With Maryland transitioning to the Big Ten next season, it’s important for the Terps to upgrade both lines of scrimmage if they wish to compete in the more physical, line-dominated league.
Top247 defensive end Jesse Aniebonam could be the next stud out of Good Counsel that Mike Locksley lands for Randy Edsall and Maryland.
It’s also paramount that Maryland recruits its state, along with D.C., with much better success than in the recent past, particularly at the top talent-producing programs within the state (Gilman, Good Counsel, DeMatha, etc.).
Top247 and U.S. Army All-American defensive end Jesse Aniebonam (Olney, Md./Good Counsel) is the latest elite prospect to come out of the school. Speaking with several college coaching contacts, they believe Aniebonam, even with his lofty ranking as the No. 102 overall prospect nationally by 247Sports, is underrated and one of the elite defensive end prospects in the country. Ace Terps recruiter and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who signed All-American wide receiver Stefon Diggs out of Good Counsel, along with others, is working Aniebonam for Maryland and Crystal Ball has the Terps trending at 86 percent.
Though defensive end Melvin Keihn (Baltimore, Md./Gilman) is still predicted to Virginia at 60 percent, there is momentum on the Terps’ side. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder has a high upside and is physically ready to step in and potentially contend for playing time as a freshman at Maryland. He most recently visited College Park on June 12 and recruiter Andre Powell has the Terps in the thick of it. They still have to top the Cavaliers, but it’s a real possibility that they do.
On the offensive side, during the tenure of Edsall and his staff at Connecticut, they were excellent at developing strong lines out of prospects that may have not had high ratings or lengthy offer lists, so the same will factor at Maryland. That being said, there is a school of thought that two of the state’s top offensive trenchmen could head the Terps way when all is said and done, including one of the best in the country.
While 247Sports Crystal Ball overwhelmingly still predicts five-star tackle Damian Prince (District Heights, Md./Bishop McNamara) to Florida State at 86 percent, the most recent prediction is for Maryland. Locksley is the recruiter of record here, so you have to believe that the interest is legitimate. Until he takes official visits, though, the honest truth is that we won’t really have a great gauge on where he will end up. Prince hasn’t taken as many unofficial visits as some of the other highly-regarded prospects across the country.
These predictions came well in advance of his offer list expanding, but massive offensive tackle Brock Ruble of DeMatha is predicted to Maryland at 100 percent currently. This is another Locksley target and another whose recruitment is hard to get a beat on, but like with Prince, there is a school of thought that he will remain close to home when all is said and done.
The first two seasons of the Edsall era at Maryland have been disasters, including last season when the Terps didn’t have an awful team, but didn’t have a quarterback and couldn’t really compete (4-8 was actually an accomplishment). Despite the 6-18 overall mark, recruiting is looking up and the move to a new conference gives the staff something to sell for the future. Locksley also is one of the best recruiters in the country and knows how to get the job done. Adding pieces like Aniebonam, Keihn, Ruble and Prince, added to defensive difference-makers like Yannick Ngakoue from the 2013 class and getting four-star offensive tackle Derwin Gray back in this class from prep school, bodes well for Maryland having a chance in its new home.
Behind the strength of landing two in-state five-star prospects, Virginia's Chip West ranks No. 7 in the 247Sports recruiter rankings for the 2014 cycle and is in the hunt to be the National Recruiter of the Year.
West on the rise
Virginia cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator Chip West has established a national reputation for his ability to recruit and so far this recruiting cycle, the Hampton, Va., native has lived up to his billing, primarily by securing two of the top prospects in the country from his home turf.
West currently ranks No. 7 nationally in the 247Sports recruiter rankings for the 2014 cycle. He has three commits, but two of them are 247Composite five-stars Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Smith) and Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach/Bayside). If West can find a way to land four-star defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi and four-star receiver Jamil Kamara out of the Tidewater, there’s a chance we will be discussing him making a move for National Recruiter of the Year (No. 1 in the final recruiter rankings).
State-centric class for Pack
First-year North Carolina State head coach Dave Doeren and staff have made the state of North Carolina, which is one of the more underrated states for talent in the country, a huge priority.
The Wolfpack has a league-high 22 commits for the 2014 cycle and 14 of them are from the Tar Heel State, including quarterback Jalan McClendon (Charlotte, N.C./West Mecklenburg), who could end up being the Pack’s signal caller of the future. Continuing with the geographic examination of the class, State has also done well in Georgia. There are five Peach State verbal commitments.
