National Signing Day is just about a week away, with the nation's top high school football talent set to sign letters of intent on Feb. 3. It's a critical juncture for Maryland's future, with DJ Durkin's staff looking to fill several holes in advance of the new coach's first season in College Park.
Analyzing the thoughts of high schoolers is oftentimes a fool's errand. Moreover, I'm not a recruiting writer by trade, and I haven't personally communicated with the vast majority of Maryland's commits and targets. With that very much in mind, I'll present a projection – based on some actual conversations and a lot more research – on how Maryland's recruiting class ultimately shakes out.
The most interesting item here is a projection of four-star Alabama athlete commit Trevon Diggs to Maryland. Diggs committed to the Tide over the Terps back in the fall, surprising many. But Maryland is back in the picture with Diggs, albeit with his Maryland interest largely tied to another recruit who hasn't yet gotten a Maryland offer.
This view could change throughout the next week, and I like to distinguish between projecting that a player will go one direction and reporting that he will, in fact, go that direction. What you'll read here is very much the former.
Players who are verbally committed are in bold, and recruiting rankings come via the 247Sports Composite.
Chase Fourcade, unrated, New Orleans (Archbishop Rummel)
Ramar Williams, 3 stars, District Heights, Md. (Bishop McNamara)
Williams didn't hear from Maryland over the snowy weekend, when a bunch of other prospects were on official visits in College Park – including the pro-style Fourcade and dual-threat Lindsey Scott. Fourcade is "committed" to Nicholls State, while Scott is overwhelmingly projected on the 247Sports Crystal Ball to LSU, where Tigers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is one of his primary recruiters. Scott would be a tough get. But Fourcade has old ties to Maryland offensive coordinator Walt Bell, whose former program, Arkansas State, recruited Forucade before his Nicholls State pledge. It's a lot easier to recruit against Nicholls State than LSU.
Alabama dual threat Tyrrell Pigrome is the best-regarded of Maryland's remaining quarterback targets. He's reportedly also a Virginia Tech target, and I'm too skeptical to peg any quarterback to Maryland over the Hokies right now. New Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente is a smart offensive mind and can hold up likely first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch, his quarterback at Memphis, as the kind of success story that could easily woo a three-star talent like Pigrome.
For Williams, there's still no Maryland offer, he said Monday. But Williams is open to coming to Maryland as an athlete and not necessarily a quarterback, and he has widespread support from Maryland's current 2016 classmates and players and high school coaches around the area. Perhaps most importantly, Williams is close with Diggs, who recently tweeted about himself and Williams with a "package" emoji and seems interested in Maryland's offering him:
Ramar Williams is a great player! University Of Maryland needs to offer him! ASAP! A True competitor, never seen such a dynamic QB! !— Papí (@TrevonDiggs) January 23, 2016
By our unofficial scholarship chart, Maryland has seven open scholarships left for next season. That's not an overflowing amount, although it's likely that more somehow open up through attrition. Maryland clearly isn't over the moon about Williams's ability as a quarterback, but the prediction here is that Williams's close relationship with the players in the area and his athletic upside will lead Maryland to offer him in the next week. If that happens, Maryland's chances at landing Diggs will increase drastically. It's hard to imagine a Diggs path to College Park that doesn't include Williams.
In the event Williams enters as a quarterback and Maryland winds up getting Pigrome, a three-quarterback class might seem like a bit much, I thought to myself the other night. So I posed the question to Bud Elliott, the national recruiting director for SB Nation. Would it be too much?
"Not if you really need it," he wrote me, "and good god does Maryland need it."
LaDerrien Wilson, 3 stars, Kissimmee, Fla. (Osceola)
Lorenzo Harrison, 3 stars, Hyattsville, Md. (DeMatha Catholic)
Jake Funk, 3 stars, Damascus, Md. (Damascus)
Noah Barnes, 2 stars, Auburn, Ala. (Auburn)
Tino Ellis, 4 stars, Hyattsville, Md. (DeMatha Catholic)
DJ Turner, 3 stars, Hyattsville, Md. (DeMatha Catholic)
Trevon Diggs, 4 stars, Rockville, Md. (The Avalon School)
Maryland will almost certainly have to bring on Williams in order to get Diggs. In addition, it'll have to agree to play Diggs at wide receiver. Randy Edsall's Maryland staff was interested, in particular, in Diggs as a defensive back, which makes some sense given Maryland's lack of secondary depth. It won't likely be the outcome if Diggs ultimately lands at Maryland.
