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August 31, 2007

College football pick'em

This is completely unrelated to recruiting, but since most of you are college football junkies, I thought this would be appropriate.

Our site is hosting a college football pick'em contest, which kicks off tomorrow.

It's your standard pick'em setup -- make your picks before noon tomorrow, then proceed to watch all the games and sweat it out while Youngstown State gives Ohio State a run for its money (I hope).

You'll be picking against me and other baltimoresun.com readers for all sorts of nice prizes. Sadly, I'm not eligible for the prizes, so good luck to all who sign up.

Click here to sign up.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:39 PM | | Comments (0)
        

August 30, 2007

Weekly football recruiting roundup

Checking in with three targets …

  • Augusta, Ga. defensive back Sanders Commings has been somewhat of a dream prospect for Terps fans. He’s from the South, and has his pick of schools from that region. According to The [Charleston, S.C.] Post and Courier, UM still has a shot, albeit a slight one.

    ATH Sanders Commings Jr. (6-2, 195) of Augusta, made an unofficial visit to South Carolina on Saturday and talked with his recruiter, John Hunt, and defensive back coach Ron Cooper. He plans to return for the South Carolina State game and meet with baseball coach Ray Tanner and he said he might use that trip as his official visit. He also plans to set official visits with Georgia, Florida and Georgia Tech. He's also looking at Auburn, Maryland and Wake Forest. Commings had hoped to make a decision before his first game this Friday but he's not sure he can make one before then. South Carolina is recruiting him as a safety.

    So Maryland will have to duke it out with Auburn and Wake Forest for that fifth and final official visit -- assuming he doesn't make his decision before that. It doesn’t seem promising, but once you get a kid on campus, there’s no telling how much that recruitment could change. If anyone needs a reminder of how good Commings is, check out his YouTube highlights.

  • If there’s any player that Maryland’s recruiting that has a large bullseye on his back, it’s DeMatha athlete Kenny Tate. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Rivals250 member is not only one of the highest-ranked players in the state, but he also plays for a team that hasn’t lost a game since 2005. According to The Washington Post, Tate is taking it all in stride.

    "Being one of the top football teams in the area, there are a lot of people that want to beat us and want to see us lose," Tate said, acknowledging that opponents are so motivated to play DeMatha that they often play better than they look on videotape. "Most people do tend to play harder against us. They want to be known as the team that beat DeMatha and they're not all this or that."

    DeMatha opens its campaign on the road at the University of Cincinnati. Tate and company square off against St. Xavier of Cincinnati as part of the Kirk Herbstreit Classic. The game will be televised on ESPN on Sunday at noon.

  • While UM is competing with schools across the country for Tate, the recruiting battle for Alexandria, Va. athlete Ben Barber will be fought against Maryland’s neighbors to the south. The Washington Post reports that Barber sports offers from Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech in this feature about Barber’s knack for holding on to the ball, no matter the beating he’ll likely take.

    Checking in with two commits …

  • Tough break for Oscar F. Smith wide receiver and future Terp Kerry Boykins. According to The Virginian-Pilot, the Chespeake, Va. native will miss his high school team’s season opener tonight.

    Boykins suffered a sprained right knee in last week's scrimmage against Phoebus.

    "He's walking around fine, but I don't want to push him," coach Richard Morgan said. "I'd rather hold him out now than have it linger the whole season."

  • UM running back commitment Gary Douglas will be arriving in College Park next fall with a good sense of what it takes to be a complete player. According to The [Raleigh, N.C.] News & Observer, Durham Hillside offensive coordinator Antonio King’s zone blocking scheme requires Douglas to read the defense like a quarterback.

    Hillside senior Gary Douglas said learning how to zone block has been the most challenging part of playing running back. He struggled with bending low on blocks and selecting the right defender to engage in his zone.

    When there are two linebackers rushing, the 6-foot, 170-pound back now knows to pick up the one closest to the quarterback.

    "It's harder than you think," Douglas said. "I still have a little more work to do. I'm almost there."

    There’s no question that plenty of highly-recruited running back prospects enter college with little understanding of the importance of blocking. For Maryland fans, it’s good to know that Douglas won’t be one of those players.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:16 AM | | Comments (4)
    Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
            
  • August 29, 2007

    The two newest Terps

    Word broke yesterday that the Maryland football team secured two verbal commitments for the class of 2008

    Cameron Chism, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound cornerback from Bishop McNamara in Forestville, and Justin Lewis, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound offensive lineman from Johnsonville, S.C., both notified the UM coaching staff of their intentions earlier this week.

    “[Cameron] really wanted to make his decision before the season started and concentrate on having a great senior season,” said Bishop McNamara head coach Bryce Bevill.

    Chism, a three-star player according to Rivals, chose the Terps over offers from Pittsburgh and Connecticut among others.

    Maryland defensive coordinator Chris Cosh, a Bishop McNamara alumnus, and former Terps defensive back and current graduate assistant Dennard Wilson both played a large role in landing Chism.

    “Those two guys were very instrumental in making Cameron feel really comfortable with Maryland,” Bevill said.

    Chism, Maryland’s fifth-highest rated commit according to Rivals, joins Tavon Wilson as the Terps’ second defensive back commit for the class of 2008.

    “[Maryland is] getting a top-notch player,” Bevill said. “He’s a guy that finishes plays. He’s big corner -- a 4.4 guy that can run. He’s a complete corner. He’s physical, has great ball technique. He’s an awesome player.

    “As good of a player as he is, he’s an even better person. He’s a great kid that’s very active in the community. He’s also a gym rat who loves to work out. He doesn’t mind the preparation that it takes to be good.”

    Lewis, who chose Maryland over North Carolina State, also wanted to get his decision out of the way early in his high school season.

    “I knew he was real interested in Maryland and I think his whole family really liked the the university, the classes and the coaches,” said Johnsonville head coach Lewis Lineberger. “I think he wanted to get the pressure off and he was real satisfied with what Maryland had to offer.”

    Lewis becomes Maryland’s second offensive line commitment for 2008, joining Pennsylvania tackle R.J. Dill. Gonzaga’s A.J. Francis and Wilde Lake’s Cody Blue also have the potential to play on the offensive line, but are likely slated for defense.

    A two-star recruit according to Rivals, Lewis was impressed with Maryland’s educational offerings. According to Lineberger, the offensive guard sports a grade point average better than 3.0.

    “Well [Maryland is] getting a good person and a very good student and one that can be a very good football player,” Lineberger said. “I think his best football is ahead of him. He definitely has potential. I think his best football is yet to come. Here he plays offense and defense. I think he’s really going to mature when he just plays one side of the ball.”

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:49 AM | | Comments (5)
            

    August 28, 2007

    Five questions

    For today’s edition of "Five Questions", TerrapinTimes.com editor and publisher Keith Cavanaugh was kind enough to answer some of the most pressing questions regarding Maryland recruiting via email.

    Cavanaugh started Terrapin Times magazine in 1991, launched TerrapinTimes.com in 1997 and has covered the Terps since 1988.

    Cavanaugh recently authored My Way, a book about Ralph Friedgen’s life, UM coaching career and some of his most memorable recruiting 'war stories.'

    1.) What's the latest on Quintrell Thomas? Is Maryland's biggest competition in this recruitment Kansas?

    As a backdrop first, 'Q's' recruitment is kind of interesting, as he is still something of a 'newbie' to the process in general. He got a late start last winter, splashing on the scene at St. Pat's after being an unknown previously at his former school where he was not a national recruit.

    His recruitment, and the scheduling of his visits and whatnot, are all being run by his AAU coaches, and they often know more about exactly where they are going and what is happening.

    The Terps have long been in the drivers' seat for Thomas, and will stay there if Gary Williams locks this one down on his official campus visit on Sept. 21. Some of the other trips -- the UNLVs and Houstons of the world that recently cropped up -- seem a stretch/longshots at best, and may just be weekend recruiting trips. I do not see him going that far from home, or frankly anywhere but Maryland, as long as Gary shows the love -- which I think he will.

