Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland-football recruiting roundup.
Offensive Recruiting Notes
-- St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio) quarterback Chase Wolf caught up with Scout’s Bill Greene earlier this week. The Terps’ offeree told Greene BC, Wisconsin, Maryland and Pitt were “sticking out,” although acknowledged he was seeking offers from UNC; NC State; and South Carolina. He’ll be trekking through each of the three southern locales in April, and if a scholarship materializes after taking in the Wolfpack, Heels, and Gamecocks, any of them would instantly become a contender. Before seeing those locales, though, Wolf is checking out Pitt March 18, Boston College March 25 and Wisconsin in April. Of those, the Badgers are the program to watch, even though they already have a 2018 quarterback commit. Wolf insists he and the Wisconsin coaches remain in close contact, with the Ohio product eager to see Madison, Wisc. The Eagles are on Wolf’s mind as well because the coaches have been pressing for him. As for UMD, it’s possible the St. Xavier gunslinger could trip through College Park later during the spring/summer. But based on the Greene story and my own personal interview with Wolf, the vibe is the recruit may not have the Terps at the forefront of his mind. Of course, the same could probably be said for the UMD staff in regards to Wolf. Offensive coordinator Walt Bell and Co. remain hot on the trail of signal caller Devin Leary (Timber Creek/Sicklerville, N.J.), who is priority No. 1 and could be trending towards the Terps. Bell may only press for the likes of Wolf and Tyler DeSue (Bishop Sullivan Catholic/Virginia Beach, Va.) if the quarterbacks coach senses Leary favoring other locales.
-- Freedom High (South Riding, Va.) receiver Robert Mayo saw Maryland for the second time this offseason March 11, and he now has the Terps atop his leaderboard. The 6-foot-3, 200 pounder loved watching the wideouts practice, interacting with coach/recruiter Chris Beatty, seeing the player dorms, and more. He said his time with Beatty, who has been talking to Mayo since early January, resonated, with Mayo lauding the assistant’s message and coaching methods. “Maryland is my top choice right now,” Mayo said. “If I had to pick today, it would be Maryland.” Mayo isn’t ready to commit just yet, mentioning he wants to gauge what offers materialize after the spring evaluation period (FSU is a look he’s seeking). But unless Mayo -- who has offers from Wake, NS State, Temple and a couple others -- absolutely blows up during the spring, it sounds like the Terps are in prime position (provided the staff pushes). Beatty and Co. could land the Virginia product later in the summer. You can read more about Mayo HERE.
-- Bayside (Virginia Beach, Va.) receiver Armani Chatman was supposed to visit Maryland for the first time March 11, but he couldn’t make it up. He doesn’t have a reschedule date yet, but said he would like to check out College Park later during the spring. Chatman has a solid relationship with UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty and seems to have keen interest in the program. That said, Chatman is gaining steam on the trail and is eying up the SEC (Auburn has offered, and Georgia and Tennessee are interested). In-state Va Tech is a principle player as well.
-- East Allegheny (North Versailles, Pa.) tight end/defensive end T.J. Banks, who the Terps’ staff is pursuing on offense, told Scout’s Brian Dohn he’d be visiting Penn State (no offer yet) March 25 and Maryland sometime in April. Banks covets a Nittany Lions’ look, and it’s possible the coaches could offer him as an outside linebacker. The Terps, meanwhile, have tight ends coach Pete Lembo on Banks, and the assistant has been in regular contact. But Banks’ knowledge of Maryland is limited, which is why a campus visit is key. Either way, hometown Pitt remains the team to beat unless the PSU verbal comes through. The Panthers are the only program the 6-5, 225-pounder has trekked through, and he’s very interested in staying local.
-- Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) offensive tackle Aidan Rafferty touched base with Scout’s Brian Dohn last week, perplexingly letting on that coaches from UVA and Va Tech were pushing the hardest for his services. Rafferty did say he’s been in contact with the Maryland staff, but it’s interesting he didn’t list them alongside UVA and Va Tech. Rafferty is being pursued by Maryland-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and line coach Tyler Bowen, but the 6-6, 295-pounder admitted he didn’t know the latter assistant well yet. That’s not overly concerning at this stage of the game, and Rafferty will undoubtedly connect with Bowen when the tackle returns to College Park. But it sounds as if the Hokies could currently have Rafferty’s ear. Remember, his sister attends Va Tech and Rafferty loved his recent trek through Blacksburg, Va. Next up, Rafferty -- who has been to UVA, Va Tech, UMD and Pitt -- is seeing Boston College and Harvard. It would probably behoove the Maryland staff to get him back on campus soon too, before the Hokies’ coaches can gain a stranglehold. As we’ve written previously, this is rounding into a Maryland-Virginia Tech race.
Defensive Recruiting Notes
-- St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.) defensive end Eyabi Anoma was back at Maryland for the fourth time this offseason March 11. He took in the Terps’ first spring practice, which allowed Anoma to see defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh and his pupils in action. Afterwards, Anoma texted in he had another standout stay in College Park and loved the intensity and energy at the practice. He noted Maryland’s aggressive defensive style and could see himself thriving in it. But, again, Anoma isn’t rushing into any decisions. The Terps are going to be involved throughout, and Anoma has a great rapport with recruiter Brawley Evans, but the likes of Alabama; Clemson; Georgia; Florida; Ole Miss; and Wisconsin are all on his mind. He wants to see each of those programs at some point, especially Bama and Clemson, so we’ll have to see what he’s thinking after taking those trips.
-- DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) defensive tackle Evan Gregory saw the Terps March 11, the third time he’s been in College Park this offseason. Gregory reportedly loved watching the first spring practice, although he didn’t give any comments this time around. Gregory is typically reserved in his praise, but Maryland is on his mind from what we’ve been able to glean. He’s not ready to commit anytime too soon, and is considering offerees like UVA (visited), Rutgers (visited) and WVU (visited), but UMD is likely in the lead position. Speculation is Gregory could be a Terp before the fall season begins.
-- Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) BUCK Tyler Baylor has been difficult to get ahold of lately. He was back at Maryland for the second time in two weeks, but again didn’t offer insight on his College Park foray. From what we’ve heard, though, there’s nothing imminent here. True, Baylor has reportedly enjoyed his stays at UMD and has taken to the staff, including defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh and recruiter Chris Beatty. The receivers’ coach Beatty has a budding rapport with Baylor and has the three-star’s ear. But this is a recruit who’s going to deliberately wad through the process, visiting multiple schools before embarking on officials. Kentucky, which fields former teammate Josh Paschal, is a prime contender, as are Georgia; Louisville; North Carolina; Tennessee; and Pitt.
-- Irvington (N.J.) BUCK Lance Turay caught up with Scout’s Brian Dohn last week and told him the three programs whose coaches are in touch the most are Rutgers’, Syracuse’s and UConn’s. Turay went on to detail his offseason trips to Connecticut, Temple and RU, with the hometown Scarlet Knights likely holding the inside track since they field his older brother. The 6-6, 240-pounder has no other visits planned, although he told us he wanted to see College Park down the line. Turay has been in communication with Maryland linebackers’ coach Matt Barnes, but the recruit didn’t broach the UMD assistant in the Dohn interview. The Jersey product may be focusing his attention elsewhere (or vice versa).
-- Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) BUCK Caleb Tannor, who heard from Maryland assistant Al Seamonson in early February, has been taking offseason visits. He’s been to Georgia, Tennessee and Georgia State, and is heading back to UGA March 18. (Tannor is seeking a Bulldogs’ look). Tannor isn’t sure if he’ll be able to see College Park anytime soon, but said the Terps are still in mind. Since landing a Maryland offer Feb. 1, Tannor has had contact with defensive coordinator Andy Buh. Some other programs that have entered the picture of late include Mizzou, Kansas, WVU, Rutgers, ECU and UCF. If the SEC becomes more heavily involved, with the likes of UGA, Tennessee and the like anteing up, Tannor is probably bound for one of those programs.