This class is full of what we call “value three star” prospects in recruiting. Guys that may not rate in the four-star range, but who have high-level potential. Two good examples are the jumbo athletes that N.C. State has pledged out of Maryland- Deonte Holden Jr. (Hyattsville/DeMatha) and Micah Till (Upper Marlboro/Wise). Both have excellent length, frames and athleticism and have the raw tools to develop nicely.
Five-star defensive tackle Tim Settle got to play pool with North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora during his visit to Chapel Hill on Wednesday.
-Buzz out of Clemson is that Class of 2013 247Composite five-star cornerback MacKensie Alexander has been working one-on-ones with All-American receiver Sammy Watkins since his arrival in Tiger Town this summer. Alexander certainly has the talent and moxie to push for a starting job this season for the Tigers.
-Given Notre Dame’s need for big-play receivers that can contribute early, the commitment of four-star receiver Corey Holmes (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) was huge. Holmes has good size at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds and runs consistently below 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash. It was also another big Florida get for ace Irish recruiter Tony Alford.
-Florida State played host to fast-rising, Top247 tight end Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) earlier this week and sources indicate it could not have gone much better for the Seminoles. Ohio State still is the 100 percent prediction according to Crystal Ball, but the Noles could make it very interesting (Jalyn Holmes in reverse?).
-Five-star Class of 2015 defensive tackle Tim Settle (Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson) visited North Carolina unofficially on Wednesday and sources say he enjoyed his visit and even got to shoot pool with Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora. Virginia, Ohio State, Alabama and the Heels are all early teams in the thick of things for the talented young defensive tackle.
-Only six of Miami’s 20 signees in the 2013 cycle were from the state of Florida, but that’s changed dramatically this cycle. The Hurricanes have 14 Florida prospects among their 20 commits in a class that currently ranks No. 9 nationally by 247Sports. In fact, Miami has more top 15 Florida prospects (247Composite) committed than any other program in this cycle currently.
-Louisville may end up getting three-star Louisiana tight end Anthony Jones (New Orleans, La./Edna Carr). The 6-foot-5 athlete is raw, but has shown flashes of brilliance on film. Florida State and LSU, two other programs in the mix, may fill up at his position. The Cardinals have been dabbling in New Orleans a bit, signing linebacker Lyn Clark from O. Perry Walker last cycle.
-During the era of head coach Jim Grobe, Wake Forest has made a living off signing players like recent outside linebacker commit Kalin McNeil (Mcleansville, N.C./Northeast Guilford). McNeil is 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, but has a great frame, long arms and is extremely athletic and active on film, so if he can add the weight and strength, his chances of success are high. We also are high on the upside of center Nick Luedeke (Holly Springs, N.C.), who like McNeil is a recent Deacs pledge.
This and that
It’s Florida State out in front of Pittsburgh right now for Top247 running back Shai McKenzie. Led by Steel City native Sal Sunseri, the Noles are in perfect position to land the power back .... North Carolina tight ends coach Walt Bell has been on a tear this recruiting cycle, has a league-high 11 verbal commitments and checks it at No. 10 in the ACC recruiter rankings per 247Sports. He's developing an outstanding reputation with players and high school coaches, particularly in the recruiting battleground state of Virginia ... All 11 of Duke’s commits for the 2014 cycle rate three stars according to 247Composite, a very solid effort for David Cutcliffe and company, who took the Blue Devils to their first bowl since 1995 last season. ...Don’t sleep on Syracuse running back commit Naesean Howard (Camilius, N.Y./West Genesee)- he has excellent film and some explosiveness and is one of those state of New York sleepers that could surprise. ...Virginia Tech’s class has risen to No. 15 nationally after Class of 2013 signees Holland Fisher and D.J. Reid, both four-star prospects, along with Cequan Jefferson, a three star prospect, joined the 2014 class from Fork Union Military Academy. Technically, all three are recruitable athletes once they enter FUMA. ...Don’t sleep on Georgia Tech tight end commit Trey Klock (Hummelstown, Pa./Lower Dauphin) becoming an excellent blocker in college. His skill as a pass catcher isn’t at the level of other tight end recruits, but he’s nasty, big and strong- a perfect fit for the Yellow Jackets’ offensive scheme.