    'Q' has already been on campus twice this summer -- the most of any school he is considering -- and I see Kansas as too far off as well. I think if Gary pushes hard -- and given the fact he wants to be a drive away for his family to see him play -- UM can get him if they push. It will come down to him or Massachusetts wing guard Chris Turner for the final ‘ship, and as things stand now, Thomas may have the edge. That is unless anything changes by the spring with 6-foot-11 Ralph Sampson III, who I still consider a long shot for the Terps.

    2.) Who are some 2009 targets that Maryland's in good shape with?

    You can mark it down now: Isaiah Armwood is the main guy for ‘09 and much will be dictated by his recruitment.

    The long and bouncy athlete from Baltimore -- who plays for Stu Vetter at Montrose -- is the top priority in a bang-up class, especially locally. The only problem is the Terps may only have one 'ship to give.

    We'll see what they do to finish up ‘08 first, but it may be only one, possibly two for ’09. Next to Isaiah, New Jersey power forward/center Greg Echenique, Montrose's Terrell Vinson and Tristan Spurlock, DeMatha's Naji Hibbert and former Oxon Hill standout Mo Creek lead the hit parade.

    Armwood seemingly grows more each time we see him, and his face-up/perimeter range keeps getting better. Some liken him to a young Rudy Gay, and while he is not anywhere near there yet, he has a chance.

    3.) How is Maryland's offensive line recruiting going thus far? Is this a major position target for the coaches, and are there any prospects that have Maryland in their final group?

    Right now the bus is loading up, and Justin Gilbert and Justin Lewis are getting close to 'popping' and could do so soon. Both have UM in the lead.

    Depending on possible attrition, the Terps may only take one or two more offensive linemen, at least for now, as they have several committed -- though some could easily swing between the defensive line and offensive line when all is said and done.

    Otherwise, it has gone well, as has the entire class thus far. It is in the top 20-25 range nationally and should stay there. Jimmy Bennett, Jeff Braun, etc., among others, are still on the list as far as offensive linemen.

    4.) Are there any local prospects that could earn offers at some point throughout the season?

    Yes, and one visited camp last week -- Damascus QB Kyle Frazier, who would love a Terps offer.

    He is a solid kid from a strong area program. One of the assistant coaches at Damascus is Tony Edwards, the former Terps offensive lineman who played under Ralph Friedgen when he was the Terps offensive line coach back in the day.

    Given the low quarterback numbers with Jeremy Ricker and Bobby Sheahin gone and E.J. Manuel and Mike Glennon off the board, he is a local guy you’ve got to pull for. So far, no Terps offer yet, though.

    5.) Is Maryland looking to add another running back to this class, or are they set with Gary Douglas?

    Yes, they would like another I am sure with Lance [Ball] and Keon [Lattimore] being seniors. Heading the list is elite DeMatha athlete standout Kenny Tate, who UM is recruiting as a running back. Ralph loves big backs, and had Jason Crawford (6-foot-3) stayed eligible, he could have been the guy in his early years instead of Bruce Perry, or at least they would have platooned.

    Tate is 6-foot-3 and a tremendous athlete/playmaker -- perhaps the greatest ever to come through the famed Hyattsville school. Florida and UM could be his top two, and the Terps have a very good shot.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:01 PM | | Comments (6)
    Categories: Five questions
            

    August 27, 2007

    Furstenburg's long journey

    While most of the 2007 graduates of Hunterdon Central High School in Flemington, N.J. are getting set to begin college in the coming weeks, Matt Furstenburg is readying himself for another season of prep football, despite being a member of the ’07 HCHS class.

    The delay in starting college will be brief for Furstenburg, who’s attending The Hun School in Princeton, N.J. before joining the Maryland football team in January. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound tight end committed to the Terps earlier this month.

    “This transition year is a lot better,” said Furstenburg, who is planning to study criminology at UM. “It’s not like I’m too far away from home. I’m here for a couple months … it’s kind of just preparing me for Maryland and for real college life.”

    It’s not as if Maryland suddenly popped up on Furstenburg’s radar. He started receiving letters from Ralph Friedgen’s staff as a junior. After attending the Terps’ summer football camp before his senior year, the interest picked up even more.

    “They really liked me there and they just kept calling me and writing me letters,” Furstenburg said. “They wanted to see my senior film.”

    Then came a serious blow to Furstenburg’s Division I plans.

    At Penn State’s summer camp, Furstenburg suffered a fairly significant hamstring injury, sidelining him for the remainder of camp/combine season – and placing himself squarely off the radar of college coaches.

    “I think that’s where I got killed with the recruiting,” Furstenburg said.

    Furstenburg aggravated the hamstring later that summer, and the injury lingered through his senior season. Despite missing three games, Furstenburg was able to manage roughly 30 receptions for 350 yards and two touchdowns, as well as seven sacks and one interception returned for a touchdown.

    Still, he admittedly wasn’t 100 percent, and it showed at times on his senior film.

    But while there was heavy DI attention for Furstenburg in lacrosse (Rutgers, Johns Hopkins and Virginia all expressed interest), he held firm in his desire to play football.

    “I had offers from Division I-AA schools (New Hampshire, Wagner and Delaware among others), so I knew I was going to play football no matter what,” Furstenburg said. “If it came down to it, I was going to play Division I-AA, but I knew I would get to the Division I level.”

    By the time January rolled around, however, Furstenburg was still without that elusive DI offer. On a tip from friend who went there, he made inquiries into The Hun School.

    When Signing Day came, Furstenburg was committed to playing football and spending at least half of a post-grad school year at the Princeton, N.J. college preparatory school. Strangely enough, that choice may have been crucial in Furstenburg ultimately landing at Maryland.

    “When [the Maryland coaches] heard I was going to The Hun, they started up [recruiting me] again.”

    That interest finally led to a scholarship offer in July, which Furstenburg accepted about two weeks later, thus ending a long and seemingly never-ending recruiting process.

    So while many of his teammates at The Hun will use this year as an audition for DI schools, Furstenburg will be fine-tuning his game for College Park.

    “I’m going to give 100 percent,” Furstenburg said. “I’m not going to hold back anything. [Playing at The Hun] will keep me in football shape and the Maryland coaches want to see how I do. They’re still evaluating and I’ll show them what kind of character I have.

    “I was just waiting for a school. I would have committed anywhere really. But I’m really glad that I didn’t and I’m going to be a Terp.”

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:50 AM | | Comments (0)
            

    August 26, 2007

    Odds and ends

    Many of the major figures in Baltimore AAU basketball were on hand for the State of Baltimore Basketball Summit Thursday night at the Baltimore Rowing & Resource Center.

    The event, organized by bmorehoops.com publisher/editor Shawntrá Spence and the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, brought coaches and officials from Baltimore Select, the Baltimore Stars and others to discuss the most pressing issues in AAU basketball in the city.

    There was nothing extraordinarily groundbreaking that took place, but there were three notable quotes that I thought summed up the evening.

    “We’re getting so caught up in this territorial thing … we just need to represent Baltimore in the tournaments.”

    -- Baltimore Select coach Keith Goodie, voicing his concern that the city AAU programs need to worry less about which kid belongs to which team, and be more concerned with representing Baltimore positively at tournaments.

    “We shelter these kids … they don’t play outside anymore. On the Rec & Park side, we’re very limited in our resources.”

    -- Tarik Brown of the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, responding to a criticism on the lack of suitable gym options for kids in the city.

    “We’re trying to get kids in school. Our goal is to get kids exposure so they can get college scholarships.”

    -- Baltimore Stars coach Troy Franklin, stating what he believes all AAU teams should be most concerned with.

    Franklin’s quote sums it all up. The coaches need to work together to get as many Baltimore kids recruited as possible.

    Shawntrá Spence deserves a ton of credit for putting together the event and making sure these issues were – and continue to be – adequately addressed.

    Leftover links

    • Maryland running back target Kevin Whaley had a pretty decent season opener.

    • Football is all in the family for Terps offensive line target Rob Gumbita.

