VIP: Derik Queen heads to College Park + football bye week rumblings

Notes heading into a major recruiting weekend for Maryland basketball recruiting, along with notes on multiple local targets on the football recruiting side. The latest:

Maryland basketball welcomes its undoubted biggest visitor of the Kevin Willard era as five-star center Derik Queen arrives in College Park on Friday afternoon. This weekend will mark Queen’s second official visit to College Park after taking his first official last October with Tony Skinn still on staff. Maryland quickly picked up the pieces after Skinn’s departure with assistant David Cox leading the way, but head coach Kevin Willard has remained arguably more active with both Queen and his mom in the months since the staff change.

Maryland still holds arguably the same level of appeal as it did a year ago as they enter the weekend looking to tap into Queen’s desire to stay closer to home. Just like last year, Maryland is still battling Indiana in the top group with Houston maintaining its presence since solidifying themselves as a primary contender this summer, largely with the Cougars’ ties to Team Thrill director Mookie Dobbins. Despite landing five-star center Flory Bidunga, it was Kansas who was the first school to host him for an official visit with LSU then Houston on the visit schedule. Still, the buzz still seems to be centered primarily around Houston, Indiana and Maryland. The biggest question has always been what has long proved to be the final-hour kicker in Maryland recruiting: NIL.

Frankly, the focus on Queen’s NIL has been an emphasis for Willard ever since he became the head coach last year and that’s only increased through the summer, with Willard even noting how integral fundraising is to the day-to-day responsibilities during this week’s media day. The chance to play closer to home, something Queen has been fond of ever since his move to Montverde Academy, is still an aspect that looms large in Maryland’s corner as he makes his way back to see familiar faces once again. Maryland is hoping Queen can kick off its 2024 class with a major firework as confidence has remained steady through the summer. Now it’s up to Maryland to close, though an imminent decision doesn’t sound expected heading into the weekend.

On the football recruiting side, the two flip targets that I feel most confident Maryland can flip heading down the stretch are Norland (FL) three-star LB Jeremiah Marcelin and Flowers (MD) three-star CB Braydon Lee. As for Marcelin, he’s still verbally committed to Pitt but that remains very fluid with his recruitment still open. The relationship between Marcelin’s camp and DC Brian Williams remains a driving force in Maryland’s pursuit, while the relationship between Marcelin and vet LB Ruben Hyppolite has kept the Terps very much in the conversation.

Another part of the equation is the buzz surrounding head coach Pat Narduzzi among the top candidates considered for the Michigan State vacancy. Put it all together, and the Terps remain a primary contender to flip him heading into the December signing period. It’s a collective effort on Maryland’s end for Marcelin, who could make his way back to Maryland for another game this fall alongside teammate and Maryland verbal Larry Tarver.

Speaking of Tarver, Nebraska became the latest school to extend an offer and he’s expected to visit on Oct. 28 for the Purdue game. The increased attention is a byproduct of his strong senior season where he’s been the undoubted top DB for Norland, but a source said the Terps are still in an excellent position to hold onto him down the stretch. Louisville has also been a school initiating contact with Tarver through the fall. King George (VA) wide receiver Mekhai White has also drawn continued interest from other schools, most notably Tennessee and Virginia Tech, but there isn’t dire concern about his status with both parents solidly on board with Maryland and White still a frequent visitor in College Park. Meanwhile, four-star safety Brandon Jacob announced his recruitment was shut down on Wednesday but frankly, that was an announcement more for other schools. There hasn’t been much concern that Jacob would depart despite Miami (FL), Penn St. and Missouri among the schools reaching out the most through the fall. Maryland will be by to check in on Jacob in Orlando this week with their highest-rated pledge solidly in the fold. Maryland will also check on Mainland (FL) ATH E’zaiah Shine with his recruitment going well into the fall, a twist that unfolded following his June visits, as the Terps keep tabs on him down the stretch.

As for Braydon Lee, he’s coming off a key unofficial visit to South Carolina as the Gamecocks fell to Florida, 41-39, last weekend. One local contact told IBG on Tuesday, however, that Maryland remains in position to be able to pull off a flip with the two teams battling down the stretch. Assistant Kevin Sumlin has been a very active recruiter through PG County, while the relationship between Lee and cornerback coach Henry Baker is one that resonates. Lee has become drastically more receptive to the idea of staying close to home for college over the summer into the fall. There’s steady confidence in the Terps’ ultimate chances and I’m keeping Lee at ‘warm’ despite the Gamecocks coming off the latest visit.

Maryland is also still in touch with committed Good Counsel (MD) duo Elijah Moore and Aaron Chiles, though neither have made it into campus yet. I’m not optimistic that either RB Dilin Jones or DL Darien Mayo turn the tide.

In the trenches, Maryland threw their hat into the ring for fast-rising OL Aidan Bryant on Monday with his stock soaring and a long list of Power Five schools. Facing multiple starters who could once again depart following this season, Maryland also has a pair of JuCo offers out to IOL Que McBroom and OT Jayven Richardson and both are strong candidates for December officials with a need to add experience along the line. Maryland also has an offer out to a JuCo target on the defensive side of the ball Blinn College DL Brien Taylor with safeties coach Zac Spavital leading initial efforts, though no visit is set yet.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of local buzz that Maryland is the team to beat this fall for Spalding (MD) four-star QB Malik Washington, who is expected to return to campus for the Penn State game. ‘25 Warwick (VA) four-star ATH Messiah Delhomme made it onto campus this weekend and tells IBG the Terps are inside his top five with Florida State, Alabama and Michigan also pushing hardest. Running backs coach Latrell Scott is leading efforts, but recruiting analyst Marcus Thomas has also been a big part in the Terps’ efforts. That isn’t uncommon feedback for Thomas—McDonogh (MD) four-star ATH Jeff Exinor told IBG that Thomas has been the coach he’s been in contact with the most through the fall. Delhomme will hit Alabama and Florida State this fall, but there’s a chance that Exinor makes it to College Park for the Penn St. game, contingent on game time considering McDonogh’s 2 PM kick vs. Gilman. Another visitor the Terps hosted over the weekend was Neuman Goretti (PA) three-star DL Deshon Dodson as OC Josh Gattis and analyst Preston Brown keep tabs on the 6-foot-2, 250-pound lineman through the season. He’s firmly listed as ‘cool’ on the big board.

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