Juan Wallace

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.

Offensive Recruiting Notes

-- Woodson (Washington, D.C.) running back Mychale Salahuddin was at Maryland’s spring game, and the borderline four-star offered up positive comments for the Terps. He likes how UMD runs the football, is keen on the hometown movement, and has an outstanding relationship with recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and the other staff members. Salahuddin has been on campus a couple times this offseason, and should be returning either during the summer or for a game in the fall. But Salahuddin told us at the Nike Opening D.C. that Southern Cal had his eye (“they’re making me a priority,” he said), while Nebraska; Oklahoma; UNC; UGA; and Arkansas were on the brain. Salahuddin hasn’t visited the Trojans, Razorbacks, Huskers or Sooners yet, but intends to during the summer/fall. He has seen Georgia, and if the Bulldogs’ coaches offer (they probably will), UGA would instantly become a possible landing spot. Oklahoma, which fields his former teammates, is a true player too. Either way, expect Salahuddin to deliberately evaluate the aforementioned programs the next few months.

Note: Maryland running back target Leddie Brown (Smyrna, Del.) was at the April 22 spring game as well, and although the four-star always gives UMD its due, we’re not forecasting him to College Park, Md. After digging into his situation, his eyes seems focused elsewhere. West Virginia, Florida, UNC, Tennessee and Louisville are all possibilities, with the Mountaineers leading the pack.

-- Woodson (Washington, D.C.) receiver Ed Hendrix saw the Terps’ spring game April 22, but he didn’t intimate much that he hadn’t during previous stays for practices/workouts/tours. The 6-foot-4 wideout likes being in College Park and around the Maryland coaches. He has a connection with recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, receivers’ coach Chris Beatty and head coach DJ Durkin. Hendrix thinks highly of the hometown movement, wouldn’t mind staying close to home for college, and, perhaps most importantly, thinks he could play early in College Park. All of that bodes well for UMD purposes, but, as we’ve written numerous times before, this isn’t a recruit who’s going to commit before taking multiple officials. Hendrix is slowly wadding through the process, embarking on unofficials; listening to various pitches; and gauging new offers. He’s been to UMD, Cuse, Temple, Clemson, UNC and NC State, and should be heading back out this summer. Va Tech, WVU, Louisville and others are some schools on his radar for visits.

-- Friendship Collegiate (Washington, D.C.) receiver Dontay Demus didn’t attend the Terps’ spring game April 22, but he could be close to jumping on the Maryland bandwagon. The 6-4 wideout, who has a terrific rapport with UMD recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, called Maryland his frontrunner and said he’d be heading back to College Park in short order -- with the presumed intention of committing. Demus did add an offer from Louisville, which he wants to check out later this summer; he enjoyed a spring stay at Rutgers; and he added an offer from Va Tech April 27, a verbal that also intrigued him. But, even so, the hometown school is trending. The three-star told Scout he’d like to hold off on committing until at least the summer so he can gauge what programs enter the mix following the evaluation period, but we could see him doing something much sooner.

-- Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) receiver Darryl Jones was back at Maryland for a third time April 22; he didn’t commit, but it’s probably only a matter of time.  The 6-3, 175-pounder had UMD sitting No. 1 on his favorites list heading into the visit, and said the spring game only solidified the Terps’ status. “I don’t think they’re going anywhere,” laughed Jones. “Maryland is pretty high for me. I want a program that wants me there and treats me good. I want a program that treats me like Maryland. I mean, the coaches [at UMD], they hit me up like all the time. That’s why they’re so high on my list.” Jones not only lauded receivers coach Chris Beatty and Co., but he talked up the intensity of the game; the coming facility upgrades; and the overall direction UMD is heading. He admitted seeing the Terps land some other touted recruits, including friend and quarterback Tyler DeSue (Bishop Sullivan/Virginia Beach, Va.), had him thinking long and hard about popping on campus. But Jones insisted he’s going to wait until the summer before doing so. Are we worried another program could swoop in, especially if some of those interested SEC/ACC schools (UGA, Duke, Louisville, LSU) come through? Not at this time. Jones is about as high as a recruit can be on a program without committing. You can read more about Jones HERE.

