Gilman rising-senior Mattheus Carroll has been juggling a lot throughout the recruiting process. Between work, school and his recruitment, the three-star prospect says it can be overwhelming at times.
Often, he’ll receive calls at work. And sometimes while he’s on the phone with coaches, suddenly he’ll get an incoming call from another school’s staff, and he feels bad.
Whatever the situation, Carroll does his best to give coaches any time he can as he works through the recruiting process.
“I try to stay level headed because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you kind of have to just take it all in,” Carroll told Testudo Times.
On May 12, the NCAA Division I Council lifted a communication restriction, allowing college coaches to contact 2021 recruits as much as they wish with in-person recruiting on hold — leading to even more communication than Carroll was used to before.
The No. 22 player in Maryland and No. 47 weak-side defensive end in 2021, Carroll has also had the coronavirus pandemic throw a wrench in this already rare experience, but he has used this time to work on himself and finish the semester strong while spending time with family.
“For me, the biggest [change] is my workout and school,” Carroll said. “Workout-wise, once they released the stay-at-home order in Maryland, I was doing stuff off of an app with my team and recording myself doing those workouts. But since that’s been lifted, I’ve been working out at my trainers house, which is definitely been good.
“We’re doing well here, a full house of seven, so we understand we’re just enjoying our time that we are spending here with each other. Everybody’s trying to stay positive. I’m in a full family of athletes, my siblings all play so we’re competitive in the house with workouts and trying to get better out of this thing.”
COVID-19 put a halt on in-person visits with programs recruiting the 2021 class, making the process more tricky. For Carroll, this has meant virtual tours and meetings, along with the unlimited calls and texts, instead of seeing campuses and meeting people face-to-face.
“It’s been a little bit overwhelming just because you’re not getting one visit in one day,” Carroll said. “Sometimes we’ll have multiple stuff per day, so it’s a lot of information to take in.”
Maryland head coach Mike Locksley and his staff worked in early 2019 to develop connections in the 2021 class, and a connection between Carroll’s head coach and new Terps tight ends coach Mike Miller kicked things off.
Carroll attended Maryland’s 2019 spring game with his coach and surprised the Maryland staff with a chance to introduce themselves and create that bond early.
“Then Coach Joker [Phillips] stopped by [Gilman], got my name, height, weight, and just you started [the] relationship,” Carroll said. “The next week or so, the last week of school, coach [Jon] Hoke and coach [John] Papuchis walked in and just introduced themselves. They talked about me coming to the campus, and that was the first day I got on with [Locksley] for Facetime.”
Phillips then continued to maintain the relationship, eventually getting Carroll to visit unofficially and take part in a summer camp at Maryland. He earned his offer on the field with coaches already having expressed interest in his tape and continued working and learning about each other from there.
“That was my that was my third offer, so I was super duper excited,” Carroll said. “That was actually my first Power Five offer and a school like Maryland was a hometown, I guess you could say ‘dream school’ because I watched them on TV, and stuff like that. It was definitely a new feeling, and ever since that feeling has not really altered at all. It’s definitely been a been a good deal with Maryland.”
Locksley and his staff have been pushing the hometown message to Carroll and other recruits, comparing this shaping of the roster to LSU where local kids make up a majority of the team and helped them reach the upper echelon of college football.
Carroll’s 2019 fall season was eventful as he tallied 11 sacks as a junior, began to take visits and earn even more offers from around the country.
As spring came around, Carroll began to weigh the pros and cons of schools as he tries to find where he fits best. Many schools see Carroll fitting as a defensive end, some as a linebacker, but Maryland’s plan has been different.
“They’re recruiting me for the JACK position, and they consider that outside linebacker,” Carroll said. “I know Maryland has mentioned also with kind of seeing how I can move at tight end, so they’re really open for me playing basically three spots on the field as outside linebacker, defensive end and tight end.
“That’s really different because for majority of my schools, I don’t really have a whole lot of communications with tight end coaches or stuff like that. I would say that’s a difference, but it’s definitely a good thing.”
24/7 Sports previously had Carroll ranked as the No. 42 tight end in the class of 2021 before his recruitment became defensive-focused, but Maryland has not closed the door on that with Miller and Carroll having been connected from the beginning.
Carroll released a top-10 in April and trimmed things even more to a final-three Monday with Maryland, Virginia Tech and Duke vying for his commitment.
Virginia Tech is a school with history to back its words and the staff is one that Carroll feels can develop him well. Duke has also built strong bonds on and off the field with Carroll, who plans to major in something surrounding sports management and takes his education seriously.
Maryland has quickly turned itself from being a school talking about what could happen to a school making it happen, as the staff has already locked down 14 commitments — 12 from the DMV — good for a top-15 class as things stand.
“Everything is moving along well and it’s encouraging to see,” Carroll said. “What the staff says is no longer a vision, it’s actually happening and that’s something I could see myself being a part of.”
Carroll has no specific timeline, but plans to commit after weighing the pros and cons of these three schools. If he commits before the in-person recruiting ban is lifted, Carroll says he likely won’t trek out to campuses and will remain solid with his choice.