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

-- Friendship Collegiate (Washington, D.C.) receiver Dontay Demus added yet another significant scholarship from Michigan State May 8, a little more than a week after picking up Va Tech and Louisville. And after checking in with the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder, it sounds like the offer-uptick has given him some pause. Remember, Demus had called Maryland his clear No. 1 suitor in mid-April, suggesting a pop was imminent. But he elected to hold off, and now some other schools have his eye too. Demus visited Va Tech in early April, raving about the Hokies’ offense; staff; and campus. Meanwhile, Louisville immediately grabbed Demus’ attention due to its receiver-development reputation and offensive system. And Michigan State is yet another Big Ten suitor for Demus to mull over. It should be noted, however, that both the Hokies’ and Cardinals’ staffs have other receiver priorities and may not press for Demus right away. The Terps’ coaches, though, do covet Demus’ services and have made it known they want to keep him in the DMV. Demus has a close bond with UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and a budding one with receivers’ coach Chris Beatty. He’s been in College Park, Md., a couple times this offseason, afterwards heaping praise on the hometown movement; the staff’s collective energy; and the vibe around the program. Given that, we remain encouraged by Maryland’s position with the local three-star, and we do think he’ll wind up in College Park. But since Demus let on he no longer has a leader and would be taking his time before choosing a school, we’re downshifting him to “warm” on the hot board. There’s some chance this situation could go sideways if/when Demus keeps adding offers and begins taking summer trips.

-- Hillgrove (Powder Springs, Ga.) tight end/receiver Chig Okonkwo has held a Maryland offer since March and should be visiting College Park, Md., with his mother for the first time this summer. The 6-3, 220-pounder has been in regular contact with UMD offensive coordinator Walt Bell, who recently trekked through Hillgrove, and tight ends coach Pete Lembo. “Coach Bell has been saying he really wants me and has been telling me how he likes me as a hybrid receiver and tight end. He said my skills would really fit what they’re trying to do there,” said Okonkwo, who has offers from UMD, Georgia Tech, Navy, Troy and Georgia Southern. “He said with the offense I run in high school now, I’d come in and fit perfectly at Maryland. He likes athletic, flexible tight ends and doesn’t want me for a traditional tight end role. So it sounds like a good option and like I could potentially be a fit there.” Okonkwo also spoke highly of UMD’s academics and what he’s been told about the campus/coming facility upgrades. But although Okonkwo’s excited about Maryland, he is keeping an open mind. Hometown Georgia Tech is in the thick of things after multiple trips to Atlanta, Ga., while Okonkwo could potentially land some other attractive options this spring/summer. (He has interest from coaches at Michigan State, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Memphis and Stanford.). He’s visiting Georgia, Mississippi State and Stanford in hopes of adding those looks. Look for Okonkwo to end his recruitment sometime during the fall, after taking a couple official visits. You can read more about Okonkwo HERE.

-- North Fort Myers (Fort Myers, Fla.) receiver Joseph Wilkins updated his status earlier this week, and said he’s pining to visit offerees Maryland, UCF, South Carolina and Iowa State this summer. Wilkins likes the Knights because they’re near home and he has a good rapport with the staff, the Cyclones because the coaches are pushing harder than any other program’s, and the Gamecocks because it’s an SEC school and he’s keen on defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson’s pitch. As for the Terps, Wilkins has been talking to recruiter Andy Buh since January. The three-star said his relationship with Buh, combined with UMD’s  academic reputation and Big Ten/Under Armour affiliations, have his attention. But we’re not shifting Wilkins above “cool” on the hot board just yet. First of all, the Fort Myers resident probably isn’t a main target for the Terps’ staff at this time (otherwise, receivers’ coach Chris Beatty would be on him). Secondly, Wilkins acknowledged he’s seeking offers from the Sunshine State mainstays like his dream school Florida and Miami, along with other name programs. Thirdly, the three-star wants to drag out his recruitment beyond his senior season, meaning his situation is bound to ebb and flow as new suitors emerge and others fall off. Now, there’s always a chance Wilkins does visit College Park this summer, becomes smitten with the school, and the Terps’ coaches decide to pursue in earnest. But, at this juncture, he’s projected elsewhere. You can read more about Wilkins HERE.