    • This will probably be the last Sean Mosley link for awhile, but it’s a good one. PressBox examines the significance of Maryland landing a Baltimore kid.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:03 AM | | Comments (2)
            

    August 23, 2007

    Weekly recruiting roundup

    Notable football recruiting links from the past week …

  • It’s been a good week for Terps defensive end commit Tyler Urban. Scout.com analyst Bob Lichtenfels singled out Urban as one of Maryland’s more lower-rated kids that has a chance to shine in college. Then the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review profiled the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder, who plays linebacker and running back (?!?) for Norwin Senior High School in North Huntingdon, Pa.

    "Offensively speaking, he drags a lot of people with him when he carries the ball," [Norwin coach Dan] Conwell said. "Defensively speaking, he's basically the catalyst of our team. When we need a big play, he's the one that turns it up for us."

    Scout lists Urban as a fullback prospect, but for some reason I don’t see him getting too many carries for the Terps. Urban’s a defensive guy all the way. It’ll be interesting to see if Lichtenfels’ prediction holds true.

  • Another Lichtenfels favorite, wide receiver Kerry Boykins, got some pub of his own this week, courtesy of The Virginian-Pilot.

    Besides great hands, Boykins is known for his excellent route-running - and for having all of the tools and intangibles to be a big-time college player, including size, speed, strength and desire.

    "He's just polished," [Oscar Smith HS coach Richard] Morgan said. "I mean, he'll be ready to walk on the field and play right away when he gets to Maryland."

    Being ready to contribute from Day One is probably the highest praise I can think of for a recruit. Between Boykins and Kevin Dorsey (and possibly even a guy like Kenny Tate), the Terps will be stacked at wide receiver for years to come.

  • YouTube hero (link contains profanity) and Maryland target O’Neill Chambers has set his first official visit, according to PalmettoSports.com.

    WR O'Neil Chambers (6-3 205) of St. Cloud, FL has set his first official visit for Purdue September 21st. He is not sure on his other official visits though he knows he won't take any to Florida schools. He also has offers from USC, Maryland, BYU, Georgia, Georgia Southern, Texas Tech, Houston, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Troy. He's also getting interest from Miami, South Florida and Florida. Chambers said he's waiting on an offer from Miami. He last heard from USC at the end of the texting period.

    Terps fans can’t like the fact that Chambers is “waiting on an offer from Miami,” but it’s a definite plus that Maryland (and BYU) seem to always get mentioned whenever an article about him pops up.

  • Kevin Whaley isn’t a guy who’s gotten a lot of atention – mostly because he skipped combine/camp season this summer – but he sports offers from Maryland, Michigan State, Virginia and Virginia Tech, according to this excellent profile from The Virginian-Pilot. Definitely worth the read.

    Notable basketball recruiting links from the past week …

  • TurtleSportsReport.com’s Jeff Ermann delivers a fantastic recap of the Sean Mosley recruitment, delving into the purportedly tenuous history between Maryland basketball and the Baltimore hoops establishment, and how the Mosley recruitment may have played a large role in soothing/debunking that supposed dynamic.

  • CSTV.com presents its post-summer top 100 list for the class of 2009. Multiple Maryland targets make appearances.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:19 PM | | Comments (2)
    Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
            
  • August 22, 2007

    John Carroll loaded with D1 talent

    Nine years ago, Tony Martin was preparing to coach what would be his final season as head man at Archbishop Spalding. That team would go on to win the Baltimore Catholic League championship, finish 31-5 and produce eight Division 1 players.

    Today, Martin is readying to coach his third season at John Carroll. This team, which moves up to the MIAA A league from the B conference, has the potential for similar success – and perhaps the same amount of future D1 players.

    “There is a precedent; I think this team has eight D1 guys,” Martin said. “The one thing that Spalding had was a Big East starting point guard [at Villanova] in Derrick Snowden. You can’t really measure having a guy like that. … [but] we have some very good players.”

    One such player is Isaiah Philmore, a 6-foot-7, 210-pound junior and the star of John Carroll in the eyes of college coaches and an assortment of AAU teams who felt his wrath throughout the summer. Just a couple years ago many local AAU teams were uninterested, allowing Philmore to latch on with the Delaware Sharpshooters.

    “They picked me up two years ago when I was horrible, so I just stayed loyal,” said Philmore, who has averaged more than 30 points per game throughout the summer. “A lot of other different teams see how I am now and they’re shocked that I actually turned out to be better than I was. Now they want me to come over and play with them.”

    Virginia Tech, Loyola, Delaware, Miami (Fla.) and Marquette have all offered Philmore scholarships, but he says there’s no leader yet. For now, Philmore’s focused on improving – something that Martin believes is inevitable.

    “Isaiah wills himself to play harder than anyone else on the court,” Martin said. “His athleticism is outstanding and his skill development is coming along. The sky’s the limit for him.”

    Three seniors for the Patriots are likely D1 players – center Jakub Kusmieruk, forward Josh Wiegand and guard Mike Maczko.

    Kusmieruk – who measures in at 7 feet 4, 275 pounds – came to the U.S. from Poland two years ago, enrolling at John Carroll as a sophomore.

    “Jakub runs the floor well for a kid his size,” Martin said. “He has great hands and [he’s got] pro potential with the right kind of development. He speaks four languages (English, Polish, German and Russian) and has a tremendous sense of humor.”

    Central Florida, LaSalle and Loyola are among several schools to step forward with scholarship offers. Georgetown, St. John's, Syracuse, N.C. State, Florida State, South Florida and Marquette are some of the high-major schools keeping on eye on the big man.

    Wiegand wasn’t always a sure-fire D1 guy, spending a decent amount of time on Patriots’ bench as a junior. But coaches took note of the 6-foot-8, 3.7+ student over the summer.

    “I’ve always wanted to play at [the D1] level,” Wiegand said. “When I really realized it [was possible] was probably this spring because I got a personal trainer and I started working out more. I went to George Mason’s camp for two days. After coming back from there … I really thought I could get a scholarship to a D1 school.”

    Those thoughts were realized when The Citadel stepped forward with a scholarship offer. American, Oral Roberts and Quinnipiac are also heavily recruiting Wiegand, who Martin called a “rock solid student-athlete.” Wiegand’s combination of basketball and academics has drawn the attention of several Ivy League schools, as well.

    Maczko – John Carroll’s third potential D1 senior – is also hearing from Quinnipiac frequently, in addition to serious interest from IUPUI, Richmond, Central Connecticut State and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

    “I’m a major fan of Mike in that he’s a gym rat, a guy who loves the game,” Martin said. “He’s probably one of our most versatile guys. I’m really looking forward to seeing his game improve with the talent around him. He shoots it from very deep.”

    John Carroll’s other D1 prospects are Dejan Gaspic, a 6-foot-0 point guard from Croatia, Wyatt Smith, a 6-foot-5 guard/forward, Erick Smith, a 6-foot-3 guard and Raphael Jordan, a 6-foot-1 guard. All four are juniors.

    Martin will need major contributions from those eight -- as well as seniors Tim Pleiss and D'Metric Evans -- in order to compete with the likes of Towson Catholic, St. Frances, Calvert Hall and others on a weekly basis.

    “We’re going to go in there ready to compete and play as hard as anyone,” said Martin, who has also scheduled the Patriots for the Charm City Classic, the Primetime Shootout in New Jersey and the City of Palms Classic in Ft. Myers, Fla. “Understand it’s going to be a major adjustment for our guys, but we know the challenges lying ahead.”

    Those challenges, in addition to the knowledge that the Patriots could feature up to eight future D1 players, will likely place a target squarely on the backs of John Carroll’s players.

    Count Philmore as one Patriot player that’s unconcerned with said target, and ready to embrace those challenges.

    “I really don’t think we care,” Philmore said. “We just can’t wait to play in the 'A' conference and show them how great we are.”

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:48 AM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Local recruiting
            

    August 21, 2007

    Five questions

    Yesterday I took a look at each ACC school's football recruiting at the unofficial halfway point of the recruiting season. Today, Scout.com's Bob Lichtenfels was kind to enough to go a little more in-depth with Maryland's class thus far, answering five questions via email.