Terek Zingale, 3 stars, Macedonia, Ohio (Nordonia)
Brian Plummer, 3 stars, Sykesville, Md. (South Carroll Senior)
Alex Hall, 3 stars, Louisville, Ohio (Louisville)
There's no reason I've seen to expect anything to change here. Maryland's going to add a whole bunch of size at offensive tackle, giving new line coach Dave Borbely a lot to work with behind presumptive starting tackles Damian Prince and Michael Dunn.
Terrance Davis, 4 stars, Hyattsville, Md. (DeMatha Catholic)
Richard Merritt, 4 stars, Washington (Archbishop Carroll)
Davis and Merritt are the crown jewels of Maryland's post-Dwayne Haskins and Keandre Jones recruiting class. They're also good enough that Maryland doesn't need to devote time and recruiting resources elsewhere at the position in the next week.
Aaron Thompson, 3 stars, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Dillard)
Terrell Hall, 4 stars, Washington (St. John's College)
Hall has indicated publicly that Maryland and Alabama are his top two schools. Picking the Terps over the Tide is a dangerous proposition even when there are extenuating circumstances, and it feels silly to do it twice in one sitting. But here we are, with Maryland – aided by secondary coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim – staring down Nick Saban's recruiting machine and the best program in the country. I haven't spoken with Hall and feel very 50/50 about this, so I let the following Slack conversation with Elliott determine my pick:
I make this pick with immense confidence, as you can see.
None. Maryland doesn't have a linebacker commit, and the only linebacker in 247Sports's remarkable database who's even classified as "warm" to Maryland is Landon's Keith Simms. More experts think Simms is bound for North Carolina than think he'll come to Maryland, so I'll stick with the broad consensus. Ahmed Ghafir recently wrote that Maryland is "back from extinction" with Simms after a long period of quiet, however, so stay tuned on this front.
Great in-home visit with UMD tonight! #Terps— KS (@kpsyo) January 26, 2016
Travon Stott, 3 stars, Olney, Md. (Good Counsel)
Elisha Daniels, 3 stars, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Cardinal Gibbons)
Elijah Daniels, 3 stars, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Cardinal Gibbons)
JJ Givens, 3 stars, Mechanicsville, Va. (Atlee)
Somewhere in the secondary
Givens is visiting Maryland on Jan. 29, right before signing day, and draws the vast majority of Crystal Ball predictions to Maryland. Inside Maryland Sports reporters Jeff Ermann and Ghafir – two of Maryland's most credible recruiting writers – have Givens pledging to the Terps. I see no reason to pick another way.
Somebody told me on Monday that Maryland is recruiting Tisdale, classified as an "all-purpose back," for its defensive backfield. That'd mix well with defensive coordinator Scott Shafer being involved in his recruitment, per 247, and with Maryland's stocking-up on running backs over the rest of this recruiting cycle. Maryland has gotten 48 percent of his 21 Crystal Ball predictions, making the Terps an apparent plurality favorite for his signature.
Wade Lees, unrated, Australia.
So, that's where my outlook is right now: Maryland adding Fourcade at quarterback, Williams as a quarterback or an athlete, Diggs at wide receiver, Hall on the defensive line and Givens and Tisdale in the secondary. It's a total of six players atop Maryland's current crop of 16 verbal commits, leaving the Terps right at – or very close to – the 85-scholarship limit.
The Diggs flip is a challenging call, but it's helped by my belief that verbal commitments don't mean anything. While I can't say anything with certainty – an important caveat, in my view – I think there's at least a 51 percent chance of this happening based on the conversations I've had. Maybe that will change.
Now, have at it and tell me how wrong I am. This will probably be a wild week, especially surrounding the quarterback position.