TTDave's Inside The Shell

Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football-recruiting roundup.

Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football-recruiting roundup.

2018 Offensive Notes

-- Timber Creek (Sicklerville, N.J.) quarterback Devin Leary visited hometown Rutgers Feb. 18, and following his latest Piscataway, N.J., venture the gunslinger has the Scarlet Knights in the thick of things. Leary has taken to the RU coaching staff and has plenty of connections at the school, including former teammates. The Timber Creek prospect also picked up a Pitt offer earlier this week, and the Panthers are now under consideration. Rutgers and West Virginia are the current threats to Maryland for Leary’s services, but Syracuse; Pitt; and maybe Minnesota are in the running too.

-- Woodson (Washington, D.C.) running back Mychale Salahuddin added offers from West Virginia, Nebraska and Wisconsin and is up to 20 verbals. The Mountaineers, Huskers and Badgers will likely receive visits at some point as Salahuddin is intrigued by WVU’s offense; NU’s style; and Wisconsin’s penchant for producing backs. Additionally, Salahuddin recently saw Va Tech Feb. 18 and will be at Penn State Feb. 25. The latter, in particular, could be a school of prime interest provided the staff pushes. But for now the programs on Salahuddin’s mind are Maryland (hometown school); Arkansas (coaches pushing hard) and Oklahoma (running back tradition, former teammate is a Sooner).

-- Smyrna (Del.) running back Leddie Brown landed a Florida offer and then visited Tennessee Feb. 18. Brown has a tie to the Gators in the form of position coach Ja’Juan Seider, making Florida an attractive option. Meanwhile, the runner loved his stay in Rocky Top, although Brown lacks a Vols’ offer right now. But West Virginia continues to have the inside track thanks to Brown’s longstanding relationship with the staff. As for Maryland, Brown is in touch with Terps’ running backs coach Anthony Tucker and has visited College Park, but we don’t sense there’s a ton of mutual interest at the moment.

-- Woodson receiver Ed Hendrix just visited UVA and Temple, and should be at Penn State Feb. 25. Hendrix also added his latest offer from West Virginia Feb. 18. At the moment, Hendrix is wide open in his recruitment what with an ever-expanding offer list, but we keep hearing the Terps are in the thick of things. Hendrix took in College Park, Md., yet again earlier in February and keeps talking up the hometown program and area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim. There’s a ways to go, though, and Hendrix’s situation will undoubtedly ebb and flow. Va Tech, WVU, UNC, Kentucky, Arkansas and Wisconsin are all on the brain.

-- North Fort Myers (Fla.) receiver Joseph Wilkins has predictably seen his recruitment rise. South Carolina became the 6-2, 175-pounder’s first SEC offer recently, the look rapidly grabbing his attention. Wilkins would love to play in the SEC, and now the door’s open for him. He’s remaining receptive to his other suitors, including UMD, but we’ll see how long that holds.

-- Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) tight end Thomas Booker visited Duke Feb. 16. The Blue Devils are considered a foremost contender for the Baltimore native given the school’s academic reputation. At the moment, however, Michigan and Ohio State continue to trend for the four-star due to the Buckeyes’ and Wolverines’ combination of top-notch football and education. The Terps, for their part, are in play since they’re the hometown school, but the coaches are fighting to gain position. Note: Many programs are recruiting Booker as an “athlete,” with the intention of eventually moving him to defensive end. Maryland’s offer is for tight end.

-- East Allegheny (North Versailles, Pa.) tight end T.J. Banks is busy with basketball this winter, so he hasn’t ventured out yet. But we did receive some insight into his recruiting situation and were told in-state Pitt, which has an offer out to the 6-5, 225 pounder, is the initial leader. The Panthers’ coaches have hosted Banks several times, and the staff’s stay-home pitch is ringing true. Maryland, with assistant Pete Lembo running point, is involved with the three-star, but the Terps have ground to make up. It would behoove Lembo and Co. to have Banks down for a campus visit as soon as possible.