-- Oxon Hill (Md.) receiver Daniel George didn’t make it to the Terps’ April 22 spring game. The Terps are a principle contender, however, and the four-star said as much in interviews at the Nike Opening D.C. George repeatedly talks up recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and position coach Chris Beatty, the stay-home movement that’s taken hold, and the opportunity for early playing time in College Park. George has been on campus a couple times this offseason, and should be returning during the summer. But Penn State (multiple visits) probably holds the pole position, and Va Tech (visited); WVU (visited); and UNC are listed in conjunction with George as well. The Oxon Hill native has no trips coming up, but that might not keep him from committing in July. If he’s not ready to shut his recruitment down by the summer, though, George could wait until after he takes officials late next fall. 

-- Freedom (South Riding, Va.) receiver Robert Mayo took another trip to Maryland April 22, and he reiterated his stance that the Terps are his No. 1 contender. The 6-3, 200-pounder loves the Terps’ coaching staff, in particular position coach Chris Beatty. Mayo thinks he could slide right into Maryland’s spread and make an impact, quickly developing under Beatty’s watch. Mayo is comfortable on campus, likes that UMD isn’t too far from home and thinks the program is on the rise. So, what’s keeping Mayo from committing? Mayo personally said he’s waiting to see what offers come in before doing so (he wants Florida State, but that’s a longshot). But Beatty and Co. may have a couple other touted targets in mind ranked ahead of Mayo on their board as well. The UMD coaches could wait to see what their other receiver options decide before pressing for the Freedom product. Mayo, for his part, said he doesn’t plan to commit anywhere until later during the summer. If Maryland falls off, expect Mayo to take a longer look at NC State, Rutgers, Wake and ODU. You can read more about Mayo HERE.

-- Harrisburg (Pa.) receiver Shaquon Anderson-Butts visited Penn State for the umpteenth time April 22, and three days later he pulled a big SEC offer from Florida. The Nittany Lions are Anderson-Butts’ forecast destination so long as the Penn State staff will accept his commitment. It’s possible Anderson-Butts will check out Gainesville, Fla., since he was thrilled with the big-time SEC look, while Notre Dame; West Virginia (maybe running second or third after a visit); Nebraska (visited in mid-April); Louisville; Maryland; and Oregon are in mind too. Anderson-Butts has trekked through UMD, likes receivers coach Chris Beatty and the other staffers, and knows he’s a wanted commodity in College Park. But we’re not sure Maryland is going to be Anderson-Butts’ landing spot unless the Nittany Lions’ coaches back off and possibly a couple other contenders fall off.

-- Curtis (Staten Island, N.Y.) slot receiver/athlete Amad Anderson has seen his recruitment expand of late. During the evaluation period he’s pulled in offers from NC State, Wake Forest and Wisconsin. Each of those verbals have Anderson’s attention and he’ll attempt to visit a couple of them this summer. In other news, Anderson took a visit to UConn April 21, but he’s not going to Storrs, Conn., unless he’s not a “take” for some of his other prime contenders. The New York City product also saw Rutgers earlier in April, and the Scarlet Knights are thought to be a possible landing spot due to the coaches’ hard push. (RU’s staff just pulled one of Anderson’s good friends, Jarrett Paul, from Paramus Catholic). Boston College is another program under consideration. As for Maryland, it’s a school Anderson still wants to see. The 6-0, 170-pound dynamo is in semi-regular talks with UMD-area recruiter Pete Lembo and counts the Terps as a principle suitor. We’ll see if the staff continues to push for Anderson, however, with other targets on the board.