-- Ware County (Waycross, Ga.) offensive tackle Jalynn Strickland broke his silence this week and said three of his 21 offers were resonating: Maryland, Minnesota and Arkansas. Now, that’s subject to change if the likes of South Carolina, Auburn, Kentucky, LSU or Georgia come through, but the 6-6, 310-pounder does seem genuinely interested in his initial top-three. Strickland spoke highly of Arkansas’ SEC affiliation and offensive line development, the Minnesota staff’s ardent pursuit and improving football program, and Maryland’s academic/athletic balance and the fact UMD represented  his very first power-five offer. But it’s Terps’ line coach Tyler Bowen who has kept UMD at the forefront of Strickland’s mind. “I talk to Coach Bowen the most, and he was at my practice [May 8], and it was great to see him there. We talk all the time, and it’s a great relationship,” Strickland said. “I see that he takes the offensive line seriously and really cares about his players. He’s younger too, and I can relate to him. He’s been telling me a lot of good things about Maryland and has been trying to get me up there for a visit.” Which Strickland plans to follow through with. He said he’ll be hitting College Park, Minnesota and Arkansas if time allows, in addition to South Carolina if a Gamecocks’ offer seems imminent. Strickland would then like to embark on official visits during the fall before committing sometime later during the year. Our gut? Well, we’re considering moving Strickland to “warm” on the hot board, but we’ve seen this story before. It’s never easy to pull big linemen with power-five looks out of the South. You can read more about Strickland HERE.

-- Lugoff Elgin (Lugoff, S.C.) offensive tackle Wyatt Campbell picked up a Maryland offer in late April from recruiter Walt Bell, and he is considering visiting College Park this summer. The 6-7, 285-pound three-star said UMD’s Big Ten affiliation, Under Armour connections and academics are attractive to him. But this is going to be a difficult pull for Bell and line coach Tyler Bowen. Campbell has offerees NC State, UVA, Duke and Louisville on the brain, while he’s hoping for offers from hometown South Carolina and Clemson. Campbell liked the Wolfpack (near home, has a good major in his field) and Wahoos (academics) a good deal after visiting, and he’s excited about summer visits to Duke (academics) and Louisville. But if the Gamecocks, whose coaches have watched Campbell this spring and are interested, eventually offer, that’s probably where the Lugoff Elgin product is going. (The Clemson coaches have other priorities on their board). We added Campbell to the hot board as “cool;” he won’t be forecast to College Park unless he visits this summer and a couple southern contenders fall off.

-- Cardinal Hayes (Brooklyn, N.Y.) offensive tackle Qadir White has been rather quiet this offseason, so we checked in to gauge the four-star’s status. Turns out, White could be in a reevaluation phase as he determines which programs’ coaches truly covet his services. He has 20-plus offers from places like Auburn, Georgia and Penn State, but he might not be a “take” for those schools. Which means the 6-7, 335-pounder could fall to offerees like Maryland, Syracuse or Rutgers. Of course, from what we’re told, it’s not entirely clear if those latter three schools’ coaches are pressing for White, either (there are a variety of reasons for this). With Maryland, there are a couple other options on UMD’s board, but we’d estimate the tackle-needy Terps would at least be willing to entertain the Brooklyn native. We do know Maryland line coach Tyler Bowen has been communicating with White, who visited College Park back in the winter and gave rather complimentary comments afterwards. White indicated he could make it back to College Park this summer too. But we’re going to leave him “cool” on the hot board for now, because there might be some red flags here. Note: Boston College, which White recently visited, could eventually emerge as the best option for him.

-- Butler (Pa.) offensive guard Jake Kradel said he’d be choosing his college destination on June 10 or sometime later in the spring, with the players being Ohio State; Pitt; WVU; Va Tech; UCLA; Rutgers and Maryland. The sense has been Kradel would ultimately pick the Buckeyes, who he has visited twice the last couple months. But the OSU coaches have other line targets on their board and may not push for a pop. If not, Kradel will likely pick hometown Pitt, the longtime leader before Ohio State entered the picture. Kradel loves the Panthers’ staff and the idea of sticking around town for college. Beyond those two schools, it’s probably a toss-up between Maryland; Va Tech; and WVU for third in the pecking order. The three-star did visit College Park this spring, leaving impressed with line coach Tyler Bowen; the campus; and the facilities. But it’s never easy prying recruits out of the Pittsburgh area, so unless both OSU and Pitt fall off, Kradel probably won’t be a Terp.

