With all the buzz surrounding the University of Maryland's new facility project and completion of their inaugural season in the Big Ten, the Terrapins would like to capitalize on their recent opportunities by bringing in a significant 2016 recruiting class. With the "Stay Home Movement" spearheaded by Stefon Diggs, Dematha Catholic (MD) star wide receiver Tino Ellis has grown to appreciate what Maryland has to offer, and the idea of staying local for his collegiate career.
"Basically the campus," the junior said when asked what he finds appealing about Maryland. "It's a great school. It's like 1.3 miles away from my house, so I have a closer connection, and I'm closer to everything and Coach Locksley."
Maryland has some stiff, local competition for Ellis' services, rejuvenating some recruiting rivalries both old and new with Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Rutgers.
"Rutgers, West Virginia and Virginia Tech are pushing the most in my recruitment."
Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley has been a major player in Ellis' recruitment, but he's gotten some extra outside help. 2015 Quince Orchard (MD) standout Adam McLean and fellow 2016 DeMatha star Lorenzo Harrison, both Maryland commitments, have each spent time talking to Ellis about his decision.
"They've played a major role in my recruitment," he said. "Lorenzo talks to me every day about Maryland and what they're doing with the program and how they want me there and how I need to talk to the coaches. Also with Adam, he hits me up on Twitter every other day and tells me everything that's going on with Maryland. Those guys are huge in my recruitment."
Ellis, a four-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite, is currently considered the 45th-best wide receiver in the country and the 10th-best player in the state of Maryland. He said Maryland and Virginia Tech make up his lead group, but is still waiting to hear from a handful of other schools.
"Nebraska, Penn State and Georgia," Ellis said. "Those are the three I'm looking to push more in my recruitment, and also Notre Dame."
After three highlight reel filled seasons in College Park, Stefon Diggs recently announced he will forgo his senior season in order to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft. The impact of that decision has resonated with not only the Terrapin faithful, but also for Ellis.
"It was huge. I've basically watched Stefon since his freshman year," he said. "It's huge for a guy like him to stay home. It really means a lot for the Maryland community. A guy like him to stay home and go to the league is big. It shows that you don't have to go a crazy distance. It shows you can go to Maryland."
With his upcoming senior season, Ellis is taking things slowly and letting everything play out before coming to a decision. The variable that will lead to either an early or prolonged announcement is the amount of scholarship offers.
"Right now it depends. With the spring evaluation, if I pick up more offers, I'll make my decision a little later, but if things stand at where they are now, I'll probably make my decision a little earlier."
The idea of representing the home school could be too hard for Ellis to pass up.
"It means a lot to get an offer from your home school, I've been watching them since I was little," he said. "Maryland was my first offer, so it really means a lot to me."
Ellis will visit Virginia Tech on February 7th to participate in the Junior Day event. Donovan Riley, a junior on the Hokie football team, is a cousin of Ellis'.