to be expected as typically prospects do enjoy these events immensely.
The key as this stage of the game isn’t so much each individual’s words, but rather the coaches’ ability to lay the foundation for a potent push down the line. Sure, sometimes a recruit or two will be smitten and wind up popping, but, for the most part, these guys are going to test the waters and vet other options.
At this Feb. 4 prospect day, the Maryland coaches did a terrific job relating on a personal level to both the recruits and their parents (if they attended). Similar to last offseason, when headman D.J. Durkin and Co. won over many prospects with their energy and welcoming personalities, each recruit I spoke to raved about the individual coach meetings.
Additionally, by having all the local elites together on campus, it allowed for real, tangible evidence of a stay-home movement. Rather than just preaching the importance of staying nearby and helping build UMD into a contender on a foundation of homegrown talent, the Terps’ staff was able to show exactly what could be accomplished if the DMV natives all head to College Park.
Furthermore, give an assist to the 2017 signees who decided to head down to Gossett Team House. By having the likes of top incomers such as Kasim Hill, Anthony McFarland and Deon Jones on campus and around the 2018 recruits, it was even more of an affirmation of Maryland’s direction and DMV-to-UMD. As McFarland said after her committed to UMD, sticking with Maryland was a “risk worth taking.”
Now, as anyone who follows recruiting knows, not every prospect wants to be home for college, and others will inevitably become starry-eyed and intent on joining an established power program. But what the Terps’ coaches were able to implement Feb. 4 should resonate with the majority of attendees for the duration of the recruiting process.
Here’s a brief synopsis of where each of the above targets stands heading deeper into the winter:
-- QB Devin Leary has been on campus four times and seems to be trending in the Terps’ direction, despite publically maintaining an open mind. He has a deep rapport with Walt Bell, loves the coordinator’s offense and has bonds with head coach D.J. Durkin and recruiter Matt Barnes too. He and his father like the atmosphere in College Park and the direction the program is heading. Leary is looking at Syracuse, BC, WVU, Rutgers and a couple Carolina squads, but UMD seems to have the inside track. Expect Leary to make a summer decision. (Full interview HERE).
-- RB Mychale Salahuddin is Maryland’s foremost running back priority and loves recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and the idea of playing in front of friends and family. Of Salahuddin’s four high-FBS recruits, he seems most infatuated with the Terps. But he’s also looking hard at Oklahoma, Arkansas and maybe a couple others. Salahuddin will wad through the process. (Full interview HERE).
-- WR Daniel George believes he could thrive under receivers’ coach Chris Beatty and in Walt Bell’s offense. He has a close connection with Abdul-Rahim too. George went on to call the hometown movement “a great thing” and seems taken by the idea of staying local for college. Penn State could be the No. 1 threat to Maryland here, with Va Tech in the game as well. George’s recruitment is bound to ebb and flow, however. (Full interview HERE).
-- WR Ed Hendrix has turtles on the brain and likes where the program is headed. He has much respect for Abdul-Rahim, who is the main reason Hendrix has UMD under consideration. But Hendrix is a national recruit and is going to take his time, explore all his options, and probably won’t choose a school until next winter. Clemson, UNC, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan State and more are all on Hendrix. Let’s see where his recruitment stands after the fall.
-- WR Tyree Henry is recovered from a serious neck injury and is back on college coaches’ radars, namely the Maryland staff’s. Henry, who could eventually move to defensive end due to his size (6-4, 215), has been in communication with the Terps’ coaches and talks up each foray through College Park. He’s enthusiastic about DMV-to-UMD, the chance to join roommate/teammate B’ahmad Miller at Maryland, receivers coach Chris Beatty’s player development, and the opportunity for his mother to easily attend his home games. Henry, though, is open to all suitors and does want to gauge some other schools like Va Tech, Syracuse, Pitt and WVU, along with others that might materialize. We like the Terps’ early spot, however. (Full interview HERE).
-- WR Randy Fields doesn’t hold a Maryland offer yet, and it was somewhat surprising the staff didn’t at least toss him a “placeholder” verbal on campus. Either way, Fields has high interest in UMD given his growing relationship with the coaches and the hometown movement. Pitt and Cincinnati are his current suitors, with the Panthers having initial appeal.
