Maryland recruiting: An early look at the Terps' defensive targets in 2015

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Adam McLean, Elijah Taylor and Kareem Gibson lead the way, but there are a lot of solid three-stars available.

In Part One, we took a look at the offensive players on Maryland's radar for 2015, led by Kai Locksley, Jalen Christian, Richie Petitbon and Quarvez Boulware. It's time to look at the defensive side of things, where there's plenty of talent the Terps are going after. Those players listed as "Departing" are leaving after this upcoming season.

Defensive end

Departing: Keith Bowers

Estimated # in 2015 class: 1-2

Targets

Adam McLean (highlight film)

High School: Quince Orchard (Gaithersburg, Md.)

247sports composite: Four stars, .9562 rating, seventh-best strong-side defensive end, best player in Maryland

The competition: Michigan State, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, Florida State

He combines the size to eat up space with the quickness to be an immediate danger in the backfield

McLean is the highest-rated target in the class -- there are no five stars in the area this year, but he's considered a slightly better prospect than incoming freshman Jesse Aniebonam, who was also listed as a strong-side defensive end. Aniebonam is going to play outside linebacker in College Park, which leaves a spot wide open for McLean to come in and do some damage. The 6'3", 282-pound lineman plays defensive tackle in a 4-3 at Quince Orchard, and combines the size to eat up space with the quickness to be an immediate danger in the backfield. He simply explodes off the line, and will be a force in opposing backfields wherever he ends up.

Ryan Buchholz (highlight film)

High School: Great Valley (Malvern, Pa.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8778 rating, 22nd-best strong-side defensive end, 11th-best player in Pennsylvania

The competition: Penn State

Buchholz's brother, Carl, was a wrestler at Maryland before walking on to the football team as a fullback, so the Terps have an in there. He's rumored to be a Penn State lean, however, so there's some perceived ground to makeup. Buchholz has great tackling ability, and could actually make a fine linebacker despite his 6'6" frame.

Eric Assoua (highlight film)

High School: St. John's (Washington, D.C.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8100 rating, 45th-best weak-side defensive end, 12th-best player in D.C.

The competition: Toledo, Western Michigan, Penn State, Virginia Tech

Toledo and Western Michigan are Assoua's only two offers, but he attended Junior Days at State College and in Blacksburg so we've included the other two as well. He needs to put on some weight before the next level (although he may end up playing tight end).

Jake Pickard (highlight film)

High School: Millburn Senior (Millburn, N.J.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8067 rating, 33rd-best tight end, 27th-best player in New Jersey

The competition: Rutgers, Missouri, Virginia, Penn State, Temple, Colorado

Pickard does not claim any offers yet, but he has an impressive list of schools targeting him that also includes Michigan and Ohio State. He's listed as a tight end by the composite, but Maryland is recruiting him as a defensive end. Listed at 6'6" and 219 pounds, he's got a nice frame and could come off the weak side at Quinton Jefferson's current position, but he'll have to add some weight before he can really contribute.

Defensive tackle

Departing: Darius Kilgo

Estimated # in 2015 class: 2-3

Targets

Elijah Taylor (highlight film)

High School: Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio)

247sports composite: Four stars, .8971 rating, 21st-best defensive tackle, 13th-best player in Ohio

The competition: Notre Dame, Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana, Louisville

He'll remind you of Andre Monroe (plus a few inches), and would be a gigantic addition to the Terps' formidable pass rush.

It's Big Ten territory for Maryland with Moeller, as the Terps are attempting to further their influence into Ohio. He's an incredible playmaker at nose tackle -- not just a space-eater (although he is 6'3" and 275 pounds), he gets into the opposing backfield with ease with a swift push, and tackles hard and sure. He'll remind you of Andre Monroe (plus a few inches), and would be a gigantic addition to the Terps' formidable pass rush.

Chance Hall (highlight film)

High School: Northside (Roanoke, Va.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8532 rating, 35th-best defensive tackle, 25th-best player in Virginia

The competition: Virginia, Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Penn State

Hall hasn't received offers from those last two, but he attended their Junior Days. He's an inch taller and a bit heavier than Taylor, and he is more of a pure space-eater (a la Darius Kilgo, who saw success in the role this season with the Terps). Also an offensive tackle, he's surprisingly quick given his 6'4", 288 pound frame, and I'd expect him to get a ratings boost before Signing Day.