Defensive Recruiting Notes

-- Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) defensive end Thomas Booker saw the Notre Dame staff come through Gilman in early May, a little more than a month after the four-star visited South Bend, Ind. And the overwhelming sense is that Booker is going to pop to the Irish, perhaps sooner rather than later. The academic-oriented recruit is all about UND’s renowned academics and its nationally-known football program. Furthermore, he has a tight connection with the Notre Dame coaches and believes he could thrive under their watch. Stanford, which Booker visited in April, would’ve been the frontrunner, but the Cardinal don’t have a firm offer out. Michigan, meanwhile, is likely sitting second or third for the 6-4, 260-pounder. The Terps, for their part, have worked their way onto Booker’s unstated top-five leaderboard thanks to the work put in by UMD defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh. (That’s why he’s still on the hot board). But it was always an uphill battle for the Terps, as Booker has been destined for a program like UND, Stanford or Michigan from the jump.

-- Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) BUCK Tyler Baylor may be coming around to Maryland due to his relationship with recruiter Chris Beatty, who recently stopped by his school; assistant Brawley Evans; and defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh. Baylor doesn’t say much in regards to recruiting, but it does sound like he’s at least pondering the idea of staying local for college. Kentucky, however, may have a bead at this stage. Baylor is in constant contact with the Wildcats’ coaches and has a former linemate, Josh Paschal, heading to Lexington, Kent., this summer. Three more programs near Kentucky have Baylor’s ear as well: Louisville, Tennessee and UGA. The Good Counsel three-star wants to hit each of that trio, in addition to Kentucky, this summer. Pittsburgh is another possible player, with Baylor set to visit the Panthers at some point. Other schools could enter the picture down the road too. Expect Baylor to take a deliberate approach, visiting multiple locales; taking several officials; and then choosing a school sometime later during the year. We’re not projecting him to Maryland, but we did shift Baylor to “warm” on the hot board because we think some contenders will fill their slots and the Terps could still be in need of another BUCK. Right now, a couple of the UMD staff’s foremost BUCK options seem to be trending elsewhere.

-- North Cobb (Kennesaw, Ga.) BUCK Thurman Geathers added an Arkansas offer earlier this week, and the Razorbacks instantly entered the mix for three-star. In the last Shell, we wrote Geathers was seeking an Arkansas verbal since it would represent his first of the SEC variety. The North Cobb product is also hoping for looks from UNC, South Carolina and Tennessee. But sans Heels’, Gamecocks’ and Vols’ offers, Geathers is focused on TCU; NC State; Indiana; Maryland; Pitt (new offer); and now Arkansas. He said he wants to visit each of those locales this summer, but we’re somewhat skeptical he makes it north to UMD, despite his stated interest. Geathers seems to be one of those starry-eyed recruits who jumps at the next biggest thing.   

-- Christchurch (Christiansburg, Va.) inside linebacker Jamar Darboe moved up Maryland’s board after Juan Wallace (discussed below) committed to Syracuse, and the 6-1, 230-pounder said UMD remains a top option for him. He’s aware the Terps have other backers on their board, but he’s intrigued nonetheless. In fact, Darboe said he’s willing to camp at UMD this summer just to convince the coaches he’s worthy of a roster spot (even though he has an offer already). “Maryland is definitely in the mix and I like them a lot,” Darboe said. “They’re a program on the rise. The 2017 class made history for them, and now the 2018 class is looking really good. Hopefully I can be part of that. Coach Barnes really didn’t talk about exactly where their board stood. I just talked to him [May 4], and he said I’m a priority recruit. He let me know they’re taking around four linebackers and they have one committed and I’m right there for them. But I understand the process and everything that’s going on. I’m fine with it.” So, if Darboe is a “take” down the line, he’ll likely opt in. If not, he could go for ECU, which he’s been to a couple time; new offeree Temple; or possible others. But, for now, he’s waiting to see how the UMD situation shakes out. Darboe should have a college destination before the fall, no matter if the Terps’ staff pushes or not. You can read more about Darboe HERE.

-- South Pointe (Rock Hill, S.C.) linebacker Eli Adams landed a potentially game-changing offer from Virginia Tech May 8. Immediately following the verbal, which he received after a Tech coach stopped through South Pointe, Adams called yours truly to let on how excited he was. He didn’t want to label the Hokies a leader without visiting Blacksburg, Va., but it’s obvious he has them on the brain. Another school squarely on Adams’ radar is NC State, which he’s seen once and wants to return to. As for the Terps, Adams’ recruiter, Walt Bell, has stayed in communication, although it’s unclear how ardently the coach is actually pushing. Maryland’s staff may be favoring other linebacker targets at this time. Now, Adams said he still wants to check out College Park this summer, but we’ll see if that trip comes to fruition. We get the feeling the three-star might pop to either the Wolfpack or Hokies before trekking through UMD.

