VIP: Latest Buzz Surrounding Maryland Football Post-Signing Day

With the offseason in full swing and Maryland football looking ahead to the 2023 season, we take a look at the latest notes:

I know everyone is waiting on staff updates with three vacancies, but everything I’m hearing is that a hire isn’t imminent for any of the three current vacancies. We’ve mentioned a pair of names for the tight end spot and they’re still worth keeping tabs on while the safeties position remains one up in the air, but the buzz of Kevin Sumlin in College Park is something that other local contacts have heard. It’s important to note that inside the building, this isn’t something that’s been confirmed yet, but other local contacts have heard similar rumblings of Sumlin’s interest. Nonetheless, now that signing day is in the rear-view mirror, the dead period is in effect and the strength staff is leading the beginning of Terp Time, filling the staff is the top priority moving forward.

Heading into the weekend, there’s a sense of calm after the signing day rush to close the book on the 2023 class. Head coach Mike Locksley arrived in Las Vegas on Thursday night where he’ll attend the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches Convention set to begin on Saturday. RB coach Elijah Brooks was also in Vegas on Thursday supporting Spencer Anderson and Jacob Copeland in the East-West Shrine Bowl, WR coach Gunter Brewer was in Baltimore speaking at a coaching clinic where a handful of defensive coaches will speak this weekend. The staff will return back to the office on Monday where they’ll turn the page onto spring ball and 2024.

Speaking of 2024, or #C2IBT4LK as the staff looks to kick off the class buzz, I don’t expect much movement in terms of commitments on the horizon. Outside of the obvious top targets, Maryland will look ahead to the spring where they’ll invite the regional and priority out-of-state targets to campus before moving the needle on commitments. One spot that I do feel good about is quarterback between Mike Van Buren and Deshawn Purdie, I feel comfortable in Maryland’s chances early to lock down the position with a local option who fits Locksley’s offense to a T. Early on, the attention still sits with many of expected DMV prospects as they chip away there and look ahead to the next round of visits.

In regard to inside the building, I wrote about the WR last month and I’m hearing much of the same things. WR Ryan Manning continues to draw praise for his ability to pick up on the playbook and looks smooth with his route tree. Slender frame and enrolling in January amplifies his chances of rotating in this fall, but good feedback for a prospect still learning the game. Deandre Duffus, the 6-foot-4, 330-pound guard out of Chaminade-Madonna (FL), has drawn some early praise in the weight room and carries his frame well to maintain that athleticism he showed in his senior tape. Fan-favorite edge rusher DJ Samuels may also be twitchier than expected, but it’s still early with the guy’s just weeks removed from stepping on campus. One note that I will add is with four-star Rico Walker enrolling as a tight end, I’ve moved him over to the offensive side of the ball where he’ll get that early opportunity. There was a possibility that changed depending on what happened with this one guy they used to recruit, but Walker will likely stick at that position at least heading into the spring and based on my expectation, through the fall. Which side of the ball he’d fit on was a point of debate during the latter portion of his recruitment with Rico himself preferring the offensive side of the ball, and Locksley touched on this during signing day, but the natural athleticism with his 6-foot-3 frame fits perfectly into what Locksley wants his tight ends to do.

Sticking at TE, I could see Walker seamlessly filling the expectation as the receiving tight end behind Dyches, though Preston Howard will get a chance to showcase himself. Howard was inactive nearly all season with a foot injury, but the raw yet athletic tight end drew praise when he first enrolled as he transitioned back to tight end, a position he hadn’t played since before his McDonogh days. The need is for the blocking tight end, an area that Leron Husbands can help fill, but they’ll get a chance to assess the room further through spring ball.

Lastly, I touched on WR Jeshaun Jones’ status earlier this week and I still feel strong about him returning to College Park for a sixth season. “I think it’s moreso a timing thing,” one source added. Jones is back with the team for workouts, along with some new faces in the receiver room.

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