David Ryslik (highlight film)

High School: The Peddie School (Hightstown, N.J.)

247sports composite: Not yet rated

The competition: Duke, Penn State, Temple, Virginia, Boston College, Florida State, Auburn

Duke is the only school that has offered Ryslik, but that's a pretty impressive list of interested schools. He's listed as a defensive end by 247sports, but we see him as more of a defensive tackle at the next level -- although his ability to jump between either position would be useful in the Terps' 3-4 scheme. At 6'4" and 280 pounds, he's got a sizable frame, and will be able to occupy multiple blockers at a time.

Wesley Annan (highlight film)

High School: Lake Forest Academy (Lake Forest, Ill.)

247sports composite: Not yet rated

The competition: Illinois, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Purdue

Another example of the Terps' attempt to move into the Midwest, Annan is being pursued by new defensive line coach Chad Wilt, who has experience recruiting the area from his time at Ball State. At 6'4" and 280 pounds, he also takes up a good amount of space on the inside, and has no trouble getting past blockers -- as a junior, he recorded 24 tackles for a loss.

Knikeem Lewis (highlight film)

High School: St. Joseph (Hammonton, N.J.)

247sports composite: Not yet rated

The competition: Penn State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Temple

Lewis has no listed offers yet, and is listed at 6'3" and 275 pounds. Tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator John Dunn visited him in late January, getting him on a spot on this list. Maryland has shown a willingness to play some players at both the tackle and end positions on the line, and Lewis could be a bigger version of that Andre Monroe/Roman Braglio-style tweener.

Tristan Nevotne (highlight film)

High School: Hinsdale Central (Hinsdale, Ill.)

247sports composite: Not yet rated

The competition: Pitt, Northwestern, Duke, Ohio State

Nevotne claims no offers yet, but took visits to Pitt and Northwestern and received visits from Duke and Maryland. Listed at 6'3.5" and 275 pounds, Nevotne plays defensive tackle and offensive guard at Hindsale Central, with a quarterback who wears No. 40. He's got a good frame but moves fairly well, and is another candidate for that 'tweener position the Terps have utilized so well.

Clay Kemp (highlight film)

High School: St. John Vianney Regional (Holmdel, N.J.)

247sports composite: Not yet rated

The competition: Rutgers, West Virginia

Kemp has not yet received any offers, but could get one from Maryland at Junior Day this weekend. Listed at 6'1" and 285 pounds, he has a great first step and does a very good job of hitting the ball-carrier hard at the proper point of impact. He plays in a 4-3 in high school, but has the size to occupy Maryland's nose tackle position. Even with that frame, he moves surprisingly quickly, and flies off the tape considerably better than some of the other prospects who have not yet been rated.

Jay Gilchrist (highlight film)

High School: Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.)

247sports composite: Not yet rated

The competition: Penn State

Gilchrist is one of a number of players from Wise that Maryland is looking at, but there's not much tape on him made publicly available. We can tell you one thing -- he's big. Listed at 6'2" and 310 pounds, he's very squarely on the nose tackle/space-eater side on the scale of this group.

Julius Combes (highlight film)

High School: DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)

247sports composite: Not yet rated

The competition: N/A

Combes is another chance at re-opening the DeMatha pipeline. Listed at 6'1" and 285 pounds, Combes is the smaller tackle in a 4-3 scheme at DeMatha, and sometimes plays outside at the end position. He solidly falls more on the 'tweener side of things in terms of tackle prospects.

Antoine McCray (highlight film)

High School: Forestville Military Academy (District Heights, Md.)

247sports composite: Not yet rated

The competition: N/A

McCray is another big nose tackle type at 6'3" and 320, but actually started as a basketball player so he moves well for his size. He's still learning some of the finer points of technique, but he could be a nice sleeper prospect at the position.

Mbi Tanyi (highlight film)

High School: George Bush High School (Houston, Texas)

247sports composite: Not yet rated.