-- East Allegheny (North Versailles, Pa.) tight end T.J. Banks attended Maryland’s spring game April 22, the three-star finally making it down to College Park for the first time this offseason. Banks, who attended a Maryland game last fall, told Scout’s Brian Dohn he had a solid look at the Terps and liked reconnecting with the Maryland coaches. He has a good relationship with UMD-area recruiter Pete Lembo, who is in frequent contact. The 6-5, 225-pounder also knows UMD needs playmaking tight ends, which has Banks intrigued. But we’re still not ready to elevate Banks above “cool” on the hot board. Hometown Pitt is the likely leader in the clubhouse, and West Virginia and Rutgers are firmly in play. Meanwhile, Banks is hearing from Penn State’s coaches, who want the three-star at defensive end. If the Nittany Lions’ staff makes a move, that would undoubtedly entice the Keystone State native.

-- Imhotep (Philadelphia, Pa.) offensive tackle Justin Johnson was unable to attend Maryland’s spring game April 22. He was expected to publically commit before or after the game, but decided to hold off. How long? Well, the 6-7, 345-pound three-star could be on board as soon as April 29, or shortly thereafter. Johnson’s basically told the Terps’ coaches he’s coming, but for whatever reason he hasn’t put it out there yet. Readers can pretty much count him as the Terps’ sixth 2018 commitment.

-- St. Frances (Baltimore, Md.) offensive tackle Jaelyn Duncan returned to College Park yet again April 22, but he continues to stay mum on where he stands. The information gathered suggests it’s between UMD, Ohio State and Penn State for Duncan, but we’ve heard conflicting reports on where each stands. Many of our contacts believe the hometown Terps do have Duncan’s ear, evidenced by the fact he’s been on campus three times the last couple months. But the Nittany Lions’ staff is thought to have left a strong impression as well and likely have a slight edge over UMD. (This feeling remained even after Duncan’s latest foray through Maryland). Look for Duncan to end his recruitment at some point this offseason, perhaps as early as later in the spring.

-- Lackawanna (Scranton, Pa.) offensive tackle T.J. Bradley is predictably blowing up on the trail, and April 25 he landed his most significant offer yet. The junior college prospect pulled Penn State after visiting for the Blue-White game April 22, afterwards dubbing the Nittany Lions a top contender. The 6-9, 290-pound Bradley loved the atmosphere, fans and coaches at PSU. The Terps are going to remain involved, however, after Bradley’s trek through College Park. He had a good deal to say about UMD too, noting its close proximity to his Leesburg, Va., home; the Terps’ need for tackles; and the coaches’ personalities. West Virginia, meanwhile, is in the mix as well, with Bradley pining to visit Morgantown, W.Va. We’re leaving Bradley “warm” on the hot board for now, but that PSU look leaves us leery, and the big lineman is bound to generate even more prominent looks.

-- North Point (Waldorf, Md.) offensive tackle Rasheed Walker caught up with multiple reporters at the Nike Opening D.C., and the consensus was Penn State and North Carolina likely topped his leaderboard, sitting ahead of Va Tech; Maryland; Ohio State (unclear if the coaches are actually pushing); and Rutgers. Walker said he’s eager to return to both Chapel Hill, N.C., and State College, Pa., this spring/summer before choosing a school by mid-summer. Walker could head back to College Park as well, but we didn’t get the feeling the Terps were any higher than fourth in the pecking order. Lending credence to the latter was Walker’s absence from Maryland’s spring game April 22.

Defensive Recruiting Notes

-- McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) defensive tackle P.J. Mustipher finished up his spring visits by hitting supposed favorite Notre Dame April 22. But Mustipher opted not to commit and may now be inclined to take official visits before doing so. Which basically means that Ohio State’s, Penn State’s and Alabama’s staffs are going to have another crack at swaying the four-star DMV tackle. Naturally, Maryland’s coaches will too, but the Terps are thought to be trailing the bigwigs for this particular local. Mustipher did visit College Park earlier in April, and he has a developing rapport with recruiter Jimmy Brumbaugh, but the Terps are going to need some breaks for Mustipher to wind up at UMD.

