Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football-recruiting roundup.
Campbell On Board With Terps
The Terps pulled their seventh 2018 commitment from Calvert Hall’s (Towson, Md.) Chance Campbell May 26. The versatile 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker had been trending towards the Terps for a couple months, so it was only a matter of time before he committed to the hometown school. He opted to do so shortly after his Calvert Hall lacrosse team won the MIAA A-Conference title, letting head coach D.J. Durkin and linebackers coach Matt Barnes know he wanted in the very same day. The DMV backer had placed football recruiting on the backburner this spring so he could concentrate on lacrosse, but apparently he didn’t want to deal with college assistants even with lax season over. Campbell reneged on intended visits to Michigan State and Indiana, along with a return to UVA, which finished second for his services. Instead, he opted for the school that offered him first, way back in February.
The Calvert Hall three-star said his longstanding rapport with the UMD staff -- namely recruiter Brawley Evans and linebackers coach Matt Barnes -- the energy surrounding the program, and the direction Durkin is taking his team all resonated. Campbell loved the idea of showing out for the local university, playing near his family and helping build the hometown school into a winner. The backer spoke highly of UMD’s business school, alumni connections and location near Washington, D.C., too. Moreover, Campbell felt he could thrive in Maryland’s 3-3-5 defense and possibly contribute early during his career given the Terps’ need for linebackers.
Campbell did consider Virginia, which at one time had drawn even with Maryland for his services. But, ultimately, Campbell believed in Durkin and the Terps’ staff, leading him to choose UMD over the prestigious degree UVA offered.
So, what are the Terps getting in Campbell?
At first blush, Campbell projects as an inside linebacker, who can ably fill the box and pick up tight ends who cross his face. But he’s quick and athletic enough to possibly play outside linebacker if need be.
Campbell has solid vertical agility, decent speed and takes tight closing angles. He’s very good at pursuing backside and catching runners in the open field. Campbell, with his long arms, can also pick through the trash; locate backs in the hole; and bring them down in traffic. He’s an able form tackler and allows little leaky yardage after contact.
Furthermore, Campbell possesses nimble feet and loose hips, allowing him to defend the flats and drop back into coverage. To boot, his instincts are above average, with Campbell usually positioned well to make a play.
Now, Campbell does have to keep working on his drops and pass defense, while his footwork and transitions could use some honing as well. Campbell could stand to add a step or two to become a true sideline-to-sideline defender too. Plus, if Campbell is asked to blitz, he’ll have to work on his pass-rush moves.
You can hear what Campbell had to say HERE.
You can hear what his coach had to say HERE.
With Campbell on board, Maryland’s staff should be able to take two more linebackers. Some of the Terps’ “fringe” targets/offerees can probably come off the board, however, including Jamar Darboe (Christianburg, Va.); Fa’najae Gotay (North Fort Myers/Fort Myers, Fla.) and DeQuan Jackson (Robert E. Lee/Jacksonville, Fla.). (We’ve only removed Darboe for now, however, as it’s possible the staff could still pursue the others down the line).
The UMD coaches are going to continue pursuing Virginia three-star Keshon Artis (Oscar Smith/Chesapeake, Va.) since he’s a standout three-star whom the Terps are positioned well for. Artis may ultimately wind up at Tennessee or Va Tech (if he’s a “take” for the Hokies’ staff), but Maryland, which Artis should be returning to this summer, is in the thick of things.
Another target we’re keeping on the board is inside backer Nick DeNucci (Pope John XXIII/Sparta, N.J.). DeNucci has visited Maryland, likes linebackers coach Matt Barnes a good deal, and has the Terps among his top five contenders. But the sense is hometown Rutgers may have the inside track, with Boston College; Pitt; and Syracuse firmly involved.
The UMD coaches will also continue to maintain contact with Syracuse inside linebacker pledge Juan Wallace (Woodson/Washington, D.C.). There may or may not be room for Wallace in College Park, Md., down the line, but since he’s a DMV recruit, area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim will stay on him. Wallace, who recently added a Georgia offer, still holds the hometown school in high regard and has been receptive to Abdul-Rahim’s pitch in the wake of his Cuse pop.