    Lichtenfels is in his fifth year as a recruiting analyst and second year as a regional manager at Scout. Lichtenfels, who specializes in East Coast and Midwest recruiting, coached high school football for eight seasons, has personnel experience working for the Johnstown Riverhawks of the American Indoor Football League and is a frequent contributor to Fox Sports Pittsburgh.

    1. How does Maryland's class stack up with the rest of the ACC thus far? Does this class rate favorably with some of UM's most recent classes, and does it have the potential to be better?

    I would say it's in the middle of the pack right now. Miami, Florida State and Clemson are doing very well and then you have everyone else. I would say if you look at the average ranking per player this class is in line with past Maryland classes. The 2006 class was ranked higher than most of the Terrapins classes the past five years. Obviously, this class has the potential to be better with only half of it completed thus far.

    2. Who are some commits that you think have the best chance at making a major impact for the Terps?

    I really like Kevin Dorsey. I have said multiple times that he may be the best wide receiver in the country that nobody knows. This class nationally is stacked at the position, so kids like Dorsey may not get as much press as they normally should, but he is a player. I like the pickups of Masengo Kabongo and Teddy Dargan on that defensive front as well. Your defense is only as solid as the guys up front and these two are stalwarts.

    3. With fourth-string quarterback Bobby Sheahin transferring, might Maryland look to add a quarterback in the 2008 class? Are there any realistic options that the Terps may take a look at?

    Ideally most programs like to have the equivalent of one quarterback per class in their system. The one kid I think the Terps should look at in-state is the Wayne Warren kid at Wicomico. He is one of the best dual-threat kids I have seen anywhere.

    4. Are there any lower-rated Terp commits that you feel will surprise once they arrive in College Park?

    Tyler Urban has the potential to be very solid. He is kind of a tweener right now, but I think once he fills out and has a chance to focus on one certain position he will excel. Kerry Boykins also has a chance to be pretty special.

    5. Who are some recruits still on the market that might be good bets to eventually commit to Maryland?

    I think the Terps still have a shot at Kenny Tate. Okechukwu Okoroha and Cameron Chism are two of the local kids I think they have a pretty solid shot at landing. I don't know if I'd say they are a safe bet, but they have a shot.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:11 PM | | Comments (6)
    Categories: Five questions
            

    August 20, 2007

    ACC football recruiting overview

    With camps and combines finished and high school and college seasons ready to begin, this time of year is sort of an unofficial midway point in football recruiting.

    Now, some schools are just a few guys away from finishing their classes and others are just getting started. But now’s a good time to assess where each ACC team is currently sitting, and where each school is projected to finish.

    Maryland

    Headliner: Kevin Dorsey, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound wide receiver from Forestville, is a four-star player according to Rivals and Scout. CSTV’s Tom Lemming thinks Dorsey has All-American potential.

    Sleeper: Defensive back Tavon Wilson was initially rated as a two-star player by Rivals before earning his third star last week. The 6-foot-0, 175-pounder from D.C. runs a 4.5 40-yard dash, and possessed several BCS conference offers, including Boston College, Illinois, Pittsburgh and Michigan State, according to Scout.

    Overview: Very nice start for the Terps, particularly in keeping local guys like Dorsey and Teddy Dargan home. Ralph Friedgen likely has Maryland headed for another top 25-30 class.

    Boston College

    Headliner: Ft. Washington Friendly running back
    Josh Haden
    chose the Eagles over joining his brother, Joe, with the Florida Gators. The 5-foot-8 speedster also sported offers from Michigan, Ohio State and Tennessee, according to Rivals.

    Sleeper: Take your pick. BC has four or five two-stars, depending on which scouting service you trust.
    Stephen Atkinson
    , a safety from Fort Lauderdale has some nice offers.

    Overview: It goes without saying that procuring a commitment from Haden was huge. As for the rest of the class, there’s not much to write home about if you’re a star-gazer (which is what this entire analysis piece is based on). BC always wins without spectacular recruiting, so the class so far is a success based on getting its normal level of kids plus an absolute game-breaker in Haden.

    Clemson

    Headliner:
    DaQuan Bowers
    , a 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive end is one of the biggest catches throughout the entire ACC conference. A five-star recruit according to both services, Bowers is planning to graduate in December and join the Tigers during the second semester, according to Rivals.

    Sleeper: Brandon Ford is a two-star in-stater who will come in as a wide receiver for Clemson, but with a 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame, might be able to transition to tight end with a year in a college strength program.

    Overview: Tommy Bowden has the Tigers well on its way to another top 15 class. Recruiting has never been the problem for Bowden – it’s those pesky on-field results that have hurt. Regardless, Clemson remains one of the ACC’s top recruiting powers.

    Duke

    Headliner: Matt Daniels, a three-star defensive back from Fayetteville, Ga., is a rare Blue Devils recruit who actually had a plethora of other BCS conference offers – although many of those came following Daniels’ April commitment. According to Scout, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, South Carolina and others all extended scholarships.

    Sleeper: There a lot to choose from here, but Lee Butler, a two-star defensive back from Anderson, S.C., sports 4.3 speed, according to Scout. If that’s anywhere near accurate, then Butler should be a special teams warrior, at the very least.

    Overview: I was actually surprised by the number of three-star players the Blue Devils have procured (five, according to Rivals). That said, Duke will likely finish with the ACC’s lowest-ranked class … again.

    Florida State

    Headliner: Depending on which scouting service you prefer, E.J. Manuel is either the first- or second-ranked quarterback in the entire 2008 class. A pro-style quarterback who just so happens to run a 4.6 40, Manuel showed at the Elite 11 quarterback camp why he possessed scholarships from nearly every major college football power.

    Sleeper: Schools like FSU don’t really have traditional sleepers – i.e. guys who they’ve unearthed and stolen before other schools get involved. Need proof? Toshmon Stevens, a defensive end from Crescent City, Fla., held offers from Colorado, South Carolina and North Carolina State among others.

    Overview: A definite top-five class, the Seminoles could actually challenge for college football’s top-rated class in 2008. With the way FSU recruits, it makes you wonder how last season’s 7-6 debacle occurred.

    Georgia Tech

    Headliner: Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins had offers from Florida, LSU, Miami (and Maryland!), but chose the Yellow Jackets in late July. Jenkins was reportedly impressed with GT’s academics, but producing Calvin Johnson the year before certainly couldn’t have hurt their cause either.

    Sleeper: A rangy safety from Atlanta, Cooper Taylor chose his hometown team over Virginia and possesses some intriguing measureables.

    Overview: Fresh off an ACC runner-up finish, it doesn’t look like Tech will be able to reel in a better group than last year’s top-20 class. They have some nice pieces, but it looks like this class will fall in the 25-40 range.

    Miami

    Headliner: Cornerback Patrick Johnson is the gem of Miami, the ACC and arguably the country. Rated the No. 3 player overall and No. 1 cornerback in the country by Rivals, Johnson will be the key recruit in Randy Shannon’s first full class.

    Sleeper: Just like Florida State, Miami doesn’t really possess a true sleeper, but quarterback Taylor Cook is the second of two Canes QB commits (the other being Elite 11 participant Jacory Harris), and one who, at 6-foot-7, 210-pounds, has potential at other positions – particularly considering his 4.6 speed.

    Overview: Again, just like Florida State, Miami will challenge for the nation’s top-rated class in 2008. If recruiting is any indication, Shannon will turn the Hurricanes around in a hurry.

    North Carolina

    Headliner: Ebele Okakpu, a three-star linebacker from Roswell, Ga., sported offers from nearly all the Southern powers before selecting the Tar Heels. Scout likes him a little bit better than Rivals, rating Okakpu the nation’s No. 8 middle linebacker.

    Sleeper: Tight end Randy White selected UNC over … nobody, according to both Rivals and Scout databases. White’s an accomplished long snapper as well, which is obviously an incredibly underrated, yet vital position.

    Overview: With just five commits on board (according to Scout), Butch Davis has a long way to go in filling out the class. UNC receives an incomplete grade thus far, but Davis has proven both at Miami, and last year coming in late to Chapel Hill, that he can recruit with the best.

