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What Maryland football’s recruiting big board looks like early in the 2019 cycle

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Recruiting hasn’t really picked up yet, but it will soon.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Media Days Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

After signing 23 recruits in the Class of 2018 and bringing in three transfers, Maryland football will likely take a smaller Class of 2019.

Last year, nobody knew what to expect with the introduction of the early December signing period. This year, the recruiting cycle will probably play out much like the last one did. The bulk of the class will make summer decisions and sign in December; this seems to be the new norm.

The 2018 season is a pivotal one for the Terps, though. Another losing campaign may draw frustration from an impatient fan base with DJ Durkin, while the seven-plus-win season Maryland seems to be on the brink of having could lead to a recruiting boom.

Despite a 10-15 record in his first 25 games, Durkin and his staff have signed back-to-back top-30 classes, selling the future of the program. It’s worked thus far, but eventually the great recruiting classes have to turn into wins. The recruits that made up those classes are starting to make an impact on the field, and another strong crop of freshmen could make names for themselves this coming season.

If all goes well, we could be in for a much more exciting lead-up to both National Signing Days than we got this year, when there was basically no last-minute drama. Here are some of the top targets on Maryland’s wish list as we enter the second half of spring practice and prepare for the dog days of summer recruiting. This list obviously will obviously change as the cycle progresses, but it’s a start.

Quarterback

On roster: Max Bortenschlager, Kasim Hill, Tyrrell Pigrome, Tyler DeSue, Legend Brumbaugh
2018 commits: Tyler DeSue

2019 targets: Three-star UCF commit Charlie Dean from Plant High School in Florida was on a visit earlier this month, though all parties kept it fairly quiet. The pro-style passer may be the priority, and he performed well at Under Armour’s Orlando Camp this past week. Jalon Jones is a three-star dual-threat from St. Frances Academy in Baltimore. Walt Bell hadn’t yet offered by the time he left for Florida State, but Jones was one of the first offers under Matt Canada. Though he’s the closest target to College Park geographically, he’s being pursued by the likes of Florida—he was previously committed to Dan Mullen at Mississippi State—Ohio State and NC State, and may be hard to pull. The Terps are also after four-star dual-threat Taisun Phommachanh from Connecticut. They were one of the first schools to offer him last fall, but he’s since exploded into a national recruit, with Bell and Florida State leading the Crystal Ball race for his services.

Running back

On roster: Tayon Fleet-Davis, Jake Funk, Lorenzo Harrison, Ty Johnson, Javon Leake, Anthony McFarland
2018 commits: N/A

2019 targets: After redshirting Anthony McFarland and Tayon Fleet-Davis and getting Ty Johnson back for his final season, the Terps didn’t pick up a running back in the 2018 cycle. With a stacked local class of running backs in 2020, Maryland may opt to only take one or two this year as well. Four-star Keilan Robinson is a smaller, shiftier back out of St. John’s; his playing style would remind fans of Lorenzo Harrison. His former teammate, three-star Joachim Bangda, transferred to St. Frances ahead of last season, and is another option as a power back for the Terps. Three-star Jordan Houston is another option. Virginia Tech is the current Crystal Ball leader, but the Hokies are in the driver’s seat for high four-star Devyn Ford, which could help put Maryland in better position to land Houston.

Wide receiver

On roster: Tahj Capehart, Carlos Carriere, Jayden Comma, Jahrvis Davenport, Michael, Cornwell Taivon Jacobs, MJ Jarrell, Sean Nelson, DJ Turner, Dontay Demus, Brian Cobbs, Jeshaun Jones, Darryl Jones, Rayshad Lewis
2018 commits: Dontay Demus, Brian Cobbs, Jeshaun Jones, Darryl Jones

2019 targets: Having only lost D.J. Moore and Jacquille Veii to graduation, the Terps are pretty full when it comes to receivers; only Taivon Jacobs, Michael Cornwell, Chris Jones and Jahrvis Davenport are slated to leave after this season. This year at receiver could be similar to last year at running back for Maryland, where it’s one or two guys and that’s it. Four-star Isaiah Hazel from local public powerhouse Wise is the priority; the staff has done a good job so far. Another name to watch out for is three-star Gonzaga receiver Dean Engram if some of the top targets don’t work out.

Tight end

On roster: Noah Barnes, Avery Edwards, Andrew Park, Chigoziem Okonkwo
2018 commits: Chigoziem Okonkwo

2019 targets: After taking only Okonkwo in 2018, the Terps are likely looking to fill two tight end spots in 2019. The tight end position may even end up being a priority in Canada’s offense, while it seemed like more of an afterthought—at least on the field—in Bell’s. Maryland has offered former Terp P.J. Gallo’s younger brother Nick. The sleeper here could be IMG Academy’s Logan Compton. Maryland was the first Power 5 school to offer, and he’s in the process of blowing up.

