Randy Edsall and the Maryland coaching staff have been tirelessly recruiting linebackers in hopes of replacing the veteran leadership lost to graduation this offseason. One glimmer of hope comes in the form of 2016 Landon School (MD) standout LB/TE Keith Simms. Simms has been aggressively courted by Edsall and defensive line coach Chad Wilt, and he's come away impressed thus far.
"Maryland is obviously the hometown school so I like that, and a lot of the recruits are my friends," Simms said. "We're trying to go to the same school and a lot of those guys want to stay home and play for their state. That's one thing that helps Maryland out a lot."
Simms has taken notice of the buzz surrounding Maryland's recruiting campaigns, like the 30 for 30 #DMV2UMD campaign, and has kept in contact with some of the other local heavyweights about the idea of joining forces.
"I talked to Dwayne Haskins about it. We played against each other in our conference. He always advocates Maryland. We've talked about how that could be a potential place for both of us. With Adam McLean and Tino Ellis, there is a group chat and we all talk on that. Other than that, I don't talk to them as much as I talk to Dwayne. Dwayne is definitely trying to get everyone to go to one school, and he's been advocating Maryland a lot, especially as of late."
Simms, a 3-star prospect and the 13th-best player in Maryland, according to the 247Sports Composite, has not only been targeted by the Terrapins, but also boasts an impressive list of schools who desire his talents.
"I'd say, if I had to name some, it would probably be Maryland, Boston College, Iowa, North Carolina and NC State," said Simms when asked who is going after him the hardest. "I just got the offer from NC State recently, and I've been talking to the coaches a lot. Those are the schools that hit me up on Twitter most frequently and they've been to my school a couple of times."
Many pundits bashed the performance of the Terps against Stanford in the Foster Farms Bowl, but even after the outcome, Simms hasn't looked at them differently. He stated that their performance didn't help or hurt his opinion of the program, and also spoke about what Stanford could offer him.
"Stanford has always been one of my dream schools," he said. "Going there would be great academically and football wise. The Maryland-Stanford game didn't really help or hurt my opinion of either school. I enjoyed watching the game, and Stanford kind of got the best of Maryland. I know from my conversations with Coach Edsall and Coach Wilt that they just need more recruits and more guys coming in so they can contend with those kinds of teams. I thought it was great for Maryland to play Stanford on national TV, but it didn't help or hurt my opinion or interest of those schools."
The Maryland defense really struggled at times last season, especially when stopping the run. There were some bright spots however, as Yannick Ngakoue lead the Big Ten in tackles for loss with 13.5. Simms took notice of not only Ngakoue's success, but the attention to detail when it comes to recruiting the defensive side of the ball.
"The defense is something they take pride in, and if I do end up at Maryland and I apply myself, good things can happen," he said. "I don't know if I would play the exact same position as him, but at my high school, we do some of the same things. It just shows how their dedicated to defense, and it shows the ability to play early and succeed. It shows me where the program is going."
As the lead recruiter for Simms, Wilt has laid out the foundation of what position Simms would play should he choose the Terps. The versatile Simms, who plays linebacker and tight end for Landon, agrees with what Wilt has presented to him.
"He wants me to play SAM linebacker, but he knows that could change based on whether I get bigger or taller. Linebacker is where I want to be. I could see myself in their defensive schemes.
"I feel that they've made me a priority in their recruitment. They've been to my school countless times," he said. "My relationship with the coaches is definitely really strong. We talk almost every day. The key things for me are being able to have my friends and family see me play, my relationship with the coaches and the guys who potentially want to go to this school."
Michigan has expressed interest in the rising junior, but the majority of the communication came from Brady Hoke's staff. Even with a new era beginning at Michigan, Simms would entertain the prospect of interacting with coach Harbaugh.
"No I haven't," said Simms when asked if he has heard from Harbaugh. "Some of the other coaches (before Harbaugh) follow me on Twitter. I haven't had a one-on-one conversation with him, but if that did happen, that would be awesome."
With his senior season approaching, the goal is to be committed before the end of the summer and before the season starts, but with the pressure of making the right decision, anything can change.
"I was kind of planning on committing at least by the end of summer, before the season next year, but that could change," he said. "My biggest thing is getting to some of the other schools that have offered me, and taking time to visit their facilities and meeting their coaches a little better. I've only been able to do that with Maryland and Penn State since they're the local schools. I don't want to rush anything. I want to make sure I make the right decision, but yeah, I definitely want to be committed by my senior year and at the end of summer."