-- Christchurch (Church View, Va.) inside linebacker Jamar Darboe had Maryland trending before his College Park visit March 11, and afterwards he practically called the Terps a clear frontrunner. The 6-1, 230-pounder detailed his trip step-by-step, noting how he “loved” each aspect of UMD. In particular, Darboe extoled the campus, its location near Washington, D.C., the school’s academics, the player dorms, the coming facility upgrades, the Under Armour gear, the team practice, and the coaches. Darboe had the highest praise for linebackers coach Matt Barnes and head coach D.J. Durkin. “They were breaking down my film and telling me things they loved about my game. They compared me to Jermaine Carter, actually, and showed film of him and how we’re similar. So I thought that was pretty cool,” Darboe said. “Then Coach Durkin was saying how big-time Maryland was getting and how it’s going to be special there. He wanted me to be part of that. And I loved what he was saying. That’s the first time I really got to sit down and talk to them, and I love how they’re down to earth but also bring so much energy and passion.” Darboe isn’t ready to pop just yet, but the Terps are probably in the driver’s seat and might be able to pull him later this spring. That is, if the staff pushes for him, which is questionable. The main competition seems to be ECU, which is in Darboe’s hometown. Pitt could get involved too if the Panthers’ staff offers during the recruit’s upcoming campus visit.
You can read more about Darboe HERE.
-- Vineland (N.J.) outside linebacker Nihym Anderson said Maryland was among the three schools that grabbed his attention the most after visiting. The 6-2, 230-pounder trekked down to College Park for the first time March 11 and talked up linebackers coach Matt Barnes, headman D.J. Durkin, the practice’s fast-paced tempo, the overarching energy surrounding the program, and the player dorms. “I liked pretty much everything I saw there. It’s a good program, it’s good coaches and a great environment,” Anderson said. Anderson had previously been to Rutgers, Pitt, Syracuse, Temple and Uconn, and the feeling is the Terps sit alongside the Panthers and Scarlet Knights in the pecking order (at least for now). He’s going to BC March 19, and wants to see Minnesota and Indiana in the future. Each of the aforementioned schools have offers out to the Jersey backer. But regardless of what schools he forays through, Anderson is going to thoroughly vet all his options and take his time with the process. He will guage what suitors materialize this spring and fall, take officials, and then choose a college destination sometime during the winter.
You can read more about Anderson HERE.
-- Tucker (Ga.) outside linebacker Gerry Vaughn visited Miami of Ohio earlier in the month and came away with his second offer. The Terps, with defensive coordinator Andy Buh running point, were the first back in February. Buh has since exchanged messages with Vaughn, but the under-the-radar Georgian likely isn’t a main priority at this time. Even so, Vaughn texted in that he had a scheduled College Park visit March 30. The Maryland staff has done well identifying and actively recruiting numerous targets just in case their foremost options drop off, and that could be the case with Vaughn. Before the Tucker prospect sees College Park, he’ll be at Georgia State March 18 and South Alabama March 24. Then, Vaughn will be checking out ECU April 7. Each of those programs’ coaches have shown interest and should be offering Vaughn once he treks through campus.
-- Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.) safety Ray Boone is likely going to wind up in College Park, and if the Maryland staff is lucky maybe the three-star won’t drag out his recruitment as long as ex-teammate Lawtez Rogers. Boone visited UMD for the fourth time this offseason March 11, and it’s clear he’s smitten with the hometown school. Boone predictably extoled the Terps, namely defensive backs coach/recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and the secondary. The Roosevelt product said he enjoyed watching Abdul-Rahim work and thinks he’d develop under the coach’s tutelage. Boone lauded head coach D.J. Durkin, who let Boone know how much he was needed in College Park; the Maryland support staff; and even UMD alum and Grassroots Youth Football coach Mike Anderson, who chatted up Boone during the practice. Boone said his mother is comfortable with Maryland and the coaches too. But, like Rogers in last year’s class, Boone is hesitant to end his recruitment. He wants to check out Pitt and Va Tech coming up, and is waiting to see if offers come in from Minnesota; WVU; and Temple. Unless something goes awry, though, Boone projects to College Park.
You can read more about Boone HERE.
Notes: Two other interesting recruits who visited Maryland March 11 were Curley (Baltimore, Md.) guard Stevon Brown and Norview (Norfolk, Va.) defensive end Derrick Eason. Brown is a 6-4, 275-pounder with offers from Navy, ODU, Army, Air Force and Howard. Eason is a 6-4, 240-pounder with verbals from Charlotte, ECU and ODU. The Maryland staff is intrigued by both, but may not offer unless some other targets fall by the wayside.