Offensive line

On roster: Sean Christie, Terrance Davis, Derwin Gray, Tyran Hunt, Johnny Jordan, Ellis McKennie, Jordan McNair, Marcus Minor, Brendan Moore, Brian Plummer, Damian Prince, Evan Gregory, Jaelyn Duncan, Spencer Anderson, TJ Bradley
2018 commits: Evan Gregory, Jaelyn Duncan, Spencer Anderson, TJ Bradley

2019 targets: Four-star tackle Will Harrod is the headliner as far as offensive line targets go, but blue bloods like Michigan are in hot pursuit. The Terps look like the leaders to dip back into their Lackawana pipeline and snag four-star JuCo tackle Anthony Whigan. Maryland is also in a good spot for three-star Sidwell Friends tackle Walter Rouse.

On the interior, the Terps are taking a long look at three-star guard Saleem Wormley. Penn State offered recently, and Notre Dame looks like a contender if they’ll take him, too. Maryland will also likely battle it out for St. Frances’ four-star Darrian Dalcourt, but he’s also got offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan, so we’ll see where that goes.

Defensive line

On roster: Jesse Aniebonam, Bryce Brand, Brandon and Breyon Gaddy, Dion Goldbourne, Keiron Howard, Melvin Keihn, Brett Kulka, Adam McLean, B’Ahmad Miller, Kingsley Opara, Lawtez Rogers, Oseh Saine, Cam Spence, Mbi Tanyi, Austin Fontaine, Tyler Baylor, Durell Nchami, Byron Cowart
2018 commits: Austin Fontaine, Tyler Baylor, Durrell Nchami, Byron Cowart (transfer)

2019 targets: There are several names to watch at the BUCK position. Four-star Gonzaga product Joseph Weté looks like he’s more than likely leaving the area, which puts four-star St. John’s pass rusher Tre’mon Morris-Brash at the top of the wish list. Maryland has had trouble keeping elite local pass rushers home in recent years, and it’ll have a tough time reversing that trend this year. Northwest’s three-star Deandre Jules could be as good a consolation prize as there is, though. Three-star Dontay Hunter II, whose dad played with Durkin at Bowling Green, and three-star David Ojabo are two other names to watch, though Ojabo could bulk up and play strong-side defensive end.

At defensive tackle, the Terps recently hosted three-star Bryce Nelms, and could look back to Bishop Sullivan to try and pull three-star Adarious Jones. Three-star Ben Smiley is another name out of Virginia Beach to watch.

Linebacker

On roster: Antoine Brooks, Isaiah Davis, Nnamdi Egbuaba, Ayinde Eley, Brett Shepherd, Nick Underwood, Nihym Anderson, Jordan Mosley, Chance Campbell, Fa’Najae Gotay, Tre Watson
2018 commits: Nihym Anderson, Jordan Mosley, Chance Campbell, Fa’Najae Gotay, Tre Watson (grad transfer)

2019 targets: After a big 2018 class, Maryland can be more selective in 2019. Four-star Shane Lee is at the top of the Terps’ wish list, but also at the top of many others’. Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Penn State, among other blue, bloods, have offered. Three-star Hunter Stewart is a name to watch out of Gonzaga. If Maryland pushes for three-star Kameron Blount out of Waldorf, he could be the Terps’ to lose.

Defensive back

On roster: Fofie Bazzie, Kenny Bennett, RaVon Davis, Tino Ellis, Deon Jones, Quantrezz Knight, Antwaine Richardson, Darnell Savage, Marcus Lewis, Antoine Brooks Jr., Raymond Boone, Vincent Flythe, Ken Montgomery
2018 commits: Raymond Boone, Vincent Flythe, Ken Montgomery

2019 targets: Maryland loses several defensive backs heading into next season, but those who remain are fairly seasoned veterans mixed with young, highly rated talent. The Terps’ lone 2019 commit is three-star cornerback Lavonte Gater. They’ll look to build on that solid start heading into the summer with three-star Good Counsel product Cam Hart. Some schools are looking at him as a receiver, but he’d be a defensive back at Maryland. Three-stars Jermaine Johnson from DeMatha and three-star St. John’s prospect Quinten Johnson are a pair of local names to watch.

At safety, and maybe the whole class, the priority is four-star DeMatha safety Nick Cross. He was feeling Maryland early in the process, but has since exploded into a national recruit, with Ohio State, Penn State and Notre Dame nipping at the bud to land him. Signing Cross would probably be the biggest win for the Terps in the entire cycle. His teammate, four-star DeMarcco Hellams, is another name to watch, but seems less likely to end up in a Maryland uniform.