Next up, there’s the South Carolina linebacker Eli Adams (South Pointe/Rock Hill, S.C.), who is looking hard at NC Stat and Maryland. Adams would’ve been committed to South Carolina by now, but he’s not a “take” for the Gamecocks’ coaches. The Wolfpack have been pressing and are Adams’ forecast destination, but the three-star said he’d be giving College Park a look this summer.
Finally, keep an eye on Jaquez Jackson (Peach County/Fort Valley, Ga.). Jackson received his very first power-five look from Terps’ area recruiter Tyler Bowen and should be visiting College Park this June. Wake, WVU and Iowa are three others on Jackson’s radar.
Various Recruiting Notes
NOTE: Maryland will be hosting a series of 7-on-7 events the next couple weekends before one-days begin and their major prospect day at the end of the month. The first, on June 2, will feature around 25 area high schools, and the second, June 10, will have about 40.
The 7-on-7s not only allow the Terps’ coaches to interact with the local schools, but it gives the staff a chance to briefly reconnect with their top DMV recruits and identify new targets. Typically, there are a few offers (usually of the underclassmen variety) that trickle out after the coaches roam around and gauge the talent.
Additionally, some of the more notable recruits will be whisked off for campus tours and individual meetings during the course of the day. Locals such as Dontay Demus (Friendship Collegiate/Washington, D.C.), Ray Boone (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.), Jaelyn Duncan (St. Frances/Baltimore, Md.), Daniel George (Oxon Hill, Md.), Tyree Henry (St. Frances), Spencer Anderson (McNamara/Forestville, Md.) (visited June 1), Aidan Rafferty (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.), Grant Misch (Potomac Falls, Va.), Judson Tallandier (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.), John Morgan (DeMatha), Jermaine Waller (Avalon/Gaithersburg, Md.), Robert Mayo (Freedom/South Riding, Va.), Ed Hendrix (Woodson/Washington, D.C.), Vincent Flythe (Woodson), Mychale Salahuddin (Woodson), Noah Boykin (Woodson) and Juan Wallace (Woodson) might all be on campus some time in the next two weeks. Additionally, nearby recruits such as Darryl Jones (Princess Anne/Virginia Beach, Va.), Justin Johnson (Imhotep/Philadelphia, Pa.), David Robinson (Hempfield/Landisville, Pa.) and Armani Chatman (Bayside/Virginia Beach, Va.) could be in town as well.
Of those, the likes of Jones, Demus, Mayo and Johnson could finally be ready to commit.
-- Hillgrove (Powder Springs, Ga.) receiver/tight end Chig Okonkwo landed a potentially game-changing offer from Wisconsin May 30. Afterwards, Okonkwo talked up his latest verbal and said he’d attempt to make it to Madison, Wisc., this summer. (And, yes, he is thought to be a “take” for the Badgers’ staff). This type of offer was to be expected after a standout spring for the 6-3, 220-pounder. Okonkwo has purposely declined to list firm standouts and leaders in anticipation of more major suitors entering the fray. Turns out he was right to bet on himself; Wisconsin won’t be the last power-five program to toss an offer Okonkwo’s way. Mississippi State, Michigan State, Kentucky, Memphis and Stanford have all had coaches showing interest. We’ll see if the Terps can maintain momentum as the summer/fall moves along. He’s supposed to visit College Park for the first time later in June, so UMD-area recruiter Walt Bell and Co. should have a shot to win Okonkwo over.
-- North Point (Waldorf, Md.) offensive tackle Rasheed Walker returned to Penn State May 27, this time bringing along his mother. The four-star didn’t commit to the Nittany Lions, but he’s keeping PSU at or near the very top of his leaderboard. Walker and Co. loved reconnecting with the coaches, taking in the campus and learning more about the program’s inner-workings. Walker is seen as a “take” for the Penn State staff too, and should remain so unless the Nittany Lions add another lineman or two before the North Point product is ready to choose a school later this summer. Before ending his recruitment, though, Walker will be at UNC, Va Tech and maybe Ohio State coming up in June. All three are viewed as potential landing spots, although Walker isn’t at the forefront of the OSU coaches’ board. The DMV tackle should be back at PSU for the July 15 Lasche Basch as well, and it’s possible he could commit then if there’s room at the Nittany Lions’ inn. Walker should also be heading back to College Park at some point, though the sense is Maryland-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and line coach Tyler Bowen have some ground to make up here. The Terps could be trailing PSU, UNC and Va Tech in the pecking order.
-- Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) offensive tackle Aidan Rafferty had a long meeting with his coach and parents June 1. The group collectively discussed the three-star tackle’s summer visit plans, dates for said trips, and a potential timeline for selecting a school. Rafferty should be providing more specific information later, but he let on he’d likely be returning to Maryland, Va Tech and UVA, in addition to potential trips to Pitt; BC; and NC State. The former two, UMD and Tech, are thought to be the frontrunners for the DMV tackle. Both the Terps’ and Hokies’ coaches have been angling for position, and both universities have certain advantages that makes each attractive to Rafferty. His upcoming summer forays could change his opinion some, but figure this is going to come down to Maryland or Tech later in July/August.
-- Ware County (Waycross, Ga.) offensive tackle Jalynn Strickland will be visiting one of his primary contenders, Arkansas, June 3. Our colleagues who cover the Razorbacks spoke to Strickland, and their sense is, if the visit goes well (it will), Arkansas will be positioned well to bring the big tackle in on July 4, which is the three-star's stated decision date. Strickland may also check out Minnesota and Maryland later in June, but he made it a priority to see Arkansas. The school's SEC affiliation has him infatuated. We'll see if the Terps' staff can coax out a College Park visit and potentially turn the tide.
-- McNamara (Forestville, Md.) offensive tackle Spencer Anderson returned to Maryland for the first time since last fall June 1. Since he was only recently offered, the 6-5 tackle and his parents wanted to get up to campus to meet the staff and learn more about the program. Anderson has the hometown school among his foremost contenders, and the trip only solidified his standing with the program. He likes the idea of the hometown movement, the coaches' overall personalities, and the academic/business opportunities UMD presents. Anderson is in close contact with recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and line coach Tyler Bowen as well. But Anderson is keeping his options open, and June 2 he'll be at Pitt. He plans to see a few other suitors such as BC, Wake, Rutgers, and maybe Kentucky this summer. The Demon Deacons, which Anderson has taken in before, seem to have a bead, but Anderson could go in a number of different directions here. Maryland will be in the thick of things, but it's too soon to tell exactly what the McNamara three-star will do since he's so wide open in his recruitment.
-- Numerous high schools, including the private institutions in Maryland, have let out for the summer, meaning recruits will begin venturing out starting June 3. The Terps could be playing host to a few nearby locals who choose to stop by and chat up the coaches. But one out-of-state prospect who will be in town is Florida linebacker Ryan Smenda (Fleming Island/Orange Park, Fla.). The 6-1, 205-pound 2018 recruit is from Southern Maryland and has plenty of DMV ties. He doesn’t hold a Maryland offer yet, but indicated he could receive one following his College Park jaunt. If so, Smenda said he’d promptly place the Terps under primary consideration, citing the school’s Big Ten affiliation and the chance to return to his home state. Thus far, however, UConn is the only other power-five program that’s involved with the Fleming Island prospect, so one might think Smenda wouldn't be a "take" for the Maryland staff right away, even if they do offer. But stranger things have happened, so it wouldn't be a total shock if the Orange Park resident popped on the spot if given the opportunity.
-- DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) corner Judson Tallandier, Woodson (Washington, D.C.) corner Noah Boykin and Woodson corner Vincent Flythe all pulled offers from Georgia May 30. Which, quite honestly, doesn’t mean much at this point. The Bulldogs’ staff, which has one 2018 cornerback pledge already, likes to toss verbals around like candy, so the chances of those being committable (other than Boykin) are seemingly slim. But the “offers” do raise the profiles of Tallandier and Flythe, whose only other SEC looks to this point are from Kentucky. We’ll see if more UGA-like looks come in this summer that could potentially change their respective recruitments. For now, though, Maryland remains in a solid spot for both Flythe and Tallandier, and likely lead for at least the DeMatha three-star. Tallandier is thought to have UMD ahead of Pitt and Cuse in the pecking order. Flythe is considering a few more programs (Kentucky, Syracuse, Wake, Pitt, Rutgers, UVA), but the Terps may eventually top the totem pole for him as well. As for Boykin, he has Maryland in play, but Oklahoma; UNC; Va Tech; and Clemson are all on the brain.