-- Buford (Ga.) safety Bryson Richardson may be honing in on three or four schools. Back in April, he chose to visit three locales: NC State, Minnesota and Stanford (no offer). The three-star Georgian extoled each of the trips, although he had the most to say about the Wolfpack. Richardson, who has been in Raleigh, N.C., a few times, loves the defensive coaches; the campus; the facilities; and, naturally, the coaches. He said his mother has thoroughly enjoyed her stays in Raleigh as well. The Minneapolis, Minn., foray also stood out, although Richardson doesn’t figure to attend college that far north. Besides the Wolfpack and Gophers (Stanford is unlikely to become involved), Richardson is taking a look at North Carolina, whose staff offered in late April. Richardson is eager to check out Chapel Hill, N.C., later this spring. Another school the Buford product could journey to is Maryland. Richardson keeps mentioning his relationship with UMD defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and recruiter Walt Bell, and how he has family in the D.C. area. That’s all well and good, but we’re not sure the Terps are going to top the Pack or the Heels when it comes down to it. Not to mention there are other similarly-talented safety options on UMD’s board. Look for Richardson to choose his college destination sometime in June or July.

-- Naples (Fla.) safety Sammy Faustin said he’s been in touch with a number of college coaches and is planning out his summer visit schedule. Currently, the 6-2, 175-pound three-star and his parents have discussed trips to Maryland, BC, UVA, Nebraska and NC State, with others possibly cropping up in the coming weeks. Faustin has held a UMD offer since February when defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim anted up. The Florida safety said he and Abdul-Rahim have been talking semi-regularly since then and has been through Naples to see a workout. Faustin probably isn’t the No. 1 target for Abdul-Rahim and Co., but apparently the recruit is interested enough in the coach’s pitch to at least trek through College Park. Of course, Faustin has already seen his stated leader: Michigan. The three-star pulled a Wolverines’ offer in February, visited Ann Arbor, Mich., in March and said the Blue & Maize stood above his 15-plus other contenders. Why hasn’t he committed? Faustin isn’t an immediate “take” for the Wolverines’ staff, which is why he’s intent on exploring multiple locales this summer. Ultimately, Faustin will likely end up at whichever program’s coaches want him the most. (Right now staffers from Iowa State, BC and UVA could be pushing the hardest.). We won’t know if that’s Maryland until further down the line.

-- Dudley (Greensboro, N.C.) corner D.J. Crossen picked up another SEC offer from Auburn and promptly placed the Tigers in the mix for his services. Crossen said veteran AU defensive backs coach Greg Brown’s resume stood out, in addition to Auburn’s national reputation. Expect him to check out the Alabama school this summer. Besides AU, Crossen’s recruitment remains status quo from last week: He’s looking hard at Va Tech, UNC, Tennessee, Louisville, South Carolina, WVU and Maryland. The Hokies seem to have a bead after Crossen’s April trek through Blacksburg, Va., but the Dudley defensive back is keeping an open mind. Crossen, who saw Maryland’s spring game April 22, formed a connection with Terps’ defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim; took to headman D.J. Durkin’s message; liked the school’s academics; and enjoyed the area in and around College Park. The three-star probably doesn’t have UMD among his foremost two contenders, but the Terps are in the game. We’ll know just how much of a shot the staff has if Crossen returns to College Park for an official during the fall.

New Offers Out

Taquan Roberson, QB, DePaul Catholic (Wayne, N.J.) (2019): Maryland quarterbacks coach Walt Bell identified one potential 2019 quarterback target earlier this spring in Zamar Wise (Barringer/Newark, N.J.), and on May 11 he found a second in Roberson. The 6-1, 182-pound dual-threat has been opening eyes this offseason, garnering offers from Va Tech; UNC; Rutgers; and now UMD.

Roberson has been to hometown RU a couple times and has taken a liking to the Scarlet Knights’ coaches early. But he has new suitors to gauge and will be venturing out this offseason to see the likes of Maryland, Tech, UNC and more. Programs such as Penn State, Michigan, Pitt, Notre Dame, Stanford, OSU, Duke, Wake, NC State, UVA and others have shown interest, with the Nittany Lions holding prime appeal for Roberson after trekking through Happy Valley. (His dream school is Clemson).