-- Marist (Atlanta, Ga.) tight end John Fitzpatrick keeps picking up offers. The 6-6, 230 pounder now has 15 total, with Mizzou, Minnesota and NC State being the most recent. Vanderbilt, another February suitor, could have the early edge due to the educational benefits, but Fitzpatrick will vet many of his suitors. That includes the Terps, who have area recruiter Walt Bell on the tight end. But even if Fitzpatrick does check out College Park during his family’s return to the area (remember, his dad is a Maryland fan), we’re not projecting him to Maryland with the southern schools now involved.

-- Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) offensive tackle Aidan Rafferty pulled two more ACC offers from Boston College and NC State. Those are in addition to last week’s looks from Va Tech, UVA and Pitt. The 6-6, 280-pounder is probably going to wind up at Maryland (he loves the hometown vibe and the staff) or Virginia Tech (family connections, loves the staff), but the increasing offer list is giving Rafferty plenty of options to explore -- which he intends to do. (He'll be at Pitt Feb. 25). Rafferty probably won’t drag his recruitment out too long, but don’t expect an early pop.

-- Belle Vernon (Pa.) offensive tackle Blake Zubovic picked up Boston College, Northwestern, West Virginia, Minnesota and Temple offers, giving him 11. Maryland, Pitt, NC State, UVA, Buffalo and Toledo were his previous suitors. Zubovic is wide open in his recruitment, but hometown Pitt, which he’s visiting again Feb. 25, has a bead. Zubovic is also checking out UVA March 4, WVU March 19 and PSU at some juncture. He has yet to schedule a Terps’ trip, and we get the sense he’s quickly fading from the staff’s grasp.

-- St. Ignatius (Cleveland, Ohio) offensive tackle Darian Kinnard is staying on the hot board for now, mainly because he wants to explore all his options. But, fact is, Kinnard’s close to reaching an elite level and being pursued by the country’s elites. Pitt, BC and Kentucky were his latest looks, and before that he added Purdue; Minnesota; and Cincinnati. It’s only a matter of time before Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State come calling.

-- Imhotep (Philadelphia, Pa.) offensive guard/tackle Justin Johnson picked up another Big Ten offer from Michigan State. Johnson is interested in checking out programs throughout the Midwest, so MSU and another suitor, Wisconsin, are on the brain. And if Ohio State or Michigan start making noise, well, they’d quickly gain traction with Johnson. The Philly prospect, who is in touch with UMD area recruiter Anthony Tucker, does have interest in the Terps given the school’s proximity to his home and the education. But unless Johnson actually visits College Park after reneging on a couple opportunities to do so, his words will ring of lip service. 

-- North Carolina (Ridgeley, Md.) guard Ja’Mion Franklin snagged yet another significant offer from Vanderbilt (he added Temple on the same day as well). The Commodores promptly became a contender due to the renowned academic reputation. Duke, UVA, Wake Forest, Northwestern and Boston College are in mind for the same reason as Vandy. Maryland has yet to offer the steadily rising in-state recruit, although Franklin is publically keeping the hometown program in mind.

2018 Defensive Notes

-- DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) defensive tackle/offensive guard Evan Gregory, who the Terps have offered for D-line, spoke to Scout’s Brian Dohn this week. The four-star detailed his recent trips to Rutgers, WVU and UVA, offering compliments for each but giving nothing over the top. Gregory also addressed Maryland, which he saw Feb. 4. The 6-4, 300 pounder spoke highly of his relationship with Stags-turned-Terps like Anthony McFarland, his strong rapport with area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and line coach Dave Borbely, and the stay-home mantra the staff is preaching. Next, Gregory is heading south to look at UNC, Wake, Tennessee and LSU, although no dates are set. He insists he has no initial leaders and won’t begin paring down his favorites list until later this summer. We do believe, however, hometown Maryland sits in a very good spot with Gregory.

-- Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) defensive tackle Kyle Thomas didn’t land a Maryland offer Feb. 18 during his campus visit, but we could see him securing one during the evaluation period (if not sooner). Defensive linemen in general are difficult to recruit, and when one comes in at 6-3, 270 pounds with above-average athleticism, he’s bound to have his share of suitors. So far, only Buffalo has an offer out, but that’ll change in time. Regardless, Thomas had a great time in College Park, talking up area recruiter Chris Beatty and defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh. The environment, renovated dorms/weight room, and the school’s close proximity to Washington, D.C., all caught his eye. Afterwards, Thomas said UMD would instantly become a prime suitor if the coaches extended an offer. Others on his radar include Penn State, Louisville, Va Tech, ODU, Pitt and more. Each of the latter schools’ coaches have at least reached out to Thomas. You can read more about Thomas HERE.