-- Millbrook (Raleigh, N.C.) defensive end Joseph Boletepeli made the trek up to College Park April 22, and he and his family had a terrific time interacting with the Maryland coaches and touring the campus. He enjoyed chatting with position coach Jimmy Brumbaugh and defensive coordinator Andy Buh, praised the look and feel of the campus, and made sure to extol UMD’s business program (he’s an academic-oriented recruit). Boletepeli liked the defense’s aggressive mentality during the spring game too.  But the budding defensive end is going to keep an open mind throughout the spring. The 6-5, 245-pounder is expected to receive significant attention on the trail, and if the likes of UNC; Duke; and some SEC suitors comes through (several are interested), it could alter his recruitment. For now, in-state NC State and Louisville have Boletepeli’s eye after jaunts to both, but numerous others -- Maryland, Miami, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Tennessee -- have offers out and are involved. You can read more about Boletepeli HERE.

-- DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) BUCK John Morgan wasn’t able to attend UMD’s spring game April 22, but the Terps remain in a solid spot for the three-star. Morgan is in regular contact with the Maryland staff, namely recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh. While some of Morgan’s other suitors may have tapered off just a bit, the Maryland staff’s interest remains strong. Furthermore, the DeMatha edge rusher has taken to the stay-home message and said the recent commitments of teammates Evan Gregory and Austin Fontaine to Maryland would be a factor in his recruitment. “Austin and Evan, with them committing, they're telling me, 'John, you got to commit,' " Morgan told Scout’s Brian Dohn. "I'm like, 'Guys, I want to wait,' but it's something those guys are preaching to me all the time and I really believe in them." Morgan is also hearing from Pitt, Va Tech and Rutgers, all of which he’s trekked to before. Look for the 6-2, 245-pounder to choose between one of those four in mid-June. The Terps figure to have the inside track so long as the coaches continue to push.

-- Pope John XXIII (Sparta, N.J.) inside linebacker Nick DeNucci saw Maryland for the first time April 22. He reported significant praise for the Terps too, lauding his interactions with the coaches; the College Park campus and surrounding area; and the spring game. DeNucci said meeting head coach D.J. Durkin and seeing recruiter Matt Barnes again highlighted his stay. “Coach Durkin is doing really great things with his team, and he really cares about his players. Just from seeing him with the players [at the spring game] and then talking to him, I can tell he really cares,” said DeNucci, who has offers from UMD, Rutgers, BC, Syracuse, Pitt, Louisville, WVU, Temple, Army and Navy. “And obviously he had a great recruiting class last year, and some of the players he brought in are amazing. It’s definitely a chance to be part of something special at Maryland, which why it’s a school I’m going to be looking at. And Coach Barnes, we have a great relationship. He actually put together a cool video for me, showing me some of my plays [at Pope John XXIII] and comparing them with what they do at Maryland. He was explaining to me and my dad how I’d fit in there, and it was a really good, detailed explanation.” That sounds promising for Maryland purposes, but DeNucci isn’t ready to name leaders yet. He’s been to Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt and BC, offering up compliments for each, and wants to return to each during the summer. (Curiously, DeNucci did not broach UMD as a school he wanted to get back to. Sometimes recruits can simply forget a program or two, but it was a rather telling omission considering he was just in College Park). DeNucci also has some new offers to mull such as Louisville, WVU and possibly more, and he could conceivably visit those locales as well. Ideally, DeNucci wants to have his college chosen by the summer, but acknowledged he could push back into the fall if he’s not ready to pop. You can read more about DeNucci HERE.

-- Woodson (Washington, D.C.) inside linebacker Juan Wallace was in attendance for Maryland’s spring game April 22, and the three-star lauded his latest trip to College Park. “I loved the intensity and emotion going on,” Wallace said. “I love the coaching staff and what they’re doing there. I love the energy up there.” The Woodson prospect has a tight bond with recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and linebackers coach Matt Barnes, he likes the stay-home movement, he believes he’d transition well into UMD’s defense, and the school’s academic reputation intrigues him. Wallace, however, is mulling over some other contenders. Duke, due to its standout education, is sitting alongside Maryland in the pecking order, and Cuse; Rutgers; and WVU are involved too. It’s possible other programs could enter the mix later during the evaluation period, but for now Wallace is honing in on those five locales (and, really, just Maryland, Duke and maybe Cuse). Our gut? The Terps are positioned well moving forward with the D.C. recruit.