With the Terps, Roberson said the Terps’ conference, coaches and direction intrigues him. He also likes Bell as a person and as a coach, and is looking forward to building a relationship with him. He'll attempt to visit College Park for the first time this summer, and, if not, during the season. 

As a sophomore, Roberson completed 87 of 172 passes for 1,174 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also ran for 365 yards and two touchdowns.

You can read more about Roberson HERE.

Tony Amerson, RB, St. James (Montgomery, Ala.) (2019): During UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim’s trek through Alabama May 8, he offered this 2019 running back. The 5-10, 210-pound Amerson projects as a highly-sought after recruit, with multiple SEC programs (see: Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss, etc.) keeping close tabs. Amerson currently has looks from Illinois, Memphis, Vandy, Kentucky and now Maryland.

Rakim Jarrett, WR, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) (2020): Jarrett is a 6-0, 185-pounder, who has just started to emerge at St. John’s. He’d held an offer from Syracuse since the winter, and Maryland became his second look May 8. Jarrett thoroughly impressed at a recent prospect camp, leading UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim to give the 2020 recruit an early hometown verbal.

Porter Rooks, WR, Providence Day (Charlotte, N.C.) (2020): Rooks is already considered one of the top prospects in North Carolina, and he’s only a freshman. The 6-2, 180-pounder claims offers from Alabama, Auburn, Louisville, NC State, Miami, UNC, South Carolina, Va Tech, UVA and now Maryland. The Terps’ offer came in May 10.

Warren McClendon, OT, Brunswick (Ga.) (2019): The 2019 tackle McClendon earned his Maryland offer May 8, but the nationally-known programs jumped on him even before the Terps’ staff did. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, UGA; FSU: LSU;  South Carolina; Tennessee; Florida; Oklahoma; Auburn and more have their eyes on McClendon.

As for the recruit’s personal feelings, he’s already warming up to the nearby SEC/ACC suitors. Alabama could be his destination if the Tide staff pushes. If not, McClendon will likely look to UGA, Clemson or others of that ilk.

Spencer Brown, OT, Walled Lake Western (Commerce Township, Mich.) (2019): Brown is a 6-6, 295-pound sophomore who has steadily been adding offers as the spring evaluation period has moved along. The MAC schools came through first, the Midwest Big Ten/Big 12 schools such as Indiana; Michigan State; Minnesota; and Iowa State came in next; the ACC/SEC took note after that (Pitt, Syracuse, Kentucky, Louisville; and then Maryland entered the picture May 11. Brown heard from UMD-area recruiter Andy Buh and line coach Tyler Bowen, who will attempt to develop a rapport with the big-time tackle.

More than likely, though, Brown is going to stick in the Midwest – and probably in-state. The Spartans are an early leader, and if Michigan gets involved, that could pique Brown’s interest as well.

Derrick Eason, DE, Norview (Norfolk, Va.): The Terps’ staff is casting a wide net in its search for pass rushers, and May 10 UMD-area recruiter Chris Beatty tossed an offer Eason’s way. The 6-5, 240-pounder is a steady riser in Virginia, and now claims verbals from the likes of Maryland, Va Tech, NC State, Syracuse, Rutgers, and a few lower Division I programs.

Of his current looks, Eason said the Terps, Hokies and Wolfpack have jumped out a bit. He likes the Hokies for their defensive reputation and engineering school, and the Pack for their defensive line coach and the fact Eason has family in the area.

As for Maryland, Eason said: “I like the Terps a lot, actually. I made an unofficial visit there in March, and they had a lot of things that really can help you succeed in life -- not just with football, but as far as their curriculum and education. Also, I like the football program and where it’s going too.”

Eason’s just started to develop a relationship with Beatty and position coach Jimmy Brumbaugh. They’ll have to leave an impression quickly, and then work to get Eason back on campus to keep the Terps in play for the three-star.

Fact is, Eason’s been adding offers by the day and acknowledged he’s seeking SEC and major ACC looks. On top of that, we got the sense the hometown Hokies and Wolfpack may have a slight edge over Maryland at this time. (It should be noted there’s plenty of time for his situation to change and for new standouts to emerge. Eason doesn’t want to commit until after his senior season).

We’ll gauge how his recruitment develops this summer, but for now we’re listing Eason “cool” on the hot board.

You can read more about Eason HERE.