-- St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.) defensive end Eyabi Anoma visited Pitt Feb. 18 along with teammates and Terps’ targets Jaelyn Duncan, Tyree Henry and Randy Fields (no offer yet). Honestly, though, there’s not much to say here other than to note the trip; it was another in a long string of them for the St. Frances recruits. The group typically travels together, so expect Anoma and Co. to be in attendance at numerous nearby junior days (think Penn State, Va Tech, WVU and the like). None of the three elites (Anoma, Duncan, Henry) are anywhere close to narrowing down their respective leaderboards.

-- Western Branch (Chesapeake, Va.) defensive tackle Jalen Alexander was not elevated above “cool” post Maryland offer/visit for a reason: We had a feeling his recruitment would expand and another suitor would grab his attention. And it did. In-state Va Tech came in Feb. 14, and afterwards Alexander all but admitted the Hokies were the frontrunners. Provided Tech’s staff keeps pushing, Alexander could wind up in Blacksburg, Va., sometime this summer.

-- Eastside (Covington, Ga.) defensive tackle LaMarius Benson pulled a hometown Ga Tech offer after a campus visit. The Jackets, which want Benson as a guard, now have the Eastside product’s eye. Maryland represented the very first offer for Benson, and he has since been in touch with defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh, but it’s unclear when he’ll be seeing College Park -- if at all. The only visit Benson currently has on his schedule is to Central Florida this spring. Truth be told, we’re not sure the Terps ‘ staff will press for Benson with multiple D-line prospects on their board.

-- DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) BUCK John Morgan returned to Penn State Feb. 19 for another look at the Nittany Lions. Morgan seems smitten with State College, Pa., and probably has PSU trending atop his favorites list. The question is, How ardently will the Penn State staff push with 11 commits and three defensive end/outside linebackers already pledged? Our guess is Morgan may not be an immediate “take,” which should allow him to slip to Maryland, Va Tech, Pitt (visited Feb. 18), Syracuse or maybe even Rutgers.

-- Paint Branch (Burtonsville, Md.) BUCK Durrell Nchami is heading back to Maryland for the second time this month Feb. 24. This time, he’s bringing his parents around so they can meet the Terps’ staff and get a better feel for the program. There’s some possibility Nchami could commit if he and his family readily agree College Park is where he needs to be, although the Paint Branch edge rusher would like to at least see some of his other suitors like Pitt; Syracuse; UVA; and Wake before shutting down his recruitment. Regardless of what he decides, there’s a reason Nchami’s sitting “hot” on the hot board.

-- Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) inside linebacker Keshon Artis took his first Maryland visit Feb. 18, and it sounds like the Terps are going to be firmly in play for the 6-1, 220 pounder. Artis spoke highly of the Under Armour connections, the campus, the renovated dorms and, naturally, the coaches. The three-star couldn’t say enough about linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes, who seems to have the Terps ringing true for Artis. "He's down to earth and a cool guy," Artis told Scout’s Mike Clark. "He's straightforward about everything such as recruiting. He asked me about my recruiting and how I felt about it. I told him that schools were taking things slow because of my height. I told him I'm not 6-foot-2, but I play just as hard or even harder than most as you can see on my film. He told me that my height doesn't matter and once schools watch my film and look at me in person, they'll offer. But he also said don't forget who offered me first in a joking manner. I think that's the closest relationship I have with a coach out of all the ones recruiting me." Artis should be back at Maryland in April; he’ll be checking out Penn State March 19 and Stanford in the spring too. In-state Va Tech, meanwhile, should be the recipient of a return visit as well. If the Hokies’ staff pursues in earnest, they’ll be tough for Artis to turn down.