-- WR Dontay Demus has the one offer from Maryland, and, after the visit, complimentary of recruiter Abdul-Rahim; the other UMD staffers; and the DMV movement. He insists he’s not going to end his recruitment anytime soon, though, as Demus is intent on gathering more offers. It’s worth noting the Terps’ coaches have loads of receivers on their board, so we’ll have to see how ardently they pursue Demus.
-- OL Aidan Rafferty (see more below) landed a Maryland offer during the visit and couldn’t say enough about the Terps. His mom is a Maryland grad, Rafferty’s an admitted UMD fan, and the program itself (including the academic emphasis) has his attention in a major way. Rafferty has a growing offer list, but the Terps may have the inside track. (Full interview HERE).
-- OL Jaelyn Duncan, a recent St. Frances transfer, didn’t dub Maryland his No. 1 as he had during previous interviews. That said, the Terps continue to sit in a strong spot given Duncan’s affinity for the line coach Dave Borbely, recruiter Abdul-Rahim and the other coaches. And it can’t be discounted how much Duncan likes playing in front of family and friends. But Duncan is now a national name and he’s going to do his diligence, checking out Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State (the Nittany Lions are a real threat) and more. We’ll have to see if he’s still thinking Terps after trekking through each of the above this offseason.
-- OL Rasheed Walker routinely extols the Terps after speaking to the coaches and/or visiting campus. Remember, he landed his very first offer from Abdul-Rahim and has maintained regular communication lines with him. Plus, we’re told Walker loved interacting with Borbely during the Feb. 4 trip. He’s keen on playing alongside fellow DMV natives at the hometown school as well. But, as Walker’s recruiting has risen, he’s more apt to delve into his other suitors. Florida, North Carolina, Ohio State, Penn State and Va Tech are all on his radar, while Ole Miss’s staff just anted up and opened the doors to the SEC.
-- OL Devonte Gordon didn't leave with a Maryland offer, which was somewhat perplexing considering he's a four-star guard. Even so, he has high interest in the Terps' program and is keen on the hometown movement. If Abdul-Rahim and Dave Borbely, who are both in touch, do pursue, they could quickly gain Gordon's ear. Gordon will explore all his options though and wants to attend an academic elite. (Full interview HERE).
-- DL Jalen Alexander (discussed below) went on and on about his first Maryland experience. He discussed and extoled recruiter Chris Beatty’s 757 presence, the Terps’ defense under DJ Durkin, the vibe in College Park, the facility upgrades and more. But let’s see what Alexander’s thinking when the ACC and possibly some SEC programs come calling. It’s way too soon to consider penciling Alexander into UMD’s 2017 class. (Full interview HERE).
-- DE Eyabi Anoma is going to have Maryland in the game throughout because he respects the coaches and their vision. Plus, he’s taken to the hometown movement and has good friend/former teammate B’ahmad Miller heading to College Park. Sure, Anoma has the national elites on him and will be looking hard at the SEC (Alabama) and Big Ten bigwigs (Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State). But UMD is really in the thick of things here, evidenced by Anoma’s intended return to College Park Feb. 11.
-- DL P.J. Mustipher is a “praise every school” recruit, so it’s no surprise he lauds the Terps whenever the hometown school is broached. But we’ve never sensed Mustipher was keen on staying local for college. Alabama, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, Georgia and Notre Dame (where his brother attends) are all involved and seem to have the McDonogh lineman’s ear. It’s possible the UMD staff could work up the leaderboard, but they have their work cut out for them.
-- DL Evan Gregory’s profile is rising and he now has offers from Syracuse, WVU, UVA and Rutgers. But Maryland’s staff was first to recognize Gregory’s talents and the local school is still trending. Gregory’s rapport with Abdul-Rahim, the chance to play alongside his former teammates in College Park and UMD’s academics are all working in the Terps’ favor. He could be a summer commit who jumps on the Maryland bandwagon early a la Marcus Minor.
-- BUCK John Morgan’s return to College Park was an important one. He previously left the Terps off his leaderboard in favor of Va Tech, Penn State, Pitt and Syracuse, but Maryland is right back on his mind post Feb. 4. The UMD coaches, with Abdul-Rahim running point, have left a significant impression, while Morgan is talking up that DeMatha pipeline to College Park. He said Maryland “felt right” and he could envision himself “grinding” at the hometown school. That said, Morgan is no lock to wind up at UMD and does want to go through the whole official visit process. Penn State remains a prime contender, although it’s unclear how ardently the coaches will pursue. (Full article HERE).