The competition: Nebraska, Oklahoma

Tanyi picked up an offer from Maryland on Monday (his first offer), but there's not much out there on him. The Terps have tried to poke their noses into Texas a bit, and it's a worthwhile cause -- the sleepers there are good enough to be high-quality players elsewhere. He's listed at 6'3" and 245 pounds, but carries quite a lot of strength and is a serious threat on the line.

Outside linebacker

Departing: Matt Robinson, Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil, Alex Twine, Clarence Murphy

Estimated # in 2015 class: 2

Targets

Chad Smith (highlight film)

High School: Dominion (Sterling, Va.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8800 rating, 24th-best outside linebacker, 16th-best player in Virginia

The competition: Virginia Tech, Clemson, Pittsburgh, Penn State

Smith received an offer from Maryland in late January, but is rumored to be a Hokie lean -- he fits their profile of "talented defensive player in the general area." He's visited Blacksburg twice, first in October last year and most recently for Junior Day earlier this February. He's very able in pass coverage for a linebacker (his first four clips on his highlight tape are interceptions), and would be an ideal fit at SAM to help replace the losses of Robinson and Twine.

Joe Giles Harris (highlight film)

High School: St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8556 rating, 35th-best outside linebacker, 18th-best player in New Jersey

The competition: Boston College, Duke, Illinois, Rutgers, Temple

Giles-Harris has taken two visits -- to Boston College and Duke -- and claims offers from the schools listed above (but not Maryland). He's an overpowering linebacker in every way, and is simply an unfair physical matchup for the other players in New Jersey. He's fast, hits hard and can even drop back in coverage, and is a complete linebacker that would also slot in nicely at that SAM position.

Kareem McDonald (highlight film)

High School: Wilson (Washington, D.C.)

247sports composite: Two stars, .7700 rating, 65th-best outside linebacker, 13th-best player in D.C.

The competition: Toledo, Kentucky

He's very high on the Terps, and could be an early commitment possibility, which could help as a jumping point to other local commits.

Toledo is McDonald's only offer at the moment, but Maryland could follow suit at Junior Day. He's very high on the Terps, and could be an early commitment possibility, which could help as a jumping point to other local commits. McDonald is listed at 6'2" and 215 pounds and is another fit at SAM, where Maryland appears to be focusing much of their outside linebacker energy in this class.

Drew Yarborough (highlight film)

High School: Thomas Johnson (Frederick, Md.)

247sports composite: Not yet rated

The competition: Penn State, Pittsburgh, Missouri, Boston College, West Virginia

Yarborough does not list any offers yet, but has visited Penn State (twice) and Maryland thus far. Listed at 6'0" and 215 pounds, he plays middle linebacker at TJ and is a sure tackler who could play at any of the Terps' four linebacker positions. He also wears a neck brace, which automatically adds 40 tackles per season for any linebacker.

Anthony Malaguti (highlight film)

High School: Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.)

247sports composite: Not yet rated

The competition: Penn State, Tennessee, Rutgers, Temple, Virginia

Malaguti has no listed offers, but is a very solid prospect from one of the most successful programs in the country. Listed at 6'2" and 225 pounds, he flies through the offensive line with regularity, and packs a serious punch on whoever he ends up laying a hit on. Like Yarborough, he's a tackling machine who could probably play any of the four linebacking positions, but he's most likely to end up at SAM or one of the two inside positions if he comes to College Park.

R.J. Edwards (highlight film)

High School: St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.)

247sports composite: Not yet rated

The competition: Rutgers, East Carolina, William & Mary, Georgia Tech, Boston College

Edwards is listed at 6'1" and 225 pounds, and has no claimed offers yet. He also played wide receiver and even received some carries in high school, but projects as a SAM linebacker in Maryland's system. He's faster than many other linebacking prospects and hits pretty hard (at least as a blocker), and could be an interesting option off the edge.

Inside linebacker

Departing: Cole Farrand, L.A. Goree

Estimated # in 2015 class: 1

Targets

Wyatt Cook (highlight film)

High School: McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8800 rating, 16th-best inside linebacker, ninth-best player in Maryland

The competition: Penn State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State

He's a fantastic run-stopper up the middle, and is simply the prototypical tackling machine of a middle linebacker.

