VIP Notes: Camp Season Begins

It’s here. Maryland will move into The Hotel on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday’s first practice of fall camp. With the two scrimmages set for August 13 and August 20, the roster and recruiting buzz heading into the season…

  • Don’t be shocked if you see veteran Greg Rose line up as an outside linebacker this fall. Durell Nchami and VanDarius Cowan will likely be the starting outside linebackers heading into the start of fall camp but Rose has an opportunity to give the outside ‘backers some versatile depth. It’s a sign that Rose has taken a step forward with his athleticism and a testament to the Terps’ depth at defensive line. Rose could line up outside come conference play.

  • With Challen Faamatau sidelined until midseason, there’s a lot of confidence in what the Terps’ running back room can do this season and the trio of returning backs have all flashed this offseason. No point in projecting a starter because I see all of them—Roman Hemby, Antwain Littleton, Colby McDonald—playing a big role this fall but true freshman Ramon Brown is another strong candidate to find his niche.

  • Dontay Demus continues to progress well and no surprise, but I expect Maryland to take it slow with him through fall camp to make sure he’s ready and 100% for week one.

  • Another wide receiver to note is Octavian Smith, who despite having traits as an NFL cornerback, I don’t see switching sides of the ball heading into camp. There’s a lot that Maryland likes with Smith at receiver and I see him staying at the position to start his freshman season.

  • Maryland is also entering with the mindset that Jakorian Bennett (will exhaust eligibility), Tarheeb Still and Deonte Banks will head to the 2023 NFL Draft. Of the three, Banks could be the most likely to come back but the three starters, a description that Locksley has frequently used to describe his cornerback room, have a chance to shine in the secondary this fall. Perry Fisher benefits as a cornerback being a former quarterback, giving him a leg up on the instincts as he refines the fundamentals at the position. Freshman Lionell Whitaker has done well through player-run practices while Corey Coley has made strides into the offense to become a necessary depth piece behind Bennett, Still and Banks.

  • The Terps have the 58th-best class according to On3 and 42nd-best class according to 247Sports composite rankings but there’s confidence in College Park that the Terps have a better class than the stars show. Between the additions of guys like Braeden Wisloski, DJ Samuels, Dylan Wade, Tayvon Nelson and Dillan Fontus among others, coupled with the fact that Wade, Thomas, Fontus, Samuels and Derrick Rogers all enrolling early, Maryland likes where they stand with their class. Mykel Morman was one singled out because of the speed he showed multiple times in camp and with a chance to settle in at cornerback this season, there’s confidence the Terps found a hidden gem with him.

  • I mentioned last month that I heard a lot of confidence in 2023 commit Champ Long and heard the same buzz this week. One contact said he’s just like former Terp Nick Cross—always working. Long has been consistent with workouts through the offseason and has been a frequent camper and performer on the 7-on-7 circuit. He now begins year two as St. Peter’s starting quarterback and there’s a lot of optimism that he’ll take the next step.

  • Maryland is in a good spot for Taylor County (FL) safety Cam Upshaw after decommitting from South Carolina on Sunday. In addition to connecting with defensive coordinator Brian Williams who has strong connections to Upshaw and his family, Upshaw has also been in contact with safeties coach Wes Neighbors—something that Upshaw also initiated in recent weeks. Mississippi State extended an official offer on Monday, as did Maryland, while Auburn could enter the picture. Florida State is also heavily involved but there are questions as to whether the Seminoles can take him with Upshaw’s former head coach on the staff. Another safety to potentially watch down the line is Imhotep (PA) is Rahmir Stewart, who was originally slated to visit Texas A&M over the weekend and likely become an Aggie. Ironically, Stewart has visited Maryland more than any other school. He plans to make his decision ahead of his senior season, but Upshaw is the primary target.

  • One target that I think is very realistic to land in College Park is four-star Dylan Gooden. Gooden was originally slated to make his commitment one week from today but opted to push back. Rutgers is the biggest competitor as things currently stand, but could be trending Maryland’s way long-term as the staff keeps an eye on his development and academics through the fall. One target I’m pessimistic about is Virginia lineman Elijah Hughes, who is still awaiting a final decision from Stanford but was blown away during a two-day visit to Blacksburg. Hughes sits high on Maryland’s defensive line board and the staff continues to harp on proximity to campus and the family atmosphere he felt, but it will take a lot for Maryland to swing his recruitment back.

  • In terms of next commitment, I still like Maryland to land Unity Reed (VA) linebacker Amare Campbell.

  • At this time last year, the three priorities in the 2023 class were Adon Shuler (Notre Dame commit), Chase Bisontis (Texas A&M commit) and DJ Samuels (Maryland commit). In 2024 class out of New Jersey, I’d keep an eye on West Orange four-star CB Jaylen McClain, St. Joseph Regional three-star RB Yasin Willis, Don Bosco (NJ) four-star DL Jordan Thomas, Wilson (NJ) four-star LB William Love and St. Peter’s Prep three-star IOL Xavier Miles. St. Peter’s Prep (NJ) safety Cam Richardson is included in that group and Maryland is well-positioned for him after visiting campus this weekend and is a candidate for an early commitment next cycle. When it comes to in-state 2024 recruiting, I like Maryland’s chances early on with Good Counsel three-star receiver Elijah Moore.