-- Christchurch (Church View, Va.) inside linebacker Jamar Darboe was supposed to visit Maryland Feb. 18, but he was unable to attend due to an athletic event. Darboe texted in, however, that he’d be journeying up to College Park as soon as his schedule allowed. “I’m very, very interested in Maryland and I can’t wait to get up there,” Darboe said. The Terps remain Darboe’s one FBS offer, and we believe it is committable. The Christchurch prospect’s other offers are Charlotte (Feb. 25 visit) and UTSA (March 3 visit). Pitt’s coaches are interested, though, and should be hosting Darboe sometime in March.

-- Pope John XXIII (Sparta, N.J.) inside linebacker Nick DeNucci picked up a Pitt offer at the Panthers’ junior day Feb. 18, and then landed another after attending Temple’s junior day Feb. 20. He returned with praise for both schools, although neither are considered prime contenders at this time. Hometown Rutgers has left a distinct impression, however, and may have a slight edge for DeNucci at the moment. With Maryland, DeNucci should be in College Park for the fist time this March. He’s in regular communication with linebackers coach Matt Barnes and is eager to see the school firsthand.

 -- Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.) outside linebacker Chance Campbell visited Rutgers Feb. 18 after receiving an offer from the Scarlet Knights. Next up, he’ll be at another recent suitor, Pitt, Feb. 25. Both RU’s and Pitt’s coaches could make a run at Campbell, but Maryland should still be considered the leader for the DMV prospect’s services. If Terps’ assistant Matt Barnes and headman D.J. Durkin push for a pop, Campbell could be one of UMD’s first 2018 commits this spring. Expect him back on campus for a practice in March.

-- Naples (Fla.) safety Sammy Faustin was broached in last week’s Shell after he received a Maryland offer from assistant Aazaar Abdul-Rahim. But since Faustin didn’t have a working phone at the time, he only sent in a few direct-message comments about the Terps. He’s since acquired a new cell and conducted a more extensive interview this week. Faustin said he had interest in UMD, was building a relationship with Abdul-Rahim and would consider visiting. But beyond that, he knew very little about the Terps. Faustin did allow he hadn’t researched his other offers (Arizona, UVA, Iowa State, Kentucky) either, nor had he taken any college visits. Thus, we won’t begin to know where he stands until later this offseason, after his profile is fully realized and Faustin ventures out to a few locales (he wants to see every program that’s anted up). You can read more about Faustin HERE.

-- Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.) corner A.J. Lytton will follow through with his much-anticipated Florida State jaunt Feb. 25. But the latest out of Wise is he’s not going to commit on campus. Evidently Lytton would like to check out some other schools such as Penn State, Michigan, Clemson and Va Tech before choosing his college destination. That said, the Seminoles are still the team to beat and should solidify their status following Lytton’s trek through Tallahassee, Fla. The Terps are going to be on Lytton’s leaderboard given his rapport with area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and his affinity for the UMD coaching staff, but Maryland is likely sitting behind the crème de crème at this juncture.

-- Woodson (D.C.) corner Noah Boykin picked up a West Virginia offer this week, giving him 14. Boykin was particularly intrigued by the Mountaineers’ verbal and could give Morgantown, W.Va., a look this spring or summer. But Boykin is no more interested in WVU than he is the rest of his many suitors. He’s keeping an open mind and is in the midst of a long string of visits. He was most recently at UMD and UVA, and next he has Pitt; Penn State; NC State and more. The Terps could have the inside track here due to Boykin’s relationship with defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, but it’s going to be awhile before the DMV corner makes any type of college decision.

New Offers Out

Tyler DeSue, QB, Bishop Sullivan (Virginia Beach, Va.): The Terps’ staff is still prioritizing Jersey gunslinger Devin Leary (Timber Creek/Sicklerville, N.J.), but they’re giving themselves a viable backup option in DeSue. The 6-1, 185-pound dual-threat landed a Terps’ offer from head coach D.J. Durkin and offensive coordinator Walt Bell Feb. 18 in College Park. DeSue, who had never been to Maryland before, said the coaches would have anted up earlier, but they wanted to do so in person to make sure the quarterback knew they were serious about him.

“[Durkin and Bell] like that I can make all the throws and make plays with my feet,” DeSue said. “Coach Bell was showed me some offensive sets and how they use the QB in the run game, and I noticed that it’s a lot of the same concepts and ideas we use at Bishop Sullivan. So the offense really does look like a good fit, and Coach Bell thought so too.