Maryland is Cook's only offer at the moment, and the Terps seem to stand in good position with the prospect. He's a fantastic run-stopper up the middle, and is simply the prototypical tackling machine of a middle linebacker. He'd follow in the footsteps of other recent Terrapins who put up big tackling numbers at the linebacker position, and would likely be a multiple-year starter in College Park.

Jake Cooper (highlight film)

High School: Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8513 rating, 26th-best inside linebacker, 18th-best player in Pennsylvania

The competition: Penn State, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Nebraska, Syracuse

Maryland has not offered Cooper, but he visited College Park in November. He's rumored to be Penn State's to lose, and received an offer from them in early February. Listed at 6'2" and 230 pounds, Cooper's game is a bit different than Cook's, as he's more of a speed-based 'backer, which would actually pair quite well with Cook's strength and tackling ability.

Cornerback

Departing: Jeremiah Johnson

Estimated # in 2015 class: 2-3

Targets

Kareem Gibson (highlight film)

High School: Greater Johnstown Senior (Johnston, Penn.)

247sports composite: Four stars, .8900 rating, 22nd-best cornerback, eighth-best player in Pennsylvania

The competition: Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Temple, Toledo

Gibson is originally from the D.C. area and has friends on Maryland's roster. Listed at 5'10" and 157 pounds, he has offers from Pitt, Temple and Toledo and attended the Panthers' Junior Day (as well as West Virginia's). He's the best playmaker among the players the Terps' are targeting at the position, and reminds a bit of Dexter McDougle in his ability to make things happen. Gibson also boasts very good top-end speed.

Ashton White (highlight film)

High School: Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8827 rating, 41st-best athlete, fourth-best player in D.C.

The competition: Virginia Tech

White does not have much in the way of publicly available highlight film, but he's a sure tackler who is one of the better secondary prospects in the area. He committed to Virginia Tech in December, but Maryland has been trying to flip him. He's at Junior Day this weekend, and recently transferred from Friendship to Bishop McNamara (home of Damian Prince, who is already doing his part in trying to flip White).

Kareem Ali (highlight film)

High School: Timber Creek (Sicklerville, N.J.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8782 rating, 30th-best cornerback, 11th-best player in New Jersey

The competition: Penn State, Rutgers

Ali was an early offer for Maryland, receiving one back in June, and visited just a few months later. His recruitment has started to pick up steam as of late, with offers from Nebraska, West Virginia and Michigan State, and I would not be surprised to see him receive a four star rating soon. He's on the small side and is listed at 5'11" and 175 pounds, but is simply fantastic in coverage and tenacious when breaking towards the ball. He's a prototypical lockdown corner, and would be a terrific pickup who would contribute from his first year on campus.

Dionte Austin (highlight film)

High School: Calvert Hall College (Towson, Md.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8675 rating, 40th-best cornerback, 14th-best player in Maryland

The competition: Indiana, Virginia Tech.

Austin received a Maryland offer a while back and is visiting this weekend. He's a slightly taller corner at 6'0" and 150 pounds, and he hits hard for his relatively lean size (he plays much bigger than 150). He also has solid skills in coverage, and if Maryland were able to pick up at least two of these first four guys, it would be an excellent corner class.

Darnell Savage (highlight film)

High School: Caravel Academy (Bear, Del.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8517 rating, 52nd-best cornerback, best player in Delaware

The competition: Penn State

If the Terps can land Savage and two of the guys above, it's a home-run class at a position of significant need.

Maryland offered Savage early on, and stand in good position to continue their pipeline of Delaware talent (adding to Brandon Ross, Jarrett Ross and Evan Mulrooney). Listed at 5'10" and 172 pounds, Savage is another shorter corner but he's got some good size on him for that height. It shows in his tape, as he is able to launch himself at ball carriers and hit them hard with regularity. If the Terps can land Savage and two of the guys above, it's a home-run class at a position of significant need.

Justice Pettus-Dixon (highlight film)

High School: St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.)