    North Carolina State

    Headliner: Brandon Barnes could’ve gone anywhere in the country, but decided to roll the dice and be a part of Tom O’Brien’s first full class at NC State. The five-star Barnes could make an impact at wide receiver, running back or defensive back for the Wolfpack.

    Sleeper: No astute analysis here, but two-star defensive back Earl Wolff is pulling a Ricky Williams and wearing his helmet on camera in his Scout profile picture.

    Overview: O’Brien’s off to a great start in Raleigh, already securing a quarterback for the future (Mike Glennon) and doing a nice job keeping some of the best in-state talent home. The Wolfpack look poised for one of the country’s surprise classes.

    Virginia

    Headliner: The Cavaliers’ gain was Maryland’s loss, as UVA reeled in a commitment from Stratford, Ct. running back Torrey Mack, a four-star player who had the Terps in his ‘top two or three,’ according to Scout. Virginia has quietly produced a solid stable of NFL running backs (Tiki Barber, Thomas Jones, Wali Lundy), and Mack has the potential to be the next.

    Sleeper: Matt Mihalik, one of two UVA offensive line commits from Ohio, runs a 5.3 40. Not too shabby for a 6-foot-7, 270-pounder.

    Overview: Al Groh seems to always pull in solid recruiting classes, and this one looks no different. It’s the on-field results that need improving. It’ll be interesting to see if the Ohio kids pan out. That state has plenty of talent to spare, and OSU can’t bring them all in.

    Virginia Tech

    Headliner: Bruce Taylor, an inside linebacker from Myrtle Beach, S.C., is VaTech’s only four-star player, according to both Rivals and Scout. Taylor, who chose the Hokies over offers from Florida State, Clemson and South Carolina among others, was hampered by a shoulder injury as a junior, according to Rivals.

    Sleeper: This one’s easy, although it has nothing to do with football potential. Tight end Eric Martin sports a bright red mustache in his profile picture. Definitely worth the click.

    Overview: Rivals is a bit higher on Virginia Tech’s class than Scout. Frank Beamer has filled up a lot of slots in the class already, but several big fish are still in play. The Hokies will probably finish with a nice class, per usual

    Wake Forest

    Headliner: Ted Stachitas, a dual-threat quarterback, sported several ‘athlete’ offers from a variety of BCS schools, but the Demon Deacons will bring him in as a signal-caller. He’s undersized at 6-foot-0, but plenty of quarterbacks that size have made huge impacts at the D1 level.

    Sleeper: Linebacker Riley Haynes is another Nease standout (same school as Stachitas) headed to Winston-Salem. Haynes might be a little overlooked thanks to a 4.6 40, but he’s excelled at the highest level of Florida high school football.

    Overview: The Demon Deacons seem to have gotten a little recruiting bump thanks to last year’s ACC championship. Sure, Wake’s class will probably rank near the bottom of the conference, but improvements are certainly being made.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:18 AM | | Comments (2)
            

    August 17, 2007

    Weekly football recruiting roundup

    Notable football recruiting links from the past week …

    Checking in with a couple commits

    One Maryland commitment who has slipped completely below the radar is Zach Brown, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound in-state linebacker who will be playing at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. for its post-graduate team.

    Just how under-the-radar is Brown? For starters, he doesn’t even appear in the Rivals.com database. He does have a Scout.com profile, however, but only one article has been written about him. TurtleSportsReport.com’s Jeff Ermann broke the story of Brown’s commitment on March 27. Nothing has been written about Brown since, until a Scout preview of Hargrave this week mentioned this:

    Columbia, Md., linebacker Zach Brown has quite the athletic resume. The Maryland commit could eventually end up as a safety at the next level due to his speed and athleticism.

    You hear a lot about guys moving from safety in high school to linebacker in college. Athletes inevitably add muscle mass once they enter a college strength & conditioning program. So it’ll be interesting to see if 1.) Brown eventually makes that position move, 2.) takes care of business academically, and 3.) becomes part of Maryland’s 2008 class.

    On their trip to Hargrave, the Scout writers spent a little more time with Brown, delivering this premium ($) video and photo gallery of the Terp commit. Looks like his under-the-radar status is becoming a thing of the past.

    One athlete who will absolutely be part of this class is Terps defensive tackle commit Masengo Kabongo, who has been tough to track down. This week, however, MSNBC.com (via an older Rivals article) spoke with his coach at Fairfield College Prep, Billy Pinto. According to Pinto, there was a special comfort level Kabongo felt with the Maryland coaching staff

    "He told me he was really comfortable with the coaches and trusted them,” Fairfield College Prep coach Billy Pinto said. "We went down on a visit in the spring and went to a basketball game. He met everybody on that trip, toured the facilities and had a real nice time.

    “From what I know, he has always been leaning that way and called me up and told me he wanted to commit to Maryland."

    Kabongo should be one of the headliners of the Terps’ ’08 class.

    Checking in with a couple targets

    A definite need for the ’08 class is offensive linemen. One possibility is three-star offensive tackle Nick Becton.

    Becton’s coach at New Hanover High School in Wilmington, N.C., Kevin Motsinger, recently sat down with the Wilmington Star, and had this to say about Becton and another star lineman.

    Q: You have two 300-pound linemen, Nick Becton and C.J. Brown. What are their strengths and how do you plan to use them this season?

    A: We’re gonna run the football behind them. Against the teams we’re playing in our nonconference schedule, I don’t know too many people that can just line up and run against them, but we’re going to try. They’ve just got to continue to grow. … With Nick, it’s only his second year playing football and with C.J. it’s only his second year with his hand on the ground, because of the way they played before I got here. We’ve had to do a lot of teaching with both of them, a lot of work on technique. That’s what’s intriguing about them, their better football is to come. Some other guys there size around the state are more polished because they’ve been in the same system for four years.

    It has been and will continue to be difficult for Ralph Friedgen and his staff to compete with the traditional football powers in recruiting. But Friedgen has done an excellent job identifying and landing guys who get overlooked for one reason or another. With just two years of football under his belt, Becton sounds like one of those guys.

    One Maryland target who is most certainly not getting overlooked is Sanders Commings, a defensive back recruit from Augusta, Ga.

    According to this article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Commings is hoping to play football and baseball in college.

    Commings, who is considering scholarship offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Florida and South Carolina, is scheduled to travel to Columbia on Saturday to visit the Gamecocks’ coaching staff.

    “They want me to come up there and meet the baseball coach and coach [Steve] Spurrier,” said Commings, a baseball centerfielder. “I want to play both sports in college. I think I can be just as good in both.”

    Commings hopes to gain approval from South Carolina to participate in both sports. He says he’s already been granted permission to be a two-sport athlete at Georgia and Georgia Tech.

    Maryland is noticeably absent from the list of schools mentioned above. However, three days earlier, the AJC ran this article:

    Sanders Commings, Westside: The defensive back is mulling over offers from Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina and Maryland. "My parents want me to commit before the season because they don't want to risk losing anything because of an injury. I want to, because then I can focus totally on helping my team win and not worry about what might happen if I get hurt."

    Georgia, Auburn and South Carolina are mentioned in both articles. The baseball story also throws Georgia Tech and Florida into the mix. So are in the Terps in contention or not? Is playing baseball a must?

    Someone get Terry Rupp on the phone.

    Other links of note

  • The Charleston (S.C) Post and Courier profiles defensive end target Robert Quinn.

  • Lynchburg, Va. offensive tackle Bobby Massie was one of the highest risers this summer for the 2008 class.

  • Scout.com updated its East Region Top 100 list. Several Maryland commits and targets make appearances.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:05 PM | | Comments (3)
    Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
            
  • August 16, 2007

    Poll question: What's next?

    Thanks to an unusually long Wednesday (Sean Mosley’s noon press conference + waiting in the office to post the Matt Wieters story until 1:30 am = exhaustion), I’m going to lazily recycle a topic from last week with a new twist.

    I asked ‘Recruiting Report’ readers who they most wanted to be Maryland’s second 2008 basketball commitment, and offered a list of Mosley, Chris Turner, Quintrell Thomas and Andre Young.