Nchami On Board
Last year, it was Montgomery County resident Fofie Bazzie who got the ball rolling in Maryland’s 2017 class, and this year it’s another MoCo native first to commit in the 2018 class. Paint Branch (Burtonsville, Md.) BUCK Durell Nchami pledged to Maryland just a bit earlier than anticipated March 13, doing so two days after his fourth trek through College Park this offseason.
“I just felt that’s where I wanted to be all along, and I wanted to apart of what they’re doing there,” said Nchami, who also held offers from Pitt, Syracuse, Virginia, Wake Forest, ODU and Army. “I love the coaches at Maryland, I love what they’re about and I think it’s just a great fit. I could really see myself doing well there and it’s a great opportunity for the local guys to stay home and do something big at the hometown school.
“The coaches had been telling me to get the ball rolling [in the 2018 class], so I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
Nchami called Maryland his leader when the offer was presented way back in early January. He’s been expected to commit ever since, but it took him a junior day (Feb. 4); a campus visit (Feb. 24); and a team practice (March 11) to seal the deal. Either way, Nchami heaped praise on the program after each successive stay, keeping the Terps firmly atop the totem pole throughout. The 6-2, 206-pounder connected with linebackers coach Matt Barnes, head coach D.J. Durkin, area recruiter Chris Beatty and defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh. Nchami had a rapport with other schools’ assistants, but said no staff showed more love than Maryland’s. The local edge rusher ate up Durkin’s stay-home overtures, and believes he could thrive under Barnes’ and Brumbaugh’s watch. Nchami is excited to play the hybrid BUCK role too, which is an extension of what he does for Paint Branch.
Furthermore, Nchami liked being near his family and friends, giving them an opportunity to see him play regularly. He felt comfortable on campus, loved the coming facility upgrades and player dorms, and spoke highly of the school’s engineering program as well.
Add it all up, and there’s a reason we had Nchami sitting “hot” on the hot board since January.
Now, Nchami did say he would be visiting Pitt March 22, but he’s not going anywhere unless something goes awry.
So, what are the Terps getting in the DMV product?
Nchami’s an athletic, versatile defender who can play with his hand in the dirt or drop back into coverage. As an edge rusher, he’s quick off the ball, gets downhill in a hurry and uses his hands to effectively disengage. Nchami understands leverage and can dip under blockers or come around backside before bee-lining into the pocket. As an outside backer, Nchami flashes solid lateral agility, possessing good feet and loose hips. He can drop back into coverage and ably defend the flats, picking up tight ends/receivers who cross his face. Nchami anticipates well and seems to have above-average instincts, showing a knack for finding the football.
Lastly, Nchami’s a solid wrap-up tackler, and can deliver a pop every once in awhile.
To improve, Nchami has to add more bulk, first and foremost. He’s a little light for a BUCK right now, so unless the Terps decide to put him at outside backer, Nchami will need to gain 20-30 pounds. Moreover, Nchami lacks superior strength and sometimes this negatively effects his power and tackling.
Technically, Nchami mainly has to refine his footwork, hand placement and angles. Sometime he’ll get crossed up or get caught in the trash when pursuing sideline-to-sideline. Nchami could also stand to keep working on his drops as once in awhile he’ll look a bit methodical or hesitant.
Finally, Nchami just has to develop more consistency. Sometimes he’ll disappear during games and can get taken out of plays. We’d like to see him dominate on a regular basis.
You can read more about Nchami HERE.
You can read what his coach had to say HERE.
New Offers Out
Taj Harris, WR, Palmyra (N.J.): The Terps handed Harris his fourth offer March 10, with assistant Anthony Tucker doing the honors. It was one of the larger offers to date for the underrated 6-2, 175 pounder, with Maryland joining Rutgers; NC State; and Temple.
Given that, one might assume the Terps would have a real shot to bring Harris in. And the Jersey product did say he’d like to visit College Park. But hometown RU and position coach Jafar Williams have his ear in a major way. In fact, Harris already called the Scarlet Knights his favorite after multiple treks through Piscataway, N.J.