“Maryland is definitely a school that I’ll be looking at and it’s definitely going to be one of the top schools on my [favorites] list. When it comes down to crunch time and I’m getting ready to make a decision, Maryland is going to be in the discussion.”

DeSue easily bonded with Bell and the other Maryland coaches, mentioning how enthusiastic and hard working the group is. He also praised the campus, the coming facility upgrades, the school’s location near D.C. and how College Park is only three hours from home.

But DeSue is vetting all his options thoroughly and has many schools on his radar. Those include hometown UVA, NC State, UCF (his dad lives near there, which could give the Knights a leg up), Indiana and WVU. Furthermore, DeSue is on the radar of multiple ACC programs that could offer in the coming weeks. (Fortunately for the Maryland staff, Va Tech, UNC and Clemson, three schools DeSue has high interest in, don’t seem to be reciprocating).

DeSue has previously been to NC State and Virginia and wants to see both again, while he’s looking forward to an April trip to UCF. He’ll be at Pitt Feb. 25 and could add that offer on campus.

DeSue would like to wait until late summer before ending his recruitment, but we’ll see if he can hold out that long. If spots begin to fill, as they tend to at the quarterback position, he could be coaxed into an earlier decision timeline.

Again, the Terps’ staff likely won’t push for a pop until they know what’s going on with Leary. But, if they sense Leary trending towards another program, expect Bell and Durkin to go all out for DeSue.

You can read more about DeSue HERE.

Jake Kradel, OG, Butler (Pa.): The 6-4, 290 pound Kradel is an emerging lineman in Pennsylvania, but so far the in-state programs, Pitt and Penn State, haven’t come through with offers. Which means the door is open for some outside programs to swoop in and make a pitch.

The Terps did that Feb. 20 when Kradel visited College Park for the first time, leaving with a verbal in tow. Afterwards, Kradel raved about the Maryland program, namely line coach Dave Borbely and headman D.J. Durkin. Kradel and his family easily connected with the staff and appreciated the welcoming atmosphere they provided. Kradel personally loved Durkin’s energy, message and the direction he’s taking the program.

Furthermore, Kradel lauded the campus, the renovated weight room/player dorms, the pending facility upgrades and the school’s academics. He liked how College Park is down the road from D.C., giving him business and internship opportunities.

But although Kradel loved UMD and is seeking to return, there are some other contenders he’s just as high on like Syracuse and Rutgers. Plus, he’s seeking offers from programs like PSU, Pitt, Notre Dame and Ohio State, all of which have shown interest.

Next, Kradel is heading to hometown Pitt, and it would be a surprise if the Panthers’ staff didn’t toss Kradel that coveted scholarship. If so, Pitt would immediately become a top suitor for the Butler native.  

So while Kradel’s pro-Terps’ comments are encouraging, we’re not ready to increase his hot board temperature quite yet.

You can read more about him HERE.

Reuben Unije, OT, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): The four-star tackle Unije pulled a Terps’ offer from recruiter Chris Beatty Feb. 21, the Terps representing the 6-5, 303 pounder’s 20th verbal to date. But unless Unije falls through multiple layers of cracks, he’s probably not going to wind up in College Park.

Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, Louisville, Arkansas, Mizzou, South Carolina, TCU, UCLA, Va Tech, Oregon, NC State and more all have legitimate offers out. The Tide, should the staff keep pushing, are on Unije’s mind (he’s visited Bama), and so are hometown Florida; Tennessee; and other SEC institutions.

Let’s see if Beatty can at least coax a visit out of Unije.

George Takacs, TE, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.): Takacs recently transferred from Gulf Coast High in Florida to Good Counsel, and he decided to visit nearby Maryland Feb. 18. Afterwards, the 6-6, 230-pound four-star pulled in an offer from the Terps.

Evidently Takacs doesn’t like to talk much, so he didn’t publically comment on his latest scholarship. But we’re told Takacs had a good time jiving with the Maryland staff, taking to area recruiter Chris Beatty and tight ends coach Pete Lembo.

Both will undoubtedly begin establishing a connection with Takacs in an effort to drive Maryland up Takacs’ unstated leaderboard.