Dionte Gipson, BUCK, Stephenson (Stone Mountain, Ga.): The Georgia defensive end Gipson landed his first power-five offer and second of the FBS variety from Maryland May 11. Afterwards, the 6-4, 225-pounder was thrilled, saying he was appreciative of the interest and eager to learn more about the Terps’ program. Gipson, who knew little of UMD at first blush, wants to visit College Park at some point this summer.

But Gipson likely sits behind several other targets on the Maryland staff’s board. The Terps will undoubtedly maintain contact with Gipson and host him for a visit/camp, but we don’t see a push right away.

Gipson does have interest from some other FBS schools, and Middle Tennessee has offered. If the power-five programs don’t come calling in earnest, he’ll likely end up at a place like MTSU.

Grant Misch, BUCK, Potomac Falls (Sterling, Va.): Misch is a recruit who has been on Maryland’s radar since February, when he first visited College Park for a major prospect day. It took three months, but the staff finally approved an offer for the local BUCK May 10 when area recruiter Walt Bell stopped by Potomac Falls.

“I thought the Maryland offer was great. I’d been talking to them for months now and I was getting skeptical anything was going to happen. But it was a relief and really exciting to finally hear I had the offer,” said Misch, who claimed prior verbals from Purdue, Temple, ODU and Army. “I like Coach Bell and it was cool to see him at our workouts. I think he’s a good coach and a nice guy. But Coach [Matt] Barnes is who I talk to the most from Maryland. He’s amazing,. I love his personality, how he coaches and how he handles his linebackers. It’s like something I haven’t seen before from a coach. When I was last up there for a practice in April I sat in on team meetings and Coach Barnes was just so full of energy and really passionate. It was great, and I loved it.

“I actually got a chance to talk to him a little bit after I got the offer [May 10], too, and he was just as excited as I was. He’d been wanting to offer me for awhile, but he had to wait to the staff OK’d it.”

It’s Barnes who has Misch’s mind on Maryland, but the Terps’ linebackers coach isn’t the only reason the recruit’s high on the program. Misch has readily taken to headman D.J. Durkin and his hometown-movement message. The recruit also loves the school’s academics, coming facility upgrades, campus and location.

Plus, he’s enamored with the BUCK role he’s been forecast for. “I love that hybrid role. I love being versatile,” Misch said.

Now, Misch is in no rush to commit. He’s also considering Purdue, whose coaches have offered and Misch has visited, and will wait to see what other offers materialize this spring; summer; and fall. He’s currently hearing from coaches at PSU, MSU, WVU, UVA, Va Tech, Pitt, NC State, and Duke. Misch would like to trek through some of those latter locales coming up too.

The Potomac Falls product wants to take official visits before committing, but we’ll see if he can afford to wait that long. When spots begin to fill, Misch’s hand may be forced. He may or may not be a main priority for several programs, including Maryland’s (that’s why he’s listed “warm” and not “hot” on the hot board), so we’ll see what transpires later this offseason.

You can read more about Misch HERE.

Mekhail Sherman, DE/OLB, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) (2020): Sherman is only a freshman, but he’s already 6-3, 215 pounds. He’s showed out at a couple showcases this spring too, turning heads in the process. Provided he continues developing, Sherman could be one of the most sought-after edge rushers in the DMV in the next couple years.

The Terps, of course, have a bead on the local high schools, and recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim became the first to offer Sherman May 8. Expect the talented, athletic recruit to earn many more in the years ahead.

Dequan Jackson, OLB, Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville, Fla.): The outside backer Jackson pulled his initial power-five look from Maryland May 10 after recruiter Anthony Tucker and position coach Matt Barnes came through. Naturally, the 6-2, 200-pounder, who could transition to the BUCK spot, was ecstatic. He promptly placed the Terps in the running for his services, ahead of programs such as Memphis; Georgia Southern; USF; WKU and others. Jackson doesn’t know much about Maryland yet, but he’s been in communication with Barnes since early spring and is trying to visit College Park.

That’s fine, but how many times have we heard that refrain from Florida recruits? Jackson may be all turtles for now, but if a few prominent southern suitors comes through, he’ll likely head to one of them. (He wants Florida and Georgia offers, but is unlikely to receive them).

Furthermore, chances are somewhat slim the three-star actually does visit College Park this summer. He and his team are embarking on an extensive college tour, and the furthest north they’ll head is North Carolina. With that taking up much of Jackson’s time, it’s unlikely he’ll make it to Maryland before team camp begins.