Trejan Bridges, WR, Hebron (Carrolton, Texas) (2019): The Texas wideout Bridges heard from UMD receivers’ coach Chris Beatty March 9. Maryland represented his ninth offer to date, with the others being BYU; Colorado State; Iowa State; Kansas; Texas Tech; Tulsa; Washington State and Utah.
The emerging Bridges is bound to receive plenty more power-five looks moving forward, though. He projects as one of the top wideouts in Texas and should have most of the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC after him.
Oyenmwen Uzebu, OT, Alpharetta (Ga.): The Terps were the first Big Ten offer for the 6-6, 296-pound Uzebu, and the recruit was thrilled -- to say the least. Uzebu, who is the teammate of 2017 Maryland signee Carlos Carriere, went on and on about his newest verbal and line coach Tyler Bowen.
“I’d actually had thoughts of becoming a Terp for a little while now because my teammate is going there next year. So after talking to Carlos, I was thinking, ‘Dang, it would be really cool to go there,’” said Bowen, who previously had offers from East Carolina, Buffalo, Georgia State and some lower Division-I programs. “And just from talking to Coach Bowen I can tell he’s a cool guy and he likes to joke, but he’s also very straightforward. I love to have a bond that’s straightforward, like he tells it like it is and doesn’t sugarcoat. And one of the first things he asked me when I spoke to him was how I saw myself getting better this offseason. That’s when I knew I really liked him, because I could tell he was about pushing yourself to get better and improving. I know that if I were to learn under him he’d really push me. Not everyone who recruits you will say things like that, so I respect Coach Bowen for that. It was really impressive.”
Uzebu proceeded to talk up recruiter Walt Bell and the Under Armour connections, while mentioning all the positives he’d heard from Carriere. Look for the big Georgia tackle to see College Park firsthand in April.
But before forecasting Uzebu to Maryland, we’ll have to monitor how much steam he gains on the trail. He’s hearing from coaches from Auburn, Purdue, Florida State, Louisville and Georgia Tech, Uzebu allowing he’d love to land some SEC and ACC looks. He’s already seen Purdue and Auburn and will be at Louisville and FSU coming up.
You can read more about Uzebu HERE.
Caeden Wallace, OT, The Hun School (Princeton, N.J.) (2019): Wallace is going to be one of the most sought-after tackles in the Northeast, and the Terps are in the game early. Maryland became the fourth school to offer -- after RU, Temple and Penn State -- March 10, with area recruiter Matt Barnes handing out the verbal.
The 6-6, 300-pound Wallace was appreciative of the look and said he was interested in checking out College Park. He’s building a rapport with Barnes and plans to get in touch with line coach Tyler Bowen soon.
But we’ll see how long Barnes and Co. can keep Maryland in contention. The big tackle already has his eye on Penn State after an eye-opening trek through State College, Pa., and covets looks from Notre Dame; LSU; and Oklahoma.
You can read more about Wallace HERE.
Jason Dickson, OT, Diablo Valley College (Pleasant Hill, Calif.): New Maryland line coach Tyler Bowen is becoming more active on the recruiting trail, and March 14 he identified the junior college tackle Dickson. The 6-7, 310-pounder is a fast-rising California native who had looks from Arizona State, Colorado, Hawaii, TCU, Texas Tech and Marshall before the Terps came in.
We’ll see what kind of inroads Bowen can make here, but we’re not placing Dickson on the hot board unless he actually flies cross-coast to College Park.
Darnell Jefferies, DT, Newton (Covington, Ga.): The three-star Jefferies landed a Maryland offer March 14. It was his 20th to date, the Terps joining Georgia, Alabana, Auburn, Clemson, LSU, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Tennessee, South Carolina, Va Tech and more.
Jefferies has visited nearby UGA several times and likes the Bulldogs a good deal. He’s also taking a close look at Clemson (visited), South Carolina (visited), Bama and others in the SEC.
Jefferies isn’t going on the hot board.