247sports composite: Not yet rated

The competition: Oregon State, West Virginia, Toledo, NC State, Tennessee

Pettus-Dixon claims offers from Oregon State and Toledo, but Maryland may be next in line. The Terrapins are targeting multiple players at St. Frances, where they pulled linebacker Nnamdi Egbuaba from in the class of 2014. Listed at 5'11" and 180 pounds, he may actually be shorter than that -- but he is very good in coverage and makes up for any lack of height with great leaping ability.

Kobe Marfo (highlight film)

High School: Hayfield (Quantico, Va.)

247sports composite: Not yet rated

The competition: Wake Forest, Old Dominion, Penn State, Virginia, Clemson, Virginia Tech

Marfo claims interest from a variety of top-tier programs around the nation, and Maryland is one of a number of schools that stopped by to see him in January. Listed at 6'1" and 180 pounds, he plays big as a cornerback, and is able to back that up with solid play in coverage.

John Robinson (highlight film)

High School: Dwight Morrow (Englewood, N.J.)

247sports composite: Not yet rated

The competition: Rutgers

Robinson is cousins with Juwann Winfree, and they were also high school teammates. At 6'1", he's one of the taller corners in the class, and visited a Maryland game with Winfree in late October. Along with his height, Robinson sports an impressive vertical, and is nearly unbeatable on end zone fades.

JaTwan Jones (highlight film)

High School: Meade Senior (Fort George G. Meade, Md.)

247sports composite: Not yet rated

The competition: East Carolina, Virginia, Rutgers

Jones visited Maryland in October, and the 6'0", 165-pound corner does not claim any offers yet (although he's visited each of the above schools). There's not much out there on him in terms of tape, but he's a larger corner who has solid closing speed.

Safety

Departing: A.J. Hendy, Rashid Conteh

Estimated # in 2015 class: 1-2

Targets

Jay Stocker (highlight film)

High School: Coatesville Area (Coatesville, Pa.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8774 rating, 24th-best safety, 10th-best player in Pennsylvania

The competition: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Virginia, Rutgers

He's a legitimate blue-chip prospect who combines running back speed with great hitting power.

Some of the bigger Big Ten schools are starting to amp up their pursuit of Stocker, who possesses a unique combination of speed and strength at the safety position. Wisconsin, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Georgia Tech and Rutgers are his bigger offers, but the Buckeyes may be next in line despite recently securing a commitment from blue-chip safety Ben Edwards. He's a legitimate blue-chip prospect who combines running back speed with great hitting power.

Myles Hartsfield (highlight film)

High School: Sayreville War Memorial (Parlin, N.J.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8659 rating, 30th-best safety, 13th-best player in New Jersey

The competition: Georgia Tech, Penn State, Rutgers

Hartsfield does not yet have an offer from the Terps, but he attended Junior Day in College Park (as well as Penn State's). He visited College Park last year, and could receive an offer this weekend.

Prentice McKinney (highlight film)

High School: South Oak Cliff (Dallas, Texas)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8563 rating, 38th-best safety, 81st-best player in Texas

The competition: Boise State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Michigan, Texas

Texas is the only school of the group that has not yet offered McKinney, and he's starting to get some serious national attention. The 6'2", 180-pound safety received a Maryland offer in late January -- one of three South Oak Cliff prospects to get one. He's a big player who runs smoothly and hits hard, and could actually move down to SAM linebacker in the footsteps of Kenny Tate and Matt Robinson.

A.J. Turner (highlight film)

High School: Centreville (Clifton, Va.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8444 rating, 50th-best safety, 29th-best player in Virginia

The competition: Virginia, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Florida, Florida State

Turner is very, very fast, and it shows on his tape -- he's a running back with a great burst of speed. At 5'11" and 180 pounds, he's a bit on the small side, but that speed will carry him a long way.

Ayron Monroe (highlight film)

High School: St. John's College (Washington, D.C.)

247sports composite: Three stars, .8389 rating, 54th-best safety, 10th-best player in D.C.

The competition: Penn State, Virginia, Iowa, Mississippi State

Monroe is starting to gain some serious traction on the recruiting trail (especially with the recent offers from the three non-local schools), but the 6'0", 195-pound safety is still considered a Maryland lean. He fits more in the free safety mold, with good speed and ball skills, but he still tackles well.

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