    The poll results overwhelmingly favored a Mosley commitment, so it seems as if readers got their wish.

    Now with Mosley on board, Young and Maryland going separate ways and Ralph Sampson emerging as a possibility, a new question must be posed:

    How should Maryland handle its current scholarship situation?

    Gary Williams and staff could use another scholarship on a 2008 player, or they could bank it and have two to work with for the class of 2009.

    Here are the 2008 possibilities:

  • Chris Turner -- Three-star shooting guard from Durham N.C.

  • Ralph Sampson -- Four-star center from Duluth, Ga.

  • Quintrell Thomas -- Four-star power forward from Elizabeth, N.J.

    And here are some 2009 kids with Maryland interest:

  • Isaiah Armwood -- Five-star power forward from Montrose Christian

  • Tristin Spurlock -- Four-star small forward from Montrose Christian

  • Maurice Creek -- Four-star shooting guard from Oxon Hill

  • Naji Hibbert -- Four-star shooting guard from DeMatha

  • Wally Judge -- Four-star power forward from Bladensburg

  • Andrew Fitzgerald -- Four-star center from Towson Catholic

  • Terrell Vinson -- Four-star power forward from Montrose Christian

    How would you handle the scholarship situation? Click here to cast your vote in a baltimoresun.com poll.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:21 AM | | Comments (8)
            
  • August 15, 2007

    News and notes from Mosley's presser

    Sean Mosley’s verbal commitment to Maryland today marked a major recruiting victory for the Terrapins, giving them a homegrown talent who was coveted by numerous high-major programs and rated among the top-rated shooting guards in the country.

    But it wasn’t always a foregone conclusion that Mosley would end up in College Park. Here are some of the reasons that the Terrapins were ultimately able to land Mosley, as well as other news and notes from the St. Frances guard’s press conference.

  • Like most recruitments, playing time was a major factor in the decision. Seton Hall, Florida State, Indiana and Marist were mentioned as players in his recruitment, but ultimately Syracuse proved to be Maryland’s toughest competition. Playing time, however, favored the Terps, according to Mosley.

    “When I went up to Syracuse to check out the school … they showed me who was coming in and who was leaving. So it was just basically about how many guards they had and how slim my playing time would be. [I thought] if I commit to Maryland, maybe I’d have more playing time than certain schools.”

  • Keith Booth still carries A LOT of cache in Baltimore. It’s been about 13 years since Booth left Dunbar High School for College Park, but his legacy (both in high school and college) remains strongly intact.

    “You got a guy like Keith Booth that went to Maryland and won a [ACC] championship,” Mosley said. “They pretty much get a lot of guys from the Baltimore area that come to Maryland just because of what he did when he went to Maryland.”

    For as much success as the Terrapins have had this decade, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Gary Williams from a recruiting standpoint. Having an ace recruiter like Booth – who has been through the process himself – has been and will continue to be a major asset for the Terps.

  • It wasn’t Booth alone who was responsible for the recruitment. Mosley specifically mentioned Williams, noting that either he or Booth were always at his tournaments. That devotion and Maryland’s success under Williams were vital.

    “Gary Williams is a winning coach. That’s the only thing I pretty much look in to,” Mosley said. “He knows how to win. That fit me because I don’t like to lose. That was a big deal that he’s a winning coach. If he was a losing coach, he probably wouldn’t have a chance to get me. But they win games.”

  • Could a Baltimore pipeline to College Park be developing? Last year it was Mount St. Joseph’s Dino Gregory and Calvert Hall’s Braxton Dupree. This year, it’s Mosley. According to Mosley, there’s a certain pride that Baltimore players have in taking their games to Maryland.

    “It’s like every year, a Baltimore kid comes that’s really good. Sometimes Maryland might have that good luck and may win a NCAA championship. That’s what I look at Juan Dixon, Keith Booth, those type of guys. They really show that Baltimore kids can get it done.”

  • Mosley is rated as one of the best shooting guards in the country. He’s had coaches and media telling him for years just how great he is. Too many kids who receive that kind of attention let it get to their heads.

    Mosley is definitely not one of those kids, as evidenced by his freshman expectations for himself.

    “When I get to Maryland, it seems like me starting high school over again. [It’ll be like] trying to make the team, trying to make varsity anyway. It’s hard work.

    "In my mindset, I’m a freshman coming in," Mosley continued. "I’m playing from behind, so I’m just going in to work hard.”

  • The Mosley family is incredibly tight-knit, which certainly aided Maryland’s cause. Rick Mosley, Sean’s father, handled much of the recruiting process, fielding phone calls from college coaches when Sean was too weary to do so.

    August 15th served as a double celebration for the Mosley’s – Sean’s announcement and his mother Tara’s birthday.

    “She means everything even though she’s not involved with my basketball recruiting or anything, but she’s always there when I need something or when I need to talk to her about anything,” Mosley said. “She’s just there playing the motherly role.

    While she wasn't involved with the recruiting process, Tara Mosley did make her feelings known on distance.

    “She said, ‘I really don’t want you to go far.’ I was like, ‘Mom, I’m still on the East Coast no matter whatever school I pick.’ But Maryland’s right up the street from me.”

    Tara Mosley was clearly pleased with the decision.

    “First of all, I’m happy. I asked Sean yesterday, ‘Could I cry?’ He said, ‘Don’t cry.’ I said, ‘But it’s gonna be a cry of joy.’”

    Congratulations to the Mosley family as well as St. Frances Academy and his AAU squad, Team Melo.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:38 PM | | Comments (6)
    Categories: Local recruiting
            
  • More on Mosley

    As reported on baltimoresun.com, St. Frances Academy shooting guard/forward Sean Mosley announced his verbal commitment to the University of Maryland today at a press conference held at the East Baltimore school.

    Mosley, a 6 feet 4, 200-pound shooting guard/forward who averaged 21 points per game as a junior, chose the Terps over reported scholarship offers from Syracuse, Florida State and Clemson among others. Mosley is rated a four-star player by both Rivals.com and Scout.com.

    With commitments from Mosley and power forward Terrence Jennings, the Maryland coaching staff will have one scholarship remaining for the class of 2008. The staff could also bank that scholarship, giving the Terps two in 2009.

    Check back with Recruiting Report later today for more from Mosley’s press conference.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:16 PM | | Comments (1)
            

    Mosley announcement

    I'll be at Sean Mosley's press conference at St. Frances Academy today at noon.

    Check back with 'Recruiting Report' after noon to find out where Mosley will be headed for college.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:06 AM | | Comments (1)
            

    August 14, 2007

    Five questions and Mosley update

    It goes without saying that the past few weeks in Maryland football and basketball recruiting have been crazy.

    But as crazy as it's been, there's the potential for even more good news on the horizon for Terps fans -- especially on the basketball front. To get a better grasp on some of this news, I brought in an insider.

    Jeff Ermann of TurtleSportsReport.com was kind enough to answer some of the most pressing questions regarding Maryland football and basketball recruiting for 'Recruiting Report.' Ermann has written for TSR for more than a year, and he has also covered Missouri basketball for the Columbia (Mo.) Tribune and high school sports for The Washington Post.

    1. What’s the latest on 2008 Maryland shooting guard targets Sean Mosley and Chris Turner? If the staff took one, would they keep recruiting the other?

    Mosley is the higher rated kid and he's local, while Turner has gotten some good reviews this summer. Mosley will be announcing his intentions Wednesday at noon at St. Frances Academy, and I think there's a good chance some locals will be happy.

    I still have a hard time seeing the Terps taking both players, with four underclassman guards already in the program, though you never know for sure.

    2. Do you have any sense of whether or not the staff will take three kids or two for 2008? How does that affect 2009?

    It's hard to say right now. With the commitment of Terrence Jennings last week, they have a total of three scholarships left for 2008 and 2009. That's not very many, especially when you consider there are about 10 local players listed in the national top 100 for next year's senior class. The most likely scenario has them taking two each year, though if things fall into place on several guys they really want, they could take three this year.

    3. How confident is the staff that Jennings will qualify? Are Quintrell Thomas and Ralph Simpson contingency plans in case Jennings doesn’t qualify, or are they top targets regardless of Jennings’ status?