-- Christchurch (Christiansburg, Va.) inside linebacker Jamar Darboe was back at Maryland once more April 22. He speaks glowingly of UMD whenever he’s around the program and its coaches, and this occasion was no different. But, as we’ve written previously, Darboe probably isn’t the main inside-backer option for the Terps’ staff. If he were a surefire “take,” Darboe would probably already be committed. If UMD isn’t an option for Darboe, he just pulled an offer from ECU April 26, which is his only other FBS look.

-- Imhotep (Philadelphia, Pa.) safety Isheem Young was back at Maryland for a second time this spring April 20, the four-star taking in a spring practice. Young didn’t go into detail about his recent foray through College Park, but the Terps are on his mind. The Philly product counts UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim as one of his most ardent pursuers, while he’s taken to the staff’s overall energy as well. Young is also friends with current Terps’ receiver D.J. Moore, who has been hyping UMD to his four-star understudy. But although we believe the Terps have improved their position with Young, the staff needs to keep pecking away to work its way up the leaderboard. The Scout 300 recruit has Penn State sitting pretty, and he was in Happy Valley yet again for the Blue-White game. Ohio State, West Virginia and Clemson are also high on his favorites list. Now, it’s possible the likes of the Tigers’ and Buckeyes’ staffs look elsewhere for a safety, but, as we’ve written before, we can’t see the Nittany Lions’ coaches taking the local product off their board. Plus, the Mountaineers’ staff has been after Young in earnest and seem to have his attention after a trek through Morgantown, W.Va.

-- Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.) safety Ray Boone didn’t attend Maryland’s spring game April 22, but we still view the Terps as the team to beat here. (That is, so long as his transcripts are in order). Boone told Scout’s Brian Dohn at the Nike Opening D.C. he speaks to UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and Co. the most, and it’s clear they continue to have his ear. The three-star is all about DMV-to-UMD, joining his friend and former teammate Lawtez Rogers in College Park, and playing near his family. True, Boone is saying he’s open to all suitors and is hearing plenty from Va Tech’s coaches. The Hokies, who should receive a visit from Boone shortly, are likely running second to the Terps. Moreover, Boone would like to check out WVU and Pitt since he’s been hearing from those staffers. Boone could drag his recruitment out some a la Rogers last year, but we’re going to keep forecasting him to College Park.

-- Lakewood (Ohio) safety Michael Dowell apparently visited Maryland for the spring game April 22. We hadn’t heard the three-star’s name broached in conjunction with the Terps until Scout’s Michael Clark interviewed him, but evidently area recruiter Andy Buh and assistant Brawley Evans had been in touch and coaxed him down to College Park. Following the trip, the 6-1, 190-pounder praised Maryland’s facilities and Buh, calling the defensive coordinator a “real nice and cool guy.” Given that, we’ve included Dowell on the hot board as “cool.” But we don’t envision Dowell committing to UMD, despite having them on his current top-three leaderboard. Why not? He’s from Ohio and is a Michigan State legacy. And not only is he a legacy, but both of his older brothers attend school in East Lansing, Mich. So, about the only way Dowell doesn’t wind up at MSU is if a school like Notre Dame, whose coaches have been in touch, offers and convinces him South Bend, Ind., is a better fit.  

-- Dudley (Greensboro, N.C.) cornerback D.J. Crossen had his first look at the Terps April 22. Following the stay, the 6-2, 190-pound three-star couldn’t say enough about Maryland and its staff. He heaped all kinds of praise on defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and headman D.J. Durkin, saying his meeting with them highlighted the visit. Crossen believes he could develop under Abdul-Rahim, who compared him to future pro Jalen Tabor, while he thinks Durkin has Maryland on the rise after signing a top-rated 2017 class. Crossen also spoke highly of the campus, the player dorms, the coming facility upgrades and the academics. (He wants to major in communications and loved UMD’s renowned program in that field). The North Carolina corner then broached the family feel around the program, mentioning how he and his family felt comfortable with the players and coaches. Crossen’s comments were enough to elevate him to “warm” on the hot board, especially since he wants to come back to College Park this summer. But Abdul-Rahim and recruiter Pete Lembo are going to have to keep chipping away at this one. Va Tech, Duke, UNC, NC State, Tennessee, Louisville, Kentucky, South Carolina and WVU all have offers out and are under consideration. Crossen has visited the Carolina programs, Tech and Tennessee, and should be hitting the Wildcats; Cardinals; Mountaineers; and Gamecocks this summer. He’ll then form a leaderboard by the end of the summer, take officials in the fall, and choose his college destination after his senior season. He won’t be an easy pull out of the South. You can read more about Crossen HERE.

-- DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) corner Judson Tallandier was unable to attend Maryland’s spring game April 22, but he was in town for a spring practice earlier in April. At the Nike Opening D.C., Tallandier heaped praise on UMD, its players and its coaches. “I have a connection with a lot of guys there like DJ [Turner], Tino [Ellis], my former teammates -- them being there makes a difference. And Coach Aazaar [Abdul-Rahim], Coach [DJ] Durkin, I talk to them all the time. I really have a good feel for what they’re doing there. I know they take care of people there,” Tallandier said. Those comments are fairly typical for the DeMatha three-star, which is why we’ve had him sitting “hot” on the hot board. Now, unlike current teammates Evan Gregory and Austin Fontaine, Tallandier isn’t ready to pop just yet. He is contemplating some of his other suitors, and wants to venture out to a few more locales this summer before selecting a school before his senior year. Tallandier has been to UMD, Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt and Temple so far, all of whose coaches are pushing for the DMV corner. Additionally, Tallandier has been consistently hearing from staffers from Arizona and Minnesota, two other programs he’s thinking about visiting (he’s probably not going to either). Plus, there’s a chance more offers could trickle in that might entice Tallandier. But we do like Maryland’s position and will continue projecting him to College Park. You can see what Tallandier had to say HERE.

-- Woodson (Washington, D.C.) corner Noah Boykin took in Maryland’s spring game April 22, his fourth time in College Park this offseason. Boykin always enjoys himself at UMD, and on this occasion he had a good time watching the team compete and interacting with the staff afterwards. Boykin once again connected with recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, who he counts as one of his favorite coaches; headman DJ Durkin; and various others. Boykin is also keen on the stay-home mantra and the idea of showing out for his hometown school. But the Terps’ coaches are going to have to keep working for Boykin. The three-star likes UNC (visited), Syracuse (visited), Oklahoma, Tennessee, NC State, Mizzou, Pitt and a host of others. The Sooners, which field his former teammates, and Heels seem to have his attention first and foremost, in addition to UMD.

-- Woodson (Washington, D.C.) cornerback Vincent Flythe joined his teammates in College Park April 22. The three-star corner had the Terps as a principle contender heading into his recent campus trip, and that remains the case afterwards. Flythe liked being around the other DMV recruits and taking in the spring game, although he didn’t get to reconnect with the staff. Even so, the 6-0, 165-pounder has a close relationship with recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and thinks the defensive backs coach could help raise his game. Flythe has taken to head coach D.J. Durkin’s stay-home overtures as well. Furthermore, the D.C. corner knows he’s wanted and needed in College Park, which, more than anything else, has elevated the Terps in his eyes. Now, Flythe did have a standout stay at Syracuse recently, and he liked Rutgers during a trip to Jersey. He is also intent on evaluating his other options -- he’s in touch with Stanford, though we don’t anticipate him getting an offer -- and taking more visits before popping in late summer. But the vibe is Maryland has the inside track. You can read more about Flythe HERE.

-- Avalon (Gaithersburg, Md.) corner Jermaine Waller updated his status at the Nike Opening D.C., but he didn’t say much we didn’t already know. He has the same four offers from Syracuse, Rutgers, UMD and UVA. He’s in touch with coaches from each of those programs and isn’t placing one above the other. Moreover, Waller has no intention of committing to any of that quartet before taking official visits this fall. Then, he said he’ll pop towards the end of his senior season. That sounds like a plan, but we’re not sure Waller can afford to wait that long before pledging. If he does, there’s a decent chance his spot will get taken at some of those above suitors. Maryland, for its part, has Waller on its board, and recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim is in regular communication. But there may be some questions here regarding Waller’s transcripts. During his interview with Scout’s Brian Dohn, Waller tossed out the “red-flag comment” that, “Coach Aazaar is saying to make sure my grades stay straight.”