But, at first blush, Takacs may be looking at some schools closer to his Florida home. In-state UF is considered a viable landing spot per our Gators’ connects, with Georgia; Oregon; Kentucky; Tennessee; Ole Miss; Vandy; Wisconsin; Duke; Arkansas; UVA; USF and more involved as well.

We’ll attempt to uncover more information down the line, but for the time being Takacs will sit “cool” on the hot board.

Brenden Bates, TE, Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio): Maryland tight ends coach Pete Lembo and offensive coordinator Walt Bell have been identifying tight end targets of late, and Feb. 16 another offer went out to the four-star Bates. Bates is fairly open in his recruitment right now, but we’ll see how long he keeps the Terps in mind.

The 6-6, 235-pound Bates is a rising star in Ohio and is on the radar of the Midwest bigwigs. It’s entirely possible he gets scooped up by an Ohio State, a Michigan or maybe a Michigan State; a Penn State; or a Notre Dame (all are interested). Currently, Bates has offers from Louisville, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Duke, Kentucky, Vandy, Iowa, Indiana, Pitt and now Maryland.

Bates has been to Kentucky, taking a liking to the Wildcats, while a Notre Dame trip left the recruit impressed too. Coming up, Bates will be at several nearby programs. If in-state OSU decides to get involved after Bates treks though, the Buckeyes will be tough to turn down.

DeAndre Jules, TE, Northwest (Germantown, Md.) (2019): The local tight end Jules visited Maryland Feb. 20 and came away with his first FBS offer from Maryland. The Terps, with area recruiter Matt Barnes on him, are in a good initial position with Jules, who is keen on the hometown movement and loved the vibe in College Park. Expect UMD to be involved throughout with Jules, regardless of how much his profile expands.

Dante Stills, DT, Fairmont (W.Va.): Stills had been in conversations with Maryland defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh and area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, and after receiving the UMD offer Feb. 23 he said he would like to see College Park. The 6-4, 265-pounder should be at UMD for a spring practice in either March or April.

But Stills has many options and already has his eye on a few programs in particular. Hometown WVU is making a hard charge and has Still’s ear, and nearby Va Tech does too. Plus, Still just procured looks from mainstays like Oklahoma and Penn State, while UNC; Kentucky; Louisville; Pitt; Vandy; Wake and more have verbals out as well. Don’t be surprised if Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame come in next.

So although it’s a positive sign for UMD Still wants to visit, we’re not placing him on the hot board just yet.

Joseph Boletepeli, DE, Millbrook (Raleigh, N.C.): The 6-5, 245-pound Boletepeli is one of the top defensive linemen in North Carolina, and the Maryland staff became the latest to offer him Feb. 19. Boletepeli doesn’t comment on recruiting much, however, so he didn’t say anything in regards to the Terps’ look.

But it’s probably a safe bet area recruiter Walt Bell and defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh are going to have their work cut for them. Boletepeli hasn’t exploded on the trail yet – Miami, NC State and Boston College are his most significant suitors to date – but UNC; other ACC programs; and some SEC schools are intrigued.

The Raleigh native figures to end up at a prominent southern school.

Andrew Chatfield, DE, American Heritage (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): Maryland’s Fort Lauderdale-area recruiter, Chris Beatty, was active in the area this week, handing out several offers. One went out to the 6-3, 220-pound Chatfield, the three-star’s 21st to date.

Like some of the other rising stars Beatty’s identified, it’ll be a tough row to how recruiting Chatfield. The Sunshine State native already had multiple Big Ten, SEC and ACC offers and is favoring LSU.

Chatfield is not going on the hot board unless he visits College Park.

Ben Smiley, DE, Indian River (Chesapeake, Va.) (2019): Smiley figures to be the next major defensive line recruit out of the 757 in the 2019 class, and Feb. 21 the Terps’ staff handed him his third overall offer. Maryland area recruiter Chris Beatty and defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh will both be on the 6-4, 251-pounder, who should be in College Park for a visit this spring.

Smiley’s two other suitors are Marshall and Rutgers, with the Indian River prospect already trekking north to see the Scarlet Knights. He’s receiving interest from Va Tech, Clemson, Penn State, and various others in the SEC and ACC.

