Don't look, but the 2015 version of the Maryland football program kicks off its season in just a shade over a month. Fall sports, indeed, are right around the corner, and most of the questions for this week's Terps Mailbag focus on the future of Randy Edsall's program. Thanks to all who submitted questions (or topical ideas) this week. We'll get straight to it:
We'll know Friday, when Ellis makes his official unofficial announcement. The football recruiting community – of which I'm more an observer than an actual part – seems to think Ellis, a four-star receiver from just down Route 1 at DeMatha, will give his pledge to the Terrapins. He's been connected to them for a long time, and he's close with a handful of Maryland commits and targets (including quarterback Dwayne Haskins and DeMatha running back Lorenzo Harrison). So it makes sense that Ellis might wind up in College Park. But I'm always wary of trying to psychoanalyze high-schoolers, and it's not like Virginia Tech makes a habit of losing recruiting battles to Maryland.
Verbal commitments are worth very little, but it's not exactly easy to flip them. Smith, rated the top inside linebacker in the 2016 class by 247Sports, does come from the IMG Academy in Florida, from which Maryland did recently snatch a four-star talent at tight end and Director of Player Personnel Corey Robinson, who has connections in Baltimore, where Smith originally hails from. That's nothing, but Smith is committed to Clemson, which is both a better program than Maryland and one that's sent a silly list of front-seven talent to the NFL in the past few seasons: The Tigers have five linebackers alone in the league right now. I'm sure Maryland would love Smith, but so would every other team in the country. He's good.
It's been a few weeks since Maryland's had any major recruiting news, but I don't think "momentum" - whatever that means in this context - has changed. July is a quiet month for college football, period. If the Terps get Trevon Diggs and Ellis, things will be going swimmingly. If they don't, they won't. Those two guys and a few others have been at the nexus of Maryland's "movement" thing for a while, and nothing's different now.
Probably not a big one, but maybe in spots if he doesn't redshirt. Johnson, a three-star running back from Cumberland, is only 5'10 and 184 pounds. He's clearly behind a senior and a redshirt junior in Brandon Ross and Wes Brown on Maryland's depth chart, but he could beat out Joe Riddle for the third-string job. If he does that, it's hard to imagine Johnson keeping a redshirt. A couple of recruiting-savvy reporters I've talked to say Johnson is actually a better cornerback prospect than a running back, but Maryland has opted to keep him in the offensive backfield.
The important caveat here is that everyone who regularly attends these workouts is involved with the program and, hence, inclined to take an optimistic view of it. Nobody's ever told me that somebody's looked underwhelming in summer practice, and nobody probably ever will. I haven't had access to any workouts this summer, but a few themes have emerged in conversations about the team:
Damonte Dodd has been a big hit. He's in excellent shape, and he's played so well that nobody is guaranteeing Diamond Stone will begin the season as Maryland's starting center.
Dion Wiley is fitter than last season (as Jon Rothstein confirmed last week) and has been a workout star. Rasheed Sulaimon is going to be Maryland's starting shooting guard, but Wiley's going to find minutes in a crowded rotation.
Sulaimon, for his part, has been finishing up his degree at Duke for much of the summer. He's popped into College Park on weekends to get to know his new team. All sounds well on that front.
- The Terps love Robert Carter. I haven't heard a single sentiment about his game that isn't glowing.