New Offers Out
Patrick Garwo, RB, Conwell Egan Catholic (Fairless Hills, Pa.) (2019): The 5-10, 202-pound Garwo is an emerging runner in the 2019 class, with offers from Wisconsin, Syracuse, UVA, Temple and, as of May 31, Maryland. Terps’ running backs coach Anthony Tucker handed out the verbal after evaluating Garwo earlier during the spring and last summer.
Following the offer, Garwo was rather pleased, noting how he’s been in College Park before and enjoyed the vibe on campus and taking in the various facilities. He’ll be back in town June 3 for another look at the university and to meet the rest of the staff.
But Garwo is keeping an open mind this early in the process. The early verbal from Wisconsin has his eye initially, and he’s pining for UNC, Duke, Pitt and WVU looks.
Garwo will be at UMD, Duke, UNC, WVU and Syracuse this summer.
Sam James, WR, Richmond Hill (Ga.): The receiver James snagged a Maryland offer May 30 courtesy of area recruiter Tyler Bowen, but the Terps may be a little late to the game. Even if James does visit College Park this June, UMD is behind several suitors in the pecking order.
James recently released a top-10 leaderboard headed by West Virginia, Louisville, Wake, Mizzou, South Carolina and Cincinnati. The Mountaineers, which James said are pushing the hardest for him, figure to be the leaders if the coaches continue to pursue in earnest (questionable). Meanwhile, James has his eye on his SEC and ACC suitors as well.
Now, it’s possible James could fall through the cracks since he’s not an immediate “take” for programs such as Louisville, South Carolina and maybe even WVU. (He’s probably not even an immediate “take” for the Terps with so many other receiver options on the staff’s board). But we’re not placing the Richmond Hill prospect on the hot board unless he checks out College Park and places UMD among his foremost contenders.
For now, James would like to have his college destination determined by July.
Najee Stevens-McKenzie, BUCK, (ASA/Brooklyn, N.Y.): The junior college edge rusher Stevens-McKenzie pulled in three power-five offers in a two-day span last week, one of which was Maryland. UMD-area recruiter Pete Lembo had been in contact with Stephens-McKenzie for a couple months and had stopped by ASA earlier in the spring. The recruit said the staff approved the scholarship May 25.
Afterwards, Stevens-McKenzie said he appreciated Lembo and would be checking out UMD in June. He wasn’t privy to much about the program, but the Ohio native has developed a tight enough rapport with Lembo to warrant a College Park visit.
“Coach Lembo is a great guy, and he’s been informing me about the school,” Stevens-McKenzie said. “It sounds like a really good school, ranked 40nationally I believe. And then I know it’s right next to Washington, D.C., and it’s a great area down there. But I want to get down there and see what it’s like and meet all the coaches.”
That’s fine, but Stevens-McKenzie sounded a bit more enthusiastic about his other two power-five verbals from Pitt and Mizzou.
Evidently ASA and Stevens-McKenzie’s former high school, Bedford (Ohio), have close ties to the Panthers, so Pitt sounds like a possible frontrunner. The recruit will be there in early June for his first look at the program.
Furthermore, Stevens-McKenzie has seen Missouri once before and has a former teammate on the roster. He’s eager to return this June and give the Tigers an even deeper look.
Plus, Stevens-McKenzie has many other interested programs, whose coaches could eventually ante up. Those include Auburn, Syracuse, Cincinnati and Arizona State, all of which would promptly be placed under consideration.
Stevens-McKenzie has no intentions of committing this summer. He’ll take some trips this summer, gauge what other offers come in, and then go from there. The former Bedford High star will choose a destination this fall, and enroll in a four-year school in December. Stevens-McKenzie has two years to play two seasons, but is appealing the NCAA for a third year of eligibility.