DeMatha Pipeline Continues With Fontaine, Gregory

The Terps pulled off a well-coordinated daily-double before their spring game April 22, with both four-star guard Evan Gregory and four-star defensive tackle Austin Fontaine opting for the hometown school. The two friends and teammates had UMD on the brain for quite some time, so after conversing with Terps’ area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, they decided to pledge together in College Park.

Of the two, Fontaine, ranked 74th in the Scout 300, was the more surprising popper. Fontaine always spoke highly of the Terps and had them among his three favorite schools, but, unlike Gregory, he’d given no indication he was anywhere close to committing. The four-star suggested he wanted to return to contenders Ohio State and Penn State, among others, before coming to any kind of decision. In fact, Fontaine previously suggested he could take official visits during the fall, and then choose his destination in the winter.

But apparently Fontaine let on otherwise to those close to him. The burly lineman had tired of the recruiting process and wasn’t interested in taking constant calls/texts from college coaches. Moreover, the No. 1 defensive tackle in Maryland wasn’t as starry-eyed as originally believed, acknowledging he’d rather go to a school he was comfortable at than one that had national cache but might not fit him personally.

And Fontaine most certainly did feel the love at hometown UMD. He had a strong rapport with Abdul-Rahim, defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh, headman D.J. Durkin and the others. He liked the convenience of playing close to home too, while it was important that his mother could easily attend his games. Fontaine said the DMV-to-UMD and DeMatha-to-Maryland pipelines didn’t effect him per se, but it didn’t hurt that he had ex-Stags-turned-Terps in his ear about UMD.

Fontaine said the school’s academics and after-graduation opportunities played into his decision as well.

Now, the local star did admit it was tough to turn down the Buckeyes and Nittany, but he seems content with his decision. Fontaine insists he’s shut down his recruitment and is ready for College Park.

As for Gregory, it was just a matter of when, not if, he was going to commit. In fact, he told his coach, Elijah Brooks, awhile back he wanted in at Maryland, but held off on formally pledging until after spring break.

Maryland was Gregory’s very first offer, and ever since the former Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) lineman has been talking up the Terps. First and foremost, Gregory harped on the school’s education and the value of a Maryland degree. He said the academics, more than anything else, is why UMD always had his eye. Gregory liked the idea of playing near his family and representing his local school at the level too. He wasn’t overly influenced by DMV-to-UMD, but said it was nice to be playing alongside former teammates and joining his friends at the next level.

Gregory also had a tight connection with the Terps’ coaches, in particular Abdul-Rahim; line coach Tyler Bowen; offensive coordinator Walt Bell; and Durkin. More than any other staff, the DeMatha four-star was closest with UMD’s.

In addition to the Terps, Gregory considered UVA, Rutgers and WVU, but none came near Maryland in the pecking order. It only helped the Terps’ coaches chances with Gregory that the bigwigs elected not to pursue (it probably would not have mattered anyway).

Now that the two four-stars are on board, expect them to begin recruiting their teammates like Judson Tallandier (discussed above), John Morgan (discussed above) and 2019 standout DeMarcco Hellams. Neither the understated and reserved Gregory or Fontaine are the type to impress their feelings on another individual, but the fact they’re both heading to College Park should aid the coaches’ pursuit of their other DeMatha targets. Plus, since the pair are touted prospects, their commitments should ring true nationally. (Several recruits I’ve spoken to since Gregory’s and Fontaine’s commitments have made specific note of the dual DeMatha pop).

More importantly, their pledges keep the DeMatha pipeline wide open, a trend that began a half-decade ago and has been gaining steam ever since.

So, what are the Terps getting in the pair?