Also, although Barnes has been pressing for Jackson, the Jacksonville native likely is behind several other backers on the Maryland staff’s board. Headman D.J. Durkin has several DMV linebacker options and other longtime targets he probably deems a priority.

We’ll see how the situation develops down the road. At the moment, Jackson wants to take a deliberate approach. He’ll evaluate any new options the rest of this spring and summer, take some offseason visits, see if a late offer arises once he sends out senior film, and then commit later in the fall.

He’ll initially be listed “cool” on the hot board.

You can read more about Jackson HERE.

Kevontae Ruggs, OLB, Robert E. Lee (Montgomery, Ala.): Ruggs, along with two of his teammates, snagged a Maryland verbal May 8. It was the suddenly-on-the-rise three star’s eighth offer to date and fourth of the power-five variety.

Alabama has had an offer out for awhile now, mainly because Ruggs’ older brother, Henry, signed with the Tide. It’s unclear how ardently the Bama staff is pursuing the younger sibling, however.

Ruggs also has recent looks from Ole Miss and West Virginia, with more SEC; Big 12; and ACC programs monitoring the 6-1, 190-pounder.

We’ll see what kind of inroads recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and Co. can gain with Ruggs, but our sense is he’s going to wind up somewhere closer to home.

Marcus Tillman, OLB, Jones (Orlando, Fla.) (2019): Tillman received a Maryland offer May 9, but he’s not likely to be on the board for long -- even though he’s a 2019 recruit. Tillman already holds an offer from his dream school, Florida, and it’s probably only a matter of time before he commits. Other programs with early verbals out include Ole Miss, Kentucky, Syracuse, Cincinnati and a few more.

Corey Simon, ILB, St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) (2020): Simon earned his first FBS offer from UMD linebackers coach Matt Barnes May 11. It was his first offer to date. Simon has the Terps under primary consideration, although it’s early in the process.

 Ke’Shun Brown, S, Carver Senior (Montgomery, Ala.) (2019): Maryland defensive backs coach and Alabama-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim offered the emerging safety Brown May 8. The 6-1, 190-pounder has been a fast riser this spring, landing a bevy of SEC offers in the span of a couple days. Alabama, Florida, Ole Miss and Mississippi State all came in in early May, and more are sure to enter the picture.

Nick Cross, S, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) (2019): The 6-1 safety Cross has looked the part in camps this spring, and May 8 he pulled his first two FBS verbals from Purdue and Maryland. The Terps’ verbal came in courtesy of recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, who had Cross on his radar.

Following the look, Cross gave the obligatory comments in regards to the hometown movement; the DeMatha-to-Maryland pipeline; and his relationship with Abdul-Rahim. But, at this stage, he’s focused more on improving his own game and will be content to delve into recruiting next offseason. Given the Terps’ success at DeMatha, though, we expect Cross to keep UMD under prime consideration throughout the process.

Dean Ferguson, S, Potomac Falls (Sterling, Va.) (2019):  The safety Ferguson has a growing offer list that included Army, ODU, ECU and UVA before the Terps came in May 10. Ferguson has visited College Park before and has high interest in the school. He likes the coaching staff a good deal and figures to be one of the Terps’ main targets in the 2019 class.

Ferguson, who stands 6-2, 208 pounds, could develop into an outside linebacker. Either way, he’ll be a coveted recruit out of Virginia by next offseason.

Marvin Grant, S, Martin Luther King (Detroit, Mich.) (2019): The four-star safety Grant is already a noted recruit in Michigan, claiming offers from a host of Midwest programs. In fact, the in-state Wolverines are already on the 6-2, 200 pounder, and if the staff keeps pushing, that’s where Grant figures to wind up.

Some of Grant’s other offers include Notre Dame, Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana, Minnesota, Syracuse and, on May 10, Maryland. Area recruiter Andy Buh and defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim aren’t going to have an easy time convincing Grant to visit College Park.

Jakorey Hawkins, CB, Robert E. Lee (Montgomery, Ala.): Maryland defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim likes to toss out offers when he’s on the trail, and although most of the new looks given this week were to underclassmen, he did ante up for the emerging corner Hawkins. The 5-11.5, 187-pounder was hovering below the radar until the spring evaluation period hit. He’s since added offers from the likes of Auburn, Ole Miss, Penn State, Georgia Tech, West Virginia, Mizzou and, on May 8, Maryland.