Trent Pennix, OLB/RB, Sanderson (Raleigh, N.C.): The 6-2, 200-pound Pennix, who the Maryland staff offered as an athlete, pulled his 10th verbal from the Terps Feb. 19. Area recruiter Pete Lembo did the honors, throwing UMD into the fray alongside Minnesota; Boston College; Ohio, East Carolina and a few other lower-level Division I programs.

Pennix didn’t say a whole lot about his initial Big Ten look, but he does like the UMD staff’s ardent pursuit and is willing to entertain their overtures. He wants to visit Maryland sometime in March.

Additionally, Pennix has his eye on Minnesota, letting on both the Gophers and Terps have his attention at the outset.

“I’d say those are my top two schools right now,” Pennix said. “Both Maryland and Minnesota are showing a lot of interest and both are great schools. I’m keying on those two.”

That’s all well and good, but Pennix seems inclined towards some schools closer to home. Even though he doesn’t have southern ACC/SEC suitors yet, many of those programs’ coaches could offer soon enough. If so, Pennix is going to be that much more difficult for UMD’s staff to land.

You can read more about Pennix HERE.

Nihym Anderson, OLB, Vineland Senior-South (Vineland, N.J.): The 6-1, 220-pound Anderson is going to be a highly-coveted linebacker by the conclusion of the spring evaluation period. In other words, “name” programs are going to be on him eventually.

For the time being, Anderson has offers from Pitt, Syracuse, Boston College, Temple, Rutgers, Minnesota, Toledo and, most recently, Maryland. The Terps’ verbal came in Feb. 21 when area recruiter Anthony Tucker informed Anderson’s coach the staff liked what they saw.

Anderson said he was grateful for the offer and would like to see College Park at some point. He’s just beginning to research the program, but is aware it’s a solid school and is intrigued enough to trek south.

But, as aforementioned, Tucker and linebackers coach Matt Barnes are going to have stiff competition for Anderson. Pitt, which the Vineland prospect saw Feb. 17, is trending early, and hometown Rutgers is in play too. And if those major players get involved, Anderson’s going to be a difficult pull for any of his current suitors.

He’s listed “coon” on the hot board.

You can read more about Anderson HERE.

Rosendo Louis, ILB, Deerfield Beach (Fla.): The three-star linebacker Louis landed a Maryland offer from area recruiter Chris Beatty Feb. 21. He is in touch with linebackers coach Matt Barnes too.

But the two Terps’ staffers are just beginning to familiarize Louis with the UMD program. At the moment, the 6-1, 225 pounder isn’t privy to much about Maryland beyond the basics.

And, really, he has many other attractive options that had his eye before the Terps even came in. Miami, which Louis just visited, is one principle player, and so are Wisconsin; Georgia; Arkansas; LSU; UNC; South Carolina and Kentucky. NC State, Oregon, Syracuse, USF and Rutgers are in the game as well.

Louis has not been included on the hot board.

Bryson Richardson, S, Buford (Ga.): The safety Richardson is from Georgia and has resided there much of his life, but he did spend some time in Maryland. In fact, the 6-0, 185-pounder lived with his grandmother near College Park during Richardson’s younger years. So, when Richardson landed a Terps’ offer from assistant Walt Bell Feb. 16, he was excited.

“It was a blessing to get an offer from Maryland because a lot of my family is up there. So that felt good,” Richardson said. “I actually stayed with my grandma for a little while up there, so I’ve lived up there a little bit. I’ve been up there with my dad and everything too. It’s a good area and I love D.C.”

Beyond that, though, the Buford prospect wasn’t privy to much about the Terps, although he did allow he’d likely be foraying through campus when he returns north to see his family. If Richardson does visit Maryland, perhaps the Terps can stay in the game here.

But, at this juncture, it seems like the recruit is focused on major southern suitors. Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisville, Vandy, NC State and more have all anted up, and others could offer at any time.

Our gut is Richardson is going to blow up on the trail. Thus, we didn’t place him on the hot board given his statement that he’s looking for “some big time offers.”

You can read more about Richardson HERE.