-- BUCK Durell Nchami called UMD his leader after first pulling the hometown offer, and the trip solidified those feelings. Nchami does have more schools he wants to see now that he has a handful of verbals, but the Terps are the team to beat. If linebackers coach Matt Barnes and Co. push, Nchami could very well wind up at Maryland. (Full interview HERE).
-- LB Chance Campbell (see more below) pulled a Maryland offer Feb. 3 and then ventured to College Park Feb. 4. Following the trip, the Terps became the admitted frontrunner for the under-the-radar backer from Calvert Hall. Unless Barnes and the Maryland coaches slow-play, Campbell is forecast for UMD. (Full interview HERE).
-- S Ray Boone is likely UMD-bound provided Abdul-Rahim and Durkin will accept his commitment. Like teammate and 2017 UMD signee Lawtez Rogers, Boone loves the idea of staying local; believes in the hometown movement; and has an outstanding relationship with the coaches. Boone, unlike Rogers, should at least visit some of his other suitors (Pitt, Kentucky, Syracuse, Va Tech), but Maryland’s in an encouraging position.
-- S Noah Boykin has Maryland under firm consideration thanks to his close relationship with Abdul-Rahim and the chance to continue to stay-home movement. He’s now been on campus about four times since the fall and loves the environment in College Park. But Boykin is keeping an open mind and claims no frontrunners. He’s considering Kentucky, UNC, Pitt, NC State, Michigan State, Va Tech, PSU and more, while Boykin’s banking on a few SEC options eventually materializing. For what it’s worth, he said his mother’s presence in the Carolina area makes schools such as UNC attractive. (Full interview HERE).
-- S Demetri Morsell was someone we figured would finally secure his Maryland offer Feb. 4. It didn’t happen, but he’s on Abdul-Rahim’s and Durkin’s radar and is a recruit the staff should eventually jump on. (Whether Morsell becomes a “take” or not will depend on if the Terps’ coaches can pull in their principle safety target since the staff is likely signing just one this class). Morsell, for his part, covets the hometown look and acknowledged the Terps would promptly become a prime contender. For now, though, Rutgers is his top option.
-- CB Vincent Flythe basically gave the same recap as his Woodson teammates. He’s all about Abdul-Rahim given the D.C. connection, believes in the stay-home movement, and wouldn’t mind sticking around town for college. But Flythe is in no hurry to end his recruitment or even name leaders. He’s waiting to see what offers materialize and then will go from there. Coaches from Wisconsin, NC State and UVA are now on him, and others throughout the ACC and Big Ten are taking a hard look.
-- CB Judson Tallandier has mastered the art of even temperament, making sure his comments are measured and not over the top. Therefore, he’s never going to sound as high on Maryland as we’ve perceived. Fact is, Tallandier has a great rapport with Abdul-Rahim and Co., is close friends with many teammates-turned-Terps, and is thinking long and hard about joining said former teammates in College Park. We’re not listing Tallandier “hot” quite yet since he does want to venture out (staffs from Kentucky, Pitt and Syracuse are after him), but we’re encouraged by UMD’s position.
-- CB A.J. Lytton delivers a similar report every time we ask him about Maryland. He speaks highly of Abdul-Rahim, D.J. Durkin, the DMV movement and the direction the Terps are headed. But, on cue, when asked to list frontrunners Lytton mentions Florida State (the favorite), Clemson and Penn State, in addition to UMD. For Lytton to choose the Terps, some of those elites may have to drop off -- unless Abdul-Rahim can work some magic.
New Offers Out
Joachim Bangda, RB, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) (2019): St. John’s keeps uncovering talented recruits, and the running back Bangda is the latest in the 2019 class to procure a Maryland offer. The sophomore local, who previously had one look fom Michigan State, landed the verbal on campus Feb. 4.
The 5-10, 210-pounder was naturally thrilled to land a hometown offer, talking up the DMV movement; his teammates heading to College Park; and Maryland’s touted 2017 class. He’s in the process of developing a rapport with UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and running backs coach Anthony Tucker, who Bangda spent time with Feb. 4.