Joseph Boletepeli, DE, Millbrook (Raleigh, N.C.): OK, so this offer isn’t technically new, but Boletepeli didn’t let on about it until March 14. However, in the two or three weeks since pulling his seventh power-five verbal, the 6-5, 245-pounder has developed a relationship with UMD-area recruiter Pete Lembo. Evidently Boletepeli’s pretty intrigued, saying he “of course” wants to visit College Park.
“Coach Lembo told me a lot about Maryland, their statistics in business, and what they are about education-wise and athletically,” said Boletepeli, who has offers from UMD, NC State, Boston College, Louisville, Miami, Georgia Tech and Rutgers . “They’re one of the top public schools in business and very diverse, which catches my eye. It’s definitely a school I’m interested in checking out.”
But this is the type of recruit who could blow up during the spring evaluation period and maybe procure some SEC offers and more ACC verbals.
On top of that, Boletepeli likes NC State a good deal after a standout trip to Raleigh, N.C., and he’s eager to return in the next few weeks. Louisville and Miami, two more offerees, are on the brain for visits too. And if UNC’s (visited) or Duke’s (visited) coaches get involved, they’d promptly enter the conversation.
But we’ll list the North Carolina native “cool” on the hot board, because he is keeping an open mind.
You can read more about Boletepeli HERE.
James Miller, ILB, Armwood (Seffner, Fla.): UMD assistants Chris Beatty and Matt Barnes are after Miller, with the former anteing up March 10. The coaches have their work cut out for them, however.
Miller is a rising star inside backer and is beginning to generate SEC interest. One of those schools, LSU, already has an offer out. After pulling it in, Miller immediately called the Tigers his leader.
Oregon is heavily involved as well, and others throughout the SEC and ACC will undoubtedly join the fray.
Maybe Beatty can coax Miller up to College Park for a visit, but this isn’t a recruit we envision winding up at Maryland.
Jesse Luketa, OLB, Mercyhurst Prep (Erie, Pa.): Maryland area recruiter Pete Lembo tossed Luketa an offer March 9. But the four-star tackle is already committed to Penn State and figures to remain entrenched with the Nittany Lions. If Luketa somehow wavers down the road, it’s because a Big Ten bigwig lured him away.
Tanner Ingle, CB, Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.): The Terps had a couple offers out to Dr. Phillips recruits in last year’s class, and now the staff is pursuing the 2018 corner Ingle. UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim is in pursuit of the 5-9, 181-pound three-star, who previously had verbals from Wake; BC; Rutgers; Syracuse; and FAU.
Considering his offer list, and based on Ingle’s comments to Scout’s Corey Bender, Maryland should remain involved here (as long as Abdul-Rahim keeps up the contact). He said Syracuse and BC have his eye initially, but is basically open in his recruitment. If some southern mainstays become involved, however, it’s a good bet they’ll shoot up Ingle’s favorites list.
Ingle hasn’t taken any visits beyond a couple nearby locales, but he’s going on a bus tour with his teammates this summer. He’ll assuredly hit some ACC/SEC schools; it remains to be seen if Ingle will personally make it to some of his northern contenders like UMD, Syracuse and others.
We’re listing him “cool” on the hot board initially.
Off The Board
LaMarius Benson, DL, Eastside (Covington, Ga.): The two-way lineman Benson, who Maryland’s staff offered as a defensive tackle, committed to South Carolina March 12. He landed the Gamecocks’ verbal during a campus visit Feb. 25 and decided to pop a month-and-a-half later. Benson said he had a terrific bond with the staff and jumped at the chance to play in the SEC.
The Terps were Benson’s very first power-five offer, and the 6-2, 300 pounder said he wanted to visit College Park. But he no longer plans to do so, seemingly content with his college decision unless some other attractive SEC suitor comes along and changes Benson’s thinking.
Kingsley Enagbare, DL, Hapeville Charter (Atlanta, Ga.): Like LaMarius Benson (discussed above), Enagbare has emerged on SEC radars and now has his eye on southern schools. He’s taking a long look at offeree South Carolina, which Enagbare recently visited. Another two recent suitors, Auburn and North Carolina, are on Enagbare’s mind too after tripping to AU and UNC. Meanwhile, Enagbare wants to see Tennessee and Georgia coming up after both schools’ coaches offered. He made no mention of Maryland in his latest Scout interview.