    Both kids have had a lot of other schools recruiting them for a long time. Thomas has looked like a great possibility for Maryland for quite a while, though Kansas is trying to make a move on him, and he's going to be visiting Lawrence soon.

    With the addition of a guard along with Jennings, the Terps may not be going all-out after these two. I think they may have been cooling on Thomas for a little while.

    4. What position is the most glaring need on the football team and how is the staff addressing that need?

    I think defensive end is a position at which they could stand to get some good recruits. Maryland has seemingly been cursed in defensive end recruiting -- [former Gilman and Notre Dame standout] Victor Abiamiri, [Florida's] Derrick Harvey, [one-time Terp commit] Melvin Alaeze, etc. -- and could use some luck in that department. But big-time pass rushers are always at a premium because there are so few.

    They'll also need a quarterback badly next year, as it looks like they could pass on QBs this year; it's a down year for quarterbacks, especially on the East Coast.

    5. How big of a get was Masengo Kabongo and who might be a good bet to follow him and become Maryland's next football commitment?

    Kabongo was a very good pickup. Maryland is quickly going from very thin at defensive tackle, to stacked. He's got a lot of potential.

    It's difficult to say who will be next because this is the time of year that coaches are focusing on camp and players are focusing on their senior seasons of high school. Plus, a lot of the kids who were big Maryland 'leans' ended up committing to Maryland in the past month, so it's a bit more wide-open now.

    Safety Marquis Spann from New Jersey is a guy to keep an eye on. I think the Terps would love to get an early commitment from ultra-talented DT Zach Kerr of Quince Orchard High School, and have been trying hard to do so. But Kerr will probably want to check out Penn State and Virginia Tech a little more first.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:20 AM | | Comments (11)
    Categories: Five questions
            

    August 13, 2007

    Highlighting Terp targets

    Buried below Friday’s ‘Weekly football recruiting roundup’ post was a comment from blog reader Hogie, who was kind enough to link to a ridiculous You Tube highlight video of Maryland target O’Neill Chambers.

    This video is probably old news to most of the Rivals and Scout message boarders, but I thought it deserved its own post, along with some other You Tube clips of Maryland football and basketball recruiting targets. We’ll start below with Chambers (WARNING - the music in the clip contains profanity).

    Editorial Opinion: In a word, ‘wow.’ How has this guy flown under the radar? It’s especially puzzling considering Chambers is a guy who plays in Florida – arguably the best state for high school football. Regardless of his rankings, Chambers looks like a big-time player. If I were a Terps fan, he’d be high on my wish list.

  • Andre Young -- 5-foot-8, 155-pound point guard from Albany, Ga.

    Editorial Opinion: There’s a lot to like in that clip, namely, his work ethic (“I get in the gym and shoot at least 300 shots a day”), his quickness, his shot and the fact that he’s the son of a coach. Who knows how Maryland’s recruiting will shake out with guys like Sean Mosley, Chris Turner, Quintrell Thomas and Ralph Sampson still in play, but Young looks like a nice option as well. He’ll probably be a success wherever he ends up.

  • Isaiah Armwood -- 6-foot-7, 185-pound forward from Montrose Christian.

    Editorial Opinion: Tough to tell from the camera work if that's actually Isaiah Armwood, but we'll go ahead and trust that the name tag on the video is correct. If nothing else, we’ve learned that Armwood can elevate. Shocking for a five-star player, I know. Armwood’s one of many highly-rated 2009 guys in the state.

  • Sanders Commings -- 6-foot-1, 195-pound defensive back from Augusta, Ga.

    Editorial Opinion: I’m not sure how realistic it is to pull Commings out of Georgia, but I’ve got to believe that Friedgen and company are going all out for a talent like this. He’s absurdly athletic, as evidenced by his vertical in that first interception. He showed a lot of patience in his returns, but can obviously fly when necessary. Commings would undoubtedly be a big get.


    Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:40 AM | | Comments (7)
            
  • August 10, 2007

    Weekly football recruiting roundup

    Notable football recruiting links from the past week …

    A win for education

    Ask a recruit what some of the most important factors are in selecting a college and probably 75 percent of the time the recruit will mention academics. Often a recruit’s choice reflects an awareness of a school’s academic reputation. Other times, said recruit will shun the Dukes, Stanfords and Northwesterns of the world for (insert Tier 3 academic institution/football factory here).

    Terps defensive end commitment Tyler Urban clearly falls into the former category, telling USA Today that academics gave Maryland the edge in his recruitment.

    "It's been a long process this recruiting, and I wanted to get it done before the season started," Urban said. "I narrowed it down, and it was between West Virginia and Maryland the past couple of weeks. I thought Maryland had the better academics. They have great football and a great conference."

    Another wide receiver possibility

    Ralph Friedgen and staff have already done a tremendous job in wide receiver recruiting for the class of 2008, having secured verbal commitments from four-star Kevin Dorsey and three-star Kerry Boykins.

    It’s clear the Terps aren’t done yet at that position, going after the likes of DeMatha’s Kenny Tate and Florida native O’Neil Chambers.

    While it’s always tough prying kids out of the Sunshine State, Chambers could be an exception, according to this article from The State.

    USC is among the favorites of wide receiver O’Neil Chambers (6-3, 205) of St. Cloud, Fla., along with Maryland, Miami, BYU, Purdue, Georgia and Florida.

    USC, in this case, refers to the University of South Carolina. Chambers’ Scout profile indicates "High Interest" in Maryland and BYU. How often do you think the Terps battle the Cougars for a recruit? Chambers is definitely one to watch.

    Speaking of Kevin Dorsey …

    CSTV’s Tom Lemming updated his Top 100 list earlier this week, and the Illinois-based recruiting guru likes the 6-foot-3, 186-pound Forestville product, ranking him the 79th-best prospect in the country for 2008.

    Kevin Dorsey: Early commitment, will be an All-American in College Park. Big, fast and productive (20+ yards per catch).

    All-American?? That’s some lofty praise from Lemming, a scout who was around long before Rivals and Scout launched.

    Other players of interest on Lemming’s list include Tate (76), Ft. Washington Friendly’s Lamaar Thomas (88) and Owings Mills resident and Notre Dame commitment Lane Clelland (94).

    A big fella still in play

    Depending on which recruiting service you check, Maryland has either one or two offensive line commits. R.J. Dill is a definite offensive tackle prospect, while A.J. Francis could play on the offensive or defensive line. Regardless, the Terps could use more O-linemen for the class.

    Enter Justin Lewis, a two-star offensive guard who is high on the Terps according to The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.

    Johnsonville OL Justin Lewis (6-4, 300) has offers from N.C. State, Maryland, S.C. State and Buffalo while Clemson and South Carolina have shown interest. He currently favors N.C. State and Maryland and he camped with both this summer.

    People will probably frown at the two stars attached to Lewis’ name, but if there’s any position that routinely gets misevaluated, it’s offensive line. I'd chalk this one up to trusting the coaches.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:23 AM | | Comments (12)
    Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
            

    August 9, 2007

    Introducing Masengo Kabongo

    Ralph Friedgen pulled a major recruiting coup yesterday by securing a verbal commitment from Masengo Kabongo, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound defensive tackle from Fairfield (Conn.) College Prep.

    Kabongo, a four-star player and Rivals.com’s No. 8 defensive tackle for 2008, joins an already strong class of defensive linemen for the Terps. Friedgen has scored commitments from Milford Mill Academy’s Teddy Dargan (a four-star player according to Rivals), A.J. Francis from Gonzaga College High School in D.C. and defensive end sleeper Tyler Urban, a Pennsylvania product.

    The Terps were seemingly always in contention for his services, but as of May, Kabongo was still holding out for an offer from Notre Dame – especially following a particularly impressive visit to South Bend for the Blue & Gold game. According to USA Today, that visit bumped the Fighting Irish into the lead.

    "The coaches also did bring up offering. They told me that they obviously like my tape, but then said Notre Dame doesn't just offer by tape. They want to get to know me more as a person and not just as a player. I'm pretty cool with that. Overall the visit was great and it's something I really want to be a part of."