It’s early in the process, however, and Bangda has interest from programs throughout the Big Ten and ACC. But the Terps seemingly have his attention at this stage.
Bryan Bresee, TE, Damascus (Md.) (2020): Breese visited Maryland Feb. 4 and left College Park with his first college offer from the local university. The local tight end will be in touch with area recruiter Matt Barnes and position coach Pete Lembo moving forward.
Expect the 6-5 rising star to be a regular at UMD the next few years, with the staff gaining inroads and positioning themselves to land Bresee down the line.
Aidan Rafferty, OT, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.): The Terps’ staff handed out a new tackle offer during their Feb. 4 visit day, and afterwards Rafferty was thrilled. The local lineman said he grew up a Terps’ fan, so the look meant a lot to him.
“I mean, it was awesome. It was especially awesome since I grew up watching Maryland sports. My mom went there and all, and she was there with me, so it was a really great experience,” said Rafferty, who was also accompanied by his father. “The whole day the coaches were talking about DMV-to-UMD and the recruits they just signed. They talked about how if guys stay local good things will happen at Maryland. And playing high school football here, and knowing the talent here, I think that’s great. It’s something I’m thinking a lot about.”
Rafferty heaped praise on the staff overall, noting their energy and enthusiasm. He was especially drawn to O-line coach Dave Borbely, who Rafferty appreciated for his honesty and how easily he related to the recruits.
Rafferty lauded the coming facility upgrades, the campus and the hometown movement as well. He made sure to mention teammate Johnny Jordan’s presence in College Park was something he’d be thinking about down the line too.
To boot, Rafferty said his parents both loved Maryland and are comfortable around the program.
True, Rafferty does want to check out his other suitor, Syracuse, and gauge what offers come in. But it sounds like the Terps have an early bead on the local lineman.
You can read more about Rafferty HERE.
Jalen Alexander, DT, Western Branch (Chesapeake, Va.): Alexander and his father visited Maryland for the first time Feb. 4, and evidently the Terps’ coaches did their job. The 6-4, 275-pound plugger talked up area recruiter Chris Beatty, noting his ties to the 757; the Terps’ defense under head coach DJ Durkin’s and coordinator Andy Buh’s watch; and the welcoming atmosphere the coaches provided. Plus, he said the coming facility upgrades caught his eye.
“I thought very highly of the offer. It was my first Big Ten offer, and Maryland is one of the schools I can see myself being with the next four, five years,” said Alexander, who previously held looks from NC State and ODU. “Even before I visited, there was just something about Maryland that really caught my eye. I can’t say what it was exactly, but the offer was definitely an exciting one for me.
“And at the visit what stood out is the coaches treated me like family up there. They treated me like another player on the team, not just some recruit.”
Now, Alexander wants to return to UMD for another look, which is always a good sign. But while we won’t doubt Beatty in the 757, Alexander is going to have plenty more options to consider. Schools throughout the ACC and SEC are keeping tabs and could entice Alexander with an offer. (If Clemson gets involved, watch out). You can read more about Alexander HERE.
Chance Campbell, OLB, Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.): He’s not ready to end his recruitment yet, but if we had to guess who Maryland’s first 2018 commitment would be, Campbell might be a good bet. The 6-2, 215-pound outside linebacker, who was offered Feb. 3, took in the Terps Feb. 4 and couldn’t say enough about the program. He talked up linebackers coach Matt Barnes, mentioning how personal and passionate he was; head coach D.J. Durkin’s energy; and the staff’s overarching personality.
Campbell also spoke highly of the Terps’ defense (he liked the versatility), the school’s academic reputation, the stay-home movement and the comfortable feeling around the program. He was keen on the idea of sticking with the local school and helping to build it into a winner too.
Afterwards, Campbell all but admitted Maryland was his early frontrunner.
“I’m really, really enjoying Maryland. It’s made a great impression on me. I like it a lot over there,” Campbell said. “So, yes, I’d say they’re an early leader…It’s a really great program.”
Yes, Campbell is getting interest from Stanford, Rutgers, Penn State and several others. And if the Cardinal coaches enter the fray, obviously that would alter Campbell’s thinking. But we’re not sure they will, and from the sound of things, Campbell could be College Park bound so long as the staff elects to push.
You can read more about Campbell HERE.