Kenyetta Watson, S, Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) (2019): Watson is going to be one of the foremost safety recruits in the country by this time next year. The 6-2, 180-pounder already has more than 15 offers to date, with Florida State; Tennessee; Nebraska; and LSU being the most prominent ones.

Watson landed his Maryland offer Feb. 19 when defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim came through. Maybe the Terps’ assistant can establish inroads and convince Watson to at least visit College Park down the road.

This is the type of recruit, however, who winds up in the SEC or at an ACC mainstay.

Jermaine Waller, CB, Avalon (Gaithersburg, Md.): We weren’t sure the Maryland coaches were going to offer the local Waller since the staff had already scoured much of the DMV. But apparently defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim was waiting for Waller to make it to campus before pulling the trigger.

Which the 6-2, 170-pound Waller finally did Feb. 18.

“I loved the offer,” said Waller, who had one prior offer from UVA. “The coaches are great people, It’s close to family here, my family can easily get to my games, and I like the environment. Every time I go up there it’s good vibes and things like that. I like how I can go up whenever I want and it feels like family. This was an offer I was waiting for.”

Waller, of course, had been in College Park on many occasions before Feb. 18. He didn’t attend a game during the fall, but he’d toured through the school and taken in camps. Waller said the campus, facility upgrades and area all appealed, and he loves the environment in and around the area.

Moreover, he’d been in close contact with Abdul-Rahim well before the offer was presented. Waller called the Terps’ assistant a “good person,” discussing how they’ve bonded over their Muslim backgrounds and personal connections (Abdul-Rahim’s younger brother is Waller’s personal trainer).

To boot, Waller said the hometown movement is a “great thing,” and he’d “love” to help the staff continue it.

Just don’t take the above comments as an imminent commitment.

The Terps are in an encouraging spot with Waller, but he’s going to trip through other locales coming up. Waller has been to PSU, Temple and UVA and will be returning to see both the Nittany Lions and Owls this March. Wake Forest, Pitt, Va Tech and NC State are on the docket too. Each of the aforementioned programs’ coaches have shown prime interest in Waller, and many of them are sure to offer.

Given the latter, we’re listing Waller “warm” initially. But the temperature could escalate quickly later this offseason, depending on how Waller’s profile develops.

You can read more about Waller HERE.

Off The Board

Artur Sitkowski, QB, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Sitkowski visited Maryland twice back when he attended school in New Jersey, and at the had genuine interest in the program. He had a strong relationship with offensive coordinator Walt Bell and liked UMD’s spread. But ever since shifting to IMG and procuring offers from the nation’s bigwigs, Sitkowski’s feelings towards UMD have diminished. He told Scout earlier this week Florida State was on his mind after a visit (the Noles’ staff hasn’t offered yet), along with Miami; LSU; Florida; Rutgers and Wisconsin. The Hurricanes may be Sitkowski’s ultimate landing spot.

Tyler Bentley, DL, Lakota West (West Chester, Ohio): Bentley visited Louisville Feb. 18, picked up a Cardinals’ offer Feb. 19, and declared UL his leader Feb. 20. Basically, he’s going to Louisville. If not, Bentley’s going to Kentucky.

Alim McNeill, DE, Sanderson (Raleigh, N.C.): McNeill took in Duke Feb. 18 and said the Blue Devils led for his services. But that was before he snagged a Florida State offer a day later. Now, the Seminoles have his ear too. The Terps are unlikely players here.

Zakoby McClain, S/OLB, Valdosta (Ga.): McClain’s offer list has expanded to include mainstays throughout the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC. He’s in the process of trekking through some southern schools and has his eyes on programs like Florida State, Tennessee, Florida and others of that ilk. He made no mention of a Maryland visit.

Jordan Miner, S, Winegrass Ranch (Tampa, Fla.): Miner declared in-state offeree Florida his leader, but February visits to Tennessee and UNC have the Vols and Heels in the game. Ole Miss, which offered Feb. 19, is also in line for a look. In other words, Miner is destined for an ACC/SEC program.

Ken Montgomery, CB, Hillsborough (Tampa, Fla.): Alabama’s staff offered Montgomery Feb. 16, promptly becoming the No. 1 contender. Others in mind include Ohio State, Tennessee and some other SEC schools. 

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