The 6-3, 320-pound Fontaine is a potential first-year contributor at the next level. He’s a bull inside, showing a combination of power and athleticism. Fontaine plays low, has a fast initial step, and possesses a stunning punch. He can knock opposing linemen off the ball, bust through double teams, and readily push to the second level. He easily disengages and shows he can reach/wrap-up backs in tight areas. Furthermore, Fontaine can pursue laterally down the line and even catch a runner in space. He has plus backside pursuit, closes very well for a big tackle and is a stout tackler.

To improve, Fontaine mainly has to work on his change-of-direction speed as his feet can be a bit methodical. Sometimes he’ll get moving in one direction and have difficulties readjusting to misdirection plays and the like. Fontaine must keep working on his hand placement, his pass-rush moves and other fundamentals as well. Right now, he’s more of a run stuffer than he is a true pocket collapser.

As for the 6-4, 300-pound Gregory, who I personally liked as a defensive tackle, he’s quick off the ball; has above-average explosiveness; and has a potent initial punch. Gregory possesses the fast feet needed to readjust to rushers, the athleticism to block out in space, and the power to drive block. He anchors well, stays on his blocks and shows good mobility. To boot, Gregory has a mean streak and has been known to get after it in the trenches.

To improve, Gregory needs to work on his pass protection. He sets up properly and plays with balance, but his footwork and hand placement can be a bit off. He also has to be more patient and refrain from lunging.   

You can see what Fontaine had to say HERE.

You can head what Gregory had to say HERE.

You can read what their coach had to say about them HERE.

New Offers Out

Traevon Kenion, WR, Monroe (N.C.) (2019): The 6-4, 190-pound Kenion is going to be a top receiver recruit in North Carolina, and April 26 UMD-area recruiter Walt Bell handed the prospect his second offer during the coach’s trek through Monroe. Prior to UMD coming through, Kenion had an offer from East Carolina. He’ll have more by the time the spring is out.

Jaylon Scott, OLB, Shelby (N.C.) (2019): The Terps became the very first offer for the 6-2, 220-pound Scott, who projects as a defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid. UMD area recruiter Walt Bell identified him, and extended the offer. Scott should have his pick of ACC/Big Ten/maybe SEC schools in time, but Bell did well to identify him before he blows up on the trail. 

Kalel Mullings, OLB, Milton Academy (Milton, Mass.) (2020): The 2020 outside linebacker Mullings landed his third offer from Maryland April 24. The 6-2, 195-pounder previously had looks from Michigan and Boston College. Mullings projects as one of the best Northeast recruits in the 2020 class, and should have the entire Big Ten after him soon enough.

Cameron Roseman-Sinclair, S, Myers Park (Charlotte, N.C.) (2020): While Terps’ assistant Walt Bell  was on the road in Charlotte, he offered rising star Roseman-Sinclair, a 6-2, 180-pounder in the 2020 class. It was the very first offer for the safety. He’ll get plenty more in the years ahead, but the Terps did well to jump on the Charlotte native early.

Off The Board

Rocky Shelton, ILB, St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): Talk about lip service.

Four days after Shelton made the trip north to Maryland April 21, and afterwards extoling the program, he popped to Duke. True, the Blue Devils were always considered a leader due to the school’s academic reputation, but we figured Shelton would stay on the board a bit longer than he did. After all, he had numerous programs that had his attention, with UMD being the most recent.

Shelton said he believed headman D.J. Durkin and Co. had the program on the up-and-up in the Big Ten. He then lauded the campus, the under-construction facilities, and the school’s location near Washington, D.C. Shelton even suggested he might return to College Park down the line.

 

AJ Lytton, Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.): No surprise here. 

Sure, Lytton was at Maryland for the second time in a two-week span April 22, the four-star taking in UMD’s spring game. Following the affair, Lytton was complimentary of the hometown school, speaking to the DMV movement; his rapport with recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim; and the direction the program is moving. 

But it was all lip service. 

He was focused on FSU for the longest time, with only Clemson; Bama; and PSU giving him pause. But on April 27 he opted in to the school he wanted to be at all along: Florida State. 


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