You can read more about Stevens-McKenzie HERE.
Rashad Ajayi, CB, Langston Hughes (Fairburn, Ga.): The Terps became the first power-five offer for Ajayi May 30. It was his 12th offer overall, following a host of lower Division-I looks from the likes of ECU; App State; Troy; Georgia Southern; Arkansas State; and others of that ilk. The 5-11, 175-pounder heard from UMD assistant Brawley Evans, who let Ajayi know the Langston Hughes product’s skills would translate to college football’s top level.
Naturally, Ajayi was thrilled with the look. He didn’t know much about Maryland other than its Big Ten affiliation, but said he’d be coming up for a visit/camp in June.
That’s fine, but it’s questionable how ardently the Terps’ staff will push for Ajayi. The UMD coaches are positioned well for numerous local defensive backs, as well as few out-of-state prospects the staff has established inroads with, so Ajayi probably wouldn’t be able to commit right away.
In the meantime, Ajayi said he’d be camping/visiting Kansas State, WVU, Georgia Tech and some others in hopes of drawing more looks. If not, he might end up at a place like Georgia Southern, App State or Arkansas State.
You can read more about Ajayi HERE.
Off The Board
Qadir White, OT, Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.): Scout's Brian Dohn dug into the four-star White's situation earlier this week, and it sounds like Maryland's staff isn't making a push, nor is the Bronx native intent on visiting College Park. Per the update, White is looking to see UGA and Auburn soon (he might not be a "take" for either program, although coaches from both schools did trek through Cardinal Hayes), while he's also honing in on Syracuse; BC; and Penn State. The Nittany Lions are White's likely leader, but it remains to be seen if the Penn State staff will accept his commitment. BC and Cuse could be positioned well if White's more prominent contenders drop off.
Jake Kradel, OG, Butler Area (Pa.): No surprise here. It was going to come down to whether or not Kradel was going to be a “take” for Ohio State’s staff or not. If so, he’d have been a Buckeye. But he wasn’t, so he opted for the local school Pitt May 30.
The Terps may have risen as high as third in the pecking order thanks to Kradel’s relationship with line coach Tyler Bowen and the recruit’s standout visit to College Park. But it was a distant third. Kradel was only going to leave hometown Pitt if a bigwig like OSU came calling.
Jaevon Becton, DE, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach, Va.): Well, so much for that.
All the other Maryland offerees who committed elsewhere this week were longshots, but the Becton pop to Georgia May 31 was a semi-blow. Sure, the Terps’ coaches have other defensive ends on their board, but Becton was an emerging star who seemed genuinely interested in UMD. The 6-4, 240-pounder had known Maryland-area recruiter Chris Beatty since the 10th grade, and he’d spoken to his rivals who are headed to College Park too (Tahj Capehart, Tyler DeSue, Brandon Gaddy, Breyon Gaddy). Becton also said he’d “definitely” be at Maryland in June.
But that’s not going to happen.
Becton is sold on the Bulldogs, his lone SEC offer. The Ocean Lakes product committed sight unseen, but said the UGA coaches’ persistent pursuit since November led him to make the call. Becton will be visiting Georgia for the first time in the near future.
Yasir Abdullah, OLB, Miami Carol City (Miami, Fla.): Abdullah was on the hot board for a little over a week after the Terps’ staff extended an offer. But the three-star outside backer ended up committing to Louisville May 28 after the Cardinals’ coaches made it clear Abdullah was a priority.
Abdullah originally called LSU his leader, but he wasn’t a main target for the Tigers’ staff.
Bryson Richardson, S, Buford (Ga.): We kept Richardson on the hot board because he had family in the College Park area, expressed interest in visiting this summer, and had sung the praises of recruiter Walt Bell. But, in reality, once his offer list expanded, the chances of Richardson venturing north to Maryland were slim.
Now, they’re basically non-existent.
Richardson committed to stated favorite North Carolina May 31. He landed the UNC offer in May, hinting he could pop during his upcoming Chapel Hill, N.C., foray. He followed through May 31 after checking out the campus and meeting with the staff.