Hawkins hasn’t commented on his Terps’ look specifically, but his previous Scout interviews suggest he’s looking long and hard at those SEC suitors – in particular Auburn. Which makes perfect sense since he’s from Alabama.

We’re not listing Hawkins on the hot board unless he actually visits College Park.

Javier Morton, CB, Stephenson (Stone Mountain, Ga.) (2020): Morton had a standout freshman season as a corner and receiver, and started attracting college recruiters shortly thereafter. The 6-2, 180-pounder landed his first FBS offer May 10 when the Terps pulled through.

Off The Board

Shaquon Anderson-Butts, WR, Harrisburg (Pa.): Mine as well just write this one off now. Anderson-Butts is set to announce his college decision June 25, and the main players are Penn State, Florida, West Virginia, Baylor and Louisville. The Nittany Lions have been the overwhelming favorite for some time, but the Gators could make things interesting.

Either way, the four-star isn’t coming to Maryland. Anderson-Butts did visit College Park and hinted he might be back later this spring, but we’re skeptical such a trip will occur. Why? He already gave a top five leaderboard of PSU, UF, WVU, Baylor and Louisville.

Bryce Effner, OT, Metea Valley (Aurora, Ill.): We weren’t positive the Penn State coaches were going to “take” Effner’s commitment right away, but evidently they like the three-star’s upside and opted to accept him May 6. The 6-6, 275-pounder called PSU his leader after visiting State College, Pa., in March. Effner easily bonded with line coach Matt Limegrover and head coach James Franklin, loved the vibe in Happy Valley, and talked up the school’s tradition/academics.

The Terps, with line coach Tyler Bowen running point, offered Effner April 4. The three-star said he would consider heading to College Park for a summer visit, but that’s not going to happen now. Effner’s shut down his recruitment, insisting he’s 100-percent in with Penn State.

The Metea Valley product chose the Nittany Lions over Duke, Minnesota, Syracuse, Kansas, Kansas State, UMD and a host of Ivy programs.

Juan Wallace, ILB, Woodson (Washington, D.C.): We had a feeling the three-star Wallace would be committing soon, but our conversations with the D.C. backer led us to believe he’d be heading to Maryland or maybe Duke. But, instead, Wallace opted for Syracuse May 4, telling Scout’s Brian Dohn, "Great school, great education, great football, the ACC and I liked the connection between me and the coaching staff. They made me a priority and one of their top guys. I felt the love and I felt like I needed to be there. They are a team on the rise in the ACC, and they're playing against Florida State and Clemson and all the top opponents. But I have so much faith in Syracuse I feel like I needed to jump in.”

Wallace had previously hyped the hometown Terps, letting on how much he admired head coach D.J. Durkin, linebackers coach Matt Barnes and recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim. He praised the hometown movement, the chance to represent his local school at the next level, and the atmosphere in College Park. Wallace felt he could easily slide into an inside linebacker role at linebacker-needy UMD as well. 

His words weren’t lip service, either, as Wallace did have genuine affinity for the Terps. But apparently he liked Cuse just a bit more.

Don’t expect Abdul-Rahim to give up the ghost here, though. He’ll continue to recruit Wallace moving forward, perhaps attempting to coax out a flip (unless the Terps’ staff lands other backers to fill the void).

Michael Dowell, S, St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio): Dowell did visit Maryland for the spring game, which is why we tentatively included him on the hot board. But, really, there was never much chance of him winding up in College Park. Dowell is a Michigan State legacy and has been forecast to East Lansing, Mich., since last year. About the only reason he’d back away from MSU is if the Notre Dame coaches choose to offer. So far, though, the UND staff hasn’t extended a scholarship, meaning Dowell is probably bound for MSU May 29, which is the three-star’s stated commitment date.

DeJuan Ellis, CB/Slot, McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.): Ellis may have set a record for least time on the hot board. A day after decommitting from Virginia Tech, saying he wanted to be recruited as an athlete rather than as a quarterback, the McDonogh speedster re-upped with the Hokies.

Which begs the question, why decommit in the first place? Couldn’t he have just asked the Tech coaches to let him play receiver to begin with?

Either way, he’s off the board and not an option for the Terps.

Keidron Smith, CB, Oxbridge Academy (West Palm Beach, Fla.): Smith was another tentative hot board addition after he landed a Maryland offer in April. But earlier this week he let on Duke had his eye due to the renowned degree and his relationship with the staff.

Smith is also hoping for a Stanford offer, and the Cardinal coaches have been in contact.


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