    The real question comes, is Notre Dame leading for Kabongo?

    "I liked it a lot and I don't have many doubts that they are my leader," he said.

    After narrowing his list down to three finalists in July, it became fairly clear that Maryland had a great shot. The Terps made that list of three along with Florida and Notre Dame.

    According to the Rivals and Scout databases, Kabongo’s Florida and Notre Dame offers never came. But that certainly doesn’t mean he wasn’t worthy. ND filled up most of its class in a hurry – which includes five defensive linemen – so Kabongo not getting an offer might be because of that more than anything else. There were a bevy of respectable suitors that were after Kabongo – namely Clemson, UConn, Colorado, Illinois, NC State and Syracuse.

    With a 3.5 GPA and fluency in three languages, the Ivy League was also under consideration for a bit, according to The Connecticut Post.

    Perhaps the most intriguing part of Kabongo’s story is the relative lack of experience he has playing football. Kabongo has played just three seasons of football, having moved to Connecticut from the Congo. It seems as if he’s done alright from a statistical standpoint thus far.

    He started to catch a few eyes as a sophomore. As a junior, Kabongo made 87 tackles (27 for a loss) and had 10 sacks. He was an all-state Class LL selection, and was a Connecticut Post first-team player.

    To recap, Maryland got itself a guy who rates high in the eyes of the Terps staff, scouting services and numerous other college coaches across the country. Once he steps on the field in College Park, I have a feeling Terp fans will hold Kabongo in similar regard.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:59 PM | | Comments (2)
            

    August 8, 2007

    Contenders for commit No. 2

    Thanks to last week’s commitment from Terrence Jennings, Gary Williams has a potentially interesting dilemma on his hands.

    With the impending graduations of James Gist and Bambale Osby, Maryland will have three scholarships to give for the class of 2008. (Previously I wrote there were just two available. That number is actually three. Thanks to blog reader Steve for the correction).

    Now, a lot could change that number. Guys transfer, academic issues pop up, players turn pro, etc… But let’s assume that there are just three available. Jennings claimed one. So which recruit will stake claim to the second?

    Here’s a look at four major contenders:

  • Sean Mosley -- A 6’4, 200-pound shooting guard from St. Frances Academy, Mosley has his pick of several high-major programs, including Clemson, Florida State, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh according to Scout.com. Mosley (No. 62 player in ’08 per Rivals.com) has a reputation as being a guy with a big heart that does everything well.

    Maryland has already lost two in-state kids in 2008, albeit to another nearby program. Henry Sims of Mount St. Joseph and Chris Braswell of DeMatha Catholic are both headed to Georgetown. Keeping Baltimore players like Mosley home is crucial. And with a loaded 2009 class in the city, it certainly won’t hurt having a guy like Mosley on the roster.

  • Andre Young -- While Mosley is a name that’s been discussed as a potential Terp for quite some time, Young is fairly new on the scene. A 5’8, 155-pound point guard from Albany, Georgia, Young’s size has undoubtedly raised some eyebrows. But, he’s played well enough this summer to garner a nice ranking from Rivals – No. 128 in the class of 2008.

    Young has several mid-majors still under consideration (Wichita State, College of Charleston, Butler), but some bigger programs like Florida State, Clemson and Purdue have come calling as well.

    Ultimately, Young may have to decide whether he wants to be ‘the man’ at some of the smaller schools on his list, or compete on a bigger stage but shoulder less responsibility – at least initially.

  • Chris Turner -- A 6’5, 180 pound shooting guard from Durham, N.C., Turner plays for The Winchendon School and is rated the No. 3 prep player in Massachusetts by New England Recruiting Report.

    Turner is reportedly a lights-out shooter -- something the Terps could certainly use. Memphis seems to be the main competition for Turner’s services. Even if Maryland somehow did have more than three scholarships to use, I’d be surprised if they took both Mosley and Turner. It’s probably one or the other.

  • Quintrell Thomas -- The Elizabeth, N.J. native’s recruitment might have become a bit muddled with Jennings’ commitment. Thomas, a 6’7, 225-pound power forward, has high interest in Maryland, Rutgers and Marquette, according to Scout, but does another power forward fit into Maryland’s plans with the limited scholarships? Here’s the scouting report on Thomas, also courtesy of Scout:

    Came on strong as a junior. Solid body built to take and absorb contact. Will mix it up and get his nose dirty. One of those kids that coaches love to throw into the mix and let him do his thing. Power forward with strength. Could expand skill set. Should be recruited by elite mids and many high-majors.

    Those are the four contenders for Maryland's final two 2008 scholarships. There could be two future Terps on that list. But which of those four players would you want most? Click here to cast your vote in a baltimoresun.com poll.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:03 PM | | Comments (19)
            
  • August 7, 2007

    What to expect from Terrence Jennings

    With top prospects committing on a seemingly daily basis, schools filling out their classes and new players emerging, Maryland seemed to be a little late to the party for 2008 basketball recruiting.

    All that changed in a hurry, of course, with the commitment last week of five-star power forward Terrence Jennings -- a player who became the Terps’ first commit for 2008, and one that was definitely worth the wait.

    Some Maryland fans have debated whether Jennings is one of the greatest Terps recruits of all-time. That’s probably a stretch, but nabbing Rivals.com’s No. 15 player overall for 2008 certainly has a way of heightening expectations.

    Jennings has basically spent all summer working the AAU circuit, impressing scouts, writers and coaches. Here’s what SLAM had to say about Jennings following his play at the Rbk U. tournament at Philadelphia University in July.

    7. Terrence Jennings, 6-10 power forward, Mt. Zion (NC), 2008: This Jennings gets compared to Amare by most experts for his tremendous athleticism and motor. A run-and-jump athlete who dunks everything around the bucket, blocks shots and boards, he’s also showed signs of a face-up game.

    Like SLAM noted above, the Amare Stoudemire comparisons have followed Jennings seemingly everywhere he’s gone. The comparison is apt both for Jennings and Stoudemire’s similarly itinerant academic backgrounds and for their respective games.

    I had a chance to watch Jennings play in May at the Arizona Cactus Classic in Tucson. Here’s a video highlight package I produced of him at the tournament when I was working for the Arizona Daily Star. One disclaimer – some of the local media seemed a bit overly enthused for Jennings to commit to the Arizona Wildcats, as you’ll hear in some of the questions. I swear I wasn’t one of those questioners. Click here to see the video. Look out for a back-to-back-to-back alley-oop sequence near the end of the clip.

    I thought it was pretty interesting, in retrospect, how Maryland received mention from Jennings in the video, but was not among his top three. Keep in mind this was recorded less than three months ago. It just serves as another example of how fluid recruiting is, and in this case, likely how important Gary Williams’ loyalty was in securing this commitment. Arizona, UConn and Cal all dropped out of the race, but Maryland persisted, and Jennings rewarded that devotion with his pledge.

    Now for a brief introduction …

    Welcome to “Recruiting Report”, a blog devoted to all things recruiting. I’ll be dealing primarily with Terps football and basketball, but will also have a significant focus on Baltimore-area high school athletes who are moving on to the next level. This blog will be a mix of links, opinions, original reporting, rankings analysis, predictions, highlight videos and more.

    A little background on me: I just began work as a sports producer for baltimoresun.com in July, but my first brush with recruiting was back when I was about 10 or 11. My dad and I would leaf through Tom Lemming’s football recruiting newsletter, and he would point out all the high school players headed to his alma mater, the University of Michigan. When Rivals and Scout hit the scene several years later, I was a full-blown recruiting junkie.

    As far as experience is concerned, I wrote for Michigan’s Rivals site and magazine when I was a student in Ann Arbor. Before coming to Baltimore, I worked for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, providing University of Arizona recruiting coverage for the Star’s Web site (hence, the above linked Jennings video).

    I’m a newcomer to the area, so please feel free to e-mail me (mbracken@baltimoresun.com) or comment on this post with suggestions, tips, etc … I’m looking forward to it.

    Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:09 PM | | Comments (18)
            
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    About Matt Bracken

    Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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